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Posts Tagged ‘M.I.A.’

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Keep In The Dark

Temples, Invasions, and The Auras at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAsk around and some may tell you there’s a bit of a psych-rock renaissance happening in the UK right now, pointing to the emergence of London’s Toy, Leeds’ Hookworms, and Kettering’s Temples as examples of new bands embracing the grand tradition of droning, swirling, and tripping out. And while they’ve yet to stage any sort of full-bore, acid-drenched incursion onto North American shores, Wednesday night’s visit from Temples made a good case that we’re ripe for the picking.

And if they needed sympathizers amongst the local populace, the openers on this evening would be a good place to start. I’d seen local sextet The Auras back in April and as youngsters are wont to do, they’ve improved immeasurably in that time. If they were looking to shake the very obvious Black Angels reference point, they’ve failed; but if they were aiming to sound more cohesive in aspiring to it, more a tribute band than mixtape, they’ve done well. The songs were tighter, the swapping between lead vocalists and just managing their members and the sounds they make more seamless, and the performance just that much better. They recorded and released a new EP earlier this year; stream it below.

It wasn’t hard to guess where Toronto’s Invasions got their name; they probably dispensed with the “British” because it would have been a little too on-the-nose although they serve their fish & chips with a distinctively t(w)angy American southwest flavour. The five-piece, who just released their self-titled debut, offered compact, punchy tunes with good hooks and swagger given an extra dose of distinctiveness by a saxophone who was sitting in for their usual trumpet. And though the excursions weren’t their raison d’être, there were enough forays into trippiness that those looking to tune in and drop out for the entirety of the evening weren’t jarred.

I always consider it a risky move for bands from abroad to undertake a North American tours before they’ve even released a record – not an inexpensive move even for established bands, let alone one trying to convert that unquantifiable thing they call “buzz” into actual asses in seats (or feet on linoleum, in club cases). So with just three singles out in the past year and a full-length debut in Sun Structures just announced as coming out on February 11, Temples’ debut Canadian show was far from a sure success but you wouldn’t have known that if you were there.

Even adjusted for the fact that British bands do disproportionately well in Toronto, the club was impressively full with those looking to preview one of the sounds of 2014 and Temples showed up dressed to impress, all fringes, ‘fros, velvet jackets, and glitter, and one pendent just a few millimeters diameter short of a medallion. Based on all this you’d be right to expect a ’60s-vintage hippie-psych soundtrack and Temples do indeed root themselves in the retro, but also allow themselves the gift of ’70s prognostication and imbue their sound with glammy stomps and hard rock riffs. Their set was short at eight songs drawn out over a respectable 45 minutes, and while the already-released material got the biggest cheers, the new songs that previewed their album were the most impressive and exciting because they implied there was more to the band than their fans might be expecting.

NOW also has a review of the show, and Wicked Local has a conversation with Temples bassist Thomas Warmsley.

Photos: Temples, Invasions, The Auras @ The Horseshoe – November 20, 2013
MP3: Invasions – “Ballad Of The Faithful”
Video: Temples – “Keep In The Dark”
Video: Temples – “Colours To Life”
Video: Temples – “Shelter Song”
Video: Invasions – “Black Fuzz”
Video: Invasions – “Black Fuzz”
Stream: Ivasions / Invasions
Stream: The Auras / EP2
Stream: The Auras / EP

Yahoo has premiered the video to the title track of Glasvegas’ third album Later… When The TV Turns To Static; the Scots are in town at The Mod Club on February 22.

Video: Glasvegas – “Later… When The TV Turns To Static”

NPR has a World Cafe session with London Grammar while over at The London Evening Standard, frontwoman Hannah Reid comments on sexism in the music industry. The band will return to Toronto for a show at The Phoenix on April 7.

Clash talks to M.I.A..

Tone Deaf interviews Kate Nash, who lists her favourite television for The Guardian.

NPR is streaming a complete live concert from Savages.

NPR talks synesthesia with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange.

PureVolume has a video featurette from Stornoway documenting the making of their second album Tales From Terra Firma.

In conversation with Rolling Stone, Noel Gallagher stomps on, kicks down the stairs, stabs, and pees on any prospect of an Oasis reunion to mark the 20th anniversary of Definitely Maybe next Summer.

