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Posts Tagged ‘Los Campesinos’

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

One Breath

Anna Calvi and Gems at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI didn’t go to New York this past weekend expressly to see Anna Calvi; although she was only playing a handful of North American dates following the release of her second album One Breath last month, I had no doubt she’d be back for a full and proper tour before too long and air travel wouldn’t be necessary to see her play. I was planning to go to New York anyways, however, and did I schedule said trip to intersect with her show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg? Maaaaaybe.

Opening up were Washington DC’s Gems, a co-ed duo who play soulful, electro-pop that’s getting a moderate amount of buzz in the same way that many other co-ed duos who play soulful, electro-pop are. Which is not to say they weren’t alright, but you couldn’t help feel like they were just one of the contestants in the Hunger Games of co-ed duos who play soulful electro-pop and whether they’d come out on top or be an also-ran wasn’t clear. Working in their favour was a sound and show that was well-polished and songs that were solidly-crafted if not outstanding on one listen, and against them were the fact that, well, blending smoky vocals, echoey guitar lines, and canned beats danceable enough for the band to groove and the audience to sway isn’t especially fresh. But even so, I give them pretty good odds. Their debut EP Medusa came out this week.

As they were setting up the stage for Anna Calvi’s set, I thought that someone had accidentally her mic stand out of position. With the boom set low and almost perpendicular to the stand, surely it was far too low for Calvi to sing into. What I had forgotten – or perhaps didn’t notice when I finally saw her live last in December 2011 – is that Calvi is absolutely tiny in stature, even in stilettos, and her Telecaster – hardly the largest electric guitar out there – looked gigantic on her. But all presumptions of petiteness were rendered irrelevant from the moment she struck said guitar, and opened her mouth to said mic.

Opening with “Suzanne & I” off her 2011 self-titled debut – one of my favourites of the year and still in steady rotation – Calvi’s preternatural guitar and vocal abilities were well on display; the former viscerally virtuostic, the latter enormously emotive, and both massive is scale. Her band was expanded to include a keyboardist alongside her long-term multi-instrumentalist Mally Harpaz as well as new drummer, replacing the just-departed Daniel Maiden-Wood, but functioned like a well-oiled machine in supporting Calvi and allowing her to do her thing.

With the front half of the show dominated on the relatively more subdued and atmospheric One Breath, the emphasis was more on Calvi’s voice, as powerful as her operatic training would allow but also soft and seductive when called to be, even when she was more focused on tuning her guitar than send shivers down the audience’s collective backs, shivers ensued. The guitar chops were used judiciously – though always for killing blows – but by the time they reached “I’ll Be Your Man”, the Tele-triggered sonic explosions were becoming more frequent and intense and when she pulled out a Gretsch Sparkle Jet for “Carry Me Over”, feedback and Bigsby abuse were added to her arsenal of attack. Appropriately, the set hit its crescendo with “Desire” and was sustained with Calvi in full guitar hero mode through main set closer, “Love Won’t Be Leaving”. After that breathtaking showing, expecting an encore seemed unreasonable but she was coaxed out for the the smouldering “Bleed Into Me” and then her customary closer, a cover of Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel”, before leaving for good.

So no, I didn’t fly to another country just to see Anna Calvi play, but I certainly would have. And I still have her eventual Toronto show next year to look forward to.

W, The Vine, and The Independent have features on Anna Calvi. And if any geeks out there wanted a look at her pedalboard, I got a shot (it’s all run into a Vox AC30).

Photos: Anna Calvi, Gems @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg – November 11, 2013
MP3: Anna Calvi – “The Wall”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Jezebel”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Wolf Like Me”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Suzanne & I”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Desire”
Video: Gems – “Pegasus”

Cate Le Bon has marked this week’s release of her new album Mug Museum with a new video; she plays The Drake Underground on January 21 and tells The Independent what fantasy band she wishes could be backing her up at that gig.

Video: Cate Le Bon – “Are You With Me Now?”

AllMusic is streaming the whole of Stornoway’s new EP You Don’t Know Anything, which came out this week. A new album should follow in 2014.

Stream: Stornoway / You Don’t Know Anything

Rose Elinor Dougall’s new EP Future Vanishes is out next week, but you can stream the title track from it now.

Stream: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Future Vanishes”

Dazed has an interview with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange as well as a whole bunch of pieces with his collaborators on Cupid Deluxe, which is out in physical form next Tuesday; a new video from it has just been released.

Video: Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell”

Under The Radar talks to London psych-rockers Temples, coming to town for a show at The Horseshoe on November 20; their debut album comes out next year.

