Posts Tagged ‘Beth Jeans Houghton’

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


Review of The Twilight Sad’s No One Can Ever Know

Photo By Nic ShonfeldNic ShonfeldFrom the outset, The Twilight Sad weren’t shy about proudly pronouncing their influences. The publicity photos for their 2007 debut Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters may as well have featured the band staring intently at their footwear, so obviously indebted were the Glaswegians to the walls of guitar construction techniques laid down by their shoegazing forebears. But what set them apart was the songwriting blueprints they applied those lessons to, choosing to build giant monuments to miserablism from giant slabs of distortion, mortared together by James Graham’s thickly-accented bellow. Where they were coming from was familiar but what they did with it was unexpected, fresh and intense.

Their 2009 follow-up Forget The Night Ahead used the same tools but took their writing in more conventional directions with a greater emphasis on dynamics and feeling more traditionally pop, at least relatively speaking. It represented important artistic growth for a band whom one could have reasonably feared had but one impressive trick in their bag, but wasn’t likely to dramatically broaden their fanbase.

While their third album No One Can Ever Know may likewise not represent a broadening of who The Twilight Sad may appeal to, it’s definitely a wholesale retargeting. Guitars remain in the mix, but rather than the crucial load-bearing roles they’d played in the past, they’re now consigned to decoration and detail. Structural duties are now handled by cold, gleaming synths drawn from the electronic and industrial eras of the late ’70s and ’80s. Whereas their earlier works were studies in emotional catharsis, No One feels rather more sinister in its avoidance of feeling. This isn’t to say that Graham’s vocals are any less expressive, it’s just that the way they’re mated with driving rhythms and icy textures, they feel more like threat than release. It’s an unexpected turn from the Scots, but a rewarding one – and that’s coming from someone who loved their guitar-centric approach.

No One Can Ever Know is out next Tuesday, February 7, and is currently available to stream in whole at , while DIY has a track-by-track annotation of the album by James Graham and The List a short interview. They’re at Lee’s Palace on February 29.

MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Kill It In The Morning”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Sick”
Stream: The Twilight Sad / No One Can Ever Know

Mogwai have been rather snakebit as far as North American touring goes in the past few years, seemingly having to cancel as many shows/legs as they manage to play, but they’re looking to make up for it all with a Summer tour that includes a June 18 date at The Phoenix, tickets $29.50. And if you’re thinking of taking them for granted and catching them the next time around – as I have their last couple visits – note that the press release says, “it will likely be the last extensive touring we do for some time” so sit at home and watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother at your peril.

MP3: Mogwai – “San Pedro”
MP3: Mogwai – “Rano Pano”

Spin reports that Spiritualized’s forthcoming Sweet Heart Sweet Light has been pushed back a couple weeks from its intended March 18 release date. While a new release date hasn’t been confirmed, it’ll almost certainly be before May because that’s when the band begins an enormous North American tour that hits Toronto early on, with a show at The Phoenix on May 5. Tickets for that are $27 in advance.

Video: Spiritualized – “Do It All Over Again”

Spin has a stream of the first taste of the forthcoming Wedding Present album Valentina, due out March 20. They’re at The Horseshoe on March 25.

Stream: The Wedding Present – “You’re Dead”

The Vaccines update NME on their plans for recording album number two.

NPR tried to contain the greatness of Anna Calvi behind a Tiny Desk.

The Stool Pigeon and The Evening Chronicle interview Beth Jeans Houghton, whose debut Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose will be released on February 28.

Oh hey M.I.A. has a new single to stream, a precursor to her fourth album which is targeted for release this Summer. And she’ll be performing at the Super Bowl this weekend with Madonna? Oh, OK.

Stream: M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”

Another week, another episode of Austin City Limits to stream – this one featuring Florence & The Machine and Lykke Li.

Paste chats with the sisters of First Aid Kit, in town at The Great Hall on April 4.

Acid House Kings have opted to give away a track from their 2002 EP Say Yes If You Love Me, just because.

MP3: Acid House Kings – “Save It For The Weekend”

Iceland’s Of Monsters & Men are celebrating the April 3 international release of their debut My Head Is An Animal with a North American tour that includes an April 12 date at The Mod Club, tickets $16 in advance.

MP3: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”

Monday, January 23rd, 2012


Review of Big Deal’s Lights Out

Photo via FacebookFacebookOn paper, London’s Big Deal doesn’t really bring a lot to the table. Two guitars – one acoustic, one electric – and two voices – one American male, one English female – and that’s about it. There’s not much in the way of virtuosity in the former and neither Kacey Underwood or Alice Costelloe’s vocals would stop anyone in their tracks either alone or in harmony. To hear it described, you’d be forgiven for expecting it to lean towards being rather conventional and/or pedestrian.

And yet their debut album Lights Out carries with it enough ineffable magic to demand you take notice, despite being rather determinedly low key. Some of that could be attributed to the duo’s backstory, assuming you know it (late-twenties Underwood taught the teenage Costelloe to play Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr on guitar and they ended up forming a band) and the questions about whether their relationship is strictly friends and bandmates or something more (a Guardian interview from last Summer rather firmly dismisses that speculation), but even without any of that colouring things, Lights Out is much more than the sum of its parts.

Both singers possess a certain intrinsic yearning and weariness to their voices that’s particularly effective for the lyrics that hint at (or even overtly reference if metaphorically) a bare, emotional intimacy. Combine that with the warm, wooly sonic blanket that’s created by Underwood’s lightly fuzzy electric guitar and Costelloe’s strummed acoustic – capable of switching to delicately interwoven guitar lines or rocking distorted leads for for punctuation – and out of these basic ingredients come a dozen tracks that don’t range too far apart but instead do their work by drawing you right in. Their band name might be a bit tongue-in-cheek but don’t underestimate for a minute how much Big Deal have to offer.

Lights Out is out on Tuesday. The Guardian declared them “New Band Of The Day” a couple of weeks ago.

MP3: Big Deal – “Chair”
Stream: Big Deal – “Homework”
Video: Big Deal – “Distant Neighbourhood”
Video: Big Deal – “Chair”
Video: Big Deal – “Homework”

NPR has a session and interview with Elbow recorded at WFUV, while Noise11 talks to bassist Pete Turner about their anthem for the 2012 London Olympics.

Loud & Quiet acts as an intermediary for Ghostpoet to interview The Big Pink.

Check out a session video by Beth Jeans Houghton, whose Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose comes out February 28.

Video: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – “Sweet Tooth Bird” (Lightship Session)

The Yorkshire Evening Post and The Courier-Mail talk to Noel Gallagher.

NOW ran an interview with Los Campesinos! ahead of this weekend’s two-night stand at Lee’s Palace.

Music News interviews James Graham of The Twilight Sad. No One Can Ever Know is out February 7 and they’re at Lee’s Palace February 29.

The Alternate Side has posted a video session and interview with Loney Dear.

DIY and NPR mark this week’s release of The Lion’s Roar by running interviews with First Aid Kit. They play The Great Hall on April 4.

Swedish electro-pop outfit Miike Snow have made a May 1 date at The Sound Academy in support of their forthcoming album Happy To You, out March 27. The first single is available to stream over at Spin.

Stream: Miike Snow – “Paddling Out”

Interview gets to know Iceland’s next great pop hope, Of Monsters & Men.

Filter marks their ten-year anniversary by reaching back into their archives for a 2002 vintage interview with Bjork.

And while on the topic of things Icelandic, check out this mini-documentary film on Iceland Airwaves. I actually think I watched a version of this on the plane on the way back from last year’s festival, but they’ve since spliced in footage from 2011. And I may even see myself at 7:00… In any case, watch it and then make plans to go. You know you want to.

