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Posts Tagged ‘Lucky Soul’

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Too Raging To Cheers

Review of Mogwai’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Photo via FacebookFacebookOne benefit of being a mostly instrumental band is that without lyrics, you can name your songs and your albums whatever the hell you want. It’s a perk that Mogwai have taken full advantage of over their decade-plus existence with their discography looking like a hilarious and fantastical collection of never-written novels, screenplays and comic books that usually have little to nothing to do with the sounds they’re attached to.

But I can’t help reading a little more into the title of their seventh studio album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, out Tuesday. No deep existential meanings, certainly, but I find it interesting that it would be applied to a record that is their most melodic and pop-sounding, least-hardcore effort to date and which rather than the sound of a band in any sort of death throe, is reflective of a veteran outfit rejuvenated and feeling more vital than ever. This latter point is not to be taken for granted. Their output in the mid-00s, while hardly without merit, often felt more like soundtracks than songs. It was as though they knew the quiet-loud post-rock formula they helped establish wouldn’t sustain them forever but exactly what should come next was unclear.

Treading water turned to swimming 2008’s The Hawk Is Howling, which came with significantly more focus and fire than its predecessors, followed by a searing live career retrospective in last year’s Special Moves and now, perhaps reinvigorated by switching labels to SubPop, their best effort in some years with Hardcore. To casual fans or just bystanders, it might seem like one Mogwai record is much like another and there’s certainly truth in that but more than any of their other records does Hardcore strike the right balance of atmospherics, melody and dynamics.

From the motorik-underpinned “Mexican Grand Prix” through the abrasive roar of “Pano Rano” and gently sweeping warmth of “Death Rays” to the singalong – if you can sing along with a synth line or vocoded gibberish – bounce of “George Square Thatcher Death Party”, Hardcore encapsulates a wide swath of sounds, styles and emotionality and does so with an economy that the band’s younger selves wouldn’t have been capable of. At no point over the past decade would I have ever written off Mogwai, but I’d be lying if I said I ever expected the sort of renaissance that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will represents – it’s both the culmination of all their past work and hopefully a blueprint for many more records to come.

The Belfast Telegraph interviews guitarist Stuart Braithwaite while Pitchfork solicits a list of the music that soundtracked his formative years while Spinner chats with Barry Burns. Mogwai’s North American tour kicks off in April and hits The Phoenix in Toronto on April 26. The record is currently available to stream in its entirety at Rolling Stone.

MP3: Mogwai – “San Pedro”
MP3: Mogwai – “Pano Rano”
Video: Mogwai – “Mexican Grand Prix”
Video: Mogwai – “Pano Rano”
Video: Mogwai – “How To Be A Werewolf”
Stream: Mogwai / Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will

Lucky Soul released the video for their final single from A Coming Of Age a couple weeks ago, but they’ve now made the whole thing available to stream. Three of the songs are from the album but one is new and you can download album closer “Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere” to keep. Of course, you really should have the whole thing – it’s brill.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere”
Video: Lucky Soul – “Upon Hilly Fields”
Stream: Lucky Soul / Upon Hilly Fields

The ultra-twee and ultra-adorable Allo Darlin’ have put together a North American tour in support of last year’s self-titled debut – look for them at The El Mocambo on June 11. Clash has an interview with bandleader Elizabeth Morris.

Video: Allo Darlin’ – “My Heart Is A Drummer”
Video: Allo Darlin’ – “The Polaroid Song”

PJ Harvey will mark the release of her new album Let England Shake next week with a live webcast performance of the record on Monday, February 14, from Paris. It will start at 3PM EST at Deezer.com. And until then, check out the video for the title track from the record.

Video: PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake”

The Guardian has posted a live video session from Anna Calvi, whose self-titled debut I’m falling more in love with every day. The record is out March 1 and she plays Wrongbar on March 11.

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Whirring

The Joy Formidable Roar now over there, Roar later over here

Photo via TJFthejoyformidable.comProving that cliches are both true and false, Welsh trio The Joy Formidable are setting out to prove that good things do indeed come to those who wait but also that sometimes you can’t get too much of a good thing. To the former, there’s the fact that while those in the UK were able to celebrate “Big Roar Day” yesterday in honour of the release of their debut album The Big Roar, North Americans will have to wait until March 15 for the domestically-released edition. And while I appreciate the necessity of staggered release dates in different territories from a business point of view – there’s only so much press and promo a band is able to do in a given time frame – the fact that it’s so easy to get records irrespective of where you live (legally, of course) makes the notion that something is available elsewhere but not where you are hard to swallow. And don’t get me started on geoblocked videos… but I digress.

