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Video of the Moment #1643: Teleman

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Teleman‘s new promo for their song ‘Mainline’ features cross-dressing and destruction of food (poor defenseless egg! poor tomato!) and other items. I know. It sounds strange. For a hoot, watch the video filmed and storyboarded by keyboardist Jonny Sanders below. (Personally, I think the song is better, but you might see things differently.)

For all things Teleman, including my review of their show at New York’s Mercury Lounge last week, go here. The band perform tonight at Bootleg Bar in Los Angeles.

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Album Review: Foy Vance – Feel for Me EP

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Irish singer/songwriter Foy Vance’s latest EP release, ‘Feel for Me’, was timed to coincide with his appearance at the iTunes Festival on Monday the 29th of September, where he played support for his friend and musical collaborator Ed Sheeran. Vance contributed backing vocals and songwriting assistance to Sheeran’s recent album ‘X’, and Sheeran appeared on Vance’s 2013 album ‘Joy of Nothing’, from which the track ‘Feel for Me’ is taken. Sheeran says of Vance, “Every time I see Foy play, I get annoyed more people don’t know about him…inspiration just comes being in a room and guitar-jamming with him, songs just come out”.

Unfortunately, despite Sheeran’s ardent support, Vance’s new EP seems somewhat uninspired. It begins with radio edits of album tracks ‘Feel for Me’ and ‘Guiding Light’, neither of which is radically different from the previous recordings. The eponymous opening track on the EP has a fuller, warmer acoustic sound that feels much more natural for Vance than the slightly sterile production of its album counterpart. While I enjoyed the subtle changes to ‘Feel for Me’, I was a bit perplexed by ‘Guiding Light’. Often presented as Vance’s curtain call in live performance, the song is offered here without the cameo vocal appearance provided by Sheeran both on tour and on the full ‘Joy of Nothing’ LP. I can’t quite shake the odd feeling that the solo version presented on the EP would have worked better on the full album, and vice versa. The novelty of Sheeran’s duet felt a bit like a publicity stunt on ‘Joy of Nothing’ but would have fit perfectly onto this EP collection of edits and B-sides.

The EP also includes a live acoustic version of the album’s title track, ‘Joy of Nothing’, recorded live in session with BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris. This is a very subdued rendering of what was an uplifting track on the album, but the stripped back dynamic does get more at the heart of what the song is about, simplicity and appreciation of the little things in life. Vance’s singing is soft and raspy, even more rough around the edges than usual, and his improvisatory vocal at the end of the song is one of the EP’s redeeming moments.

The EP’s final track ‘Dark Horse’ is an unreleased B-side from ‘Joy of Nothing’, given away last summer as a free download via NoiseTrade leading into the album release. The deceptively simple, purely sentimental chorus “hold me close and hold me strong / hold me pure and hold me long / hold me dark and hold me light / hold me wrong, hold me right” seems tailor-made for the emotionality of live sing-alongs, but the production here is austere, highlighting instead the soulful sincerity of Vance’s vocal delivery.

The ‘Feel For Me’ EP is a bit of an awkward supplement to the full ‘Joy of Nothing’ LP. Enthusiastic Foy Vance fans will be nonplussed, if not bored to tears, by the first two tracks, while new listeners might find their interest piqued by the radio single ‘Feel for Me’. The final two tracks are less exciting for new ears but might compel longtime fans to keep listening. Vance may be hedging his bets, but we can hope that it’s in careful preparation for the release of something new in the near future.

6.5/10

The ‘Feel For Me’ EP from Foy Vance is out now on Glassnote Records.

 

Interview: Chris Cain of We Are Scientists

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 at 11:00 am
 

We Are Scientists will be starting a coheadline American tour with fellow Yanks Surfer Blood tomorrow in Boston. Ahead of the 10-date outing entitled The Spatter Analysis tour, I wanted to get some questions answered by bassist Chris Cain, who just happens to be one of the earliest supporters of my amateur bass playing. (I’ve stuck with it after 4 years, I’ll have you know.) We chat about their current album and its pesky ‘special’ character, their videos and how they know the Surfer Blood boys. Read on…

Hello Chris. Where are you today? Did we interrupt you doing something?
In New York City! I’m actually sitting in bed, sick. Not terribly happy about it, but the timing could’ve been a lot worse. The tour doesn’t start till middle of next week, so there’s plenty of time to mend. I’m supposed to record some backing vocals Tuesday for an acoustic EP we’re working on, I’m pretty confident I’ll make that deadline.

