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Posts Tagged ‘Saint Etienne’

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.

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Nightcall

London Grammar and Jaymes Young at The Great Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs noted in my review of their debut album If You Wait, London Grammar should be commended for countering any cynicism about their sound being a little too of-the-moment – add one part Florence and one part Daughter to two parts xx, bake for 45 minutes, serve smouldering – by applying it to solid, affecting songs that should resonate with the lovelorn for years to come while still leaving plenty of room to grow. It wasn’t quite enough to make them the Mercury Prize favourites that their champions expected – they didn’t even make the shortlist – but even without that accolade, their inaugural North American tour was doing quite well, thank you very much, with Friday night’s Toronto date quickly getting the upgrade from the originally booked BLK BOX to the more spacious and appropriately elegant Great Hall upstairs.

Support came from Seattle’s Jaymes Young, who for his well-crafted and performed songs, didn’t quite manage to transcend his reference points to the same degree. The vaguely yearning vocals over echoey guitar tones with electronic flourishes sounded like a distillation of 2013 indie, and as such remained largely anonymous. And using a slow, soulful cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” as an audience-rallying moment was an odd move, considering that most in attendance weren’t allowed to stay up until 11:30 when The Roxbury Guys were a thing on Saturday Night Live. But maybe that was to his advantage as undoubtedly some in the audience thought the song was his own and were impressed.

New bands get a bit of leeway with regards to their effectiveness as a live act, particularly when they’ve potentially gotten swept up in a wave of buzz that might short circuit their normal development curve as performers. Happily for all involved, London Grammar didn’t need to be cut this slack. I was pleasantly surprised they didn’t bring any additional players with them as the trio of guitarist Dan Rothman, vocalist Hannah Reid, and multi-instrumentalist Dot Major set up across the front of the stage and set to recreating the space and texture of their debut with just the tools at hand – guitar, keys, and loops while occasionally turning to bongos or a drum kit for extra dynamics. The de facto visual and aural focal point of the band, Reid would get a bit showier with her vocals in pushing the melodies around – somewhat surprising given how the album seemed to make an effort to keep things in check, but such excursions were relatively modest and didn’t detract from the proceedings; if anything, they demonstrated the impressive degree of confidence with which the band were operating.

And if they didn’t come to the stage with that confidence, the audience would have given it to them. In one of their many between-song asides to the crowd, they commented on their willingness to cheer at everything – an observation which was, of course, met with cheers. Their 45-minute set encompassed most of, but not all, of If You Stay, with the pairing of “Strong” and “Metal & Dust” as a powerful closing couplet, followed by a on-the-mark cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” as an encore. A solid performance that decidedly increased my appreciation for the band.

Metro, The Sydney Morning Herald, and entertainment.ie have interviews with London Grammar.

Photos: London Grammar, Jaymes Young @ The Great Hall – October 4, 2013
Video: London Grammar – “Strong”
Video: London Grammar – “Wasting My Young Years”
ZIP: Jaymes Young / Dark Star

The Guardian and MusicOhm talk to Anna Calvi about her new album One Breath, which is out on Tuesday and from which she’s just put out a new video.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Sing To Me”

Drowned In Sound meets Peace, who have two local dates next week on October 14 at The Mod Club and October 15 at The Danforth Music Hall, both in support of Two Door Cinema Club.

The Quietus has a stream of Tindersticks’ forthcoming anniversary album Across Six Leap Years, coming out next week on October 14.

Stream: Tindersticks / Across Six Leap Years

It’s a touch late to actually act on the information, but Consequence Of Sound reports that Neil Halstead will be recording a couple of shows in London later this month on October 23 and 24 for release as a live record, and amongst the promised “special guests” will be Rachel Goswell, which means that both Slowdive and Mojave 3 move ever-so-slightly into the “active” column” but more importantly, that Goswell is healthy enough again to perform again – even if it is just for a few songs.

DIY goes behind the scenes of the new Los Campesinos! video, set to debut later this week. It’s taken from their new album No Blues, out October 29.

The Guardian has an extensive interview with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, who return for a show at The Kool Haus on November 5.

Stornoway will release a companion EP to this year’s Tales From Terra Firma – from which they’ve just released a new video – with the five-song You Don’t Know Anything, out November 12.