Paste talks to director Shane Meadows about his Stone Roses doc Made Of Stone, premiering at The Bloor Cinema on November 22.

Exclaim reports that Kele Okereke is using the Bloc Party hiatus to return to being Kele; and will release the Heartbreaker EP on November 25; you can stream the title track now.

Stream: Kele – “Heartbreaker”

Yuck have rolled out a new video from their new record Glow & Behold. They’re at at The Garrison on January 17.

Video: Yuck – “Lose My Breath”

As expected, Johnny Flynn has added a Toronto date to his already-announced tour in support of new album Country Mile; he’ll be at Lee’s Palace on January 22, tickets $13.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Gypsy Hymn”

Done teasing with apps and constellations, Metronomy have announced a March 10 release date for their new album Love Letters. Details at Pitchfork, streamable first single below.

Stream: Metronomy – “I’m Aquarius”

Guy Garvey discusses the new Elbow album Carry Her Carry Me, out March 10, with NME.

Manic Street Preachers have confirmed their new album, a plugged-in companion of sorts to this year’s Rewind The Film, to NME. It’s called Futurology and will probably be out around the time of their just-announced UK tour dates, which is to say late March/early April.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Fanfarlo. Their new full-length is out next year.

Lily Allen has kicked off her return to music with a new video that is as controversial as she’d probably intended, though maybe not in the way she’d like.

Video: Lily Allen – “Hard Out Here”

Spin interviews M.I.A..

David Bowie has released another video for the James Murphy remix of “Love Is Lost” off The Next Day Extra via Vice, and Pitchfork the Louis Vuitton short film that he stars in because he is David Bowie and he does things like star in short films for Louis Vuitton.

Video: David Bowie – “Love Is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich remix video two)

Under The Radar talks to Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys.

MTV Hive has an interview with Los Campesinos!.

The Alternate Side welcomes London Grammar for an interview and session.

Franz Ferdinand talks to Tone Deaf and plays a video session for Triple M.

The Guardian declares Suede’s reunion as a reunion done right.

And speaking of reunions (which won’t happen), Ride have made their YouTube channel worth a visit with a complete stream of their digitally-reissued Waves compilation of BBC sessions, including three tracks not on the CD issue, and the full professionally-shot video of the 1992 Brixton Academy show which was included as a bonus disc to the 20th anniversary reissue of Going Blank Again last year.

Stream: Ride / Waves
Video: Ride – Leave Them All Behind (live at Brixton Academy 27/03/1992)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Wonder 2

My Bloody Valentine at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy Bloody Valentine’s last visit to Toronto in September 2008 was a singular event on a few levels. Besides being their first visit in over a decade and a half, it was in-the-flesh proof that one of the most improbable returns to active duty in recent years was actually happening; considering that the seemingly simple task of reissuing Isn’t Anything and Loveless was already months overdue at the time and would actually take another three and half years to come out, only the most optimistic would have expected them to get their act together enough to pull off a North American tour. But they did, and it was glorious.

And so Tuesday night’s show – again at the Kool Haus – in support of their long-promised third album mbv came without some of that weight of expectation that surrounded their previous visit, but was still cause for excitement – these were still legends, after all… But even legends are still human. Unexpected for a band as epically amplified as they, both Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig started off with acoustic guitars and Belinda Butcher on keyboards for a reading of “Sometimes” that kept drifting out of synch with itself, the basic click track underpinning it not quite up to the job of keeping everyone in time. Shields would comment, “We really fucked that up” when it was over and he wasn’t wrong.

But a few more missteps aside – most notably “Thorn” getting two false starts before being abandoned midway through a third shot, Shields blaming a guitar “in the wrong key” – it was another immensely satisfying show. For being expectedly and incredibly loud, the mix was surprisingly clear with drums, keys, and most importantly vocals being sufficiently audible over the six-string din (a third guitarist beefed things up even further when not covering on keys). That they achieved this in a room that can be unforgiving to less proficient sound techs was remarkable, and it allowed the beauty of their softer moments – like mbv‘s “New You” – to come through and allowed the more violent numbers to do their work with surgical elegance rather than just as blunt instruments.

