Monthly Archives: September 2010

Elbow step up to the stadiums

It’s always a strange feeling when a treasured band crosses over into the mainstream, particularly if it has been a long time coming, but news that Elbow will be playing a stadium tour next year is particularly galling.

Fewer bands are more deserving of such crossover. Elbow were famously dropped twice by the same label before debut album Asleep in the Back was released, then they switched to Fiction for third album Leaders of the Free World before promptly finding themselves label-less again, and 2008’s breakthrough album The Seldom Seen Kid was made by a band who weren’t sure if it would ever see the light of day. The unexpected success of the album surprised no one more than the band themselves.

So why is their step up to the big league in any way cause for concern? Four words: One Day Like This. For years, Elbow’s fans have clasped the band to their hearts, a rare and precious musical jewel. Just listen to Newborn. There are few finer songs in the world: it actually sounds like magic brewing. And they managed to conjure the same hushed awe throughout their career: Grace Under Pressure, Powder Blue, Great Expectations, The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver, Switching Off… From anyone else, One Day Like This would have been impressive, but it seemed almost beneath Elbow, and yet it became something of an anthem in 2008, soundtracking pretty much everything, including that year’s Big Brother finale. It became a Yellow, a Chasing Cars, and it damn near ruined their tour, packing bigger and bigger venues with people only there for the ‘song about the curtains’.

The fear is that Elbow will try to cater for this new fanbase. By no means should they only do it for those than claim to be proper fans because they have EPs from 2000 – of course they shouldn’t – but the idea that they might do a Snow Patrol is more than a bit worrying. Not because more people will like them, but because the prospect of the band losing their ability to craft such aural wonder with the same 12 notes as everybody else is too devastating to consider.

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XX marks the spot

At least it wasn’t Mumford and Sons.

It was worth it to see the look on Weller’s face.

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Mercury Music Prize 2010

This year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist is arguably the poorest in the award’s history. Of course, the usual boxes are ticked, but even with this in mind, there’s a real sense that this year’s nominations lack imagination.

There’s Mumford and Sons, a band whose album was already firmly hammered into the nation’s consciousness by the end of last year and whose TV advertising campaign has ensured that no one is unaware they have an album out. There’s Paul Weller, who, having failed to produce any remotely inspiring solo material, actually sank to new levels of sludge of Wake Up The Nation. There’s the inexplicably adored Laura Marling, the pleasant but predictable XX, and Corinne Bailey Rae, about whom it’s difficult to even form an opinion.

Of the noisier artists, Foals chip in with their so-so second album Total Life Forever, while previous winner Dizzee Rascal receives a nod for Tongue N Cheek, an album which may have repeatedly propelled him to number one but is astoundingly thought-free compared to the brilliance of Boy In Da Corner. And as for Biffy Clyro’s Only Revolutions… actually, no, let’s not.

Still, if anyone other than I Am Kloot wins, there is comfort to be found in the career of last year’s winner Speech Debelle. Yeah, exactly. Chances are, we’re unlikely to hear much more from them.

Enjoy your evening of shouting at the tv, then, and fingers crossed Edith Bowman isn’t presenting.

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