Posts Tagged ‘Kooks’

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Ace Of Hz

Review of Ladytron’s Gravity The Seducer and giveaway

Photo By Michele CivettaMichele CivettaYou would be forgiven for assuming that you had Ladytron figured out. It’s all right there in last year’s career-spanning compilation The Best Of Ladytron: 00-10; the Ladytron formula. Thick synths, robotic yet danceable beats and above all, the duelling icy vocals of Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo (though the edge in detachedness usually went to Aroyo on account of her stern Bulgarian accent). It’s a sound that was perfectly in style when that which they called “electroclash” crested in the early part of the century but managed to outstay the band’s peers thanks to their ability to marry fashion with pop songs that had genuine staying power; four albums of sleek, space-age synth-pop is nothing to shake a stick at.

So it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect more of the same from their fifth album, the just-released Gravity The Seducer, and indeed the elements at play are familiar, but something feels fundamentally different this time out. It took a few listens to put a finger on what, but what it sounds like is that Ladytron are sad. Gravity dials back the dancefloor bangers that punctuated previous efforts in favour of crafting a unified atmosphere whose prevailing mood is beautifully melancholic, the synths and beats working more towards a dreampop vibe than a krautrock one. To this end, Marnie gets more lead vocal turns than usual and Aroyo’s contributions are more emotive than usual, and a greater emphasis placed on crafting emotionally resonant melodies. Further, there are no less than three instrumentals out of the album’s twelve, the closing number “Aces High” a reprise of sorts to single and perhaps theme song “Ace Of Hz”, that bridge and tie together the album and contribute to its cinematic feel.

I’m not sure other writeups on the record have picked up on this, or if I’m imagining it, but to these ears Gravity sounds like a band taking advantage of a fresh chapter to reorient themselves creatively – not dramatically, but still enough to be noteworthy and to force the listener to approach it with fresh ears. Or it could just be another Ladytron record, equal parts steely, sexy and stoic, but even if so that’s hardly any bad thing.

The whole of the album is available to stream right now at Pitchfork and Ology has an interview with Daniel Hunt. Ladytron are at The Phoenix on October 5, tickets $20 in advance, but courtesy of Embrace I have two pairs of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be Seduced by Gravity” in the subject line and your full name in the body; contest closes at midnight, September 27.

MP3: Ladytron – “White Elephant”
MP3: Ladytron – “Ace Of Hz”
Video: Ladytron – “White Elephant”
Video: Ladytron – “Ace Of Hz”
Stream: Ladytron / Gravity The Seducer

DIY chats with The Subways on the eve of the release of their new album Money And Celebrity, out September 19.

USA Today has a profile and NPR and The Alternate Side sessions with Laura Marling, who is at The Great Hall on September 23 in support of her new album A Creature I Don’t Know; a short film for the album has also just been released.

Video: A Creature I Don’t Know: A Short Film

Room 205 kicks off a session series with Yuck. They’re at The Horseshoe on September 25 and have a deluxe edition of their self-titled debut out October 11.

We Were Promised Jetpacks have unveiled a new video from their forthcoming second album In The Pit Of The Stomach, out October 4.

Video: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Medicine”

The Quietus has the video for the title track of The Ship’s Piano, out October 17. There’s also a link to sign up for their newsletter and receive an MP3 of the tune. Artrocker has an interview with the former Hefner frontman.

Video: Darren Hayman – “The Ship’s Piano”

That a new Florence & The Machine record was coming this Fall was already a matter of fact; now Exclaim has the final missing details, specifically that it will be called Ceremonials and be out on October 31 in the UK, presumably but not guaranteed to be out in North America the following day. Update: And a new song from the album is up to stream.

Stream: Florence & The Machine – “Shake It Out”

Spin chats with Noel Gallagher about going solo. His Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is out November 7 and he plays Massey Hall on November 7 and 8.

Noah & The Whale have released a new video from Last Night On Earth. They’re at The Phoenix on November 8.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Waiting For My Chance To Come”

The Guardian has premiered the new video from Summer Camp, a clip which was available to pledge supporters of their debut Welcome To Condale a few months ago but is now up for all to see. It’s out in North America on November 8.

Video: Summer Camp – “Better Off Without You”

Interview does their thing with The Kooks; their new album Junk Of The Heart is out now and they’re at The Sound Academy on November 23. The Sun also has an interview and they’ve also released a video for the album’s title track.

Video: The Kooks – “Junk Of The Heart”

New Anna Calvi video, y’all. She’s at Lee’s Palace on December 8.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Suzanne & I”

Pitchfork reports that The Big Pink are back with a new single and video in advance of the release of album number two Future This in January of next year.

Video: The Big Pink – “Stay Gold”

DIY has words – pleasant words, mind – with Peggy Sue.

Rolling Stone and The San Francisco Examiner talk to Patrick Wolf about his brief, acoustic solo US tour. He’s planning a full band excursion over here in 2012 when Lupercalia is released domestically.

DIY has an interview with Slow Club.

The Joy Formidable takes some time out to chat with DIY.

Artrocker interviews The Vaccines.

BBC6 checks in with Jimi Goodwin to see what he’s doing with Doves on hiatus – some soundtrack work and a solo record.

