Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Birds Flew Backwards

Review of Doves' Kingdom Of Rust

Photo via doves.netdoves.netConsistency is no great fault, particularly when the standard that one rarely fails to meet is as high as it is for Britain’s Doves. For nearly a decade, since their 2000 debut Lost Souls, the trio has turned out an album of classic-sounding, widescreen, melancholic space-rock every few years, each of which manages to expand and build on that which came before to some degree, but never coming up with the watershed record, the game-changer, the quantum leap forward. Some might argue that Lost Souls was that record, one so fully-realized right out of the gate that we should be thankful they’ve managed to maintain that level of quality and to an extent, that’s true. Not one of their albums have been a misstep, each rich with equal parts yearning emotion, musical textures and fist-pumping anthemicism, but even so there’s a risk in feeling too familiar.

Their latest, Kingdom Of Rust, perhaps even despite their best efforts, feels just that familiar. To their credit, they do go out of their way to incorporate new influences into their sound – the motorik rhythms of “Jetstream”, the country-western gallop of the title track, the scorching psych-rock of “House Of Mirrors” – but by the time they’re done with it, they’ve been so effectively absorbed by the band’s own personality that the finished pieces still feel Mancunian grey and simply Doves-ish. On the plus side, being Doves-ish means there’s at least a couple of spectacular moments – in this case, the soaring “Winter Hill” is the album standout – and not really any glaring weak spots. But I can’t help feeling I’ve heard this all before.

There’d been some speculation before the record’s release that given the breakout year their compatriots in Elbow had in 2008, that this might be the year that another band of never-too-fashionable northerners got their due. I still hold out hope that that’ll happen someday, but I don’t think Kingdom Of Rust is the record to do it. It’s a good record and a fine addition to the Doves discography, successful at adding further depth an detail to the musical world that Doves have already created, but doesn’t extend its boundaries. It’s pretty much exactly the record that long-time fans were probably expecting, and sometimes what you’re expecting isn’t what you actually want.

PopMatters has an interview with Doves and NME TV has a chat with the band on video. Q gets the band to offer thoughts on each of their albums – Lost Souls, The Last Broadcast, Some Cities and Kingdom Of Rust. Doves are at the Kool Haus in Toronto on June 1.

Video: Doves – “Kingdom Of Rust”
MySpace: Doves

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan counts down her five favourite albums to Spinner. She’s at the Mod Club on Saturday night for a sold-out show.

Shoegaze week continues at Drowned In Sound as they interview Neil Halstead of Slowdive and Mojave 3. They also salute Slowdive’s oeuvre.

Blurt also gets in on the shoegaze action, reporting that Chapterhouse’s 1991 debut Whirlpool is getting reissued next week with a few bonus tracks.

NME is offering a track from The Early Years for download, the band’s contribution to a compilation by UK shoegaze label Sonic Cathedral.

MP3: The Early Years – “Like A Suicide”

JAM Q&As Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke.

You can currently stream The Cure’s recent secret MySpace show in Los Angeles in its entirety over at their MySpace.

Franz Ferdinand will release a dub version of their latest album Tonight entitled Blood on June 1 – details at Billboard. They’re at the Kool Haus on May 4.

State has an interview with Carey Lander and The Village Voice with Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, latest recipient of the Pitchfork “Best New Music” honour for My Maudlin Career. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 27.

NOW profiles Adele, who is playing Massey Hall on April 29.

Paste gets to know Micachu & The Shapes.

Artrocker goes behind the scenes of Sky Larkin’s latest video for “Antibodies”. Their debut The Golden Spike was supposed to be out domestically in North America by now, but apparently “technical difficulties” are holding that up some. No idea what the problem is – the CDs they had in the UK turned out fine. They just need to ship a few boxes of those over here posthaste.

MPR welcomes Robyn Hitchcock to their studios for a session.

I remember when people were all excited about M83 FINALLY came to town for the first time… Now they’re back for their fourth show in a year. Kinda less special. Look for them at the Phoenix on July 17.

NxNE has revealed a few more of the names set to play the festival this June 18 through 20.