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

It Is What It Is

Review of Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe

Photo By Stacey MarkStacey MarkTo say that following the musical career of Dev Hynes is an adventure is rather an understatement. Starting out with the deliberately sophomoric art-punk Test Icicles, he recast himself as an orch-folk troubadour on Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, his 2008 solo album under the Lightspeed Champion name. It was an identity he quickly found himself outgrowing, his second and last record in that guise – 2010′s Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You – had its share of high points but felt unfocused, like at a creative crossroads. Focus came with another new identity, Blood Orange, and 2011′s Coastal Grooves – a stripped-down and decidedly solo soul/disco record that sounded made in and for the bedroom that was criminally overlooked.

But crucially, while refining and redefining his own artistic identity, Hynes was becoming a highly sought-after producer, particularly after becoming Solange Knowles’ co-writer, producer, and sideman. That all-consuming role through most of this year, not to mention his other production duties, made it unclear if he’d be able to return to his own work anytime soon but somehow he still found time to not only record and release his second Blood Orange album Cupid Deluxe, out this week.

The most marked difference between Cupid and its predecessor is the sheer number of hands on deck. Coastal Grooves was entirely Hynes’ show, a fact emphatically made by his live shows – but Cupid finds Hynes more than happy to be allowing the likes of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, Friends’ Samantha Urbani, Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth from his indie rock world and Despot, Skepta, and Clams Casino from his hip-hop world take centre stage while he remains the producer and songwriter running the show. And that show is akin to a dazzlingly diverse r&b revue built around themes of both alienation and community in New York City, coupling heartfelt sentiment to slick grooves.

Dev Hynes has been making music now for almost a decade, and what in isolation might seem like random and disparate creative shifts, when viewed as a whole, paint the picture of an impressively complex and immensely talented artist. Cupid Deluxe is, thus far, the most cohesive assemblage of his gifts – ironic, since it overtly showcases him the least. I personally would have liked to have his guitarwork given a little more prominence – the man can shred, as anyone who’s ever seen him live can attest – but for the time being, the brilliant missed riff key change at 2:43 of “Uncle ACE” will keep me going.

Hynes talks influences with The New York Times and is the cover feature of The Fader, for whom he’s also assembled hour-long mixtape containing new material. But if you’re waiting on tour dates to support the new record, don’t hold your breath.

Video: Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell”
Video: Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

Noisey has premiered the video for the title track of Rose Elinor Dougall’s new EP Future Vanishes, out officially this week.

Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Future”

NME has got the new video from Beady Eye, taken from their second album BE which is apparently getting a North American release this week because North Americans have been clamouring for it…?

Video: Beady Eye – “Soul Love”

Rolling Stone is streaming another new song from Kele’s forthcoming Heartbreaker solo EP, out November 25.

Stream: Kele – “God Has A Way”

The Guardian and Drowned In Sound talk to Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon; she’s in town at The Drake Underground on January 21.

NME has details on the new album from Maxïmo Park, entitled Too Much Information and due out February 3. They’ve released a video for the first single, which you can also download in exchange for an email address from their website.

Video: Maxïmo Park – “Brain Cells”

Fanfarlo have announced details of their third studio album: Let’s Go Extinct will be out February 10, and of course there’s a trailer.

Trailer: Fanfarlo / Let’s Go Extinct

The Guardian talks to Lily Allen about her impending return to music with a separate piece about the brouhaha surrounding her comeback video.

Anna Calvi lists off ten life-changing albums for MusicRadar.

Metro has an interview with M.I.A., who has released a new video from her latest, Matangi.

Video: M.I.A. – “Y.A.L.A.”

Consequence Of Sound interviews Charli XCX.

Little Boots has made a couple of extended edits of songs from Nocturnes available to download via HungerTV.

MP3: Little Boots – “Broken Record” (Nocturnal version)
MP3: Little Boots – “Strangers” (Nocturnal version)

Franz Ferdinand salute Australia with a cover of The Go-Betweens in a video session for Triple J. They’ve also released a new official video from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Bullet”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Was There Anything I Could Do?” (live)

Black Book interviews CHVRCHES and The Alternate Side welcomes them for a session.

