Posts Tagged ‘Adam Franklin’

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Two Suns

Bat For Lashes and Lewis & Clarke at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe most beautiful day of the year so far turned into one of the foulest just in time for the early-evening start of Bat For Lashes’ Saturday night date at the Mod Club, the first for this leg of their North American tour in support of their much-heralded new album Two Suns. A more ambitious writer might try to draw some parallel between the dramatic weather shift and the themes of duality that run through the new record – I’ll just blame a high pressure system surrounded by low pressure systems and get on with it.

Rather surprisingly, support for this tour was Pennsylvanians Lewis & Clarke – surprising because they were also support the last time Bat For Lashes came to town in October 2007, and you don’t often see acts getting taken out as support twice. And their last time out couldn’t have been the most pleasant for the band either, since my recollections were the duo, as they were playing as at the time, had a poor time of trying to be heard over the chatty and inattentive audience (those of us up front notwithstanding). I also remarked at the time that maybe a full band would have had been more successful at getting peoples’ attention. Apparently bandleader Lou Rogal took my advice because the Lewis & Clarke that showed up this time was five members deep, including a drummer and string section. They delivered a set of four (maybe five) songs over 35 minutes, all of the slow and thoughtful chamber-folk variety, and while unquestionably pretty, it was all quite same-y. But at least this time, the audience was much more receptive – or at least polite. Lewis & Clarke will release a new EP Light Time on May 12.

Also rejigged significantly from last time was Bat For Lashes, the band. Whereas the troupe that visited in 2007 was a drummer-less all-female multi-instrumentalist quartet, this one had more defined musical roles and was slightly more co-ed, with Ben Christophers on keys, New Young Pony Club’s Sarah Jones on drums and the divine Charlotte Hatherley on pretty much everything. Oh, and also Natasha Khan – she whose voice, vision and songs ARE Bat For Lashes.

And as beguiling as she is on record, she’s equally charismatic on stage. She set the bar high for the show by leading with Two Suns opener “Glass”, the finest showcase for her soaring vocals, but didn’t let things lag a bit through the 70-minute set. Splitting material fairly evenly between Suns and Fur & Gold, Khan crafted a spellbinding performance that despite the rich visual presentation, didn’t rely on theatrics to rivet – rich with atmosphere and mystery, the songs were more than enough. It’s hard to pick highlights from a show really had no let-downs, but Fur singles “Prescilla” and “What’s A Girl To Do” naturally got the biggest response and single “Daniel” even got aired twice – early on, reimagined in skeletal, autoharp-led form and as the encore closer as “(Big) Daniel” (so noted on the set list), complete with the huge synths of the album version and deliciously Cure-ish guitars. Grand finale, indeed.

It’s impossible to overstate how much the new band configuration has improved their live show, which was hardly wanting in the first place. In particular, the drums, thundering and tribal, gave things a vitality that really took things to another level and Hatherley’s versatility was also put to good use, as she switched off between guitar, bass, keys, accordion and percussion in addition to providing backing vocals. For lack of a better way of putting it, Bat For Lashes v2 are just much more powerful. Though I did miss seeing the rain stick/staff of power from last time.

As for Khan, it’s remarkable how effortlessly she manages to indulge her more out-there creative impulses – her musical world is inhabited by wizards, knights and creatures of fantasy – while seeming utterly grounded, friendly and without airs. With a penchant for costumes and with stage decorations consisting of all manner of dime-store kitsch like Virgin Mary statues and ladies legs table lamps, she obviously doesn’t take things all that seriously but there’s no whiff of irony to be found, either. She makes wolf howls in her songs, for goodness sake, but also cracks jokes and at one point, looked up to see who was calling to her when an audience member yelled, “Natasha!”. Utterly charming.

Though you might think the eccentric nature of Bat For Lashes would be sufficient to consign them to cult band status – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but the fact that this show was not only sold out but with people desperately looking for tickets seems to imply that they’re bound for bigger things. But even so, even if within a year you’re seeing Bat For Lashes in venues holding thousands, I have a feeling that if you holler “Natasha!” during a quiet moment between songs, she’ll still look up and go, “yes?”.

