Posts Tagged ‘Patterson Hood’

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Bones In A Museum

Review of Rae Spoon's Superioryouareinferior

Photo By Amber DawkinsAmber DawkinsSo Polaris Prize ballots are due in less than a week and as is seems to be habit with me, I haven’t listened to nearly as many of the eligible albums as my fellow jurors, or at least that’s how it seems from the discussions going on at our top-secret, private BBS. But besides making me feel inadequate, the forum has been invaluable for pointing me to records that are sitting in my promo piles and might otherwise go uninvestigated for lack of time or whatever.

One such record, and one which may very well make it onto my submissions ballot, was Superioryouareinferior, the 2008 release from Calgary singer-songwriter Rae Spoon. Though Spoon’s fourth album, I’d never heard of him before his name began cropping up in early recommendation lists from other jurors and lo and behold, I had a copy of the CD and so popped it into the player before carrying on with what I was doing. And then I almost immediately stopped what I was doing.

The lead track, “Great Lakes”, just floored me. It’s a simple tune, the simple arrangement led by guitar and slowly built up with glockenspiel, keys and bass and drums, but it’s Spoon’s voice that gives it transcendence. Singing paeans to each of the bodies of water noted in the title, his voice is so wracked with yearning such that if you’re in a place where your emotional defenses are down, just a little, it’ll cut right into the heart, straight and true. I have a feeling that my reaction to that resonance may be disproportionately strong, but there it is.

And if that one song hits the bullseye squarely, the rest of the album doesn’t stray far from the mark. It’s evident that Spoon comes from a folksinger tradition, but he also incorporates electrified instruments, strings and electronic textures in a most subtle and natural manner to make Superioryouareinferior much more than just a folk record. As a songwriter, Spoon is thoughtful and introspective, drawing inspiration from history and identity, and is able evoke a lot with few words. And what’s not explicitly said is implied through the emotiveness and phrasing of his voice, a thing of high, pure beauty with just the right amount of twang and vibrato.

With each listen, Superioryouareinferior reveals more depths beneath its placid surface and I think I just talked myself into putting on the ballot.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down”
Stream: Rae Spoon / Superioryouareinferior
MySpace: Rae Spoon

Clash has a chat with Emmy The Great.

PopMatters checks in to see what Nellie McKay is up to – activisim, theatre, a new album and still refusing to perform in Canada.

Out and New York Press talk to Stephin Merritt about his work on the Coraline musical.

I Am Fuel You Are Friends interviews Thao Nguyen.

Annie Clark of St Vincent talks to The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Decider about her new record Actor. She’ll be at the Horseshoe on August 8.

JAM discusses the success of Lost Channels with Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker.

Thick Specs has an interview with Joel Plaskett.

Crawdaddy has questions. Patterson Hood has answers. His new solo record Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) is out June 23.

Steve Earle talks to The Telegraph and Indy Week about his new album Townes and gives Aquarium Drunkard a track-by-track annotation of the record. Earle is at Massey Hall on July 11 for a solo show.

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Moon And Moon

Review of Bat For Lashes' Two Suns

Photo By Leonie PurchasLeonie PurchasWith her 2006 debut album Fur & Gold, Natasha Khan – she who is essentially Bat For Lashes – crafted a mysterious and fantastical world with a foundation made up of a lot of Kate Bush and a little Bjork but still felt distinct and fresh and most importantly, was wholly beguiling thanks to the richness of both her creative vision and her remarkable voice.

Three years hence, she’s returned with Two Suns. It’s a record with much to live up to considering its Mercury Prize-nominated predecessor, and whether she’s succeeded depends on which direction you were hoping Khan would tilt her creative balancing act of accessibility and eccentricity. Of course, even that answer isn’t entirely straightforward. Fur & Gold was eclectic in mood and texture, like a wander through Khan’s imagination, but also featured immediate pop gems in “What’s A Girl To Do” and “Prescilla”.

