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Posts Tagged ‘Stevie Jackson’

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Home From War

Frightened Rabbit check into State Hospital; diagnosed with fear

Photo via ClashClashWhen you’re a couple years on from your last album and still a calendar year off from your next, yet you want a pretence to stage a North American tour, what do you do? If you’re Frightened Rabbit, whose Winter Of Mixed Drinks was back in 2010 and major label debut isn’t due out until early 2013, you put together five-song EP of new songs, call it State Hospital, release it on vinyl and digital only – because the kids love their vinyl and MP3s – and you hit the road.

Not that they needed the excuse to tour – their October 10 show at the Mod Club was well sold out a while ago – but if they wanted to remind folks of why their decidedly Scottish, anthemically miserable folk-rock has made the band beloved, they’ve begun streaming the EP at Pitchfork ahead of its release on September 25, setting the stage for them to finish up some European dates before crossing the pond. For whatever reason, Winter didn’t have quite the charm of its predecessor, the breakout Midnight Organ Fight, but the new EP is whetting my appetite for the band again, which is to say it’s doing its job.

The Daily Record, The 405, and The Banter have interviews with frontman Scott Hutchison about the new EP and the next album.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit / State Hospital

Lots of angles from which to get your daily Neil Halstead fix: a new MP3 from Palindrome Hunches is available to download courtesy of IFC, a new video has premiered at Nowness, and an EP to go with the Fall tour that brings him to the Dakota Tavern on October 8 is available for free – or you can leave a tip if you like – at Noisetrade, and includes songs from all points of his career. Including Mojave 3. And Slowdive. Yeah.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Tied To You”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Hey Daydreamer”

Billboard has a conversation and The Alternate Side a session with Alt-J, making their Toronto debut at Wrongbar tomorrow night.

Bat For Lashes has made another track from The Haunted Man available to download; it’s out October 23.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Marilyn”

Beatroute and The Boston Phoenix talk to Bloc Party.

The Toronto Star has a feature on The xx, who’ve made another track from Coexist and a new track not on the album available to download.

MP3: The xx – “Sunset”
MP3: The xx – “Reconsider”

Billboard profiles The Vaccines.

Under The Radar reports that Ladytron frontwoman Helen Marnie has begun work on a solo record and is hoping to crowdfund it via Pledge Music. And by selling her car.

The AV Club reports that Manic Street Preachers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Generation Terrorists with a slew of special edition reissues coming on November 5. This is the album, if you’re recall, that was supposed to outsell Appetite For Destruction, propel the band to global superstar status, culminate in a three-night stand at Wembley Stadium, and then allow the band to burn out and disappear. Fancy-pants twentieth anniversary editions weren’t in the manifesto, but what really turns out the way we expect?

The Guardian profiles the career of Amelia Fletcher, now fronting Tender Trap.

For Folks Sake chats with Stevie Jackson

The AV Club offers a starter’s guide to the musical genre referred to as “shoegazing”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Don't Stare At The Sun

Richard Hawley gets view of Mercury from Sky’s Edge

Photo By FacebookFacebookThe twelve album shortlist for the 2012 Mercury Prize, awarded to the best – by whatever standard the judges choose to use – British or Irish album of the past twelve months was announced yesterday, and I was pleased to see that Richard Hawley made the cut because I get to use the clever (by my standards, at least) post title above and use this sharp photo of Mr. Hawley adjusting his specs.

Truth be told, I’m a bit surprised that Standing at the Sky’s Edge made the cut. Hawley shortlisted before with 2006’s Cole’s Corner, which is as perfect example of what he’s come to be known for in his solo career – classically-styled and richly-adorned romantic pop showcasing his deep baritone and twanging guitarwork – so to recognize him again for a record that seeks to distance itself from that stereotype by way of psychedelic rock jams is a touch unexpected. I personally like the record as it really lets Hawley rip on guitar in a way that he doesn’t typically – it’s louder and rawer but still unimpeachably tasteful – but I do hope it’s more a stylistic sidebar rather than new direction because, well, everyone likes the croony Rich.

To hear both sides impeccably presented, I highly recommend cueing up this live performance at the BBC last weekend where Hawley, in his hometown of Sheffield, is accompanied for two career-spanning sets by the BBC Philharmonic. It’s as gorgeous sounding as it would appear on paper, and as BBC doesn’t like to archive their stuff indefinitely, it’s only available to stream for a couple more days. Hopefully eventually it’ll be given a live release because, well, it should. Hop to the 32 minute mark to hear Jarvis Cocker’s introduction – Jarvis should always be heard – or to the 35th minute for the start of the show. And while you’re at it, read these features interviews at Toast, The Sheffield Telegraph, and The Belfast Telegraph. Also, watch this studio session video for his new single.