The set list drew fairly evenly from their three albums and b-sides, showcasing both their elegant and aggressive sides, with highlights including a deliciously bent “Only Shallow”, an impressive “Wonder 2” that again brought Ó Cíosóig from behind the kit to add a guitar while a drum track kept time, and the still-irresistibly dancey “Soon”, to say nothing of the endless parade of offset-body Fender guitars. The usually silent Shields was a bit chattier than normal, if just to explain and apologize for their technical hiccups, with Butcher adding a polite “thank you” before their closing salvo of “Feed Me With Your Kiss” and the scorched-earth “You Made Me Realize”, though rather than try to top the 23-minute ‘holocaust’ section from 2008, they capped it at a reasonable nine. There’s not many bands that you’d actually feel some disappointment that they didn’t apply the aural equivalent of a dental cleaning with a space shuttle booster rocket for the length of a network sitcom, but there’s not many bands like My Bloody Valentine. Or any.

The Toronto Star, National Post, NOW, and Exclaim also have reviews of the show. The attached photo is from the 2008 photoset; no photography was permitted this time around.

Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”
Video: My Bloody Valentine- “Soon”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “To Here Knows When”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Swallow”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “You Made Me Realise”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Feed Me With Your Kiss”
Stream: My Bloody Valentine / mbv

DIY, Consequence Of Sound, Paper, and FasterLouder talk to Cut Copy about their just-released new album, Free Your Mind. They’re in town November 15 at The Danforth Music Hall.

Blood Orange is streaming the whole of his new album Cupid Deluxe, which will be available digitally next week on November 12 before coming out in physical formats on November 19.

Stream: Blood Orange / Cupid Deluxe

Artist Direct, The Telegraph, and Yahoo talk to Shane Meadows about directing the Made Of Stone documentary on The Stone Roses. It gets a Toronto premiere at both The Bloor and Cineplex Yonge-Dundas on November 22, and continues screening at YDS from November 24 to 28.

Drowned In Sound talks to Cate Le Bon about her new record Mug Museum, out November 12. She’ll be at The Drake Underground on January 21.

When it was announced that Until The Colours Run – the new record from Lanterns On The Lake – wasn’t getting a North American release until January 14 despite coming out in the UK in October, I hoped it meant that the record would get a much-deserved proper promotional push over here. And indeed, they’ve announced a North American tour for next year that brings them to the Drake Underground on February 1. Under The Radar has the full itinerary as well as a stream of a new song, but you can hear the whole thing via a link in my review of the record last month.

Stream: Lanterns On The Lake – “The Buffalo Days”

Johnny Flynn has released a new video from Country Mile as well as some North American tour dates in the first part of next year. Interestingly, there’s no Toronto date but there is a Montreal one on January 21 and several days off around it, so I’m guessing it will be announced sooner or later.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Gypsy Hymn”

Drowned In Sound, The Jakarta Post, and The Star find out what Danish prog-rockers Mew are up to, besides working on a new album.

The Line Of Best Fit checks in with The Raveonettes, who will begin recording a new record in the new year.

The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Anna Calvi, who has released a video for the opening track of her new record, One Breath.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Suddenly”

Patrick Wolf has released a new video for the Sundark & Riverlight version of “The Libertine”, premiered at artforfreedom.com in support of LGBT rights at the Sochi Olympics.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Libertine”

Exclaim talks to Neil Halstead about Black Hearted Brother and the band, as a unit, list some of their most influential albums for MusicOmh.

DIY talks to Foals.

PopMatters has an interview with Los Campesinos!.

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Retrograde

James Blake wins Mercury Prize, hopes people will now stop asking him about tennis

Photo By Nabil ElderkinNabil ElderkinJames Blake is hardly an unknown in certain circles, but it’s understandable if he has some identity issues. He’s often mixed up with the American tennis player of the same name, and just last night at a gathering of British music industry types who ought to know better, he was introduced by BBC presenter Lauren Laverne as treacle-singing countryman James Blunt. It’s a good thing they got it right a few minutes later when he was announced winner of the 2013 Mercury Music Prize for his album Overgrown.

In doing so, he bested not only the heavily favoured (Laura Mvula), buzz bands (Disclosure), stars (Arctic Monkeys), legends (David Bowie), and underdogs (Jon Hopkins ), but allowed the genres of indie, pop, R&B, electronic, dubstep, and whatever else he might have been described as to claim victory. For a prize that inevitably leaves people crying unfair or out of touch for whatever reason, not a bad compromise. I only wish that he’d named the album after the first single so that we could make the easy – and accurate – joke about the Mercury being in Retrograde. Ah, opportunities missed.

