Posts Tagged ‘Niki & The Dove’

Monday, May 28th, 2012

DauĂ°alogn

Review of Sigur Rós’ Valtari

Photo By Lilja BirgisdottirLilja BirgisdottirConsidering how otherworldly a starting point they began at, way back with their 1997 debut Von and their breakout 1999 album Agætis byrjun, it’s remarkable how accessible – relatively, at least – Sigur Rós have gotten over the past decade plus without really compromising any of what makes them so unique. Though 2002’s () closed with a what they called “The Pop Song”, it was 2005’s Takk… and 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust that saw the Icelandic quartet really elevating their melodicism to the level of their flair for beauty and the dramatic.

The band went on a hiatus of sorts following Með suð, yet still managed to diffuse the veil of mystery even further with Inni, the band’s double-live set which captured them at their most raw and primal, and frontman Jonsi’s solo debut Go, which found him singing in English for the first time and while still lyrically opaque, at least you could understand what he was saying (this doesn’t apply to those who speak Icelandic and/or Hopelandic). So if you were to plot their artistic trajectory on a graph – as you do – then it would be reasonable to assume that Valtari, their first album in over four years, would be as immediate and tuneful a record as the band had ever crafted. Reasonable, and completely wrong.

The best signpost that pointed to what Valtari would be was 2009’s Riceboy Sleeps, released by Jonsi & Alex (Alex being Alex Somers of Parachutes and Jonsi’s boyfriend), which was a largely ambient collection that, while pretty, was ultimately too ephemeral to really make an impression. Valtari comes from that same place of thoughtful and drifting airiness, but is much more focused and carries the sort of emotional and musical heft that one expects of a Sigur Rós record.

Complaints that it’s too atmospheric or leisurely paced aren’t entirely misplaced, particularly for those more attuned to their recent releases; those who’ve been following the band since the beginning will find the more free-form compositional style familiar. It doesn’t shortchange the songwriting – every song has a solid melodic core to anchor it – but does concentrates on the sound just as much, maybe more. If you crave the more visceral, body blow side of the band then perhaps cue up Inni as only “Varúð” here really enters that territory, but if you’re able to take the time to stop, sit back, and appreciate the exquisite elegance and detail to be found in the decay of a single piano note, the rasp of a cymbal scrape, the anticipation in a breath, or even the faux-vinyl static crackles that dust the front half of the album, there’s still transcendence to be found.

NPR has been streaming Valtari in advance of its formal release tomorrow. DIY, The Herald, and Grapevine have interviews with the band, the last of which confirms that keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson will not be touring with the band this Summer, including their August 1 show at Echo Beach.

Valtari was introduced by way of a video for the single “Ekki Muk” which was essentially an animated version of the album art – perfectly fitting for the song but not very exciting – but the band have unveiled a much more ambitious video project to go along with the record: a dozen filmmakers were given a modest budget to work with and asked to create visuals for a song from the record, free of creative control from the band. The first of them, for “Ég Anda” by Ragnar Kjartansson, was released next week and the others will follow through the Summer, a new one every couple weeks. And while the “Ég Anda” is currently geoblocked in Canada, I’m told that it should be unshackled very shortly, so check back.

Video: Sigur Rós – “Ég Anda”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ekki Muk”
Stream: Sigur Rós / Valtari

Of Monsters & Men discuss their unexpectedly meteoric rise with The National Post.

Bands In Transit have a video session with Niki & The Dove, recorded at The Great Escape in Brighton. Instinct gets a North American release on August 7.

Also imported from Sweden but arriving a bit sooner is the self-titled debut from Amanda Mair. A new MP3 from the record, out June 5, has been made available, there’s a video session to watch at The Line Of Best Fit, and an interview to read at Coup de main.

MP3: Amanda Mair – “House”

Pitchfork and Gigwise profile Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop, whose 2011 EP Nights Like This is a good bit of fun, yes it is.

