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Posts Tagged ‘Adele’

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Palindrome Hunches

Neil Halstead and Jim Hanft with Samantha Yonack at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s really a travesty that Neil Halstead’s isn’t venerated as a musical trailblazer. This is, after all, a man whose work in Slowdive was groundbreaking for both the shoegazing and ambient electronic genres and who created some of the finest alt.country moments from the UK via Mojave 3, the say nothing of the increasingly deep catalog of works under his own name, most recently with Palindrome Hunches. And yet for the recognition that he should but mostly does not get, he seemed perfectly content to just roll into the Dakota Tavern on Monday evening, guitar in hand, to play some songs and just play some songs. Must be that surfer lifestyle.

Supporting Halstead on these dates was Californian Jim Hanft, who in turn brought with him collaborator Samantha Yonack. Hanft offered up some decent singer-songwriter fare, and any points deducted for having an overly affected rasp and twang in his delivery was made up for by his genial demeanour and willingness to move around and make use of the stage. For her part, Yonack earned her almost-equal billing both with her harmonies and impromptu roadie skills, on display when Hanft accidentally unplugged his guitar during one of the aforementioned wanders. Not the most memorable stuff, but pleasant enough.

Halstead was last here in November 2008 for Oh! Mighty Engine, and just like his solo record have gotten progressively more stripped-down, so to has his live show become simpler in execution. Whereas that show featured a couple backing players, this time Halstead was joined by an accompanist on only a handful of songs – crucially so, with the simple bass, guitar, and piano embellishments adding a lot – but mostly just himself. And as always, that’s all he really needed.

As is typical with his solo shows, the set was divided up fairly evenly between solo and Mojave 3 material, though I think that the balance this time out leaned more to the band material. Playing without a written-out set list, Halstead was agreeable to shouted requests and surprisingly to me, whose fandom stretches back to the Slowdive days, a lot of the requests were for his solo material (and one request for “Souvlaki Space Stating” was indulged to the point of playing the opening chords and demonstrating that he had a delay pedal handy). I suppose that made sense with the crowd being younger than I would have expected – these people weren’t Slowdive or Mojave 3 fans first, but Neil Halstead fans. What a thing it must be to have three distinct and beloved catalogs to work from. The audience also gave Halstead a song back, singing him, “Happy Birthday” in honour of his turning 42 the day before.

Though Mojave 3 had technically been in action this year – some lineup had played a few gigs in China, of all places, this Summer – it had been a good six years since they last toured through and it was so great to hear those songs again: “Prayer For The Paranoid”, “Who Do You Love”, “In Love With A View”, “Some Kinda Angel”, “Life In Art”… all moments of gorgeousness that I’d somehow let slip from my memory. In addition to refreshing my Mojave affections, my appreciation for Halstead’s solo works also increased as the performance went on – it’s easy to begrudge those solo records for not being Mojave 3 or Slowdive records, for not showcasing Halstead’s talents at crafting widescreen sonic landscapes, but that would ignore just how good a pure songwriter Halstead now is, and how he doesn’t necessarily need all that presentation to make beautiful and affecting music.

After closing the main set with a gorgeous, “Full Moon Rising” off of Palindrome Hunches, Halstead returned and soliciting more requests, addressed the Slowdive reunion question which he himself set up in August – fitting, since this was the city that hosted the final two Slowdive shows in 1994. And while I’d like to think that it was all part of a carefully planned campaign to lead up to an official return in the near future, his explanation that he was being interviewed at 7AM in China and that a Slowdive return had never officially been off the table but wasn’t necessarily any closer to a reality than it ever was seemed more likely; he closed the discussion by suggesting those really keen on it happening should petition Rachel Goswell for it to happen, and then for the first time since I’ve been seeing either him or Mojave 3 live – some 13 years – he played a Slowdive song. And then another. His solo acoustic arrangement of “Alison” had already surfaced thanks to the free tour EP at Noisetrade, but the rendition of “40 Days” was new to my ears and beautiful. The magic the man can work with just the addition of a delay pedal is remarkable; someone needs to hand him a Telecaster, stat. “Hi-Lo and In Between” from Sleeping On Roads closed the show after a good hour forty-five and Halstead bid farewell, at least until the next time.

The Singing Lamb also has a review of the show. Metro and The Philadelphia Inquirer have interviews with Halstead.

Photos: Neil Halstead, Jim Hanft with Samantha Yonack @ The Dakota Tavern – October 8, 2012
MP3: Neil Halstead – “Tied To You”
MP3: Neil Halstead – “Digging Shelters”
MP3: Neil Halstead – “Full Moon Rising”
MP3: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”
MP3: Neil Halstead – “Two Stones In My Pocket”
MP3: Mojave 3 – “In Love With A View”
MP3: Mojave 3 – “Return To Sender”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Hey Daydreamer”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Digging Shelters”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Elevenses”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Witless Or Wise”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Queen Bee”
Video: Mojave 3 – “Breaking The Ice”
Video: Mojave 3 – “Some Kinda Angel”
Video: Mojave 3 – “Love Songs On The Radio”
Video: Jim Hanft – “Television”
Video: Jim Hanft – “Superhero”

Gold Flake Paint and DIY have interviews with Frightened Rabbit, in town for a sold-out Mod Club show tonight.

Ellie Goulding goes over her new album Halcyon for Billboard. She brings it to the Sound Academy on October 14.

CBC Music talks to The xx, coming to Massey Hall on October 23.

Spinner interviews Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes. Her new album The Haunted Man comes out October 23 and a six-song preview is now streaming at The Guardian.

Stream: Bat For Lashes / The Haunted Man sampler

Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable talks to DIY about their new album Wolf’s Law, out January 23 of next year. They’re at The Sound Academy on November 25 supporting The Gaslight Anthem.

The Vaccines have a new vid from Come Of Age. They’re at The Phoenix on February 4.

Video: The Vaccines – “I Always Knew”

Muse will bring whatever ridiculous over-the-top live spectacle they dream up – think “The Wall” – for their new album The 2nd Law to the Air Canada Centre on April 9. NPR has a brief interview with the band.

Video: Muse – “Survival”

The National Post and Under The Radar have features on Two Door Cinema Club.

NPR has a World Cafe session and JAM and State interviews with Beth Orton.

Bloc Party have released a new video from Four.

Video: Bloc Party – “Kettling”

Echo Lake have put out another video from their debut Echo Lake.

Video: Echo Lake – “Another Day”

Billboard and BBC have features on Mumford & Sons.

Adele’s theme song for the new James Bond film Skyfall is now available to “watch” via lyric video. Which is kind of like the movie’s opening credits but with lyrics instead of credits and no silhouettes of femme fatales. It opens in North American on November 9.

Lyric Video: Adele – “Skyfall”

Austin City Limits is streaming their season premiere episode, featuring a little band called Radiohead.

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Desire

Anna Calvi at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor the first part of Thursday night, I was – as recounted yesterday – happily seeing my favourite band deliver the best performance of theirs I’d ever seen. So why, in the name of all that’s holy, did I leave early? Because of Anna Calvi. The British-Italian artist released one of my favourite records of 2011 (ooh, year-end list spoiler!) in her self-titled debut, but fate seemed determined to keep me from seeing her perform it live.

First, her CMW and SXSW showcases – which were legion – were cancelled due to an arm injury, then the make-up date in May came on the exact same night I was in Barcelona seeing Pulp (yes, no sympathies, I understand) and then, even though I know there technically wasn’t a local date, her being on the bill at Osheaga in Montreal in August felt like missing her again. So nothing – not even the aforementioned conflicting show – was going to keep me from catching this latest date. Though the cabbie that took me from the Air Canada Centre to Lee’s Palace certainly gave it a shot, managing to catch every red light between one venue to the next and not seeming to get a read on my urgency in the back seat. Maybe I wasn’t swearing loud enough.