Video: Richard Hawley – “Seek It” (live at Yellow Arch Studios)

As for the rest of the Mercury nominees, they line up as follows. And as has become a habit, more than a few of them are coming through town in the next few weeks – Alt-J at Wrongbar on September 19, Ben Howard at Sound Academy on September 24, and Django Django at Wrongbar on September 25. Not Hawley though – he hasn’t been back since December 2007, but hey – we can hope.

Billboard and The Quietus collect some nominee reactions. The winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize will be announced on November 1.

Alt-J / An Awesome Wave / MP3: “Tessalate”
Django Django / Django Django / MP3: “Default”
Field Music / Plumb / MP3: “A New Town”
Ben Howard / Every Kingdom / Video: “Keep Your Head Up”
Richard Hawley / Standing at the Sky’s Edge / MP3: “Down In The Woods”
Michael Kiwanuka / Home Again / MP3: “Tell Me A Tale”
Lianne La Havas / Is Your Love Big Enough? / Video: “Lost & Found”
Sam Lee / Ground of its Own / Stream: “George Collins”
The Maccabees / Given To The Wild / MP3: “Go”
Plan B / Ill Manors / Video: “Ill Manors”
Roller Trio / Roller Trio / Video: “R-O-R'”
Jessie Ware / Devotion / Video: “Wildest Moments”

The Guardian has an interview, MTV a bluffer’s guide, and Baeble Music a video session with Alt-J, who’ve just debuted a new video and are presently favoured to win the big prize.

Video: Alt-J – “Fitzpleasure”

Pitchfork has details on Field Music’s forthcoming covers mini-album Playm, due out later this Fall.

Mumford & Sons have released a video from their new album Babel, due out September 25.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”

Rolling Stone has premiered a track from Tim Burgess of The Charlatans’ new solo record Oh No I Love You, out October 1 in the UK. The Independent also has an interview with Burgess, who reveals that a new Charlatans album will be on the way sometime next year.

MP3: Tim Burgess – “A Case For Vinyl”
Video: Tim Burgess – “White”

Neil Halstead has released a video from his new album Palindrome Hunches, and it gives you a pretty good idea of what his show at The Dakota on October 8 will look like.

Video: Neil Halstead – “Digging Shelters”

Frightened Rabbit are previewing their new State Hospital EP every which way ahead of its release on September 25. The video for the title track was revealed a couple weeks back and now Drowned In Sound has an acoustic video performance of that same tune and DIY has an acoustic demo video of the song, “Boxing Night”. The band are at The Mod Club on October 10 and Mark Grainger writes and Clash have interviews with Scott Hutchison.

Billboard and State talk to Two Door Cinema Club, in town at the Sound Academy on October 11.

The Guardian talks to Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes. Her new album The Haunted Man is out October 23.

Consequence Of Sound has the full routing of the Saint Etienne Fall North American tour, which kicks off October 24 in Toronto at the Opera House, and adds an interview with singer Sarah Cracknell for good measure.

The Joy Formidable have offered the first video from their new album Wolf’s Law, due out in January. That’s right – the song of the same name for which they released a video last month won’t actually appear on the album.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Cholla”

Clash meets Hot Chip. Pretty sure they’ve met before, but whatever. Exclaim and The Georgia Straight also have chats.

DIY and Uncut celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ride’s seminal Going Blank Again by talk to Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, respectively.

The Quietus gets an update from Brett Anderson about how recording sessions for that new Suede album are going. How well? Well enough that Brett Anderson is willing to talk about it.

Noel Gallagher gives NME some odds for an Oasis reunion – not good.

Spinner talks to Stevie Jackson about going it solo for a bit.

Wild Peace, the dreampoppy debut from London’s Echo Lake has been out for a while but due to tragic circumstances – drummer Pete Hayes passed away days before it was released in June – so they’re just getting back to doing press for it now. Drowned In Sound has a complete stream of the album along with song-by-song annotations by the band.

Video: Echo Lake – “Wild Peace”
Video: Echo Lake – “In Dreams”
Stream: Echo Lake / Wild Peace

Spinner chats with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

NPR welcomes Bloc Party for a KCRW session.

Elbow bassist Pete Turner talks to NME about their just-released Dead In The Boot b-sides comp, as well as their plans for their next proper studio album.