Video: Icona Pop – “I Love It”
Video: Icona Pop – “Nights Like This”

Flavorwire has a video session and QRO an interview with We Are Serenades.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Valtari

Sigur Rós present Valtari hour, which is like Earth Hour but with Valtari

Photo By Lilja BirgisdottirLilja BirgisdottirAdvance album streams are pretty par for the course these days, but if anyone can make it a special occasion, it’s Sigur Rós. And they’re certainly trying to. Though their new record and first in four years Valtari isn’t out until May 29, the band will be offering an advance stream of the record on May 17 – that’s today, people – but for only one hour.

Dubbed Valtari Hour”, it will roll across the globe at 7PM local time for every time zone – those Samoans get everything first – until everyone has had a chance to hear the record. Terrestrial radio stations will be playing the album and select record stores hosting listening parties, but the band’s own website is the place to go to hear it online. Until our turn comes around – at this writing, they’re currently in India – you can follow along with things via the #ValtariHour tag on Twitter.

I can’t imagine the event-ness of this will preclude an on-demand advance stream as per usual starting on or around next Tuesday, but it’s neat regardless. Hear Valtari live – and other smash hits – when Sigur Rós play Echo Beach on August 1.

Video: Sigur Ros – “Ekki Mukk”

Spinner and Gigwise converse with Of Monsters & Men.

Virgin Music and Holly Rubenstein interview Niki & The Dove, who also give Gigwise a track-by-track commentary on their debut Instinct. IT gets a physical release on August 7 in North America.

Sweden’s The Deer Tracks have released a new video from their The Archer Trilogy, Part 2 mini-album. Their tour itinerary puts them at The Rivoli on June 16, but the NXNE schedule – yes, that finally went live yesterday – makes no mention of them though there’s still openings in the Riv lineup for that evening that they could fit. In any case, hope it happens because I’m really quite enjoying their stuff.

Video: The Deer Tracks – “Tiger”

Rolling Stone has premiered a new MP3 from The Tallest Man On Earth’s forthcoming There’s No Leaving Now, out June 12. He plays a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Theatre on June 16.

MP3: The Tallest Man On Earth – “1904”

The Line Of Best Fit, Spinner, and Drowned In Sound meet The Hives, that DIS piece happening in two parts. Their Lex Hives is out June 5 and they’re at The Sound Academy on June 26.

The Line Of Best Fit points out that Norway’s Team Me have made their new single from To The Treetops available for free download.

MP3: Team Me – “Weathervanes & Chemicals”

Rolling Stone talks to Hot Chip about their new album In Our Heads. It’s out June 12 and they’re at The Sound Academy on July 15.

I Like Music solicits a guest editorial (read: list of things) from Emmy The Great.

Summer Camp will release a new EP entitled Always on July 10 and are streaming the first single from it right now.

Stream: Summer Camp – “Life”

The Guardian is streaming Gaz Coombes’ solo debut Here Come The Bombs ahead of its release in the UK next Monday, May 21. The Fly also has a video session.

Stream: Gaz Coombes / Here Come The Bombs

Q talks to Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots about her second album, still untitled but definitely out before the year is out.

Florence & The Machine has released a new video, taken not from Ceremonials but from the soundtrack for Snow White & The Huntsman; there’s also an interview at Rolling Stone. Florence is at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 2.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “Breath Of Life”

Squarepusher, better known as electronic artist Tom Jenkinson or the act that got namechecked a thousand times when Radiohead released Kid A, will be at The Music Hall on November 2 in support of his new album Ufabulum; tickets are $27.50 in advance. Exclaim has an interview with Jenkinson and the full North American itinerary and Spin also has a chat.

