Posts Tagged ‘Gemma Hayes’

Sunday, December 18th, 2011


Neil Halstead and Gemma Hayes cover Kate Bush

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne of the music stories of 2011 was the return of Kate Bush from whatever misty English castle she’d been hiding in since releasing her last album, Aerial, in 2005. It began with the curious remix/renovation project Director’s Cut in the Spring, but was followed by a proper collection of new works this Fall in 50 Words For Snow. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land. To mark this – and also because I’ve had the tune kicking around my head for a while – are a couple covers of one of my favourite Kate Bush songs by two artists who don’t, incidentally, belong to the ever-growing cohort of Kate Bush art-rock devotees emerging into the UK music scene of late.

Given that Bush was one of Britain’s biggest stars when Neil Halstead first led Slowdive out of Reading in 1989, it’s unlikely that wasn’t some degree of fan. And though his solo output has been fine – 2008’s Oh Mighty Engine was quite enjoyable – I’m hoping he can draw inspiration from her comeback this year to restart Mojave 3. They’ve been on hiatus since 2006’s Puzzles Like You, though the band did reconvene to play some shows earlier this year – precisely who was in the lineup is unclear to me, though. Otherwise all that he’s done this year is contribute a track to his label’s Christmas compilation, a one-off in the vein of where this cover comes from – a collection of indie lullabies. Sorry Neil, we want more.

Irish singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes put out her fourth solo record Feel It Break earlier this year so even though it took three years to follow up Hollow Of Morning, she escapes any chiding for being lazy. And certainly none for not being generous; this live recording of “Cloudbusting” comes from an early December 2009 gig in Cork, Ireland and was given away for free by Hayes a couple weeks later.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Cloudbusting”
MP3: Gemma Hayes – “Cloudbusting”
Video: Kate Bush – “Cloudbusting”

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Where I'm Waking

Review of Slow Club’s Paradise

Photo By Laura PannackLaura PannackEven though I was very much a fan of Slow Club’s 2009 debut Yeah, So?, I don’t think I ever did a proper write-up for it – I guess I hoped that seeing them twice at SXSW as well as having them play our Eastbound & Found day show would be sufficient implied endorsement… but still, by way of compensation, here’s my thoughts on the Sheffield, UK duo of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor’s follow-up Paradise a couple of weeks ahead of its September 13 release. Just in case I get distracted again.

Doing so still requires I talk a bit about Yeah, So?, though. If I were to distill what I liked about it down to a couple points, it’d be how they were able to take their fairly rudimentary setup of guitar and drums (and occasional piano) and make it sound deliriously fun, thanks to their tandem vocals, irresistibly hooky yet sardonic songcraft and the sense of giddy abandon they injected into much of it while still retaining their ability to get sad. It was like power-folk-pop and wonderful in its simplicity.

That the pair would seek to evolve sonically from their debut wasn’t in question – they couldn’t really go very far in the other direction – but the degree to which they’ve refined their sound on the second go-around is pretty significant. The old-school soul influence that lurked underneath Yeah, So? is brought to the fore on Paradise and bolstered with some richer arrangements and production values. The busker-y aesthetic that permeated their debut is largely kicked to the curb in favour of some unabashed Motown moves; it’s an ambitious move, but Taylor has raised her game as a vocalist to match and the results give Slow Club a bare, emotional depth that’s surprising. It comes at the cost of some of their immediacy and gleefulness, but that’s growing up for you. There’s a part of me that wishes they’d taken an extra album or two to get where they are, but kids these days. What are you gonna do… besides sit back, listen and appreciate?

Slow Club will be coming over to North America in November, but for now only dates in New York and Los Angeles have been confirmed. Here’s hoping the “more TBA” in the press release isn’t just a tease.

Stream: Slow Club – “Where I’m Waking”
Video: Slow Club – “Where I’m Waking”
Video: Slow Club – “Two Cousins”

Newcastle’s Lanterns On The Lake are offering another taste of their forthcoming debut Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, in audio and video forms, ahead of its September 19 UK release.

MP3: Lanterns On The Lake – “Keep On Trying”
Video: Lanterns On The Lake – “Keep On Trying”

How much does The Line Of Best Fit like I Break Horses and their out-this-week debut album Hearts? In addition to streaming the whole thing, they went all the way to Sweden to record a video session with the band, the first installment of which – “Winter Beats” – is now online. And not to be left out, Clash has track-by-track notes on the album from songwriter Maria Linden.

