Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

If It Takes You Home

You have to feel for Edinburgh’s Idlewild. Over the past few years, they’ve not only become the poster children for absurdly staggered release dates in the UK and North America (delays of approximately 8 and 6 months for the last two albums) and non-existant label support when they finally did get released, there was the fact that the most brand recognition they’ve gotten on these shores in the last few years was thanks to the Outkast film that shared their name.

But most frustrating must be the fact that each release, no matter how solid it is on its own merits, always seems to be held up to the measuring stick of their second record, 100 Broken Windows, and found wanting. And that’s fair – 100 Broken Windows was a spectacular record, the perfect blend of the raw, ragged energy of youth, a refined and sophisticated lyricism and melodicism far beyond their years and the artistic ambition of a band with a desire to just be another raw and ragged young act. With their two subsequent releases, The Remote Part and Warnings/Promises the balance swung towards the latter, indulging their more anthemic and bombastic tendencies with slicker production values. They were still commendable records with killer singles, but left one yearning for some of the reckless abandon of their breakthrough album.

After parting ways with Parlophone in 2005, they began work on their sixth record (if you include their 1998 debut mini-album Captain) but opted to set the folkier material aside for singer Roddy Woomble’s solo record My Secret Is My Silence and concentrate on the rock for Make Another World, out this week in North America. And it’s a move that pays off – World is Idlewild’s rawest, most energized effort in years. It doesn’t fully recapture the punkish spirit that informed their early work – there’s no reason it would, they’re not kids anymore – but the guitars are louder, the tempos higher and Woomble’s delivery more fiery than they’ve been in years. Some approach each new Idlewild release expecting to be disappointed and I don’t doubt they’ll find some angle from which to pick this record apart but I found it to be a surprising and welcome return to form. And also note that the North American edition contains two bonus tracks not available on the UK version including a Neil Young cover.

Metro talks to Woomble about the new record and also the Ballads Of The Book compilation that was also his brainchild and to which Idlewild contribute a track. It’s a collection of songs featuring lyrics from contemporary Scottish authors and poets put to music by a who’s who of Scottish musicians. For more info, check out the minisite devoted to the project and also this piece in The Inverness Courier that talks to the pairing of author Ali Smith and The Trash Can Sinatras.

MP3: Idlewild – “In Competition For The Worst Time”
Stream: Idlewild / Make Another World
Video: Idlewild – “No Emotion” (YouTube)
Video: Idlewild – “If It Takes You Home” (YouTube)
MySpace: Idlewild

And while I’m still in the highlands, head over to Pitchfork, who’re streaming Camera Obscura’s cover of ABBA’s “Super Trouper”, a b-side from their single for “Tears For Affairs”. You can watch the video for said single below. Also, Tracyanne Campbell talks to The Highland News.

Video: Camera Obscura – “Tears For Affairs” (YouTube)

According to NME, The View have again canceled their North American tour (including a May 4 show at Lee’s Palace), which itself was a postponement of a tour originally slated for March. The reason given are “visa and immigration issues” – maybe like the fact that the lead singer pleaded guilty to cocaine possession back in February. Guess someone was overly optimistic that the US and Canadian immigration folks would overlook that little indiscretion.

Sea Wolf, who didst impress at SxSW last month, are coming to town on May 9 opening for Silversun Pickups at Lee’s Palace. Not such a fan of the headliners but I may check it out if just to see the support. Also just announced (and nautically named), The Sea & Cake will be at the Mod Club on June 2 – full dates at Pitchfork.

And oh yes, Wilco, Massey Hall, June 30. Thanks Kevin. Full North American tour dates here.

The worlds of professional sports and indie rock rarely bump heads, but I’ve got not one but two bits on that very theme. First off, Over The Top Fest – scheduled for the first weekend of May – recently took on the CFL (that’s Canadian Football League to our American cousins) after learning that they had named part of their 2007 Grey Cup festivities, happening this Fall, Over The Top In Toronto. While there’s little practical chance of a horde of pro football fans mistaking a Daniel Johnston gig for a tailgate party, it was probably still prudent to take some action and as Chart reports, the football league has been amicable to changing their event name to avoid potential confusion. But I think as a gesture of goodwill, Julie Doiron should sing the national anthem at the championship game.

And speaking of anthems, everyone’s talking about The Hold Steady recording a version of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” for the Minnesota Twins. Craig Finn (now with beard!) talked to MTV about how it came about and they also have a video of them recording said track, but it can only be viewed in the US (boo!). But you can still head to Stereogum for an MP3 of the track.

And finally, The Toronto Star gets a look at the musical tastes of various Toronto athletes and while most of it is what you’d expect, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Boyd Devereaux surprises with the revelation that he digs on Explosions In the Sky, My Morning Jacket and The Besnard Lakes. Devereaux talked a bit about his musical tastes and adventures in indie rock.

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Roland says:

    I’ve enjoyed "The Remote Part," and I’ll definitely check out this new album. Idlewild kind of reminds me of another oft-neglected Scottish band, the Delgados, who evolved from a punkier sound to something more sophisticated (albeit with more orchestration). Oh, and Emma Pollock also contributed to "Ballads of the Book" (and if it makes you feel better, Amazon also managed to spell Aereogramme without the second e). Anyways, it’s unfortunate about the staggered release dates, but hopefully they’ll get some exposure this time around. Thanks for the info.

  2. Torr says:

    unfortunately this new idlewild album is idlewild-by-numbers, they’ve done it all before and better the first time around. sad, really. it’s time they hang it up. i’ll be very surprised if they do more than a few north american shows.

  3. geoffm says:

    as if i didn’t just write the same thing about the new Idlewild to my good friend and longtime Idlewild sidekick, this very same morning. i couldn’t agree with you anymore – on all fronts. totally a return to form (mostly) and easily their most focused and consistent since 100 – which i whole heartedly agree, is a spectacular record. here’s to the thinking man’s brit-rock band!

  4. Thierry says:

    You shouldn’t be so surprised, Frank – Boyd Devereaux was interviewed a while back on the CBC Radio 3 podcast and talked about the Black Mountain story and how right now he was really into a Flemish Eye band, The Cape May. The guy is known for his impeccable taste in music. However, I’m pretty sure the Star were referred to Cuff the Duke in that piece as "Toronto’s eclectic band Off the Cuff". Oh, Star, fact-check much?

  5. Alterion says:

    As a massive idlewild fan I’m Very very jealous that you get an extra 2 tracks and may have to hunt them down on the high seas.The new record is great, but lacks the killer tracks and energy of 100 broken windows, its a more sophisticated record in parts though and that’s no bad thing. Its unlikely to iwin them many new fans i think, although old fans like me will be puzzled why.

  6. claire says:

    will have to check out that idlewild album. . .just heard that their CURRENT label, sanctuary, is closing up shop within weeks. these guys just can’t catch a break!

  7. Tug says:

    I posted about this not too long ago. Admittedly, I haven’t heard all of the new record, but what I have heard doesn’t really impress me too much. It’s much closer to The Remote Part (which I do enjoy) than any of their subsequent releases, but c’mon, it’s still no 100 Broken Windows. I think the high-energy seems a bit forced at this point. Trying to reclaim former glory when maybe they should have just recorded some of Woomble’s solo stuff.