Video: Squarepusher – “Dark Steering”

Spin and The National talk to Pip Browne of Ladyhawke about her new record Anxiety, out May 25.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

M83 and I Break Horses at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’re thinking, “hey – didn’t you just see M83 a few months ago? Why are you going to see them again so soon?”, then a) you spend far too much time keeping track of my concert schedule, and b) you would have a valid point. Usually I would have happily given Sunday night’s show a pass, as much as I look for any excuse to go to the Sound Academy, particularly with the band already planning a third local show in nine months when they play the Hard Festival at Fort York in August, but in their efforts to make sure that they got as much chromewaves.net coverage as possible – because that’s obviously their endgame – they played a card I couldn’t resist: I Break Horses.

The Swedish duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck released my favourite album of 2011 in their debut Hearts, and there was no way I was going to miss what is almost sure to be a rare visit. But with that said, I don’t know if I necessarily expected a lot – after all, they were a studio project who only made their way to the stage for the first time late last year and their brand of introspective synth-gaze isn’t the sort of thing that translates easily to a compelling show, even for seasoned performers.

So I’m happy to report that they more than exceeded my expectations in the live setting. Expanded to a four-piece, they smartly augmented the electronics with live drums and guitar and though they still hid behind blinding backlighting and aggressive smoke machines, they were more assured than I expected, with Lidén a compelling silhouette of a frontwoman in the Victoria Legrand vein but with more fist pumps. The songs were noticeably adjusted in structure for bigger builds and crescendos – I’d love to get some live recordings of their shows – and while I selfishly hope they don’t get big enough to play rooms this size anytime soon, they established that but their sound could fill the space – their bedroom anthems worked marvelously at arena scale and while it’s true that if any crowd would be favourably inclined towards what they do it’d be M83’s, they still more than earned the roar of approval they received; the nearly-full house was clearly smitten. I don’t know if their plans include more touring over here after their duties supporting M83 are done, but from this show and reports from previous dates, they’ll have an enthusiastic fanbase waiting for them.

M83 are a band who’ve learned a thing or two about scale. The jump from a room the size of Lee’s Palace, where they were in November, to one the size of the Sound Academy is a pretty huge one but if any act should be able to handle expansion, it’s one named after a galaxy. But this is where the success of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has taken them – completely sold-out, 3000+ capacity rooms. And has the success changed them? It’s hard to say. While this show was very simliar to the one at Lee’s – the set list was almost identical in composition and structure – the scale of it disallowed lazily drawing parallels between them; they were fundamentally the same show but the experiences were wholly different. The backdrop was done up with lights so as to resemble a starfield and the much bigger space gave the band more room to act out their rock star fantasies. Anthony Gonzalez and Jordan Lawlor danced and lurched around the stage as they were wont to do and Morgan Kibby, though anchored to her keyboards, gave it her best as well. I think back to the first M83 gig in Toronto some seven years ago and how I thought Gonzalez’s onstage persona and moves seemed oversized to the show; now I realized that he was just waiting for everyone else to catch up.

I’ve actually just erased a few lines about the shift in the band’s demographic from vintage shoegazing aficionados to a younger, synth-pop demographic and how the show’s encore came across more like the start of the afterparty than the finale of the show because, well, I said pretty much the same things last time around and while I could try to find different words to express it, it’d be the same sentiment; just bigger. This doesn’t necessarily bode well editorially-speaking for their Fort York show on August 4, but the fact that there won’t be any roof or other such trifling human concerns to try and contain them and keep them from literally reaching for the stars means my writeup will probably just be the equivalent of frantically waving my arms in the air. Just watch.

Panic Manual also has a review of the show and The Toronto Star has an interview with Gonzalez. And DIY has a trailer for their next video for “Reunion” because apparently releasing trailers for videos is now what people do.

Photos: M83, I Break Horses @ The Sound Academy – May 6, 2012
MP3: M83 – “Midnight City”
MP3: M83 – “Claudia Lewis”
MP3: M83 – “Reunion”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Load Your Eyes”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Hearts”
Video: M83 – “Midnight City”
Video: M83 – “We Own The Sky”
Video: M83 – “Graveyard Girl”
Video: M83 – “Kim And Jessie”
Video: M83 – “Teen Angst”
Video: M83 – “Don’t Save Us From The Flames”
Video: M83 – “Run Into Flowers”
Video: M83 – “America”
Video: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
Video: I Break Horses – “Hearts”

Because Instinct is out in the UK as of now, NME is able to stream the whole of the debut album from Niki & The Dove; North Americans can consider it a three-month sneak preview before it’s released over here on August 7.

