Some performances at my favourite record store.
Some performances at my favourite record store.
This album can only be described as pure beauty. The insanely high and twee voice of Campbell’s matched with the gruff, deep, strained voice of Lanegan are perfectly matched. The album starts off with “We Die And See Beauty Reign,” a soft sober song, which brings the listener into this vocal pairing. Immediately after, it gets heavier with one of the highlights, “You Won’t Let Me Down Again.”
Campbell, who wrote all but two of the songs1, isn’t afraid to play around in genre. The soul song “Come Undone” could easily fit on a Sharon Jones record, and doesn’t sound out of place on this record at all. Then there’s the rockabilly “Get Behind Me,” and the folk “Cool Water” in which Campbell ditches Lanegan temporarily in favour of Willy Mason. Then there’s “To Hell & Back Again” which wouldn’t be out of place on a Gentle Waves2 record.
The Apples In Stereo have been around for a long time as the definitive pop band of the ’90s. Their sugary melodies have made a name of Robert Schneider’s songwriting. Travellers in Space and Time is their first record without Schneider’s ex-wife Hilarie Sidney, who would traditionally provide one or two songs per album. While her songs were never what defined the band’s sound, they were always a highlight, and it feels as if that’s missing from the record.
The album lifts heavily from the early disco sounds which Toronto’s new mayor is a big fan of. Unfortunately it’s not a song that can easily support a full album, let alone an hour long, sixteen track record.
There are definitely highlights, among them are “Hey Elevator” and “C.P.U.” but the record is too much of a rehashing of other things they’ve done. The aforementioned “C.P.U.” could have easily fit it with Her Wallpaper Reverie.
Give’r a pass.
I was in Vancouver, and my ex-sister-in-law, who was nice enough to show me around the city, took me to Zulu Records. I asked the employees there to recommend a few CDs. They gave me a few options, and this one stuck with me. Turns out he, along with his fellow employees were in the band. The EP is a a throwback to post-Gram Parsons 1970s country-rock, they do very well at emulating what those who once emulated Parsons himself, such as The Rolling Stones.
The EP’s a nice snack of six songs, easily taken in, and will be interesting to see where this band goes from here. If they come to Toronto, I’d certainly head out to see them.
Isobel Campbell seems to hate Toronto. In 1999, her then-band Belle & Sebastian were scheduled to play a show here, but she got sick, and the band had to cancel what was to be their first Toronto show. The next time they came around to Toronto, they played at one of the city’s worst venues, The Kool Haus. She didn’t seem to be too happy up on stage, and lo and behold, she left the band the next day. Since then Belle & Sebastian have been without a cellist1 and they seem happy about it.
A few years later, Campbell was on tour supporting her new record, an album she made with Mark Lanegan called The Ballad of Broken Seas.She was starting this tour in Toronto at a venue called The Revival. I showed up at the venue, only to find out that the show had been cancelled. She was sick. Now after two Gentle Waves albums, two solo records, and three albums with Mark Lanegan, she’s come to Toronto.
So here I was, en route to Criminal Records, with my old 1999 Gentle Waves 7″ tucked into my jacket pocket, half in doubt that she’d arrive. The time clicked on, as the small crowd assembled, waiting for her to arrive, waiting for her to join the rest of her band. We were told that she’d be there just shortly after 6, I doubted.
Suddenly, the doors swung open, and in walked Isobel Campbell. She made her triumphant return to Toronto, it actually happened. She played about five songs. They were really good. Then she signed by 7″, and I departed for home, where I left my ticket. Seeing as I had some time. I took some time to write this, but now, alas, I must leave for Lee’s Palace, where she will be joined by Mark Lanegan.
See you soon… with more pictures2
Opening was Willy Mason, who sings on the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album, Hawk. His “down home” country voice is absolutely gorgeous, and he sets out some beautiful songs. It was quite a great opening act.
Then came out Campbell and Lanegan performing the soft and beautiful “We Die And See Beauty Reign” from their latest collaboration from which the immediately transitioned into the rocker “You Won’t Let Me Down Again” which I think was probably the cue to hit the stage lights, but they didn’t go on, and they stayed off the entire night. I was confused.
The set list was almost exclusively songs from the three Campbell & Lanegan albums, which appeased the many Mark Lanegan fans in the audience. I was slightly confused by that notion, as why would a Mark Lanegan fan be at an Isobel Campbell show. I always saw Lanegan as simply a hired hand to provide vocals, seeing as Campbell is the songwriter. It seems however, that Lanegan fans are not only fond of his beautiful deep voice, but as well fond of high quality Scottish songwriting.
That’s one of the most important points of this. Isobel Campbell has grown as a songwriter. To listen from her early Gentle Waves albums to her current output, you’ll certainly see a steady progression, and while the twee, beautiful, soft songs of those early records have a warm place in my heart, her songwriting on Hawk is by far better.
Kinda wished she’d played “Weathershow,” but I never expected it… oh and “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”
Whale Tooth’s “Hibernation Song”
Don’t back down like you always do. THE INBREDS WILL BE PLAYING IN KINGSTON IN JUNE!
Isobel Campbell sings “Time Is Just The Same”
Jonathan Richman is a little dinosaur.