Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

God Knows I Had Plans

Review of The Mary Onettes’ Islands

Photo By Gunnar BjorlingGunnar BjorlingI am convinced that somewhere within the Labrador Records offices in Stockholm, there exists a magical machine that issues mandates to bands on the roster as to what their next albums must sound like. For example, The Radio Dept drew “Belle & Sebastian meets the Jesus & Mary Chain” for their debut and then “depressed Pet Shop Boys” for the follow-up and The Mary Onettes, it seems, were told to make their new record Puzzles sound like “the Shout Out Louds covering Echo & The Bunnymen”, though their official bio namechecks a-ha as well, and I don’t know that I’d argue that point.

This reductive one-liner approach isn’t intended to be dismissive because though I may poke fun at them for wearing their influences on their sleeves, they wear them like goddamn supermodels. Islands brims with grandly romantic songs built on shimmering guitar figures, swelling synths and soaring melodies and tempered by the distinctive Scandinavian melancholy that makes the best Swedish pop so delectable. Some of the numbers drift by, well-meaning if a touch anonymous, but the hits are bullseyes, particularly if you’ve a weak spot as I do for the sounds and styles that are their primary inspirations – “Puzzles” and “God Knows I Had Plans”, in particular, are clean sniper head-shots of awesome.

Frustratingly, like most of their labelmates, The Mary Onettes aren’t given to a lot of touring on this side of the Atlantic – they just wrapped a four-date jaunt in the eastern US which got some high profile attention but probably won’t be a precursor to more extensive visits in the future. I still maintain that a Labrador traveling caravan tour across North America with a pile of their bands on the bill would… probably lose a tonne of money, but certainly make for some great music.

Strange Glue has a song-by-song walkthrough of Islands from frontman Phillip Ekstrom. RCRDLBL has a second MP3 from the album available to download.

MP3: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
Video: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
MySpace: The Mary Onettes

Coincidentally, labelmates Sambassadeur – whose one-line mandate could be “twee-folk Camera Obscura meets orch-pop Camera Obscura sometime in the ’80s” – have gotten a new record ready for a January 2010 release. The first MP3 from European is available to grab below.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Days”

Norwegian shoegaze/drone merchants Serena-Maneesh return after a five-year hiatus with a new album on 4AD in March 2010. I think I liked these guys alright – I recall their live shows were ridiculous but honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.

Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Drain Cosmetics”
Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Sapphire Eyes”

Though Editors won’t release their new album In This Light And On This Evening doesn’t get a North American release until January 19 of the new year, that’s not stopping the PR engine over here from getting started – Spin talks to frontman Tom Smith about the title track of the album while Spinner is streaming the whole record for a week.

Stream: Editors / In This Light And On This Evening

The Guardian has the premiere of the new Patrick Wolf video from The Bachelor, presumably the last single because 2010 is supposed to be the year of the sequel, The Conqueror! Pedestrian.tv has an inerview with Wolf.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Damaris”

Spinner goes behind the scenes of the latest Ladyhawke video for “Magic”. She talks to WA Today about the confusion/controversy arising from different countries wanting to lay claim to her success (born in New Zealand, started her music in Australia, now resides in Britain).

Video: Ladyhawke – “Magic”

I had to stop ragging on Joe Pernice for never playing any local shows since becoming a Toronto resident after his wonderful Dakota Tavern show in September and it seems the return to live local performance has stuck. Joe will be performing at the Music Gallery on Wednesday night along with D-Sisive and The Reveries as part of “Songs For Jesse Presley”, an art project named for Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother and co-presented by Zoilus, who has more information on the show.

The AV Club talks to The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard.

Some of you who’ve been visiting a while may recall a few years ago, I auctioned off a copy of Emily Haines’ super-rare first solo record Cut In Half And Also Double as a fundraising effort for Pat Spurgeon, drummer of Rogue Wave, who needed a kidney transplant. Not that Metric or Rogue Wave had anything in common, but it was the most potentially valuable music-related thing that I didn’t have any need to keep. I consider the efforts a success, netting $177.50 USD, and Spurgeon eventually had the necessary transplant and is feeling much better now. And he’s also the subject of a documentary film called D Tour, which follows Spurgeon in his search for a suitable transplant while continuing to live the rock’n’roll dream.

Trailer: D Tour

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: General

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  1. ricky says:

    oh man damaris is the best tune off that album