Posts Tagged ‘Lily Allen’

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

It Is What It Is

Review of Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe

Photo By Stacey MarkStacey MarkTo say that following the musical career of Dev Hynes is an adventure is rather an understatement. Starting out with the deliberately sophomoric art-punk Test Icicles, he recast himself as an orch-folk troubadour on Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, his 2008 solo album under the Lightspeed Champion name. It was an identity he quickly found himself outgrowing, his second and last record in that guise – 2010’s Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You – had its share of high points but felt unfocused, like at a creative crossroads. Focus came with another new identity, Blood Orange, and 2011’s Coastal Grooves – a stripped-down and decidedly solo soul/disco record that sounded made in and for the bedroom that was criminally overlooked.

But crucially, while refining and redefining his own artistic identity, Hynes was becoming a highly sought-after producer, particularly after becoming Solange Knowles’ co-writer, producer, and sideman. That all-consuming role through most of this year, not to mention his other production duties, made it unclear if he’d be able to return to his own work anytime soon but somehow he still found time to not only record and release his second Blood Orange album Cupid Deluxe, out this week.

The most marked difference between Cupid and its predecessor is the sheer number of hands on deck. Coastal Grooves was entirely Hynes’ show, a fact emphatically made by his live shows – but Cupid finds Hynes more than happy to be allowing the likes of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, Friends’ Samantha Urbani, Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth from his indie rock world and Despot, Skepta, and Clams Casino from his hip-hop world take centre stage while he remains the producer and songwriter running the show. And that show is akin to a dazzlingly diverse r&b revue built around themes of both alienation and community in New York City, coupling heartfelt sentiment to slick grooves.

Dev Hynes has been making music now for almost a decade, and what in isolation might seem like random and disparate creative shifts, when viewed as a whole, paint the picture of an impressively complex and immensely talented artist. Cupid Deluxe is, thus far, the most cohesive assemblage of his gifts – ironic, since it overtly showcases him the least. I personally would have liked to have his guitarwork given a little more prominence – the man can shred, as anyone who’s ever seen him live can attest – but for the time being, the brilliant missed riff key change at 2:43 of “Uncle ACE” will keep me going.

Hynes talks influences with The New York Times and is the cover feature of The Fader, for whom he’s also assembled hour-long mixtape containing new material. But if you’re waiting on tour dates to support the new record, don’t hold your breath.

Video: Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell”
Video: Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

Noisey has premiered the video for the title track of Rose Elinor Dougall’s new EP Future Vanishes, out officially this week.

Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Future”

NME has got the new video from Beady Eye, taken from their second album BE which is apparently getting a North American release this week because North Americans have been clamouring for it…?

Video: Beady Eye – “Soul Love”

Rolling Stone is streaming another new song from Kele’s forthcoming Heartbreaker solo EP, out November 25.

Stream: Kele – “God Has A Way”

The Guardian and Drowned In Sound talk to Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon; she’s in town at The Drake Underground on January 21.

NME has details on the new album from Maxïmo Park, entitled Too Much Information and due out February 3. They’ve released a video for the first single, which you can also download in exchange for an email address from their website.

Video: Maxïmo Park – “Brain Cells”

Fanfarlo have announced details of their third studio album: Let’s Go Extinct will be out February 10, and of course there’s a trailer.

Trailer: Fanfarlo / Let’s Go Extinct

The Guardian talks to Lily Allen about her impending return to music with a separate piece about the brouhaha surrounding her comeback video.

Anna Calvi lists off ten life-changing albums for MusicRadar.

Metro has an interview with M.I.A., who has released a new video from her latest, Matangi.

Video: M.I.A. – “Y.A.L.A.”

Consequence Of Sound interviews Charli XCX.

Little Boots has made a couple of extended edits of songs from Nocturnes available to download via HungerTV.

MP3: Little Boots – “Broken Record” (Nocturnal version)
MP3: Little Boots – “Strangers” (Nocturnal version)

Franz Ferdinand salute Australia with a cover of The Go-Betweens in a video session for Triple J. They’ve also released a new official video from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Bullet”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Was There Anything I Could Do?” (live)

Black Book interviews CHVRCHES and The Alternate Side welcomes them for a session.

