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Euan the Mood for Some Younghusband?

2 Aug


Euan Hinshelwood plays in Emmy the Great‘s band (he’s one of two Euan’s in the band, actually, or at least he was) but makes his own music too under the name Younghusband. (I’ve written about Euan before.) Unlike Emmy’s lovely, confessional folk, Younghusband is more indie pop oriented, owing a lot to The Go-Betweens and other jingle-jangle melodicists.

While it began as bedroom recordings with three 7″s on Culturedeluxe, Younghusband is now a proper band and have just released their first record in two years — a new 7″ on the Too Pure Singles Club. The A-side, “Carousel,” is a swirling dream that got a post punk backbone with a Sarah Records shimmer. The b-side, “Nothing Nothing,” is more straight-up pop not that far off from The Shins (like first album Shins).

MP3: Young Husband – Carousel

I’ve met Euan a few times when he’s been over in NYC with Emmy, a super nice guy, but never once did he tell me — and I only just learned this today — that he was in short-lived mid-’00s band The New Shapes who put out a few great singles, such as this one (and it’s Stonesy b-side that I actually like more).

MP3: The New Shapes – You’ve Got Me Running Round
MP3: The New Shapes – A Song About a Girl

In related news: Emmy the Great will be over in the States in two weeks.

Cats on Fire Will Never Be Your Woman, but They Will Play the West Coast and Release a Compilation

3 May

 
Catsonfire

While we wait for Finland's Cats on Fire to make a third album, we can look forward to Dealing in Antiques, a 20-track odds-n-sods compilation from the band's eight year existence. The album is out May 12 on Matinée Recordings and includes a pretty great cover of White Town's unlikely '90s hit "Your Woman," which will probably make Pains of Being Pure at Heart keyboardist Peggy Wang happy if no one else. Check it out:

MP3: Cats on Fire – Your Woman

Last year's Our Temperance Movement made my Best of 2009 list and if you haven't heard it, you should definitely give it a spin. It's like all the best jazzy, jangly bands (Orange Juice, The Smiths, Felt, Wild Swans, etc) of the early '80s all rolled up into one new foppy delight that is fantastic in it's own right.

MP3: Cats on Fire – Letters from a Voyage to Sweden 
 

They're also a great live band, and their Don Hill's performance at last year's NYC Popfest was the highlight of that weekend. So good. They're not playing it this year, but they will be flying over to California later this month, playing Hungry Beat! party at La Cita in LA on May 29 and then the San Francisco Popfest on May 30 (with the Tyde, My Teenage Stride and more!) — do go see them if you live over there. They'll then jet to Hong Kong for a show on June 12. Hopefully we'll get them to the East Coast this year at some point.

Full track list for Dealing in Antiques after the jump:

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Get Back on the BOAT

11 Aug

Boat_cover

I've got a stack of new CDs on my kitchen table that remain unlistened-to, because all I seem to be able to play is Setting the Paces, the new album by Seattle's BOAT. I became a superfan when they played Cake Shop and Union Hall last summer, so I knew I was gonna like the new album, but I didn't know I was going to like it this much. Self-depricating indie rock of the mid-'90s variety where the song, not the attitude, is king. Giant hooks, lyrics that are funny without being novelty (and have just enough of the crying-on-the-inside clown thing going on too), and production that is neither slick nor low fi. This is how it's done, and I've no doubt this will find its way into my Best of 2009 list.

The album doesn't come out till October 30 (I know!) but the band have given the world two tasters from the album:

MP3: BOAT – We've Been Friends Since 1989
MP3: BOAT – Prince of Tacoma

While you're waiting, maybe you should pick up the other two BOAT albums, both of which are great. 

BOAT will be touring for Setting the Paces and are tenatively going to be in the NYC area mid-November. Toby at Finest Kiss saw them play last Friday, so read his report which contains an MP3 of "Name Tossers," maybe my favorite song from the new album. 

