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Posts Tagged ‘Idlewild’

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Time In The Machine

Review of Black Hearted Brother’s Stars Are Our Home

Photo By Frank YangSabine ScheckelWith all due respect to Mark Van Hoen and Nick Holton and their works with Seefeel and Holton’s Opulant Oog, respectively, it’s entirely reasonable to discuss Stars Are Our Home, the debut album from England’s Black Hearted Brother, almost entirely in terms of Neil Halstead. Because not only is it Halstead’s work in Slowdive, Mojave 3, and as a solo artist that’s going to sell this record, it’s his past work which offers the strongest reference points. And yet what fans of the aforementioned will get out of this record depends entirely on the expectations they come into it with, for despite a return to electric instruments, a band context, and the unapologetically cosmic allusions of the record, Stars occupies an orbit all its own that promises no return to Souvlaki Space Station.

In fact, for all the echoes of Halstead’s past work that inhabit Stars, there’s little that’s reminiscent of Slowdive at their most beloved. The downbeat “Take Heart” comes closest to recreating a Souvlaki-esque sigh, but for the most part guitars have more psych and bite than swell and bloom, and the electronics at play leave little of the space that defined Pygmalion. The songwriting at its best captures the brighter, poppier side of Mojave 3 as well as the laid-back melodicism of solo Halstead – both “This Is How it Feels” and “UFO” combine these marvellously – and even when it’s not quite as refined – some of it feels jammier than you’d have ever found on a M3 or Slowdive record – the palpable enjoyment these long-time mates get out of playing together still carries it through.

As I mentioned the last time he came through town, Halstead’s gift for musical reinvention while remaining wholly himself is quite remarkable, and with Black Hearted Brother – who use their own past as influences, but still create something all-new – this continues.

Stars Are Our Home is out today, and MusicOmh gets a track-by-track walkthrough of the album from the band. Meanwhile, Exclaim! has an extensive interview with Halstead about not just Black Hearted Brother, but the plausibility of a Slowdive reunion (the door he opened last year remains reluctantly wide open) and the upcoming solo gigs at which Rachel Goswell will guest on vocals for a planned live record.

And further to the Halstead singularity in which we now find ourselves, a limited-edition 7″ featuring solo versions of “Alison” and “Yer Feet” will be made available for sale online this Friday, providing they don’t sell out at the London gigs. Which they really should.

Update: Also fun – the band have put out an introduction video for those not familiar with the principals.

MP3: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”
Video: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”

The Boston Herald, Boston Globe, and Metro profile Franz Ferdinand, coming to town for a show at The Kool Haus on October 24.

The 405 talks to Los Campesinos! about their new record No Blues, coming out next wek on October 29.

With the November 5 release of her new album Matangi a couple weeks away, Pitchfork, The Fader, and The Guardian all want to talk to M.I.A..

Clash has a stream of another new tune from Rose Elinor Dougall, who will release the Future Vanishes EP on November 18.

Stream: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Poison Ivy”

Toy have released a video for the title track of their new record Join The Dots, coming out December 9.

Video: Toy – “Join The Dots”

Slate The Disco and Leeds Music Scene talk to Lanterns On The Lake about their new album Until The Colours Run, which gets a North American release on January 14.

Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace has rolled out another video from AMOK and a making-of video for said video, viewable at Pitchfork.

Video: Atoms For Peace – “Before Your Very Eyes”

When Scottish rockers Idlewild announced a hiatus following 2010’s Post-Electric Blues, it certainly seemed like the permanent sort but this photo posted yesterday to their Facebook implies that they’re feeling it again, which is good news. Or they’re just messing around with the emotions of their Facebook page fans.

Guitar World talks to Noah & The Whale guitarist Tom Hobden about his world of guitars.

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Manic Street Preachers have unearthed some new Holy Bible-era material – not music, but archival material – and may include it in a 20th anniversary release.

Editors have a new video from The Weight Of Your Love.

Video: Editors – “Honesty”

The Fly chats with Yuck 2.0.