Your latest album, released in March, is entitled ‘TV en Français’. Let’s talk about the name first. How did you decide on the title? Was it because you wanted to use a nonstandard character of the alphabet with a squiggly thing?
Ah, yes, the highly undervalued cedilla. That squiggly line does add a touch of class to the album, you must admit. Funnily, it ended up being a real pest. The words “TV EN FRANCAIS” that appear on the front of the album don’t have a cedilla, because that’s an actual photo of a motel wall, and we didn’t want to alter it. But on the spine we wrote the title in a similar font, with the cedilla on the ‘c’. And get this: as a result of an error in the artwork, that spine-cedilla ended up splatted like a swatted mosquito on the motel wall on the cover of the album on the entire initial UK run of CDs (10,000 of them, I think). Very mischievous, that little squiggle! Of course, the happy ending is that a copy of the album from that “faulty” print run is now considered rare, and worth around $800 on the open market.

How much French do you and Keith (Murray, lead vocals and guitar) actually know? Has the album proved especially popular in the Gallic region of the Continent?
Well, we’ve only played in France once since releasing “TVeF”: it was a show in Paris, and it went very well indeed. We’ve got three more French shows coming up end of October, though, and I think those will be the true test of the album’s success. Historically, we love France a lot more than France loves us; maybe the scales will tip a little closer to even this year.

‘TV en Français’ is We Are Scientists’ fourth album, following on from ‘With Love and Squalor’, ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ and ‘Barbara’. What do you think sets this new effort apart from all its predecessors?
Well, we continue to evolve as songwriters and musicians (improve, I hope), so the material we generate continues to change. That’s the boring answer. The exciting part was working with Chris Coady as producer for the first time. Dude is a one-man “delicious sounds” generator. He’s also an extremely interesting and pleasant conversationalist. The full package, in other words.

I read that you parted ways with your management after the release of ‘Barbara’. That sounds pretty heavy. Was that time apprehensive, nerve-wracking, freeing, etc.? You guys have been around quite some time now, so I would think that having been around the proverbial block, you know how you work and who will be good for you.
We’re getting better and better at understanding our own needs and picking out people who can fulfill them, but we’re still pretty dumb about it. Work in progress.

The last promo video you released was for ‘Make It Easy’. Looks like you’re in favour of unconventional relationships?
Absolutely. It’s time to retire the shopworn model of “Right Man + Right Woman = Eternal Love”. Not only does it miss a huge spectrum of possibilities, but the one possibility it does describe, it describes unrealistically. This essay by Alain de Botton on what a practical marriage would look like isn’t exactly what we’re talking about here, but it’s awesome, so let’s segue into it.

What ground is there left in the universe for WAS to cover if you’ve already filmed a promo in outer space?
We still need to shoot a video that takes place inside the cab of a car that has just smashed through the guard rails of a bridge. It’s in slow motion, and the entire song plays while the car’s plummeting. When we shoot THAT video, we’re done.

In May, you made your third appearance at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, performing on The Late Show with David Letterman. Give us the lowdown, be honest: what was Dave really like? Who’s funnier, you or him?
Dave is funnier than us, I would say, after carefully weighing the evidence.

This week you’ll be starting a new tour coheadlining with Surfer Blood on the East Coast. Are you guys friends? How did this joining of forces come about?
We met the SB fellas when they were touring their first album and we were touring our second. Bumped into them on the festival circuit a lot. And as of a couple of years ago, we have the same booking agent in the U.S., one Mr. Mike Mori. It was Mike who had the lightbulb moment, I believe, when he realised that WAS and SB were both looking at doing a run in the fall. A big part of it was probably Mike realising that he could put together two tours while only really doing the work of organizing one. But we were big fans of the idea as soon as he presented it, even if it does make his life easier than we’d ideally like.

What great things are you expecting to happen on this tour with them? What are you dreading?
I’m dreading the complaints of injustice that will come from the giant swaths of North America that the tour isn’t visiting (they’ve been rolling in steadily since announcement). We admit it: the tour is simply too short. Only 10 cities will get to experience it. It is, indeed, not fair.

I’m most looking forward to becoming local heroes in those 10 cities.

Any last words / quips for your fans?
For the shows, please wear shoes with good support and plenty of cushioning. Elbow and knee pads are recommended but not required. A helmet would look dumb.

We wholeheartedly thank Chris from crawling out from under the covers to answer these questions for us, and thanks to Stephanie too for her assistance.

 

Glass Animals / March 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 at 9:00 am
 

If you were disappointed Glass Animals weren’t coming to your town on their upcoming tour in October or you missed out on tickets to the now sold out show at London Oval, you might just be in luck. The Oxford band have a new UK tour for March 2015 that includes several cities – Leeds, Newcastle, Bath and Cardiff – they won’t be hitting next month, and the series of dates includes their biggest show to date at London Shepherds Bush Empire on Tuesday the 10th of March. Tickets are on sale now.

