The Fix is In

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.

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

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.

Richard Hawley | Other Music | 12.03.2007

HawleyShort but sweet set from Richard Hawley  last night at Other Music. People actually waited longer to get in than it took to see him play. The show was being taped for OM’s new Live at Other Music series and a mysterious buzz in the sound system meant the soundcheck ran 30 minutes late, keeping most everyone there to see him huddled outside the store for more than an hour.

This would’ve been a perfect opportunity for Richard to play "The Night’s are Cold" from 2002’s Late Night Final but the setlist had already been written. Hawley and guitarist Shez Sherridan warmed us all up pretty quick with a seven-song set punctuated by Hawley’s stories and one-liners. He played "Just Like the Rain," "I’m on Nights," "Roll River Roll," "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Tonight the Streets are Ours," "The Sea Calls," and a cover of the Ricky Nelson classic "Lonesome Town." There were too more songs written on the setlist ("Serious" and "Lady Solitude") but Hawley’s voice was giving out and he decided to call a night.

Richard Hawley | Bowery Ballroom | 12.01.2007

"This song’s called ‘Lady’s Bridge.’ No, that’s not a euphemism."

Richard Hawley is a master of many dying arts, not the least of which is joke-telling. He’s a funny guy in general, but Hawley also knows how to deliver a punchline, the kind of which went out of fashion here around the same time as subscribing to Playboy. Some of them flowed seamless from personal anecdotes about songs, you could tell they were well-rehearsed bits, so I won’t spoil any of them here in case he uses them on any of the remaining dates of his first-ever U.S. tour.

The Bowery show Saturday night was the first night of that tour and he had the crowd right where he wanted from minute one. The show was a lot like his Sin-e performance in March of last year. Hawley is a pro, as are his ace backing band, and his velvet croon was in perfect form. It was such a class act, it’s one of the few times I wish the show had been somewhere like Joe’s Pub, which would have been the perfect place to see him. (He’s actually played there before, solo acoustic in July 2005 — his only other NYC show was the Sin-e gig.) And we only got one song from Late Night Final ("Something Is"), and none from Lowedges or his debut.  But when the mirrorball came on for his waltz-time single, "Hotel Room," it was one of those perfect moments where you felt happy to be just where you are.

MP3: Richard Hawley – Hotel Room
(Buy some Hawley)

Setlist:  Valentine | Roll River Roll |Just Like the Rain | Dark Road | Coles Corner | Tonight The Streets Are Ours | Lady’s Bridge | Hotel Room | Serious | Darlin’ Wait For Me | Our Darkness | The Sea Calls | Born Under A Bad Sign | Something Is |  I’m Looking For Someone To Find Me | Encore: Tonight | The Ocean

If you weren’t able to make the show, NYC Taper was there and has his whole show available as lossless FLAC downloads. Also there: Brooklyn Vegan, Yeti Don’t Dance, PunkPhoto, Disconap, Ugly Floral Blouse, Fresh Bread, and probably more.

Hawley also plays a free acoustic show at Other Music on Monday (12/3) at 8pm.

Richard Hawley | Bowery Tickets Still Available | Other Music In-Store on Monday

Just a reminder that crooner extraordinaire Richard Hawley is playing Bowery Ballroom on Saturday and there are still tickets available. His show at Sin-e last year was one of my favorites of 2005. But if you can’t make it Saturday, you’ve got a second chance. He’s playing an acoustic in-store at Other Music on Monday at 8pm. I’m hoping at one of these two shows he’ll do "Long Black Train."

The Bowery show is the kickoff date on Hawley’s first-ever solo US tour. Here are all the dates:

Dec 1  Bowery Ballroom     NYC
Dec 2  World Café Live     Philadelphia
Dec 4  TT the Bear’s     Cambridge, MA
Dec 5  Horseshoe Tavern     Toronto
Dec 6  The Abbey     Chicago
Dec 7  400 Bar     Minneapolis
Dec 10  Crocodile Café     Seattle
Dec 12  Café du Nord     San Francisco
Dec 13  Troubadour     Los Angeles

And not to make this too much like a Brooklyn Vegan post but, actually, Other Music has a slew of great in-stores coming up…

The Clean – Tuesday, November 27 @ 8PM
Tinariwen – Wednesday, November 28 @ 8PM
Celebration – Friday, November 30 @ 9PM
Richard Hawley – Monday, December 3 @ 8PM
White Williams – Thursday, December 6 @ 8PM

We’re Serious: New Richard Hawley

RichardhawleyRichard Hawley‘s new album, Lady’s Bridge, doesn’t drop until October 2nd here in the US but it’s out Monday in the UK. Like Hawley’s other albums, it’s lush and beautiful, with Hawley’s modern-day balladeering sure to make you swoon. But it’s also got some downright peppy numbers too, like this one:

MP3: Richard Hawley – Serious (Buy it from Mute)

There’s a deluxe edition with bonus DVD — let’s hope we in America get the same option in October. And Richard, you better tour here too.

Mute is also giving away a handwritten lyrics sheet. Click here for the details.

SoundBites Best of 2006 | Gigs

Hotchip1_11I think I saw upwards of 70 shows this year, some more memorable than others. Some didn’t get written up even though they should’ve (The Young Knives, Battle, Aberfeldy) and others didn’t cause they weren’t worth it (dEUS comes to mind). But these ten were probably the best.

  1. Hot Chip | Bowery Ballroom | 3.11.2006
    "I hadn’t seen a Bowery Ballroom crowd go this bananas since the LCD
    Soundsystem show a year ago. Heck, I was dancing… and I wasn’t even that drunk."
  2. Soulwax + Klaxons | Studio B | 9.21.2006
    "Soulwax rival LCD Soundsystem in their ability to
    bring electronic music to life in a live setting. Or to put it another
    way, they absolutely rocked. (How many ways will I write a variation on
    that statement? Read on.) Why did it work so well? A perfect blend of
    skill, material, presentation and volume."
  3. Richard Hawley | Sin-é | 3.23.2006
    "With a velvety croon, reverbed, twangy guitars and lush orchestration,
    his music recalls Jimmy Webb, Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, Burt
    Bacharach, and Marty Robbins. That out-of-time quality was reinforced at last night’s show at Sin-é that can be summed up in two words: Pure class."
  4. Rakes + Towers of London | Bowery Ballroom | 3.21.2006
    "What a raucous night at Bowery Ballroom, with what I’m sure will be the
    most cups of beer, ice and water ever thrown at the stage, and the most
    gobbing by a band I have personally seen in the last ten years."
  5. Cansei de Ser Sexy | Warsaw | 7.20.2006
    "The queen of the party, however, was singer Lovefoxxx,
    a Bjork-lookalike who jumped around, stripped off clothing, mooned the
    audience, jumped into the fray, and generally partied-it-up the entire
  6. The Dears | Bowery Ballroom | 9.14.2006
    You can say a lot of things about The Dears, but no one can claim that they don’t give 100%. If it were not physically impossible to give 110%, I’m
    sure they would’ve done that."
  7. New Young Pony Club | Williamsburg White Room | 12.09.2006
    "From the catchy-as-hell, extremely danceable songs, to the tight musicianship, to the effortless charisma of spitfire singer Tahita Bulmer,
    New Young Pony Club just had their shit together. It was like they were
    born fully formed, ready for the big time, and I mean that in the best
    possible way."
  8. Belle & Sebastian | Nokia Theatre | 03.02.2006
    "Stuart Murdoch isn’t shy anymore; now quite the cheeky
    frontman, dancing, telling jokes, flirting with the audience… but
    still forgetting the words. Luckily, Stevie Jackson (looking dapper in a mod-ish suit) knows them all and filled in the missing lines, not missing a beat."
  9. Midlake | Mercury Lounge | 6.20.2006
    "There were so many old keyboards, patch-bays, racks of guitars and
    other stuff up there the band didn’t really have much room to move. But
    they could play. Every member was miked, and the harmonies flowed out
    dense and beautiful."
  10. Art Brut + We Are Scientists + The Chalets | Knitting Factory | 5.18.2006
    This is as far as I got with this review: "I wish the Knitting Factory did shows like this all the time. Let a band currate an entire evening on both floors…" And so began the SoundBites Blog Blackout of Late Spring 2006. Which is now over, obviously.