Posts Tagged ‘God Help The Girl’

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Allo Darlin’ send postcards from Europe

Illustration By Paul RainsPaul RainsOne of the criteria – really, the main one – for my year-end list was basically, “how many times did I listen to this record?”. Which I think is reasonable. If we were to take out the “must have been released in 2011” stipulation, however, the list would have been rather different – at least to the extent that Allo Darlin’s 2010 self-titled debut would have surely made the list. And if I’d assembled a supplementary list of favourite 7″ singles of the year, their “Darren”/”Wu-Tang Clan” picture disc – a tribute to the Hefner frontman and cover of one of his compositions as The French – would have been at the top (and the bottom as it was the only 7″ I bought this year).

If it’s not clear, the ukulele-powered, Aussie-fronted London quartet rather charmed me this year and for the reasons why, check out my review of the record and also of their live show in June. And so after playing catch-up on their back catalog (well, the one album and a handful of singles) this year, I’m trilled that details on their second album have started to come to light. It was known that it’d be called Europe as far back as the Summer, but now Altsounds reports that a first single entitled “Capricornia” will be out on February 13 with the full-length to follow sometime in May. eburban ups the ante by saying the record will be released in North America by Slumberland – a fact confirmed by the band via Twitter – and on April 3 with a North American tour to follow. Those bits are unconfirmed but I’m certainly on board with hoping its true.

In any case, a first taste of the new album comes via a video assembled from tour footage for the song “Tallulah”, and if you’re guessing that’s a reference to indie-pop forebears Talulah Gosh – spelling aside – you’re probably right. And if you’re guessing I’m saving a spot on the “favourites of 2012” list for Europe, you’re also probably right.

MP3: Allo Darlin’ – “My Heart Is A Drummer”
Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Tallulah”

Pitchfork reports that Stuart Murdoch has turned to Kickstarter to gather financing for his musical film adaptation of God Help The Girl, hoping to get it done before turning his attention to the next Belle & Sebastian record. So if you want that follow-up to Write About Love sooner rather than later, chip in a bit.

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

In conversation with Rolling Stone , Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons compares the band’s new material to both Black Sabbath and Nick Drake. Neither Black Sabbath or Nick Drake fans are impressed.

Both sides of the new Radiohead single are available to stream and purchase from your preferred digital retail outlet.

Stream: Radiohead – “The Daily Mail”
Stream: Radiohead – “Staircase”

Chart talks covers with Anna Calvi.

Artrocker gets an update on the return of Bloc Party from drummer Matt Tong.

Sweden’s Mary Onettes have prepared a new EP entitled Love Forever, half of it produced by Dan Lissvik who made the last Young Galaxy such a gem. I’d have been looking forward to whatever they put out next but this makes it extra tantalizing. It’s out February 28.

Interview talks to Swedish duo Serenades.

The Guardian interviews Anthony Gonzalez of M83. They’re at the Sound Academy on May 6.

Jim Sclavunos tells Faster Louder that while Grinderman is on the back burner for now, The Bad Seeds are indeed back in action.

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Ashes On The Fire

Review of Richard Hawley's Truelove's Gutter

Photo via Hawley is one of those rare artists for whom when I’m in the mood to hear their stuff, I can reach for pretty much any one of their records and it will hit the spot. It helps that there’s not really anyone else out there doing what he does these days – lush, romantic pop drawn from a pre-Beatles era, deeply beholden to the early days of American rock and rockabilly and yet undeniably English, all delivered with his rich baritone and incomparable guitarwork. At his best, Hawley is heart-rendingly beautiful and luckily for his fans, he’s rarely not at his best.

Don’t take my earlier comment about not caring which Hawley record I hear as meaning they’re indistinct or interchangeable, though. For while he has remained largely consistent in style throughout his solo career (early jobs included stints with The Longpigs and Pulp), each album has its own definite character and his sixth record, Truelove’s Gutter, is no exception. While 2007’s Lady’s Bridge was a more extroverted affair – string-laden, infused with a sense of whimsy and containing a couple of romping singles – Gutter steps off the streets and into the parlour, an altogether more intimate record and at the same time, even bigger than its predecessor.

