david sitek

Video: Who Needs You - The Orwells

Slouch-garage-rock from Chicago Illinois band The Orwells here on this video for 'Who Needs You'. The track is lifted from the forthcoming National Anthem / East End Records release, due 9 September.

David Sitek produces this lead track and it's a surprisingly rough & ready sound for him, though not too far from his early (and more recent) Yeah Yeah Yeahs production work. 

You can catch the band on tour next month:

  • 9th September – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • 10th September – White Heat @ Madame Jo Jo’s, London
  • 11th September – Sebright Arms, London
  • 12th September – The Green Door Store, Brighton
  • 13th September – The Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Album Review: Nine Types of Light - TV On The Radio

Back when I reviewed TV On The Radio's last album, Dear Science, I claimed it to be the band's career highlight to date. It's a statement I'd stand by, and yet I still can't help but feel that of their first three albums proper (I'm disregarding the self-released demo OK Calculator from 2002 as it's tricky to come by) it is still Return To Cookie Mountain that I always come back to. That record's bass-heavy, stuttering electronic production still sounds thrilling and fresh, and there are several tracks on that album ('I Was a Lover', 'Province', 'Wolf Like Me' and 'Dirtywhirl') that continue to mean far more to me than anything on its follow-up. As great as a record Dear Science is, it just didn't feel quite like the TV On The Radio that I loved.

Nine Types of Light was released a few weeks back now and I can safely safe it answers the concerns I had about the previous record whilst continuing to demonstrate the progression and growth of the band. From the opening bars of 'Second Song' it is patently clear TV On The Radio have still got it, and they haven't lost their ability to open their albums with absolute blinders. It feels like like the sound of a band emerging from the storm still tied to rigging and finding it irresistable to greet the world with anything but a beaming smile. This is a band that have been through some difficult times in recent years and sadly things haven't eased since Nine Types of Light was released, with the passing of the band's bassist, Gerard Smith, last week. Somehow though they still sound positive and in fact, on 'Second Song, complete with its 'ooh oooh' vocals, they sound more positive than ever. A brass backing only further adds to the effect, sounding like a band coming out punching, legs and arms flailing whilst they try and connect.

Perhaps the answer to this new found enthusiasm is the oldest of all, for more than anything else Nine Types of Light is a record about love, as evidenced on the lovelorn 'Keep Your Heart', with the vocalist belting out the words: "I'm gonna keep your heart / if the world falls apart / I'm gonna keep your heart". It's the sound of selfishly putting another first, and you can't help but hope it works out for him.

The theme is revisited several times throughout the album but probably nowhere better than on single 'Will Do', a paean to forbidden or unrequired love that bursts open with a shuddering bass line, to create the most electronic track the band have released since Return To Cookie Mountain. The lyrics betray a man unprepared to let life and love slip through his fingers, almost angry that the subject of his affections would dare waste the opportunity. If it sounds desperate, that's because it is, but you can't help but feel that the song is justified in its honesty all the same.

This isn't just a record of love songs, though. 'No Future Shock' revisits the band's fondness for celebrating the bleakness of our apparent future, encouraging us all to dance to the sound of the end of the world. 'Repetition' similarly celebrates misfortune, seemingly mocking the singer's own paranoia and inability to break the cycle. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

If you really want evidence of TV On The Radio's new found optimism though then go no further than 'Caffeinated Consciousness'. The excellent Fluxblog recently posted this song and likened it to the sound of someone trying to turn Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' into punk rock and I wholeheartedly agree - it sounds like raw energy turning the listener's hands into megaton weights and feet into jet engines... to resist is futile, as the singer says: "I'm optimistic, on overload". It's a fitting close to a great album.

Nine Times of Light is the best of both worlds - an album that continues to reveal more with repeated listens yet still has the hooks to have you addicted from the first listen. This is a brilliant record, eclipsing the band's best work.

BP x

Nine Types of Light is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD, Deluxe CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: It's Blitz! - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Some bands just seem to get it right - they don't fail to hit the mark on their first album despite an over-hyped début EP, they don't choke on album number two and they always manage to develop just enough to keep things interesting but not so much so as to lose what made them great.

Rush released following a leak online and some pesky pirates doing their thing (how does this stuff still catch labels off-guard?) the Yeah Yeah Yeahs return with their third album, out now on MP3 and at the beginning of April on CD.

Back with David Sitek on production duties, It's Blitz! manages to push the envelope in the right way. There is without doubt a development of the sound - things are, on the whole, a little softer and a touch more electronic - but it is the contrast that shines. The strings and delicate piano of 'Runaway' into the snappy funk of 'Dragon Queen'. The reveal of 'Dull Life' where Karen O. removes the mask and lets the anger shine and the beautifully tender 'Skeletons' with it's subtle wandering electronic melodies. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have never struggled to deliver truly astounding ballads (just revisit 'Maps') and there are several here.

It's Blitz is a short album yet it packs in all the ideas and ambition you would expect for a band that have left three years since their last full release. From the opening 'Zero', one of the best album openers in years, the quality doesn't let up. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have done it again.

BP x

Album Review: Dance Mother - Telepathe

Listening to Telepathe's début album is like being mugged by a group of cute 16 year old girls. The sound of candy-floss vocals cussing and spaced-out ambience with a malicious edge becomes strangely alluring by the album's close.

Production by David Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio) gives 'Dance Mother' a clear edge and it is always refreshing to hear Sitek's sound applied to different musical styles. Telepathe make loose, cosmic disco influenced electronic music with female vocals reminiscent of the cute yelps of Architecture In Helsinki, only spray painted jet black.

The result is an album with bags of atmosphere. Defined by space more than anything, it is effortlessly contemporary yet sounds like it will age well, refusing to be compounded by anything as rigid as time. With reflections of the African rhythms vibe everyone thought was the next big thing last year, Dance Mother captures the same feeling of nature and water that Foals' début did (also originally to be produced by Sitek before his mix was abandoned).

At it's best 'Dance Mother' feels like the reclamation of urban society by nature. The beautiful 'In Your Line' sounds like an abandoned warehouse becoming slowly overrun by nature, rain tearing down the roof above and vines gradually pulling down the walls.

Available on Amazon.co.uk on CDand MP3.

BP x