Posts Tagged ‘Band Of Skulls’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Frozen Atmosphere

‘Tis the season for TOY(s), and streams thereof

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickOkay, since it’s now December I can grudgingly accept that it’s the holiday season and, helping that mental shift along are London’s TOY. I had thought it odd that the band, who built up a good bit of attention with last year’s self-titled debut and its mandate of filling deep, Kraut-y grooves with space-psych songcraft, had opted to release their second album Join The Dots on the exceedingly late date of December 9. Most music writers are in full retrospective mode by this point in the year and incapable of processing anything new, and it effectively eliminated them from any year-end list consideration.

But it’s entirely possible the band doesn’t care, and just want to get the record out into the world. Which is great for those who’ve been waiting to hear it, but I do hope it doesn’t end up getting lost in the shuffle because after a few initial listens, it certainly feels a lot better than their first one. The debut had a lot of pieces I liked but didn’t put them together in an engrossing-enough fashion to win me over the way it did many, but this one is bigger, deeper, broader, and just does it.

But don’t take my word for it – The Guardian has an advance stream of the record before it comes out next week, and their North American tour announced last week will bring them to Toronto for a show at The Horseshoe on January 14.

Stream: TOY / Join The Dots

Kate Nash has a new Christmas EP out called Have Faith This Christmas and is streaming one of the tracks from it to get you in the holiday spirit.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Faith”

Rolling Stone talks to Matt Bellamy of Muse about making the Live At Rome Olympic Stadium DVD/CD set coming out this week.

Video: Muse – “Madness” (live at Rome Olympic Stadium)

Spin has premiered a new video from Lanterns On The Lake’s second album Until The Colours Run, which gets a North American release on January 14 and brings them to The Drake Underground on February 1.

Video: Lanterns On The Lake – “Buffalo Days”

Yuck takes Clash through their second album Glow and Behold, track-by-track. They’re in town at The Garrison on January 17.

Noisey have premiered the new video and second sample of Mogwai’s forthcoming Rave Tapes. It’s out January 21 and they’ll be on tour for it at The Danforth Music Hall on May 13.

Video: Mogwai – “The Lord Is Out Of Control”

Paste gets to know Temples, whose debut Sun Structures is out February 11.

NME has details on the new album from Band Of Skulls, entitled Himalayan and due out March 31. They’ve just released a first video from the record.

Video: Band Of Skulls – “Asleep At The Wheel”

Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes are currently working on a new record – which Live4Ever reports will be self-titled and out in March – but have taken the time to stream a new song for their fans via their website.

Stream: Blood Red Shoes – “The Perfect Mess”

The Guardian profiles one of 2013’s new band success stories, London Grammar. They’re at The Phoenix on April 7.

Stereogum have got the new video from Primal Scream’s latest album More Light.

Video: Primal Scream – “Goodbye Johnny”

The Guardian gets to know Charli XCX.

Everything Is Chemical has an interview with Black Hearted Brother, and gets Neil Halstead to pin the chances of a Slowdive reunion at a qualified “improbable”.

TYCI talks to Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin.

And finally, a moment for Andrew Youssef, Los Angeles-based music photographer for Stereogum and OC Weekly, who succumbed to colon cancer this weekend. He documented his fight in the “Last Shot” column at OC Weekly, and it was as inspiring as it was saddening to read as he kept going to shows and shooting, refusing to let the cancer get the better of him until it did. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with Andrew back in 2010 at Matador at 21 in Las Vegas, and chatting with him via Twitter over the past few years and was pleased to learn he’d grown up – for a few years, at least – in Toronto, not far from where I did (though a few years apart). I wish I’d been able to know him better and my condolences to those who did and will miss him. OC Weekly has a fine memoriam for their photographer, as well as a slideshow of his best work. Godspeed, Andrew.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012


Review of Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny’s Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

Photo via facebookFacebookAfter writing up some bands lately whose names have either undersold or misrepresented the music they present, it’s rather refreshing to have an artist whose public identity promises exactly what they have to offer. And that artist is Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny. A grandiose name, to be sure, and one that’s matched by the title of their just-released debut album Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose.

