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Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Heavy Boots

Review of Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore

Photo via nicoletakins.comnicoletakins.comThat Nicole Atkins’ 2007 debut album Neptune City was a favourite in these parts is a matter of public record, but does that mean it was a perfect record? No, not at all. As a vocalist and songwriter, Atkins has never tried to hide her New Jersey roots or the classic rock, blues and country traditions that informed her formative years so drenching her first record in big, romantic orchestral arrangements was a gutsy case of trying something completely unexpected from the get-go. And by and large, it succeeded though it was more because of Atkins herself and sometimes despite the production choices.

So opting to strip things down for her second effort, the just-released Mondo Amore, might seem a little less creatively adventurous but hearing Atkins operating completely within her comfort zone and playing to her strengths more than validates the decision. The front half of Amore showcases the rock instincts that were sublimated on Neptune City, from the sinister and slinky leadoff “Vultures” through the countrified “Cry Cry Cry” and barrelling “You Come To Me” – some of the genre nods can be a little on the nose, but their energy more than makes up for it.

As invigorating as side one of Mondo Amore is, it’s the smouldering side two that really seals the deal, dimming the lights, raising the reverb and spotlighting Atkins at her wounded, torchy best. The compositions themselves wouldn’t have been out of place on Neptune City, but whereas a track like “Heavy Boots” might have reached its crescendo accompanied by legions of strings, Amore drives the emotional quotient home with cavernous piano and understatedly snarling electric guitar. There’s still plenty of drama on tap, but it’s delivered more naturally and thus more effectively – Amore is less theatre, more boozecan, and all the better for it.

The New York Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Palo Alto Daily News, Largehearted Boy, Spinner, NorthJersey.com, Blurt, Interview and BlogCritics all have features on Nicole Atkins. Her North American tour is underway and will make its way to The Horseshoe in Toronto on February 26. The whole of Mondo Amore is currently available to stream at Spinner.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Stream: Nicole Atkins / Mondo Amore

Conor Oberst discusses the new Bright Eyes modus operendi with Billboard. The People’s Key is out next week and they’re at The Sound Academy on March 13.

Pitchfork is streaming Okkervil River’s new non-album single “Mermaid” while talking to Will Sheff about their new record I Am Very Far, due out May 10. Sheff also takes Spin through the new album track by track.

Austin360 celebrates Shearwater drummer Thor Harris.

Buffalo Tom is making an acoustic EP entitled Bones available for free download from their website in advance of the release of new album Skins next week.

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with Local Natives.

The Telegraph profiles Drive-By Truckers, whose latest Go-Go Boots arrives February 22.

There’s a new MP3 from J Mascis’ forthcoming solo record Several Shades Of Why, out March 15. He’s at The Great Hall on March 11 for Canadian Musicfest.

MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

Oh hey it’s a new Kills video. Blood Pressures is out April 4 and they play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Video: The Kills – “Satellite”

Phantogram have released a new video from last year’s Eyelid Movies.

Video: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

Ahead of their show at The Horseshoe later that evening, Telekinesis will play an acoustic in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM on March 6. Their new record 12 Desperate Straight Lines is out next Tuesday.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Car Crash”

Magnet Q&As John Vanderslice, whom they’re letting play website editor for the week.

The final deluxe-ass Pavement reissue – that for Terror Twilight – will see the light of day sometime in November.

Eater talks food and drink with Ted Leo.

The Phoenix New Times interviews Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino while eye catches up with School Of Seven Bells. They’re both at The Sound Academy on February 15.

Exclaim reports the new TV On The Radio record has a name – Nine Types Of Light – and should be out this Spring.

And because for a short time yesterday people trying to get the new Strokes MP3 basically broke the internet, here it is. It sounds like The Strokes. Angles is out March 22.

MP3: The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”

By : Frank Yang at 8:37 am
Category: General

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. Ricky says:

    she looks like amanda peet

  2. The DPRS says:

    so much love on this blog for nicole atkins, interesting. I dont get it. perhaps it’s because i saw her open for the raveonettes in 07 and to me it seemed like a complete mismatch, and i was only in the mood for danish shoegaze surf rock.

  3. Frank Yang says:

    yeah her with Raveonettes was a weird pairing. so was her with Pipettes, really.

  4. Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea and Cotton Jones at The Horseshoe in Toronto | WAKAZ says:

    […] circumstances and significance of Nicole Atkins’ persona and personnel changes are well reflected in her new record Mondo Amore, what with the big orchestral approach of her debut Neptune City […]