Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Living Proof

Cat Power hasn’t necessarily rocked my world in the past, but the new album is totally winning me over. You can hear the whole thing on her MySpace page, and while I’m sure some will bemoan her moving away from the skeletally weary folk of her earlier releases, I for one welcome her adoption of fuller instrumentation and melodicism. The album is out next Tuesday, and the press machine is revving up. Australia’s The Age and New York Metro have interviews with the notoriously reticent Chan Marshall while The New York Times profiles both her and Beth Orton and reviewing their respective new records. Finally, keep an eye out for the first video from The Greatest for “Living Proof”, shot by Harmony Korine – Tim O Thompson reports that “it’s a bit racy”. You hear that? That was the sound of a nation of indie boys fainting.

And on the topic of Matador-affiliated, formerly press-shy indie royalty The Sunday Herald has an old-fashioned sit-down with Stuart Murdoch and comes away with an impressively expansive and in-depth interview with the Belle & Sebastian leader. And in addition to the release of their new album The Life Pursuit on February 7, there’s the release of Put The Book Back On The Shelf, an anthology of comics based on B&S songs. I am having trouble finding real accurate info on the release date – I’ve found listings for every week in February – but The Beguiling and Soundscapes seem fairly certain that it’ll be out by February 8th, because that’s the day they’re holding a release party for both the CD and the book at Andy Poolhall out on College St. Some of the artists will be in attendance, so it’s your chance to hang out with indie kids AND comic geeks… or show up with a bazooka and put us all out of our misery. You know you’d be doing us a favour.

And at the other end of the spectrum, some artists who have trouble keeping their gobs shut… Oasis are at the Air Canada Centre on March 20. Didn’t know they were on tour over here? Me neither, but there you go. The Arctic Monkeys, who have probably already sold out their show at the Phoenix the next day to Toronto’s infamous slavering Anglophiles, will open. Because, you know, they’re already here.

And also on March 20 – Six By Seven’s Club Sandwich At The Peveril Hotel gets a formal release but the band has 500 copies on sale now through their website, some even autographed. The release is described as “a mixture of high quality master recordings, demo’s and slightly unfinished masterpieces” and contains tracks that were intended for the follow-up to their swan song Artists Poets Cannibals Thieves, which never came to be. Did I ever post about my attempts to buy a copy of that album over eBay? I won an auction for a copy from some dude/shop in the UK and sent payment via Paypal. A couple weeks later, I get a package in the mail that certainly feels like a CD, but when I open it up, it turns out that it’s an empty jewel case with a 10 pound note in it along with a written apology that they couldn’t find the CD in their store so here’s my refund. Somehow paying me in a foreign currency and shipping it as a small parcel made more sense to them than just refunding my Paypal. Attempts to contact the seller just got me profuse email apologies, but no explanation as to what the hell they were thinking. And so I carry that ten quid around with me in my wallet as a reminder that, well, some people are just fucked. And I still don’t have a copy of the record.

And more news from the UK – Eamon Hamilton has left British Sea Power to concentrate full-time on Brakes.

24: I think it goes without saying that President Logan should be removed from office and replaced with David Palmer’s corpse. Or Sherry Palmer’s corpse. Or a potted plant. I wonder if the producers were given a directive to somehow come up with a President who makes the real one look good by comparison? And that kid is SO not 15 years old, though he does cry like a little girl. Oh look! Sam Gamgee in a suit! Silly hobbitses. The airport siege went pretty well, though I don’t really see what sort of threat the terrorists really were, considering that all they had in those explosive vests was confetti. And biohazard weapons? Yawn.

np – Chapterhouse / Whirlpool

By : Frank Yang at 8:53 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Sean says:

    Frank, have you listened to Cat Power’s "Moon Pix"? This "adoption of fuller instrumentation" chestnut is PR bullshit, IMHO. While Chan’s previous two records were pretty stripped down, yeah, her best album (see above) has all sorts of full band songs. It’s more of an indie rock record than the lite country of "The Greatest", but it’s also much, much, much, much better. The problem with "The Greatest" isn’t its sound/genre – it’s in the way the songs feel insubstantial as well. People have made Sarah McLachlan comparisons. This to me is totally unfair in terms of the record’s ‘sound’ – and in terms of Chan’s lyrics, – but it does seem kinda accurate in terms of the weight the album’s got. It really doesn’t affect me at all.

