Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Noah & The Whale’

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

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Concert Pitch

Empire Of The Sun are bringing their intimate, stripped down live show to a stage near you

Photo via empireofthesun.comempireofthesun.comConsidering how much trouble it took epic Australian synth-pop duo Empire Of The Sun to make it to Toronto the first time – an August 2010 appearance at Echo Beach around their Lollapalooza set was nixed because of logistics and when the make-up show finally happened in September 2011, it was at the significantly smaller Sound Academy and still not especially well-attended – I didn’t really expect a return engagement if indeed a North American tour behind their second album Ice On The Dune even happened. After all, as big stars as they are back home, their profile in the northern hemisphere isn’t really on the same scale. But returning to North America they are, and the itinerary does indeed include a return to Toronto on September 9 at the probably much more appropriately-sized Danforth Music Hall, tickets running $30 to $35.

Given the almost five years since their debut Walking On A Dream came out and the fact that in The Sleepy Jackson, Luke Steele demonstrated an almost pathological stylistic restlessness, it’s somewhat surprising that Ice On The Dune treads much of the same ground as its predecessor. On a surface level, that’s all well and good as if you’re an Empire Of The Sun fan, you’re all about grandiose, danceable tunes with soaring choruses mated to astonishing visuals. But the similarities will naturally elicit direct comparison and you can’t help but feel that the formula is returning fewer dividends this time out. If they don’t mix it up a bit for album number three, it could become and issue but for now, it’s still enough to get the swordfish dancers out on the road and that’s all that really matters.

The Age has an interview with Luke Steele, while Wired reports that the collaboration with JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot studios that produced the extravagant, three-minute Ice On The Dune trailer, is just a prelude to a larger feature. And oh yeah, don’t forget they’re scoring Dumb & Dumber 2.

Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Alive”
Trailer: Empire Of The Sun / Ice On The Dune

Northampton, Massachusetts pop-punk – in the sense that they’re both poppy and punky, not that they belong on the Warped tour – quartet Potty Mouth will be at The Shop Under Parts & Labour on August 5, topping an $8, six-band bill that may well entice you underground to close out the August long weekend. Their debut Hell Bent is out September 17 and there’s features on them at Noisey and CMJ.

Video: Potty Mouth – “Damage”

Her duties supporting second album The Midnight Mass will bring Louise Burns to The Drake Underground on September 10 where she’ll also be supporting Lightning Dust. Tickets for that are still $12.50.

Video: Louise Burns – “Emeralds Shatter”

English newcomer and BBC Sound of 2013 longlister King Krule will be at The Drake on September 11 in support of his debut Six Feet Beneath The Moon, out August 24. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Video: King Krule – “Octopus”

Anyone who thinks that the garage-friendly triple bill of Wavves, Jacuzzi Boys, and King Tuff won’t be extra loud and unruly when it hits the Opera House on September 29 is probably wrong. But that’s kind of the point. Tickets are $19 and the full touring itinerary can be had over at Pitchfork.

MP3: Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”
MP3: Jacuzzi Boys – “Automatic Jail”
MP3: King Tuff – “Anthem”

New York gloomy gusses Crystal Stilts have a new album in Nature Noir coming out September 17 – stream a new song below – and will be at The Horseshoe on October 8 to play you songs from it. Tickets for that are $12.50.

Stream: Crystal Stilts – “Star Crawl”

With his once and maybe future Sonic Youth bandmate Thurston Moore there a little less than a month earlier with Chelsea Light Moving, Lee Ranaldo and his new band The Dust will be at The Horseshoe on October 11, tickets $16.50. Matablog says that the tour is in support of his new solo record, the follow up to 2011’s Between The Times & The Tides, but isn’t saying any more about that for the moment.

MP3: Lee Ranaldo – “Off The Wall”

English electronic duo Fuck Buttons celebrated yesterday’s release of their new album Slow Focus with the announcement of a North American tour that brings them to Wrongbar on October 16, tickets $12. Interview, The Guardian, Clash, The Fly, and The Quietus have feature pieces on the band.

Video: Fuck Buttons – “The Red Wing”

With a new album in On Oni Pond ready for a September 10 release, Philadelphia weirdos – meant in the most complimentary sense – Man Man have slated a Fall tour that brings them to The Horseshoe on October 18, tickets $18.50.