There’s no way that labels like those could herald anything less than grandiose ambitions, so the question is really whether the 21-year old Newcastle-Upon-Tyne native who gives the band their name can deliver on them. And the answer is an unequivocal, “yes”. Nature has given Houghton not only a richly smoky voice and operatic range, but a tremendously vivid imagination upon which to draw on for her songwriting. All these gifts are combined to impressive effect on Cellophane Nose, which is by turns whimsical and dramatic, dark and technicolour and enchanting throughout.

Houghton’s roots as a folkish/singer-songwriter are perceptible in the record’s quieter moments, but more often they take a backseat to the ornate, often baroque-ish arrangements that adorn everything. By rights they should be overpowering, even with veteran producer Ben Hillier on hand to keep things on track; a case of too much too soon for an artist let loose in the sonic costume shop filled with horns, strings, choirs and harpsichords. And yet, rather than collapsing under the weight of it all, Cellophane Nose finds Houghton not only standing straight and tall in all her finery, but galloping off towards greater things. Hooves of destiny, indeed.

DIY and The Quietus have interviews with Beth Jeans Houghton.

MP3: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – “Dodecahedron”
Video: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – “Sweet Tooth Bird”
Video: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – “Liliputt”
Video: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – “Dodecahedron”

NPR is streaming the whole of the new Field Music LP Plumb, ahead of its release next week. MusicOhm also has an interview with the David half of the Brewis brothers.

MP3: Field Music – “A New Town”
Stream: Field Music / Plumb

Though The Big Pink’s second album Future This has been out a few weeks now, the band has only now made a track from it available to download. So download it. And read these interviews with Milo Cordell at The Skinny and The Province.

MP3: The Big Pink – “Give It Up”

The video for M.I.A.’s new single surfaced last week, just in time for her appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show this weekend. It’s her video that’s got everyone talking, right? Right?

Video: M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”

The Line Of Best Fit welcomes Lianne La Havas for a video session; her debut album is due out in the Spring, to be preceded by the Forget EP on March 6 in North America.

Video: Lianne La Havas – “Forget”

Daytrotter sessions up with Anna Calvi.

The 405 enlists Summer Camp’s Elizabeth Sankey as an advice columnist.

A Heart Is A Spade and STV have interviews with The Twilight Sad and Le Blogotheque offers up a Take-Away Show with the band. No One Can Ever Know is out today and they’re at Lee’s Palace on February 29.

Band Of Skulls will follow up the release of Sweet Sour next week with a North American tour that hits Lee’s Palace on May 15, and if you can’t wait that long they’re also at The Phoenix on March 30 opening for We Are Augustines. The band takes Gigwise and Spin through the new record track-by-track, with Spin also offering a stream of the whole thing. And over at The Independent, bassist Emma Richardson talks about her painting.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Sweet Sour”
MP3: Band Of Skulls – “The Devil Takes Care Of His Own”
Video: Band Of Skulls – “Sweet Sour”
Stream: Band Of Skulls / Sweet Sour

Ca Va Cool caught up with Los Campesinos! on their recent Canadian tour for an interview.

In conversation with The Daily Mail, Noel Gallagher reveals he thought that the Iron Lady was great. No, not the movie.

Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye sounds off to The Daily Mail about fashion, fitness and family.

The Quietus talks to XTC’s Andy Partridge about the making of English Settlement.

Dose gets to know First Aid Kit, in town at The Great Hall on April 4.

The video for the first single from Ladyhawke’s forthcoming Anxiety is now out. The album arrives March 27 in North America.

Video: Ladyhawke – “Black White & Blue”

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Everybody's On The Run

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo here we are, with both post-Oasis projects with their debuts officially out in the wild – the Liam-led Beady Eye having released Different Gear, Still Speeding back in March and Noel Gallagher’s Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds out this week. Given the not-so-greatness of Liam’s Oasis output, the bar for the former was set fairly low and Different Gear‘s meat-and-potatoes Brit-rock had no problem clearing it, with “not bad” counting as a big win. Noel, on the other hand, had considerably more to live up to what with not only having penned some of the most memorable British rock anthems of his generation, but having been the one pulled the pin on the grenade that finally, inevitably, killed Oasis. Though looking at it from another perspective, Beady Eye had everything to prove while Noel could point as his songbook and say, “what the fook have YOU done?”.

