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
By Mary Chang on Sunday, 10th February 2013 at 10:00 am
‘Violence Out Tonight’ is the new video from Little Comets; the song appears on their new album ‘Life is Elsewhere’ released in autumn 2012. Grimmer and heavier than usual Little Comets fare, it’s a good example of the band’s ability to flex their emotional muscles. Watch the video below.
Edit 21/03/13: it was revealed this week that Sheffield’s Crookes will be joining Little Comets on the first half of this tour (the 9th of April to the 19th of April); see starred dates below.
Tuesday 9th April 2013 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms*
Wednesday 10th April 2013 – London Shepherds Bush Empire*
Thursday 11th April 2013 – Cambridge Junction*
Saturday 13th April 2013 – Wolverhampton Slade Rooms*
Sunday 14th April 2013 – Oxford Academy*
Monday 15th April 2013 – Bournemouth Old Fire Station*
Tuesday 16th April 2013 – Exeter Phoenix*
Thursday 18th April 2013 – Bristol Academy*
Friday 19th April 2013 – Cardiff Gate Arts Centre*
Saturday 20th April 2013 – Dublin Academy 2
Sunday 21th April 2013 – Belfast Auntie Annie’s
Monday 22th April 2013 – Liverpool Masque
Wednesday 24th April 2013 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Thursday 25th April 2013 – York Fibbers
Friday 26th April 2013 – Preston 53 Degrees
* with the Crookes as support
By Mary Chang on Thursday, 7th February 2013 at 4:00 pm
Baltimore’s Beach House recently filmed themselves in the middle of the night, performing four songs to put together this atmospheric, Pink Floyd-inspired film called Forever Still. The duo would be better at explaining this than I ever could, so take it away, guys:
Forever Still is directly inspired by Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii. We wanted to perform in a non-typical setting and felt the songs would resonate in a more majestic and spiritual landscape. The experience was an intense three nights of filming. Everyone involved in production and crew was benevolent in their time and talented in their efforts. We were very lucky to have the help and hard work of many people who aided and lent their abilities to our vision. The basic concept is four songs performed from sunset to sunrise. We tried to keep the edits minimal with long takes in order to focus on the energy of the songs, the landscape, and the physicality of live performance. The entire film was shot in or around Tornillo, Texas, where we recorded ‘Bloom’. Like ‘Bloom’, we hope that ‘Forever Still’ is experienced as a whole, long form.
Watch the video, all of its 26 minutes of epicness, below. The band are scheduled to perform two dates – the 25th and the 26th of March – at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire.