By Mary Chang on Friday, 14th October 2011 at 12:00 pm
We’re already collecting band names for the 10 for 2012 poll. (Vote here.) But in case you weren’t sure we were getting closer to the end of 2011, here’s something else: news of She and Him‘s ‘A Very She and Him Christmas’ album. If you have ever seen the film ‘Elf’, you will recall Zooey Deschanel’s beautiful a capella version of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ that bounces off the bathroom tiles. Thankfully, the song is one of the 12 tracks on the third album from Deschanel and her partner in crime M. Ward.
But let’s turn our attention to the album’s first teaser and opening track, ‘The Christmas Waltz’. Like the previously described Elf one-off performance, this song takes advantage of Deschanel’s clear, controlled voice and pairs it simply with spare guitar and a few notes on the piano that come in later. When you’ve got talent like that, that’s all you need, really. (How is it possible that one woman can be such a good actress and can sing well? So not fair.)
As a rule, I don’t like Christmas songs: I think they’re too sentimental and cheesy. But if you’ve got to have someone serenading you to get you in the holiday mood, I can’t imagine anyone better than Zooey Deschanel to do the honours. (I’m also guessing that if you preorder this album for your girlfriend, you’ll probably get some kind of “present” later on in the holiday season. Just saying…)
‘A Very She and Him Christmas’ will be released on the 31st of October on Domino. You can preorder yours from Domino here.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 7th October 2011 at 12:00 pm
General Fiasco will be releasing a new EP, ‘Waves’, on 14 November. The title track is a fun, loud guitar-fueled little number, just like ‘Rebel Get By’ and ‘Ever So Shy’ before it. It starts with a great thudding bassline behind Owen Starthern’s winsome vocals. It struck me in this song for the first time in a General Fiasco that they don’t sound like Irish at all on record. Hopefully this will help them find success outside the UK. But first things first: the band is playing a series of dates in Britain in October that will hopefully cement their standing at home.
Maybe it isn’t Shakespeare, but the chorus “and I go back like a wave to the shore / I don’t think about you much now anymore” is a neat little rhyming couplet and a good simile describing someone who’s gotten over a broken heart, which is more than can be said for the average top 40 pop song. Of perfect length for radio play (just slightly under 3 minutes), this one is a winner.
The ‘Waves’ EP by General Fiasco will be released on the 14th of November on Dirty Hit Records.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 30th September 2011 at 10:00 am
Editor’s note: Your watch is correct. No, it’s not noon yet. Normally we only post MP3s of the Day features at 10 in the morning and longer reviews later in the day. But because we have so much new stuff to post today, we’re switching things up.
The Twilight Sad are getting ready to release their third album, called ‘No One Can Ever Know’ in early 2012. Judging from the new song Fat Cat has offered up as a taster to the new release, ‘Kill It in the Morning’, the band have done an Editors / Keane: they’ve gone the way of the synthesiser. The vibe of the track has been compared to Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails, two bands you probably never thought you’d see in the same sentence with the act that brought you ‘I Became a Prostitute’. Fat Cat describes the track as “sinister-yet-melodic peek into the newly keyboard/programming-driven approach they’ve taken on the new LP”. Hmm.
To me, it’s heavy-handed: it’s still dark and morose, as the band has always been, but it’ll be interesting where they go from here, since there is more chance to experiment and spread their wings with this new chapter of their career. In particular, James Graham’s Scottish brogue above electronic sounds works surprisingly well.
Clearly, no-one knows what’s going on with the Twilight Sad except the band themselves. But I can sense already what is going on in their fans’ minds, because as previously mentioned, this shift occurred with Editors and Keane on their latest albums, favouring keyboards and programming that would have never been considered on their earlier albums. While this shift could gain them many new fans, it’s a big risk to alienate your devoted fanbase after 4+ years. The band’s first single from the new album, ‘Sick’, is due out on the 15th of November and hopefully we’ll see the Sad’s new colours by then. I, for one, welcome this new direction. But then again, I was never a fan of the Twilight Sad, so who am I to judge? Listen to the song and see for yourself. If you like it, you can get the song free through the widget below.