In any case, I made it and only missed the first 10 minutes or so of her set. Unfortunately, her set was only about 45 minutes in total so it felt awfully brief, but what I did see made the anxiety of the cross-city club-hopping worthwhile. Backed by a drummer and percussionist/harmoniumist (?) and without the aid of any kind of set dressing, Calvi nonetheless managed to transform Lee’s Palace from a rock club into a cabaret, an opera house, a smoky jazz lounge, all by virtue of her music. Okay, suggesting there was no visuals at play is just wrong; done up in her stage uniform of blood-red blouse and lipstick with jet-black pants and stilettos, she was quite the striking figure. But her appearance wasn’t why it was impossible to take your eyes off of her. No sir.

It’s a toss-up which is more astonishing, Calvi’s vocals or her guitar skills, and in a live setting she doesn’t make it any easier to choose. To the former, she was more breathy than belty, slowing songs like “Suzanne & I” down for a more sensual and seductive delivery – if that’s even possible – and also to make the moments where she unleashed the full strength of her voice that much more powerful. And as for her instrumental abilities, well let’s just say that Telecasters have long been my favourite guitar but I’ve never wanted to BE one so much before. Any time she stepped away from the mic to take a solo, it was eye-opening and jaw-dropping the sounds she was able to coax out of the most basic of electric guitars; the soaring and guttural instrumental break in set-closer “Love Won’t Be Leaving” was particularly unexpected and devastating.

The set seemed to comprise the whole of her album (this was confirmed by folks who’d seen the whole show) and a couple of covers, the recently-released reinvention of TV On The Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” and Frankie Laine/Edith Piaf standard “Jezebel” for the encore, so that it still seemed short was no one’s fault but the cabbie. But I suspect that even if the show had run two hours, I’d still be wanting more. Next time.

NOW also has a review of the show while JAM, The Montreal Mirror, Winnipeg Free Press, Under The Radar, and The Vine all have interviews with Calvi.

Photos: Anna Calvi @ Lee’s Palace – December 8, 2011
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Jezebel”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Suzanne & I”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Desire”

So very pleased to see that Slow Club will be touring their second album Paradise to North America – they’ve just announced a February 19 date at The Rivoli, tickets $12 in advance and worth every penny. For a preview, check out this video session just posted at They Shoot Music and also this interview at DIY.

Video: Slow Club – “Where I’m Waking”
Video: Slow Club – “Two Cousins”

Billboard has posted excerpts from year-end cover story on their artist of the year, Adele, in which she says to not expect a third album anytime soon.

Spinner and The Toronto Star have interviews with Laura Marling, whose recent concert for Philadephia’s WXPN is available to stream at NPR.

Spinner has a video session and interview with Florence & The Machine and Florence Welch talks to Rolling Stone about how well things are going with her in the wake of Ceremonials release.

Over at The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones articulates why Emmy The Great’s Virtue was one of the best records of the year. I concur!

The Twilight Sad will treat the February 21 release date of their third record No One Can Ever Know like a starter’s pistol for a North American tour which will bring them through Lee’s Palace on February 29 en route to SXSW.

MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Kill It In The Morning”

The Guardian is streaming a video of Richard Hawley covering The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting For My Man” at last week’s Other Voices festival. This reminds us of two things: first, Richard Hawley is awesome and second, Richard Hawley is due a new album. Let’s have it, then.

Fire Records has posted details of the three Pulp reissues they’ll be putting out in the new year – each of Freaks, Separations and It will be remastered, appended with bonus tracks and set free into the world on February 13.

Under The Radar reports that two Radiohead will release a new single of King Of Limbs-session tracks debuted as part of their From The Basement broadcast will be released as a digital single on December 19. If this interests you, then you’ve already heard the songs.

Video: Radiohead – “The Daily Mail” (live on From The Basement)
Video: Radiohead – “Staircase” (live on From The Basement)

Spinner reports that The Stone Roses have signed major label record deals for a third album to go along with their reunion. Gotta give them credit – if they’re going to make this a fiasco, they’re going all in.

The Guardian reports that Nick Cave called time on Grinderman on stage in Australia this past weekend. I can only assume this was a planned break to work on the new Bad Seeds record that had originally been targeted for release as early as this year, though clearly that’s been pushed until 2012. If it’s actually internal band friction, that’ll make that first Bad Seeds rehearsal awkward as it’s basically the same band.