  2. Frank says:

    yeah, I’ve had Moon Pix for years. I’m not saying the The Greatest is better, but I rarely listen to Moon Pix and have already gone back to listen to The Greatest a few times. Could be that it’s just more immediate and it won’t have the legs to become a classic, but I like it. And I didn’t really need a public relations shill to tell me that it sounds fuller, I have ears.

  3. Sean says:

    Ok, sorry if I came off hostile. But do you really think that The Greatest has "fuller instrumentation" than Moon Pix? I don’t hear it at all. It’s different instrumentation, and since lots of strings kind of means a "fuller sound", then I hear that too. but it’s not like this is the first time Chan’s playing with full arrangements.

  4. Frank says:

    would "lusher" be a better term? I just love that Memphis soul sound, and hearing Chan singing over top those sorts of arrangements just really does it for me, more than the drier, mic-in-front-of-a-tiny-amp sort of sound that I equate with Moon Pix. I haven’t heard "You Are Free".

  5. Sean says:

    Yeah, "lusher" gives off that rosy strings-and-horns connotation. For me, "full arrangements" just connotes a full-band production, something more expansive than the stripped-down stuff that Chan’s last two albums (and her gigs) have been more devoted to.

    The reason I reacted so strongly is that I feel Matador’s PR people are creating a false history for Cat Power, pretending this is the first time she’s ever played with more than just skeletal guitar/piano. And thus, they’re pimping a narrative of Chan "finally coming out of her shell", blah blah blah, and the falseness of that line makes me really mad.

    Maybe I’m overreacting. Keep your eyes on newspaper features over the next couple months.

  6. Tyrone says:

    Well they need to come up with some kind of story that people will write about instead of the usual "Chan Marshall hates doing interviews, hates performing and hates being cool, famous and talented" kind of deal.

  7. Sean says:

    I guess. But I don’t think they’re doing any service to her as a human being by forwarding the stereotype of her as emotional wreck who has now, miraculously, emerged as a sexy and confident chanteuse.

  8. brian says:

    what a great picture of chan. she can melt down at my place anytime.

  9. Guest says:

    "Indie boys", "indie royalty", "indie kids AND comic geeks", "slavering Anglophiles"? No offense, but that’s pretty poor writing…

  10. Frank says:

    thanks, I do my best.

  11. ibobunot says:

    Tough crowd, everybody’s a critic.

  12. solace says:

    if you read the new Harp (which Chan is on the cover, and there’s also some nice Beth Orton pix as well), Chan was really apprehensive about letting other people help her write and record this new record. She struggled a lot with giving up a bit of artistic control.

    as for The Greatest, it doesn’t surprise me at all that a lot of people who didn’t dig her before are liking this record. i like it a lot, and prolly wouldn’t argue too much w/ someone calling it her best (as long as they’re familiar w/ her past stuff a lot), but i personally would put it about in the middle of her catalog for me.

    the Memphis soul backing sound is really nice, but for an entire record? it gets a bit same-y as a result for me. i’d stated after i heard it initially that it’d get tagged as the "Indie rock answer to Norah Jones", and it already has started to in the new Harp.

    i see this record doing very well in mainstream press and getting her a handful of new fans, and it going either way among indie sites and fans. Some will love it, but a lot of previous CP fans will def shun it.

    You Are Free and Moon Pix are def my fave albums of hers, followed by Community and the Covers Record, then prolly The Greatest. YAF was in my top 3 for ’03, don’t see the same happening w/ The Greatest unfortunately.

  13. sam says:

    well, i finally watched both episodes. totally agree on the confetti vests but it was still a great siege nonetheless. i have to say that i like what they’re doing with Logan, though. he does remind me a whole lot of Bush! seriously. inaction, wanting to appear tough, worshipping appearance, etc. and that Nixon mug is just too cool :) i was wondering when the new actors would start showing up. and we still got two more to go! :)