And it makes Blake’s decision to cancel a few dates of his current North American tour to attend the Mercury ceremony look like a pretty smart move. He’s back across the pond after some celebrations, I’m sure, and will be taking the stage at The Kool Haus in Toronto on November 10. Under The Radar and Clash have conveniently-timed features on Blake

Video: Video: James Blake – “Retrograde”
Video: Video: James Blake – “Overgrown”

And though they didn’t win, some of the nominees were using the occasion and extra attention to unveil some goodies. David Bowie premiered a video for the James Murphy remix of “Love Is Lost” that appears on The Next Day Extra deluxe edition of his new record which comes out November 5; watch it below and read a little of the making-of for the clip via The Mirror. And five of the new songs that also appear on the Extra release are available to stream – for Canadians only – at CBC Music, although some enterprising internet-user has already ripped four of them to non-geoblocked YouTube; “God Bless The Girl” appeared on the Japanese release of The Next Day, so that doesn’t technically count as new, but you may as well stream that too.

Video: David Bowie – “Love Is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich Mix)
Stream: David Bowie – “Atomica”
Stream: David Bowie – “The Informer”
Stream: David Bowie – “Like A Rocket Man”
Stream: David Bowie – “Born In A UFO”
Stream: David Bowie – “God Bless The Girl”

Though surely relieved to have not won something they were clearly uncomfortable with, Savages still timed the release of a new video from Silence Yourself to coincide with the ceremony. Guitarist Gemma Thompson took to Tumblr to discuss the new Vonnegut-inspired clip and DIY has a cover story on the band.

Video: Savages – “Marshal Dear”

Although not Mercury-recognized, Frightened Rabbit also released a new clip from Pedestrian Verse via DIY.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Holy”

Los Campesinos! have put out a new video from their latest No Blues, which is out now in the UK but doesn’t get North American release until November 12. A Heart Is A Spade, Pitchfork, and Interview talk to the band about the new record.

Video: Los Campesinos! – “Avocado, Baby”

Daughter are using tour footage/their tour diary as the new video from If You Leave

Video: Daughter – “Amsterdam”

BrooklynVegan interviews Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, though the subject of his Mercury Prize conspiracy theories don’t come up. Shields leads MBV into the Kool Haus on November 5.

Blood Orange has released a lyric video for the second preview of his next record Cupid Deluxe, coming out November 19.

Lyric Video: Blood Orange – “You’re Not Good Enough”

Veronica Falls are now streaming the b-side of their new Australia/Japan tour 7″, being released to those not seeing them on said tour come December 9.

Stream: Veronica Falls – “Ned You Around”

Yuck v2.0 makes their Toronto debut behind their second album Glow & Behold at The Garrison on January 17, part of a full North American tour.

Video: Yuck – “Middle Sea”

Mogwai have announced a January 21 release date for their new studio album Rave Tapes; stream the first song from it below.

Stream: Mogwai – “Remurdered”

Former Mercury Prize winners Elbow have given their new record – already locked in for a March 10 release – the title of Carry Her Carry Me; details at Exclaim.

Daytrotter has a session with Fanfarlo, who’ve just released their The Sea EP ahead of a new full-length due out next year.

The 405 has an interview with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party.

The Guardian has premiered a mini-documentary film of The Vaccines on the road.

Summer Camp share their top ten favourite horror films with Consequence Of Sound – just in time for American Thanksgiving!

And to bring it all around, Clash wonders if the Mercury Prize might be better if it were more like Canada’s Polaris Prize.

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action

Franz Ferdinand, Frankie Rose, and Casual Sex at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn a way, I feel sorry for Franz Ferdinand. Almost without fail, general reaction to every album they’ve released since their 2004 self-titled debut has been, “yeah it’s alright but it’s not as good as their first one” – which may be true, but only by degrees. The Scottish quartet should really be commended for pulling off the difficult trick of maintaining their core recipe of rock guitar riffs, post-punk spikiness, new wave danciness, and art school archness without overtly repeating themselves from one record to the next. So the “return to form” talking point that accompanied their fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, released at the end of Summer, was amusing because to my ears they’d never lost their form. Right Thoughts was a bit rawer and peppier than 2009’s Tonight, sure, but again – degrees.

The important thing is that it’s another strong record and gave the band a reason to come back to Toronto with Thursday night’s show at The Kool Haus being both the final night of the North American tour and their first local appearance since V Fest in 2009, having declined to make the trip last Summer even though they were just a few hours away in Montreal playing Osheaga. And for me, it’d be my first time seeing them indoors in a club – albeit large club – setting since they made their local debut nearly a decade ago at The Horseshoe in February 2004. Yes, I’m old. What of it.

