Since January 2010, ‘The Octopus’ has been dormant. After Amplifier’s attempts to create mass hysteria around the record had died down, ‘The Octopus’ lay sleeping… resting…latent.
For those unfamiliar with ‘The Octopus’, it was the name of Amplifier’s third studio album. An album lasting just over 2 hours and if you were lucky enough to have it (I was) accompanied by a 70-page ‘opus’. As far as prog rock sagas go, beating ‘The Octopus’ is going to be a challenge no Mars Volta or Fiery Furnaces will take lightly.
It seems timely, then, that at a time when prog rock seems to be going through the doldrums, that Amplifier return with their fourth record, ‘Echo Street’, scheduled to be released next Monday (11 March). First single ‘Matmos’ is probably the best way to get yourself stuck into Amplifier as a beginner to their sound. As make no mistake, the kind of rock operas that this band produce are absolute marmite rock at its best. If it’s your thing, you’ll hang on every chord, whilst if you abhor warbling solos and songs less than 5 minutes long then this kind of stuff will hit your eardrums like a baby crying.
‘Matmos’, available a free download from their record label’s Bandcamp here, as I mentioned is a fantastic marker for what the Manchester-based band are about. Sel Balamir’s provide the beginning to the wave of harmony and “nah nah nah nah nahs” that undercut the song, and his voice stays as haunting as it ever has been throughout ‘The Octopus’, 2006′s ‘Insider ‘and 2004 debut ‘Amplifier’.
Take note purveyors of prog; If you want to whet appetites, this is how…
‘Echo Street’, the fourth album from Manchester’s Amplifier, will be released on the 11th of March on Kscope and can be preordered here. The album is available on CD, double vinyl and as a limited edition, deluxe two-disc set. The deluxe edition is packaged in a 60 page-hardback book and also features the new ‘Sunriders’ EP an additional record of new tunes, exclusive to this release. Catch them on tour on the dates below the video for ‘Matmos’.
Saturday 16th March 2013 – Preston 53 Degrees
Sunday 17th March 2013 – Bristol Fleece
Monday 18th March 2013 – York Duchess
Tuesday 19th March 2013 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Wednesday 20th March 2013 – Nottingham Rock City
Thursday 21st March 2013 – London Garage
By Mary Chang on Thursday, 28th February 2013 at 10:00 am
Ghostpost is offering up this free download of track ‘MSI MUSMID’, from his forthcoming album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, which is scheduled for release on the 6th of May on PIAS. This second album is the follow-up to Ghostpoet’s 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’. Listen to and download the teaser song below. He’ll be touring in May and June, all the details are below.
Saturday 18th May 2013 – Coventry Kasbah
Tuesday 21th May 2013 – Liverpool East Village Arts Club
Wednesday 22nd May 2013 – Sheffield Queens Road Social
Thursday 23rd May 2013 – Newcastle Cluny
Friday 24th May 2013 – Glasgow Broadcast
Saturday 25th May 2013 – Edinburgh Electric Circus
Monday 27th May 2013 – Bournemouth Winchester
Tuesday 28th May 2013 – Manchester Gorilla
Wednesday 29th May 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Thursday 30th May 2013 – London Village Underground
Sunday June 2nd – Leicester Academy
Monday June 3rd – Oxford Academy
Friday June 7th – Suffolk John Peel Arts Centre
Caitlin Rose does country music the old-fashioned way, rightfully earning comparisons to artists like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Her authentic Americana style, unfairly marginalized into the alt-country category, is untouched by the cliché-laden, factory-produced sound that prevails in contemporary mainstream country music. On sophomore album ‘The Stand-In’, Rose blends folk, gospel, and blues with simple, plain-spoken lyrics and a singing voice that alternates between sweet and sultry without becoming overly twangy.
Throughout the album, Rose’s singing switches easily from sweet softness to supple throatiness, depending upon the emotion of the moment. Her voice does lack weight at the bottom of her register, which occasionally leaves her sounding whiny instead of weary. The higher part of the voice, however, is beautiful at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, and Rose takes full advantage of that ability.
As a whole, ‘The Stand-In’ calls to mind images of a smoky bar at last call, when only the hardcore drinkers and the lonely hearts are left to pair off or fend for themselves. Opening track ‘No One to Call’ (stream below) has a drunkenly stumbling rhythmic figure at the end of its chorus. ‘Pink Champagne’ is a charmingly woozy, unabashedly sentimental two-step, which I could easily hear playing from a jukebox on a nearly-empty dance floor. The album’s swan song ‘Old Numbers’ is another allusion to drunk-dialling, but its sultry jazz trumpet and slippery guitar solo are more suggestive of old pay phones than modern mobiles.
Close attention to the seemingly straightforward lyrics yields a broad spectrum of dark emotion. First single ‘I Was Cruel’ (live version below) puts a masochistic twist on the typical lovelorn break-up song. Its ending, sung in a beautiful clear tone, takes a slight detour in perspective: “Peace of mind, honey, I’ll treat you kind, sometimes. / I’m a selfish man with my head in my hands, and I’m crying for you.” In ‘Dallas’, Rose cuts her sweet singing with edgy lyrics, “let’s move this fucking jet, I have to go, despite all sleet and snow”. (Also worth noting here are classic country references to a “portrait in velvet” and a “3-night run at The Palace.”) The chorus of ‘When I’m Gone’ is one of the album’s most memorable lyrics: “Come on, you can sleep when I’m gone, I was lying when I said there’d be plenty of time.”