Though the record continues Hawley’s tradition of naming his records for landmarks in his hometown of Sheffield, the imagery it evokes is also appropriate to the emotional content within. Love is the album’s running theme, but not necessarily in the glossy romantic sense – instead it looks at the reality of it, fraught with rejection and regret, weariness and wariness, melancholic without giving way to cynicism and still given to moments of tenderness. Hawley (or his characters, at least) has been through the wringer and yet still believes enough to get back up. The record’s production and arrangement contributes to this darker, more introspective mood. Each of the eight songs flows effortlessly into the next and it largely eschews the big-band approach in favour of a more atmospheric one, suffused with esoteric instruments you may not necessarily hear but certainly feel. It’s a thing of beauty, but then it’s a Richard Hawley record. Of course it is.

The California Chronicle, The Sheffield Telegraph, The Guardian and The Scotland Herald all have features on Hawley while Magnet solicited a Q&A with the artist in exchange for making him guest editor for the week – already their website has been privy to Hawley’s musings on topics such as The Velvet Underground, The 13th Floor Elevators and John Steinbeck.

Video: Richard Hawley – “For Your Lover, Take Some Time”
Stream: Richard Hawley / Truelove’s Gutter
MySpace: Richard Hawley

One of the best bits of news I’ve heard in a while came yesterday in the form of a dispatch from Leeds’ Sky Larkin – namely that they were giving away a new digital single entitled “Smarts” and that they were embarking on a North American tour this Fall – that includes a Toronto date! They’ll be at the Cameron House on October 28 with Peggy Sue and while I missed their Toronto debut supporting Los Campesinos! in April, I did see them at SxSW so I know what I speak of when I say they will destroy the place. In the very best sense.

MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”

And speaking of Los Campesinos!, with Aleks Campsinos! returned to civilian life and college, they’ve enlisted the younger sister of frontman Gareth to take her place. They made a fun little video introducing Kim Campesinos! to the world.

Ear Farm talks to The Clientele, whose new album Bonfires On The Heath is out October 6 but is streaming in its entirety now at Merge. There’s also a new video of the band performing this Summer at Merge XX and bassist James Hornsey assembled a mixtape for NYLON.

Stream: The Clientele / Bonfires On The Heath

Hull Daily Mail chats with Mumford & Sons, whose debut Sigh No More is out October 5 in the UK.

Anyone who enjoyed the God Help The Girl album be aware – a 5-song EP of all new material was quietly released at the end of last month. You can find Stills as a 10″ single or as a download.

Fanfarlo are interviewed by Music Snobbery and declared “ones to watch” by Clash. They’ve just wrapped a short US tour but will be back – to New York at least – for CMJ. Hopefully they’ll do some more dates while they’re over here.

NOW profiles Arctic Monkeys. They’re at the Kool Haus on September 29.

Drowned In Sound has a two-part interview with Editors. In This Light & On This Evening is out October 12.

In talking to NME, Doves reveal that they don’t expect to have a new album out before 2012, but will be releasing a best-of compilation sometime between now and then.

Spin and Pitchfork talk to Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant, who have released the first video from their debut Don’t Cry Another Tear, out October 12.

Video: Bad Lieutenant – “Sink Or Swim”

Clash and Express & Star have features on Ian Brown, who will release My Way on Monday. There’s a video for the lead single which he tells BBC was originally intended for Rihanna.

Video: Ian Brown – “Stellify”

Artrocker talks to Ian McCulloch and The Dumbing Of America to Will Sargent about Echo & The Bunnymen’s new album The Fountain, out October 12. They’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre performing Ocean Rain orchestrally on October 20. Update: Just got an MP3 of the first single from the new record!