Video: Stornoway – “Farewell Appalachia”

DIY has confirmed details of Working Out, the debut album from London’s Arthur Beatrice. It’s out February 3 and they’ve released a first official video from the long-player.

Video: Arthur Beatrice – “Grand Union”

David Gedge has dusted off the Cinerama monicker under which he traded for several years between Wedding Present incarnations for occasional recent live shows, but has just issued the project’s first new release since 2002’s Torino with a tour-only 7″ with a new song and a live Disco Volante track recorded in 2012 – you can stream it and order the single below.

Stream: Cinerama – “I Wake Up Screaming”
Stream: Cinerama – “Unzip” (live)

Noisey talks to Yuck’s new frontman Max Bloom about having to become Yuck’s new frontman. DIY also has a feature interview.

Johnny Flynn lists off some of the influences that went into the making of his new album Country Mile for The Line Of Best Fit.

Billboard has an interview and video session with CHVRCHES.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Palma Violets’ debut 180.

Video: Palma Violets – “Rattlesnake Highway”

Clash chats with Kele Okerke of Bloc Party.

The Skinny talks to Elena Tonra of Daughter.

Paste has an interview with Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys.

The Quietus talks about the history and state of pop music with Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who incidentally has a new book on the topic in Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.

Monday, December 10th, 2012

2012

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2012

2012

I’ve always said when compiling my year-end list that I don’t choose my favourite albums of the year so much as they declare themselves to me. If it requires too much thought, it’s probably more a case of trying to justify adding something that I know probably doesn’t belong. But those albums that do pass muster are not, as you might think, necessarily the albums that I can’t stop listening to. Rather, they’re often the ones that I try to listen to the least, or at least sparingly, lest that intangible magic that I feel within its notes should evaporate with growing familiarity and what I thought was special turns out to be more ordinary. This happens more often than I’d like, but then there are those that don’t only sparkle on the surface, that offer up more the further you delve into them, the records that contain multitudes.

These are not ten of those records. Some of them are, but to expect more than a handful of those a year to cross my path and get the attention they demand/deserve would be asking too much. The rest are simply albums that, be they challenging or comforting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year. Which ones are which is for me to know and you to guess – as always, they’re ordered alphabetically rather than by rank – but were the world to indeed end in a couple of weeks like the gullible and lunatic among us believe, they’d comprise ten records that I’d be content clutching as the skies rained down fire upon us.

And I tried to do something more ambitious with the graphic treatment of this year’s list, but as it turns out my Photoshop skills – which have always kind of sucked – are actually getting worse. So alas, this is all we get.

(more…)

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Small Talk

Ultraista, Atoms For Peace only making plans for Nigel (Godrich)

Photo via Temporary ResidenceTemporary ResidenceNot many record producers manage to achieve the sort of household name status as the artists they work with, but Nigel Godrich has done as well as anyone in the recent memory. Partly because of his work on high-profile records from the likes of Beck, Pavement, and Paul McCartney, but mainly because he’s the unofficial sixth member of Radiohead, having been behind the boards for every one of their records from OK Computer onwards.

He’s been getting out of the studio and onto the stage of late, though. He’s one third of Ultraista, along with Joey Waronker – best known as R.E.M.’s first post-Bill Berry drummer circa Up and Reveal, and singer/artist Laura Bettinson. They released their self-titled debut in October, and while it’s obviously its own thing separate from what Godrich has worked on in the past, his signature is clearly evident in the beats and electronic textures contained therein. A full North American tour itinerary has yet to be revealed, they will definitely be at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on January 26, tickets $15.

Rolling Stone talks to Godrich about the project while The Dumbing Of America chats with Bettinson.

MP3: Ultraista – “Small Talk”
Video: Ultraista – “Bad Insect”
Video: Ultraista – “Gold Dayzz”
Video: Ultraista – “Our Song”
Video: Ultraista – “Static Light”
Video: Ultraista – “Small Talk”

Godrich and Waronker are both also part of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s sideproject Atoms For Peace – along with Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and percussionist Mauro Refosco – and they just announced the February 25 release of their debut full-length, Amok. Consequence Of Sound has specifics on the record and Yorke talked to Rolling Stone about how the band evolved out of his 2006 solo record The Eraser. They’ve just given away a b-side as download on their website and released a video for a lead single earlier this year. At least some touring is presumed to be planned for 2013 so everyone waiting for that make-up Toronto Radiohead date? Don’t.