You could be forgiven for expecting the worst of opening act Casual Sex, what with a moniker that you would only expect to find on university coffee house flyers billed alongside other such clever names as Free Beer and Hot Chicks. But to dismiss them for that would have been a mistake, as the Glaswegian quartet was quite impressive. Led by confident and cheeky frontman Sam Smith, their stabby/dancey/scratchy art-rock sounds sharing roots with the headliners but evolving without any of the arena aspirations and for that, was interesting without being inaccessible.

I’ve often heard 4AD and/or shoegaze descriptors applied to the works of Brooklyn’s Frankie Rose, but those comparisons have always struck me as being a bit surface – after all, stepping on a chorus pedal doesn’t make you the Cocteau Twins. But perhaps compared to the Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls/Crystal Stilts garage-rock CV that Rose boasted before striking out on her own, both 2012’s Interstellar and this year’s Herein Wild seemed like ornately-produced space-rock epics. What’s key is that both of those records were filled with shimmery, ’80s-friendly guitar pop that showcased Rose’s lovely vocals and gift for melody. On stage, the presentation was a bit too laid back to even attempt to steal the show, still sounded great with extra respect going to lead guitarist Drew Citron, who managed to recreate the bulk of the textures of the album, leaving Rose to concentrate on singing.

While there may be debate amongst fans about the relative merits of each of the Franz albums – save the debut, which is pretty much accepted as the gold standard – there’s little contention that Franz live are about as sure a thing as you can get. Unlike The Strokes or Interpol, whom they were originally framed as the British answer for when they first emerged, any internal Franz drama has been kept behind closed doors and it never seems like they’re ever having anything but the best time, which is what they bring to the stage. With said stage decked out in strobes, smoke machines, and custom “Right Thoughts”, “Right Words”, and “Right Action” amp housings, Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy – proudly sporting a Canadian tuxedo for the occasion – have charisma to spare and channel it through kicks, jumps, and stage moves a-plenty, to say nothing of the always-charming banter. The room may not have been sold out, but the enthusiasm was equivalent to as if it had been double-booked.

And oh yeah, the songs. The set list was suitably Right Thought-heavy, and while they may have left out my favourites “Strawberries” and “The Universe Expanded”, it’s a testament to the solidity of the album that the energy didn’t dip at all throughout. But being a band that’s mastered the art of giving the fans what they want, the rest of the selections were exactly what you’d expect/demand, with a trio of singles from each of Tonight and You Could Have It So Much Better and the debut providing the big moments. It’s impressive that after a decade, those songs still feel fresh and energized and watching the crowd bounce up and down in time with the breakdown of “Take Me Out” is still great fun. There may well be a segment of Franz Ferdinand fans who wish for more deep cuts, more creative left turns, but they’re not being heard – probably because of all the cheering from everyone else.

Exclaim also has a review of the show, while JAM and Rolling Stone have interviews with Franz Ferdinand.

Photos: Franz Ferdinand, Frankie Rose, Casual Sex @ The Kool Haus – October 24, 2013
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Evil Eye”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Love Illumination”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Eleanor Put Your Boots On”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Jeremy Fraser”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Wine In The Afternoon”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “L. Wells”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Fallen”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Walk Away”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Do You Want To”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “This Fire”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Michael”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “The Dark Of The Matinee”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Darts Of Pleasure”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Night Swim”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Gospel/Grace”
Video: Casual Sex – “Nothing On Earth”
Video: Casual Sex – “Stroh 80”
MP3: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
MP3: Frankie Rose – “Thee Only One”

Los Campesinos! are streaming their new record No Blues over at Pitchfork ahead of its release tomorrow, at which point it’ll probably be taken down.

Stream: Los Campesinos! / No Blues

Las Vegas Weekly has an interview with Charli XCX, in town at Wrongbar on November 9.

The Guardian profiles Arctic Monkeys, who have released a new video from AM.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “One For The Road”

The Guardian talks to Bernard Butler about the decision to get back in a band with Trans.

Clash offers their complete guide to Suede while The Fly, The Telegraph, and Burton Mail have chats with Brett Anderson.

Interview talks to the three principals of Black Hearted Brother.

Still Corners have made a random b-side available to stream.

Stream: Still Corners – “We Have The Future On Tape”

Under The Radar has an interview with Laura Marling

CBC Music talks to Travis.

Exclaim reports that Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl film has been completed and will be premiering in early 2014 on the festival circuit and should get some kind of limited release in the Summer before arriving on DVD in the Fall.

Clash talks to Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne about his new book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.

And a farewell to Lou Reed, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Tributes abound, many worth reading, but Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece at The New Yorker, Robert Christgau’s at Spin, and Michael Barclay’s at Radio Free Canuckistan are good places to start.

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