The best and the worst thing you can say about High Flying Birds is that it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Noel Gallagher solo record, with his respective weaknesses and strengths on full display. Amongst the former are his penchant for cribbing lyrics and melodies from others wholesale, and may of the words that are his are vague and nonsensical, though at least they rhyme. However just as he did in Oasis, he’s able to marry them with an unimpeachable gift for melody, a delivery that makes them sound profound and a flair for dressing them up in big arrangements that aren’t too overcooked (obviously this took some time to learn). It can be frustrating to sing along with words that make no sense, but sing along you will.

That said, for all the familiar motions, Birds feels distinct from an Oasis record for reasons beyond the absence of Liam’s rock’n’roll sneer. Perhaps in being freed from the inherent compromises of a band and being able to take full creative control, Gallagher has been able to fully assume the role of composer rather than just songwriter and consequently, Birds feels more meticulous in its execution than any Oasis record I can recall. Some might bemoan its mid-temponess or dearth of guitar heroics, but let’s be fair – he’s made those records already. High Flying Birds doesn’t necessarily revitalize or recontextualize what Noel Gallagher is about – not even remotely, if we’re being honest – but it is well-crafted, tuneful and likeable. Well I like it, anyways, and that’s why despite not getting accredited to cover the show in an official capacity, I headed down to Massey Hall about 20 minutes before showtime and patronized my first ever scalper. Less than half face value? Sure.

Though not sold out – two nights at Massey is a tall order for many acts, even one who sold out arenas with his old band – the hall was nearly full and crackling with the energy of fans who’d not seen the elder Gallagher since that fateful Virgin Festival 2008 appearance where he was assaulted onstage, if not earlier. The vibe was not unlike that at The Sound Academy in June when Liam led Beady Eye into town for their first visit, though feeling a bit older and with fewer (no) Union Jack flags hanging from the balconies.

Unlike Beady Eye, however, Noel had already said that the Oasis songbook was very much fair game for his solo shows and to prove it, the show opened with “(It’s Good) To Be Free”, a 17-year old b-side from a non-album single. Not just the hits, then. Oasis material would actually comprise almost half the 90-minute set, spanning the breadth of their catalog but with no small amount of revisionist history applied – “Wonderwall” got the Ryan Adams treatment, “Supersonic” was stripped down to acoustic guitar and piano (and would be a post-show point of contention for being a Liam song) and “Talk Tonight” given the full band treatment. It was as though Gallagher was more than willing to indulge his fans’ desire to hear the old material, but wasn’t going to make head-to-head comparisons of Oasis and his High Flying Birds easy.

As for the new material, not only was the album played in its entirety, but a b-side and new song thrown in for good measure. All of it was played pretty much verbatim from the album arrangements and in workmanlike fashion from Gallagher and his five-piece band – the crowd was enthused but Gallagher didn’t seem particularly interested in stoking the fires, just in doing his thing. It would have been unreasonable to expect him to discover some heretofore unknown wellspring on on-stage charisma upon assuming the role of frontman, but at least Gallagher seemed chipper in bantering with the crowd.

Early on, he told an audience member who’d not heard the new record that, “it’s going to be a long fucking night for you then” and later, when the inevitable topic of his younger brother came up (he has a home in Toronto), he responded to someone calling out that they’d seen Liam around town buying shoes, “were they high heels?”. Noel has a well-earned reputation for shooting his mouth off about anything and everything, but he’s got a sense of humour. The encore was a triple-bill of Oasis numbers – “Little By Little” from Heathen Chemistry, “The Importance Of Being Idle” from Don’t Believe The Truth and, finally, predictably and thrillingly, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. That finale was spared any rejigging and performed as it always has – how else do you lead the singalong? And sing along everyone did.