MP3: Atoms For Peace – “What The Eyeballs Did”
Video: Atoms For Peace – “Default”

So what does winning the Mercury Prize get you, in concrete terms? For Alt-J, a venue upgrade from Wrongbar – where they made their local debut in September – to The Phoenix, where they’ll headline on March 27. Tickets are $17.50 and the full North American itinerary can be seen at Exclaim.

MP3: Alt-J – “Tessalate”

Chickfactor has premiered the first sample of the new Amor de Días album The House at Sea, due out January 29.

MP3: Amor de Días – “Jean’s Waving”

The National Student interviews Frightened Rabbit. Their new album Pedestrian Verse us out February 5.

DIY and The Guardian sit down with Jessie Ware to discuss her whirlwind 2012.

Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine talks to Drowned In Sound about joining Primal Scream this Summer and the return of MBV.

Pitchfork reports that Lost Sirens, that compilation of New Order outtakes circa Waiting For The Sirens’ Call that absolutely no one has been clamouring for, will be released on January 22.

Rolling Stone has another live clip taken from the Blur live set Parklive, and naturally it’s the song that North American audiences would know best. And speaking of North America, Blur have confirmed their first live appearance on the continent in who knows how long for next Spring – but it’s not where you’d expect.

Video: Blur – “Song 2” (live at Hyde Park)

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Suede have slated a live show for London next Spring, expected to coincide with the release of a new album. Which, in a perfect world, would be produced by Bernard Butler who would secretly replace all of Richard Oakes’ guitar parts with his own.

Rolling Stone is streaming another song from Johnny Marr’s solo debut The Messenger, out February 26.

Stream: Johnny Marr – “The Right Thing Right”

Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that The House Of Love – who have only barely been active enough to qualify as not dead since their 2005 reunion album Days Run Away – have in fact finished a new record and will presumably actually be releasing it.

The Quietus talks to all three members of Saint Etienne while Artvinyl talks to the design shop who put together the wonderful album art for their latest, Words & Music By Saint Etienne.

Charles Watson of Slow Club gets political with Under The Radar.

Loud & Quiet and This Is Cornwall have interviews with Patrick Wolf.

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Greyhounds In The Slips

Win Joy Formidable tickets without having to change your cellphone provider or listen to the radio

Photo By James MinchinJames MinchinThe almost-last minute free show from Welsh so-much-power-trio The Joy Formidable show at The Mod Club next Monday night, November 26, announced earlier this week was unequivocally good news, but there were some questions on just how one would go about getting tickets seeing as how it was being sponsored by Virgin Mobile and CFNY 102.1 The Edge. Would you have to change cellphone providers? Subject yourself to the Dean Blundell show? Maybe, but also no. You could just keep doing what you’re doing right now – reading this site.

Thanks to the good folks at Union Events, who’re actually putting the show on, I’ve got a handful of passes to give away. I’ve given away a couple pairs via Twitter already – if I didn’t @ you this morning, you didn’t win so keep reading – but now also have five pairs to give away here. To throw your proverbial hat in the ring, email me at contests@chromewaves.net with “I want a Joy Formidable” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me by, say, 6:00PM on Sunday night.

Their new record Wolf’s Law is out January 22.

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Greyhounds In The Slips”

Whilst on the topic of joyful bands, a rather stellar-sounding Joy Division bootleg circa February 1980 at the University Of London has surfaced and is available to download in FLAC form at The Power Of Independent Trucking.

Frightened Rabbit have released a video from their forthcoming album Pedestrian Verse, due out February 5.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Dead Now”

Filter and Lees Music Scene have interviews with Dry The River.

Interview and Nylon talk to Kate Nash about her new Death Proof EP and forthcoming Girl Talk album, due out in March.

Blur have made another live clip from this Summer’s Hyde Park show available to watch. The live set Parklive is out December 3.

Video: Blur – “Young And Lovely” (live at Hyde Park)

Electro-soul man Jamie Lidell will release his new self-titled album on February 18 and will be in town at Lee’s Palace on April 8 in support. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Stream: Jamie Lidell – “What A Shame”

PopMatters talks to Pete Wiggs and Under The Radar to Sarah Cracknell, both of Saint Etienne.