MP3: Man Man – “Knuckle Down”

English folk-poppers Noah & The Whale have announced the dates for their Fall tour in support of album number four, Heart Of Nowhere. They’re at The Phoenix in Toronto on October 19, tickets $25.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Lifetime”

Two good things about the announcement of a Shad show at The Opera House on October 19. One, it means that his next album Flying Colours will be out sooner rather than later, and two, it means that anyone who wants to see him perform no longer needs to go see him open up for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Echo Beach on August 2. CBC has a check-in with the rapper.

Video: Shad – “It Ain’t Over”

Seattle folkies The Head & The Heart have completed their second album, entitled Let’s Be Still and set for an October 15 release, and have put together a pretty extensive tour covering the eastern half of the continent. They’re celebrating Hallowe’en in Toronto with an October 31 date at The Danforth Music Hall – tickets $20 to $25.50 – and the very worthy Thao & The Get Down Stay Down will support.

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”
MP3: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Holy Roller”

New York synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! will release their second album Dynamics on September 10, and to get people stoked – as the kids say – they’ve put out a video for a track already made available to download and will be hitting the road later this Fall, rolling into The Hoxton on November 6, tickets $16.

MP3: Holy Ghost! – “Teenagers In Heat”
Video: Holy Ghost! – “Teenagers In Heat”

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

(I Believe In) Travellin’ Light

Belle & Sebastian pack up recent rarities for The Third Eye Centre

Photo By Belle & SebastianBelle & SebastianMy Belle & Sebastian record collection is pretty thorough, but one omission from their official discography is the 2005 compilation Push Barman To Open Old Wounds, on account of the fact that I zealously collected the seven Jeepster EPs whose tracks make up the set when they were initially released between 1997 and 2001. Indeed, if you’re at all a fan of the Scottish popsters and haven’t heard some or – gasp – all of these songs, none of which appeared on their proper studio albums – then attend to that posthaste. Some of the very best songs the band has ever recorded can be found in these grooves.

I can’t claim the same sort of thoroughness with the singles that accompanied their last three albums, though, since the economics of being so comprehensive took a real hit after they started coming with just one or two new songs as b-sides instead of four. And so it’s excellent news that ostensibly to coincide with their upcoming North American tour dates, which include a TURF-closing show at Garrison Common this coming Sunday night, they’re putting out another double-sized b-sides compilation in The Third Eye Centre on August 27. Matablog has details and the tracklisting, which happily includes a number of songs I know I haven’t heard, as well as some remixes that I’m pretty sure I’d be just as happy never hearing but what can you do. One of those remixes has been made available as the first advance sample of the record.

Stream: Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown” (Miaoux Miaoux remix)

The 405 and DIY talk to Editors about their new album The Weight Of Your Love, which came out this week.

Magnet interviews Camera Obscura ahead of making them guest editors of their website this week, while NPR welcomes them to the Morning Becomes Eclectic studios for a session and Chicago Magazine also has a chat. They play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common tonight, July 4.

New Order’s new live album Live At Bestival 2012 is now available to stream ahead of its release next week on July 8, courtesy of The Guardian

Stream: New Order / Live At Bestival 2012

A couple worthwhile complete sets from this past weekend’s Glastobury fest are available to watch online; there’s Savages, who’re at The Mod Club on July 16, and Daughter, who play The Phoenix on September 29.

Video: Savages @ Glastonbury 2013
Video: Daughter @ Glastonbury 2013

White Lies have released a video for that last new song from their forthcoming Big TV, out August 21. They play The Opera House on October 1.

Video: White Lies – “There Goes Our Love”

Franz Ferdinand have made a couple tracks from their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action available to stream. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Stream: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”
Stream: Franz Ferdinand – “Love Illumination”

The previously announced but not yet booked Tricky date now has a venue; he’s at The Mod Club on October 6, tickets $29.50 in advance. He’s touring behind his latest album False Idols. The Guardian recently hosted and posted a video session with the artist.

MP3: Tricky – “Anti-Matter”

Tindersticks turn 20 as a band this year, and they’re marking the occasion with the release of a new album of old songs. Across Six Leap Years, the band’s tenth album, will feature ten re-recorded songs from the breadth of the catalogue; it’s out October 14 and there’s a short film/trailer on the recording sessions available now.

Trailer: Tindersticks / Across Six Leap Years

The Guardian grabbed an interview with Jessie Ware whilst at Glastonbury; she plays The Sound Academy on November 6.