‘No One Can Ever Know’, the new album from the Twilight Sad, will be released in February 2012. ‘Sick’, the first single from the album will be available for digital download on the 15th of November.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 20th September 2011 at 12:00 pm
Fanfarlo appeared to be one of those bands destined for the ‘where are they now?’ pile. Until last week, that is. Releasing new press photos (and imploring the blogosphere “Please stop using embarrassing old pictures of us with 6 members.” on their Facebook page), they’ve also released a new song to the wild, called ‘Replicate’. It’s the first part of a three-part puzzle according to the band’s official Web site; this video piece was filmed by Alex Southam.
It’s good of a time as any to reappear, as the band’s fanbase has been encroached, notably by New York’s Freelance Whales (who, ironically, were Fanfarlo’s support on their 2009 North American tour) and Stornoway, who filled up Somerset House this summer with no problem at all. Without the press photos and just the audio, you might be excused for mistaking Simon Balthazar’s voice for Patrick Wolf‘s. (Well, I sure did. So you are excused.) Patrick Apps is always experimenting with new sounds and filling his music up to the brim with new ideas, and this is definitely showing a new era of Fanfarlo. They’ve lost a band member, but they began with 6, so it’s not like what appeared to be losing an appendage ala the Drums losing a guitarist last year.
This new bent sound fresh yet not overwrought or over-thought out. Hopefully the new album from Fanfarlo – the five piece – will be as welcome as this initial taste. Whether they will offer their new material up for $1 as they famously did in summer 2009 for ‘Reservoir’ remains to be seen.
Fanfarlo are playing a one-off gig at London’s Hoxton Hall on the 30th of September; beyond some North and South American dates in late October through early November, the band haven’t announced any other tour dates. We’ll be sure to post UK dates once they’re announced.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 26th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
Florence Welch, the centre of Florence and the Machine, has been in hiding for some time; all that was known was that she had gone into writing/recording-hiding with Paul Epworth (the same producer that she worked with for her popular debut ‘Lungs’) and little else. This week she debuted a taster to her forthcoming sophomore album in the form of the track ‘What the Water Gave Me’.
Less is definitely more in this first glimpse into her still untitled second LP. Interspersed with ‘aesthetic’ shots of Florence with her ginger hair, dressed in a flowy robe, are moments in time with Florence and Paul holed up in the studio, which says to me that she wants this new effort to be perceived more in the real world than ‘Lungs’ was. What I mean is, if you got the chance to see Florence and the Machine on tour with the last album or even if your only knowledge of Welch is the strange visual that is the ‘Dog Days are Over’ video (the song now heard round the world thanks to a Julia Roberts film, god), you know that the ‘old’ Florence was a colourful yet purposely mysterious character.
Coming out in the light literally in this video, maybe she’s decided to reign in the more flighty parts of her musical personality. I, for one, am all for this approach. But lyrically, ‘What the Water Gave Me’ is just not ringing my bells. It’s interesting she’s using backing (possibly gospel) singers, because it lends the song an almost hymnal effect and I can see this working very well in a cathedral. Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Laura Marling’s ‘Sophia’, anyone? While I’m sure this is entirely coincidental, it’s going to be an interesting autumn, without a doubt. Florence vs. Marina vs. Laura. Who will come out on top?
By Mary Chang on Thursday, 4th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
Kai Fish is best known as bassist for Mystery Jets, a band near and dear to my heart. But you’re probably not aware that Fish has written for Mark Ronson and the Count and Sinden (I certainly wasn’t). So based on this, I guess it should not be too much of a surprise that he has decided to use his considerable talents to write and record a solo album. ‘Life in Monochrome’ is scheduled to drop on the 26th of September on Music of Wolves, and to get people ready for this new phase of his musical career, he’s released the track ‘Cobalt Cheeks’ to the wild.
The first third of this song should appeal to Coldplay fans; it’s a little too precious for my tastes. I do like the dreaminess of the echoey vocals though. Then, just when you think you might grab your pillow and lay down for a nap, at about the 1.45 mark the guitars lay into you and rescues the track. The bass line buzzes along, and despite a brief respite a little after the 3-minute mark, the rest of the track is a jammy-licious mix of guitars and drums. I think this is what the Horrors were trying to do with ‘Skying’ but given the choice, I’d take ‘Cobalt Cheeks’ any day. Looking forward to see what Mystery Jets’ bass man has up his sleeve.