Under The Radar presents a video session with Anna Calvi comprised of original instrumentals recorded at and inspired by works in the Tate Modern in London.

NPR, The Los Angeles Times, Digital Spy, and PopMatters interview Pet Shop Boys about their new album Elysium.

There’s a video for the first new Dubstar song in forever – it was originally released in time for Record Store Day in the Spring. A new album is allegedly in the works.

Video: Dubstar – “Circle Turns”

State chats with The Futureheads.

The Grid and The National Post talk to The xx.

DIY and Spinner have features on The Vaccines.

Spinner has an interview and The Line Of Best Fit a video session with Charli XCX.

Clash and The Quietus have features on TOY, but don’t use the all-caps presentation so since I presume they’d know better than I, henceforth neither shall I. Toy. There you still. Still a rubbish name.

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Wolf's Law

The Joy Formidable lay down the Law

Photo via FacebookFacebookLet it never be said that The Joy Formidable are lacking in work ethic. Having toured endlessly and constantly behind their 2011 debut The Big Roar as late as the end of April this year – they hit Toronto alone four times in the preceding two years – it’s an understatement to say that the Welsh trio were due a break. But instead they headed straight back into the studio, put lie to the old adage that you have a lifetime to write your first record and a year to write your second and have apparently already banged out the so-called “difficult” second album.

And further, they’re already sharing some of it. Well, sort of. The new track “Wolf’s Law” may be the title track of the new record – it’s also called Wolf’s Law – it won’t actually appear on the album. Of course, the record isn’t due out until early next year so there’s plenty of time to change their minds about that. But even so, the relatively somber, piano-led arrangement points to an interesting direction for a band who’d made their name with massive, aggressive, guitar heroics. It certainly intrigues, and while it’s nice they’ve given their fans such a treat – in both video and downloadable form, no less – it also makes the likely half-year wait for the rest of the new record that much more difficult. Thanks?

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Wolf’s Law”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Wolf’s Law”

Billboard, LAist, The National Post, and Interview all want to talk to Bloc Party about their just-released new album Four. They bring it to the Danforth Music Hall on September 10 and 11.

Rolling Stone, MTV, and Pitchfork talk to The xx about their forthcoming album Coexist, out September 11. They’ve just released a video of them playing the lead track in a hotel room in Japan.

Video: The xx – “Angels” (live in Tokyo)

TOY is a hotly-tipped new British outfit whose self-titled debut gets a North American release on September 11; think a sunnier, more psychedelic Horrors. At least that’s what I think. Check out a couple of their videos, listen to their Daytrotter session, and read a feature at DIY whilst you decide for yourself.

Video: TOY – “Lose My Way”
Video: TOY – “Left Myself Behind”
Video: TOY – “Motoring”

Interview talks to The Heavy. They play Lee’s on September 23.

Patrick Wolf has released the first video from his forthcoming Sundark & Riverlight, an acoustic reworking of the lead track from The Magic Position. The album is out September 25, the same day he plays The Music Gallery, and The Sydney Morning Herald has an interview.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Overture”

Blood Red Shoes have released a video for the title track from their latest, In Time To Voices. That record brings them to the Drake Underground on September 26.

Video: Blood Red Shoes – “In Time To Voices”

New Order have added a second show at The Sony Centre on October 24. Just like the one on the 23rd, tickets range from $55.50 to $99.50 and go on sale Monday at 10AM.

Video: New Order – “Blue Monday”

Darren Hayman is offering up a second track to preview his forthcoming album The Violence, out November 5.

Stream: Darren Hayman & The Long Parliament – “How Long Have You Been Fighting For?”

Drowned In Sound examines the tools of and i-D has a video session with Little Boots.

Beth Jeans Houghton has released a new video from her debut, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. It already had a video, but now it has a new one. She also chooses six meaningful songs for The Guardian.

Video: Beth Jeans Houghton – “Dodecahedron”

Spinner has a chat with Charli XCX.

Stevie Jackson talks to PopMatters about his solo forays.

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Coexist

The xx and Jacques Greene at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe arc around The xx’s 2009 debut xx was a narratively perfect one, rich with mystery, sex, and drama as the London trio vaulted from obscurity to Mercury and, most prestigiously, a place on my year-end list. And perhaps most crucially for a perfect story, they ended. Or at least went away for a while.

