I’m excited enough about a new album from the Besnard Lakes coming out on March 9, and now comes news of a side project of frontman Jace Lasek and Michael Gardiner, co-founder and former member of the Montreal-based band.
The project is called The Soft Province – the first time the pair have collaborated since the first incarnation of the Besnard Lakes in 2001.
Their self-titled debut is due for release in early summer on Three Ring Records, and the early previews at MySpace sound very promising. The pysch-rock influence of Besnard is evident (and probably unavoidable), but there’s also a driving sense of pop that colors the sound. Check out I See Two Eyes, a song that rides a perfectly gorgeous guitar tone, at MySpace and download One Was a Lie below.
As you’d expect, it’s heavy on You & Me material. In fact, they played only one old song, and that was off A Hundred Miles Off. (Wonder how sick they are of The Rat.)
I cut up the songs into mp3s, but you can hear/watch the full session at KCRW. I think you can tell new host Jason Bentley is still feeling his way around some of the indie-rock bands he may not be familiar with, but, damn, his voice is made of butter.
Zane Lowe of BBC’s Radio 1 debuted the new single from Elbow, Grounds for Divorce, last week on his show. The song comes off the forthcoming record, The Seldom Seen Kid, due out in March on Fiction Records.
“MP3 culture and download culture has meant that songs are sold on an individual song basis – on the quality of an individual song.
“But we very definitely wanted to make one last ‘album,’ if you know what i mean, in terms of – we are an album band, very definitely, and even if it’s picked apart it’s meant to be listened to start to finish.”
Well, until I get the full album, I’m going to have to survive on this radio rip of Grounds for Divorce, a blues-injected stomper that reveals the album’s title within the lyrics (“Mondays are for drinking to the seldom seen kid” … ?).
Some songs were not meant to be unplugged, acoustic or stripped down. Case in point: VHS or Beta’sCan’t Believe a Single Word.
I never listened to the group before this year’s Bring on the Comets was released. And this song grabbed me right out of the gate. How could it not? I haven’t even given two thoughts to the lyrics; I’m more interested in how the drums move me, how the chorus pulls me in. Again, how could it not?
The band stopped by WOXY for a Lounge Acts session. I can understand the desire to perform and hear a song in a different context. But acoustic guitars do Can’t Believe no justice. Still a great song … but gimme the drums!
Two years ago, my boy Royce fought me – but eventually caved – when I said the National’s Alligator was the best album of the year. He would say, “I hate that you’re right.”
Well, now I’m saying I hate that he’s right about Myriad Harbour, a song that is turning out to be my favorite of the year. Coincidentally, I started listening to Challengers really heavily – and Dan Bejar’s ode to New York – at about the same time I took my own trip to the Big Apple in early September. Yes, it took me that long to realize the greatness of Challengers. And now I can’t stop.
It also helped that we saw the New Pornographers in Tucson about a week later with Bejar in all his drunken glory. It was a sight to behold, Bejar moseying on to the stage for his songs then promptly exiting at the end of each song. Unreal. And hilarious.
Bejar was even kind enough to make the group’s KCRW appearance on Sept. 20. Not even Neko was there (at least from what I can tell). What’s that say when Bejar is the responsible one?
At any rate, this version (mandolin and all) is pretty funny because Bejar starts laughing and nearly loses it in the first verse before composing himself.
There’s also something very subtle but somehow defining when he changes the lyric “I walked into the local record store” to “I walked into your local record store.” The slight one-word switch really emphasizes the theme of his singing from the perspective of a New York outsider.
The New Pornographers | Myriad Harbour (live on KCRW)
I guess it was a sign that while having lunch with co-workers at a newish (well, new to me) cafe one day last week, the Twilight Sad was playing over the speakers in the restaurant (compliments to the playlist maker).
Just the previous week, I had been jotting down my favorite albums of the year, and I completely forgot about Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, which seems fitting considering one of the main themes of the album centers on disaffection and alienation.
Seattle’s KEXP hosted the Scottish quartet for a studio session during KEXP’s live broadcasts from Chicago. I missed the band when it came through Phoenix a couple months ago, so I’m glad to have some semblance of a live set, including the fairly epic Cold Days from the Birdhouse.
Pretty sure we’re going to be hearing a lot more from this band, considering the buzz it’s generating is coming from just a three-song EP (available at eMusic).
If you haven’t heard Vampire Weekend yet, think Paul Simon (via Graceland/Rhythm of the Saints) with an indie-rock twist. As a live band, the quartet is tight and polished and craftily pulls off its world sound without any of the instrumentation you might expect to see. (I should note that in the interview on KEXP, the band mentioned Arizona as a tour highlight. Holla!)
The guys stopped at KEXP for an in-studio session and played four songs and even left off what I think is their best: Oxford Comma. Also check KEXP’s blog for an mp3 of Walcott (Insane Mix #2), the first song Vampire Weekend recorded.
You can also read a story I wrote when the band came through Phoenix.
Vampire Weekend, live on KEXP, 7/22/07:
1. Masnard Roof
2. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
4. The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance
My brother and I have spent a good number of e-mails recently discussing how much we like the new Travis record, The Boy With No Name.
Mostly we’ve talked about how it feels like a return to the group’s pinnacle of The Man Who. I know what you’re thinking, that UK lineage: Travis begat Coldplay who begat Keane who begat countless other imposters. But I will defend Travis to the death.
Where these others feel contrived and forced in their writing, I get the sense of pure sincerity and emotion from Travis. Normally, my cynicism would not allow me to take Fran Healy’s introduction of My Eyes in this KCRW session without a bit of an eye roll: “I wrote this song the day I found out we were going to have a baby.” Corny but sincere.
If you have the time, listen to the interview. It’s revealing in how Travis functions, not only as a band but as friends. The guys talk about how they took a hiatus – I thought the 2005 compilation of singles was the death knell – because the foundation of the band was what great friends they were. But they had to step back and reassess after starting to think of each member as one-quarter of a business.
Needless to say, Healy says the band “has the hunger back.” They wrote 41 songs during the break, recording 21 for The Boy With No Name; 12 made the cut (two bonus tracks come on iTunes version).
Travis, live on KCRW, 7/24/07:
1. Eyes Wide Open
2. Selfish Jean
3. Up the Junction (Squeeze cover)
4. My Eyes
6. Pipe Dreams
7. Love Will Come Through
8. All I Want to Do Is Rock
Also be sure to check out selfishjean.com, where, according to Healy, you can “report or confess random acts of selfishness through written confession/report, photographs or video, grade how selfish you think your act was and judge other reports.”