Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Hosts – Softly, Softly Album Review

The Hosts are from Sheffield. They are five smartly-attired gentlemen from the North and they have been smoldering away in the musical margins, waiting in their waistcoats for their moment to shine. Signing to Fierce Panda Records, they announce the release of their debut album Softly, Softly on CD and digitally on Monday 10 February 2014, with their single September Song following a week later. It is one of two tracks on the album recorded by local compatriot, Richard Hawley.

The Hosts consist of Tom Hogg (vocals, guitar), Jim Fisher (keyboards), Jamie Shipley (guitar), David Glover (bass) and Adam Crofts (drums).

Earlier in 2013, the quintet tickled the underbelly of the mainstream beast with September Song (a self release) and Give Your Love To Her (on Label Fandango), two raffish slabs of retro alternative pop which represented the missing link between Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley and which waltzed all over BBC 6 Music and Radio 2.

September Song – itself reissued as a Fierce Panda single on 17 February – and Give Your Love To Her appear on Softly, Softly, alongside another eight slabs of melody-powered melancholy. Fittingly, a couple of these songs – tracks one and two – were actually produced by local compatriot Hawley while another of them is a version of The Big O’s In Dreams.

In The Hosts’ world no chorus can be big enough. No sentiment can be bitter sweet enough. No emotion can be a deep enough shade of blue. All of which befits a band whose wall-of-soundscape has been known to take in Buddy Holly, Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and Jonathan Fire*Eater.

Tellingly, Softly, Softly is released on the week of Valentine’s Day, for as the band themselves say: “With its euphoric highs and sentimental lows Softly, Softly paints a picture of modern romance in vivid Techno-colour. It is a journey that mirrors the band’s own highs and lows and one which finds them waiting, now ready to catch their monkey.”

The Hosts make quite the perfect live guests too: they’ve toured with Paul Weller, The Walkmen and Cold War Kids and played their broken hearts out with Mr Hawley, Cherry Ghost and other such sombre cats. Because out of that darkness and out of those shadows comes light and so it is that The Hosts are preparing for the launch of Softly, Softly.

The Hosts

Sheffield’s retro pop band, The Hosts

Track one Would You Be Blue allows this record to snap straight into action. The song resembles a romantic Christmas number with its dramatic melodies and passionate lyrics, “When I said I’d be true/When I said only you/Why on Earth would you be blue?” It’s a retro pop song full of dramatic beats, chiming bells and rhythms you can click your fingers to which, when added together, creates an atmospheric 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll feel.

September Song feels like a Green Day song when it starts (that’s if Green Day were an alternative retro pop band). The vocals are very Billie Joe Armstrong sounding and rightly so, seeing as Billie Joe and Norah Jones released a tribute album to the Everly Brothers last November.

The One is a very 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired track with clear influences from Roy Orbison being heard in this track. The verse, “Remember all the suitors in your dreams/It’s funny how they all looked just like me/You were holding out for something that can’t be/Do you remember?/How you danced away that starry, starry night/Hoping for those feelings you can’t fight/I told you in the end you would be mine/Do you remember?” is very sweetly written and sung. It tugs at the heart and allows you to go a little bit teary eyed. The chorus then helps to emphasise the love that inspired this song even more, “I’ll be the one who will know you/The one who will hold you/The one you will run to/In the night/I’ll be the one who will love you/This time I will show you/The one who will make you remember”. Add these gooey lyrics to the swayable, finger clicking melodies and you have the perfect pop love song.

The Hosts Softly, Softly

The Hosts Softly, Softly album artwork

In Dreams starts with deeper vocals and the simple strum of a guitar before those 50s inspired rhythms set in. You can’t help but enjoy The Hosts’ music – it’s catchy, loving, affectionate, fun, emotional and tuneful. The Hosts won’t fail to get your feet moving, your head bobbing and your body swaying in time to their delightful melodies. In Dreams instantly sounds vintage – it’s a classic, love-me-do pop song.

With You is quite a sad number on Softly, Softly compared to the other tracks which, although some may be sad in terms of subject, generally have happy or uplifting sounding melodies. With You is a lot darker and more sinister with the lyrics, “As I lay here in fields of snow I’ll wait my turn when the whistle blows/I’ll climb to the stars/But I’m cold/I’m so cold/These tears travel dry as my mind flashes by/When I sit at home one winters night/And see the kids and watch them fight/Those moments pass so slow/With you/With you…” illustrating the love loss and heartache felt. It’s a really deep song that won’t fail to get your eyes welling up with tears.