But I suppose the biggest reveal yesterday was the fact that Virgin Festival is indeed coming back to Ontario for a fourth year (and also to Calgary and BC, apparently)- but you’ll note I said Ontario and not Toronto. I already knew that this year’s edition wasn’t happening at the Toronto Islands, but I’d assumed that meant Downsview Park. Nope. Try Burl’s Creek between Barrie and Orillia, an hour north of the city. That’s right – August 29 and 30 way up in cottage country – first reported at Consequence Of Sound and confirmed by myself through folks who know. I suppose this is actually keeping in the V Fest tradition, after all the UK editions in Chelmsford and Staffordshire are hardly in the hearts of any burgeoning metropolises, but then the British have an established tradition of traveling to and camping out at outdoor festivals. Over here? Not so much. So whereas my attendance at the first three were gimmes – festival a 10 minute bike ride from home? sure! – this one is far from it. I’m not a camper by any definition so there’s a whole issue of lodging to be dealt with on top of the transportation – I have not-so-fond memories of sitting for hours in traffic on the 400 up to Molson Park way back in the day – and that’s not even mentioning the prospects of being devoured by insects and/or bears. I’m going to reserve final judgment until I see the actual lineup – which should be soon – but it’s going to have to be pretty damned impressive.

By : Frank Yang at 8:16 am
Category: General

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RSS Feed for this post20 Responses.
  1. Primavera says:


    Virgin Fest north of Barrie is a HUGE negative. Like Frank I think one of the nice things about the festival on the islands was not having to get in a car and drive. Also like Frank, I have terrible memories of waiting in traffic to get up to Molson Park in the past.

  2. ricky says:

    v-fest completely blows it one is going to go up there.

  3. Bruce says:

    Kingdom of Rust — yes, I do like it, but no, it doesn’t strike me as “their best album yet”, as claimed in the across-the-board rave reviews it’s getting. Maybe I just haven’t spent enough time with it yet, but it hasn’t (so far) given me the immediate rush I got from Some Cities and Last Broadcast. But they have so much benefit of doubt with me that I’ll bestow “grower” status on it and let it work its magic. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing the new stuff done live in June.

    VFest in the boonies? I second that Boo. They may get some adventurous souls, but unless the whole thing is scaled way back, I think they’re in for a big surprise. It’ll take a Coachella-esque lineup to get the city to show up, and I can’t see that happening.

  4. mIKE says:

    People WILL go there. IF they pack the fest with pile of radio-friendly hit bands, they will come.

  5. Frank Yang says:

    yeah, I’m pretty sure people will go. Maybe not the same people who’d go to the Island but it’ll hardly be deserted. I’m more curious about what the capacity of the place is, to measure expectations against the Island. Smaller? Bigger?

  6. Matt Hawker says:

    Burls Creek: They did theirfirst and only show last year for the jack Johnson/Neil Halstead show at the venue. i attended and it wasn’t bad. I’m under the impression that by thing was attended by 25,000 give or take, either a good indicator of the draw that jack is and while he headlined so many fests last year, or more likely a reflection of the Boonie crowd who were quite pumped to see something on this scale happening in their back yard.

    Just based on observations I’d say the venue can has the surrounding space to accomodate more stages and fans, although their are residences in the area so I wonder by how much and for how long before the complaints start rolling in.

    Andfor those with dear memories of the traffic backup, rest assured it still exists. The venue is on the 8th line of Oro which is directly north of Barrie. Teh funny thing about the line is that there is an exit ramp coming northbound from the highway, but to get back on the highway towards toronto you actually have to go up a line and cycle back. Instead of doing this, the cops funnelled the traffic down a one lane side road back to Barrie. End result, major clusterfuck.

    But I am intrigued…. and its 10 minutes from my place. Also heard Coldplay might be in the mix.

  7. Paul says:

    Coldplay is in Europe that weekend, so they will not be there.

  8. Frank Yang says:

    and Coldplay are at the Rogers Centre one month before. That’s 40K fans, give or take, who would almost certainly not pay that much to see them again so soon.

