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The New Pornographers / Challengers review

 
By on Sunday, 26th August 2007 at 8:44 pm
 

New Pornographers - ChallengersWhen a band has a slow burner hit such as the New Pornographer‘s Twin Cinema or The National’s Alligator, their follow-up effort has an incredible burden of expectation placed upon them. Sometimes they manage it (see The National’s Boxer – Alligator’s equal if not better), and other times they just miss the mark, as is the case with “Challengers“.

Challengers is their fourth album and all expectations were pointing towards it being another indie-pop classic such as Twin Cinema, having the fun, slightly chaotic vibe that made them so many fans. However, Challengers has much more of a “morning after the chaotic party” vibe. Many of the songs suffer from too much production, taking away any sort of feeling or atmosphere, and as I mentioned earlier this year it sounds too much like AC Newman’s project instead of the Canadian Super-Group they were way back. The energy gone, the collection is like a Canadian version of a Feeder album – all consistently good tracks, just all a bit samey and nothing new or innovative, which is a shame given their debut Mass Electric, and their third album, Twin Cinema.

When they break into “All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth” early into the album I couldn’t help but feel that things were going to go on an up, however how wrong I was when 2 minutes in you realise it’s just repetitive, lacking in any of the power-pop juice songs like The Bleeding Heart Show had.

As the album progresses things get better, with an air of managing to master the pomp and circumstance of an end-of-film soundtrack, rather than soundtracking the party. “Adventures in Solitude” is a slow builder that manages to capture a snippet of the magic Twin Cinema once managed. Followed by album closer “The Spirit of Giving In” the pair provide the standout tracks to the album. A campfire sing-along, it manages to capture a tiny bit of their old magic.

Perhaps this lacklustre album is partly down to the lack of Neko Case and Dan Bejar playing the large roles that they used to in the band, or perhaps it’s just a running out of energy as the band members focus more on side projects. Either way, it’s an okay collection, but by no means a match for Twin Cinema.

 

New Pornographers – Challengers CD cover and tracklisting

 
By on Saturday, 2nd June 2007 at 6:54 pm
 

New Pornographers - ChallengersAs I mentioned a few days ago, The New Pornographers have been slowly giving us more and more information about their new album, Challengers.

They’ve now given us a track off the CD, the cover and a tracklisting, though as I’ve previously mentioned I don’t see much point in pre releasing tracklistings before we’ve got the tracks. As for the album art I must say I’m a bit disappointed with. It just seems like something they’ve scribbled down whilst on the bus between gigs whilst stoned off their faces – I might be altogether wrong however, or it might grow on me – whatever its all about the music, is it not?

The tracklisting is:

01 My Rights Versus Yours
02 All the Old Showstoppers
03 Challengers
04 Myriad Harbour
05 All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth
06 Failsafe
07 Unguided
08 Entering White Cecilia
09 Go Places
10 Mutiny, I Promise You
11 Adventures in Solitude
12 The Spirit of Giving

 

New Pornographers – “My Rights Versus Yours”

 
By on Tuesday, 29th May 2007 at 10:00 pm
 

New PornographersOne of my favourite bands, The New Pornographers (really, they just do pop music – nothing dirty!) have released a taster of their forthcoming new album, the enticingly named “Challengers” that will hopefully be one of the records of the year, going by their progression through their previous three albums.

As a first taste of the album I must say that its good, however not anything that’s made me go “WOW!” It sounds a lot like AC Newman’s solo stuff, with less pop power, which to me is a shame – I did love the pop tastic moments of “Twin Cinema” such as “The Bleeding Heart Show” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno”, and going by this one track “Challengers” doesn’t have this pop momentum. However, I’m sure it’ll be just as good in other ways… they always are!

News comes via Stereogum

“My Rights versus Yours” is available to download here

Picture is taken from Presta’s flickr stream

 

Connect Festival announces more bands for its lineup

 
By on Wednesday, 18th April 2007 at 5:58 pm
 

I’d never heard of Connect festival before yesterday, when I saw that their lineup had been announced. Wow. Whilst they don’t have bands who have the mass appeal of the likes of Arctic Monkeys (booo! Hisss!) or Snow Patrol, they do have some truley innovative, exciting and interesting bands that make you have faith in the music industry for once.

On the Friday they have:
Beastie Boys
The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Go! Team
CSS (Boooo! Hiss!!)
Nouvelle Vague
King Creosote
James Yorkston
Alex Smoke
Trashcan Sinatras

On the Saturday they have:
Primal Scream
Mogwai
Teenage Fanclub
The Divine Comedy
Modest Mouse
Sons & Daughters
Rilo Kiley
Vashti Bunyan
The Black Dog
The Only Ones
The New Pornographers
1990s

On the Sunday they have:
Bjork
LCD Soundsystem
Idlewild

Big Star
The Polyphonic Spree
My Latest Novel
Tilly & The Wall
Patrick Wolf

(my favourites in italics, in case you didn’t know!)

 
 
 

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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