David Gedge of The Wedding Present discusses the return to Hit Parade with The Glasgow Evening Times and lists off the soundtrack of his life for High 50

NPR welcomes Daughter for a Tiny Desk Concert, while The List and Refinery 29 have interviews with frontwoman Elena Tonra.

Arctic Monkeys describe to Rolling Stone how they went reinvented themselves from being a chart-topping rock band to a chart-topping rock band.

And since this is where my head has been at lately, know that the 1993 Suede live concert film Love and Poison is available to watch in its entirety on YouTube; the VHS-transfered visuals aren’t amazing but the soundtrack is quite acceptable.

Video: Suede / Love And Pain

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable and The Lonely Forest at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI wasn’t even intending to be at this show. The plan had been to catch The Joy Formidable at one of their many SxSW shows and thus free up this evening for something else or nothing else. A good plan, on paper, but one scuppered by the fact that the Welsh trio, who released their debut album The Big Roar Stateside on the eve of the festival, would turn out to be one of the buzz bands of the fest and any of the showcases I tried to get into were jammed to the point that getting a decent line of sight, let alone a good vantage point to shoot from, was nigh impossible. I guess what with the band having come through Toronto twice already in the past year and a third visit on the horizon, I was taking them a bit for granted. Lesson learned.

And so it was a third go-around for The Joy Formidable at The Horseshoe on Saturday night, though at least this time The Dig, who’d opened up the last two shows, had been swapped for labelmates The Lonely Forest. Clearly this quartet from the Pacific northwest, who just released their debut Arrows, is getting some attention from the powers that be, what with their being attached both to this tour and the upcoming Death Cab For Cutie jaunt later in the Spring. And that latter pairing makes a lot of sense, considering The Lonely Forest’s facility with energetic if slightly generic post-emo punk-pop. Still, what they lacked in originality they made up for in energy and on-stage pogoing and as one fellow in the audience called out, “I came for The Joy Formidable but you guys rock!”. That’s pretty much all they could ask for.

The Joy Formidable’s independently-released A Balloon Called Moaning was a nearly perfect introduction to the band’s fiery arena rock-meets-shoegaze sound, long enough to confirm that they were for real and short enough to leave you hungry for more. So when it came out that the band was re-recording half the EP for inclusion on their major label debut, there were some concerns that they might polish out some of its more delightful roughness in favour of a more radio-friendly sound. Concerns that proved to be unfounded as if anything, the new versions were even bigger, louder and spikier than before – almost the point of excess. And really, that applies to The Big Roar as a whole – it’s an utterly massive-sounding record and almost exhausting to get through, but the key word is almost. Unless you’re simply not in the mood for rock action on this scale, it’s an invigorating listen.

The principle of “more is better” also applied to their live show, though in this case it meant bigger, not longer. Despite having a pretty good wealth of material to draw on at this point, The Joy Formidable kept their set lean and mean, and still very very similar to the ones they brought through previously. It really only differed in a couple of song selections and the fact that they’d somehow gotten even more explosive as a live act. Frontwoman Ritzy Bryan has further perfected her psycho guitar-pixie persona and added in a dose of crazy eye, bassist Rhydian Dafydd now takes on more vocal duties and has added a Hulk Hogan ear-cup to his stage moves and drummer Matt Thomas, well he kept up which basically means he beat the shit out of his kit. The Joy Formidable ethos seems to be to make each song its own standalone epic and so while the show only ran ten songs with two-song encore and maybe an hour in length, it had more musical detonations than other bands pack into shows twice the length. All that said, I do hope that the next time they come through town which may well be sooner rather than later based on past history, they’ve mixed the set up a bit. Just a little.

Inland SoCal and Wall Street Journal have interviews with The Joy Formidable while Chart also has a review of the show.

Photos: The Joy Formidable, The Lonely Forest @ The Horseshoe – April 2, 2011
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Greyhounds In The Slips”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Cradle”
MP3: The Lonely Forest – “Coyote”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring” (new)
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Popinjay”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring” (original)
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere” (original)
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Cradle”

PJ Harvey has released another couple videos from Let England Shake. She said one for each song on the record, and she meant it. The Sydney Morning Herald has an interview with Harvey.

