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Soulful electro-pop singer BANKS has announced a short list of November tour dates to follow the release of her album ‘Goddess’, which is due out in September. Have a listen to its title track below the tour date listing. You can also listen to another album track, ‘Drowning’, in this previous MP3 of the Day post in which we gave away a remix of the song by frontman Dave Bayley of Glass Animals, BANKS’ Harvest Records labelmates.
Tickets for the following shows go on sale this Friday, the 25th of July, at 9 AM.
Monday 17th November 2014 – Birmingham Institute
Wednesday 19th November 2014 – Glasgow ABC
Sunday 23rd November 2014 -Brixton Academy
Tuesday 25th November 2014 – Manchester Ritz
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 17th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
After a 2-year hiatus that saw frontman Jonny Pierce chance a short-lived solo career, The Drums are back, reinvigorated and curiously back to how they were when they first got started in 2008: simply a duo starring Pierce and best friend Jacob Graham. When the band, then a four-piece, first hit the indie scene in 2009 with then Steve Lamacq favourite and summer stunner ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, things looked pretty superficial. When I interviewed Pierce and then drummer Connor Handwick in the autumn of 2010, it was obvious to me quickly, especially from Pierce’s erudite discussion of the importance of film and photography to him while drinking a hot cup of tea, not booze, that there was more to the Drums than meets the immediate eye.
For better or worse, their self-titled debut album shot to #16 on the UK Albums Chart that same year, probably due to the sales of people who didn’t scratch below the surface. However, I think those fans who bought their sophomore album ‘Portamento’ and might have wavered in their loyalty or those expecting another album chock full of chirpy tracks like ‘Me and the Moon’ and ‘Best Friend’ might have trouble stomaching this leaner, meaner version of the Drums.
The vibe off taster track ‘Magic Mountain’ suggests the red satin jacket and high school sports jerseys Pierce has favoured in previous incarnations of the band might be up for retirement permanently. Why do I say this? Because, well, despite naming their song with the same moniker of one of America’s enduring theme park franchises Six Flags, this sound pretty dark. If anything, except for maybe the joyous handclaps at the start, it sounds like it was concocted in a mad scientist’s lab. A mad scientist from Scooby Doo, maybe.
Otherworldly synth notes wiggle and shake against menacing Graham’s guitar notes. Pierce sings high up the scale, the minor key vocal line appearing purposefully dissonant against the instrumentation and driving rhythm. Further examination of the lyrics adds causes additional confusion: “inside my magic mountain we don’t have to be with them / inside my magic mountain our hearts are on / inside my magic mountain I don’t have to be with them / inside my magic mountain our hearts are on”. Is “my magic mountain” some kind of euphemism? I can’t take this seriously.
It’s strange structurally as well, with an unnatural pause at 2 minutes 25 seconds before the song starts again. In its premiere with Noisey, Pierce describes the song as ” ..about shedding off what binds you and protecting what’s good, finding a safe place away from everyone and everything that wants to destroy you”. Hmm. Perhaps maybe ‘Magic Mountain’ is meant to be a grower, but I can’t see it appealing to their pop fans who swooned over ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. This is the Drums, mark IV. I still have an open mind about their future, but this left me cold.
No word yet on when the third album from the Drums will be released, but the word on the street is that the album was completed earlier this year, so I’m expecting something out before the year is out. I’m also guessing from their Soundcloud that they’ve started their own label, Minor Records. Should be interesting to see what comes of it, even if it’s sinister. Watch an album teaser from the duo below.
Sheffield neo-folk duo Slow Club are set to release their steamy third album ‘Complete Surrender’ just in time for the heat of the summer. ‘Complete Surrender’ is a deliciously refreshing blend of uptempo pop, emotional balladry and r&b groove. The individual tracks are a study in contrasts, with a mix of radio-friendly dance tunes, bluesy torch songs and introspective acoustic numbers, maintaining variety and momentum through the pleasantly relaxed vibe that permeates the album.
The recent trend of juxtaposing male and female lead vocals is almost always a winner in my book, and ‘Complete Surrender’ is no exception. The real star of the album is Rebecca Taylor’s singing voice. It’s rare in pop music to find a female voice that is both powerful and sensitive to dynamic without being rough or raspy. Taylor maintains a pleasant tone quality on both ends of the dynamic spectrum, and she executes a wide range in terms of pitch and emotional quality. By contrast, Charles Watson’s smooth, even vocal tone plays nicely off of Taylor’s flashy flexibility.