There are feature pieces on Bat For Lashes at CMJ and The Boston Phoenix.

Photos: Bat For Lashes, Lewis & Clarke @ The Mod Club – April 25, 2009
MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live)
MP3: Bat For Lashes – “I’m On Fire”
MP3: Lewis & Clarke – “Petrified Forest”
MP3: Lewis & Clarke – “Before It Breaks You”
Stream: Lewis & Clarke / Light Time
Video: Bat For Lashes – “Daniel”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Whats A Girl To Do”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Prescilla”
MySpace: Bat For Lashes
MySpace: Lewis & Clarke

Interview talks to Lily Allen, who has a newish video. Kinda regret not seeing her last week, enjoying her new one It’s Not Me, It’s You more than I’d expected. Hope her vague promises to retire are false.

Video: Lily Allen – “Not Fair”

Daytrotter has posted a session they recorded with Glasvegas during SxSW.

The first track from Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl – I’m not sure whether to call it a band, project, play, or what – is now up for grabs and shock, it sounds a LOT like Belle & Sebastian. Which is to say it sounds wonderful. The album is out June 23.

MP3: God Help The Girl – “Come Monday Night”

The Sunday Mail has a 60-second interview with Camera Obscura. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 27.

Channel M has a video session with My Latest Novel, whose second album Death & Entrances is out May 18.

PJ Harvey and John Parish discuss A Woman A Man Walked By with Pitchfork.

Drowned In Sound gets Adam Franklin to comment on the whole phenomenon/idea of “shoegaze”. Short version, he doesn’t think much of it but it’s an entertaining read. Franklin is supporting The Church on their Summer North American tour, which has a stop at the Ottawa Bluesfest on July 11 but so far hasn’t extended to include a Toronto date.

MP3: Adam Franklin – “Autumn Leaf”

Fans of XTC psych-pop alter-egos The Dukes Of Stratosphear should check out these two podcasts wherein Andy Partridge reminisces with producer John Leckie about the recording of 25 O’Clock and Psionic Psunspot, both of which were reissued in deluxe form last week.

MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “My Love Explode”
MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “Braniac’s Daughter”

Channel M has a video interview with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

A double-shot of Leonard Cohen docs for you – courtesy of the National Film Board, the 1965 documentary Ladies And Gentlemen… Mr Leonard Cohen and over at Pitchfork, the 2009 live concert film Leonard Cohen: Live In London. And apropos of nothing, whilst digging around IMDB I found that Lenny guest-starred in an episode of Miami Vice in 1986 playing a villain named Francois Zolan. I didn’t think it possible, but I think Cohen just got that much more awesome in my eyes. He plays Copps Coliseum on May 19.

Video: Ladies And Gentlemen… Mr Leonard Cohen
Video: Leonard Cohen Live In London

Seattle-based power-popper Telekinesis will be at the Horseshoe on June 10 in support of his/their excellent self-titled debut.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Coast Of Carolina”
MP3: Telekinesis – “I Saw Lightning”
Video: Telekinesis – “Tokyo”

Brooklyn’s Obits will bring their debut long-player I Blame You to Lee’s Palace on July 23, tickets $12.

MP3: Obits – “Pine On”

Eagles Of Death Metal are at the Kool Haus on August 2, tickets $27.50.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

First Love

Review of Emmy The Great's First Love

Photo By Sam SeagerSam SeagerIt occurred to me that amidst the music media mayhem that is March and my not wanting to look too much like an obsessed stalker-fan (though I suspect the damage on that front was done long ago), I neglected to actually provide at review of Emmy The Great’s long-awaited debut album First Love after it was released way back in February.

