Frank YangAdele has been a big deal for a while, her 2008 debut 19 having picked up all kinds of accolades and awards. And that’s kind of a shame because with that level of acclaim as a floor, it’s difficult to express just how much better the follow-up 21 is. I appreciated the debut as a showcase for Ms Adkin’s talents as a singer and songwriter, but the follow up bests it in pretty much every way.
Her voice is still as formidable a presence as ever, with so much inherent strength and character that the acrobatics and oversinging that those who would aspire to be her peers inevitably resort to are wholly unnecessary. But 21‘s songs themselves are more sophisticated, melodic and dynamic and so effortlessly cross genres like soul, gospel, folk, pop and even a couple commendable forays into rock that they make the idea of genres kind of pointless. Whereas on 19 some of the songs were there to serve the voice, on 21 everything is in service to the songs. In other words, it’s a hell of a record.
And in support of it, Adele was in town last night for a taping of MTV Live which included an intimate mini-concert at the Masonic Temple. Having not seen her perform before – I think her Toronto appearances took her directly from The Rivoli to Massey Hall – I felt fortunate that I was invited to attend this show. Following a sort-of late-night talk show format segment that wasn’t as terrible as a feared and certainly featured more on-camera raunch and swearing than I’d expected, Adele came out delivered a set that was brief but also would have convinced anyone that she was the real deal.
Backed by a full six-piece band, she opened with “Rolling In The Deep” and then stripped (and sat) down with just a pianist and cup of tea for the ballady portion of the show, delivering “Someone Like You”, “Turning Tables” and 19 Dylan cover “Feel My Love” with astonishing presence despite not having much in the way of stage moves. Between songs, she took the time to banter and joke with the adoring audience – there was certainly no sign of the stage fright that she’s said to suffer from – and after inviting her band back, closed with “Chasing Pavements”. A short but completely stirring set that proved that having the lungs and the voice is only meaningful if they’re connected directly to the heart.
Adele plays a sold-out show at The Kool Haus on May 18. The Daily Record has an interview.
Video: Adele – “Rolling In The Deep”
Video: Adele – “Make You Feel My Love”
Video: Adele – “Chasing Pavements”
Video: Adele – “Cold Shoulder”
Spinner, BBC and The Guardian talk to Noah & The Whale, whose new record Last Night On Earth is available to stream at NME in advance of its March 15 release date. If their goal with this record was to no longer be lumped in with the English anti-folk movement… well I think they’ve done it. Noah & The Whale and their synths will be at The Mod Club on March 24.
Stream: Noah & The Whale / Last Night On Earth
The “director’s cut” for one of Mumford & Sons’ videos from Sigh No More is now online, though curiously it’s about 9 seconds shorter than the official version.
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds” (director’s cut)
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Spinner talks to Esben & The Witch, in town at Wrongbar next Friday night for Canadian Musicfest.
Vanity Fair and University Observer Q&A Anna Calvi, who was also supposed to be on that Wrongbar CMF bill but who has cancelled all dates prior to that one and the one after due to an arm/hand injury. So while I await the official word, it’s safe to say that the Toronto show is off as well.
The Quietus interviews Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye.
Drowned In Sound meets Gruff Rhys, who follows up the May 3 release of Hotel Shampoo with a date at The Horseshoe on June 11.
Ladytron have released a video for one of the new tracks that will appear on the Best of Ladytron: 00-10 compilation, due out March 29.
Video: Ladytron – “Age Of Hz”
Digital Spy talks to Patrick Wolf about his forthcoming new record Lupercalia, out May 31, while Spinner grabs an interview video-style.
A new Loney Dear video has surfaced. Let’s hope this means the new full-length Hall Music isn’t far behind.
Video: Loney Dear – “Young Hearts”
The Line Of Best Fit, Pitchfork, Blurt and Exclaim all have interviews with Lykke Li about her spanking new record Wounded Rhymes. She is at The Phoenix on May 22.
The Line Of Best Fit points out a new video from The Concretes and a complete live show from Paris available to stream at Grand Crew.
Video: The Concretes – “Crack In The Paint”
Blurt reports that the third salvo of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues will arrive on May 17 and cover his ’90s output with bonus-loaded editions of Let Love In, Murder Ballads, The Boatman’s Call and No More Shall We Part.
R.E.M.’s new record Collapse Into Now is available to stream all over the place leading up to its release next week. Check it out at Exclaim
Stream: R.E.M. / Collapse Into Now
And here are some of the new(ish) concert announcements for this week; Joe Pug and Strand Of Oaks have a date at The Horseshoe on April 20, tickets $10.
MP3: Strand Of Oaks – “Bonfire”
Joan As Police Woman, whom I don’t think has been to Toronto in the past four years if ever – a Summer 2007 show was cancelled – will be at The Drake on April 21 as part of a tour in support of her new record The Deep Field, which comes out on April 11, tickets $12. After Ellen has a feature.
MP3: Joan As Police Woman – “The Magic”
MP3: Joan As Police Woman – “To Be Loved”
Guitar Wolf have a date at Lee’s Palace for May 17, extending their previously-announced North American tour, tickets $18.50. They released Uchusenkan Love last Fall.
MP3: Guitar Wolf – “After School Thunder”
Anti reports that Man Man are almost done work on their new record and are setting out on tour, presumably to promote. They’re in Toronto on May 26 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $17.50.
MP3: Man Man – “Top Drawer”
Sondre Lerche gives New York Magazine the scoop on his new self-titled record, due out June 7. He’ll be playing songs from it – presumably – when he hits The Mod Club on May 31, tickets $18.50.
Here’s a tour filled with more win than Charlie Sheen – Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus and Future Islands stopping in at The Phoenix on June 10, tickets $18.50 in advance. Okkervil will release their new record I Am Very Far on May 10, Titus are still working last year’s glorious The Monitor (and will still be at The Horseshoe for their own headlining show April 1) and Future Islands released In Evening Air last year.
MP3: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine” (live on Jimmy Fallon)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Future Islands – “Tin Man”
That same night but costing $18.50 less than the Okkervil show – that’s free, if you don’t feel like doing the math – is The Joel Plaskett Emergency performing at Metro Hall as part of this year’s Luminato arts festival. Their set time is 9:20PM.
MP3: The Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Deny Deny Deny”
And finally, some fellow with Britpop love in his heart and too much time on his hands has begun digitizing archives of Select Magazine. I bought so many mediocre records based on their boundless enthusiasm, but also some awesome ones. Ah, nostalgia.