So with all the evidence gathered – live and on record – how do the two post-Oasis projects measure up? Both have turned in decent efforts without offering anything new, but neither is a patch on Oasis in their prime – but to be fair, most of Oasis’ career isn’t a patch on Oasis in their prime either. With Beady Eye, Liam seems to want to recreate the rock’n’roll heyday of Oasis without invoking Oasis, whereas Noel is content to acknowledge his legacy without resting on it. I’d go so far as to say if you took both their records and combined the best moments into one, you’d have the best Oasis record in some years. To be at their best, as both brothers once sang, they need each other. Maybe someday they’ll once again believe in one another.

The Toronto Sun, Exclaim, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, NOW, Spinner and National Post also have reviews of the show and Los Angeles Times and National Post also have feature interviews.

Photos: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ Massey Hall – November 7, 2011
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “AKA… What A Life”
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “If I Had A Gun”
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “The Death Of You & Me”

In talking to NME, Damon Albarn reveals that Blur have been recording and discussions about more touring in 2012 have taken place. None of which is a commitment to anything, but it is something.

BBC chats with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner.

Band Of Skulls have set a date at The Phoenix for March 30 of next year in support of their new album Sweet Sour, out February 21. Tickets are $17.50 in advance. Exclaim has details and dates and there’s a video for the first single from the album.

Video: Band Of Skulls – “The Devil Takes Care Of His Own”

DIY talks to Kele about his new EP The Hunter.

Clash interviews Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Artrocker profiles Los Campesinos!, whose new record Hello Sadness is streaming at NPR ahead of its November 15 release date.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “By Your Hand”
Stream: Los Campesinos! / Hello Sadness

Interview, The Independent and Londonist talk to Summer Camp on the occasion of the release of their debut Welcome To Condale this week.

Pitchfork reports that The xx have begun work on their second album, and will be documenting the process via cryptic animated gif.

The ink barely dry on the their Toronto debut last month, London’s Still Corners will be back on December 9 at The Horseshoe in support of The War on Drugs. The Georgia Straight and Houston Press have interviews and Radio K is streaming a session with the band.

MP3: Still Corners – “Into The Trees”

The AV Club talks to Charlie Fink of Noah & The Whale.

Spinner interviews Laura Marling.

The Guardian gets two generations of folk music – Billy Bragg and Johnny Flynn – to discuss the relevance of protest music today.

Patrick Wolf has released a new video from Lupercalia, which continues to await a North American release. In 2012, perhaps. The Gay Times talks to Wolf about his impending nuptials.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Falcons”

Rocksucker talks to The Twilight Sad about their third album No One Can Ever Know, due out in February.

Clash marks the 20th anniversary of My Bloody Valentine’s landmark Loveless album, while The Quietus reflects on the significance of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut Psychocandy.

And while not nearly on the level of either of those records, I greatly appreciate Drowned In Sound saluting The Closer I Get, the second album from Nottingham’s Six By Seven. Terribly underappreciated over their tenure, at their best – which would be that record – there was no more beautifully aggressive and misanthropic rock band out there. After a few ill-fated reunions, the band is done but if you go to their website, their last great record – 2004’s relatively sunnier :04 – is available for free download in exchange for an email. You should do this thing.

MP3: Six By Seven – “Bochum (Light Up My Life)”
Video: Six By Seven – “Eat Junk Become Junk”

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

All Mine

Portishead are coming. Yes, that Portishead

Photo By Adam FaradayAdam FaradayTo be clear, Portishead simply like to take their time. The eleven-year gap between their self-titled sophomore effort and 2008’s Third? They weren’t broken up, just writing. And considering how scary good/just plain scary said record was, transcending the trip-hop genre they pioneered almost a decade and a half earlier, you couldn’t say it wasn’t time well spent. Similarly, just because they’ve only played one North American show this century – 2008’s Coachella – after returning to the stage in 2005 following a seven-year absence didn’t mean they don’t like us over here; they were just figuring out what to pack.

Baggage issues seem to have been all sorted out, however, as the band have announced their first North American tour in who knows how long – 14 years at minimum – with Thought Forms supporting and it includes not one but two Toronto dates, October 9 and 10 at The Sound Academy. Ticket presales are already live with ducats running $61.50 plus 10% service fees, charged in US dollars. Remember when that was a bad thing? At current exchange rates, that’ll bring your price of admission to like $20 and change. Approximately.

