Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Hatherley’

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Still Young

Review of Allo Darlin’s Europe

Photo By Nik VestbergNik VestbergThere’s many things I loved about Allo Darlin’ 2010 self-titled debut. The jangly guitars, strummy ukulele, and ebullient melodies that put the London-based foresome at the forefront of current bands unashamed to call themselves indie pop – absolutely – but what I found set them apart and made them really special was the way they used those traits to deliver songs that evoked the wistfulness and insecurity of growing up and out and apart. Far too often pure pop music feels strictly a youth movement but here was a band whose songs spoke to me in my mid- (okay now late-) thirties while still making me want to bop up and down like I did in my twenties.

It’s not hard to understand, then, why I’m so enamored with their just-released follow-up Europe. It continues the journey started with that first record but informed with the extra wisdom, regret, and experience that life brings as you live it. As I did in that previous review, I need to stress that Europe is not some po-faced, navel-gazing collection of songs – songs like “Capricornia”, “Northern Lights”, and “Still Young” are like manna from heaven for those with a sonic sweet tooth, all shimmer and shine and Elizabeth Morris’ sweetly smoky Aussie accent.

But you’ll likely not find anyone who’s listened to the album who wouldn’t point to “Tallulah” as the album’s centrepiece, despite it being the most skeletal and downcast song on the record. It stars just Morris and her ukulele – it’s worth noting there’s much less uke on this record than on the debut, with Morris strapping on a conventional 6-string as need be – and ruminates beautifully on distances of the geographical, temporal, and emotional varieties. The reminiscences may be Morris’, but despite their specificity they’re rendered in a way that makes you feel like they’re your own. These aren’t necessarily the notes you expect a band as outwardly cheerful as Allo Darlin’ to hit, but that’s what makes them so special.

On a scorecard that assigns points to pop criteria such as immediacy, buoyancy, what have you, it’s entirely possible that Europe might place a bit below the debut. There’s nothing as sweet and charming as “Polaroid Song” or “My Heart Is A Drummer” or, if go back to their early singles, as fun and cutesy as “Henry Rollins Don’t Dance” – but I don’t think you’d find anyone who’d try to argue that Europe isn’t still the superior record because it’s the one that confirms that Allo Darlin’ are a band that are so much more than you probably thought.

DIY talks to the band about the making of the album and they play a World Cafe session for NPR.

Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Capricornia”
Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Tallulah”
Stream: Allo Darlin’ / Europe

Belle & Sebastian guitarist Stevie Jackson released his solo debut (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson in the UK last Fall, but is preparing to put it out Stateside come July 3. To pave the way, he’s farmed out some audio and video tastes to American publications Paste and Blurt who’ve got a video and MP3 to share. Okay the video came out a while ago but the MP3 is new, and sits nicely alongside another one that came out when the album did initially.

MP3: Stevie Jackson – “Where Do All The Good Girls Go”
MP3: Stevie Jackson – “Man Of God”
Video: Stevie Jackson – “In The Morning”

The Line Of Best Fit chats with Gerard Love of Lightships.

Time Out Hong Kong have an interview with Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp.

Trailer Trash Tracys have released a new video from their debut Ester.

Video: Trailer Trash Tracys – “Los Angered”

DIY talks to the Collete half of the Thurlow sisters of 2:54, who’ve made a track from their self-titled debut available to download ahead of its May 29 release. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 15 during NXNE.

MP3: 2:54 – “The March”

Drowned In Sound talks to the Ryan third of the Jarman brothers of The Cribs.

NPR has a video session with Laura Marling, who’s at The Phoenix on June 17.

NME has not one but two short features on Charlotte Hatherley about her Sylver Tongue electro persona.

The Calgary Herald and Pitchfork have features on Arctic Monkeys.

The Sun talks to Richard Hawley, who gets analog in the new video from his latest Standing At The Sky’s Edge.

Video: Richard Hawley – “You Haunt Me”

Billy Bragg talks to The West Australian about the Mermaid Avenue sessions, which are again topical thanks to the recent release of The Complete Sessions.

The Dallas Observer talks to Jason Pierce of Spiritualized’s, whose show in Washington DC last week is streaming at NPR.

The Quietus talks to Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine about this, that, and the other thing.

NME points to a Facebook post from Suede wherein Brett Anderson gives a status update of the band’s new material – they’ve chucked it all, recruited Dog Man Star producer Ed Buller to take charge and are starting over.