Drowned In Sound gets a look at Summer Camp’s tools of the trade (read: their musical gear).

The Huffington Post gets some EDM smack talk of out reigning Mercury Prize champ James Blake.

A Music Blog, Yea? talks to drummer Rick McMurray of Ash.

BrooklynVegan interviews Johnny Marr.

The Quietus revisits the first House Of Love album on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

Under The Radar talks to Mark Gardener and Andy Bell of Ride about the enduring legacy of their debut album Nowhere.

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

One Breath

Anna Calvi and Gems at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI didn’t go to New York this past weekend expressly to see Anna Calvi; although she was only playing a handful of North American dates following the release of her second album One Breath last month, I had no doubt she’d be back for a full and proper tour before too long and air travel wouldn’t be necessary to see her play. I was planning to go to New York anyways, however, and did I schedule said trip to intersect with her show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg? Maaaaaybe.

Opening up were Washington DC’s Gems, a co-ed duo who play soulful, electro-pop that’s getting a moderate amount of buzz in the same way that many other co-ed duos who play soulful, electro-pop are. Which is not to say they weren’t alright, but you couldn’t help feel like they were just one of the contestants in the Hunger Games of co-ed duos who play soulful electro-pop and whether they’d come out on top or be an also-ran wasn’t clear. Working in their favour was a sound and show that was well-polished and songs that were solidly-crafted if not outstanding on one listen, and against them were the fact that, well, blending smoky vocals, echoey guitar lines, and canned beats danceable enough for the band to groove and the audience to sway isn’t especially fresh. But even so, I give them pretty good odds. Their debut EP Medusa came out this week.

As they were setting up the stage for Anna Calvi’s set, I thought that someone had accidentally her mic stand out of position. With the boom set low and almost perpendicular to the stand, surely it was far too low for Calvi to sing into. What I had forgotten – or perhaps didn’t notice when I finally saw her live last in December 2011 – is that Calvi is absolutely tiny in stature, even in stilettos, and her Telecaster – hardly the largest electric guitar out there – looked gigantic on her. But all presumptions of petiteness were rendered irrelevant from the moment she struck said guitar, and opened her mouth to said mic.

Opening with “Suzanne & I” off her 2011 self-titled debut – one of my favourites of the year and still in steady rotation – Calvi’s preternatural guitar and vocal abilities were well on display; the former viscerally virtuostic, the latter enormously emotive, and both massive is scale. Her band was expanded to include a keyboardist alongside her long-term multi-instrumentalist Mally Harpaz as well as new drummer, replacing the just-departed Daniel Maiden-Wood, but functioned like a well-oiled machine in supporting Calvi and allowing her to do her thing.

With the front half of the show dominated on the relatively more subdued and atmospheric One Breath, the emphasis was more on Calvi’s voice, as powerful as her operatic training would allow but also soft and seductive when called to be, even when she was more focused on tuning her guitar than send shivers down the audience’s collective backs, shivers ensued. The guitar chops were used judiciously – though always for killing blows – but by the time they reached “I’ll Be Your Man”, the Tele-triggered sonic explosions were becoming more frequent and intense and when she pulled out a Gretsch Sparkle Jet for “Carry Me Over”, feedback and Bigsby abuse were added to her arsenal of attack. Appropriately, the set hit its crescendo with “Desire” and was sustained with Calvi in full guitar hero mode through main set closer, “Love Won’t Be Leaving”. After that breathtaking showing, expecting an encore seemed unreasonable but she was coaxed out for the the smouldering “Bleed Into Me” and then her customary closer, a cover of Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel”, before leaving for good.

So no, I didn’t fly to another country just to see Anna Calvi play, but I certainly would have. And I still have her eventual Toronto show next year to look forward to.

W, The Vine, and The Independent have features on Anna Calvi. And if any geeks out there wanted a look at her pedalboard, I got a shot (it’s all run into a Vox AC30).

Photos: Anna Calvi, Gems @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg – November 11, 2013
MP3: Anna Calvi – “The Wall”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Jezebel”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Wolf Like Me”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Suzanne & I”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Desire”
Video: Gems – “Pegasus”

Cate Le Bon has marked this week’s release of her new album Mug Museum with a new video; she plays The Drake Underground on January 21 and tells The Independent what fantasy band she wishes could be backing her up at that gig.