Video: Iceland Airwaves – a Rockumentary

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

11th Hour

Clock Opera offers Ways To Forget

Photo via FacebookFacebookTo promise that something is coming in “early 2012” may be sufficient detail when that date is still a ways off on the horizon, but at a certain point it will eventually actually be early 2012 – as it is now – and when that time arrives you’d best have a little more to offer. That first part of that scenario was most of 2011 for London’s Clock Opera, who despite sounding more than ready for prime time when I first saw them last SXSW and reconfirmed at Iceland Airwaves have been rather shy about offering any details about their debut album besides that it’d be out “in early 2012”.

Well refreshingly quietly, details of their debut album came to light at the very end of last year by way of an iTunes preorder link, and really all you need to know is that it’s called Ways To Forget and will be out – in the UK at least – on April 9. Going for a soft launch with that info may prove to be wise as I expect things will get exceptionally fast-paced for this quartet as word of their electro-anthemic rock – think a younger Elbow armed with sequencers – and attendant excellent live shows gets out.

And the first shot in that metaphorical attack came yesterday with the release of a second video for the song “Once And For All”, which already had a perfectly good clip for the original single release but seeing as how it was re-recorded for the album, a new, heartstring-tugging vid was clearly in order. And so here it is, along with what I would consider to be sufficient argument that Ways To Forget will be one of the highlight releases of, well, early 2012.

MP3: Clock Opera – “Once And For All”
MP3: Clock Opera – “Belongings” (live at Maida Vale)
Video: Clock Opera – “Once And For All” (2012)
Video: Clock Opera – “Lesson No. 7”
Video: Clock Opera – “Belongings”
Video: Clock Opera – “Once And For All”
Video: Clock Opera – “White Noise”

The Ting Tings – whom I am convinced are part of a larger sociological experiment to discern exactly what the shelf life of formerly buzzy but ultimately vapid pop bands is – hope that enough people still remember who they are to buy their second album Sounds From Nowheresville, out February 27 in the UK and shortly thereafter in North America, and to go see them when they play The Phoenix on April 6. To say nothing of paying $26 to do so. Spin has a conversation with the duo about the new record.

Video: The Ting Tings – “Hang It Up”

I can’t say I was too interested in the previously-announced return of Cults to town – happening April 25 at The Phoenix, but the fact that Spectrals – aka London-based retro-pop revivalist Louis Jones – would be opening makes me a bit more keen. His debut Bad Penny came out last Fall.

MP3: Spectrals – “7th Date”
MP3: Spectrals – “Peppermint”
Video: Spectrals – “Bad Penny”

The Arctic Monkeys talk evolution with The Sydney Morning Herald. They open up for The Black Keys at The Air Canada Centre on March 14.

The Alternate Side has a session to watch with We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Gold Flake Paint talks to James Graham about the third Twilight Sad album No One Can Ever Know. It’s out February 21 and they band are at Lee’s Palace on February 29.

Loud & Quiet plays go-between in facilitating a Q&A between Veronica Falls and Johnny Marr. Veronica Falls are at The Garrison on February 14.

Is This Music chats with David Gedge of The Wedding Present. They bring Seamonsters to The Horseshoe on March 25.

Spinner talks to Rosa Rex of Peggy Sue; DIY also had a year-end chat with the band.

Laura Marling has put together a poetry- and art-powered minisite for “The Beast”, which one assumes is the next single from A Creature I Don’t Know.

Clash and The Guardian have pieces on hotly-tipped singer-songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton, whose debut album backed by The Hooves Of Destiny – Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose – is out February 28. A video from said record came out last month.

Video: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – “Sweet Tooth Bird”

For Folk’s Sake and American Songwriter meet First Aid Kit, whose new record The Lion’s Roar – out January 24 – brings them to The Great Hall on April 4.

DIY and BBC profile Swedish duo Niki & The Dove, whose debut album is due out sometime this Spring.

The Line Of Best Fit – who agreed with me that I Break Horses’ debut Hearts was their favourite of 2011 – goes through the album track-by-track with Maria Linden. They’re opening up for M83 at The Sound Academy on May 6; DIY talks to Anthony Gonzalez of that outfit.

Q gets former label honcho Alan McGee to offer a buyer’s guide to the Creation Records catalog.