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Hook You Up

Charlotte Hatherley reveals herself as Sylver Tongue devil

Photo via GuardianThe GuardianWith her tenure in Ash, as sidewoman to the likes of KT Tunstall and Bat For Lashes and a solo career that’s yielded three good albums, Charlotte Hatherley has pretty well established herself as a purveyor of sharp, smart power-pop and more than a bit of a guitar heroine. But apparently she’s been hiding another side of herself that worships at the altar of ’80s-vintage electro-pop and that side has now surfaced under the guise of Sylver Tongue.

So far there’s just the one single to represent her first work since 2009’s New Worlds, but it comes with an accompanying video that demonstrates in no uncertain terms what the aesthetic of the project is, which is to say happily neon and glammy. The track itself is far from a club floor banger, its dreamy pace probably better suited for slow dances at proms and if you traded some synths for guits, it wouldn’t have been out of place on her second album The Deep Blue. In any case, it’s good to know that Hatherley remains a solid songwriter, whatever the genre or identity.

Album information is still forthcoming, but the “New band of the day” feature at The Guardian implies they’ve heard more from her and they like it. Which bodes well.

MP3: Sylver Tongue – “Hook You Up”
Video: Sylver Tongue – “Hook You Up”

The Independent and The Fly have interviews with Beth Jeans Houghton.

Pitchfork has got the… interesting cover art from the new Spiritualized record Sweet Heart Sweet Light, due out April 17, and a stream of the first single. They’re at The Phoenix on May 5.

Stream: Spiritualized – “Hey Jane”

SXSW chats with We Were Promised Jetpacks, who will be at Lee’s Palace on April 15.

Mystery Jets have given their fourth album a title of Radlands and a release date of April 30; some details on the release and a trailer for the album can be found at Exclaim.

Charles Watson of Slow Club talks to The Vinyl District.

The Fly chats with the Brewis brothers of Field Music.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Los Campesinos!.

DIY interviews Fanfarlo, whose Rooms Filled With Light comes out on Tuesday, February 28. They play The Mod Club on March 25.

The April 17 Kaiser Chiefs show at The Phoenix has been moved to The Opera House due to “scheduling conflicts”, so don’t read the downgrade in venue as indicative of their popularity. No, seriously.

English DJ-type guy Star Slinger is back for a show at Lee’s Palace on May 14 as part of a Spring tour.

MP3: Star Slinger – “Mornin'”
MP3: Star Slinger – “Minted”

James Blake talks to Spinner about where he wants to head, musically-speaking, next.

Under The Radar has got videos of Blur’s comeback performance at The Brits earlier this week, and The Quietus examines the merits of some of their lesser-known, non-album tracks. Oh, and they’re now headlining the Way Out West festival in Gothenburg, Sweden in August – anyone want to go?

Holy Moly has a sit-down with Niki & The Dove. Their debut Instinct is out May 14.

The Line Of Best Fit has posted a video session with The Mary Onettes.

Denmark’s Alcoholic Faith Mission, whom I believe impressed a lot of people when they were here for NXNE last year, are coming back for a date at The Drake on May 2, tickets $13.50 in advance. They’re giving away their last album Daylight From Above until February 29 over here and their new one Ask Me This comes out March 27.

MP3: Alcoholic Faith Mission – “Running With Insanity”

Paste has an interview with Icelandic composer Ólufar Arnalds about his two new releases: Living Room Songs, which collects tracks that were recorded and released one a day last October and Another Happy Day, which is a soundtrack to the film of the same name and out next week. One of the Living Room Songs tracks also has a video, even though clips of the actual recording sessions for each song are also out there. Arnalds was one of the highlights at Iceland Airwaves last year, and has been soundtracking a lot of my time lately. Recommended if you like pretty things.

MP3: Ólufar Arnalds – “Near Light”
Video: Ólufar Arnalds – “Near Light”
Stream: Ólufar Arnalds / Another Happy Day original soundtrack and Living Room Songs

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009


Review of Charlotte Hatherley’s New Worlds

Photo via MyspaceMySpaceI don’t remember if I read somewhere that Charlotte Hatherley has synesthesia (the condition wherein your visual cognition is tied to your aural and, amongst other symptoms, you see colours or shapes when you hear sounds – experienced by the likes of Lightspeed Champion and Ida Maria, amongst others), but even if she doesn’t you could be forgiven if you assumed she did. Her first two solo records, Grey Will Fade and The Deep Blue, obviously referenced colours in their titles and her while her third record New Worlds has no chromatic reference in its name, the music within is fairly obsessed with all the shades of the rainbow.

Almost every song references a colour, either as literal, metaphor or adjective, and that theme acts as a common thread between the ten songs which run a stylistic gamut from spiky rockers (“Colours”) to dreamy ballads (the front half of “Alexander”l) with forays into circus music (the unexpected “Firebird”). Whereas her debut was a pretty straight-ahead, hooktacular bit of power pop, The Deep Blue dialed down much of the instant gratification quotient in favour of songs that favoured a more leisurely and eccentric New Wave-friendly approach. While it was unfailingly melodic, full of tasty guitarwork and with its share of high points, its eclecticism came at the expense of some cohesion. New Worlds hangs together much better, making it a much smoother and enjoyable ride as it twists and turns from hook to hook and successfully balances Grey‘s pop/rock-friendliness with Blue‘s more experimental inclinations. To do either well is difficult enough; to do them both as naturally and effortlessly as Hatherley has proven herself able with record number three is a feat.

New Worlds was supposed to be the first Charlotte Hatherley album to get North American distribution but that’s shaken out to be just digital (eMusic and iTunes in the US, iTune-only in Canada), so those of use still enamored with physical media had to go the import route anyways. Still, rumours persist of some North American (read: US) tour dates in the new year – a Charlotte show is on the list of things I would get on a plane for. Okay, it’s not an especially exclusive list, but still.

MP3: Charlotte Hatherley – “Colours”
MP3: Charlotte Hatherley – “White”
Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “Alexander”
Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “White”
MySpace: Charlotte Hatherley

Spin declares Fanfarlo to be a “hot new band”, and if that’s not enough to convince you to come out and see them at the El Mocambo on December 15, then I don’t know what is.

I asked (rhetorically) what reason Billy Bragg had to be touring Canada this month – well besides serenading the masses, he’s also found the time to address Parliament on the subject of copyright and perform for picketers outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization. He also chatted with The Vancouver Sun.

Same Some has an extensive interview with Patrick Wolf.

Pitchfork talks to the director of the video for Jarvis Cocker’s “Further Complications” about the making of the clip.

Video: Jarvis Cocker – “Further Complications”

The Line Of Best Fit has details on Massive Attack’s next album, entitled Heligoland and due out on February 8.

Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce talks to The Quietus about how working on the 10th anniversary reissue of Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating In Space influenced the writing of the next Spiritualized record, currently in progress. The reissue is out December 9 in a variety of formats, including this ridiculously cool blister pack edition.

Adam Franklin discusses the feelings around Swervedriver’s first hometown show in over a decade with The Oxford Mail. Oxford being their hometown. If that wasn’t clear.

The Independent profiles Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

There’s a trio of Noah & The Whale remixes for “Love Of An Orchestra” available to grab for free – enjoy reinterpretations by Max Tundra, Night Waves and Gold Panda.

Both Drowned In Sound and The Skinny declare that 2010 will be the year of the (Frightened) Rabbit. Their new album The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is out March 1 and Stereogum has radio rips of a couple new songs to download.

JAM talks to Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos.

Camera Obscura’s forthcoming Christmas single is now available to stream over at 4AD. The Jim Reeves cover is out on 7″ and digitally on December 8 and they play the Phoenix this Thursday night – congratulations to Scott and Andrea, who won passes to the show.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Between Two Lungs

Florence & The Machine at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangInitial buzz around Florence & The Machine was largely built on a handful of singles, live recordings and performances that positioned Florence Welch as a big-voiced musical eccentric (or as I put it last November, “batshit crazy”) surely set for a career of creative left turns and cul-de-sacs that would delight as often as it confounded. But the surprise – in these quarters, at least – came when it was announced that Florence had signed with major label Island for her debut, majors never really being the most adept entities at marketing “crazy”.

But they are better at marketing “glitz” and there’s far more of that in evidence than psychosis on Florence’s first long-player Lungs, a bright and shiny showcase for Welch’s pipes. Stylistically, it’s hard to pin down as it veers from garage rock to gospel/soul wailers through big pop productions, the only common denominators being Welch and her flair for the dramatic, not to mention an apparent determination to include as much harp as possible, everywhere. Credited to a brace of different producers, there’s definitely a whiff of “by committee” about the proceedings, some numbers are more show than song and are sometimes delivered with more bombast than necessary, but when the combination of Welch’s primal voice and pop hooks connect – and that’s still far more often than not – the results are remarkable. While some/many have their knives out for Welch for whatever reason – the amount of hype that buoyed her rise to fame, her admittedly over-played and over-calculated kooky public persona, whatever, they’ll find no traction in criticizing her talent – the packaging may be debatable, but the goods are for real.