Video: Cate Le Bon – “Are You With Me Now?”

AllMusic is streaming the whole of Stornoway’s new EP You Don’t Know Anything, which came out this week. A new album should follow in 2014.

Stream: Stornoway / You Don’t Know Anything

Rose Elinor Dougall’s new EP Future Vanishes is out next week, but you can stream the title track from it now.

Stream: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Future Vanishes”

Dazed has an interview with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange as well as a whole bunch of pieces with his collaborators on Cupid Deluxe, which is out in physical form next Tuesday; a new video from it has just been released.

Video: Blood Orange – “Time Will Tell”

Under The Radar talks to London psych-rockers Temples, coming to town for a show at The Horseshoe on November 20; their debut album comes out next year.

Paste talks to director Shane Meadows about his Stone Roses doc Made Of Stone, premiering at The Bloor Cinema on November 22.

Exclaim reports that Kele Okereke is using the Bloc Party hiatus to return to being Kele; and will release the Heartbreaker EP on November 25; you can stream the title track now.

Stream: Kele – “Heartbreaker”

Yuck have rolled out a new video from their new record Glow & Behold. They’re at at The Garrison on January 17.

Video: Yuck – “Lose My Breath”

As expected, Johnny Flynn has added a Toronto date to his already-announced tour in support of new album Country Mile; he’ll be at Lee’s Palace on January 22, tickets $13.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Gypsy Hymn”

Done teasing with apps and constellations, Metronomy have announced a March 10 release date for their new album Love Letters. Details at Pitchfork, streamable first single below.

Stream: Metronomy – “I’m Aquarius”

Guy Garvey discusses the new Elbow album Carry Her Carry Me, out March 10, with NME.

Manic Street Preachers have confirmed their new album, a plugged-in companion of sorts to this year’s Rewind The Film, to NME. It’s called Futurology and will probably be out around the time of their just-announced UK tour dates, which is to say late March/early April.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Fanfarlo. Their new full-length is out next year.

Lily Allen has kicked off her return to music with a new video that is as controversial as she’d probably intended, though maybe not in the way she’d like.

Video: Lily Allen – “Hard Out Here”

Spin interviews M.I.A..

David Bowie has released another video for the James Murphy remix of “Love Is Lost” off The Next Day Extra via Vice, and Pitchfork the Louis Vuitton short film that he stars in because he is David Bowie and he does things like star in short films for Louis Vuitton.

Video: David Bowie – “Love Is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich remix video two)

Under The Radar talks to Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys.

MTV Hive has an interview with Los Campesinos!.

The Alternate Side welcomes London Grammar for an interview and session.

Franz Ferdinand talks to Tone Deaf and plays a video session for Triple M.

The Guardian declares Suede’s reunion as a reunion done right.

And speaking of reunions (which won’t happen), Ride have made their YouTube channel worth a visit with a complete stream of their digitally-reissued Waves compilation of BBC sessions, including three tracks not on the CD issue, and the full professionally-shot video of the 1992 Brixton Academy show which was included as a bonus disc to the 20th anniversary reissue of Going Blank Again last year.

Stream: Ride / Waves
Video: Ride – Leave Them All Behind (live at Brixton Academy 27/03/1992)

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Death Rays

Mogwai and Odonis Odonis at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt seems a bit perverse to use the phrase, “comfort food” with respect to veteran Scottish post-rock giants Mogwai, but there’s real truth in it. There’s no question that they’ve grown as musicians and songwriters over their seven studio albums, but its been a gradual, evolutionary pace that’s not done much to shock or shake loose (m)any of their fans along the way. Their touring regimen has also been similarly predictable, with typically two North American tours per album and each of those shows being rather understated from a visual point of view but offering a sonic experience akin to a really loud, usually abrasive and occasionally beautiful hug by a sledgehammer.

