Ride and The Strokes will be joined by The Black Keys, Patti Smith, The Replacements and more.
Fans and hopeful attendees of Barcelona's Primavera Sound were delighted to discover that the preview app they downloaded was a video game displaying the full line-up for the festival's fifteenth anniversary.
Already announced were Friday and Saturday's headliners Ride and The Strokes, and now they've been joined by a host of other equally incredible artists. Thursday sees The Black Keys leading the bill alongside The Replacements, who are hitting Spanish stages for the first time and Antony and the Johnsons, who've been doing plenty since their last Barcelona gig. Bringing some variation to Thursday proceedings are electronic virtuosos James Blake, Richie Hawtin and Simian Mobile Disco.
Continue reading: The 15th Anniversary Line-Up For Primavera Sound Is Finally Here!
"I never met the old ones" goes the (pretty rubbish) joke that references the The New Pornographers' slightly Puckish choice of name. They're in fact the opposite of what you might perceive from the handle: far from being sleazy or discrete, the Vancouver collective are smart without being highbrow, prosaic, charming and rhapsodic all at the same time.
Unfair as might be, comparisons between them and fellow Canadians Arcade Fire have been drawn in the past. If, however, as a unit they were feeling any contrived sense of pressure after a four year absence since their last release 'Together', there are no signs of it here. The main reason for the prolonged gestation was in fact largely due to the compressed schedules of the band's various members, of whom the likes of Neko Case and Dan Berjar have side line careers as solo performers or as part of other successful groups. Lead singer A.C. Newman is no slouch himself of course; a writer with a trio of his own albums under his belt and of whom 2009's 'Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer' is a perennial favourite. In any event, 'Brill Bruisers' is now here with us, a record which seems unlikely to diminish The New Pornographers' upward momentum.
Newman has admitted that he's comfortable about the album title's ambiguity - with it's connotations of both confident pugilists and the original 60s hit factory - but, more tellingly, also that of the shadow cast by ELO, the English group which annexed pop music in the mid to late 1970s via minor epic songs such 'Mr. Blue Sky' and 'Sweet Talkin' Woman'. Their direct influence here is most keenly felt on 'Fantasy Fools', with it's multi-tracked vocals (from Newman and Case), sky-scraping chorus and rabble rousing dynamic.
Continue reading: The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers Album Review
British Columbia's finest proponents of Indie power pop deliver a marvellous fifth studio album. 'Together' is the follow up to 2007's 'Challengers', an album that although very well received only charted at 156 in the UK. So are The New Pornographers still a rather well kept secret that the discerning listener of well crafted, jaunty intelligent pop don't want you to share in?
The Vancouver based band are a collective of artistically fertile and prolific musicians. The two main singer song writers on Together, A.C Newman (Allan Carl to his family) and Dan Bejar have indulged in either solo work in the case of Newman, or fronted other side projects, Destroyer, Swan Lake and Hello, Blue Roses in the case of Bejar. Also Neko Case, the American that once graduated under the Maple Leaf and who shares some vocal duties, has her own acclaimed solo sidelines. It's fair to say that writers block, stage fright, or creative exhaustion have so far not appeared to bother the band.
'Together' by The New Pornographers is a band of ghosts who are mining their fin de siele imagery for all it's worth' apparently! Oh yes 'They don't use drum machines' and 'They do love a windmill.' Tie all that together with the band being named after a 1966 Japanese film 'An Introduction To Anthropology' set in Osaka and you may get some idea of why Dan Bejar, for one, has been cited for being cryptic. Accessibility is both their barrier to some and their USP to many others.
The band have said to have drawn on influences from The Cars and Cheap Trick to arrive at their sound. This tells only part of the story as 'Their' sound is now so evolved from their influences that some contemporary or alternate comparisons are more relevant. The eloquent, catchy and clever pop now has more commonality with the likes of Rilo Kiley, Teenage Fanclub, Belle And Sebastian, Echo Belly and Ben Folds. The solo work of Newman being compared to that of Ray Davis is born out once again here in the quality of his lyrics and ability to deliver a fabulous tune to boot.
'The Moves' breaks us in to the twelve set piece. It's string heavy nods to chamber pop with 'Lots of cello' and harmonised vocals tease you as an appetiser to the magnificence about to be served. 'The Crash Years' , not a song about the recent reformation of the Primitives, the questionable David Cronenberg film or the Oscar winning Matt Dillon L.A focused movie, but a song about 'You' a composition, containing all of about 20 words, from the 1975 Extra Texture album by George Harrison! Whatever the reasoning there is no doubting the brilliance, especially the sing-a-long chorus and Peter Gabriel esc whistling. 'Your Hands Together' maintains the extremely high quality and when it kicks in at 1m10s & again at 2m30s you'll be sure to be skipping about the room. 'Silver Jenny Dollar' lightens the pace but gives plenty to be thankful for 'We were only ever passing through, Cartilege and Sinew was the name of our act.' 'The Shepherd' is a piano lead more reflective number. With yet another joyful chorus set within the dynamics of a cleverly constructed song it works on many levels especially lyrically........
The improv's polished into working script,
We stare in wonder at the steps we skipped,
Tripping wires we have so carefully crossed,
The science behind it at a perfect loss.
'What Turns Up In The Dark' is the long awaited answer to the perpetual question 'What's love?' Track #9, 'Valkyrie and the Roller Disco' has the auspicious distinction of the best song title on the album. At its centre a darker more troubled protagonists theme is still terrifically evocative 'You stand in the puddle of the disco balls glow.'
Together falls short of finishing with the same heady delights that are encountered in its first half but nevertheless still delivers throughout, with the possible exception of 'Daughters Of Sorrow'. The awkward song never really gets going, it's never quite sure of itself. The closer, 'We End Up Together', about 'family dynamics' rescues the set. The interwoven dueted vocals, strings and skipping beat rounding off the album with an understated air of confidence in their achievement and ability.
The New Pornographers, aided by The Dap Kings, Zach Condon from Beirut, and Will Sheff of Okkervil Rivers, among others, have produced a great album full of proper pop. Their aim to make their songs 'A surgical intervention for punture-wounded civilians everywhere' is well intended and deserving of much credit. (Can't really explain why but the album kept reminding me of the film Reality Bites)
You can catch them live at the Electric Ballroom, London, on 19th May or failing that they are on the line up for Lollapalooza this year. You could do a lot worse than to give them a quick spin.
5th September, 1999