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Posts Tagged ‘Arab Strap’

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

Slow Club, Death Cab For Cutie, The Raveonettes, and Arab Strap cover Darlene Love

Image via WikipediaWikipediaGood: the holiday season is just lousy with cover versions. Bad: they’ve all been posted by every blog under the mistletoe ad nauseum. So while in past years I’ve done mini-omnibus holiday mixes – 2010 and 2008 are still up – this year I’ll just focus on one song, Darlene Love’s most famous contribution to the classic Phil Spector-assembled A Christmas Gift To You, and four diverse covers of it.

Slow Club do the most faithful version of it, thanks to Rebecca Taylor’s soulful vocals and the Spector-ish production. It’s taken from last year’s Christmas, Thanks For Nothing EP and also last year’s Christmas covers post, but is topical because the band released their second album Paradise this year and will be bringing it on tour through North America this Winter; they’re at The Rivoli on February 19.

Death Cab For Cutie took a swing at the tune for the 2004 Maybe This Christmas Tree compilation and, basically, it sounds like Death Cab – for good or for bad. They also released a new record this year in Codes & Keys.

The Raveonettes turn their synths up to 10 in reinterpreting the song as the leadoff track of their 2008 Wishing You A Rave Christmas seasonal EP. They put out their fifth studio album in Raven In The Grave back in the Spring and their Rarities/B-Sides compilation just a couple of weeks ago.

Arab Strap split up back in 2006, so this version recorded for BBC Radio 1’s Evening Session – featuring Lauren Laverne of Kenickie on vocals – must date from before then, but I don’t know exactly when, sorry. In any case, Maclolm Middleton and Aidan Moffatt unexpectedly got back together this year, though not under the Arab Strap name, to record a Slow Club cover of all things. Then they got back together under the Arab Strap name for a one-off show in November. Could more be coming? Why not?

Darlene Love also had an eventful 2011, what with being inducted into the Rock’N’Roll Hall Of Fame this Spring. Phil Spector’s appeal to overturn his murder conviction was denied this Summer and he remains in prison for murder. His year has been less good than the others in this post.

MP3: Slow Club – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
MP3: Death Cab For Cutie – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
MP3: Arab Strap – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Stream: Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Moving Further Away

Review of The Horrors’ Skying

Photo By Neil KrugNeil KrugThose of us who dismissed The Horrors as gimmicky flash in the pans based on their 2007 debut Strange House were left eating our words with their follow up, 2009’s massive and grinding Primary Colours. With the assistance of producer Geoff Barrow, all the band’s cartoonish aspects (stage surnames included) were jettisoned in favour of a goth-y and raw, yet melodic aesthetic that evoked the most aggressive aspects of ’80s British New Wave and ’90s shoegaze. As far as reinventions went, this was a pretty damned successful one and if the band continued to use Primary Colours as a template for future works, no one would be surprised or disappointed.

What Skying, the band’s third effort, proves however is that remaining creatively stationary is not in the game plan. Self-produced this time out, it uses Primary Colours as a jumping-off point but despite utilizing a similar palette of sounds, it paints a markedly different picture. It comes across both less aggressively and less immediately pop than its predecessor and while you might reasonably wonder what that leaves, the answer is plenty. Skying retains enough of the deliciously abrasive guitar textures and swooping synths that roped in so many last time out, but the songs are more midtempo and laden with a romantic lushness that should be familiar to those who’ve heard frontman Faris Badwan’s throwback pop side-project Cat’s Eyes (and if you haven’t, you should).

This is not to say that Skying is soft – numbers like “I Can See Through You” and plenty other moments cut like anything they’ve ever done – but there’s a greater willingness to explore the nuances of what they’re doing, and that makes for a deeper and more challenging but ultimately more rewarding listen. But perhaps more exciting than the album itself is the realization that The Horrors have no shortage of ideas or inspiration and perhaps most importantly, no desire to repeat themselves.

Skying is out in North America next Tuesday, August 9. Their North American tour kicks off in just over a month and hits Lee’s Palace in Toronto on September 27. The Skinny has an interview with the band about making the new record.

MP3: The Horrors – “Moving Further Away”
Video: The Horrors – “Still Life”
Stream: The Horrors / Skying

Male Bonding will warm up for their September 2 show at The Horseshoe on September 2 with an in-store down the street at Kops Records at 6PM that same evening. Their new album Endless Now is out August 30.

MP3: Male Bonding – “Bones”

UK dubstep DJ SBTRKT will play a live show at The Hoxton – formerly known as but still located at 69 Bathurst – on November 3. Odds of Drake showing up as a surprise guest on “Wildfire” as he did at Wrongbar last month? Probably not great. BUT YOU NEVER KNOW.

MP3: SBTRKT – “Wildfire”
Video: SBTRKT – “Wildfire”

NPR and Spinner talks to James Blake, who will be at The Phoenix on September 30.

USA Today acquaints its readers with the works of Friendly Fires, in town for a make-up show at The Phoenix on October 23. Time Out Hong Kong also has a feature piece.

Pitchfork has an interview with WU LYF, who recently announced a November 12 show at The Horseshoe.

DIY talks to Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, whose debut album Coastal Grooves is due out August 30.

Blurt talks to Vincent Moon about directing the Burning live concert film for Mogwai.

Last week I pointed you at a stream of the first finished recording from former Long Blonde Kate Jackson; said track is now available to download and keep and repeat. Also check out some demos at her Soundcloud.

MP3: Kate Jackson Group – “Date With Dawn”

They’re refusing to call it an Arab Strap reunion, but Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat did get together again for the purpose of recording a characteristically grim cover of Slow Club’s new single – stream it and read some commentary from Moffat at The Quietus. Slow Club’s Paradise – from which the original song is taken – is out September 12.

Pitchfork is won over by a new track from I Break Horses’ debut Hearts, out August 30 in Europe.

MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”

The Line Of Best Fit is streaming another gorgeous new Loney Dear song from the forthcoming Hall Music. It’s out October 4 and they play The Drake on November 4.

The Jezabels are sharing the first MP3 from their new record Prisoner, even though it’s not out until Spring of next year. At least you can hear it and other new tunes when the band plays The Phoenix on November 24 opening up for Hey Rosetta!.

MP3: The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

"Run To You"

The Hold Steady and Malcolm Middleton cover Bryan Adams

This is a track that I forgot I had in my archives and which elicited a double-take when I was cruising for something to post. I didn’t believe it was tagged correctly or was some sort of hoax, but no – that thick Scottish brogue does indeed belong to former Arab Strap-per Malcolm Middleton, he is indeed trading verses with Craig Finn whilst the rest of The Hold Steady back him up and yes, that is indeed a Bryan Adams tune they’re tackling.

It was recorded in May of 2009 for the BBC Radio 1 and it was a Hold Steady session and interview with Colin Murray and the necessary background for how and why the Brooklyn bar rockers and Glaswegian moper got together in the first place is well-covered at Lip Service Librarian and MP3s of the whole interview and session – which also includes a Zep cover – can be found at The Hold Steady Taped Show Archive.

The Hold Steady are spending 2010 promoting their latest record Heaven Is Whenever. Malcolm Middleton’s last solo record Waxing Gibbous came out last Summer. The first two Arab Strap albums The Week Never Starts Round Here and Philophobia are being reissued on August 17, each with a bonus disc of BBC session material. Bryan Adams is spending more time as a photographer than musician lately and Canadian music is all the better for it.

MP3: The Hold Steady with Malcolm Middleton – “Run To You”
Video: Bryan Adams – “Run To You”