It’s always a satisfying show, make no mistake, but it can get to the point that you don’t necessarily fret about missing one because a) they’d be back soon enough and b) it’s probably not too different from the last one you saw. Those days of taking the band for granted, however, may be coming to an end. When announcing this latest leg of touring for 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the band mused that this would be “the last extensive touring we do for some time”; perhaps there was a bit of salesmanship in that but one could also believe that the band were indeed wearying of life on the road and weren’t planning to spend as much of theirs on it. So even though I had been perfectly fine missing their last visit in Spring of 2011, I would definitely find the time to make it out to this one at The Phoenix last Monday.

I’m sure that scheduled opener Balam Acab had every intention of making it as well, but he was kept out of the country for the second time in a month – he missed out opening for Active Child in May – and locals Odonis Odonis were tapped to fill in. I’d seen them back in February opening up for The Twilight Sad and while I decided I didn’t dislike them, I wasn’t especially chuffed to see them again so soon; this probably explained why I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed them this time out. Certainly the addition of a second guitarist was a big change for the band, but it didn’t explain how much tighter and more melodic they sounded this time out. No one will confiscating their aggressive, post-punk credentials anytime soon, mind, but they were inarguably much more listenable. I’d read a capsule review of their NXNE showcase a few days earlier mentioning that they were much improved since this same time last year; I’ll go one better and say they’re much improved from four months ago.

Mogwai took the stage casually and opened with, “Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home” off their debut Young Team – no big deal, done it a thousand times – but to a far more enthusiastic respons than I’d have expected. And it’s about now that I realized how young the crowd looked. Typically for a band that’s been around a decade and a half, the audience will look as though they’ve aged along with them but at least from my vantage point, it was a really student-looking demographic who may very well have been at their first Mogwai show. I calculated that this was my sixth and spontaneously aged about a million years. With their enthusiasm, unfortunately, came some obnoxiousness and the one mook calling out for “X-Mas Steps” throughout the show went from amusing to annoying in about the amount of time it took for him to call out, “Christmas Steps!” the second time. He was clearly getting on Stuart Braithwaite’s tit as well – always dangerous – as the de facto frontman stepped to the edge of the stage at one point to try and stare him down and then later called him out saying that they could should whatever they wanted between songs, but not during. And they weren’t going to play “X-Mas Steps” so just quit it already.

Audience observations and interactions aside, it was certainly one of the more monolithic Mogwai sets I’ve seen, getting fists pumping and pants flapping through much of the set. “Rano Pano” and “Mexican Grand Prix” offered some nimbleness and acceleration to the proceedings, but most of the set list favoured the band’s more lumbering and apocalyptic selections. And while I may seem like I’m all “oh Mogwai again”, that doesn’t mean it’s not still exciting – the main set-closing pair of “Like Herod” and “Glasgow Megasnake” were still as powerful as if i was seeing them for the first time. It’s important to note that even though their albums have have transitioned from visceral to cinematic over time, their live shows still manage to capture both facets magnificently. If Mogwai are indeed dialing down their touring commitments, understand that it’s not because they’ve lost a step on stage. No way.

The National Post also has a review of the show and Clash reports that the band will release a new remix album based on Hardcore entitled A Wretched Virile Lore; this will be their first remix collection since 1998’s Kicking a Dead Pig.

Photos: Mogwai, Odonis Odonis @ The Phoenix – June 18, 2012
MP3: Mogwai – “San Pedro”
MP3: Mogwai – “Rano Pano”
MP3: Mogwai – “The Sun Smells Too Loud”
MP3: Mogwai – “Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home”
MP3: Mogwai – “Tracy”
MP3: Mogwai – “Dial: Revenge”
MP3: Mogwai – “Hunted By A Freak”
MP3: Mogwai – “7:25”
MP3: Odonis Odonis – “Ledged Up”
Video: Mogwai – “San Pedro”
Video: Mogwai – “Mexican Grand Prix”
Video: Mogwai – “How To Be A Werewolf”
Video: Mogwai – “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead”
Video: Mogwai – “Batcat”
Video: Mogwai – “Travel Is Dangerous”
Video: Mogwai – “Friend Of The Night”
Video: Mogwai – “Hunted By A Freak”
Video: Mogwai – “Dial: Revenge”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Ledged Up”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Blood Feast”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Mr. Smith”

Spin, The Japan Times, Paste, and eMusic have features on Hot Chip, in town at The Sound Academy on July 15.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with The Cribs and The San Francisco Examiner a (very) quick chat.