Stream: I Break Horses / Hearts

NME is pointing to a stream the b-side from Anna Calvi’s next single, “Suzanne & I”. It’s a cover of The Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You”, which was also tackled by The Beatles way back when. And while you’re at it, stream the b-side of Calvi’s last b-side from the “Desire” single – another cover, this one of Leonard Cohen’s “Joan Of Arc”. Anna Calvi is at Lee’s Palace on December 8.

Stream: Anna Calvi – “Baby It’s You”
Stream: Anna Calvi – “Joan Of Arc”

Gemma Hayes has released a video from her latest album Let It Break.

Video: Gemma Hayes – “Keep Running”

Portishead’s Geoff Barrow tells Spinner the band intends to put out new material following their upcoming North American tour, which sees them play two nights at The Sound Academy on October 10 and 11.

The Quietus gives Blur’s generally dismissed debut album Leisure a re-evaluation.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Primavera Sound 2011 Day Three

Pulp, Belle & Sebastian, The National and more at Primavera Sound

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAsk me my dream festival lineup (within the realm of possibility) and I might well submit the four-block that was Primavera Friday night – you had The National as possibly my favourite act currently going and at the top of their game, Belle & Sebastian from the hall of all-time favorites, Explosions In The Sky to represent for my ambient/post-rock proclivities and as the hook – the mandatory reunion act – let’s say… Pulp. And this, in a nutshell, was why I was in Spain.

The previous night’s creep into this day’s morning meant a late start out of the blocks, and so arrival at Parc del Forum was timed just about right for duskfall and to see The National on the Llevant stage. This was the first time I’d seen them at a festival since they did a noon hour set at Austin City Limits in 2007 – clearly their stock had risen some in the interim. I’ve watched them at all levels since their days playing small bars circa Alligator and can confirm they already own in a theatre setting but dominating a major festival stage is something different. Or maybe it’s not, because The National had no problem at all with it. Even though their albums have gotten less overtly rock as you go, they have gotten more anthemic and that’s a trait that serves you well in these settings. As does having friends like Sufjan Stevens, who joined them to a roar of approval to contribute backing vocals on “Afraid Of Everyone”. Chalk it up as another glorious show from The National, even though those on the outskirts of the crowed seemed less enraptured, or at least more engaged in their own conversations. But in the heart of the crowd, there was nothing but devotion.

Like The National, I’d seen Belle & Sebastian many times but never in a festival setting. Unlike The National, big anthems weren’t exactly the Scottish pop outfit’s forte. But this didn’t prompt any sort of rejigging of their live show for the setting – they performed largely the same set as they did in theatres, clearly intending to draw the huge audience in rather than project out. They were stymied in this early on by a poor vocal mix, making them sound smaller than they should have, but eventually that got sorted out and their charms won the day. On the fan interaction end there was no autographed football tosses as there were in North America, but Stuart Murdoch did invite one audience member to apply some mascara to him during “Lord Anthony”, while inserting Pulp quotes into the lyrics to make things extra topical. On the downside, I learned that Belle & Sebastian fans can be seriously pushy jerks. Stop trying to get to the front – Stuart’s already has his makeover for the evening.

The last time I saw Explosions In the Sky was actually at a festival – albeit a midday, second-stage set at V Fest 2007 – but their stature has grown so much since then that comparisons are rather moot. Here, they were playing a midnight time slot at the grand Ray-Ban Stage, whose coliseum seating and massive floors area made it seem like a much more grandiose setting than the de facto San Miguel mainstage. It definitely suited the band, though, combining with their simple yet dramatic light show and massive, cinematic post-rock sound – now even bigger-sounding with the addition of a full-time bassist – and tens of thousands in the audience for a full sensory experience. Not easy for an instrumental band to do. I would have liked to stay longer than the 30 minutes or so that I did, but I’ll have a chance for the full show when they come to town in October and there was more pressing business to attend to. Business a long time in coming.

