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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th June 2016 at 12:00 pm
In just a few hours, Two Door Cinema Club will be returning to Glastonbury – to play on the Pyramid Stage, no less – after a 3-year absence from Worthy Farm. They’ve also had a 3-year absence from the record shops, following 2013’s oddball ‘Changing of the Seasons’ EP. In the world we live in, where mass consumerism is king and instant gratification is a key driver in buying decisions, 3 years away from the music industry machine is deemed pretty much akin to career suicide. However, according to the press release to promote their upcoming third album to be released in autumn, Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird just needed to unplug from all of it.
And unplug from it they did, from their crazy touring schedule and the crazy existence their lives had turned into. And, rather shockingly to me, they needed to unplug from each other, “to alleviate the increasing passive aggressive tensions within it [the band] and battle their various demons”. Wow. As we’ve seen many a band implode for no more reason than that old chestnut “familiarity breeds contempt”, perhaps the foresight to open the pressure valve before the strain became too great will prove the reason for Two Door’s longevity for years to come. Now, however, we should consider their first song since their forced separation, ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’.
Having done the initial brainstorming and sketches for their third album over email – a necessity, now that Trimble lives in Portland, Halliday is in London and Baird now calls Los Angeles home – this first taster from ‘Gameshow’ indicates that we’re in for a potentially bumpy ride. Bumpy, in the sense that it appears Two Door have eschewed the obvious hooks and pop sensibilities that made them quick favourites with the kids. Trimble says of the new album, “We’re not embracing the pop that’s going on now in a melodic or structural sense. The two biggest influences for me were Prince and Bowie: both total pioneers who straddled that line between out-there pop and avant-garde craziness.” Uh huh. When asked about how the new single came out, Trimble explains:
While I was writing this single I discovered this term weltschmertz, the German word for being at odds with the world around you. The fact that it was a fully coined term and related to so many people that have existed and do exist made me feel it was okay to not exist on the same level as everyone else, it was okay to be comfortable doing your own thing. ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ was me…not attacking the world around me but outlining why I don’t really get it and why I don’t fit in with it.
The lines “you should be comfortable, don’t think at all” and “you get paid, don’t need any respect” seem to be direct nods to the disaffected creatures performing on a stage they became after becoming indie heroes to a global legion of fans. Through the song, there is a definite sense of mocking of society, albeit a veiled one, as Trimble highlights through his lyrics the inanity of a world made up of people who can’t think for themselves. Thematically, it recalls for me a single last year by The 1975, ‘Love Me’, in which Matthew Healy pointed out the decline of pop music as an art form because of the absurdity of success and how it has changed music.
It’s important to note that you can still dance to Two Door Cinema Club on ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’. This is a very good thing. But their songwriting formula has changed. As Trimble says, they’ve chosen to go towards a different kind of pop sound: one that is far less immediate, while allowing for a more cerebral approach with the lyrics. I have to admit, I didn’t like this song at all the first time I listened to it. It truly bothered all my senses that Sam Halliday’s guitar doesn’t sing on here as how I remembered it did on either of their first two albums. If you compare the new single to their previous efforts, there’s a scarily palpable void melodically. They certainly don’t sound like the band I remember.
However, after a few more listens, a strange thing happened. It began to grow on me. The emotional content comes across in spades in Trimble’s voice, and it’s a nice progression from the heart-wrenching vocal delivery in the chorus of ‘Beacon’ track ‘Sun’. Maybe this is the key to appreciating it properly? By choosing the road less travelled, Two Door Cinema Club have consciously taken artistic control of their music. However, this also means they’ve assumed all of the risk for their future. Did they make the right decision? We’ll have to wait until October to find out.
Two Door Cinema Club’s single ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ is available now. ‘Gameshow’, their forthcoming third album produced by Jacknife Lee, will be out on the 14th of October on Parlophone Records. To read any or all of TGTF’s comprehensive back archive of on Two Door, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 2:00 pm
The Two Door Cinema Club phenomenon has been ongoing for over a half decade now, and with their current brief American tour’s tickets flying out the door, it doesn’t show any signs of abating. Having been one of the first, if not the first journalist on this side of the pond to have written about them in years ago, it was especially sweet to have seen them play an intimate show (for them) at the Black Cat (around 700 capacity) Tuesday night in Washington. The last time they came through our city, they played DAR Constitution Hall (3,000 capacity) in 2013, so this date, along with the rest of the tour, was a concerted effort on their part to provide a more intimate experience ahead of a promised third album. I joked to Carrie before heading out to this show that I was praying for a civilised crowd, and one that would not require tasering to keep in line. At least where I was stood for the evening stage right, I was surrounded by respectful, vocally jubilant fans who wanted nothing else but a good night out watching their favourite band’s triumphant return in an intimate environment.
The opener for the evening and for this short tour of America this month was Austin-based musician Bayonne. The tall, mustachioed Roger Sellers is a force to be reckoned with live, even as a one-man band. To be honest, I was a little concerned to see how the music made by a guy with a tabletop full of electronics would fit with Two Door Cinema Club’s energetic indie rock. The first clue that should have told me everything was going to be okay was the drum standing next to Sellers’ setup.
While it’s true that in live performance that an important element of Bayonne’s sound are Sellers’ generally dreamy, chill vocals put through various effects, the electronics act more as a conduit than merely a means to an end or lazy musicianship. He’s very animated live, more than happy to pound his drums like no-one’s business. When he’s not doing that, he’s making gestures in time to the music coming back to him, playing air synth and pulling funny faces to get the crowd going, or preening, clearly fancying himself as a gorgeous creature. These are things that would not be obvious if you watched his recent video for ‘Waves’. While he might not have been an obvious choice to support such a well-established and beloved band like Two Door, his animated and amusing performance did a great job in building further anticipation towards the main event.
After it was reported that at their show last Saturday at Cambridge, Massachusetts venue The Sinclair that Two Door Cinema Club had previewed their new album with a track called ‘Game Show’, I for one was chomping at the bit to see what the Irishmen had up their sleeves in new material. I’m a little confused by this one after hearing it live, I have to admit. It’s heavy on reverb, with more of a psych feel than anything they’ve ever done before. It sounded me to me like the now-defunct Cashier No. 9 and YAK had a baby. Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Trimble promised their third album is on its way before the end of the year, so stay tuned for that.
With two albums and an EP under their belt, they had plenty of material to fill a set well over an hour. However, they kept their set in DC close to 60 minutes, even with the encore, but smartly included their most fun, vibrant numbers to keep the energy in the room up for their entire time onstage. They swung back and forth and back again on tunes from their earliest days with 2010’s ‘Tourist History’ to those on 2012’s riskier ‘Beacon’ with ease. There’s something to be said about such a percussion-forward song like ‘Come Back Home’ being followed by an in-your-face song like ‘Wake Up’, with its closing shouts, and without skipping a beat.
While the two albums are quite different, as part of Two Door’s ongoing oeuvre, they all fit together wonderfully, parts of the patchwork of their entertaining catalogue. As their set went on, the volume of the fans singing back lyrics to the band seemed to be getting louder, being sung with increased gusto. I smiled to myself as I was reminded that I indeed remembered nearly every word on every song of theirs. That’s proof of good songcraft, of the incredible ability to write a memorable, toe-tapping tune.
When it came time for the encore and they began with ‘Someday’, I almost lost it. After seeing them perform the song a few years ago, I kept it close to my heart, its optimistic tone helping me keep the faith, even when things seemed to be going totally wrong and badly. It was shortly after that show of theirs that I tacked a copy of the song’s lyrics on my cupboard door at work. Those lyrics are still tacked there to this day: they remind me daily that fate works in mysterious ways and to keep my trust in it, no matter what. In a similar way, you can say going to a Two Door Cinema Club concert, for that hour or so watching them put on an amazing show, is a fantastic salve for whatever in your life is troubling you. In the song ‘Next Year’, Trimble sings the beautiful lines, “if you think of me, I will think of you.” And we’ll always remember Two Door Cinema Club and their crowd-pleasing songs.
After the cut, Two Door Cinema Club’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Bayonne at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 7th June 2016
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 8th October 2013 at 2:00 pm
When I joined up here as USA Editor of TGTF, one of the first albums I listened to and fell in love with immediately was Two Door Cinema Club‘s debut ‘Tourist History’. I got a sampler of it electronically a couple weeks before the end of 2009. As a music journalist, I don’t think that aha feeling of “they’re going to be absolutely massive!” ever goes away when you hear a recording that blows *you* away. When I received the full album a few weeks later, I was thinking to myself while everyone was going crazy over singles ‘Something Good Can Work’ and ‘I Can Talk’, “mark my words. It’s ‘What You Know’ that’s going to be the huge song off this album…”
Nearly 2 months after the album’s release in the UK, I got the opportunity to cover Two Door’s first visit to the Nation’s Capital, then supporting their American labelmates Phoenix. After the show, I found the guys talking to some new converts, but there were only two people in the whole place – myself and another woman – who had any idea who they were. That other woman was Cheryl Demas, who has since become a good friend of mine and now writes for us. I went to introduce myself to the band and greeted them individually by name; bassist Kevin Baird looked gobsmacked. “How do you know our names…?”