The Hosts produce brilliant, vintage pop which is refreshing to hear. There’s none of the cheesy boy band rubbish – they are taking pop back to how it used to be known; The Monkees, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison. They are taking pop back to something to be proud of, not embarrassed by. Softly, Softly is an explosion of drama, emotion, swinging pop melodies and wonderfully silky vocals. It’s an album to get in 2014.

Softly, Softly will be released on February 10 through Fierce Panda Records.

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Stereogum Premieres Dr Dog’s Video For Single, Distant Light

The renowned Philly rock group Dr. Dog debuted their new video via yesterday. The clip is for the band’s song Distant Light from their latest album B-Room and offers an appropriately psychedelic kaleidoscope of imagery for the track. The video was directed by Aaron Hymes who has previously worked with Broken Bells, Booker T. Jones, Raphael Saadiq among others.

A revered live act whose shows the New York Times Magazine described as “feeling as if you’re at the best house party ever,” Dr. Dog is currently touring North American in support of B-Room. The Village Voice recently said of the band: “the sextet dabble in DIY oddities that continually recall their forebearers — Dylan, the Dead, even Simon & Garfunkel at times — but still manage to stamp their own inky sound across the top of it all.”

The band’s latest powerfully mines and expands upon the surrounding landscape of Philadelphia soul. Captured primarily live in-studio, the rollicking groove and beloved musical interchange which has highlighted the band’s concerts resonates throughout the album.

You can catch Dr Dog live on the following dates:
31 Jan 14 – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA
01 Feb 14 – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA
03 Feb 14 – Madison Theatre – Cincinnati, OH **
05 Feb 14 – Turner Hall – Milwaukee, WI **
06 Feb 14 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
07 Feb 14 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN **
08 Feb 14 – Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
19 Feb 14 – Civic Theatre – New Orleans, LA
20 Feb 14 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX **
21 Feb 14 – Stubb’s – Austin, TX
22 Feb 14 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX **
24 Feb 14 – Crescent – Phoenix, AZ **
25 Feb 14 – Crescent – Phoenix, AZ **
26 Feb 14 – The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA **
27 Feb 14 – Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA **
28 Feb 14 – Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA **
01 March 14 – Warfield – San Francisco, CA **
03 March 14 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR **
04 March 14 – Venue – Vancouver, BC **
05 March 14 – Neptune Theater – Seattle, WA **
07 March 14 – Complex – Salt Lake City, UT **
08 March 14 – Boulder Theater – Boulder, CO **
10 March 14 – Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS **
11 March 14 – Slowdown – Omaha, NE **
12 March 14 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO **
14 March 14 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC

** – With Saint Rich

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Wye Oak Reveal New Track The Tower And Details Of New Album Release

The Baltimore two-piece Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) will release their fourth full-length studio album Shriek this 28 April on City Slang.

On Tuesday, BBC 6Music’s Lauren Laverne unveiled the first track The Tower on her show and the band have now made the song available to listen to and share.

Following extensive touring in support of their critically acclaimed 2011 release Civilian which – for the UK – culminated in two performances at The National’s ATP and a Scala headline show in December 2012, Wye Oak members Jenn and Andy found themselves apart for the first time. Andy had recently moved to the west coast, leaving their hometown of Baltimore.

Wye Oak

Wye Oak

Simultaneously but separately, the two began exploring new ways of writing. Jenn, having picked up the bass did not begin with her typical guitar and likewise Andy began to explore different ways of layering keyboards. Both worked with other people and Jenn explored other moods under the titles Dungeonesse and Flock of Dimes.

The freedom of these new methods allowed for a new found emotional immediacy and in spite of, or perhaps because of the distance, Wye Oak have recorded their most personal album yet.

Shriek was a co-production between Wye Oak and Nicolas Vernhes of the Rare Book Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Vernhes also engineered and mixed the album. His inventive production work complimented the band’s new direction, helping them to create their immensely layered and emotive new sound.