I had never thought I would ever see Pulp live, and I was by and large alright with that. Their hiatus in 2001 didn’t seem like it would be a temporary thing, as their career had already had an arc that many would envy, and I had adjusted my concert bucket list to just include Jarvis Cocker solo – which was already proving exceedingly difficult to check off. So when the reunion was announced in December, there wasn’t a lot of hesitation before committing to coming to Primavera. The final minutes of a decade of anticipation were heightened by a series of cheeky messages laser-projeted onto a scrim in front of the stage, behind which you could clearly see the letters “P”, “U”, “L” and “P” in giant neon signs hanging in back. Yes. And when they lit up and the band kicked into the totally appropriate His ‘N’ Hers classic “Do You Remember The First Time?”, it was showtime.

Pulp-era Jarvis Cocker was by all accounts a different creature entirely from post-Pulp Jarvis Cocker, but by god if he didn’t slip completely back into character more easily than anyone could imagine, particularly since one would assume that he was the main holdout in any Pulp reunion happening before now. With only the natty salt-and-pepper beard to distinguish him from his previous incarnation, he danced, leapt, strutted and vogued around the stage as if the halcyon days of Britpop were just yesterday and certainly didn’t look as though he were a decade and a half older.

His shedding the jacket and tie early on was the only warning that they were going to spring “Disco 2000” on us – with no asides about meeting up 11 years late – far sooner than anyone might have expected. But even when taken by surprise, the reflex of pretty much everyone at the sound of those opening chords was to dance, dance, dance. Another highlight was Cocker’s pulling out a prop video camera/flashlight for “I Spy”, with which he broadcast to all an in-audience wedding proposal between a couple from Athens, Georgia – major props to the guy for managing to orchestrate that.

That moment of romance led appropriately/inappropriately into “Underwear” which segued into the gloriously seedy “This Is Hardcore”, the only selection from their arguably best (if less festival-friendly) album. Part of this may have been because guitarist/violinist Russell Senior was back in the fold for this reunion and he had originally left the band after Different Class; he wasn’t even onstage for “Hardcore”, though he did step in to handle the guitar solo on “Sunrise”, from the unfairly malinged We Love Life. And I’d never particularly thought of Pulp as a guitar band, but when Cocker strapped one on as he did at a few points in the night, the seven member-strong band actually had four axes going at once.

The main set closed with an explosive “Common People” – dedicated to some of those very people who’d been assaulted by police in Barcelona’s Catalunya Square earler in the week – followed by a one-song encore of “Razzmatazz”, in honour of the club in Barcelona of the same name – and while it was a glorious performance, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of disappointment. Not in the show, but in knowing that I probably won’t see them again and won’t hear so many of those songs from the other records live. And while Cocker was clear that this “wasn’t about ancient history” but instead “making history”, for 90 minutes they did make it feel like it was 1996 again. And it was good.

An attempt to add Battles’ set as a nightcap proved futile – there would be no following Pulp.

The New York Post looks into The National’s real estate holdings.

BBC interviews Pulp about the lead-up to the reunion shows.

Let’s Wrestle have put out a new video from Nursing Home.

Video: Let’s Wrestle – “In Dreams, Pt II”

Florence Welch talks to NME about some of the lyrical themes informing the next Florence & The Machine album.

Artrocker has an interview with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, whose debut album Coastal Grooves has just been given a release date of August 8; details at DIY.

MP3: Blood Orange – “Dinner”

State has a feature on Elbow.

Interview and Stereogum check in with Arctic Monkeys, whose new record Suck It And See arrives next Tuesday.

JAM, Our London, New York Press and Filter interview Glasvegas.

Sons & Daughters have released a video from their new album Mirror Mirror, out July 12. The Scotsman has an interview with the band.

Video: Sons & Daughters – “Breaking Fun”

Gemma Hayes has just released her fourth album Let It Break in Ireland and the UK, though I’m in the UK and can’t find it… it’s due for a North American release later this year. There’s interviews with the singer-songwriter at State and The Irish Times.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

All We Make Is Entertainment

Review of Manic Street Preachers’ Postcards From A Young Man

Photo by Dean ChalkeyDean ChalkeyMost bands with longevity – if they’re lucky – have a career arc that starts with a good to great debut and trends upwards towards a critical and hopefully commercial peak – simultaneously, if fortune wills it – before entering a decline that’s hopefully gradual enough so as to not really be noticed at the time. Cap it off with a late-career bounce and/or best-of comp and maybe quit while you’re still ahead, overall. Until the reunion, anyways.

