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Live Review: The Hundred in the Hands at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 19th June 2012

 
By on Monday, 25th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

I missed the last time The Hundred in the Hands headlined in Washington DC. They played DC9’s Liberation Dance Party night that Phenomenal Handclap Band, VV Brown and Delphic played on separate occasions, and yes, I’m kicking myself I didn’t go. But I didn’t know who they were at the time. I partially made up for this by heading up to Philly and Boston in autumn 2010 to catch them open for the Temper Trap. But nothing beats seeing a band whose debut album you ranked in the top 5 of albums of 2010 in your hometown.

The first act on was New York City ambient artist Vorhees. Better known to her mum as Dana Wachs, she’s a sound designer and audio engineer (for famous names like MGMT and Lykke Li, no less) who also records music under this Vorhees moniker. She would record guitar parts live, then run these recorded bits through various analogue machinery she had with her up onstageand sing along to the new creation. I didn’t think I’d like this kind of music but surprisingly, I did: she produced soundscapes like nothing I’d ever heard before.

From a pretty minimalist solo act, we couldn’t have gone to a more different band than local to DC group Dance for the Dying. Lead singer M.C. Wolfe, dressed like a hippie in a cute golden-toned sundress and bright magenta feather earrings, initially screamed out Grouplove to me. Cheryl and I were wondering how she managed not to fall out of her dress, as she precariously balanced a white keytar on her shoulder. Beyond Wolfe herself, drummer and band founder Chris Link, guitarist Joshua Hunter, and bass player Brad Cantor were so fun to watch, you could tell they were totally into it. I’m not wild about their ‘synth-driven dance pop’ label but I guess this is the closest you can get. A little ‘80s, a little ‘90s, a little pop, a little soul, a sexy bass line…it’s all here.

Eleanore Everdell and Jason Friedman of the Hundred in the Hands just released their second album ‘Red Light’, which I reviewed a short while ago here on TGTF. I find while ‘Red Light’ is very different from ‘The Hundred in the Hands’, it’s a direction that should help them gain a wider fanbase. On the live side of things, the duo have enlisted friend and former bandmate of Friedman’s Joe Dilworth, which overall is a great addition, as anyone who has seen the Hundred in the Hands in the past is more familiar with them playing with a programmed drum machine. I myself welcome the addition of a live drummer, because it makes the overall Hundred in the Hands experience that much more powerful.

To be honest, I felt super embarrassed by my town that there were less than 100 people present for their return to our city. (Seriously, Washington…what the heck? Is everyone at the beach? ::rolls eyes::) But I give credit to everyone who was there, as it felt like they were all longtime fans who loved ‘The Hundred in the Hands’ and were eager to see the band play their newest songs. I wouldn’t have blamed the band for not playing an encore with such a paltry turnout, but our dedication was rewarded by “a slow one” that finished out the night mellow and my heart singing. It’s been so long since I’ve really gotten to dance at a show, so this one hit the spot.

‘Keep It Low’, the sultry number the band released in the spring as the first taster to ‘Red Light’, didn’t disappoint and garnered just as great of a response as debut album hits ‘Pigeons’ and ‘Commotion’. The lovely thing about Hundred in the Hands is for me, they put the “dance band” label on its head, and “electronic dance” even more so, because some people get a cold feeling from hearing that genre being mentioned. You don’t expect a synth-playing woman who sings emotionally with a riff-happy, free-wheeling cause mental dance scenes, but that’s what I witnessed every time I looked behind me during the band’s set. Add on their new drummer with mad guns, this is a band to be reckoned with.

After the show I chatted with Eleanore and Joe about their touring schedule, and they’ve been everywhere in the last 2 months and are headed back over to Europe again, including a string of German and Austrian music festivals in July and August. While I have come to understand that Europe as a whole is a better appreciator for electronic dance than America is (and believe me, as an American, it drives me up the wall), it still boggles my mind why they aren’t more popular here. I say give them a chance if you get the opportunity to see them live. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Live Gig Video: The Hundred in the Hands perform ‘SF Summer’ for Mahogany Sessions

 
By on Friday, 22nd June 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

TGTF recently caught a headline set by The Hundred in the Hands in Washington. Stay tuned for a live review on the site soon. In the meantime, enjoy this Mahogany Sessions performance of ‘SF Summer’, from the band’s new album ‘Red Light, reviewed by Mary over here. What could be more beautiful for a lazy Friday afternoon that watching Eleanore Everdell and Jason Friedman performing acoustically in the hazy glow of summer? Watch it below.