Portishead, people. Yes they spawned a million soundalike bands but go back and listen to those records – they’re still as unique and creepy as they ever were.

Video: Portishead – “Chase The Tear”
Video: Portishead – “Magic Doors”
Video: Portishead – “The Rip”
Video: Portishead – “Machine Gun”
Video: Portishead – “Glory Box”
Video: Portishead – “All Mine”
Video: Portishead – “Humming”

The other great British “head” band – Radiohead – remain oddly shy about hitting the road in any extended capacity but they’re still perfectly keen to play. The long-promised King Of Limbs recital for television programme From The Basement went down this weekend and the whole thing is available to stream at YouTube, at least for the moment – the BBC seems to have some objection to people posting their programming on the internets and are taking action, so hop to it.

DIY reports that Mogwai will release a new EP entitled Earth Division on September 13.

Arctic Monkeys have rolled out a new video from Suck It And See, though you do not have to suck anything to watch it. Unless you want to. Your call.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”

BBC and Clash interview The Horrors. Their latest Skying is out August 9 in North America and they play The Mod Club on September 27.

The Fly checks in with Mystery Jets, hard at work in the studio on their next album, targeted for an early 2012 release.

London’s Male Bonding will be at The Horseshoe on September 2 in support of album number two, Endless Now, due out August 30. Tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: Male Bonding – “Bones”
MP3: Male Bonding – “Franklin”

Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks have announced an October 3 release of their second album In The Pit Of The Stomach, and you can hear the first track from it on their website. There’s also a passel of US live dates but nothing north of the border.

Band of Skulls are taking some time off from working on album number two to play some North American dates, including September 28 at The Garrison.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Blood”

What did you expect from The Vaccines? Maybe a new video from What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?? Well there you go. They’re at The Phoenix on September 27.

Video: The Vaccines – “Norgaard”

The Quietus has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Anna Calvi.

Throwback London pop quartet Veronica Falls, who charmed at SXSW, are giving away a track from their debut album due out October 17.

MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”

NME chats with Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp, who continue to raise funds for their debut album via Pledge Music.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Lykke Li, who has also released a new “live on the moon” video wherein she makes like she is performing live on the moon.

Video: Lykke Li – “Sadness Is A Blessing” (live on The Moon)

Spin talks to Bjork about her Biophilia project, the album part of which will be out September 27.

Japanese heavy rockers Boris will bring Japanese-fronted dream poppers Asobi Seksu with them to Lee’s Palace on October 23, part of a North American tour in support of their two simultaneous releases earlier this year, Heavy Rocks and Attention Please.

MP3: Boris – “Farewell”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Trails”
Video: Boris – “Hope/Riot Sugar”

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

CONTEST – Band Of Skulls @ The Mod Club – April 28, 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangYou can’t accuse Band Of Skulls of playing hard to get – though the trio call Southampton, England home, over the past year they’ve been touring North America more than some domestic acts. By my count, they’ve played at least four Toronto shows since NXNE last June – where I saw them – and their gig here next week makes five in nine months or so. Over-saturation or just meeting demand? I can certainly believe the latter – their garage-y blues-rock isn’t especially innovative, but it is timeless and delivered with plenty of meat and attitude. And they put on a great show, as do their tourmates this time out, The Whigs, so their April 28 engagement at the Mod Club should be the perfect bill for those in the mood for something high on volume and low on nonsense.

Tickets for said show are $17.50 in advance but courtesy of Phi, I’ve got a prize pack to give away consisting of two passes to the show, your choice of their debut Baby Darling Doll Face Honey on two autographed CDs, two LPs or one autographed CD and one LP (because why should the +1 go home empty handed) and two medium-sized t-shirts (if you’re bigger or smaller than that, sorry). To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Band Of Skulls” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body, along with which combination of physical media (2xCD, 2xLP, CD/LP) you’d like the album on and get that in to me before midnight, April 26.

There’s features on the band at The Vancouver Sun and Seattle Weekly.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Blood”
Video: Band Of Skulls – “I Know What I Am”
Video: Band Of Skulls – “Death By Diamonds & Pearls”