But the upside to the exercise in delayed gratification is the fact that the North American release will be accompanied by a North American tour, anchored by appearances at SxSW and Coachella, that brings them back to Toronto for their third date at The Horseshoe in less than a year on April 2, tickets $13.50. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago I was afraid I’d never get the chance to catch them live and nearly flew to New York on one occasion and rescheduled a work trip around making sure I was able to see them last May. Not that I’ve any complaint about their regular visits – both shows here were barnburners and I expect no less of this next one.

Virtual Festivals and Stereoboard have interviews with the band, while Rolling Stone declares them “Band Of The Week” and The Quietus has a video session.

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”

Daytrotter has posted up a session with Little Boots.

Spinner learns the rather unsustainable source of Adele’s songwriting inspiration. Her second album 21 arrives February 22.

Arriving just a smidge to late to piggyback on last week’s tour announcement, Stereogum is streaming the whole of Esben & The Witch’s debut album Violet Cries a week ahead of its January 31 UK release and a bit longer ahead of the February 8 North American street date. Clash has also declared them a “band to watch”.

Stream: Esben & The Witch / Violet Cries

Also up for stream early is the debut album from Gorky’s Fanclub side-project Jonny. Well, early for North America – in another case of territorial differences, the self-titled effort is out in the UK next Monday but not until April 12 over here.

Stream: Jonny / Jonny

Lucky Soul get animated in the video for the final single to be taken from their terrific A Coming Of Age. The band are taking a bit of a break while Andrew and Ali have a baby then it’s back to work for record number three.

Video: Lucky Soul – “Upon Hilly Fields”

Patrick Wolf has released the first proper video from his forthcoming Lupercalia, a beach-frolicking little number shot in Santa Monica, California. The record is out May 23.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The City”

Spin talks to Andy Bell and Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye about their debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding, which will get a North American release on March 1. I keep reporting on this for Andy’s sake. You know that.

MP3: Beady Eye – “The Roller”

Brett Anderson tells XFM he’d like to take a mulligan on the last Suede record, the eminently forgettable A New Morning. Where’s the positivity, Brett? This, of course, opens the question of a new record from the reformed band but first they’re going to reissue the whole of their back catalog – including A New Morning – with previously unheard rarities and participation in the archive diving from prodigal guitarist Bernard Butler but perplexingly there don’t appear to be plans for vinyl editions of any of the records. The band will also be diving into storage to dig up their “The London Suede” merch as they’re making their first trip to the US in probably at least a decade for an appearance at Coachella, though hopefully that’s not their only show on these shores. HINT HINT.

A British band who knows how to treat their audio/analogphile fans are Spiritualized, whom Exclaim reports are putting out their first two record Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase on vinyl later this month. And rumours persist that a new record will be arriving from Mr. Pierce/Spaceman before the year is out.

Having successfully brought the complete Ocean Rain to Toronto in October 2009, Echo & The Bunnymen will return with their first and fourth records Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here rehearsed and ready for recital on May 16 at The Phoenix, tickets $37.50. Full dates at Pitchfork.

Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Crocodiles” (live)

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Fool's Day

Right-wing media conspiracy spreads rumours of new Blur record

Photo via MyspaceMyspaceAnd as the internet inexorably slows for the holiday season, we have this. Over in the UK, the generally dubious tabloid The Sun cites an anonymous source as saying that Blur are headed back into the studio in the new year to hash out some new material and, if all goes well, release a new record in 2011, their first since 2003’s Think Tank and since 1999 with guitarist Graham Coxon.

While the credibility of the source – of both The Sun and their tipster – is suspect, it does make some sense. Following their triumphant 2009 reunion, the quartet opted to not immediately carry it forward and instead announced the reunion over, though ironically it was Coxon – who left the band in the first place – who kept pushing the idea that there could be more to come. In any case, Damon Albarn went back to wearing his Gorillaz suit, Coxon released his seventh solo record and Dave Rowntree and Alex James went back to doing whatever they were doing, making it look like the unfinished business had been attended to.

