Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

The Stars Whiteout

Photo via MySpace

When Nottingham’s Seachange quietly called it a day in March of last year, not too many noticed. Never critical darlings nor commercial successes, they also never seemed to get lumped in with any particular musical movement in the UK – the sort of phenomenon that may be maddening for artists but certainly makes getting press and attention easier. And so when they called it a day following the release of their second album On Fire, With Love, it probably got no more than a passing mention in the NME.

And it’s a damn shame, really. As I mentioned two years ago, I’d never paid them much attention until I was sent a couple tracks from that final record and was quite won over by their sound, heavy on words and melody, a dry yet soothing aesthetic and a knack for both a well-placed bit of guitar skronk and violin line. Kind of a slightly snottier yet no less romantic Idlewild, with an similar facility for balancing anthemic rockers with more introspective, folk-inflected numbers. It wasn’t necessarily anything new, but it was done really well and there were more than a handful of really excellent songs on there – it’s quite a testament that even after all this time, it still gets moderately heavy rotation hereabouts and this is from someone with a pretty lousy attention span.

They had one posthumous release in last year’s Disband In Bonn, which as the title implies was a collection of live tracks recorded on their final tour in Germany. They’ve now done a little more cupboard cleaning, however, and the result is the The Stars Whiteout – an 8-song mini-album that they’re giving away as a free download to whoever wants it. It’s mostly new songs, plus an alternate version of an On Fire song and a cover of fellow underappreciated Nottingham-ers Six By Seven’s “IOU Love” (which in itself was a crib of The Church’s “Under The Milky Way”, but let’s not get into that again). While it’s kind of a bit late to act as a way to get into the band – at least in any sense that’ll do them any good – it’s a good listen and maybe it’ll be enough to encourage you to scrounge up a copy of On Fire, With Love and enjoy it as the excellent record it is.

eMusic has pretty much their entire catalog available for download – which reminds me that I still have to grab their Matador debut Lay Of The Land – and if you’ve only got five minutes and forty-three seconds to spare, I suggest devoting them to “In”, my favourite track off On Fire.

MP3: Seachange – “Personal Assistant”
MP3: Seachange – “IOU Love”
MP3: Seachange – “In”
Video: Seachange – “Glitterball”
Album: Seachange / The Stars Whiteout (.zip)

And speaking of scenes (and fitting into them or not), Brett Anderson tells The Guardian that Suede were never a Britpop band, no matter how many Union Jacks he posed in front of in the early ’90s. Sure, Brett. He’s got a new solo record out entitled Wilderness.

NME reports that Patrick Wolf has not one but two new albums in the works.

Head over to The Daily Growl for a taste of Richard Hawley in full-on rockabilly mode, part of his contribution to the soundtrack to British retro horror film Flick.

Austin 360 welcomes Nicole Atkins back to Austin for Austin City Limits in a few weeks.

Santogold is coming to the Phoenix on September 24, though I can’t help notice that that’s the same date as the Mogwai show… Mogwai versus Santogold. That, I would pay to see. I assume this conflict will be resolved one way or another. Full dates – correct or otherwise – at NME. Update: thanks to Daniel in the comments for pointing out that the show is now at the Guvernment. That post-rock/dance-rock showdown for the ages will have to wait for another day, but believe me – it’s coming.

Zoilus has posted the the complete email transcript of his interview with Silver Jew David Berman that went into the piece in Tuesday’s The Globe & Mail. I opted to skip the show at Lee’s on Tuesday night – how was it?

There’s another installment up in the Okkervil River Stand-Ins covers project – this one is “On Tour With Zykos” covered by, of course, Zykos. The Stand-Ins is out on Tuesday and Okkervil are at the Phoenix on October 12.

Video: Zykos – “On Tour With Zykos” chats with Aimee Mann.

By : Frank Yang at 8:32 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post9 Responses.
  1. danieljosef says:

    Looks like Santogold has been moved to the Guverment, its already on sale via ticketmaster ($25).

  2. Barnett says:

    To be fair Suede never went out of their way to be part of the brit-pop thing (which was entirely media created anyway, which might explain your sarcasm) aside from very early on. Certainly the second LP was about as far from a brit-pop record as they could have gotten. Often lost in this argument is that the members of Suede very rarely socialized with the rest of that scene, and preferred to sort of wall themselves off in west London with close friends and just make music. It’s funny how little credit Brett gets for keeping his band together after Bernard left. They were actually more successful post Dog Man Star. Of course, they have been written out of history, not because of a poor last album but for the very reason they were compelling to begin with – they never fit in and can not be compartmentalized with the Damons and Noels of the world. Brett’s massive drug use did him and the band no favors, but he has come out of it now and contrary to popular opinion, has just written a really good album.

  3. Frank says:

    oh, I agree – Suede definitely laid groundwork for the return of overt Britishness, but they never fit in with textbook Britpop, either chronologically or stylistically. But that didn’t stop journos from lumping them in just because it was easier for them, and that didn’t really hurt Suede’s career either – you can’t tell me that "Coming Up" wasn’t geared to take advantage of the landscape at the time.

    But regardless – "Dog Man Star" is a godhead of an album, The Tears were far better than they should have been and I haven’t heard any of Brett’s solo stuff. But any time he rings up Bernard, they’ll have my attention.

    Idolator is going on about this as well:

  4. meg says:

    "Zoilus has posted the the complete email transcript of his interview with Silver Jew David Berman that went into the piece in Tuesday’s The Globe & Mail. I opted to skip the show at Lee’s on Tuesday night – how was it?"

    if you were a silver jews fan, last night made your dreams come true. if you weren’t before, you are now. or else you’re probably dead. ;)

  5. meegs says:

    Silver Jews show was brilliance. Dylan/Waits/Cohen hybrid bliss. What a beautiful show & perfect way to wrap up a summer of above-average shows tidily. So sorry you missed it, Frank!!!!

  6. Adam K. says:

    I’m so disappointed that I missed the Jews show. Why did it have to be on the first day back to school? Had it been two days earlier, I would have been all over it.

    Hopefully it’s not another career’s time until Berman is back in TO…

  7. Bruce says:

    With Suede, I remember the general tenor of the pronouncements at the time, which had little to do with any movement like Britpop (which Suede predated), and more to do with the power of the singles, the strength of the songwriting, the Bowie-esque guitar and the attendant glam, melodrama and androgyny (with all its cheekiness). Sure they were embraced by England as its own, but definitely a far cry from the yobbishness of Oasis, the would-be standard-bearers of Britpop.

    I think the essence of Anderson’s comments distancing Suede from Britpop is his disdain for the "fake working-class" ethic that characterised the movement (which I think is aimed more at Blur than Oasis, but perhaps doesn’t give Albarn’s observational wit the credit it deserves). Despite the occasional slumming, Suede was always a bit more sophisticated than that.

    And for what it’s worth, in that magazine cover pose (see Idolator), it looks suspiciously like the Union Jack is Photoshopped in behind him.

  8. glurpy says:

    It was photoshopped behind him. Brett was quite upset with then for doing that. Isn’t it about time for a critical reappraisal of Suede? Brilliant band.

  9. Mike says:

    thanks for bringing seachange back to my memory again, i only saw them once, when they came to germany with the "lay of the land" album and they where brilliant.