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Video of the Moment #1616: Broken Bells

 
By on Monday, 1st September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Broken Bells, the rock duo comprised of James Mercer and Dangermouse, released their second album ‘After the Disco’ back in February. Both their self-titled debut and this latest LP have allusions to space travel and otherworldly pursuits, so it makes sense that their latest promo for ‘After the Disco’ track ‘Control’ would have old film clips of space, crop circles and UFOs. Interestingly, that pink dodecahedron thingy on the cover of ‘Broken Bells’ also makes several appearances. Even more randomly, clips of Mercer and Burton play are included, as are computer-rendered images of the two as an ‘unknown organic compound’. Huh? (I’m also wondering if the surviving members of Joy Division will sue for the usage of what seems to be the rippling waves of the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album…) Watch the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6azqrFDXfY[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Broken Bells perform acoustic version of ‘The Changing Lights’ in a Paris piano shop for La Blogotheque

 
By on Tuesday, 21st January 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

French Web site La Blogotheque recently filmed this performance of Broken Bells – Dangermouse (Brian Burton) and James Mercer – performing acoustically with just piano, guitar and vocals in a piano shop in Paris. They play new song ‘The Changing Lights’ from their long-awaited second album ‘After the Disco’ to be released on Columbia, now pushed back to the 3rd of February. There’s something so elegant about the duo being filmed in black and white too. Watch the performance below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX0cJTwxF9g[/youtube]

 

Video(s) of the Moment #1398: Broken Bells

 
By on Saturday, 30th November 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

All hail the return of Broken Bells, the side project but worthy enough on its own project of the Shins’ James Mercer and Dangermouse. A couple weeks ago, the duo unleashed the taster single ‘Holding on to Life’, from their next release. You can read Ben’s thoughts on the single here.

On this last Saturday of November, we bring to you a promo video double feature: parts 1 and 2 their mini-film saga, ‘After the Disco’, conveniently having the same name as the duo’s album to be released on the 14th of January 2014. We’re not sure if there will be further parts after this, but there’s plenty to think about after you watch the two videos below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCi4F8GZVqU[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLbwFxIQ_Mo[/youtube]

 

In the Post #115: Broken Bells keep the dream alive with latest single ‘Holding on to Life’

 
By on Thursday, 14th November 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

A moment of euphoria unfurled in 2010 as Broken Bells shifted 50,000 copies of their eponymous debut album within the first week alone. Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and The Shins’ James Mercer – the songwriting duo behind such a well crafted and somewhat existential collection – toured successfully, supported by five cherry picked compatriots.

But, almost 2 years passed before Mercer spoke of future plans for the indie troupe (save the ‘Meyrin Fields’ EP in 2011), and it would take 2 years more for these plans to become tangible. So here we are; waiting with baited breath for the new year and the answer to whether follow-up LP ‘After the Disco’ can maintain pace, with only new single ‘Holding on to Life’ to dissect in search of clues.

Strip joint psychedelia is perhaps the most accurate summation of the first 45 seconds of the single, with heartbeat bass thud and eerie theremin-like fluctuations giving way to the first words of Mercer, here playing the role of an assured ‘80s new romantic come to rescue his own “waitress in a cocktail bar”. By the pre-chorus, he’s shifted up into a nasal falsetto and the song timewarps back 10 years; Barry Gibb emerges from a low mist of dry ice made turquoise in the glow of an underlit dancefloor somewhere on the disco nebula. The space/time defying detour travels furthest away from planet now during a curious middle eight that possesses an air of both The Beatles and The Kinks, whilst maintaining just enough of their signature sound to make sense. Recapturing the ‘70s buzz, Broken Bells close with a synth line that spins with a sporadic twinkle – a mirrorball mesmerizing in its stationary orbit. And, if this single is anything to go by, fans of their dreamy, multi-faceted sound are likely to get their indie dreamscape fix.

‘Holding on to Life’, the new single from Broken Bells, is now available from Columbia. Watch the song’s ‘pseudovideo’ below. Upcoming album ‘After the Disco’ will be released the 14th of January 2014.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBlRcLfHVAk[/youtube]

 

Top Albums of 2010: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 13th December 2010 at 11:00 am
 

Another year has gone, which means with the whole load of albums released in 2010, your faithful editor has gone through and chosen what she considers the best of the year. Agree? Disagree? As always on TGTF, comments are welcome.

1. Delphic‘Acolyte’ (Polydor/Chimeric) – It’s always dangerous to say an album released so early in the year is wonderful, because you leave no room for anything else that comes after it. But after minimal internal debate, it was obvious which album I would choose as #1. The timelessness of this album wasn’t immediately apparent until I started listening to it, from start to finish and voraciously, for the first 3 months of 2010. It’s one of those debut albums that I know I’m going to look back in 10, 20 years and wonder how it was even possible for three guys to write such a sonic masterpiece in a cottage in the Lake District. (And later realised with producer Ewan Pearson, of course.)