Blur have finally fessed up as to what the cryptic clues pointing to something happening on July 2 are all about. Via a video message viewable at DIY, Alex James explains that the band will perform two new songs – “Under The Westway” and “The Puritan” – live on Twitter from a rooftop in London. I don’t know what “live on Twitter” means – maybe Damon will sing 140 characters at a time – but a world premiere like this sounds like a great way to summon the fail whale.

Exclaim has details on the new Two Door Cinema Club record, entitled Beacon and due out on September 4. And yes, there’s an album trailer.

Trailer: Two Door Cinema Club / Beacon

DIY has a feature piece on Wild Beasts.

Simian Mobile Disco have long had a DJ date scheduled for The Hoxton on July 12, but they’ve just announced they’ll be back at that same room on December 14 with instruments in tow for a proper live show in support of their new album Unpatterns.

MP3: Simian Mobile Disco – “Seraphim”

Beth Jeans Houghton stops in at Daytrotter for a session.

To build up some anticipation for their new album No Hope For The Vaccines due out September 3, The Vaccines are giving a download of a new live EP recorded in Brighton entitled Live In Brighton.

MTV talks to Mika Levi of Micachu & The Shapes; their new album Never is due out July 24.

Prefix gets to know some of Laura Marling’s influences. The San Francisco Examiner also has an interview and Seattle Weekly gets a tour of her iPod.

Spin explains why music is better off if Lily Allen does indeed make a third album, as she’s gone back to the studio to begin.

Only just behind last week’s Afghan Whigs announcement as far as concert announcements I’m excited as hell about is confirmation of I Break Horses’ headlining Fall tour, and that’s only because I saw them last month supporting M83. They’ll be at The Drake Underground on September 19, tickets $13 in advance.

MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”

It’s hard not to feel a little bad for a label whose highest-profile act keeps giving away all their music as free downloads and refuses to/is incapable of touring. But Sincerely Yours seem perfectly happy to keep enabling jj, who’ve just made their High Summer EP available for free.

ZIP: jj / High Summer

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Anna Ternheim.

The National Post, Toronto Star, and FasterLouder interview The Hives, hitting up the Sound Academy tomorrow night.

Clash interviews Sigur Rós, in town at Echo Beach on August 1.

Pitchfork has some details on the new Mono album, to be called For My Parents and out September 4.

Trailer: Mono / For My Parents

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Primary Colours

The Horrors and Fucked Up at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe second half of last week was one of those stretches where it seemed like there were a half-dozen things going on at the same time, each of which would under normal circumstances be a no-brainer as far as attendance was concerned but instead, would require some painful sacrifices. And so it was that after shooting the first three songs of Wilco’s set at Massey Hall, I bolted for Lee’s Palace to catch The Horrors. Some/most would call this madness, but I had Wilco tickets for the following night (which itself called for passing on the School Of Seven Bells Show – ouch) and I had already missed seeing The Horrors back in May and grown fonder of their latest record Primary Colours in the interim.

Also filed under the incentive column was the rather poorly-disguised fact that one of the openers was going to be reigning Polaris Music Prize winners Fucked Up. They’d already announced they’d be playing a secret show that week and the listing of a band called “Polaris Pricks” that otherwise didn’t exist pretty much sealed the deal. Seeing them play the Polaris Prize gala was my first exposure to the Fucked Up live experience and while it was as entertaining and chaotic as their reputation promised, it was still only one song so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, they seemed to be consciously on their best behaviour and shenanigans were kept to a minimum. Fortunately, they were still loud and fast and there were some even minimum shenanigans equals some shenanigans. Singer Damian Abraham clambored around on the Lee’s Palace railings and speaker cabs, shed his shirt (of course) and frolicked in the crowd in the way that rather large, shirtless men frolic. I’ve listened to The Chemistry Of Common Life a few more times since the Polaris win but still have trouble distinguishing one song from the next, but that’s alright – it was still entertaining to witness. I expect they’ll more than compensate for the lack of carnage on this night when they host their annual Fucked Up Fest at various venues around the city at the end of the month.