Real life differs from stories, however, in that it generally doesn’t let you just ride off into the sunset, and so after some deserved downtime – okay, Jamie Smith, aka Jamie xx, continued to establish himself as a highly sought-after DJ, remixer, and producer but his bandmates Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim did a pretty good job of staying out of sight – the trio announced their second album would be entitled Coexist and be out on September 11. But before that and between a slew of European festival appearances, a compact tour of the new world to refresh their fans’ memories, if it was needed. And if you don’t feel like reading the rest of the review, I’ll offer a spoiler – it wasn’t.

Support for the tour came from Montreal’s Jacques Greene, and while he’s done a job of establishing his name as both a producer and artist, live he was a two-man operation, accompanied by labelmate Ango on working the samplers and sequencers to create solid grooves of electronic, R&B beats. He was also the de facto frontman when the pair shifted gears a couple times for some slow jams that didn’t astonish, but did offer a nice change of pace from the rest of their set. If you came to The xx from their indie guitar-based side, it might have been a bit unexpected as an opener but if you focused on their dancier side and turned the BPM up a bit, it made perfect sense. And both Greene and Ango looked like they could be stunt doubles for Oliver Sim, so there was that too.

Considering that by the end of the xx cycle, The xx were selling out Massey Hall, returning to a room the size of The Phoenix where they made their Toronto debut opening for Friendly Fires in December 2009 should have been a great chance to recapture some of the intimacy that so suits their music before they’re lost forever to much larger venues, but one of the things that this show made quite clear is that it’s very difficult to create that sort of intense, minimalist vibe when you have a thousand people singing along – and that wasn’t only for the old material. The show opened with the first official taste of Coexist, the week-old “Angels”, and even on that Madley-Croft had an unofficial backing choir of hundreds who’d already committed its lyrics to heart.

The one-hour, ten-minute show gave the audience pretty much everything they could have wanted. There was xx in its entirety, but with a few tracks essentially remixed live – “Crystalised” was essentially transformed into an ambient piece and others were more subtly transformed for greater dynamics and dramatic effect – and a half dozen selections to preview Coexist. In broad strokes, the new material doesn’t sound too far removed from the old – certainly it will take a copy of the finished album and a good pair of speakers or headphones to fully appreciate the growth in their songwriting and production – but comments that Smith had made in the press about this record being more dance-influenced were not idle. While Madley-Croft and Sim’s roles as frontpersons remained as they ever were, Smith made it clear through how his beats – including some on acoustic drums – drove the show that he was their musical backbone, their man behind the curtain (or perspex ‘X’ DJ tables), and wherever he wanted to take them would be where they went. And circa Coexist, he’s feeling the dance – main set closer “Swept Away” was pretty much a rave.

While neither Madley-Croft or Sims have ever seemed particularly fussed about their onstage charisma – some complain about their understatedness but I’ve always found it to be perfectly suited to their music – they certainly seemed to have more presence this time than their past visits. Certainly part of this was the elaborate lighting effects, projections, and smoke machines that accompany them onstage, but also a result of their continued growth and comfort level as performers. And it’s a good thing they seem to be feeling comfortable up there – based on the strength of this preview of Coexist and the obvious appetite their fanbase still has for them, The xx are going to be on the road for a long time.

The Toronto Sun, The National Post, Exclaim, and NOW were also in attendance and has some thoughts.

Photos: The xx, Jacques Greene @ The Phoenix – July 28, 2012
MP3: The xx – “Angels”
MP3: The xx – “Open Eyes” (demo)
MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
MP3: Jacques Greene – “Motivation”
MP3: Jacques Greene – “Sorted”
MP3: Jacques Greene – “Arrow”
MP3: Jacques Greene – “Another Girl”
Video: The xx – “Islands”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
Video: Jacques Greene – “Another Girl”
Video: Jacques Greene – “Tell Me”

Bloc Party are streaming a new track from Four, out August 21. They play The Danforth Music Hall on September 10.

Stream: Bloc Party – “Day Four”

Japanese classical post-rock quartet Mono will release their new album For My Parents on September 4 and stage a massive North American tour with a stop at The Horseshoe on September 12; Chris Brokaw of Come/Codeine/The New Year fame will open up. Mono’s last visit in May 2010 was epic, and not in that hyperbolic way that the word is typically used nowadays. It was literally epic.

MP3: Mono – “Ashes In The Snow”
MP3: Chris Brokaw – “Bricks”

The Quietus has an interview with Lætitia Sadier, in town at The Drake on September 18.

Very disappointed to report that I Break Horses have cancelled the whole of their Fall North American tour, including September 19 at The Drake. They’re promising to make it up in 2013 though, so there’s that.

