Posts Tagged ‘Ian Brown’

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Floorboards Under The Bed

Review of The Twilight Sad's Forget The Night Ahead

Photo By Nic ShonfeldNic ShonfeldI’ve described – in spirit, if not precise words – The Twilight Sad’s debut album Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters as a sonically monolithic slab of angst, a crescendo sustained over 40 minutes, the sound of a man standing on a Scottish cliff face, arms raised and bellowing against the world. And also one of my favourite records of 2007.

Needless to say, the follow-up was anxiously awaited and though the release of a couple EPs and a collection of live tracks and rarities certainly helped make that wait bearable, that material also came largely from the timeframe of the debut. Which was fine, but didn’t really help answer the question of what sort of direction the band would take for album number two, because as much as I liked the debut, duplicating that recipe almost certainly wouldn’t work again, or at least yield greatly diminished returns and I believed them to be capable of so much more.

And while their set opening up for Mogwai back in May offered a tantalizing preview of the new material, only proper listens to Forget The Night Ahead prove that faith to be justified. With it, the band have largely managed to maintain the immensity of sound that defined Autumns, but have shed enough sonic and emotional weight to be more nimble, more dynamic. And in doing so, the Twilight Sad have opened up space for James Graham’s more sophisticated songwriting to come to the fore. Whereas the lyrics on Autumns were more on the impenetrably abstract side, Night is more evocative in imagery, almost cinematic, and less opaque while remaining sufficiently inscrutability. And glum and depressed as hell. That’s crucial.

Obviously Night doesn’t offer quite the same gut punch of discovery that Autumns – it can’t – but it may well be the superior record. That’s a subjective call, but it does prove that The Twilight Sad have more than one trick in their arsenal, or they’ve figured out how to get even more mileage out of that one. Either way, consider the sophomore slump evaded and The Twilight Sad a band to hopefully soundtrack many more nights of sitting in a dark corner, rocking gently back and forth.

The Twilight Sad are entering the second half of a North American tour that brings them to the El Mocambo on October 10. Exclaim piggybacked a short interview with Graham onto their review of the record and Clash solicited a song-by-song annotation from the band to go with their stream of the album.

MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Reflection Of The Television”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “I Became A Prostitute”
Stream: The Twilight Sad / Forget The Night Ahead
MySpace: The Twilight Sad

Also currently streaming is Richard Hawley’s new one Truelove’s Gutter. It’s excellent. In case you were wondering. There’s interviews at The Chester Chronicle and Shields Gazette and Clash asks him how he’d spend his last day on Earth.

Stream: Richard Hawley / Truelove’s Gutter

JAM and Metro talk to Arctic Monkeys. The band also stopped in for a session at MPR.

Check out the third single from former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall’s forthcoming solo record Without Why, due out next year. I know that the point of pre-release singles is to build anticipation for the record, but in this case it’s working especially well – all three so far have been quite great.

MP3: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Fallen Over”

Music Snobbery and The Derby Telegraph interview Noah & The Whale, whose First Days Of Spring will be out in North America on October 6 and who play the Horseshoe on October 31. The album is also currently streaming at NPR.

Stream: Noah & The Whale / First Days Of Spring

Exclaim and Out interview Little Boots.

Alasdair MacLean discusses The Clientele’s new record Bonfires On The Heath with Spinner and Exclaim while multi-instrumentalist Mel Draisey talks to Rocksellout. The album is out October 6.

BBC gets a status update from The Futureheads on their next record.

The San Francisco Examiner, Pioneer Press and The Georgia Straight welcome Manic Street Preachers to North America for their first tour in a decade. Need I mention how stoked I am for this Sunday’s show at the Phoenix?

Remember when Blur who was saying that their reunion might yield more shows or an album? Not anymore. Alas. But hey, he has a new solo video. Which is almost as good. Almost.

Video: Graham Coxon – “Dead Bees”

BBC and Spinner talk to Ian Brown about his new record My Way. Exclaim also reports that he’s working with Johnny Marr on a television soundtrack.

Rolling Stone and Interview talk to Bad Lieutenant’s Bernard Sumner.

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”

Friday, March 6th, 2009


Asobi Seksu and Bell at the El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhile most bands spend their entire careers trying to nail down that elusive “signature sound”, actually achieving that goal can be as much a curse as a blessing. In the case of New York’s Asobi Seksu being “that band that sounds like J-pop meets My Bloody Valentine” certainly set them apart, but there’s only so much you can do within those boundaries and considering they damn near perfected it with their last album Citrus, the very real question facing them heading into album number three would have been, “what next?”

Their answer was to first strip the roster down to just principals Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna and then head back into the studio with much more Spector on their minds than Shields. And as you might expect, the resultant album Hush requires that the listener’s expectations be adjusted. Though things aren’t nearly as subdued as the album title might imply, they have traded in much of their fuzz-pedal squall for fluffier clouds of reverb and while the leaner sonic approach actually suits them quite well, it also seems their pop instincts were dulled in the process and by making their songs more atmospheric, they’ve also lost some substance. The record sounds more like a band in the process of creating a new identity rather than presenting a completed one.

