Monday, August 29th, 2011
Where I'm Waking
Review of Slow Club’s Paradise
Laura PannackEven though I was very much a fan of Slow Club’s 2009 debut Yeah, So?, I don’t think I ever did a proper write-up for it – I guess I hoped that seeing them twice at SXSW as well as having them play our Eastbound & Found day show would be sufficient implied endorsement… but still, by way of compensation, here’s my thoughts on the Sheffield, UK duo of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor’s follow-up Paradise a couple of weeks ahead of its September 13 release. Just in case I get distracted again.
Doing so still requires I talk a bit about Yeah, So?, though. If I were to distill what I liked about it down to a couple points, it’d be how they were able to take their fairly rudimentary setup of guitar and drums (and occasional piano) and make it sound deliriously fun, thanks to their tandem vocals, irresistibly hooky yet sardonic songcraft and the sense of giddy abandon they injected into much of it while still retaining their ability to get sad. It was like power-folk-pop and wonderful in its simplicity.
That the pair would seek to evolve sonically from their debut wasn’t in question – they couldn’t really go very far in the other direction – but the degree to which they’ve refined their sound on the second go-around is pretty significant. The old-school soul influence that lurked underneath Yeah, So? is brought to the fore on Paradise and bolstered with some richer arrangements and production values. The busker-y aesthetic that permeated their debut is largely kicked to the curb in favour of some unabashed Motown moves; it’s an ambitious move, but Taylor has raised her game as a vocalist to match and the results give Slow Club a bare, emotional depth that’s surprising. It comes at the cost of some of their immediacy and gleefulness, but that’s growing up for you. There’s a part of me that wishes they’d taken an extra album or two to get where they are, but kids these days. What are you gonna do… besides sit back, listen and appreciate?
Slow Club will be coming over to North America in November, but for now only dates in New York and Los Angeles have been confirmed. Here’s hoping the “more TBA” in the press release isn’t just a tease.
How much does The Line Of Best Fit like I Break Horses and their out-this-week debut album Hearts? In addition to streaming the whole thing, they went all the way to Sweden to record a video session with the band, the first installment of which – “Winter Beats” – is now online. And not to be left out, Clash has track-by-track notes on the album from songwriter Maria Linden.
Stream: I Break Horses / Hearts
NME is pointing to a stream the b-side from Anna Calvi’s next single, “Suzanne & I”. It’s a cover of The Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You”, which was also tackled by The Beatles way back when. And while you’re at it, stream the b-side of Calvi’s last b-side from the “Desire” single – another cover, this one of Leonard Cohen’s “Joan Of Arc”. Anna Calvi is at Lee’s Palace on December 8.
Video: Gemma Hayes – “Keep Running”
Portishead’s Geoff Barrow tells Spinner the band intends to put out new material following their upcoming North American tour, which sees them play two nights at The Sound Academy on October 10 and 11.