MP3: Echo & The Bunnymen – “I Think I Need It Too”

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

A United Theory

Review of Stuart Murdoch's God Help The Girl

Photo via godhelpthegirl.comGod Help The GirlI’ll not presume to speak for other Belle & Sebastian fans, but when word came out that Stuart Murdoch was putting the Scottish septet on hiatus to work on a film/stage/musical project, I couldn’t help but be concerned. After all, hiatuses, solo projects and retrospective compilations – last year’s BBC Sessions – don’t usually augur well for the future of a band going forwards.

The future of Belle & Sebastian aside, one can’t help but look on the results of Murdoch’s efforts, manifested as God Help The Girl (the band) and God Help The Girl (the album) – there’s also a “God Help The Girl” (the song) – and be impressed. In recruiting three new female voices to help him fulfill his dream of crafting a set of songs sung from a woman’s perspective and framed in a more orchestral, theatrical context, Murdoch has managed to create a record that’s as familiar and accessible to long-time fans as any new Belle & Sebastian record would have been, but also different enough from the day job to justify its completely separate identity. Though a couple of B&S songs appear here in reimagined form, it’s hard to imagine some of these tunes being done justice by the band. That’s no knock on Sarah Martin, but God Help The Girl demands a certain boldness and brassiness that’s simply not her forte.

Though recent Irish emigree Catherine Ireton takes lead vocals on the majority of tracks and does a lovely job, it’s the wide range of voices throughout the record – The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, Smoosh’s Asya and Murdoch himself contribute memorable turns – and the rich, string-laden arrangements, courtesy of B&S’ Mick Cooke, that make God Help The Girl such a success. The best songs soar to the same heights as anything Murdoch has ever done and the lesser moments drift amiably by, perhaps needing the visual narrative elements to which they were intended to work properly. That said, I’m not actually sure I’d want to see a filmic version of the record come to light – there’s something special about a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist and in a less fluffy sense, I worry that without a proper production budget it’d not look as good as it should and thus detract from the overall experience. They did a pretty nice job on the videos so far, though, so perhaps these concerns are unfounded. Either way, even if God Help The Girl doesn’t ever become the multi-platform, multimedia juggernaut that Murdoch envisions, it will remain the unexpectedly attractive second cousin in the Belle & Sebastian family portrait, itself a pretty good-looking clan to begin with.

In this interview with eMusic, Murdoch provides a rough outline of the album’s storyline and says that the film already has a big-time Hollywood producer attached but that work will probably not begin in earnest until the next Belle & Sebastian record is done, with the band coming off hiatus towards the end of this year. Paste has made this month’s cover feature on Stuart Murdoch available online, and Magnet plays over/under with the Belle & Sebastian song catalog.

MP3: God Help The Girl – “Come Monday Night”
MP3: God Help The Girl – “Funny Little Frog”
MP3: God Help The Girl – “Mary’s Market”
Video: God Help The Girl – “Funny Little Frog”
Video: God Help The Girl – “Come Monday Night”
MySpace: God Help The Girl

Asia One talks to Emmy The Great.

MP3: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby” (Simon Raymonde mix)

Uncensored has an interview with Polly Scattergood.

State and The List talk to The Horrors, who will be at Lee’s Palace on October 14.

The National Post, and The Singing Lamb get some time with Zach Condon of Beirut, while The Singing Lamb also says hello to tourmates The Dodos. Both are in town tonight for a mega-sold out show at the Phoenix.

Never one who could be accused of being a workaholic, Hope Sandoval will release her second album with The Warm Intentions, aka Colm O’Coisig of My Bloody Valentine, on September 1. Entitled Through The Devil Softly, it will be followed by North American touring this Fall and according to Rolling Stone, there’s another Mazzy Star album in the works.