The album’s opening track ‘Tears of Joy’ eases in with a slow jam, which is perhaps an unusual choice on a record containing crisply upbeat tracks like the eponymous ‘Complete Surrender’ (featured as Video of the Moment here). But it’s those exquisite slow burning moments that make this album stand out as something special among the blitz of typical mainstream dance pop.
The bluesy ‘Suffering You, Suffering Me’ (also featured in a recent Video of the Moment) is a surefire radio hit, with its lush brass instrumentation and Taylor’s sultry vocals. ‘Not Mine to Love’ takes the blues influence even further, featuring wailing guitars and forlorn lyrics about lost love; Taylor’s perfectly executed vocal improvisation in the final chorus is not to be missed. She shows the deeper, softer side of her voice on the theatrical torch song ‘Dependable People and Things That I’m Sure Of’, and country-folk waltz ‘The Queen’s Nose’.
Watson’s lead vocals are featured in a variety of musical contexts as well, including rhythmic groovy track ‘The Pieces’, piano ballad ‘Number One’ and the expansive final track ‘Wanderer Wandering’. But his singing is at its most effective on acoustic folk tune ‘Paraguay and Panama’, where he gently croons through the lilting melody and misty lyrics, “Painted girl upon the wall, covered carefully in Paraguay and Panama, you were the hourglass beauty queen, just flick your hair and move your lips around, in the shape of words that you knew before all of this”.
‘Complete Surrender’ is one of those rare albums that experiments with a variety of musical styles and somehow manages to combine them into a cohesive unit. In this case, Slow Club use their refined lyrical expression and emotional sensitivity, not to mention some brilliant singing, to unify the songs and keep the energy flowing through all 11 tracks. (Insider tip: Don’t miss the sneaky hidden track at the end).
‘Complete Surrender’, the third album from Sheffield’s Slow Club, will be released on Monday (the 14th of July) on Caroline International. It can be streamed at The Guardian, here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 8th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
It’s been some time since we’ve heard from Melbourne folk rockers Husky. It’s been 2 years since their fab debut ‘Forever So’ on Seattle’s famed Sub Pop Records; I worry when it’s been some time since I’ve heard from a band, I always assume the worst (band break-up). So it was with some relief that hearing just last week that the Aussie group, comprised of frontman/songwriter Husky Gawenda, cousin Gideon Preiss and Evan Tweedie, have returned to us, revealing a taster from their so far untitled sophomore album.
‘I’m Not Coming Back’ is the lead single from the second outing. Despite its rather negative sounding title, tempo-wise it’s an upbeat song (handclaps at the ready, anyone?) and not anything I expected from its name. The guitar work is masterful, as are the harmonies that made fans fall in love with them on previous ‘Forever So’ tracks such as ‘The Woods’. As for its meaning, I assumed, most probably incorrectly, that the song was about a man with who split town with fury after being jilted by his lover. Maybe that exists as a subtext, but the tune is more of a farewell letter that feels scathing to the whole place: “my hometown has cursed me lately / I’m not coming back!”
However, in the bridge, there seems to be some doubt in his mind, as if his conscience is answering him: “I woke with fright, with the moon outside / Sleep won’t come (You don’t really need it) / You just can’t tell (You never can, son) / I hope I’ll breath. (Hope so too)”. Maybe, then, this running away is not just from his hometown but from the ties that bind us to our old ways, and the fear we have in ourselves when we leave the things that have become familiar. Rich is its lyrical content while also being spellbinding in the richness of its instrumentation and harmonies, if this single is anything to go by, the second LP from Husky will be a good’un indeed.
‘I’m Not Coming Back’, the first single from Husky‘s yet to be named second album, is out now on Sub Pop.
South London alt rock trio Happyness have announced an autumn tour in support of their debut album ‘Weird Little Birthday’. They favorably impressed our Martin at Live at Leeds earlier this year (read his thoughts here) and are scheduled for several summer festival appearances before the following headline shows. Stream their latest single ‘Anything I Do is All Right’ below the tour date listing.