Brett Anderson discusses Suede regrets with The Guardian.

NME reports that Primal Scream are aiming to have a new album out sometime in 2012.

Kate Bush has turned rumour into fact and announced a November 21 release for her new studio album 50 Words For Snow, her first in six years and second in the last 17.

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


Review of I Break Horses’ Hearts

Photo By Sebastian DehesdinSebastian DehesdinI’m sure it’s a generational thing, but back in my day when someone said “shoegazing”, it meant guitars. Fender guitars, if we’re being particular – Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Mustangs and their offset-bodied ilk, run through as many fuzzing, phasing and flanging pedals as people could string together and turned up loud. That was how you built a wall of noise. At least that’s how you did it in the ’90s. These days, it seems that while the guit-based approach hasn’t fallen out of favour, the more ambitious and original dreampop sounds and textures are being built with more overtly electronic and synthetic materials.

An equal facility with keyboards and laptops as well as guitars has certainly helped Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez make M83 one of the leading contemporary lights of the genre, though he’d best be prepared to soon share the spotlight with Swede Maria Lindén, who plies her craft under the guise I Break Horses. Together with collaborator Fredrik Balck, their debut album Hearts is a beautiful and bewitching collection of songs born of keyboards, bred of guitars and bathed in reverb.

Hearts is possessed of a distinctly Scandinavian combination of mechanical precision and organic warmth, but rather than play against each other, those two sides blend together effortlessly and almost magically, It’s not magic, however – it’s Lindén’s vocals; airy enough to permeate everything yet carrying plenty of emotional heft and yearning, it’s the the sonic mortar that binds it all together. Sometimes the exact words are hard to discern but their meaning is never less than clear: Their name is I Break Horses but their mandate is breaking Hearts.

The album is out August 23 in the UK; two singles have been released with accompanying videos. The Iceberg inquires as to how they got their name and tangentially but interesting, Imprint has a conversation with Vaughan Oliver, who designed the Hearts album art as well as most of the 4AD catalog in its heyday. You’ve seen his work. You have.

MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Hearts”
Video: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
Video: I Break Horses – “Hearts”

Niki & The Dove are another Swedish two-piece, albeit one that treads more dancey/electronic terrain than their countrymen. So far their only output is The Fox EP, released earlier this Summer, but a full-length is due out on Sub Pop later this year and a new song was made available to stream the other day. I find them intriguing and look forward to seeing them at Iceland Airwaves.

MP3: Niki & The Dove – “The Fox”
Stream: Niki & The Dove – “Last Night”

Speaking of M83, Exclaim has the artwork for their new album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, due out October 18. They play Lee’s Palace on November 18.

Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan has set a September 20 release date for her new record Passenger and will follow that up with an October 15 show at The Mod Club. Paste has full North American dates and a stream of a new song; grab a track from her Mercury-nominated 2009 effort Sea Sew below.

MP3: Lisa Hannigan – “Lille”

The Horseshoe isn’t where you’ll normally find DJ/electronic-oriented acts but that’s what UK act Star Slinger will be serving up on November 2; it’s part of a North American tour in support of his debut album Volume 1.

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

I’m not sure what’s more surprising – that The Kooks are still around or that they’re apparently still big enough to play The Sound Academy. Both of these things are clearly true, as they are doing just that on November 23 with tickets being $25 for general admission and $35 for a VIP balcony view. It’s part of a North American tour in support of their new record Junk Of The Heart, out September 13.

Video: The Kooks – “You Don’t Love Me”

Though not out until August 16, Blood Orange’s pretty frickin’ excellent debut album Coastal Grooves is now streaming in whole over at Hype Machine. And making sure that the Dev Hynes love is spread evenly across the internet, there’s a Devonte-assembled mixtape up for grabs at Yours Truly, over at Fader, a New Villager cover and at Dazed, an interview.

MP3: Blood Orange – “Lighthouse”
Stream: Blood Orange / Coastal Grooves

And speaking of New Villager, the New York art collective have made a September 26 date at The Drake Underground in support of their self-titled debut, out August 16.

Video: NewVillager – “ShotBigHorixon”
Video: NewVillager – “Lighthouse”

The Line Of Best Fit reports that all those Radiohead King Of Limbs remixes that have been kicking around over the Summer will be collected into an official double-disc set under the title of TKOL RMX and out on September 19. They’ve got a few of said remixes available to preview over here. Update: Billboard has the release date as October 11.

Rolling Stone confirms that Noel Gallagher is no less quotable now that he’s out of Oasis; his solo debut Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds is out November 8.

The Joy Formidable tell NME they’ve got plenty of material ready to go for album number two, they just need to find the time to stop promoting album number one to go and record it. Look for the follow-up to The Big Roar next year. And speaking of The Big Roar, it appears that it will be getting a domestic vinyl pressing for August 30; previously, the only way to get it on LP was by the limited edition pre-order back in the Winter. So there’s that.

NPR interviews Noah & The Whale and also solicits a Tiny Desk Concert from the band.

And finally, Pitchfork has a good roundup of just how badly affected a lot of independent record labels will be by the destruction of the Sony/PIAS distribution warehouse in London during Monday night’s rioting. Short version – buy their records, buy their MP3s, help them get back on their feet and keep releasing great music.