Drowned In Sound gets a look at Summer Camp’s tools of the trade (read: their musical gear).

The Huffington Post gets some EDM smack talk of out reigning Mercury Prize champ James Blake.

A Music Blog, Yea? talks to drummer Rick McMurray of Ash.

BrooklynVegan interviews Johnny Marr.

The Quietus revisits the first House Of Love album on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

Under The Radar talks to Mark Gardener and Andy Bell of Ride about the enduring legacy of their debut album Nowhere.

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)

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

No Medicine For Regret

Mogwai affirm promise of no more extensive touring by announcing extensive tour

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickI’m sure they meant it at the time, what with keeping up a heavy slate of performances worldwide for as long as anyone can remember and the added complications of drummer Martin Bulloch’s health issues and visa problems forcing cancellations in the past few years, but when Mogwai prefaced their second round of touring in support of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will last year with a promise/warning that it would be “the last extensive touring we do for some time”, some who might have fallen into a habit of taking them for granted were spurred into getting off their asses and having their eardrums blasted by the Scottish post-rock masters (maybe) one last time – myself included.

Well, apparently “for some time” actually means “as long as it takes us to record a new record”, because hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of their eighth studio album Rave Tapes – coming out January 21 – they’ve announced a month-plus long North American tour for next Spring. And perhaps it was the promise of playing a different room that enticed them, because the Toronto date on May 13 will take place at the Danforth Music Hall – tickets $25.50 to $29.50 – instead of The Phoenix where they’ve played (I believe) every local show since a face-melting detour to Lee’s Palace in May 2002. They were supposed to play The Kool Haus in Fall 2008 circa The Hawk Is Howling but that show was one of the casualties of Bulloch’s medical issues, and the make-up show the following May was scheduled for – you got it – The Phoenix.

To be clear, there’s no word of complaint in the band NOT taking a proper hiatus from touring. Their shows may not surprise much, but they never disappoint. And hey, maybe getting to eat somewhere new pre-show will inspire them to even greater heights? It could happen.

MP3: Mogwai – “Remurdered”

With her new album finally out this week, M.I.A. has made Matangi available to stream via Consequence Of Sound; she’s also interviewed by Billboard and NPR about it.

Stream: M.I.A. / Matangi

Noisey chats with Charli XCX, in town November 5 at Wrongbar.

NPR has an advance stream of Cate Le Bon’s forthcoming album Mug Museum, out November 12. She’ll be at The Drake Underground on January 21 in the new year.

Stream: Cate Le Bon / Mug Museum

Rolling Stone are offering one of the tracks off Stornoway’s new EP You Don’t Know Anything for free download. The whole thing comes out on November 12.

MP3: Stornoway – “Tumbling Bay”

Peggy Sue have made a new EP available to download for free via Noisetrade, leading up to the release of their new album Choir of Echoes on January 27

White Lies have announced a return date in support of their latest Big TV – they’ll be at The Mod Club on February 27, tickets $35. Opening up will be Frankie Rose, who released Herein Wild earlier this Fall.

MP3: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
Video: White Lies – “There Goes Our Love”

NME have premiered a new, self-described David Lynch-inspired video from Fanfarlo’s The Sea EP; a full-length will follow in the new year.

Video: Fanfarlo – “A Distance”

DIY has details on how you can hear Metronomy’s new song, which is a convoluted process involving smartphones, apps, credit cards, and outer space.

CHVRCHES have released a new video from their debug The Bones Of What You Believe.

Video: CHVRCHES – “Lies”

BrooklynVegan has videos from the recent Neil Halstead solo shows where he was joined by Rachel Goswell, sending the hearts of Slowdive and Mojave 3 fans a-flutter. And over at Under The Radar, Halstead and his Black Hearted Brother compadres offer a track-by-track guide to their debut Stars Are Our Home… which they’ve technically already done with MusicOmh but who’s counting?

Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin takes Drowned In Sound on a guided tour of her pedalboard.

NPR has a World Cafe session and The Georgia Straight an interview with Laura Marling.

Under The Radar got some Hallowe’en-themed questions answered by Still Corners.

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