Manic Street Preachers threw that out the window before even their first album, declaring their intention to sell 20 million copies of their debut and then break up at the height of their powers. And while this didn’t happen, their narrative did end up considerably twistier than most – release successful debut, endure mandatory difficult second record, rebound with critically acclaimed effort, lose chief songwriter to mysterious circumstances, regroup for their biggest commercial and critical success, release follow-ups of diminishing quality before respectively levelling out and then surprise everyone by deliberately trying to recreate the spirit of album three using lyrics left behind by the departed songwriter and have the results, rather than exploitative, be phenomenal.

This is where the Manics found themselves with last year’s Journal For Plague Lovers, a deliberate revisit to The Holy Bible built around the words of their lost member Richey Edwards. And just as that record deliberately paralleled their third record, its follow-up Postcards From A Young Man looks to album four, the massive in every sense Everything Must Go as a reference. The dry, Albini production values of Journal are traded in for grandiose anthems laden with strings and choirs that offer no apologies for reaching for the stars. It’s a reminder that as good as the Manics were at being emphatically, viciously angry, they were arguably better at being starry-eyed romantics, and it’s that side of them that is on display with this effort. But unlike Everything, which for its widescreen staging was still downcast in tone, what with dealing with Edwards’ disappearance, Postcards casts far fewer shadows. Granted, this also gives it less emotional heft, but it’s far from empty calories. There’s still plenty of dense lyricism, huge choruses, fiery guitar solos, a guest spot/croak from Ian McCulloch and an affirmation that while the Manics took a mid-career breather, they’re once again at the top of their game.

Even though the release of Journal and accompanying tour were supposed to mark the Manics’ return to the North American marketplace, Postcards has yet to receive a domestic release. Until that happens, any hope that the further Stateside shows the band promised last year will materialize remain just wishful thinking. Or maybe they’ll wait for the next record – for all the hubbub surrounding the “last attempt at mass communication” rhetoric that accompanied Postcards and whether it meant it would be the Manics’ final record, according to this interview with Nicky Wire at NME, the band are already writing their next record, have given it a working title of 70 Songs Of Hatred And Failure and are calling it an exercise in “pure indulgence”. So it’s a revisit to Know Your Enemy, then? Bring it on.

Note that the below MP3 does not appear on Postcards, but is a period-correct and was given away in conjunction with the promotion of Postcards.

MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “I’m Leaving You For Solitude”
Video: Manic Street Preachers – “Some Kind Of Nothingness”
Video: Manic Street Preachers – “(It’s Not War) It’s Just The End Of Love”

Digging A Hole, The Bangkok Post and CNNgo check in with Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

The long wait for a new record from PJ Harvey is almost over – NME reports that Polly Jean’s next record Let England Shake will be out on February 14.

Trip-hop survivors Morcheeba, with original vocalist Sky Edwards back in the fold, will be touring North America next year in support of their latest Blood Like Lemonade and will be at The Phoenix on February 20. Tickets $32.50 in advance.

Video: Morcheeba – “Blood Like Lemonade”

VBS has a video interview with Emmy The Great and producer Gareth Jones, who is working with her on album number two. It’s targeted for a February 2011 release.

Laura Marling has released a video for her Neil Young cover, taken from her recent 7″ release.

Video: Laura Marling – “The Needle & The Damage Done”

NME reports that Noah & The Whale have given their third album a name – Last Night On Earth – and that it’ll be out in March of next year. Presumably before they roll into town for a show at the Mod Club on March 24, tickets $17.50 in advance.

Richard Thompson lists off his favourite covers of his own songs for Spinner and otherwise chats with The Los Angeles Times and The Kansas City Star

Mogwai are offering a free download of “Pano Rano”, the first single from their forthcoming Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. The album is out February 15 and they play The Phoenix on April 26.

Exclaim reports on the super-fancy and then some 20th anniversary edition of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, due out on March 7 of next year. For those who want to be free to do what they want to do, who want to be free to ride, and want to be free to ride their machines without being hassled by The Man, and who want to get loaded, and who want to have a good time. And that’s what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna have a good time. They’re gonna have a party!

The Arts Desk and The Quietus converse with Jim Reid of The Jesus And Mary Chain.

State welcomes ex-pat Gemma Hayes back to Ireland; she’s due for a new album sometime in 2011.

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I’m On My Way

Yo La Tengo make a bid for popularity

Photo By Michael LavineMichael LavineI had thought that their Condo Fucks excursion earlier this year would represent Yo La Tengo’s recorded output for 2009 – after all, crafting a recording of such depth and intricacy has to be exhausting for a band, mentally, emotionally and physically. But as it turns out, that was just a warm-up and Hoboken’s finest will release a proper new collection of tunes this Fall in the form of Popular Songs.