MP3: Niki & The Dove – “The Fox”
Stream: Niki & The Dove / Instinct

NPR has a World Cafe session with First Aid Kit. They play The Music Hall on September 26.

Gigwise talks to Jonsi of Sigur Rós about their new record Valtari, out May 29. They play Echo Beach on August 1.

Múm are cleaning out their cupboards a bit, targeting a July 17 release for Early Birds – a collection of unreleased material dating back their earliest days between 1998 and 2000. Exclaim has details on the release.

If your appetite for musical things Icelandic goes beyond the usual suspects, have a listen to this downloadable compilation of current artists who are not Bjork or Sigur Rós, and if you like that there are four more. Other Icelandic acts that are worth your time are also the focus of a half-hour doc that was released late last year, so you should watch that. And oh, Sigur Rós were just announced as headlining this year’s Iceland Airwaves, so obviously you should go to that. Yes, it’s all the way in Iceland; that’s rather the point.

Stream: various artists / Made In Iceland V
Video: Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós

The Quietus talks to Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine about the just-released reissues and potential new album.

Maxïmo Park have released the first video from their forthcoming fourth album The National Health, out June 11.

Video: Maxïmo Park – “Hips & Lips”

Chart and Guitar World talk to the brothers Jarman of The Cribs, who’ve been contributing articles to Drowned In Sound all week about this, that, and the other thing.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Good For You

Shoegazing under the microscope, starring My Bloody Valentine and Ride

Photo By Steve DoubleSteve DoubleWhenever an old/classic album is reissued these days – which is pretty much every day – it’s inevitably advertised as having been remastered, and it’s assumed that that’s a good thing. And not unreasonably – when a lot of these albums were originally released on compact disc, they were poorly converted from analog to digital and could generally sound thin/quiet/uninspiring. But remastering is no guarantee of improvement – at best, things will sound incredibly better (the 20th anniversary redo of The Stone Roses’ debut by original producer John Leckie is a revelation), at worst, they’ll be posthumous victims of The Loudness Wars and make those original pressings that much more valuable.

All of which is only salient because the specifics of remastering were brought to the fore this week thanks to a couple of coincidental analyses of some high-profile reissues of classic shoegazing albums; My Bloody Valentine’s seminal Loveless, finally being re-released next week, and Ride’s debut Nowhere, which was polished up and put out in November of 2010.

Loveless is an interesting case because rather than being half-album, half-outtakes and rarities as most double-disc reissues typically are, it comes as two complete versions of the album – one a remaster from “the original tapes”, the other a remaster from “the original 1/2-inch analogue tapes”. I use the quotes because, to be honest, I don’t know what the difference is in terms of origin or timeline; Spin also takes a close listen to the two versions and offers their thoughts on the curious release. An interview with Kevin Shields that went up at Pitchfork this week sheds a lot of light on all facets of the subject, but I guess I accept that I’m amongst those who don’t hear a difference between the two. You can see if you can hear a difference for yourself as The Guardian is streaming both remasters, though Soundcloud compression and computer speakers probably obliterate any subtle differences between the two. They’ve also dug up an interview with Shields circa 1992 that you can read while listening.

Spin also has a gander at one of the previously unreleased songs that makes the EPs 1988-1991 double-disc comp so necessary for fans. “Good For You” surfaced as a bootleg via YouTube a few years ago, but is finally going to be available – along with other goodies – in proper, high-fidelity form. The official version is available to stream via the aforementioned Pitchfork interview and the bootleg was found on YouTube.