I handed over one of my business cards. He put two and two together: “wait! You’re the woman that writes all those lovely things about us!” This is how a friendship and continuing mutual respect between us began that continues to this day. When I’m in America, I rarely leave the DC area to see bands, and it takes a very special band to get me out of town; I did this for Two Door, seeing them play in the pretty small Johnny Brenda’s the following month, in May 2010, and I cherish moments like that night, being able to talk to the guys after in such a relaxed way. I miss the days of being able to see the guys and talk to them without them getting mobbed, but if me not seeing them after a show means they’re a huge success, then that’s one sacrifice I’m willing to make. They work so incredibly hard, it’s wonderful to see them do so well.
And doing well they are. About 3 and a half years later since I met the boys, they returned to the place where it all began – the cavernous, 3,700 capacity DAR Constitution Hall, where my high school graduation exercises took place – to play to the teeming masses of fans they have in this area. Before that though, there were two bands that had play warm-up. First was Smallpools, an indie pop band originally from New Jersey, now based in Los Angeles.
The first thing that struck me about them was how scarily their frontman Sean Scanlon looks like Husky Gawenda. Seriously, they could be twins. The band just released their self-titled debut EP in July and they’ve gotten a lot of love through the Hype Machine, so this was the perfect time and perfect tour really to get exposure to the American public. They have that bouncy, summery synthy sound that everyone is loving right now thanks to the efforts of Passion Pit a couple years ago, and the crowd ate it up. Look up their debut single ‘Dreaming’, the song they closed out their set with, and you’ll see what I mean. ‘Admission to Your Party’, a newer song, got my attention too. It should be a no-brainer that this band is destined for big things. (It’s unfortunate that my personal experience seeing them was marred by uncalled for hostility of a photographer who shoots for a noisome online rag that shalt not be named. Really? Let’s stay professional, people.)
The second support act was St. Lucia, who is New Yorker by way of South Africa producer Jean-Philip Grobler plus his live band. He’s actually remixed loads of bands, including both the aforementioned Passion Pit and the stars of this night’s show, Two Door. Think New Wave with all the synths and loads of things going on, but as should be expected by a musician whose stage name is also the name of a lovely Caribbean island where many Americans go on holiday to, there is a tropical bent. St. Lucia’s debut album ‘When the Night’ is out today in America but the UK needs to wait until next week to hear it.
Judging from the shrill screaming and shouts of “I love you!” that took place when Grobler and band took the stage and all throughout their set, the South African already has an army of fans. From the effervescence of ‘Closer to This’ to set closer and the song currently getting tons of blogosphere love ‘Elevate’, there are snatches of warmer climes and Friendly Fires that I can get on board with (no pun intended).
And then there was the band that needs no introduction. A while ago, it was announced that Two Door Cinema Club were going to headline the O2 in London. I almost cried reading that off Twitter. Was this really the same band I was annoying all my friends with in 2009 and 2010, saying they were going to be the Next Big Thing? Well, they’ve already surpassed the Next Big Thing. They are the Big Thing.
Whether it was photographing them from the floor at their very feet on the Constitution Hall stage or watching them larger than life from my elevated VIP box in the back, I felt a definite sense that I was watching history being made. ‘Sleep Alone’, a pretty much perfect single from 2012’s ‘Beacon’, started the show off in style, fangirls and fanboys contributing a deafening scream when the boys appeared onstage and whenever they took a moment to catch their breath in between songs.
Two Door Cinema Club are, by nature, not jokers, which comes across clearly in their stage banter. No, they’re very humble boys from Northern Ireland, entirely modest and clearly in awe of where they had suddenly found themselves. And with so many of their devoted fans, who they were thanking personally throughout the night for their support. Lead singer Alex Trimble asked a couple times, “is everyone doing ok?”, which of course led to more spirited screams. The one moment of humour of the night, if you could call it that, was when Trimble played a couple notes on his guitar over and over again, which served to build anticipation to the beginning of ‘Something Good Can Work’. This was the first real offering the band made to UK radio stations in 2009, so to have an entire venue hushed in wait for the song to start was no mean feat.
‘Changing of the Seasons’, the title track from their recently released EP, melted seamlessly into the backdrop of what has become the well-oiled and well-known Two Door set list; it sounded absolutely amazing. The only real complaint of the show I have is that they did not bring out ‘Golden Veins’ from the EP too, in which guitarist Sam Halliday sings lead vocals for the first time. Maybe the next time they come through, Sam will be given the spotlight and that song will receive an airing.
