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Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

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Review of I Break Horses’ Hearts

Photo By Sebastian DehesdinSebastian DehesdinI’m sure it’s a generational thing, but back in my day when someone said “shoegazing”, it meant guitars. Fender guitars, if we’re being particular – Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Mustangs and their offset-bodied ilk, run through as many fuzzing, phasing and flanging pedals as people could string together and turned up loud. That was how you built a wall of noise. At least that’s how you did it in the ’90s. These days, it seems that while the guit-based approach hasn’t fallen out of favour, the more ambitious and original dreampop sounds and textures are being built with more overtly electronic and synthetic materials.

An equal facility with keyboards and laptops as well as guitars has certainly helped Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez make M83 one of the leading contemporary lights of the genre, though he’d best be prepared to soon share the spotlight with Swede Maria Lindén, who plies her craft under the guise I Break Horses. Together with collaborator Fredrik Balck, their debut album Hearts is a beautiful and bewitching collection of songs born of keyboards, bred of guitars and bathed in reverb.

Hearts is possessed of a distinctly Scandinavian combination of mechanical precision and organic warmth, but rather than play against each other, those two sides blend together effortlessly and almost magically, It’s not magic, however – it’s Lindén’s vocals; airy enough to permeate everything yet carrying plenty of emotional heft and yearning, it’s the the sonic mortar that binds it all together. Sometimes the exact words are hard to discern but their meaning is never less than clear: Their name is I Break Horses but their mandate is breaking Hearts.

The album is out August 23 in the UK; two singles have been released with accompanying videos. The Iceberg inquires as to how they got their name and tangentially but interesting, Imprint has a conversation with Vaughan Oliver, who designed the Hearts album art as well as most of the 4AD catalog in its heyday. You’ve seen his work. You have.

MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Hearts”
Video: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
Video: I Break Horses – “Hearts”

Niki & The Dove are another Swedish two-piece, albeit one that treads more dancey/electronic terrain than their countrymen. So far their only output is The Fox EP, released earlier this Summer, but a full-length is due out on Sub Pop later this year and a new song was made available to stream the other day. I find them intriguing and look forward to seeing them at Iceland Airwaves.

MP3: Niki & The Dove – “The Fox”
Stream: Niki & The Dove – “Last Night”

Speaking of M83, Exclaim has the artwork for their new album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, due out October 18. They play Lee’s Palace on November 18.

Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan has set a September 20 release date for her new record Passenger and will follow that up with an October 15 show at The Mod Club. Paste has full North American dates and a stream of a new song; grab a track from her Mercury-nominated 2009 effort Sea Sew below.

MP3: Lisa Hannigan – “Lille”

The Horseshoe isn’t where you’ll normally find DJ/electronic-oriented acts but that’s what UK act Star Slinger will be serving up on November 2; it’s part of a North American tour in support of his debut album Volume 1.

MP3: Star Slinger – “Mornin'”
MP3: Star Slinger – “Minted”

I’m not sure what’s more surprising – that The Kooks are still around or that they’re apparently still big enough to play The Sound Academy. Both of these things are clearly true, as they are doing just that on November 23 with tickets being $25 for general admission and $35 for a VIP balcony view. It’s part of a North American tour in support of their new record Junk Of The Heart, out September 13.

Video: The Kooks – “You Don’t Love Me”

Though not out until August 16, Blood Orange’s pretty frickin’ excellent debut album Coastal Grooves is now streaming in whole over at Hype Machine. And making sure that the Dev Hynes love is spread evenly across the internet, there’s a Devonte-assembled mixtape up for grabs at Yours Truly, over at Fader, a New Villager cover and at Dazed, an interview.

MP3: Blood Orange – “Lighthouse”
Stream: Blood Orange / Coastal Grooves

And speaking of New Villager, the New York art collective have made a September 26 date at The Drake Underground in support of their self-titled debut, out August 16.

Video: NewVillager – “ShotBigHorixon”
Video: NewVillager – “Lighthouse”

The Line Of Best Fit reports that all those Radiohead King Of Limbs remixes that have been kicking around over the Summer will be collected into an official double-disc set under the title of TKOL RMX and out on September 19. They’ve got a few of said remixes available to preview over here. Update: Billboard has the release date as October 11.

Rolling Stone confirms that Noel Gallagher is no less quotable now that he’s out of Oasis; his solo debut Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds is out November 8.

The Joy Formidable tell NME they’ve got plenty of material ready to go for album number two, they just need to find the time to stop promoting album number one to go and record it. Look for the follow-up to The Big Roar next year. And speaking of The Big Roar, it appears that it will be getting a domestic vinyl pressing for August 30; previously, the only way to get it on LP was by the limited edition pre-order back in the Winter. So there’s that.

NPR interviews Noah & The Whale and also solicits a Tiny Desk Concert from the band.

And finally, Pitchfork has a good roundup of just how badly affected a lot of independent record labels will be by the destruction of the Sony/PIAS distribution warehouse in London during Monday night’s rioting. Short version – buy their records, buy their MP3s, help them get back on their feet and keep releasing great music.

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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  1. Bruce says:

    Been a big fan of V. Oliver / 23 Envelope since about 1983 when I picked up the Cocteau’s Head Over Heels on vinyl. I would never have recognized the I Break Horses cover as his work – very different for him.

    Regarding the Sony arson and England in general, unfortunately “Anarchy for the UK, coming sometime, maybe” is no longer just a lyric.