Stream: My Bloody Valentine – “Good For You”
Stream: My Bloody Valentine – “Good For You” (bootleg)
Stream: My Bloody Valentine / Loveless (both remasters)

With respect to the Nowhere reissue put out by Rhino Handmade – generally a reliable and responsible archival outfit – Bradley’s Almanac has put “Vapour Trail” and “Paralysed” under the microscope – or oscilloscope – to see just what the remastering job by Rick Webb at Abbey Road Studios accomplished. Interesting and illuminating analysis over there that’s gotten me thinking maybe I do need to re-buy this album at least one more time.

And because Boston loves Ride – clearly – I direct you to another Beantown blog in Clicky Click, who’ve compiled a tribute album to Nowhere comprised of all-Boston bands entitled Nofuckingwhere. Download it and discover some new bands while listening to some classic tunes.

The AV Club talks to Johnny Marr about supervising the remastering of the entire Smiths catalog for their Complete reissue series last Fall and his feelings about the band, decades on.

Jason Pierce of Spiritualized talks to NOW and The AV Club in advance of Saturday’s sold-out show at The Phoenix.

2:54 are streaming a new track from their forthcoming self-titled/numbered debut, due out May 29. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 15 for NXNE.

Stream: 2:54 – “Creeping”

Beatroute gets Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai on the horn. They play The Phoenix on June 18.

Interview and Musicfeeds talk to Mystery Jets about their new just-released new record Radlands; they’re at The Sound Academy on June 19 supporting Keane.

Michael Kiwanuka has released a new video from Home Again. Note that his June 19 date at The Great Hall has been moved to The Phoenix and a few hundred more tickets will be on sale shortly.

Video: Michael Kiwanuka – “I’ll Get Along”

Having had to cancel last Summer’s show at The Phoenix (and the attendant tour) in support of Whatever’s On Your Mind due to illness, Gomez are making things up intimate-style with a show at The Mod Club on July 23, tickets $25.50.

Video: Gomez – “Whatever’s On Your Mind”

Micachu & The Shapes have announced that the follow-up to their 2009 debut Jewellery will be entitled Never and be out on July 24.

Little Boots has released a video for her latest single, taken from an album that has not been announced yet but is surely coming sooner or later.

Video: Little Boots – “Every Night I Say A Prayer”

Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons tells NME that album number two is in the can, as they say.

Joshua Hayward of The Horrors opines to NME his thoughts on how big a room he thinks his band can play and their recording plans for the Fall.

Beatroute, The San Francisco Examiner, and Spinner all have interviews with Arctic Monkeys.

State interviews Friendly Fires.

The Skinny talks to Stephen Morris of New Order.

Lisa Hannigan and Joe Henry – who produced Hannigan’s latest album Passenger – will team up for a show at The Phoenix on June 10, general admission seated tickets $25 in advance.

Stream: Lisa Hannigan / Passenger

The Chicago Tribune interviews Anthony Gonzalez of M83, in Toronto at The Sound Academy this coming Sunday, May 6, and again at Historic Fort York on August 4.

Maria Linden of I Break Horses – who open up for M83 at Sound Academy on Sunday – talks to Denver Westword.

The Line Of Best Fit has an acoustic video session with Niki & The Dove recorded for Swedish site PSL while DIY is streaming two of the bonus songs that appears on the deluxe edition of their debut Instinct, out May 14 in the UK and in North America on August 7.

Stream: Niki & The Dove – “Taylor”/”All This Youth”

Spin has premiered the new video from Ane Brun, performing at The Great Hall on May 10.

Video: Ane Brun – “One”

DIY has a video session with First Aid Kit, back in town for a show at The Music Hall on September 26.

Drowned In Sound talks to Jonsi about returning to Sigur Rós after going solo. Valtari is out May 29 and they play Echo Beach on August 1.

Rolling Stone is offering a download of one of the songs Ladyhawke recorded for an All Saints session earlier this year. Her new record Anxiety is due out May 25 and I neglected to post the second video from it when it was released last month; let me rectify that.