But for the excited masses, they wanted to hear the hits, and in Two Door’s case, there are loads of them. The reception for punchy ‘Wake Up’ was no less manic than for the arms that were raised and waved animatedly to older ‘Come Back Home’. ‘Sun’, a sleeper on ‘Beacon’, surprised me by getting a huge – and loud – response from the punters, so much more than I expected. The enjoyment of ‘I Can Talk’ was extended by Trimble slowing things down and ramping them back up again, only to figuratively reach out to the crowd and ask everyone to sing the chorus back to him. As you can imagine, we were only happy to comply.
When it came time for the end, the sweeping vocals of the chorus paired with the freneticism of the guitars of ‘Someday’ was the ideal way to start the encore. But I already guessed what song they’d end with. Yup. That old song off ‘Tourist History’ that I said that was going to be huge: ‘What You Know’. And what do we know after a Two Door Cinema Club show like this? We don’t need to guess that they’re going to be huge stars. They are already there. Congratulations, my boys. You’ve made it.
After the cut: Two Door Cinema Club’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Smallpools and St. Lucia at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC – 4th October 2013
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 28th August 2013 at 6:00 pm
The worlds of two of my fandoms have collided. Beatle devotees will recognise the A Hard Day’s Night-tinged story of Two Door Cinema Club‘s promo video for new song ‘Changing of the Seasons’ (discussed by me here). Black and white antics ensue. (Am I feeling old that the majority of the kids who will see this video will have no idea what I am talking about? Yes.) Watch it below.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 20th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
We’re getting close to the end of the summer 2013 festival season, and this past weekend Two Door Cinema Club brought out something new to thrill their audience at V Festival: ‘Changing of the Seasons’, the band’s forthcoming single that premiered last week on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 programme. The song will appear on an EP out soon, but we don’t know more than that. I guess Two Door are trying to be mysterious, tantalising their global legions of fans? But the timing of new material, their first since sophomore album ‘Beacon’ was released in September 2012, couldn’t be better: the band will be headlining their biggest venues in a North American tour in October and November and will be playing their biggest show in Britain at London’s O2 on the 13th of December.
So what does ‘Changing of the Seasons’ bring to the table? Rolling Stone has reported that the new song sees the band “explore [a] new direction” with this “dance-friendly record”. This sounded really odd to me; when you’ve been kicking your heels up to a indie rock group’s music for 4 years (and in this particular case, since ‘Something Good Can Work’) with nary a thought that people *wouldn’t* dance to their music, it seems strange that anyone would call this a new direction. (Seriously. I take great care *not* to dance too hard at their shows because at this one in January 2011 I danced far too excitedly, hurting my legs so much, I was in pain every step I took for the next 3 days.) There has always been a joyful, optimistic quality to Two Door’s songs, and ‘Changing of the Seasons’ is no exception. But this time, there are two major differences.
One, this song represents a one-off collaboration with their musical buddy from Nantes, France, electronic wunderkind Madeon, who seems to turn anything he touches into gold. Just the mention of his name I’m sure has already sent his fans into a frenzy, which should be good for Two Door, exposing the dance set to their music. Madeon’s touch on ‘Changing of the Seasons’ isn’t too jarring at all, adding buzzy, bouncy yet smooth synth layers to the tune. However, Sam Halliday’s lead guitar is much less prominent, in a manner that might cause some alarm the same way Edd Gibson’s axe was less noticeable in Friendly Fires‘ 2009 single ‘Kiss of Life’.
Two, lyrically, it’s a pretty interesting story. The changing of seasons is used as a plot device to describe how a man is feeling about a woman. Woman leaves man, man gets upset with her leaving, woman has a change of heart and wants another night with him. But what this song is really about is how far he’s come beyond their breakup. Without her. The path to this is not your usual pop song fodder, is it? The way the woman requesting a booty call (“come back and spend the night with me”) is emphasised in the bridge, but the man is having none of it, dismissing her “when you say you won’t forget me / well I can tell you that’s untrue / ’cause every day since you left me / I’ve thought less and less of you”. He’s moved on.
But our protagonist’s strongest moment is the second half of the chorus: “and I’ve worn out all the reasons / to keep on knocking at your door / could be the changing of the seasons / but I don’t love you anymore”. While the pain of someone you love is something you wouldn’t wish on anyone and the emotions you feel can twist your insides, there will come a day when you will come out on the other side and be able to look back on what happened with pain but look forward with the knowledge that the seasons change. And life goes on.
The version of ‘Changing of the Seasons’ ripped from Radio1 can be streamed below. Two Door Cinema Club’s next release, a yet to be named EP, will be released soon.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 11th June 2013 at 10:00 am
Who doesn’t love free Two Door Cinema Club goodies? I know I do. Here is Amtrac‘s (Kentuckian Caleb Cornett) remix of ‘Handshake’, from the band’s sophomore album ‘Beacon’ released in September 2012. Listen to and snag the track for your own collection below.
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