And those goods were well on display on Monday night before a completely sold-out Mod Club, the final night of a North American tour that included four shows in addition to her CMJ appearances. Hardly a grueling itinerary, but that was perhaps to our advantage as Welch still had plenty of energy and nothing to conserve it for. Though starting small with “Between Two Lungs”, the show quickly picked up in scale and volume, thanks to a five-piece backing band – including harp – that was a far cry from the raw duo format she first turned heads with at SxSW – and hit an early peak a few songs in with a vigorous “Kiss With A Fist” before stepping away from Lungs briefly for a b-side and Cold War Kids cover, all delivered with that huge voice that was as powerful live as one would have imagined and hoped. Throughout the show, Welch managed to maintain her theatrical bearing, all arm gestures and flourishes, while connecting with her audience, genuinely and appreciatively. I fully expect that she organized the mass leaping for “Dog Days Are Over” at every show, but that doesn’t make her obvious glee at watching some 500 people bouncing up in down in unison any less real – it was a thing to see and my obvious high point of the night. Judging from the collective swoon that met the encore, for many others it was her reading of “You’ve Got the Love” that was the singular, crystalline moment of the night. I think all could agree, however, that “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” was a superb finale, pretty much encapsulating everything that is great and grand about Florence & The Machine – the voice, the drama, the songs and yes, of course, the harp.

eye has an interview with Welch while The Toronto Sun, Panic Manual and The Globe & Mail offer reviews of the Mod Club show.

Photos: Florence & The Machine @ The Mod Club – November 2, 2009
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “I’m Not Calling You A Liar”
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Postcards From Italy”
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Girl With 1 Eye” (live)
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Hospital Beds” (live)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love” (The xx remix)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Drumming Song”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”
MySpace: Florence & The Machine

Rolling Stone declares La Roux a “breaking” artist.

The Music Magazine has an interview with Charlotte Hatherley, whose new record New Worlds should be available everywhere but is sadly available almost nowhere (at least in physical form). But is worth seeking out.

IFC has an interview with The Clientele frontman Alisdair MacLean while WFMU has a studio session available to stream.

Good news from Drowned In Sound – Lightspeed Champion will release his second record Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You on February 1 in the UK and February 16 in North America – The Quietus has an interview with Dev Hynes about what to expect off of album number two. He’s also the guest vocalist on the new single from Basement Jaxx.

Video: Basement Jaxx featuring Lightspeed Champion – “My Turn”

Eastscene caught an interview with Sky Larkin during their visit to Toronto last week.

Noah & The Whale have just released a second video from First Days Of Spring.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Love Of An Orchestra”

The Tripwire converses with The Horrors.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Editors bassist Russell Leetch about this, that and the other thing.

State interviews White Lies.

The Herald and The Independent catch up with former Suede frontman Brett Anderson, who’s just released his second third solo record in Slow Attack.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Ocean Rain

Echo & The Bunnymen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSince the schedule for SxSW was announced way back in March, I had one particular showcase circled and immutable on my schedule – Echo & The Bunnymen at Rusty Spurs on the Saturday night. One of the perks of attending SxSW is the opportunity to see big bands in venues much smaller than they’d normally play, and though the Liverpool legends were playing some bigger shows during the festival, the opportunity to see them for the first time in a tiny Texan gay cowboy bar was too good to pass up. And while that show was fine, it was a mild disappointment relative to my tremendous expectations. I had somehow wanted an arena-scale show in a club-scale setting (even though Echo & The Bunnymen have never really achieved arena-scale success), and they delivered a good club-scale show. Classic songs for sure, but considering I heard that some of their larger shows during SxSW were epic, I had to think that maybe they were a band who played up – or down – to their environs.

From that point of view, it followed that this past Tuesday night’s show at the very proper Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto would be something special and the promise of an orchestrally-enhanced reading of the band’s highwater mark Ocean Rain all but clinched it. It had to be a fantastic show – it promised too much to not be, and considering the high ticket price, the 1000 or so folks in attendance would rightfully be expecting one. The show was divided into two sets, the first for “the hits” and the second for the Ocean Rain recital, and the former was largely as advertised, leaning heavily on their early material – their debut Crocodiles comprised a third of the set list – but also including highlights from the post-reunion records. Some might think that pulling two from their latest record The Fountain to be excessive, but the fact is that lead single “I Think I Need It Too” was one of the highlights, not least of all because it was written with lead Bunnyman Ian McCulloch’s reduced vocal range in mind.