But then came their “Fool’s Day” single, released in April for Record Store Day, which proved that a) they weren’t in face done with Blur and b) Blur were still writing good tunes. It wasn’t a song for the ages, certainly more subdued than many had hoped, but I thought it was an honest representation of where Blur was at in their 40s and still boasted a terrific Graham solo – certainly I’d be happy if they put out more of this. So with Gorillaz heading to the back burner and enough time elapsed since the reunion celebrating their past glories, 2011 sounds like a pretty good time to move Blur into the future. Let’s hope that this rumour has more legs than the one last Spring, hinting that they’d be crossing the Atlantic for some North American dates.

MP3: Blur – “Fool’s Day”

Much more certain is the new record from ElbowBBC6 talks to frontman Guy Garvey about the new album, which will be entitled Build A Rocket, Boys and be out March 7 in the UK. Fingers crossed for a simultaneous North American release and touring.

Even though Florence & The Machine really broke out in 2009 and by rights should have gone back into the studio to work on a new record this year, Florence Welch still made her procrastination productive enough for Spin to name her their artist of the year and run a feature piece on her.

British Sea Power previews their new record Valhalla Dancehall acoustic-style with a video session for The Fly. The record is out January 11 and the band ruminate over their back catalog for Spinner.

PJ Harvey has released a video from her new record Let England Shake, due out February 15. Was only a passing PJ Harvey fan in the past but what I’m hearing from the new record is really doing it for me.

Video: PJ Harvey – “The Last Living Rose”

Even though they already had a perfectly good clip for the song, The Joy Formidable have made a new video for “Austere” – one that presumably has the version of the song that will appear on The Big Roar when it comes out on January 24 in the UK and March 15 in North America. Glad to hear that while the arrangement is a bit different, there’s not any excessive major label gloss on it.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere” (original)

The dears at Lucky Soul are giving away their cover of Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas” in all its uncompressed WAV glory over at Soundcloud. Or, if you’ll take something compressed in exchange for manageability, grab the MP3 below.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Lonely This Christmas”

NPR has complete audio and selected video from yesterday’s hometown holiday throwdown from Glasgow by Belle & Sebastian available to stream.

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Ten for '10

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2010

2010Image via WikipediaFrank Yang

Well this was certainly a better year than last year, on pretty much every level. Of course, it would have required something on the scale of low-yield nuclear detonation in my bathtub – while I was in it – for it to have been worse, but I’ll take it. Musically, it was actually something of a banner year with what seemed like every active artist that I liked not only putting out new records, but good to great records. More hiatuses ended than started and despite intending to slow down the show-going, I ended up going to even more life-affirming, if not -changing, concerts than in any calendar year I can recall. In short, 2010 brought it.

So you’d think that with such a wealth of great records to choose from, assembling a short list of ten faves should have been easier than a year without as many worthy candidates but if anything, it’s tougher. Acts that release records that meet expectations, however high, are held to extra scrutiny; it’s like, “yeah this record was good but so was the last one – where’s that next level?” which of course is completely unreasonable. And conversely, acts heretofore unknown to me had the element of surprise on their side when it came to triggering the ineffable “wow” reflex. All of which is to say that, like past years, there’s nothing scientific nor quantitative about these selections – they’re alphabetical by artist and represent what I could get behind as of the first weekend of December, 2010, and strongly motivated by a desire to get this list over and done with.

So here they are, after the jump, or if you want to peer closely at my little photoshop project above (click for a bigger version) you can try and guess who made the cut before seeing the answers. Because I know the suspense is delicious.

(more…)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

One Life Stand

Hot Chip and The xx at the Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt doesn’t seem so long ago – say, last August – that everyone wanted to know when those responsible for the mope-out/make-out soundtrack of 2009 – The xx – were going to make it to Toronto. They made that long-awaited debut in December in support of Friendly Fires but before that show had even passed, they’d booked a return engagement for this past Tuesday at the Kool Haus supporting Hot Chip and then not long after that announcement, a third local show was slated for earlier this month with jj; talk about feast or famine. Of the two April performances, I opted to hit up the later one – yes, it meant passing up their first headlining slot, but I was much keener to see Hot Chip than jj, particularly after hearing how lacklustre their live sets were at SxSW.

There were definitely parallels between this show and the one in December; both found The xx’s significant buzz drowned out by that of the more established headliners and thus, still with significant swathes of the audience to win over. Working against them was the fact that the Hot Chip fans were clearly here for a party and The xx’s mood music had some trouble getting their attention, at least those standing in my vicinity. And it’s too bad that they found talking about their rec softball leagues more stimulating than what was coming off the stage, because in a short amount of time, The xx have become a much more compelling live act.