Daytrotter has a session with Blood Red Shoes, in town at The Drake Underground on September 26.

Taken By Trees have released the first video from Other Worlds, out October 2. She plays The Phoenix on October 4.

Video: Taken By Trees – “Dreams”

The first single from Bat For Lashes’ new album The Haunted Man is now available to download. It’s out October 23.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Laura”

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Ladyhawke’s Anxiety.

Video: Ladyhawke – “Blue Eyes”

The Sun talks to the members of Blur about their thoughts on the Olympics and the state of their reunion.

Loud & Quiet have an interview with Mica Levi of Micachu & The Shapes.

Gameological talks games with Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin’.

Uprooted Music Revue and Drowned In Sound talk to Stevie Jackson about his solo efforts.

Spinner has a feature on 2:54.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

All Your Gold

Bat For Lashes reveals plenty about new album

Photo By Ryan McGinleyRyan McGinleyThough Bat For Lashes were certainly due to release a new record this year – 2009’s Two Suns feels like it came out forever ago – it was certainly a relief when Natasha Khan officially announced last month that her third album, entitled The Haunted Man, would indeed be coming out this Fall.

But cognizant of the fact that simply knowing it exists will only keep fans happy for so long, some more specifics about the record have been released. Exclaim has the tracklisting and a look at the album art, which with its stark, black-and-white photography is quite a far cry from the fantastical imagery that graced her first two records. Considering how well that art reflected the records’ contents, it does raise some questions about what album three has in store. Questions which are answered somewhat by the first single from the album – also just released – which is a gorgeous but very spare piano-led composition suffused with longing, an emotion excellently articulated in the accompanying video. Those who prefer Khan’s trippier, sonically adventurous side to her inner balladeer may hope that the new record doesn’t turn away from those completely, but an album entirely of songs that hit as hard as this one does is fine with me.

The Haunted Man will be released on October 15 in the UK and come out a week later on October 23 in North America.

Video: Bat For Lashes – “Laura”

Their self-titled debut finally getting a domestic North American release on September 25, Django Django have put together a short North American tour to support it – they’ll be at Wrongbar in Toronto on September 29, tickets $14.50 in advance. They impressed at SXSW so if you’re curious, it’s worth the ticket. Drummer David Maclean talks to NPR about their just-released new video.

MP3: Django Django – “Default”
Video: Django Django – “Hail Bop”

Rolling Stone gets some details on The Joy Formidable’s second album from frontwoman Ritzy Bryan. She won’t spill on the title but it doesn’t look as though it’ll be released until early next year at the soonest. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel also has an interview.

The Vine talks to Romy Madley of The xx about making their second album Coexist, due out September 11. They’ll preview the new album at The Phoenix this Saturday night, July 28.

The Guardian talks to Mica Levy of Micachu & The Shapes about their just-released new album Never, from which they’ve just put out a green screen-empowered video for every song. I’m linking them all – hit up DIY for the complete viewing experience.

Video: Micachu & The Shapes – “Never”

The Guardian has an interview with Kate Nash.

Ryan Jarman of The Cribs chats with Clash.

Hot Chip have released their second new video from In Our Heads in a week.

Video: Hot Chip – “How Do You Do”

Spin catches a moment with Two Door Cinema Club, whose new album Beacon is out September 4 and will be followed by a date at The Sound Academy on October 5.

Light Of Lost Worlds talks to Alisdair Mclean of The Clientele and Amor de Días, the former of which remains on hiatus while the latter prepares to release their second album in January of 2013.

Mojave3online.com submits a stack of fan-sumbitted questions to Neil Halstead about his new record Palindrome Hunches and the status of Mojave 3 (playing occasional gigs, sans Rachel, but without any plans for a new record at the moment).

Stevie Jackson discusses the need to go solo once in a while with DIY. He also lists his five favourite Belle & Sebastian contributions to MTV Hive.

Pet Shop Boys have released the first official video from their new album Elysium, out September 18.

Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Winner”

Drowned In Sound talks to Jens Lekman about I Know What Love Isn’t, out September 4. He’s at The Phoenix on October 4.

The Raveonettes have released a video from their new record Observator. It’s out September 11 and they play The Phoenix October 2.

Video: The Raveonettes – “She Owns The Streets”

Interview talks to Lætitia Sadier about her just-released new solo record Silencio. She plays The Drake on September 18.

Mono are streaming a track from their new album For My Parents, out September 4.

Stream: Mono – “Dream Odyssey”