The first time I heard ‘Submission’, still my favourite song on the album with its clean electronic sounds, the ever so funky bass and drums and crashing guitar, I was near tears. (As I wrote on the official Roskilde blog in May 2010, “…I consider [this] to be one of the best songs ever recorded. It’s that good. Should I run into them at the festival, I want to give them all hugs and weep on their shoulders.”) I’ll be honest, I’m a little scared about where the band is going for their sophomore album, but I’m confident in the band’s talent that whatever the three of them agree on for the new release will be great.

2. Two Door Cinema Club‘Tourist History’ (Kitsune) – It was a real struggle to figure out which of my top two albums would have to be the runner-up. The only reason why I put Two Door Cinema Club’s in at #2 is that there are two songs on here that feel like filler that I could do without. (I will say however that these two as live versions are a different story, because having seen the band twice this year, I actually liked the live versions a whole lot better than the ones committed to disc.) These are songs that will never leave your brain, because they’re so damn catchy. You can read my review of the album here. Definitely looking forward to the next album, bring it on boys.

3. The Hundred in the Hands‘The Hundred in the Hands’ (Warp) – Sleigh Bells? Overhyped. LCD Soundsystem? Good but ‘This is Happening’ pales in comparison to this. Sorry. The Hundred in the Hands: now this is the sound you should be listening to. This is 2010 synthpop with guitars, the way ’80s New Wave bands did it and did it right. This couple from Brooklyn have taken the best from New Wave and added emotional fragility with Eleanore Everdell’s beautifully expressive voice. Brilliant. You can read my review of the album here. I kick myself every time I remember I missed seeing them at teeny tiny DC9, headlining Liberation Dance Party.

4. Broken Bells‘Broken Bells’ (Columbia) – James Mercer’s voice couldn’t be beat. He’s just cool. And Danger Mouse? Put two cool cats in the same room with their ‘toys’ (all those wonderful instruments they can play and electronic gizmos aplenty) and let them go to town. The instrumentation is chill, dude. This is lounge music for the masses with a touch of sci-fi thrown in there for good measure. Good stuff to relax to. I hope this is one of those ‘side projects’ that turns into something more permanent, because not only are their recordings great, they’re pretty good live as well.

5. Villagers‘Becoming a Jackal’ (Domino) – The UK market has been saturated with indie folk pop acts. Some of them will be one trick ponies, never to be heard from again. And then there’s Conor J. O’Brien. You can’t teach someone how to write a good song. You either have it or you don’t. And without a doubt, O’Brien has it. He sings with the experience of someone decades older yet he’s not even 30 yet. After leaving me near breathless live this summer, I’m expecting great things from this ‘kid’ from Malahide.

Under the cut: albums that almost made the top 5…as well as some albums that disappointed.
Continue reading Top Albums of 2010: Editor’s Picks

 

Live Review: Broken Bells with the Morning Benders at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 07 June 2010

 
By on Wednesday, 9th June 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Take two stars of the music world – the Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) – and let them go to town making music. Good reason the Broken Bells debut album
(you can read my review from March here) was one of the most anticipated album of the year. The two played nearly everything on the album but to take this ‘project’ on the road, Broken Bells becomes a seven-member band. And a strong one at that. They appeared at a sold-out 9:30 Club Monday night.

The Morning Benders, the support act for the night, are a young Californian pop/rock band. Their latest album released this year, ‘Big Echo’, was produced by their lead singer Christopher Chu and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. So it’s safe to say that if you live on ‘Veckatimest’ and songs like ‘While We Wait for the Others’, you should check these guys out, because chances are you’ll dig them too. A nice-sized crowd had assembled for their set. Chu realised this early on, thanking us with a winsome smile at regular intervals and even going as far as asking the audience, ‘do you want ‘Hand Me Downs’ or ‘Pleasure Sighs’?’ (naming two choices of song from ‘Big Echo’). Come now. How often do you see democracy in action at a gig?

Personally, I prefer my rock to have a bit more bite and my pop to have more hooks. But never mind me. Judging from the unbridled squeals of delight from the crowd (ow, right in my ear!) and the massive singalong of ‘da dum, da dum, la da da da dum’ erupting in their set closer ‘Excuses’, I’d say they also have a relatively young-ish and devoted fanbase in Washington. Good thing too, because they’re supporting Dan Auerbach’s Black Keys at Constitution Hall in July and will return for a headlining tour of their own in the autumn.
Carry on reading the review, catch some pictures and the setlist…

 
 
 

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We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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