Cats Still on Fire, Visiting Sweden

29 Jan

Catsonfire_temperance

Finland's impeccably dressed Cats on Fire will always have a place in my easily-embarrassed heart as
the first band to quote this blog onstage, at least while I was in the
room. The band are back with their first album in two years, Our Temperance Movement, which will be released on March 11 in Europe and perhaps elsewhere. The record's first downloadable taster, "Letters from a Voyage to Sweden," has just been set forth upon the internet, and it's quite a catchy little number — no surprise, really. The arrangement is especially nice, with arpeggiated 12-string acoustic guitars in the chorus, and glockenspiel near the end that gives it an Eggstone sort of vibe.

MP3: Cats on Fire – Letters from a Voyage to Sweden

You can get Cats on Fire's lovely 2007 album, The Province Complains, via indiepages.

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to… sing!

30 Jul

Qos-wallpaper-2-sm

By now you’ve probably heard that Jack White and Alicia Keys are doing the theme song for the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Disappointingly, the song is called “Another Way to Die” — presumably because it would be really hard to work the film’s title into the chorus. (How about “your love is lawless / the Quantum of Solace”? That totally works.) Which is probably also why the theme to Octopussy was titled “All Time High.” (Again, they could’ve sung “James is no wussy / he loves Octopussy”) Also, since the movie title this time doesn’t feature a generic combination of “live,” “die” or “kill” they sort of had to put it in the theme song. And I bet Sony execs with “Another Way to Die” was the name of the movie. But not me, I’ve grown to like Quantum of Solace. It’s better than GoldenEye.

I think having Jack White behind the controls of this first-ever Bond duet is a potentially great thing. The closest we’ve had to a good Bond theme in the last 20 years is Garbage’s “The World is Not Enough,” though it cribs so liberally from John Barry’s ouvre it sounds more like a cover to me. David Arnold has scored the last four films and he gets the Barry-but-updated vibe mostly right (though sometimes it drifts a little to far to hair salon music for my taste) but he’s not much of a songwriter. Hopefully Jack White has written a song worthy of 007 and produced it in a way that will still sound like a classic 40 years from now, the way my favorite Bond theme, “You Only Live Twice,” does. Nancy Sinatra sang the original (sampled by Robbie Williams on his 1999 hit “Millenium”), but here’s a cover by onetime Chameleons frontman Mark Burgess:

MP3: Mark Burgess – You Only Live Twice

I think that was from some aborted Imaginary Records tribute album. (The label put out a zillion of them in the late ’80s/early ’90s). Bjork also covered “You Only Live Twice” for 1997’s Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project, which was a bunch of covers all produced by the man who would end up landing the job as 007’s music man a year later. It ended up being pulled from the album at the request of Bjork herself, and she later explained why: “I learned the hard way that you should never cover your favorite tunes because they are good already. Cover bad tunes and make them good.” I agree with her argument but it’s a pretty gorgeous rendition:

MP3: Bjork – You Only Live Twice

It’s removal was probably for the best, as most of Shaken and Stirred hasn’t particularly aged well, reeking of mid-’90s UK electronica (Leftfield, Big Beat stars Propellerheads who you may remember scored a hit with Bond’s golden girl, Shirley Bassey), though he did cast well with some appropriately melodramatic singers: ABC’s Martin Fry, then-hot-stuff David McAlmont, and Pulp who covered Octopussy’s “All Time High” as only they could do:

MP3: Pulp – All Time High

And one original for you, the unused original Thunderball theme song, and a great one, “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” as sung by Dione Warwick.

MP3: Dione Warwick – Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Way better than Tom Jones’ hamfisted “Thunderball” they ended up using. “He strikes like Thunderball”? Really?

Instrumentally Yours

8 Jul

Rock instrumentals are more than just a song without vocals, and it takes a truly good band to pull them off without the listener getting bored. Those who fall in the dance music realm probably have an easier time of it than “rock” bands, a wider sonic palate at their command, though are probably hindered a bit in the live realm. Or maybe not. If everyone’s dancing hopefully they’re not worried whether the band is actually doing anything onstage or not.