The Horrors were largely an unknown quantity to me prior to their current record, but I was aware that most of the critical praise heaped at Primary Colours came with a healthy amount of incredulity that such an album could have come from a band that was previously not taken very seriously, to say the least. But the past is the past and all that was really relevant was that the new record is good and they no longer dress ridiculously. I’d also been told that they liked to play in total darkness and really didn’t move at all – both thankfully incorrect, though the latter far moreso than the former. No, their show was actually pretty animated and intense, feeding and feeding off an enthusiastic audience I didn’t know they had. Sonically, they did a fine job of reproducing the haze of metal shavings abrasiveness of Geoff Barrow’s production job, giving the brooding some extra juice for the stage, and while it could be argued that they overplayed the rock theatrics a bit, particularly frontman Faris Badwan’s lurching and grimacing (though being as tall and gangly as he is, the lurching may have been perfectly natural), it suited the dramatics of the material and the overall tone of the show. The encore pulled the energy levels up higher and felt looser and more naturally unhinged – seeing as how it was made up of (presumably) all older material, it whipped their already frothy fans into an even greater frenzy. Obviously they’ve accepted the band’s newer shoegaze-inspired sound but still love them some goth-punk. Yeah I know I missed a great Wilco show for this, but I think I came out alright in the end as well.

The Horrors are releasing a non-album single entitled “Whole New Way” on 7″ on November 3 and have just released a video for it and The National Post has an Q&A with Faris Badwan. Hearty has an interview with Fucked Up bassist Sandy Miranda.

Photos: The Horrors, Fucked Up @ Lee’s Palace – October 14, 2009
MP3: The Horrors – “Sea Within A Sea”
MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”
Video: The Horrors – “Whole New Way”
Video: The Horrors – “Mirror’s Image”
Video: The Horrors – “Who Can Say”
Video: The Horrors – “Sea Within A Sea”
Video: The Horrors – “She Is The New Thing”
Video: The Horrors – “Gloves”
Video: The Horrors – “Count In Fives”
Video: The Horrors – “Sheena Is A Parasite”
Video: Fucked Up – “Crooked Head”
Video: Fucked Up – “Black Albino Bones”
MySpace: The Horrors
MySpace: Fucked Up

State and The Independent have interviews and Uncensored a video chat with The xx. NPR is also streaming a World Cafe session with the band, who make their Toronto debut at the Phoenix on December 2 alongside Friendly Fires.

Under The Radar has an interview and Dirty Laundry a video session with The Twilight Sad.

Drowned In Sound meets The Big Pink. You can do likewise at Lee’s Palace on November 29.

PitchforkTV is streaming for this week only the Bat For Lashes documentary short film Two Plus Two, which documented the making of her new record Two Suns. The deluxe edition of the record, which includes said doc on DVD and a second disc containing eight bonus tracks, will be out on November 3.

Video: Bat For Lashes: Two Plus Two

Florence & The Machine have released a new video. She’s at the Mod Club on November 2.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”

Lily Allen also has a new vid.

Video: Lily Allen – “Who’d Have Known”

Spinner’s Interface has a session with Little Boots, who also has a new video out.

Video: Little Boots – “Earthquake”

My Old Kentucky Blog and Pitchfork talk to The Clientele.

Mumford & Sons have unveiled video number two from album number one Sigh No More.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Gentlemen Of The Road”

The Yorker has an interview with Noah & The Whale, whose in-store at Criminal Records on October 31 has been moved up – way up – to a noon hour start. And that evening’s show at the Horseshoe has been dubbed “Night Of The Living Dead”, with attendees invited to come dressed as their favourite dead celebrity. I look forward to spending the evening surrounded by bad Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett lookalikes.