MP3: Hope Sandoval & The Warm Intentions – “Blanchard”

I’m still waiting for Seattle’s Throw Me The Statue to name an album And I’ll Throw You The Whip, but it hasn’t happened yet. Their new one is called Creaturesque and will be released August 4 – look for them at a venue to be announced in Toronto on August 30.

MP3: Throw Me The Statue – “Ancestors”

Sondre Lerche is at the Mod Club on September 16 in support of his new record Heartbeat Radio, out September 8. Details and dates at Billboard.

Placebo have a new record in Battle For The Sun and are touring to support – look for them at the Sound Academy on October 6. The Star has a conversation with Brian Molko about making the new record.

Video: Placebo – “Battle For The Sun”

Echo & The Bunnymen will bring their orchestrally-enhanced live rendering of Ocean Rain to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 20. Tickets on sale Saturday for $65. Yowch.

Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”

Jeremy Jay will be in town on November 8 at a venue to be announced.

MP3: Jeremy Jay – “Beautiful Rebel”

Billy Bragg, still touring on last year’s Mr Love & Justice, will be touring across Canada this Fall, including a date at the Phoenix on November 17.

MP3: Billy Bragg – “I Keep Faith”

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

NXNE 2009 Day One

NXNE 2009 day one with No Age, Ume, Kittens Ablaze and The Darcys

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith a lead-up week that had included rather insane shows from each of Patrick Wolf, Phoenix and The Dead Weather, it wasn’t surprising that I was half-dead before NXNE even began this year. I don’t even want to speculate what kind of shape I’d been in if I hadn’t taken the week off from work. But the will and energy to hit the clubs would be found. Somehow.

There were many options to kick things off, but I opted for the secret-but-not-really show at the Whipper Snapper Gallery featuring Los Angeles duo No Age. I wasn’t especially won over by last year’s Nouns but had heard good things about their live show and the venue’s location would allow me to grab a tasty panzerottti at Bitondo’s. I say the show was not really secret because though the festival tried to keep it under wraps, it had been listed on the band’s booking agency’s website for over a week. But considering the modest-sized turnout, maybe it had been kept under wraps better than I’d thought. As for the show, I found the duo more entertaining live than on record, exchanging their lo-fi white noise sonic signature for something louder and meatier. Song-wise, it all sounded a blur but it was fun to watch them revel in the noise as well as pull off one of the most seamless broken guitar string changes I’ve ever seen. Metro has an interview with the band.

Photos: No Age @ The Whipper Snapper Gallery – June 18, 2009
MP3: No Age – “Neck Escaper”
MP3: No Age – “Eraser”
Video: No Age – “Eraser”
Video: No Age – “Boy Void”
Video: No Age – “Goat Hurt”
MySpace: No Age

From the Whipper Snapper, it was a short jaunt over to Neutral to welcome Austin’s Ume to town. They were one of the best things I saw at SxSW this year and I was very pleased that they’d made the long trip up to Toronto. I was also pleased that a very good-sized crowd of people were there to greet them and that the band managed to get their A-game across the border. Just as in Austin, singer-guitarist Lauren Larson was a dervish, her voice ranging from a coo to a shriek and her guitar chops several degrees past ridiculous as the band powered through selections from their Sunshower EP and some new material. In the few instances I was able to tear my eyes from the stage, I saw that others in the audience with that same look of “holy shit” I’m sure I was wearing back in March – pure rock action. Pure Grain Audio has an interview.

Photos: Ume @ Neutral – June 18, 2009
MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”
MP3: Ume – “Wake”
Video: Ume – “The Conductor”
MySpace: Ume

There were a few options for the next show, but the mental coin flip came up Kittens Ablaze, a Brooklyn act slated to play the Rivoli. Between them and Finnish outfit Cats On Fire, I detect a disturbing trend in pop bands with feline immolation-themed names. This particular one was a six-piece ensemble whom it would be impossible not to compare to Ra Ra Riot thanks to their near-identical band makeups and penchant for dizzying, uptempo orch-pop. They didn’t have the same quality of tunes, but were able to convey the sense of fun they were obviously having to the audience and made for a good time. NOW talked to the outfit before the festival.