Video: PJ Harvey – “Written On The Forehead”
Video: PJ Harvey – “Hanging In The Wire”

The Independent interviews Anna Calvi, who will be at The El Mocambo on May 27. I shan’t be there.

Clientele/Pipas side-project Amor de Días will team up with Damon & Naomi for a Spring tour that hits The Horseshoe on May 25. Yup, missing that one too. Both bands have new albums – Amore de Días’ debut Street Of The Love Of Days and Damon & Naomi’s False Beats and True Hearts – out on May 17.

MP3: Damon & Naomi – “Cruel Queen”
MP3: Amor de Días – “Bunhill Fields”

Pulp – who are the reason I’m missing the aforementioned shows – has relaunched their website, loading it with videos of people – both famous and not – covering their songs. Many of them terribly.

Paste catches up with the boys of Noah & The Whale.

With their best-of compilation out and out of the way, Ladytron have announced their next studio album will be entitled Gravity The Seducer and out September 13. Details at Pitchfork.

6 Day Riot have crafted a video for their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”.

Video: 6 Day Riot – “Tusk”

DIY talks to Roddy Woomble about his new solo record Impossible Song & Other Songs and the fate of Idlewild.

The Daily Record talks to James Allan of Glasvegas, who are streaming their new album Euphoric Heartbreak for those who opt to “Like” it on their Facebook. Everyone else gets the first three songs. The album is out now.

Stream: Glasvegas / Euphoric Heartbreak

Clash talks to Mica Levi of Micachu.

Daytrotter has served up a session with Junip, who will be at Lee’s Palace on April 20.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Whirlpool

Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss and Fjord Rowboat at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne might think that after last weekend’s three-day salute to the ’90s I’d be ready to get back to the 21st century, musically-speaking, but instead last Wednesday night turned the dial on the wayback-machine even further – Chapterhouse was in town. The North American leg of their reunion tour, which began in late 2009, was delayed from May until this Fall due to volcanic ash though the Toronto show was cancelled earlier for reasons unknown. Hogtown was back on for the new dates, however, and at a larger venue no less that was respectably filled. Clearly whatever reason nixed the original date wasn’t lack of interest.

For anyone with even a passing affection for the British shoegazing movement of the early ’90s, it was hard not to be interested – My Bloody Valentine aside, this was the only first-wave shoegaze band in recent memory to reunite, let alone play shows in North America, in well over a decade (if anyone wants to fact-check that statement, feel free). And while Chapterhouse weren’t as seminal – in my eyes/ears, anyways – as the likes of Ride, Slowdive or Lush, their credentials are indisputable and their debut Whirlpool an essential listen for the genre. Which is basically another way of saying, “if you are a shoegaze fan and Chapterhouse come to your town, you go”.

Locals Fjord Rowboat know how that goes, but for them it was “if Chapterhouse comes to your town, you lend them your gear and open for them”. Which they did, and in return got to play an impressive show for probably a more receptive audience than they’ve ever had. I used Chapterhouse as a reference point their 2007 debut Saved The Compliments For Morning and that still holds for the just-released follow-up Under Cover Of Brightness, the band remaining faithful to the spirit of shoegazing while remembering, unlike many modern-day purveyors of the style, that what made the greats great was that underneath the layers of sound, there were solid songs. And in the interests of disclosure, I should mention that Fjord has two former bandmates in their number. High five!

I’d lived the Ulrich Schnauss experience twice before and thought I’d figured out the secret to appreciating his electro-ambient stuff – close your eyes. Then you don’t notice that the entire “live” set consists of Schnauss playing preprogrammed tracks off his laptop while adding keyboards overtop or mixing things in real-time, or at least I assume that’s what he was doing – I couldn’t actually hear anything changing in the mix as he clicked and fiddled. This time his set came with its own visual component – projections of European urban scenes, mostly looking as though they’d been filmed from a moving car, which held ones interest for a while but after they began to loop, one’s attention began to wander. By the end, I had a new way to enjoy Schnauss’ set – as a particularly cosmic soundtrack to a game of iPhone Civilization.