Drowned In Sound has a the third part of Fanfarlo’s tour diaries, which Black Cab Session features a session recorded way back at SxSW in March and Clash solicits a list of “Top Ten Tracks to stalk around a Norwegian Forest”. Fall North American dates are still trickling in, but the fact that they’ll be in Minneapolis in mid-November and Boston in mid-December implies a long stay, hopefully with a Toronto date in there somewhere.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tells The Popcop that their breakout record The Midnight Organ Fight wasn’t the one he wanted to make and he likes the new one, due out in the new year, much better. Give the first single and video a listen and judge for yourself, if you can disregard the shabby audio quality.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See The Land”

Glasvegas talks to Spinner about their plans to track album number two in Los Angeles

Arctic Monkeys have released a new video from Humbug.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Cornerstone”

BBC reports the future of Bloc Party appears in doubt, with the band canceling dates on their current tour so drummer Matt Tong can get medical attention and a lack of interest in his part on returning when it’s all sorted. Sad news if it’s true, because Intimacy is not the note any band wants to go out on.

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers talks to Under The Radar about their decision to use Richey Edwards’ lyrics for Journal For Plague Lovers.

Spinner talks to Bad Lieutenant principal Bernard Sumner. Their debut Never Cry Another Tear is out November 10.

Interview and The San Francisco Examiner have interviews with Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch. They’re at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tomorrow night for an orchestrally-enhanced performance of Ocean Rain.

Pitchfork discusses bands that are not The Smiths with Johnny Marr.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Two Planets

Some Mercury Prize predictions, both plausible and not

Photo By Jennifer TzarJennifer TzarSo I got an email last week from a fellow at the BBC asking me if I wanted to offer up some thoughts and/or predictions on the shortlist for the UK and Ireland’s Mercury Prize, which is set to be revealed next Tuesday. Having been largely off the mark in what I expected to make the shortlist for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize last week, and actually knowing how that process works, I figured I couldn’t possibly do any worse with the Mercurys – a prize whose process was almost completely unknown to me and which tends to draw from a much broader range of candidates than my little indie rockist world.

I’ve since learned that the 12 albums on the shortlist are selected by the same shadowy group of journalists, musicians and other industry illuminati types who choose the winner – a far cry from the Polaris’ jury, which endeavours to be as inclusive of journos and whatnot as possible and only saving the star chamber treatment for choosing the winner. And so to the BBC fellow’s original request, I’m not really sure if I should attempt to predict what albums will make the short list, what albums should make the short list or what albums I’d like to make the short list. I know I’d fail miserably at the first task and it’s impossible to accomplish the second without a much more comprehensive knowledge of all the possible nominees so that basically leaves the wholly subjective wish list, which is fine with me, but I’ll try to temper my picks with some degree of realism.

Bat For Lashes / Two Suns – This record would actually fit all three angles – I want to see it make the list, it deserves to make the list and it almost certainly will make the list, thus making Natasha Khan an impressive two for two in Mercury nominations for her albums. It’s one of those records that’s distinctive, accessible and artistically ambitious – and also just excellent. Even without seeing the actual list, this is my odds-on pick to win… of course, Fur & Gold was also heavily favoured and didn’t end up winning.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live)

Manic Street Preachers / Journal For Plague Lovers – I get the feeling that the Mercury jurors are all about the new and so the Manics’ best album in many years may get overlooked on account of its creators already being some degree of legend. And that would be a real shame because it also happens to be their most heartfelt album, perhaps ever, has a genuinely affecting backstory and frankly rocks like a mother.

Video: Manic Street Preachers – “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”

Patrick Wolf / The Bachelor – I’m personally of the opinion that many of the accolades given to Bat For Lashes could also apply to Patrick Wolf, particularly his latest which currently ranks as one of my favourite records of the year, but don’t know how he’s generally rated critically in his homeland. I get the sense that his extravagant personality might work against him with some unable or unwilling to look past his flamboyant exterior to see the brilliance underneath. Their loss.

MP3: Patrick Wolf – “Vulture”

Micachu / Jewellery – I will fully admit this one is here as a bit of a hedge. I remain unsure if it’s a brilliant record or bollocks, but with every listen it steps more firmly in the direction of the former. If someone told me it was an utter long shot to make the list, I would agree and if someone else told me it was a lock, I would also agree. It perplexes me. Either way, I look forward to offering an “I told you so” if it is indeed nominated.