Photos: Kittens Ablaze @ The Rivoli – June 18, 2009
MP3: Kittens Ablaze – “Gloom Doom Buttercups”
Video: Kittens Ablaze – “Strobelight”
MySpace: Kittens Ablaze

It’s not that long a haul from the Rivoli to Clinton’s by bike, but it certainly felt like it. I dragged my ass to basically the most northwest-located venue of the fest to see locals The Darcys, who’d been on my to-see list for a while. Now a lot of bands list Radiohead as an influence, which sadly usually means that the singer thinks that he’s got a great falsetto and some profound angst that needs to be expressed and thus, are generally meant to be given a wide berth. The Darcys do NOT list Radiohead as an influence (at least on their MySpace), but they were the first reference point I came up with. Not because singer Kirby Best has either a falsetto or angst (he may, I don’t know) but because of the the band’s innate creativity and their remarkably intricate arrangements of their three-guitar attack. I couldn’t help thinking that if the ‘Head had gone into their more introverted post-OK Computer phase with guitars still at the fore, The Darcys are the sort of band they’d have influenced. The recordings on their 2007 album Endless Water don’t really reflect what I heard on Thursday night – I very much look forward to what they’ll put out next.

Photos: The Darcys @ Clinton’s – June 18, 2009
MySpace: The Darcys

Anyone who missed Metric’s set at Edgefest this weekend can console themselves a bit with this full concert stream from DC last week at NPR and this session at MPR.

Islands have released details of their next album, Vapours, due out September 22. They’ll play a free show as part of Pride 2009 at the corner of Church and Wood on June 27.

Bonfires On The Heath, the new album from The Clientele, has been given a release date of October 6. Full details at Pitchfork.

Matador is streaming the whole of the God Help The Girl album of the same name, in stores tomorrow.

Stream: God Help The Girl / God Help The Girl

The Yorker has an interview with Patrick Wolf.

Emmy The Great has re-recorded a batch of songs which had been kicking around for a while but didn’t make it onto First Love, including favourites “Canopies & Grapes” and “Two Steps Forward”. Edward EP (First Songs) is out July 27 digitally and on 12″ vinyl, and will also be added to all future copies of First Love.

Bloc Party will be releasing a new non-album single on August 10. Well, not taken from any album we know of – yet. You can stream it at Pitchfork.

Stream: Bloc Party – “One More Chance”

There are new videos out from Lily Allen, Rose Elinor Dougall and Franz Ferdinand. Perhaps you would like to watch one, two or perhaps all three. I have provided links. You are welcome.

Video: Lily Allen – “Fuck You”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Stop/Start/Synchro”
Video: Franz Ferdinand / No You Girls

I can’t say as I’m that familiar with his works, but I do know that ’70s Detroit-based, psych/folk protest singer Sixto Rodriguez – who worked as just Rodriguez – is held in very high esteem by people whose opinions I respect. His two previously lost albums Cold Fact and Coming From Reality were reissued in super-deluxe format last year, and he’s been hitting the road to support – including a just-announced July 3 free show at Harbourfront Centre as part of their Hot Spot festival. I get the feeling that even if you don’t know his work, this is a show you will want to see.

MP3: Rodriguez – “Sugar Man”

Built To Spill return to Lee’s Palace for a two-night stand on October 6 and 7. Their new record There Is No Enemy is due out right about then as well.