Niki & The Dove have released a new video from their The Drummer EP. Update: Make that two videos?

Video: Niki & The Dove – “DJ Ease My Mind”
Video: Niki & The Dove – “Mother Protect”

The Stool Pigeon talks to the Söderberg of First Aid Kit about their new record The Lion’s Roar, out January 24. They’re at The Great Hall on April 4.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Through The Dirt And The Gravel

Review of We Were Promised Jetpacks’ In The Pit Of The Stomach

Photo By Nic ShonfeldNic ShonfeldAlongside labelmates and countrymen The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, Glasgow-via-Edinburgh’s We Were Promised Jetpacks should have formed a 21st century dream team of new Scottish acts, dispensing their peoples’ distinctive brand of angst through their respective brands of rock. And yet while those other two won and maintain places in my heart, Jetpacks’ 2009 debut These Four Walls did’t quite win me over.

The specifics of why aren’t entirely clear, but I suspect that it was just a little too shouty, too unrelenting. Granted, those are the band’s key strengths – guitarist/vocalist Adam Thompson’s bellows overtop the breakneck musical churn – but I found Walls a bit exhausting to get through. That hardly warranted writing the band off, however, so I was more than happy to give their sophomore effort In The Pit Of The Stomach, released last month, a few spins and it’s almost as though the band heard about my complaints and decided to meet me partway. Which is awful gracious of them.

To either casual followers or die-hard fans of the band, Stomach probably sounds perfectly familiar and satisfying. It’s still loud and punishing – album closer “Pear Tree” is a six-and-a-half minute flurry of face punches – but those crescendos are now better tempered with quieter passages and a greater emphasis on melody, both vocally and instrumentally. By reining things in a bit and singing rather than shouting while the drums and guitars steadily build, “Act On Impulse” comes across far more dynamically and interesting than anything I can recall on Walls. Similarly, the instrumental front half of “Sore Thumb” is evocative of Mogwai in their gentler moods before bringing the hammer down like Mogwai in their angrier moods; which is to say it’s kind of Mogwai-ish, in a good way.

In The Pit Of The Stomach evidences the sort of artistic growth and sophistication you’d hope a young band who’re probably not given to turning their sound upside down would develop. It certainly won’t lose them any fans but it may well sway some who had been on the fence onto their side. Trust me on this.

The Dallas Observer talks to the band about guitarist Michael Palmer’s cancer scare between albums one and two.

MP3: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Act On Impulse”
Video: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Human Error”

I now have a Valentine and her/their name is Veronica Falls. The London quartet will be back in town for a show at The Garrison on February 14, tickets $10.50 in advance. DIY has an A-to-Z with/of the band.

MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”

Arena-sized in the UK, club-sized in North America, Kasabian will bring their latest album Velociraptor to The Phoenix on March 29, tickets $24.50 in advance. Perhaps they’ll be able to commiserate with Toronto about the (lack of) wisdom in naming things after dinosaurs that were briefly in fashion 20 years ago.

Video: Kasabian – “Switchblade Smiles”

Drowned In Sound gets their turn in the Los Campesinos! media-go-round.

Clash checks in with Milo Cordell of The Big Pink as they put the finishing touches on their new record Future This, out January 17.

Slow Club have a new video from Paradise.

Video: Slow Club – “If We’re Still Alive”

Similarly, Noah & The Whale have released a new clip from Last Night On Earth

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Give It All Back”

Two videos – or animations, as they’re being called – from the new Kate Bush album 50 Words For Snow have been released. It’s reasonable to expect more.

Video: Kate Bush – “Misty”
Video: Kate Bush – “Wild Man”

The New York Times Q&A’s Noel Gallagher, who has just released a short film that uses three of the songs from his solo debut as accompaniment.

Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Ride The Tiger”

NME reports that Liam Gallagher has declared Oasis material may be on the table for future Beady Eye live performances.

The Guardian proxies questions from readers to Jarvis Cocker. The Jarv answers.