MP3: Micachu – “Lips”

Emmy The Great / First Love – There is no realistic way I expect Emmy’s debut to get a Mercury nomination. Yes, Laura Marling got a nod last year and came out of the same scene, but Emmy’s more cynical, sardonic approach doesn’t strike that same chord of timelessness that Marling’s does. But that said, and acknowledging that while First Love is very good it’s not fully representative of her at her best, I’m still exceedingly fond of the record and would love to see it get the boost that a nomination would provide.

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

Fanfarlo / Reservoir – I don’t know sort of precedent there is for self-released records getting Mercury nominations are, but if we’re talking about worthy records based strictly on musical merit, I would think that this meticulously crafted piece of orchestral pop would get some serious consideration. It’s not groundbreaking or all that original, but it is lovely and lilting and makes me, at least, quite happy.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “I’m A Pilot”

So there’s my picks if I were allowed to decide half of the short list, and besides Bat For Lashes I don’t really expect any of them will make the cut – especially if you look at who the UK’s bookmakers are betting will win. I assume they’re basing their odds on things like sales, profile and critical buzz and have got it down to either Doves or Little Boots. The former I can understand, as they follow the slow and steady veteran model that got Elbow the big prize last year but whereas The Seldom Seen Kid was, in my opinion, a big leap forward for that band, Kingdom Of Rust doesn’t really set itself apart from its predecessors. As far as Little Boots goes, there’s no denying Hands is fun and catchy as all get out, but it seems a bit shallow to ordain as the best album in the kingdom. And looking at other frontrunners, I’ve already covered Bat For Lashes and am a bit perplexed to see La Roux rated so highly – her self-title has some high points but I find it pretty monotonous overall. Florence & The Machine’s Lungs I’ve not spent enough time with to render fair judgment.

All will come clear next Tuesday, with the winner to be announced September 8, but until then the speculation is the fun part. The Line Of Best Fit, To Die By Your Side and Music Snobbery were also asked by the Beeb to compile their picks for the shortlist, Clash has made their predictions and The Quietus is pulling for The Horrors. If you’ve got an opinion of what should make the list or even win outright, chime in in the comments.

XFM is streaming a studio session with Bat For Lashes.

Bumpershine has an interview with Fanfarlo and is also giving away some CDs.

The Mirror and BBC have interviews with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Ms Lily Allen has a new video from It’s Not Me, It’s You.

Video: Lily Allen – “22”

NME has details on an upcoming re-release of Friendly Fires’ self-titled debut on August 31 which will include a new song, a disc or remixes and a live DVD. They play Lee’s Palace on August 10 and have a DJ gig at The Social later that night. Clash also has an interview with the band.

MP3: Friendly Fires – “Jump In The Pool”

Been waiting for this date to be confirmed for a little while now – Britrock prevails as The Twilight Sad, BrakesBrakesBrakes and We Were Promised Jetpacks hit the El Mocambo on October 10, tickets a mere $12. The Twilight Sad’s new album Forget The Night Ahead is out out September 22, BrakesBrakesBrakes’ Touchdown came out earlier this Spring and the Jetpacks debut These Four Walls hit stores last week.

MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Reflection Of The Television”
MP3: BrakesBrakesBrakes – “Don’t Take Me To Space (Man)”
MP3: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Quiet Little Voices”

I missed this interview with Charlotte Hatherley at the Big Takeover website when it was originally posted back in May, but considering her new solo record New Colours isn’t due out till September at the earliest – maybe even October – I don’t think there’s any particular rush. But there is a new video!

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

This isn’t an official video for the title track of Camera Obscura’s latest My Maudlin Career, but the clip compiled of home videos taken on their recently-completed North American tour is certainly charming. They’ve also chosen to celebrate Bastille Day yesterday by giving away an MP3 of their last single “French Navy”.

MP3: Camera Obscura – “French Navy”
Video: Camera Obscura – “My Maudlin Career On The Road”

Torontonians disappointed that Arctic Monkeys didn’t make plans to visit over the August long weekend despite being up the 401 at Osheaga can celebrate – they’ve set a date at the Kool Haus for September 29 in support of their new album Humbug, due out August 25 and the first single from which, “Crying Lightining”, is streaming at their MySpace. Full tour dates at Spin.

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite bemoans the demise of music journalism at Drowned In Sound.

Maximo Park are keeping a tour diary for Spinner. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 18.