Their live show, however, remains quite familiar as Tuesday night’s engagement at the El Mocambo proved. Though they’d paid a visit just five months prior, they still managed to draw a very healthy crowd and regardless of the band’s new creative direction, if they came expecting to be assaulted and battered by sound they weren’t disappointed. Apparently all the distortion pedals that didn’t make it into the studio were in the band’s touring van, because they had all their noisemaking toys along with them and weren’t afraid to use them – their signature Christmas and strobe light stage setup was also along for the ride. I was pleased to see that they’ve also developed a distinctive stage presence, with Hanna pacing the stage looking for pedals to stomp on and Chikudate cooly cooing into the microphone and whipping her hair around. And mixed in with the Citrus material and given the more muscular delivery, the Hush songs sounded much more alive, providing a bit of respite – but only a bit – from the sonic tumult of the older songs. If Asobi are looking for some pointers on where to take their sound, perhaps listening to a recording of one of their shows would be a good start – for my money, they’ve got the perfect formula right there.

Tourmates Bell also hailed from New York and the duo – frontwoman and namesake Olga Bell on keyboards and Jason Nazary on drums and both on laptops – were excited to be on their very first tour, this being the second show. Their sound is an interesting take on electronica, melding Bell’s powerful and elastic vocals with unconventional melodies, pop structures and dynamic live drumming. It’s the sort of thing that draws you in, then pushes you away and then pulls you back, sometimes all at once. Kind of strange but definitely intriguing.

Decider has an interview with Asobi Seksu, Gothamist has one with Bell.

Photos: Asobi Seksu, Bell @ The El Mocambo – March 3, 2009
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Familiar Light”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “New Years”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Let Them Wait”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Sooner”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
MP3: Bell – “Magic Tape”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Goodbye”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
MySpace: Asobi Seksu
MySpace: Bell

Black Book interviews Anthony Gonzalez of M83.

Ben Curtis of School Of Seven Bells talks to Drowned In Sound and This Is Fake DIY.

Pitchfork solicits a list of this and that from Stuart Staples of Tindersticks while NOW, The Washington Post, Express and New York Press settle for interviews. They play the Opera House on Tuesday night.

NME has details on Jarvis Cocker’s forthcoming album – relevant points are that it’s out May 19, but is still untitled now entitled Further Complications (via PF) and was produced by Steve Albini… now that’ll be a 180 from the Richard Hawley-helmed romantic lushness of the first record. Can’t wait.

Clash has an extended and thoughtful interview with Ian Brown about the history of The Stone Roses on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their debut album. Yes, the “r” word comes up. No, don’t hold your breath.

Magnet Q&As Frightened Rabbit and NPR welcomes them to for an interview and session.

Gemma Hayes has released a new video from last year’s The Hollow Of Morning. I think the “swoon” is implicit anytime I write about her, is it not?

Video: Gemma Hayes – “Home”

Wireless Bollinger, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Clash interview Howling Bells, whose new album Radio Wars is – I’m sad to say – being rather justly pilloried. It’s just not very good and considering how much I’d been looking forward to it, is quite a disappointment. Not giving up on the band but it’s a let-down.

MP3: Howling Bells – “Into The Chaos”

Pitchfork reveals that one of the tracks on the new Wilco album – still untitled and set for a June release – will feature a duet between Jeff Tweedy and Feist.

To mark their upcoming tour in support of Neko Case, Crooked Fingers have released a new digital EP for “Your Control”, the closing track from their last album Forfeit/Fortune which is a duet between Eric Bachmann and Case. The EP also features a couple covers of Crooked Fingers tunes by Spoon and Lambchop.

Neko Case gives Spinner some of the ground rules for being in her band and talks to JAM about the naturalist themes that run through her work. She also talks to The Los Angeles Times and The Globe & Mail. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

The Ithaca Journal and NOW talk to AC Newman, who is playing Lee’s Palace next Wednesday night.

Peaches has a date at the Phoenix on May 20. Her new album I Feel Cream is out May 4.

Grizzly Bear have mapped out a massive tour in support of new album Veckatimest – the Toronto date is June 5 at the Phoenix. The album is out May 26.

The National Post recorded a video feature on Ohbijou circa their show at Lee’s Palace last November, including a street corner performance backed by The Acorn. And more clarity on the status of Beacons – the band has signed a deal in the UK with Bella Union, making them labelmates – at least over there – with Fleet Foxes and Andrew Bird. Pretty good company. Beacons is set for a June 8 release there and plans are afoot for the North American release and rescheduled tour dates to fall in line with that.

Paste talks to Craig Finn about The Hold Steady about their forthcoming live CD/DVD set A Positive Rage, due out April 7.

Blurt reports that Richard Thompson will be the subject of a four-disc box set entitled Walking On A Wire: Richard Thompson (1968-2009) and due out June 30.

NOW talks to creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley and director Edgar Wright about the upcoming Scott Pilgrim and its Toronto roots.

Update: Sad news – Dutch concert webcast site FabChannel is closing its (virtual) doors next week – you have seven days to go root through their massive and beautiful archives. Get to it.