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

 

Album Review: The Hundred in the Hands – Red Light

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

It feels like I saw The Hundred in the Hands open for the Temper Trap lifetimes ago in Philly and Boston, when in actuality, it has been less than 2 years. Given the change in musical climate, I think I could be forgiven for my mind being deceived. While there are some acts that have flourished by using electronics in an obvious and knowing way (Grimes, James Blake), it seems to me that there seems to be a bit of a backlash, reminiscent of disco being booed off the baseball field in the early ‘80s: Ladyhawke’s ‘Anxiety’ (review here) is Pip Brown’s way of trying to extricate herself from the electropop label, and Little Boots’ new singles ‘Every Time I Say a Prayer’ and ‘Headphones’ are garnering mixed response. Their 2010 self-titled debut (reviewed here) relied on Eleanore Everdell’s voice, dreamy at times but always rising to the occasion above relatively clean instrumentation, such as catchy synth melodies and Jason Friedman’s crashing guitar riffs. On their second go around, the real life couple from Brooklyn appear to be taking a darker approach with the new release ‘Red Light’.

You can tell things have changed straight away as the album opens with ‘Empty Stations’. It’s a slow build towards the 1-minute mark, with melancholy guitar allowed a couple spare notes before the driving beats lay into you. Everdell’s voice comes in, sounding as great as she did on ‘The Hundred in the Hands’, before the song builds to a climax into minute 2. Whoa. I need to take a step back. The assault on your ears feels like war has been waged, and I’m not sure if the cacophony is what the doctor ordered: the overall effect is too much. Frankly, the song leaves me frightened. Maybe the ‘Red Light’ album name is a warning?

So it was with much relief that ‘Recognise’, the next song, shows much more restraint. Dreamy vocals, even dreamier synths and gentle passes of a guitar = the electronic world’s definition of sexy. ‘Faded’ is even more dreamier, if it’s even possible. Now this is more like the Hundred in the Hands I used to know. ‘Keep It Low’, which we gave away in April, feels both New Order and Depeche Mode in its industrial clanking but with its dance beats, it pulls me in, completely mesmerising in its rhythms and Everdell’s ever expansive voice. ‘Tunnels’ is Bananarama and an ‘80s vibe, combined with a menacing, thudding beat. It’s like ketchup and mashed potato together: it shouldn’t be good, but it is. (Yes, I do eat my mashed potatoes with ketchup. Don’t judge.)

‘Come With Me’, while showing signs of bleakness and hardness akin to ‘Empty Stations’, has more focus than the first track and comes across well in an epic rock way, almost Muse-like. ‘SF Summer’ does this also, but to a lesser extent. (I do pray the Hundred and the Hands won’t be compared with Amy Lee and the American band Evanescence, which I’m guessing the lazier of music journalists will compare this album to on the basis of one or two songs on here.) In 2010, three out of my top five albums were made by bands with a dance bent (Delphic, Two Door Cinema Club, then the Hundred in the Hands). From my perspective, Delphic came out and did well out of the gate in January 2010 because they offered an alternative to either straight dance or straight rock, melding a combination of the two that worked and gave respect to the two genres from which their new sound was forged. There are clearly some tracks on ‘Red Light’ that sound like they went through a similar thought process, and I’m guessing these are the ones that will prove more popular and have a better shot at mainstream success, or at least what passes for mainstream success in the indie world. Not completely a dance album or a rock album, ‘Red Light’ shows maturity in direction. Or at least the realisation that a dance album, when taking the right kind of cues from rock, can offer something great to people who might not otherwise check them out.

8/10

‘Red Light’, the second album from The Hundred in the Hands, is out today on Warp.

 

MP3 of the Day #525: The Hundred in the Hands

 
By on Friday, 20th April 2012 at 10:00 am
 

I get really worried when I don’t hear anything from my favourite bands in a while. The Hundred in the Hands fell into that category. Until now. They’re getting ready to release their second album, ‘Red Night’, in June, and I couldn’t be happier. (Their self-titled debut was my #3 album of 2010 and they’re fabulous live.)

Here’s the first track they’re letting loose for free to the public, called ‘Keep It Low’. Wow. THUD. That was my heart on the floor. This sounds amazing. Listen to and get it for free in exchange for your email address in the widget below.

 

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

 

Video of the Moment #373: The Hundred in the Hands

 
By on Thursday, 21st October 2010 at 6:00 pm
 

The Hundred in the Hands have released the promo video for ‘Commotion’, their forthcoming single to be released in mid-November. Watch it below. Warning: it’s hot.

For more info on the single, here’s my review of it from last week.

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

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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 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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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