Two Suns is more focused and consistent in feel, but with the exception of Karate Kid-invoking lead single “Daniel”, is less overtly hooky. It is, however, more dramatically executed – the power behind her vocals on “Glass” is chilling – and feels much more personal. Whereas Fur carried with it a fictional darkness, this time out it comes across as hauntingly autobiographical. The imagery used still draws on mythical influences, but the emotions behind them feel much more intense and direct than before. The production is also richer and deeper, more beat-driven and with a faint but distinct synthetic sheen – it’s subtle, but effective, and gleams when necessary. It may take a bit more time and effort for it to permeate the consciousness, but Two Suns manages to be a marked improvement on a debut that didn’t really have anything wrong with it in the first place. Remarkable.

Drowned In Sound has a print interview with Khan, Nylon a video one and XFM an aural one. Bat For Lashes kick of their North American tour on April 25 at the Mod Club in Toronto.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live)
Video: Bat For Lashes – “Daniel”
MySpace: Bat For Lashes

The Tripwire asks five questions of La Roux’s Elly Jackson. Their self-titled debut is out June 29.

White Lies talk to Spinner about their upcoming gig in a London cemetery.

Black Cab Sessions coaxes Doves into their backseat for a song, while The Yorkshire Post and The Daily Star have interviews. Doves are at the Kool Haus on June 1.

Kevin Shields messes with Texas, giving interviews to The Austin Chronicle and Dallas Observer about My Bloody Valentine’s hiatus, reunion and the state of their old old (reissues) and new old (unreleased) albums.

A winner has been selected for the contest to create a video for M83. Check out the winning visuals for “We Own The Sky”.

Video: M83 – “We Own The Sky”

School Of Seven Bells heads down under, with Claudia Dehaza talking to The Age and sister Alejandra to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Newsweek interviews The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and coaxes them to play a new song for them on video. The Pains are at Lee’s Palace on April 28.

Baltimore dream-pop duo Wye Oak will release their second album The Knot on July 21. The first song sounds a little – well, exactly – like this. Beautiful.

MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”

Time Out New York talks to Holly Miranda. Her solo record is still presumably forthcoming.

ABC News has a video interview with Bob Mould, Express Night Out sticks with text.

Superchunk’s Jim Wilbur talks to Spinner about the band’s slow return from hiatus-land.

Filter has a threepart interview with John Vanderslice, whose new album Romanian Names is out May 19.

Third time’s the charm? After two cancelled shows, it looks like Passion Pit are trying to play Toronto one more time. According to the Harlem Shakes, with whom they’re touring this Summer, they’re going to be in town on June 16 at a venue to be determined. Good luck to ya. Passion Pit’s debut Manners is out May 19 while Harlem Shakes’ debut Technicolor Health is out now.

MP3: Harlem Shakes – “Strictly Game”

Sunset Rubdown have a new album coming out on June 24 called Dragonslayer and they’ve already booked a tour (dates down the left side of their website) to promote. Toronto show goes down July 11 at Lee’s Palace. Pitchfork has the first taste of the album.

MP3: Sunset Rubdown – “Idiot Heart”

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s session with WOXY has been broken up into downloadable MP3s, which means that I no longer have to procrastinate doing it myself.

eye‘s cover feature this week is on Neko Case, and her two sold-out shows at Trinity-St Paul’s tonight and tomorrow.

M Ward has rolled out a new video from Hold Time, this one for his cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On”. The Press-Enterprise has an interview. Ward plays the Phoenix on April 27.

Video: M Ward – “Rave On”

NPR has an interview with Elvis Perkins In Dearland, who have a show at the Horseshoe on April 29.

There’s a track available from the forthcoming Steve Earle album Townes, due out May 12.

MP3: Steve Earle – “To Live Is To Fly”

Pitchfork reports that Patterson Hood’s second solo record Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) will be released on June 23. There’s a couple tracks streaming at his MySpace.

City Pages has an interview and NPR a session with Jason Isbell.

And finally, QTV has an extensive – 42 minutes extensive – interview with Leonard Cohen. It’ll take kinda forever to load, but worth it. Cohen plays Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on May 19. Also read a feature at Salon.