LP3
Anyway, Ratatat are pretty good at it. Their new album, LP3, is a lot of fun. I can’t tell whether it’s guitars or keyboards but the twin harmony leads are very Queen, to the point where when I listen to it I’m always thinking of the Flash Gordon soundtrack, especially on the single “Mirando”:

MP3: Ratatat – Mirando (buy CD | digital)

Errors_something
If you’re already down with Ratatat, I highly recommend Glaswegian quartet Errors, who are part Kraftwerk and part Mogwai. (They’re signed to the latter’s Rock Action label.) Maybe a little Boards of Canada in there too. Dreamy, intense, and groovy, their debut album, It’s Not Something but it Is Like Whatever, makes a great soundtrack to walking around the city, or driving, or cleaning the apartment.

Here’s a couple MP3s, one from …Like Whatever and one from last year’s How Clean is Your Acid House EP:

MP3: Errors – Salut France (buy CD | digital

MP3Errors – Mr. Milk (buy CD | digital)

Crunch
The Ratatat record actually reminds me a lot of forgotten but awesome bubbleglam group The RAH Band, which really wasn’t a band really, just the acronymous pseudonym for British producer Richard Anthony Hewson who scored a few UK and Australian hits in the ’70s and ’80s. These two are pretty great:

MP3: The RAH Band – Electric Fling

MP3: The RAH Band – The Crunch
(buy)

The Top of the Pops performance of “The Crunch” is not to be missed:

And a couple more relevant YouTube videos after the jump:

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Down the Stretch

3 May

DerbydayI don’t know much about Horse Racing, but today’s Kentucky Derby made me think about one of my favorite reggae songs: The Pioneers‘ "Long Shot Kick De Bucket." There are apparently loads of reggae songs about horse racing, more than there are non-reggae songs about any other sport. (Caymanas Park in Kingston, the setting of this song, is still hugely popular.) So I’m told. But this is the most famous, and the only one I know.

MP3: The Pioneers – Long Shot Kick De Bucket (buy it)

The Derby also made me think of the only other horse racing pop song I know, "The Fix," a duet between Richard Hawley and Guy Garvey that’s on Elbow’s new album, The Seldom Seen Kid. This one’s a lot of fun:

MP3: Elbow w/ Richard Hawley – The Fix (buy it)

The Fix is In

24 Feb

Elbow_newIf I had read up on Elbow‘s new album, The Seldom Seen Kid, before listening to it, I probably wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the unmistakable velvety croon of Richard Hawley coming out of my speakers. What a treat — maybe we know too much about everything is this information age.

When we think of duets, it’s usually of the girl-guy variety but on "The Fix" we’ve got singer Hawley trading lines with Elbow’s singer Guy Garvey in a tale of two schemers plotting to fix a horse race and retire on the winnings. "We’ve loaded the saddles, the mickey’s are slipped / We’re swapping the turf for the sand and the surf and the sin." It’s like something out of a Rat Pack movie, which seems to be pretty much how the song was conceived. Garvey told BBC 6 Music (where he’s got a Sunday night radio show) that they came up with the idea when they shared a plane ride to America (Tennessee, specifically), adding "He plays the most amazing table top guitar solo at the end. It was so
much fun making it with him. We recorded the vocal facing each other
like Frank and Deano might have, years ago." They better make a video.

MP3
: Elbow – The Fix
(Pre-order The Seldom Seen Kid)

Seldomseenkid
As for the rest of The Seldom Seen Kid, it’s more typical Elbow-ian territory, making epics out of intimate moments like only they can. It shouldn’t disappoint anyone who dug the incredible Leader’s of the Free Worldmy Album of 2005. (They also talked food on these pages too.) If anything, it finds the band taking more musical chances and Guy Garvey’s pipes are in fine, world-weary form. There is talk that this may be the album that finally gives them a hit — the truly gorgeous ballad "Weather to Fly." If Coldplay and Snow Patrol can do it, there is certainly room for Elbow.