Ah yes, the voice – let’s get that out of the way right now. PopMatters is correct when they suggest that Mac’s voice is a rough, gravelly shadow of the magnificent instrument it once was. He can’t hit those notes anymore, occasionally wheezes where once he bellowed and as such, some of those indelible melodies have been rejigged to accommodate the new reality – the chorus of “Bring On The Dancing Horses” now bows where once it soared. But the songs remain as potent as ever and Mac delivered them with a swagger and charisma that went a good way towards compensating for the years – and I mean that vocally, not physically. Echo & The Bunnymen live is a most stationary experience, with McCulloch’s repertoire of stage moves consisting of standing still at the mic, getting a drink of water and occasionally crouching down. But back to the voice – as I mentioned in the review of that show back in March, he still has reserves of that old power that he can tap into at key moments, as he did in the chorus of “The Cutter” and in doing so, by god, turned the clock back a quarter century for a few, brief shining moments.

The reading of Ocean Rain, however, was one sustained 40-minute shining moment. Supported by a 10-piece (I think) string section, Echo & The Bunnymen made a fine case for it as one of the best records of the ’80s and anyone hearing “Silver”, rendered as majestically as it was on this night, would have great difficulty coming up with an argument against it. It’s true that strings applied injudiciously can render songs cheesy or overly pompous, but here they were just perfect – if anything, they made me wish for more and wonder what these shows must have sounded like with full orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall or Radio City Music Hall. Performing in front of projected black and white images of the band in their youth, their crystal days, the proceedings had a lovely, elegiac tone and felt as much like a tribute from McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant to their former bandmates, the retired Les Pattinson and late Pete De Freitas. If there was any complaint, it was that the suite ran too short but the record clocks in at under 40 minutes – there’s not a lot that can be done about that, short of calling for an impromptu orchestra jam and no one wants that.

Though they could have justifiably called it a night after that – there’s no way to top the album’s title track as a finale – they still returned for a two-song encore, finally ending the almost two-hour show (including intermission) with “Lips Like Sugar”. Finally, this was the grand, epic Echo & The Bunnymen show I’d been hoping to see. If you get the chance to see them, choose the grandest venue possible and if they promise to bring the strings, don’t dare miss it.

The Toronto Sun, Chartattack, Exclaim and eye have reviews of the show while The National Post considers the trend of bands performing classic albums in their entirety, using Echo & The Bunnymen as a case study. You can also grab a track from the new record over at RCRDLBL, in addition to the one linked below.

And yes, the photos from the show are nigh pointless – Mac hates light, and the folly of it all was compounded by having to shoot from the back of the theatre. But that’s okay, I got him good back in Austin to check those out if you want to see how well he’s aged.

Photos: Echo & The Bunnymen @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – October 20, 2009
MP3: Echo & The Bunnymen – “I Think I Need It Too”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bedbugs & Ballyhoo”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Cutter”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Game”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Seven Seas”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bring On The Dancing Horses”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “In The Margins”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “It’s Alright”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Back Of Love”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Lips Like Sugar”
MySpace: Echo & The Bunnymen

Out digitally this month in line with the UK release, Editors’ new one In This Light & On This Evening will get a proper physical North American release on January 19 and will yet-to-be-specified bonus material not available on the UK release. This news comes the day my import of the UK release arrives, of course.

altsounds talks to Charlotte Hatherley about her new record New Worlds. Stereogum also has a new song from the record available to newsletter subscribers and a brief chat with Charlotte about the tune.

The Quietus has an interview with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine and walks away unimpressed. Massive commenting ensues. Florence plays the Mod Club on November 2.

Paste catches up with Alasdair Maclean of The Clientele.

The Daily Growl solicits a list of seven songs from Rose Elinor Dougall.

Spinner talks to The Horrors.

eMusic and Interview have features on El Perro Del Mar, who’s just released a new video from her latest album Love Is Not Pop. She opens for Peter Bjorn & John at the Phoenix on November 11.

Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”

Chartattack, The Detroit News, Metro and NOW chat with The Raveonettes. They’re at the Phoenix tonight.

HeroHill gets five funky stories from Iceland’s Sprengjuhollin, who have two dates in Toronto this weekend – Saturday night at the Rivoli and Sunday at Rancho Relaxo.