For previous coverage on Glass Animals, including this live performance of ‘Black Mambo’ filmed beautifully by Giorgio Testi at Meltdown Festival in June, head this way.

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 – Oxford Academy 2
Wednesday 4th March 2015 – Leeds Belgrave Music Hall
Friday 6th March 2015 – Newcastle Riverside
Monday 9th March 2015 – Brighton Concorde 2
Tuesday 10th March 2015 – London Shepherds Bush Empire
Wednesday 11th March 2015 – Bath Moles
Thursday 12th March 2015 – Cardiff Buffalo Bar

 

Video of the Moment #1642: The Antlers

 
By on Monday, 29th September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

The latest promo video from American band The Antlers is for ‘Refuge’, from their current album ‘Familiars’, out now on Transgressive Records. The moody, atmospheric song, including Peter Silberman’s dreamy vocals, pairs nicely with the purposely abstract, gently pulsating visuals in the promo. Watch the video below.

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Live Review: Teleman at Mercury Lounge, New York City – 25th September 2014

 
By on Monday, 29th September 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Despite not being a native New Yorker and living over 200 miles southwest of the place, I have been slowly but surely chipping away at my list of venues to see in the Big Apple. In the second half of last week, I finally got to witness London-based Teleman live, twice, during their first visit to our country and my first experience of the Mercury Lounge on East Houston Street. This review focusses on their first show in the Lower East Side, but later on this piece, I’ll briefly mention the differences between the two shows.

When I first arrived, slightly winded having just taken the train up from Washington and worried I was going to miss the start of their set, I was relieved to see they were still setting up. I’m not sure if this will continue, but the each member of the band – comprising ex-Pete and the Pirates members Tommy Sanders (vocals / guitar), his brother Jonny (keyboard / synths) and Pete Cattermoul (bass guitar) along with drummer Hiro Amamiya – is wearing a different shirt, each incorporating the three colours of yellow, red and blue that figure as dots on the abstract album art for their Moshi Moshi Records debut ‘Breakfast’ (reviewed by me here). Considering that since fashion-wise color blocks are still in, maybe they’re just ahead of this industry’s curve?

I think it’s always a precarious thing to go watch a band perform one of your favourite albums of the year. I do, however, always remember something Ed Macfarlane said a long time ago in a Friendly Fires interview, which was generally of the sentiment that your live show should bring something different to the table, because if someone wanted to hear the album reproduced faithfully live, they might as well listen to the album. I don’t know if you could blame the tentativeness in the first half of Teleman’s set on nerves, but the punchiness of first two songs ‘In Your Fur’ and ‘Mainline’ you hear on the album seemed not to translate live. As I was stood there down the front at Mercury Lounge, I noticed how crisp and clear the guitar notes sounded in the place, which seemed odd to me but amazing at the same time, if I compared it to the varying degrees of muddle I’m accustomed to.

Actually, muddling might have been a benefit to the set, as the conclusion of ‘In Your Fur’ was an extended psych rock out jam session. Similarly, insistently rocky ‘Steam Train Girl’ was also lengthened, much to the delight of the girls in front of me who were having a whale of a time, kicking their heels up to the music. The Teleman sound is definitely of the toe-tapping variety but not exactly designed for ravers. ‘Skeleton Dance’, arguably the most dancey of all the tracks on the debut album, with the brothers Sanders synths and guitar coming together harmoniously.

‘Breakfast’ most truly beautiful moments came across wonderfully live, as the trifecta of the bright yet regretful ‘Monday Morning’, the heart-pounding drums of past single ’23 Floors Up’ and almost nursery rhyme simplicity of the melody in ‘Lady Low’ in quick succession becomes the sonic equivalent of being simultaneously socked in the stomach and the heart. Sadly, due to the early show curfew, the set was cut short, with ‘Redhead Saturday’ not getting an airing until the next night at Glasslands in Williamsburg.

Still, quite possibly the crowning moment for those people so adamant that Teleman must be Kraftwerk obsessives (for the record, it’s not true, according to an interview Tommy did with Under the Radar magazine here in the States), hidden album track ‘Not in Control’ is directed by its beats, leading punters at both New York shows to bop to the rhythm and some cases, leaving them in a psych-ey, trance-like state that you wouldn’t see at a ‘pop’ show. I think the more the band tour this album, the better their set will be. Oh, and sorry to anyone who wants to request a Pete and the Pirates song, such as the couple who shouted for ‘Cold Black Kitty’. They don’t remember the chords.

After the cut: Teleman’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Teleman at Mercury Lounge, New York City – 25th September 2014

 
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We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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