‘Everywhere I Go’ is something of an outlier on the album. With its driving rhythm section and clear keyboard quality, it could easily fit on a more pop-oriented record, if not for the ever-present slide guitar. ‘Menagerie’, an upbeat four-to-the-floor number, has a strident guitar riff and the equally strident lyrics, “I’m gonna dance over broken glass and destroy all of these beautiful things.”
Overall, ‘The Stand-In’ doesn’t stray far from the formula that worked so well for Rose on debut album ‘Own Side Now’. Lyrical depth, musical variety, and emotional authenticity once again balance Rose’s silvery singing and clever charm. Mainstream country ingénues could certainly take a lesson or two from this talented singer.
‘The Stand-In’, Caitlin Rose’s second album, is out today on Names Records. She starts a UK tour tonight at Brighton Haunt; the details of the tour are below. After that she will return to America for SXSW 2013, where she will showcase at Club De Ville on Friday 15 March at 8:00 PM, then go out on a tour of the East Coast and Midwest.
Monday 25th February 2013 – Brighton Haunt
Tuesday 26th February 2013 – Bristol Fleece
Wednesday 27th February 2013 – London Dingwalls (sold out)
Thursday 28th February 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 1st March 2013 – Manchester Ruby Lounge
Saturday 2nd March 2013 – Glasgow CCA
Sunday 3rd March 2013 – London Brixton Windmill
Monday 4th March 2013 – London Rough Trade East
Around since early 2007, when they were still being called 21 Demands, the band now known as Kodaline became the first group to have an independently released track hit #1 on the Irish singles chart. And now the Dublin-based band, most recently honoured with a BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination, has something new for us. The ‘High Hopes’ EP has two original songs, a cover and a remix.
With influences from indie and a touch of the modern folk rock movement, both ‘High Hopes’ and ‘The Answer’ are gorgeous simple tunes. Singer Steven Garrigan’s clear, earnest delivery gives us the perfect foil for the quandary of an enamoured suitor. Even the cover of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ (video here) fits this mould. Only the remix of ‘All I Want’, originally from their first EP, seems out of place, all audio pixelated and jangly. However, you may be able to pick out recognisable parts to it because this tune was reworked as an instrumental for the music in Google’s quite amazing ‘Zeitgeist 2012’ advert (see below).
I think it was brave to attempt a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’, and it is the track I am most taken with on the EP. Rather than a bouncy description of life traveling where one’s music will take you, this treatment is quite stripped back. It’s more a mournful exhortation of the plight of the musician on the road, moving on day after day to yet another gig. In this version, you can really hear that it’s not always the party life on the road can seem to be; but maybe if you have your friends there with you, it’ll be all right.
The video below for ‘High Hopes’ develops the kind of story that only a masterful storyteller can achieve in just four minutes. Up, down, downer still, and then, thankfully, up again the redemptive quality of hope is perfectly mirrored between the lyrics and images.
Saturday 23rd March 2013 – Bristol Thekla
Sunday 24th March 2013 – Norwich Arts Centre
Monday 25th March 2013 – Sheffield Leadmill
Tuesday 26th March 2013 – Manchester Academy 3
Thursday 28th March 2013 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Friday 29th March 2013 – Newcastle Cluny
Saturday 30th March 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Sunday 31st March 2013 – Glasgow King Tuts
Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – Birmingham Institute Library
Wednesday 3th April 2013 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Thursday 4th April 2013 – London Scala
By Mary Chang on Monday, 11th February 2013 at 6:00 pm
Elbow‘s buddies I Am Kloot have released a new video for ‘Some Better Day’, their next single out on the 18th of March on their Shepherd Moon label. The visual stars the band as well as John Simm, whose role in this is probably most in line with his Doctor Who appearances, as you will see below.
In January, I Am Kloot released their latest album, ‘Let Them All In’, which Cheryl reviewed here. The band begin a UK tour tomorrow night in Glasgow; all the tour dates are below.
Tuesday 12th February 2013 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Wednesday 13th February 2013 – Leeds Irish Centre
Thursday 14th February 2013 – Manchester Ritz (sold out)
Friday 15th February 2013 – Manchester Ritz
Monday 18th February 2013 – Nottingham Albert Hall
Tuesday 19th February 2013 – London Barbican
Thursday 21st February 2013 – Brighton St. Bartholomew’s Church
Friday 22nd February 2013 – Cambridge Junction
Saturday 23rd February 2013 – Bristol Trinity
Sunday 24th February 2013 – Coventry Warwick Arts Centre
By Mary Chang on Monday, 11th February 2013 at 9:00 am
Noah and the Whale will be playing a series of four gig dates as part of what they’re calling their ‘Month of Sundays’ residency at London’s Palace Theatre. This series will take place the 28th of April, the 5th of May, the 12th of May and the 19th of May. Tickets are on sale now and are available at two pricing levels, £31.50 and £38.75 (both of these already include booking fees).
The band’s fourth album ‘Heart of Nowhere’ will be out on Mercury on the 6th of May. This month the band is filming a short film, with principal songwriter Charlie Fink as director, to go along with the album’s release.
Sunday 28th April 2013 – London Palace Theatre
Sunday 5th May 2013 – London Palace Theatre
Sunday 12th May 2013 – London Palace Theatre
Sunday 19th May 2013 – London Palace Theatre