Wednesday 8th October 2014 – Sheffield Rocking Chair
Friday 10th October 2014 – Huddersfield Parish
Saturday 11th October 2014 – Middlesbrough Twisterella Festival
Sunday 12th October 2014 – York Fulford Arms
Tuesday 14th October 2014 – London Electrowerkz
Wednesday 15th October 2014 – Birmingham Hare & Hounds
Thursday 16th October 2014 – Bristol Old Bookshop
Friday 17th October 2014 – Leicester Cookie
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 7th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
London’s Cloud Boat released their debut album ‘Book of Hours’ last year with fanfare on Apollo Records, part of the reactivated R&S empire. In some ways, their 2014 follow-up released today, ‘Model of You’, stays on the same course as its predecessor: there is a method to the duo’s madness, in the wonderfully measured way they’re able to create soundscapes seemingly effortlessly. This is all well and fine if you’re looking for the same kind of sound. Without a doubt, Tom Clarke and Sam Ricketts have buckets of talent between them and depending on the day, I’m sure many people would be quite happy with the majority of this album in their headphones, lying on an idyllic beach somewhere. I know I could.
However, two standout tracks on the album at positions 8 and 9 of this 12-track album – and even the opening track that builds into something aggressive, ‘Prelude’ – hint that this LP could have gone somewhere else entirely, somewhere more obviously dance floor-friendly. ‘Aurelia’, a female name derived from the ‘aureus’, Latin for ‘golden’, follows directly after less than the 2-minute beauteous instrumental ‘Golden Lights’. Singer Tom Clarke emotes, “I’m thinking about stopping it all” and “wondering if I should dive in”; the words weave an interesting story that leaves you wondering if he sings “you’ll see here and watch me get clean” because he’s trying to become absolved of his sins or he’s about to end his life. Unlike the instrumental that proceeds, it’s a monster of a track, with huge beats and guitar flourishes on show and a super infectious chorus.
‘Thoughts in Mine’ begins a slow burner of a track, with dangerous echoes and Clarke’s voice almost a whisper. It’s not until the second verse when the synths are introduced, the beats come to the forefront and Clarke’s intention comes across fully: this is a song about second guessing, the questioning of how and where a relationship went wrong (“I won’t stop until the love lost all makes sense”). It’s the electronic sister of Morrissey‘s ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’, with similar borderline stalker tendencies (Cloud Boat’s “I’d never tell you but I live in your head, floating around like the thoughts in mine” vs. Moz’s “I am now a central part of your mind’s landscape, whether you care or do not”). Except this entry from Cloud Boat is far more catchy, with the synths creating glittery, shimmery shapes throughout, adding to the aural experience.
As rich-sounding as these two songs are, they stick out like sore thumbs from the rest of the album, which tends to run in a gentle and dreamy, xx / Beach House direction. ‘Hideaway’ is a uplifting, more positive tune than those of the 2010 Mercury Prize winners, and ‘All of My Years’ is slower and more contemplative than the Baltimore duo. Previously revealed tune ‘Carmine’, a remembrance of a childhood friend, is perfection in its minimalist, sweeping sumptuousness. With its brighter, less shadowy production, ‘Model of You’ is also more pop than ‘Book of Hours’, meaning that it will likely gain the act a wider following: for direct evidence of this, look to this NPR First Listen feature that ran last week, indicating the duo is well on their way to achieving a higher profile in America.
But this also means the duo had to sacrifice some of the quirkiness, some of the lovable rough edges of the previous one. Final track ‘Hallow’ (stream it at the bottom of this post) best bridges the best of old and new: it’s accessible, with Clarke’s soulful vocals, yet there are synth and percussive elements to keep things exciting. It’s a beautiful ending to the album, but it just seems a pity it took us 39 minutes to get there.
‘Model of You’ is definitely an interesting album: there are goats bleating on the James Blake-y ‘Portraits of Eyes’, for goodness sake. I just wonder how much greater the impression would have been on the listener if the song order had been rearranged to lead to a more compelling climax.
‘Model of You’, Cloud Boat’s second album, is out today on Apollo Records. For all Cloud Boat coverage on TGTF, including details of their October 2014 UK tour, go here.
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