But beyond the aforementioned factors, one of the reasons I didn’t feel compelled to write the record up was that it didn’t feel new, and thus didn’t strike that evangelical chord within me. As The Daily Growl, a much longer-time Emmy fan than I, alluded to in his review, we’ve been living with so many of these songs in so many live/demo versions for so long, that the notion that these are the “proper” and “final” versions of these tunes just don’t quite register. The sense of immediate familiarity is contributed to by the fact that the production on the record favours a very straight, live feel – this is not a complaint, they obviously know that the relatively unadorned approach utilizing the components of her live band compliments Emmy’s voice and lyrics best, and it when little bits of studio or instrumental flourish is dropped in – the synth bass in the coda of “Absentee” stands out in particular – it’s that much more striking.

But as it should be, Emmy’s voice and words are the centerpiece of the record – the former clear, understatedly expressive and with remarkable diction and the latter evocative, incisive and witty in a manner more melancholic than humorous. In the wrong hands, these ingredients could come across as overly precious or precocious but with Emmy, the sincerity of it wins out. It feels like a coping mechanism wherein the only way to deal with heartbreak is to describe it in as painstaking detail as possible and if you’re of that sort of personality, it resonates deeply.

About half of the record appeared on my own homemade Emmy mixes through the better part of 2008, and so I can’t say whether the reason the other half of the record hasn’t grabbed me as much as is because it’s not as ingrained into my DNA or if they’re actually just weaker songs. But even if the latter, the overall quality of the record is impressive and any record that boasts songs like “24”, “Easter Parade” and the title track makes for a worthy debut. Do I love the record? Yes, I do. Did it make my jaw drop? No, but that’s because my jaw was already there.

MP3s below are live or non-album versions, but the versions that I’ve played to death over the past year. Same for the “Easter Parade” and “MIA” videos.

MP3: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
MP3: Emmy The Great – “MIA” (live from Black Room Sessions)
MP3: Emmy The Great – “24” (live on Welcome To Our Show, January 2008)
Video: Emmy The Great – “First Love”
Video: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
Video: Emmy The Great – “MIA”
MySpace: Emmy The Great

Maps welcomes Noah & The Whale to their studios for an interview and session. Their new album The First Days Of Spring should be out in June and they play the Mod Club on April 27.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Mary” (live at Maps)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “My Door Is Always Open”

Exclaim has some info on forthcoming releases from Florence & The Machine. The A Lot of Love, A lot of Blood EP, which collects her singles so far on single 12″, is still due out on April 28 and her debut full-length, which has been given the title of Lungs, appears to set for a June or July release. She talks to BBC6 about coming up with the name for the record.

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan tells Gigwise that plans are afoot to make a musical-fantasy feature film (think Labyrinth) based on songs from her first album Fur & Gold, and that all that’s left is “to get the funding”. So yes, look for that to be coming to a theatre near you REAL soon. But first, listen to the live MP3 from the new album below. Then read these interviews at BBC and MTV. Then look for her new record Two Suns in stores next Tuesday. Then look for her to play the Mod Club on April 25 (with Lewis & Clarke as support – again). Then look for monkeys to fly. THEN look for the movie.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live at Nimes)

Blurt celebrates Swervedriver and also offers a feature on frontman Adam Franklin, whose new solo record Spent Bullets is out today.

Though not a proper Take-Away Show, La Blogotheque has some pretty stunning – and of course stylish – live footage of Mogwai. They’re at the Phoenix on May 4. And note that Take-Away Shows mastermind Vincent Moon has started a blog.

Video: Mogwai – “Mogwai Fear Satan” (live)

Spinner loves Leonard Cohen, premiering a new video taken from his Live In London double-CD set, out today, as well as streaming the whole of that.

Video: Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah” (live)
Stream: Leonard Cohen / Live In London

Also out today and streaming is Lost Channels, the new one from Great Lake Swimmers. Paste, The Georgia Straight and The Gauntlet have interviews with Tony Dekker, who will be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

Stream: Ghost Lake Swimmers / Lost Channels

And one last goodie from Spinner – an Interface Session with Neko Case. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.