From the write-up in the official bio, it sounds like the band are continuing on with the “everything goes” aesthetic that made 2006’s I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass such a welcome return to form, after a couple of pretty but overly snoozy albums to open the century. Expect sharp pop songs, extended jammed-out excursions and tender balladry, expect them to make preorders worth your while, expect touring this Fall and expect the record to be out September 8.

And expect the first MP3 released to sound exactly like this.

MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”

Yo La labelmates Sonic Youth will release their new album The Eternal next week, and are currently streaming it all on iLike. And be forewarned, PitchforkTV is marking the occasion by declaring next week to be Sonic Youth Week – there’ll be video content galore. talks to Lee Ranaldo, The Guardian to the whole band and you can look for Sonic Youth at Massey Hall on June 30.

Stream: Sonic Youth / The Eternal

Currently on PitchforkTV is the entirety of Jarvis Cocker’s set at last year’s Pitchfork Festival, and there’s not much to say to that besides, “JARVIS COME TO TORONTO”. The Age has an interview.

Incidentally, the lineup to Virgin Festival BC was announced yesterday, and both Jarvis Cocker and Sonic Youth are part of it. But before you think that the festival’s good name has recovered from the Montreal fiasco, note that the BC headliners are Ben Harper and Our Lady Peace. So feel free to continue to despair, and no, I won’t be buying a plane ticket to Vancouver for that weekend. And they still have to announce Calgary before they get to Ontario, so it’ll probably be a couple weeks before we know what they’ve got in store for us come the end of August.

Dean Wareham talks to the Live Arts & Fringe Festival blog, Decider, QRO and Philadelphia Weekly about memoirs and Warhol, amongst other things. And via A Head Full Of Wishes, check out this video of Dean reading maybe the greatest Luna fan letter ever.

Dinosaur Jr and their stunt doubles unwind a bit (and fall down) while on tour in the new video from Farm, out June 23.

Video: Dinosaur Jr – “Over It”

NOW, The Times, Rolling Stone, The Montreal Mirror and talk to Grizzly Bear, playing a sold-out show at the Phoenix tonight.

Interview interviews Bjork.

Maximo Park’s Paul Smith tells NME about needing strategically reinforced suits for live performance. See him not split his crotch while doing a jump at Lee’s Palace on September 18.

Austin’s Ume have plotted a tour up and down American en route to Toronto for NxNE in a couple weeks, where they’ll play Neutral on Thursday, June 18 at 10PM. They’ve also made available another MP3 from their Sunshower EP available to download.

MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”

Gemma Hayes recently released a new digital EP and made a video for the title track.

Video: Gemma Hayes – “Oliver”

Singing Lamb talks to Lucas Jensen of Venice Is Sinking.

The Rural Alberta Advantage is conducting an interesting project over at wherein they’re soliciting donations to record and press a super-limited edition 7″ single that their backers will be able to take home for their very own. There’s also various tiers of support – for example, chip in a measly $3K and the RAA will come to your home and play you your own show. They’re running this campaign for a couple months, almost exactly until their July 30 show at the Horseshoe to mark the release of Hometowns on Saddle Creek July 7.

Billboard talks to drummer Jody Stephens about the forthcoming Big Star box set Keep An Eye On The Sky, due out September 15.

Beatroute interviews Malajube, who’ll be playing a free show at Lee’s Palace on June 12.

Their June 16 show at Lee’s is already sold out, but if you’re ducat-less, fear not – Passion Pit have already scheduled another show at the Phoenix for August 11, tickets $15. I guess they were really serious about making up each of those canceled shows from earlier this year.

MP3: Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead”
Video: Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead”

Boston’s Drug Rug have a date at the Horseshoe on August 18.

MP3: Drug Rug – “Day I Die”

Words? Mono and Maserati don’t need no stinking words – just volume and grandeur, and they’ll prove it October 2 at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Mono – “Follow The Map”
MP3: Mono – “Ashes In The Snow”
MP3: Maserati – “The World Outside”
Video: Mono – “Follow The Map”
Video: Maserati – “This Is A Sight We Had One Day From The High Mountain”

And congratulations to Scott Marchi, who won the contest for the National t-shirt.