Sunday, November 07, 2010


The Orange Juice box set Coals To Newcastle is out tomorrow, but at six CDs and a DVD it might be a bit pricey, what with Christmas and cuts coming up. And especially as this week also sees the release of two albums that are uniquely spectacular in their own ways, both oddly/coincidentally/neither second LPs with Leeds connections. In one corner James Mabbett, Napoleon IIIrd to you, who in the three years since STN's fourth favourite album of 2007 In Debt To has accumulated what sounds like a great wealth of keyboards, loopstations, things with wires like handheld telephone exchanges and suchlike, left them to fight with cutting lyrics (even if it does end with two instrumentals) and a half-submerged pop knowledge, and called the giddy rush of noise and moral confusion Christiania (download tomorrow, CD 15th), after an autonomously self-governing, counterculturally inclined Copenhagen neighbourhood-cum-commune. Here's the track that closes it. In the other corner the six people collectively calling themselves Her Name Is Calla. Such was the level of care absolved into The Quiet Lamb (out in some formats for ages, but physically tomorrow - complicated, all this staggering labels do now) that just mixing and mastering the thing reputedly took a year. Technically it's post-rock, in that there's contemplative quiet patches and explosive loud patches, but it's difficult only in how it requires special effort to take in its 75 minutes of pitch and yaw, tense, fragile and cathartic, almost modern classical in its remarkable scope - have a glance at Tom Morris' track by track guide, where it's revealed one track is about "my own place in hell". We will write more about both of these deep into next month.

Les Savy Fav gigs are less performance than they are crash circus, with Tim Harrington wandering all over the place in all sorts of gear, connecting with people in a way the recipients could only ever fear. They're over from Saturday at Glasgow ABC2, with Brighton on the 15th (the day after Constellations Festival, and we'll be coming back to that rarefied clusterfuck next week), off around Europe for a bit, then back to London Electric Ballrooms on the 22nd. Speaking of maniac hairiness, Nestor Matthews and his Sky Larkin bandmates are supporting. LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip share plenty in common - a live member (Al Doyle), a disappointing last album and a live show that gets more synaptic excitement then you'd expect from some people playing some keyboards. Their tour together begins at the Ally Pally on Wednesday, moving across to the Coronet Theatre on Thursday, Cardiff International Arena on Friday and then the rather less glamorously decadent sounding Rotherham Magna Centre on Saturday. Manchester, two nights in Glasgow and three in Dublin follow. Wire have a new album out early in January, one that promises to showcase them at their most malevolent. A preview comes at Oxford Jericho Tavern on Wednesday as part of Audioscope's run of outre nights in aid of Shelter. Meanwhile for no other apparent reason then they can, Slow Club take another break from recording their second album to play a hometown gig at the Sheffield Leadmill next Saturday.

Let's not beat about the bush, We Are Trees, who've just played CMJ, sound a lot like Grizzly Bear. Daniel Rossen-like vocals, Chris Taylor production touches (the steadily hammering drums, the rolling surges, the pinpoint seperation of instruments), the works. There are of course much worse, and less difficult, bands to sound like, and Virginian James Nee, who is they, brings his own sense of orchestrated touch and lyrical open hearted touch as it goes along. Listen on Soundcloud, order the vinyl Boyfriend EP out on Tuesday via Bandcamp.

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