Noah & The Whale have released a new video from their latest, Heart Of Nowhere.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Lifetime”

Le Blogotheque has a video session with Slow Club.

Johnny Marr gives The Guardian a musical tour of the key points of his life; he’s also interviewed by The Telegraph.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Knock Me On The Head

Stornoway and Field Report at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank Yang2010 wasn’t really that long ago, but apparently it was long enough that I’d just about forgotten about Oxford, England’s Stornoway despite their debut Beachcomber’s Windowsill making it onto my year-end list, helped along by a stellar local live debut that December at the El Mocambo. Which is not to say that I had forgotten them completely or that I liked them, but by the time their follow-up album Tales From Terra Firma came out in mid-March, they’d fallen far enough off the front burner of my memory that I rolled into Thursday night’s show at The Horseshoe driven more by curiosity than excitement.

Support act Field Report, hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and making their Toronto debut, didn’t worry too much about cultivating curiosity from their audience. Playing songs from their self-titled debut, they offered raspy narratives over slow, atmospheric folk tunes dusted from the well-worn roads of Americana. Crafting something fresh didn’t seem to be as of much importance as doing it in great detail, as well as building a rapport with the audience – much time was spent introducing the songs, chatting with the audience, and complimenting the city. Ultimately more charming than memorable.

I’m not normally one to allow Pitchfork to dictate the conversation – at least not ones that I’m having – but that their tepid review of Terra Firma cited a lack of memorable melodies as a one of its chief complaints is just bewildering to me. I may not have spent the time I’d have liked with the record prior to this show, but even the handful of listens I’d given it affirmed it as at least as tuneful as its predecessor, which itself was plenty melodically rich. The reason this came to mind at the show was because when the six-piece band got into full swing – the core quartet were joined by a touring violinist and multi-instrumentalist, both with sheaves of sheet music in front of them – the problem was not trying to find a delicious melody to listen to but choosing which one to concentrate on.

They were like a candy store of folk-pop, every hand and mouth contributing to the glorious rustic orchestra onstage; it was hard to not be drawn to Oli Steadman’s basslines, so much funkier and more prominent in the live mix than on record, Jon Ouin’s textured bed of keyboards or spidery guitar leads, Rob Steadman’s wonderfully creative drum patterns, or Brian Briggs’ gorgeous tenor, often leading immaculate, multi-part harmonies. Listening to any of them in isolation would have been lovely; hearing them in concert with one another was astonishing, even without most of the instruments as on their reading of “The Ones We Hurt The Most”, the four-part harmonies performed perfectly and unaccompanied save for acoustic guitar and single violin. And then there was their use of live wood-chopping as the rhythm bed for “Farewell Appalachia”. Who does that?

The set was split about evenly between the two records, keeping a consistently jaunty pace with occasional spikes of jubilant, yet always sounding elegant and sophisticated. Unlike some more populist acts who could be filed as their peers in the genre, Stornoway don’t need to try to broadcast authenticity with their dress or mannerisms; they’re timeless – not throwback – and just plugged directly into it. And while their audience might not have been as large, they were devoted and clearly in it for the long haul – even those, like myself, who’d temporarily forgotten that they were. But if there was an upside to that memory lapse as to how great Stornoway were, it was that it allowed me to rediscover the fact all over again.

Photos: Stornoway, Field Report @ The Horseshoe – May 9, 2013
MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”
MP3: Stornoway – “On The Rocks”
MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
Video: Stornoway – “The Bigger Picture”
Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”
Video: Field Report – “I Am Not Waiting Anymore”

Spin and Interview have features on Copenhagen’s Vår, who’ve released a new stream from their debut album No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers, out tomorrow.

Stream: Vår – “Into Distance”

Pitchfork reports that New Order will be releasing a benefit live album recorded at last year’s Bestival on the Isle Of Wight. Live at Bestival 2012 will be out July 8.

The livestreamed Savages put on last week to mark the release of their debut Silence Yourself is now available to stream on demand at YouTube; The Creators Project has a Q&A with the performance’s director. They play The Mod Club on July 16.

Planet Notion offers an interview with Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots.

Daytrotter has a session with Noah & The Whale.