    That’s the thing – a lot of the obvious headliners doing the festival circuit this year already have their own shows in Toronto. They may yet pull something unexpected out of their hats.

    Or not.

  9. Paul says:

    Also, Outside Lands is that weekend in California, which diminishes the chances of acts like Beastie Boys and Pearl Jam playing. Reading/Leeds is also that weekend, so Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kings Of Leon are out – both of whom I fully expected to be at VFest.

    I bet the headliners will be Green Day and The Tragically Hip, and that will suck. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  10. Frank Yang says:

    oh, shitty – I had hoped YYY would be there. Kings of Leon didn’t sell out the ACC, did they? I’d be surprised if they thought they could draw again so soon. I’ve been told Green Day is NOT playing and the Hip are doing six nights at Massey next month – even as rabid as their fans are, expecting them to come out again so soon might be a bit much.

    Again, all speculation.

  11. Paul says:

    Apparantly the Kings Of Leon show was very close to sold out. Last year Foo Fighters did a show in the Spring and came back for VFest. Kings Of Leon are festival whores, so I figured they would be there.

    Remember, this will draw a lot of people that may not go see The Tragically Hip shows at Massey Hall. I think just as people who live downtown find it to be a daunting task to go anywhere noth of the city, people who live north may feel the same way about going to Massey Hall. I think they have to be considered a possibility.

    So if Green Day isn’t playing, there really aren’t many choices left for headliners who can actually bring people out to this event. Radiohead are also at Reading/Leeds, so they are out. Maybe The Cure? Tool? I hope the line-up is decent and this thing is a success.

  12. Frank Yang says:

    Foo Fighters are a much bigger band than KoL, and have the sort of fanbase that’d see them twice in a short amount of time. My impression was that though a big deal in the UK, they couldn’t get arrested in NOrth America until this new record. That could be wrong, but I don’t know if I’d bank on so relatively green a headliner for something like that.

    As for the Hip, getting them would also represent a fairly significant shift in target demographic, though maybe that’s what they’ve decided tehy need. The Toronto V has always tried to maintain that kind of Brit/Alt vibe – the Hip would be a much more populist choice. It would really surprise me if it was them.

    Only other thing I can think is bands NOT doing the Summer festival circuit but using it as a launching point for a Fall jaunt.

  13. Paul says:

    True, but now KoL are huge here. I was thinking of them as a band that could be billed just below the headliner anyway.

    That’s what I’m afraid of with the festival. I believe a shift in the target demographic is possible. Nothing says Northern Ontario like The Tragically Hip! I hope they don’t do this and keep that Brit vibe going. Blur would be a good choice.

  14. Frank Yang says:

    another whole pile of bands to eliminate:

    Outside Lands in SF is that weekend, so no PJ, Beasties, Modest Mouse, Incubus, MIA…

  15. Bruce says:

    Slackers! If I’m not mistaken, didn’t VFest and Osheaga share the same acts on the same weekend a couple of years ago (Saturday’s bands there were here Sunday and vice-versa)? In that case, we could get Incubus after all (we can always dream…)

  16. Frank Yang says:

    yeah, but it’s also a lot easier to shuttle down the 401 than to fly cross-continent

  17. monkeyinabox says:

    Hope Sky Larkin gets the issue sorted out. It’s a good CD and I saw them live with Los Campesinos! Good stuff.

  18. cb says:

    how bout MBV, Blur and Echo & The Bunnymen….last year was disappointing…I hope they step it up this time round.

    Frank any word on Rogers picnic?

  19. Adam says:

    I think Franz Ferdinand have a good chance of being there. Have not played a proper sized show (e.g. ricoh coliseum) in Toronto for a long time, lots of people who missed their small Lees/Kool Haus shows will be yearning to see them, and they have a big gap in their touring schedule around then.

    And cb, I have heard that the Rogers Picnic will be on July 19 @ Fort York this year.

  20. Tyler says:

    incredible…this is the 2nd reissue of whirlpool. cherry red reissued it in 2006 or 2007 with some b-sides as bonus tracks. i guess someone might as well cash in again while the “shoegaze” revival is still happening!