The resurrected Jesus Lizard is coming to town – they’re at the Phoenix on November 9, tickets $20.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

New In Town

Little Boots sets live dates for North America

Photo By Daniel SannwaldDaniel SannwaldSince the start of the year, Little Boots has been tipped as the next-big-thing to come out of the UK, and with the release this week of her debut Hands, it may well be time to drop the “in waiting” status from her title. I hadn’t initially expected to be especially interested in Ms Boots (Victoria Hesketh to her friends), but a growing fondness for ’80s worshipping synth-pop – thank Ladyhawke for triggering that – and seeing a couple of impressive performances at SxSW went a long way to turning that opinion around. The fact that all of Little Boots’ singles leading up to record’s release, collected domestically on the Arecibo EP, were insanely catchy and fun if not especially deep and much of the album measures up sealed the deal. The fact that Hesketh is also cute as a button had nothing to do with it, I swear.

There’s no North American release date for Hands at the moment, but the fact that she’s announced a North American tour for this Fall starting off with a September 14 date at Toronto’s Wrongbar (tickets $18.50, on sale Friday) certainly implies that it’ll be out by then. In the meantime, an EP entitled Illumination which collects a handful of singles and non-album tracks was released this week only on this side of the pond – both it and the album are currently available to stream.

There’s interviews with Hesketh at The Kilburn Times and The Quietus, and The Sun has a typically classy chat with her about being kissed by fellow it-girl and fan of anatomically-referencing album titles, Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

MP3: Little Boots – “Love Kills” (Buffetlibre vs Sidechains remix)
MP3: Little Boots – “Meddle” (remix)
Video: Little Boots – “New In Town”
Video: Little Boots – “To The End” (Blur cover)
Stream: Little Boots / Illuminations
Stream: Little Boots / Hands
MySpace: Little Boots

There’s a brief interview with Florence & The Machine’s Florence Welch at Interview and an extensive one at The Telegraph and The Times. Her debut Lungs is out July 6 in the UK and October 13 in North America.

BBC has a feature piece spotlighting both the aforementioned divas-to-be as well as La Roux, whose own self-titled debut will be out on June 29. Not as won over by Ms Jackson as the other two, but still interested to hear how she holds up over an album.

Pitchfork has an interview with Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan. Some more North American dates are surfacing, and routing places her in the northeast in early/mid-August – the 9th in Chicago, the 12th in New York. I don’t know if she’d come back to Toronto so soon after her last visit, but considering that was all kinds of sold out I imagine the demand is there. Update: The Music Slut has more complete dates – no Toronto date, but that three-day gap between Chicago and New York remains…

SX talks with Patrick Wolf. He’s at the Mod Club next Wednesday, June 17, passes still being given away over here.

Director Wes Anderson has an extensive talk with Jarvis Cocker at Interview.

Fanfarlo are seeking to win over America not only with their lush and lovely music, but with great value – they’re offering a digital download of their album Reservoir, complete with four bonus tracks not on the CD, for a measly $1. Do it – I guarantee it to be the best $1 you spend today.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “I’m A Pilot”

Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks have released a video from their forthcoming debut These Four Walls, due out July 7. True, I wasn’t overly impressed when I saw them play at SxSW but the record has made a more positive impression.

Video: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Roll Up Your Sleeves”

MPR welcomes Camera Obscura to their studios for a session. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 27, which is nearly sold out. They also have a new video:

Video: Camera Obscura – “Honey In The Sun”

As much as I try to consolidate all the God Help The Girl-related material, they just keep out more immediately after I include some in a post. Next up, a video for “Funny Little Frog” from the album due out June 23. And note that my compatriots at MBV Music have got a God Help The Girl subscription package to give away, and are offering multiple chances to win. Two so far and two more to come.

Video: God Help The Girl – “Funny Little Frog”

Personal matters kept me from seeing them last month when they opened up for The Kills, but The Horrors are coming back to North America for a Fall headlining tour that includes an October 14 date at Lee’s Palace. I become more favourably inclined towards Primary Colours with each listen, so by then I should be right interested.

MP3: The Horrors – “Sea Within A Sea”
Video: The Horrors – “Sea Within A Sea”
Video: The Horrors – “Who Can Say”

Arctic Monkeys have named their third album – Humbug will be out August 25.