The Alternate Side has posted an Elbow studio session to watch and interview to read while Under The Radar reports that the band has been tapped to record the soundtrack to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Adele is capping off what’s been a pretty good year for her (except for all those canceled shows and throat surgery) with the release of the Live At The Royal Albert Hall DVD/BR today – Spin is streaming the audio from the document while you can watch 25 minutes of the thing at Vevo.

Stream: Adele / Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Video: Adele / Live At The Royal Albert Hall (excerpt)

Kate Jackson talks to NME about her post-Long Blondes solo ambitions.

State chats with Clock Opera, whose debut album should be out in the new year.

NME follows Wild Beasts around on tour for a while.

The Stool Pigeon chats with Robyn Hitchcock.

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Open Arms

Elbow at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure it’s more coincidence than any kind of conspiracy, but for some reason the last few years have seen late September/early October become the season when a deluge of Mercury Prize rolls through town. Over the past little while, Toronto has hosted performances by Laura Marling, Coldplay, The Horrors, and Wild Beasts with James Blake here tonight and Portishead in just over a week, and Wednesday night saw 2008’s winners Elbow return for their first headline show in over five years.

It wasn’t supposed to have been so long; they were technically here in August 2009 as reigning Mercury champs opening for Coldplay and had a headlining show at The Phoenix all lined up alongside it, but an offer to play Letterman forced them to pull the plug on it and fly to New York – the salt in the wound being that they never got to perform on account of a segment with another guest running long. And personally, though I’d seen them back in November of 2005, I only became any kind of a fan in the intervening years – all of which is to say that the show at The Sound Academy in support of this year’s Build A Rocket Boys was one I’d been waiting for for a long while.

I certainly wasn’t the only one, but with the venue only half full – approximately 1500 punters – and folded into its more intimate configuration, there clearly weren’t as many as some may have hoped. Still enough to offer a roar of welcome to the Manchester quintet and their two backing violinists/vocalists, though. Whereas at the 2005 show I saw, Garvey was hobbled by a bum leg and forced to perform seated for most of the show, he spent this entire evening roaming the stage like the man of the people he is, shaking hands with the front row and pointing and waving to pretty much everyone; I wager that by show’s end, there wasn’t a person in the crowd who hadn’t been personally acknowledged by Garvey. The sort of skills one gains from playing to arena- and stadium-sized crowds, as Elbow do back in the UK, served him well in connecting with the audience whether is was a running theme of getting everyone to wave their hands in the air whenever he did so – perhaps a nod to their latest album’s artwork – or cheekily chastising overeager fans for randomly shouting out the names of English towns or trying to start football singalongs and a offering elocution lessons to those shouting requests inarticulately. All in good fun, of course.

And while I’m sure plenty would have been happy to attend a Guy Garvey speaking tour, this was still a rock concert. At least technically. One of the key realizations in my becoming a fan was that Elbow weren’t actually a conventional rock band, and expecting them to ever “rock out”, as the kids say, was an exercise in frustration. They can pack a wallop when need be, as “Neat Little Rows” and “Grounds For Divorce” – which followed an extended nonsensical ad-libbed audience singalong – aptly demonstrated, but most of the set showcased what has become the band’s forte: the big, open-hearted, sentimental and stately anthems. Opening with “The Birds” and running through the likes of “Mirrorball” and “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver”, all rendered gorgeously and meticulously, it was almost a case of too much beauty to take in.

The heartstring-tugging peaked mid-set when the rest of the band left just Garvey and keyboardist Craig Potter onstage for “The Night Will Always Win” and “Puncture Repair” rendered as piano ballads. Upon their return, the band went big for the final third of the show with grandiose performances of “Weather To Fly”, begun as an acoustic campfire number with all five gathered in a circle before being completed in proper cinematic fashion and set-closing “Open Arms” that was as soaring as one would expect. The encore led off with “Starlings” – Garvey, Mark Potter and Pete Turner handling horn duties – and following “Station Approach” ended with “One Day Like this”, the song that will likely close Elbow shows until the end of time or until they write something even more celebratory.

