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Album Review: Memoryhouse – The Slideshow Effect

By on Monday, 27th February 2012 at 12:00 pm

Canadian act Memoryhouse comprises self-professed classical music lover and composer Evan Abeele and photographer Denise Nouvion. According to the press release for debut new album on Sub Pop, ‘The Slideshow Effect’, their collaboration wasn’t initially intended to be musical in nature at all. Their original plan was to take their individuals strengths and join forces in an artistic outlet to combat the anxiety and boredom of the long, cold winter in the depths of frozen Southern Ontario. What instead occurred: they formed Memoryhouse, named after German-born English neo-classical composer/artist Max Richter’s own album of the same name and a massive influence of Abeele’s, and proceeded to use photographs as a starting point for a direction a song could be written towards. In an interview with Pitchfork, Abeele said of Richter’s work, “for me, in my musical development, there was a ‘before Memoryhouse’ and an ‘after Memoryhouse’…Hearing that fundamentally changed the way I approached composition. I just wanted to pay tribute to that. I wanted to have that to ground us, wherever we took our own music”.

I had not heard of Richter’s album before this, but I can say that for the purpose of this review, I didn’t consider it, and you shouldn’t need to either in order to appreciate it. It’s interesting to note Nouvion previously focused solely on photography, as there’s an expansiveness to the Memoryhouse sound, like looking at a breathtaking landscape. Nouvion’s voice is startling in its earnestness, and Abeele’s careful production isn’t heavy-handed at all, letting the songs breathe: all dream pop is marked with echo and reverb, but the effects used on ‘The Slideshow Effect’ never wear out their welcome and always feel like they were made for the songs they’re used on. Xylophone, which has become a more commonplace instrument in indie pop/rock over the last couple of years, never feels out of place like it does on some other bands’ records, where it can sound like a childish gimmick.

I expect other critics comparing them to Best Coast and Beach House are inevitable, but Memoryhouse’s songs are better and more memorable. And they’ve already given away two of the best songs on this album, which makes me think the duo is confident people will buy the album once they’ve heard these. ‘Walk With Me’ (previous MP3 of the Day here) is haunting in its beauty. It tells the story of a love lost that will never be forgotten but you can’t help but want to keep a hold of: “I can’t forget / the place this started / walk with me / will you walk with me?” ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ (previous MP3 of the Day here) and ‘Heirloom’ are jaunty and bracing as (dare I say it) a cold Canadian winter’s day.

But I go back to the comfort of Abeele’s production across the slower, more brooding numbers: ‘Little Expressionless Animals’ with its sorrowful violin, the slide guitar of ‘All Our Wonder’, the otherworldliness of Nouvion’s vocals in ‘Pale Blue’ all sound like perfection, wrapping you like the warm blanket your nan knitted for you when you were small. It’s definitely more of a sleepier, winter-type record, but seeing that we’re in February, that’s quite all right. Whether you’re a loner or you’re in a committed, loving relationship, this is the perfect antidote to any cold in your heart. Just as it was originally intended for the two people who made it.


Memoryhouse’s debut album ‘The Slideshow Effect’ is out today on Sub Pop.


MP3 of the Day #497: Grimes

By on Monday, 27th February 2012 at 10:00 am

Grimes is fun. Grimes is brilliant. And judging from 6music’s playlist, Grimes is good for alternative music radio. Below is more of a mash-up than a remix, it’s American rapper Deniro Farrar singing over ‘Genesis’. Love it? Hate it? If anything, it’s a Canadian/American curiosity worth at least a listen or two. Hear it and download it for free below.


Video of the Moment #719: Spring Offensive

By on Friday, 24th February 2012 at 6:00 pm

The promise of a primrose in the woods is just one thing in Spring Offensive‘s new video for ‘Carrier’ that will make the heart grow fonder. Oh, if only a bonfire could bring back your lost love.

‘Carrier’ will be the B-side to their forthcoming single ‘Worry Fill My Heart’, to be released in March. Catch the band on tour next month and in April; details of their English tour are here.

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Live Gig Video: The Good Natured perform an acoustic version of ‘Lovers’ for the Wilcox sessions

By on Friday, 24th February 2012 at 4:00 pm

The Good Natured performed an acoustic version for the Wilcox Sessions. (another great Web site filming brill live footage of bands playing impromptu, following in the great tradition of Black Cab Sessions, Bands in Transit and Manchester Screenwipe). Watch the performance, filmed in the Wilcox kitchen, below.

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MP3 of the Day #496: Mona

By on Friday, 24th February 2012 at 10:00 am

Mona, who were nothing short of amazing last Saturday night here in Washington, have released a piano version of ‘Lean Into the Fall’, the song we were told was going to be their first single off their debut album. It’s literally just singer Nick Brown’s voice over piano backing. A dangerous move for a lesser band, but I think this proves how strong Brown’s voice and the actual song are, if the guitars and drums are stripped away and there’s still a compelling performance. Gee, this treatment sounds and smells like Adele‘s ‘Someone Like You’…one can only hope that this band is destined to equally great things.


Video of the Moment #718: Lissie

By on Thursday, 23rd February 2012 at 6:00 pm

Lissie has released a new video of her performing her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’. This rendition is included on Lissie’s new EP ‘Covered Up With Flowers’. Watch it below.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music we love and think you should too.

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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