MP3: Ladyhawke – “Black White & Blue” (acoustic All Saints version)
Video: Ladyhawke – “Sunday Drive”

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Monuments

Review of Yann Tiersen’s Skyline and giveaway

Photo via FacebookFacebookWhilst perusing the shelves at Soundscapes on Saturday, was a little surprised to find Yann Tiersen’s latest Skyline – released last year in Europe and last week in North America – filed under “World Music”. Looking a bit closer, I saw that it was actually in a World Music subsection marked, “French Pop” which I suppose is technically accurate, but also not really. In fact, I’m glad it’s not my job to try and file Tiersen’s records because it’s something of an impossible task.

Sure, his arguably most famous work – the soundtrack to Amélie – is a gimme (soundtracks, if it wasn’t clear). A case could be made for filing the rest of his work alongside it; though they may not have been crafted to score any particular film, their cinematic scope is undeniable – Skyline opener “Another Shore” certainly seems like it was recorded straight to IMAX. And yet with its melodic richness and compact song structures, it would be understandable to head straight for the pop/rock section of your local music store, or “Alternative” if such segregation still exists. With its dreamy, widescreen ambitions and acoustic underpinnings, “Monuments” sounds like it could be an outtake from Mercury Rev’s “Deserter’s Songs” and if you traded the glider-esque guitars of “The Gutter” for some synths, it could pass for an M83 tune – and you wouldn’t file M83 under French Pop, would you?

None of which should be taken as implying that Tiersen lacks his own sonic identity; that Skyline hangs together so well despite covering so much stylistic ground is a real testament to his skills as a songwriter, composer, and bandleader. It’s the sort of record you could put on as shifting aural wallpaper or listen to intently over headphones and get something new and different out of each time. Maybe where you file it is a moot point since the best place for it is in your CD player or on your turntable.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an interview with Tiersen and he plays a video session for The Yellow Bird Project. Tiersen is in town at The Phoenix on May 2, and courtesy of Union Events, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Yann Tiersen” in the subject line and your full name in the body and have that in to me before midnight, April 29.

Stream: Yann Tiersen – “I’m Gonna Live Anyhow”
Video: Yann Tiersen – “The Gutter (skyline)”
Video: Yann Tiersen – “Monuments”
Video: Yann Tiersen – “Another Shore”
Video: Yann Tiersen – “The Trial”

The Toronto Star has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Of Monsters & Men.

Drowned In Sound has a stream of the Ólafur Arnalds/Nils Frahm collaborative EP which was released this weekend for Record Store Day.

Stream: Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm / Stare

Whereas in North America, Sigur Rós’ contribution to the list of Record Store Day exclusives was their 2007 double-EP set Hvarf/Heim on vinyl, Europe got the first single from their next album Valtari on 10″ wax. The b-side of “Ekki Múkk” has turned up online as a stream, and while it is a non-album track, it does lend credence to reports that Valtari finds the band getting back in touch with their atmospheric side. Sigur Rós play Echo Beach on August 1.

Stream: Sigur Ros – “Kvistur”

Ane Brun has made her new single – a collaboration with José González – available to download. Her latest It All Starts With One gets a North American release on May 1 and she plays The Great Hall on May 10.

MP3: Ane Brun featuring José González – “Worship”

Niki & The Dove have released another new video from their debut Instinct. It has a European release date of May 14 and a North American one of August 7, but those on this side of the pond who are handy with computers can get it digitally/legitimately on May 15. Intreview also has a feature.

Video: Niki & The Dove – “Hot Summer”

In what is I think their third visit to Toronto in less than as many years, Shonen Knife will be at the Hart House Quadrangle at University Of Toronto on August 23. Yes, that is an unusual venue. Exclaim has details on the tour, which is in support of their new record Pop Tune, out June 6.

Video: Shonen Knife – “Super Group”