One of the first thing you notice about Chapterhouse is how young they all still look – all five are barely 40 (if even) and frontmen Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman still look remarkably boyish. This is less a comment on their skin care regimen than the fact that they were barely into their twenties (if even) when Whirlpool was released and so, returning to Toronto for the first time in nearly 20 years, they still seemed younger than many acts making their debuts. Also setting them apart from many other acts on the road today was the fact that they weren’t out trying to win over new fans or make a name for themselves – if you were there, you knew why and what you were going to get and were just happy to be there. This isn’t to suggest that the bar for performance was lowered at all, but any mistakes or less-than-perfection – and there was some, in the way of feedback (the bad kind, not the good kind), some awkward re-learning of songs onstage and a “Crystal” that wasn’t as tight or together as you’d want – were quickly and easily forgiven.

Instead, it was much easier to focus on the good. There was the seemingly endless rotation of my favourite guitars and the massive sounds the three guitarists coaxed out of them, including Simon Rowe whose status in Mojave 3 is as unclear as the band’s itself and who missed their last tour. There was their cover of The Beatles’ “Rain”, which got a pass on my usual “no Beatles covers please” rule, their pretty much perfect rendering of “Pearl” – more than making up for “Crystal” – and a set list that, while curiously light on their second album Blood Music, delivered almost all of Whirlpool and a selection of b-sides and rarities that they must have known would be appreciated by an audience of the faithful.

While they were hardly monsters of rock onstage, it was hard to imagine that their performances inspired the originally-derisive “shoegaze” label – sure, Rowe stood pretty much stock-still through the set but Sherriff and Patman moved around and hardly glanced at their feet. Of course, unlike many of their peers Chapterhouse have always been as much about the groove as the wall of sound, sometimes referred to as “baggy-gaze” and moving further towards dance and electronic sounds with Blood Music. None of which makes them sound any more contemporary, but no one was here for contemporary. We were here for 1990 and Chapterhouse brought it.

Prefix and The Faster Times have Chapterhouse interviews and Jess Barnett a conversation with Ulrich Schnauss. Exclaim and Panic Manual have reviews of the Toronto show.

Photos: Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, Fjord Rowboat @ Lee’s Palace – October 6, 2010
MP3: Chapterhouse – “Pearl”
MP3: Ulrich Schnauss – “Passing By”
MP3: Fjord Rowboat – “Carried Away”
MP3: Fjord Rowboat – “Paragon”
Video: Chapterhouse – “Breather”
Video: Chapterhouse – “April”
Video: Ulrich Schnauss – “Medusa”
Video: Fjord Rowboat – “Carried Away”
MySpace: Chapterhouse
MySpace: Fjord Rowboat

Beatroute and The Boston Globe talk to The Vaselines; they’re in town on October 30 for a show at The Horseshoe.

The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Record and DCist have feature pieces on Teenage Fanclub.

NPR talks to Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian. He and his band are at Massey Hall tonight and their new album Write About Love is also out today – the promo TV talk show put together for the record is streaming at PitchforkTV and the performance of “I Want The World To Stop” from said programme has been excerpted as the first official video from the record.

Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian Write About Love

A track from Idlewild’s latest (and final?) album Post-Electric Blues has been made available to download to mark the album’s North American release today.

MP3: Idlewild – “Younger Than America”

Drowned In Sound has gone a little British Sea Power-crazy, what with the release of the new Zeus EP in advance of next year’s new full-length – they’ve commissioned a number of features from the band, including their top five UK castles, ten things they wish they hadn’t done, the joy of knitting and a guide to keeping amused on the road.

Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes takes to the band’s blog to thank fans for their support as he convalesces from surgery for a brain tumour while Clash talks to frontman Tim Burgess. A track from their new record Who We Touch has been made available to download.

MP3: The Charlatans – “Love Is Ending”

Barry Hyde of The Futureheads tells Spinner they’re planning on releasing an a capella record early next year.

The Fly has a first listen to the new White Lies record Ritual, due out January 17 in the UK.

A whole slew of new videos in the past few days from the other side of the Atlantic – let’s start with Kele, who has a new clip from his solo record The Boxer.