The band have launched a hi-tech website for The Seldom Seen Kid, with a sort of Rubik’s Cube you manipulate to "reveal instrumental layers of one album track per week." This is during the week — Saturdays and Sundays it just seems to play the song in toto. With the dissolution of their former label, V2, Elbow are now signed to Fiction, which for years only seemed to exist to release Cure albumsr, which is now home to Kate Nash, Ian Brown and Delays. No word on U.S. distribution but as Fiction is owned by Universal, it seems likely to get a Stateside release.

Hello Blue Roses | Glassland Gallery | 2.16.2008

17 Feb

Hbr_glasslands
"Playing live sucks," Dan Bejar joked, or sort of joked, in consolation as Sydney Vermont struggled finding the chords on her acoustic guitar in the low lighting of Glasslands Gallery. She had started and restarted the song about eight times and was clearly ready to move on to the next one but gbave it one last go and muddled through.

It was that kind of show. Hello Blue Roses, Bejar’s other other group with his Girfriend Vermont, hadn’t played a live show in 18 months, with Bejar adding, "our last show was 18 minutes long. Tonight we’re determined to top 30!"  The stops and starts probably helped extend the show well into record length. They played maybe eight songs, mainly with Vermont singing and occasional flute, and Bejar on Guitar and occasional vocals. The set was loose, jokey and had a distinct ’70s folk vibe to it — I kept thinking of Judy Collins for some reason. Probably the flute.

Despite having a New Pornographer (and Destoyer) in the house, Glasslands was crowded but definitely not packed. Carl Newman was in the house, as was the Phosphorecent guy. Not an essential show, but glad I went.

MP3: Hello Blue Roses – Sunny Skies
(Buy it)

I shot video of the same song:

Better pictures at Brooklyn Vegan.

Really? Is That What it’s Like?

23 Jan

Sfa_gift
This item was in Pitchfork’s News section today:


Does this seem a little weird to anyone else? Times New Viking– among the grittiest-sounding groups that fall under the "pop" descriptor– plan to spend the second half of
February tooling around North America with none other than that
highest-of-the-hi-fi acts, Super Furry Animals. I mean, I’m all for
it– great bands, both– but this is a bit like having Tom Waits open
for David Bowie, or the Wu for Kanye.

First of all, I know they’ve relaxed what is called "news" at Pitchfork, but this seems especially bloggy. Secondly, and more importantly… what? How is a band that is barely three years old opening for one of the best bands of the last 15 years anything like Tom Waits opening for David Bowie. If anything it’s like Kanye opening for the Wu, not the other way around.

I realize writer Paul Thompson was talking more about slick-versus-grit and I sort of get what he’s saying, but he could’ve chosen a lot better examples for his analogies. And it just comes off as kind of ill-informed. While a lot of their ’00s albums have been technologically advanced, the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus!, is pretty stripped down, five-guys-in-a-room sort of affair. And I’m hoping this tour will follow suit. And they can be plenty noisy. Still I was trying to come up with a better analogy for Bowie, but the TWD is the kind of guy who probably would’ve had Pere Ubu open for him. Maybe he did.

It doesn’t seem that weird a match-up to me. Is it any weirder than Holy Fuck opening for them this Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg? As I’m going to it and the SFA/TNV show at Bowery Ballroom on February 24. I’ll be the judge.

Meanwhile, Hey Venus!, which made my Best of 2007 list, is finally out in the US this week and the CD comes with a bonus disc of four additional songs from the recording sessions, plus the "Run Away" video and footage of the band in the studio. The four new tracks aren’t throwaways, either. They’re all really good, which should be no surprise to anyone who picked up their B-sides comp or listened the excellent Rings Around the World bonus disc. A taster:

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Never More

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Aluminum Illuminati

Buy it, won’t you?

Here are all the tour dates for the ‘Furries upcoming tour. Beggars Banquet has created a widget that allows you to select a date and make requests for what songs you want to hear from a list of about 40 songs or so. (It did not include the one I wanted to request, "Ysbeidiau Heulog" from the all-Welsh Mwng.) It also automatically plays music, so I’ve included it after the jump.

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