They brought none of the fancy stage dressings I’d heard about from their headlining show – even the glowing “X” DJ booth had apparently been traded in for a non-luminous model – but the polish and confidence of their relentless touring schedule was clear. In the past, I’ve defended the band against complaints that their live show was boring by asking what those naysayers would have them do – their stage presence might be low-key but it suits the atmosphere of their music perfectly – but even I was pleased to see that they had become just a little bit more visually compelling. Mostly that was bassist Oliver Sims, who seemed to now be letting the music do with him what it would, and that was making him swing pendulously around the stage while laying down the low end. It was a little thing, but quite noticeable. Musically, they also mixed things up a bit, with new and unexpected breakdowns in “Crystal” and “Basic Space”; for any other band, you’d say they were jamming things out a bit, but The xx are pretty much the antithesis of a jamming band – their aesthetic requires everything be meticulously considered and arranged, so while I’d have been perfectly happy hearing XX reproduced, their adding in something new was pleasantly surprising. And now I’d like them to stop touring – finally – and go write a new record.

Leading up to this show, I’d heard more than a few people comment on how Hot Chip were a great live band, a sentiment I found this somewhat odd considering that I’d seen them at Lollapalooza 2006 and, while I apparently enjoyed their set, the impression I’ve carried with me from that set was that they were kind of… dry in a live setting. Well, apparently it’s not fair to judge a band based on a mid-day, festival side-stage set because here, in front of a sold-out, ready to go audience of their own fans, they were fantastic. Now, I’ve only been peripherally acquainted with Hot Chip’s works until their latest, the comparatively sedate One Life Stand, but I’d always thought of them as a cerebral electro-pop band that you could also dance to if so inclined, but as it turns out they’re also a dancey electro-pop band that you can sit and wrap your head around, and on this night, it was the dancing that ruled.

Even though Toronto has a reputation as a town that likes to stand around at shows – arm-crossing optional – I’ve seen folks dance before. Never, however, quite like at this show. Most of the masses engaged in the bouncing and arm-waving that tends to be all once can get away with in big crowds, but out on the periphery there were people taking advantage of the open space to dance and dance elaborately, and not to be seen but just to let the music move them. And the dance party wasn’t just happening in the audience; on stage and despite being largely tethered to their keyboards and percussion setups, the London six-piece was in a celebratory mood and themselves dancing up a storm, helped along by the fact it was lead singer Alexis Taylor’s 30th birthday. Over the 80-minute set, they served up much of One Life Stand and most of the hits of their earlier records – thus making it a set for which I was actually able to recognize the bulk of the material – and did so with tremendous energy and big smiles, to boot. Hot Chip? Great live band.

Exclaim and Panic Manual also have reviews of the show. The xx have just released a new video for “Islands” and NPR will be webcasting both Hot Chip and The xx’s sets from Washington D.C. on April 24.

Photos: Hot Chip, The xx @ The Kool Haus – April 20, 2010
MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Pure Thought”
Video: Hot Chip – “Ready For The Floor”
Video: Hot Chip – “The Warning”
Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
Video: Hot Chip – “Colours”
Video: Hot Chip – “And I Was A Boy From School”
Video: Hot Chip – “Playboy”
Video: The xx – “Islands”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
MySpace: Hot Chip
MySpace: The xx

PopMatters talks to Daddy G of Massive Attack, who have two nights at the Sound Academy on May 7 and 9.

Editors have released two new videos – one from In This Light & On This Evening and one for the track they released on a 7″ for Record Store Day last week.

Video: Editors – “Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool”
Video: Editors – “Last Day”

BBC talks to The Futureheads about their new record The Chaos, due out June 1 and to be followed by a June 10 date at the Mod Club.

Paste declares We Were Promised Jetpacks amongst the “best of what’s next”.

The Dallas Observer talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, whom after almost a week of volcano-induced delays are now on a plane and en route to salvage their North American tour, meaning their May 4 show at the Opera House is a go.

Barring any more Icelandic ash spewing, Kate Nash will also make it over here in time to begin her North American tour in support of My Best Friend Is You at the Mod Club next Monday night. BBC, Seattle Post-Intelligencier and Spinner all talk to Nash about her sophomore effort.

The Daily Growl solicits a list of seven significant songs from Lucky Soul.

Gwenno Saunders of The Pipettes talks to Spinner about the band’s lineup changes; their new record Earth Vs. the Pipettes, due out June 28.

Oh, and I’ve started one of those Formspring things. Ask me questions! Or, y’know, don’t. S’cool.