Video: Kele – “On The Lam”

Foals have rolled out a new video from their second record Total Life Forever.

Video: Foals – “Blue Blood”

Mystery Jets have a new short from this year’s Serotonin. eFestivals and MusicOmh also have interviews.

Video: Mystery Jets – “Show Me The Light”

6 Day Riot have a video for the first single from their forthcoming record On This Island, available in the UK on November 1.

Video: 6 Day Riot – “Take Me Out”

Oxford University’s Cherwell talks to Kate Nash, who has a new single to coincide with her North American tour. It kicks off later this month and includes a date at The Phoenix on November 13.

Video: Kate Nash – “Later On”

For whatever reason, the powers that be have decided that the UK video for La Roux’s “In For The Kill”, out for over a year, just won’t cut it for American audiences and have commissioned a new one. I guess their focus groups demanded more snakes, less cars.

Video: La Roux – “In For The Kill” (US)
Video: La Roux – “In For The Kill” (UK)

The Telegraph talks to Duffy, who releases her second album Endlessly on November 30.

Word is Johnny Flynn’s October 18 show at Lee’s Palace has been postponed until mid-November; all other shows on the North American jaunt, including the 19th in Montreal, appear to still be on, so no idea what the problem with T.O. is. Anyone else hear “Kentucky Pill” on last week’s Weeds? Of course not, because no one with any dignity should admit to watching Weeds anymore. Me, I just heard about it. On the Twitter. Yeah.

Spinner talks to Elvis Costello about his new album National Ransom, out November 2. You can download a track from the record at his website.

Norway’s Serena-Maneesh have rolled out a new video from S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor.

Video: Serena-Maneesh – “D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D.”

NPR is streaming a complete show from The Tallest Man On Earth.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Set The Sails

Dan Mangan and Aidan Knight at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDan Mangan has come through town a few times since his show at the Rivoli last October, but for my purposes that show and the one this past Thursday night at the Horseshoe make for very good comparison points. At that show, I noted he seemed “on the cusp of bigger things” and while the ‘Shoe is physically bigger than the Rivoli by a fair margin, selling it out as fully as Mangan did also represents a sort of watershed moment for a Canadian artist. Dan Mangan isn’t just rising; he’s risen.

And along for the ride (and this tour) was Victoria’s Aidan Knight, who himself has been getting some attention for his debut mini-album Versicolour… though not from me. Though I knew I had a copy, I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out before the show and so basically went into his opening set cold. What I found was an artist possessed of a voice that was simultaneously wearily aged yet earnestly youthful and with a timbre not unlike Tony Dekker’s and armed with a brace of songs whose tones ranged from quirky to weighty. Decent stuff made more entertaining thanks to Knight’s charmingly awkward stage presence and band arrangements that were more intricate and interesting than they probably needed to be. And I did finally give Versicolour a listen afterwards, and must say it’s a much more impressive document of Knight’s abilities than his live set was – well-crafted, musically ambitious and with just the right amount of downbeat mood, it definitely marks Knight as a talent to keep an eye on.

Which, really, is what people were probably saying about Dan Mangan a year or so ago, when his Roboteering EP was released and foreshadowed what was to come later last Summer with his second full-length Nice, Nice, Very Nice. And as much as credit must be given to that record for being excellent and one of my favourites of last year, I think it’s largely Mangan’s work ethic and relentless cross-country touring that was responsible for packing the Horseshoe on this night – the vibe in the room wasn’t so much of fans seeing a favourite performer but of friends visiting with one another, and that sort of rapport is really only built in the live setting.

Nowhere was this more clearly evident than early in the set for “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” – whereas at the Rivoli show, Mangan had a female band member cover Veda Hille’s vocals on the studio version, this time Mangan’s crew were all men so it seemed he was prepared to let the responses to his calls go unmade. The audience, however, would have none of it and quietly and chorally filled in that space, in particular one girl standing just behind me who nearly nailed Hille’s timbre and phrasing. Also unlike the Rivoli show, this time out Mangan had a full-time drummer behind him, giving the set a bit more meat and propulsion than in October but the overall pacing was kept at a fairly even keel and interspersed with corny jokes and anecdotes, such that the evening had less the feel of a performance than a friendly conversation. And for the quality of his songwriting and records, it’s that resonance and relatability that may be Mangan’s greatest talents – you can go far by just making great music, but there are some heights that can only be reached if you’re lifted up on the shoulders of your fans.

