Friday, October 7th, 2005

Station Approach

Manchester’s Elbow and I got off on entirely the wrong foot. Their debut album Asleep In The Back came out when I was at prety much the nadir of my Britpop interest. I’d heard a track or two on some compilations but it didn’t quite grab me enough to pursue. I had a very low tolerance for anything that sounded remotely Coldplay-ish so into the “ignore” pile they went. Fast-forward four years to the release of their third album, Leaders Of The Free World. I’m feeling much more generous to music from the UK these days, and the glowing reviews piqued my interest. Thanks to the good folks at V2, I got a copy of the new album to investigate.

Short answer? It’s very good. There isn’t much in the way of pop hooks to catch the ear on early listens, but that’s because the true strengths of the record move deeper below the surface, moving slowly with great weight and determination. It actually took me a little while to identify what it was that I was hearing from this record – it sounded familiar, yet long-forgotten. It wasn’t like my records, or my shoegaze stuff, or pure pop. Then it hit me – this is rock. Not ironic cock-rock bullshit or fake aggro suburban metal, but thoughtful, muscular-yet-delicate, singularly British epic rock the likes of which Radiohead used to make and which I used to love. That love affair ended not just because my tastes changed but because there didn’t seem to be any more purveyors of the style after the ‘Head went all Kid A on us.

Over the course of 49 minutes, Leaders Of The Free World swells, soars and offers drama, gravitas and emotion while avoiding the pitfalls of pretentiousness or preciousness. The instrumentation is as lush or austere as required, anchored by singer-guitarist Guy Garvey’s elastic rasp which reminds me more than just a little of Peter Gabriel. Upon rereading the last few paragraphs, I wonder if I might be a little over-effusive with my praise – it sort of sounds like I’m anointing Leaders Of The Free World the album of the year. I’m not. It’s good, surprisingly so, but it’s not changed my world. What it has done, and I’m thankful to it for this, is re-introduced and reinvigorated a style of music I’d wrtten off and/or forgotten about.

Though the album has been out for a little while now, the media machine hasn’t caught on yet – I’ve been able to find very little link-worthy press. Just this piece from Manchester Online wherein they talk to the hometown boys about the making of Leaders Of The Free World. If there’s any justice, however, this album will get the attention it deserves – it surely stomps on much more hyped 2005 albums from the likes of Oasis and Coldplay.

Soaring With Eagles points us to this interview with Metric in UofT newspaper The Varsity. We say thanks. Gothamist also has an interview (via Prefix).

Feist talks to The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix because, let’s face it, there’s nothing else to do in Saskatoon. Via LHB.

Macleans profiles/reviews Broken Social Scene/Broken Social Scene. I got my copy yesterday. One-listen impression? It’s a dense album and will take some time to dig through. You Forgot It In People was the same way, but there were the all-out pop numbers to bring you back to the surface for air – not so much on this one. I expect/hope that it will still ultimately prove as enjoyable/rewarding, but time will tell the tale.

And speaking of Metric and Feist and Broken Social Scene, Under The Radar loves Canada. We love you too.

Tom Vek is at the Drake on November 10. Wanna know a secret? I have no idea who Tom Vek is. I only posted this because I’ve seen his name on other cool kids blogs. What should I know about him?

More Bob Mould news – Billboard reports that tonight’s show in Washington, DC will be recorded for release as a live DVD. And after the current full-band electric tour wraps up, Mould will hit the road again for an acoustic tour – no Toronto date for that one, though.

eye’s comic-friendly column The Panelist closes out its last column with a profile of Neil Gaiman, who is in town tomorrow for a reading of Anansi Boys. It appears eye is rebranding themselves in a few weeks time and from the look of the ads in this week’s issue, they’re going for a “sick”, “suggestive” and “penetrating” direction. Eww.

np – Broken Social Scene / Broken Social Scene

By : Frank Yang at 9:26 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post19 Responses.
  1. John says:

    Elbow’s previous album, Cast Of Thousands is pretty strong as well.

  2. Toni says:

    is there a password or username that someone can share, so i can read the varsity, metric article?


  3. toni says:

    forget it, now it’s working. sometimes i can get in, sometimes it wants a password.


  4. satellite says:

    great description of the elbow album. my only difference is that it will be one of my favorites for the year.

  5. BSS says:

    Broken Social Scene are the real deal. Total indie-rock heroes

    Their new album is pretty great. It blows away most stuff so far in 05.


  6. Roy says:

    I saw Tom Vek at the LowLands festival over here in the Netherlands, i <i>am</i> a cool kid with a blog i guess, and he sounds like a funked up young Peter Gabriel, sort of. But i might be entirely wrong here because i have no records of Peter Gabriel at all. I mean to say, it’s funky, it’s weird and a bit overconceived but loveable.

  7. incarag says:

    I have to agree with the person who touted Cast of Thousands. It’s a really excellent album and much better than Asleep in the Back. I still haven’t heard the new one, but it’s sitting for me at home waiting to be listened to, so I’ll get a move on it!

  8. abegrand says:

    Hey, careful with the Saskatoon comments. Some of us in Saskatchewan have them there newfangled computer machines, too, you know.

  9. mike says:

    Funny, I was thinking yesterday, how I would describe the new BSS album, and "dense" was EXACTLY the word that came to mind. Still, my first impressions are that there are enough buried melodies to make this album a good listen.

  10. Nav says:

    The Gaiman reading is sold out, right?

  11. Frank says:

    yup. sold out – I would have liked to go just to play "spot the fat bearded buy in a Death t-shirt".

  12. Jen says:

    I caught Tom Vek on a KCRW podcast and immediantly fell for his sound. I can’t wait to catch their show in the Bay Area next month.

  13. Cock Rock says:

    Feist is the hottest chic in rock you all.

  14. suckingalemon says:

    can i ask you something?

    if you look at now magazine, the online version they list the magic numbers gig at lees on december 1st as WITH bright eyes.

    im thinking that has to be a mistake since when does bright eyes play lees for 13 bucks. do you know anything about this?



  15. Frank says:

    has to be a mistake. Magic Numbers are opening some of Bright Eyes’ dates (http://…/) but they’re not coming up here. If they were, there’s no way it’d be at Lee’s and only $13. If you don’t believe me, ask Amy at Rootmeansquare – she’s the booker.


  16. radioDan says:

    I recommend finding a copy of Asleep In The Back and giving it another try. I still love it as much as I did on my first listen, and maybe it’ll grow on you. I always thought it was what Radiohead might’ve sounded like if they’d kept making albums like The Bends.

  17. Matt says:

    I agree about Broken Social Scene. Not very accessible on the first listen. It’ll take time.

  18. nate says:

    tom vek is the shit. you should definately check that out. a friend of mine saw him and did not stop raving for days.

  19. Review of Elbow’s build a rocket boys! | WAKAZ says:

    […] to Asleep, complete ignorance to 2003′s Cast Of Thousands (though better late than never), respect with their third record Leaders Of The Free World (thankfully in time to see them live) and, in […]