For all the preceding praise, it could have been better. Hearing something – anything – from Cast Of Thousands would have been glorious and made me feel a little bit less like I was being punished for taking so long to come around on this band. It would also have been nice if they’d worked some of their darker-tinged songs, such as “Audience With The Pope”, into the set if just to break up the sepia-ness of the performance and show off that heavier side just a bit more. A little more variety in the tenor of the set wouldn’t have been a bad thing – after all, when every song is done up big like a set-closer, it can take away from the actual arc of the show and almost make it feel anticlimactic. But these are relatively minor complaints; any time you get to spend almost two hours with one of Britain’s best bands where the prevailing emotion is love in all its permutations, it’s going to be a good time. Check that; great time.

The National Post also has a review of the show and The Globe & Mail, DIY and San Diego City Beat have band interviews.

Photos: Elbow @ The Sound Academy – September 28, 2011
MP3: Elbow – “Open Arms”
MP3: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Open Arms”
Video: Elbow – “Neat Little Rows”
Video: Elbow – “The Bones Of You”
Video: Elbow – “One Day Like This”
Video: Elbow – “Grounds For Divorce”
Video: Elbow – “Leaders Of The Free World”
Video: Elbow – “Forget Myself”
Video: Elbow – “Grace Under Pressure”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job”
Video: Elbow – “Fugitive Motel”
Video: Elbow – “Fallen Angel”
Video: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Powder Blue”
Video: Elbow – “Red”
Video: Elbow – “Any Day Now”

Blurt has details on exactly what is going to be in that ridiculously comprehensive (and expensive) Smiths box set entitled Complete due out October 18.

Adele has released a video for the song you’ve been hearing all Summer and which will haunt you through music stores, shopping malls and karaoke bars until the end of time.

Video: Adele – “Someone Like You”

Contact Music reports that after all his various projects, Damon Albarn is finally planning a proper solo record. Which I’m hoping is code for a Blur North American tour, but I suspect is not.

The Line Of Best Fit serves up a video session with Summer Camp, whose Welcome To Condale is out November 8.

Also sessioning up at The Line Of Best Fit is I Break Horses with the second of three performances recorded in Stockholm.

NPR interviews Feist. Metals is out Tuesday and she’s at Massey Hall on December 1.

Exclaim talks to Kathryn Calder about her new album Bright & Vivid. It’s not out until October 25 but the first video is now available.

Video: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”

The Toronto Star and NOW talk to Ohbijou in advance of tonight’s release show in support of Metal Meets at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Exclaim hosts a video session with The Elwins, who have a single release show at The El Mocambo tonight.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Morning Light

2011 Mercury Music Prize shortlist is predictably unpredictable

Photo By Jean-Baptiste MondinoJean-Baptiste MondinoThanks to the fact that the United Kingdom exists five hours into the future, I woke up yesterday morning just in time to see the short list for this year’s Mercury Prize – awarded annually to the best album in the UK and Ireland – commandeer my Twitter feed for a short while. The process by which the shortlist and winner is selected isn’t entirely clear to me – it’s not as transparent as Canada’s Polaris Prize – but in a way that mysteriousness makes it more interesting.

Even though the “how” isn’t clear, a few years of Mercury-spotting has made the “what” pretty easy to peg, at least in a manner of speaking. History shows that about half the list is the cream of the Brit-indie pop/rock crop and the other half is pulled from all manner of other genres, from jazz to pop to hip-hop to what have you and the net result is eleven or twelve – interesting there’s no fixed size to the short list – albums that offer a good amount of grist for the conversational mill. The dozen records competing for the prize are:

Adele / 21 / Video: “Rolling In The Deep”
James Blake / James Blake / MP3: “To Care (Like You)”
Anna Calvi / Anna Calvi / MP3: “Blackout”
Elbow / build a rocket boys! / MP3: “Open Arms”
Everything Everything / Man Alive / Video: “Final Form”
Ghostpoet / Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam / Video: “Cash And Carry Me Home”
PJ Harvey / Let England Shake / MP3: “Written On The Forehead”
Katy B / On A Mission / Video: “Carry Me Home”
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins / Diamond Mine / Video: “Bubble”
Metronomy / The English Riviera / Video: “The Look”
Gwilym Simcock / Good Days at Schloss Elmau
Tinie Tempah / Disc-Overy / Video: “‘Til I’m Gone”