Wye Oak will be on tour throughout the spring beginning 3 March and including stops at both Coachella and SXSW. Other highlights include a sold out show at The Lexington in London, the M4M Music Festival in Zurich and Webster Hall in New York City on 7 May. All confirmed dates are below with more to follow..

Fans can pre-order the album now via iTunes as well as through the City Slang webshop. Shriek will be available on both CD and LP, including a limited run on orange vinyl.

You can catch Wye Oak live on the following dates:
7 – 16.03 SXSW, Austin Texas
20.03. London UK – Lexington (SOLD OUT)
21.03. Brussels BE – Botanique
22.03. Amsterdam NL – MC Theatre
25.03. Berlin DE – Privatclub
28.03. Zurich CH – M4Music Festival
29.03. Istanbul TR – IKSV
11.04 Coachella Festival
18.04 Coachella Festival

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The Twilight Sad Reissue Debut Album, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, For Record Store Day

Scottish trio The Twilight Sad are reissuing their exhilarating debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters for Record Store Day on Saturday 19 April 2014 through FatCat Records.

To celebrate, the band are giving away a free download of their recent Paisley Abbey show with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. You can access the download here.

The Twilight Sad

The Twilight Sad

The special intimate performance was part of The Spree Festival in Paisley, Scotland. Legendary conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra John Logan arranged the orchestration alongside classic The Twilight Sad tracks The Wrong Car, Sick, The Room and Cold Days From The Birdhouse. The 500 capacity venue sold out in less than an hour with the band playing as a three-piece to give the orchestra as much space as possible.

The deluxe double vinyl edition of Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters will contain never-before-heard tracks, unseen original artwork and the remastered debut in full. The vinyl, limited to 500 copies in the UK, will be available from participating independent record shops on Record Store Day.

Frontman James Graham said: “We’re very proud of our debut album. I’ve said this many times before but you only get one chance at making your first album and whilst ours didn’t set the world on fire or sell hundreds of thousands of copies, I think it’s a special record that means a lot to the people who have discovered it.”

Ahead of their Primavera appearance The Twilight Sad will be performing Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters in full at the following towns:

Tue 29 Apr @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Wed 30 Apr @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Thu 1 May @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Fri 2 May @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Sat 3 May @ Exchange, Bristol
Fri 30 May @ Primavera Sound, Barcelona
For full tour dates and tickets go to The Twilight Sad’s website here.

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The Lawrence Arms’ New Album, Metropole, Out Now

The first album in eight years from Chicago-bred trio The Lawrence Arms, Metropole, is out now on Epitaph Records. Metropole was released yesterday.

This is the band’s sixth studio release and most dynamic to date. An album partially inspired by and loosely structured after late-90’s/early 2000’s hip-hop records – a particular favourite being Outkast’s Aquemini. With close listen, sound samples are heard throughout the album. They’re recordings of street musicians, captured by the band on their cell phones. A horn played by a man on his back on the middle of the road, so drunk he couldn’t even see. Or faint piano sounds, that was a grand piano someone was playing in the middle of the street. Everything from accordion to bagpipes help capture the urban isolation, the stranger-in-a-strange-land feeling that saturates so much of the record.

Metropole also sees core members Brendan Kelly (vocals/bass) and Chris McCaughan (vocals/guitar) exploring a new found love for storytelling through song writing. Take the bravely personal lyrics of Seventeener (17thand 37th), “I never/Wanted to die old/But it’s too late now/My heart has grown so cold”. Or on Never Fade Away with “Don’t know where I’m headed/But I know where I’ve been”. But the band hasn’t grown too serious over time with song titles like Paradise Shitty and Drunk Tweets, fans are assured that the Lawrence Arms are still the masters of juvenile humour.

Metropole is available for purchase now by visiting: iTunes or the Epitaph store. Fans are invited to catch The Lawrence Arms on their long-anticipated US headlining tour this February and March. Tickets are on-sale now.

You can catch The Lawrence Arms live on the following dates:
Feb 14 Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock Live
Feb 15 San Diego, CA – Casbah
Feb 16 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey
Feb 17 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Feb 19 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Feb 20 Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Feb 21 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
Feb 22 Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
Mar 03 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
Mar 04 Pawtucket, RI – The Met
Mar 05 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
Mar 06 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of the Living Arts
Mar 07 Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes
Mar 08 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage

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