BlogTO, The Globe & Mail and Music Vice also have reviews of the show (though the Globe piece is really more of an extended, “I don’t get it”) while NOW and The Toronto Star chime in with feature pieces on Mangan.

Photos: Dan Mangan, Aidan Knight @ The Horseshoe – April 22, 2010
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
MP3: Dan Mangan with Shane Koyzcan – “Tragic Turn Of Events/Move Pen Move”
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
Video: Dan Mangan – “The Indie Queens Are Waiting”
Video: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Stream: Dan Mangan / Roboteering
Stream: Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
MySpace: Dan Mangan
MySpace: Aidan Knight

Pitchfork talks to Caribou’s Dan Snaith; they play The Phoenix on May 3.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Owen Pallett’s show in New York last week. Dallas Voice also has an interview.

Under The Radar talks to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Fresh off announcing the release date of her new record – June 29 – M.I.A. has released the first decidedly NSFW video and leaked the corresponding MP3 from the record herself. Clearly, motherhood has mellowed her out. Yeah, right. Update: YouTube has moved the video behind the adults-only curtain. Kids of all ages can watch it and it’s ultra-violence at her website, though.

MP3: M.I.A. – “Born Free”
Video: M.I.A. – “Born Free”

The Hot Chip/xx show from Washington DC this past weekend is now available to stream at NPR, and if you want some visuals to go with the audio, check out the photos over at Photokyle. There’s also a Hot Chip feature at The Independent.

Slow Club are giving away a free EP – head over here and swap your email for their Let’s Fall Back In Love EP.

Idlewild have chosen to call it a day – I guess that rumoured North American tour for the Fall isn’t happening.

An Horse have released a new video from Rearrange Beds. They play the Garrison tonight.

Video: An Horse – “Postcards”

MBV Music reports that the long-awaited new Versus album – their first in ten years – has a title of On The Ones And Threes and will be out this August on Merge and Teenbeat.

It seems I jumped the gun a bit on announcing that Mirah show at the Horseshoe last week. Not because the show’s not happening – it is, on June 26 – but because it’s part of a massive co-headline tour with Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. I can’t speak for the live Mirah experience – or the recorded one, really – but Thao live is terrific. I suspect this show – and tour – is wholly worth your time.

MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”

Billboard has an extensive feature piece on The National, whose High Violet is just a fortnight from release and who are at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

PitchforkTV has a video session with The Antlers; they open up both of those National shows at Massey Hall.

NPR interviews Midlake. They play the Mod Club on May 22.

The Georgia Straight and Tuscon Weekly talk to Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Band Of Horses’ Creighton Barrett. Infinite Arms is out May 18 and they play Toronto Islands on June 19.

Crooked Fingers has taken to Kickstarter to solicit financing for a most worthy of projects – a follow-up to their 2002 covers EP Reservoir Songs. Pledges can be for as little as $1, but starting at the $6 point you’re entitled to a download of the finished product, while $15 or $25 gets you a limited-edition LP and if you get into the four-figure territory, you can get to pick a song for them to cover or have them come to your living room to perform. For serious. They’re targeting an early Summer release for the EP and a new Crooked Fingers full-length before the year is out.

Seeing as how they initially reported on its existence, it seems fitting that Torontoist have an update of sorts on the Imagine Concert, which is still supposed to usher in a new Age of Aquarius (aren’t we already in one?) emanating from Downsview Park in Toronto starting the weekend of July 10 and 11. It seems the city still hasn’t signed off, never mind provincial or federal authorities and the promoter is tilting at windmills and trying to pay artists fees with peace and love. I also apparently gave them too much credit in assuming they’d secured The Flaming Lips as part of the “Pink Floyd tribute” portion of the show as updated touring itineraries show the Lips as being at Ottawa Bluesfest on the 10th and in Louisville, Kentucky on the 11th. That does, however, leave two days open between Montreal on the 7th and Ottawa on the 10th where the Lips could conceivably make their first Toronto appearance in three and a half years. Presumably at a show that would pay them in actual money, and not just good vibes. Now don’t get me wrong – I still hope this thing happens and that it’s wonderful or at least interesting (in a good way or a train wreck way, whichever) – but it doesn’t look too good right now.