I can only speak to first-hand experience with about half the list, but it’s not unreasonable to think that the winning album will be amongst that subset. Indeed, many have already narrowed it down to a two-artist race between Adele and PJ Harvey, and if it’s down to those two I’d give the edge to Polly Jean if for no other reason than last year’s XX win was the eminently obvious choice. I don’t necessarily see them doing that again. And while I’d have no problem with either, both of their records being massive achievements by a number of standards, I’d be pretty happy to see Anna Calvi sneak up the middle to take it. I do love her self-titled debut and am sad that her appearance at Osheaga next week will not come with a stop down the 401. Perhaps a Mercury win would encourage her to do another North American tour and give me the opportunity to finally see her live. I also continue to love Elbow’s latest but think the odds of them winning for two albums in a row are pretty slim – they don’t have the underdog card to play anymore.

In any case, the winner will be announced on September 6.

Washington City Paper talks to Wild Beasts, whose Smother seems to be the consensus surprising omission from this year’s short list. They also do a couple video sessions for WNYC and The Fader and will be at The Mod Club on September 29.

Spin talks to Daniel Blumberg and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to Max Bloom, both of Yuck.

Emmy The Great talks to Clash about her personal grassroots campaign against News International.

Interview and The Sydney Morning Herald talk to Patrick Wolf about his new record Lupercalia while The Independent finds out how he and Patti Smith became friends.

JAM has a feature on White Lies, in town at The Phoenix on August 3.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beady Eye.

The Grid is starting rumours that Noel Gallagher will be in town for a show the week his solo debut Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds is released in North America, which is to say November 8. Bookie’s not one to just make stuff up, so keep an eye out. Also, in conversation with The List, Gallagher says he takes no joy in Beady Eye’s failure to tear up the charts.

The Guardian talks to Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow of Portishead, who have two shows at The Sound Academy on October 9 and 10; word is the first night is sold out and the second not too far behind.

Artrocker chats with Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

eMusic talks reunions and reissues with Brett Anderson and Mat Osman of Suede.

According to The Guardian, the New Order split is about as final and acrimonious as you imagined it to be.

French dance-pop veterans Tahiti 80 are back with a new record in The Past, The Present & The Possible and a tour which brings them to The Horseshoe on September 22, tickets $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Tahiti 80 – “Keys To The City”

M83 has finally revealed specifics on and an MP3 from their next album, which will be a double-set entitled Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Pitchfork has details on the record, which will be out on October 18. M83 plays Lee’s Palace on November 18, tickets $20 in advance.

MP3: M83 – “Midnight City”

DIY has a profile of I Break Horses, whose debut Hearts is out August 15.

Spinner talks to Lykke Li.

Adult Swim is giving away a new song from The Tallest Man On Earth. Just because, I guess.

MP3: The Tallest Man On Earth – “Weather Of A Killing Kind”

In a perfect world, this would be an item about a new Jens Lekman album and world tour including a local date. But it’s not a perfect world so instead, it’s an item about a new EP entitled An Argument With Myself, due out September 20, and a US tour that doesn’t cross the border. The Secretly Canadian press release consists of an interview with Jens.

Stereogum has the first MP3 from the new Loney Dear record, entitled Hall Music and out on October 4. There’s also rumours/promises of North American dates in November.

Labrador Records, purveyors of the finest in Swedish pop, have put out a free label sampler entitled Stockholm Belongs To Us which collects tracks from all their active roster. Needless to say, it’s wonderful.

Consequence Of Sound and Pitchfork both have more details on Bjork’s Biophilia project, the album of which will be out September 27 and the app of which was released today – The Guardian takes it for a spin.

And speaking of Bjork, guess who’s going to Iceland Airwaves this October? Lots of people. Me amongst them. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to swing tickets to Bjork’s Reykjavík Concert Hall shows, but hey. Iceland!