The Toronto Star talked to Foals ahead of Saturday night’s gig at the Kool Haus.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Iceland’s Sóley.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

A Ton Of Love

Editors done editing new record and lineup, hope Love is worth the Weight

Photo By Matt SpaldingMatt SpaldingAt the risk of being overly literal, it probably goes without saying that a band called Editors would hardly be averse to making changes. But the Birmingham band’s decision to push synthesizers to the fore on their third album, 2009’s In This Light And On This Evening, might have been a little more stylistic revision than they or their fans bargained for. It didn’t fare nearly as well, commercially-speaking, as either of its predecessors – fans apparently preferred them when they were aping Joy Division rather than New Order, even if their instincts for all things dramatic and anthemic remained intact and Tom Smith sounded as overwrought and faintly ridiculous as ever – and when the dust settled founding guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had left the band.

So while it may have taken a little while longer than usual to regroup, the band have done just that – they’re now a five-piece – and will release their fourth album The Weight Of Your Love on July 1 in the UK. They’ve made the first single available to preview by way of a video, and it certainly seems to indicate a return to a guitar-based sound – mayhap Urbanowicz’s issues with their creative direction weren’t what you might expect – as well as an increased appreciation for all things U2. Altsounds sums up the press release for the new record and DIY has an in-studio chat with the band about the new record.

Video: Editors – “A Ton Of Love”

The Guardian has an extensive feature interview with Savages, whose debut Silence Yourself is out this week.

The Huffington Post, Boston Globe, and Bullett mark the release of Little Boots’ second album Nocturnes today with feature interviews.

Noah & The Whale are profiled by The Guardian, The Independent, and The Boar on the occasion of the release of their new record Heart Of Nowhere this week.

A Heart Is A Spade, Junkee, and MusicFeeds chat with Charli XCX, in town at Echo Beach on May 23 supporting Marina & The Diamonds.

Laura Marling has released the first video from new album Once I Was An Eagle, which will be released on May 28. She plays 99 Sudbury in Toronto on May 25.

Video: Laura Marling – “Master Hunter”

DIY talks to Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. Their new record More Light is out this week in the UK and on June 18 in North America.

Quip Q&As Polly Scattergood about her new record Arrows, out June 18.

Buzzfeed has a sit-down with Stuart Murdoch about Belle & Sebastian and his God Help The Girl feature film. They will close out the final night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 7 at Garrison Commons.

Pitchfork has a stream of a new song from Sky Larkin, who have an as-yet untitled album done and ready for release later this Summer.

Stream: Sky Larkin – “Motto”

Spin finds out what Yuck are up to now that frontman Daniel Blumberg has left the band and is now operating under the name Hebronix. Their second album is due out in the Fall and the first Hebronix album – Unreal – is out July 9; you can stream the title track below.

Stream: Hebronix – “Unreal”

MTV Hive checks in with Dev Hynes about getting back to business as Blood Orange; a second album is hopefully coming this year but with all the other projects on the go that Hynes mentioned, holding one’s breath isn’t necessarily recommended.

Under The Radar and Rolling Stone have interviews with Johnny Marr about his solo work, while The Daily Mail talks to him about the 30th anniversary of The Smiths and specifically, the writing of their first single “Hand In Glove”. Marr marked the anniversary in a way at a recent New York show, staging a half-reunion when Smiths bassist Andy Rourke joined him onstage for the show-closing “How Soon Is Now”.

The Fly has a video session with Veronica Falls.

State and entertainment.ie interview British Sea Power.

Billboard has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Billy Bragg.

Exclaim has a feature interview with James Blake.

The Line Of Best Fit is streaming a re-recorded, full band-boasting version of a track from Neil Halstead’s 2012 album Palindrome Hunches. It sounds great, but would probably sound better slowed down, drenched in reverb and delay, and with Rachel Goswell singing harmonies.

Stream: Neil Halstead – “Spin The Bottle”

DIY reports that Damon Albarn told a Hong Kong audience that, having had shows in Japan this week postponed, Blur will while away the time in Hong Kong by trying to record a new album. Which is encouraging, because it’s one thing to bait nosy journalists, but unsolicited declarations to thousands of fans is quite another.

So ever since I posted this five years ago, I’ve periodically tried to find out what British singer-songwriter Candie Payne has been up to, looking for either word of a follow-up to I Wish I Could Have Loved You More or confirmation that she’s retired so that I can stop trying to find out what she’s been up to. As it turns out, she’s formed a band called The Big House with a former member of The Zutons and has been working on some of that boy-girl Californian country-pop stuff that the kids are all about these days. Still not a whole lot to show for it, but at least it’s something.

Video: The Big House – “Canyon Home In The Sun”
Video: Candie Payne – “One More Chance”