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Heart Skipped A Beat

An introduction to The xx

Photo By Owen RichardsOwen RichardsI don’t always trust myself, particularly when it comes to things like first impressions to music. Some things I think I hate grow to become dear favourites, while other things that may impress at first blush turn out to have the shortest shelf lives. But sometimes the things that instantly sound amazing actually are, and while it may still be too soon to call it, I’m prepared to put The xx in that rarefied group.

I only got a copy of their debut album xx earlier this week, but it has already received more plays than some records I’ve had for months – it simply demands to be heard and re-heard. Trying to find a place from which to begin describing it is difficult – imagine smooth trip-hop crossed with goth-tinged dreampop, seamlessly fused at the genetic level. Imagine Massive Attack busking in an abandoned tube station, armed with just guitars, bass and drum machine and drenched in reverb. It’s cold and sensual. Joyous and sullen. Dark and luminous. Detached and seductive. Confident and trepidatious. It’s dead simple and richly complex, and it’s crafted by four nineteen-year olds from the south of London. I want to use all manner of superlatives and hyperbole, but that sort of enthusiasm is sort of at odds with xx‘s utterly laid back beauty. So I’ll just say that while there’s plenty of time for its spell to be broken, for the moment it certainly looks like this is one of the best new bands/debuts/albums I’m likely to hear this year. Oh dear, that was a bit hyperbolic, wasn’t it? Ah well.

xx is out now in the UK now but North Americans who still like the physical product must wait until October 20. Those who do the digital over here can get it now, however, as it became available on iTunes, eMusic and the like this week. They’re also touring North America later this year as support for Friendly Fires – the pairing of their austere understatedness and the headliners’ unabashed dance party should be an interesting mix. Very much looking forward to the December 2 date at the Mod Club Phoenix.

The Guardian and about.com have interviews with the band, who may end up being one of the rare bands who deliver far more than what the hype promises. Oops, more hyperbole.

MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
MP3: The xx – “Crystalised”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
MySpace: The xx

Elbow’s Guy Garvey tells BBC that the band are, uh, elbow-deep in new songs for their next album, which they’ll start working on in earnest after they finish touring in mid-September.

Pitchfork reports that pre-orders of the US release of Manic Street Preachers’ Journal For Plague Lovers on September 15 via the band’s website will get a copy of the previously announced remix album, featuring contributions from the likes of Patrick Wolf and The Horrors, for free. Those of us who already have the album will presumably be given some other way to get it. Probably involving a further outlay of cash. Manic Street Preachers are at the Phoenix on October 4.

MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “Doors Closing Slowly” (Horrors remix)

The Line Of Best Fit has details on the fan-funded new Idlewild album, Post-Electric Blues, which will be out on October 5.

Clash talks to Noah & The Whale, who are set to release their new album The First Days Of Spring in the UK on August 31 and October 6 in North America. They also recently recorded a Black Cab Session.

Rockfeedback welcomes Emmy The Great to their digs for a lovely video session and hilarious interview. Emmy crush unabated.

To anyone wondering, Lucky Soul’s new album – still untitled – has had its release date pushed back from this Fall to January of next year. Until then, we will have to subsist on the first single. I can do that.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy”

Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura talks David Lynch and inspiration with The Tripwire.

PopMatters celebrates the early years of The Wedding Present.

I Taught Myself How To Grow Old talks to Bobby Wratten, formerly of The Field Mice, about the experience of having Saint Etienne cover their “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” to much greater success than the original ever achieved.

Video: Saint Etienne – “Let’s Kiss And Make Up”

Magnet plays over/under not with a single band’s oeuvre, as they normally do, but with the bands of the Britpop era.