Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event
Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

By Glen

The storm before the calm has continued to rage, with tons of Airborne Toxic Event content around the net over the past couple weeks. Enjoy it while it lasts, as it looks like we could be headed for a bit of a dry spell to close out the year.

More Gin? Yes Please!

In last week’s Toxicity, we linked to the just-released first installment of TATE’s Gin in Tea Cups acoustic session, a rockin’ unplugged performance of “Hell and Back.” That was followed over the next two days by “All I Ever Wanted” and a particularly poignant rendition of “Timeless.”

Finally, the series finished up with a full band interview that featured a number of unique, revealing and even philosophical questions. Personally, I appreciated the part when Mikel said, “I think Oscar Wilde was right when he said, ‘The only thing worse than being discussed is not being discussed.'” (I choose to take this as a tacit endorsement of what we’re doing here at This Is Nowhere!) But the sci-geeks among us will really get off on Mikel’s fantasy of someday having his brain transplanted into a robot body, through which he will become the MVP of the robot baseball league, and run for mayor of Washington, DC. Seriously… just watch.

Major kudos to Gin in Tea Cups for a kick-ass series. If you enjoyed this, check out some of the artists they’ve featured previously.

Aping Arcade Fire?

Though it’s been six weeks since Such Hot Blood hit the mainland European market, fresh reviews continue to emerge. Charlie Mayer of Press Play Repeat scores the album a 7/10 and deals the band several compliments, albeit of the somewhat backhand variety (they’ve “chosen to refine their sound rather than ape what’s now popular,” yet “they clearly want to be Arcade Fire;” the album “is a solid effort that… grows stronger with repeated listens,” yet ‘it’s just a shame they couldn’t do it when they were still getting played on the radio”).

The Arcade Fire comparisons certainly aren’t new, and I’ve been a big fan of both bands since their respective early days. Perhaps I’m the only one, but I think the parallels are a tad overblown. Sure, there are some surface similarities: the big sound; the presence of violins/violas; occasional female vocals (more frequent with AF); the band members’ propensity for switching up instruments on stage. But Arcade Fire has a frenetic chaos coursing beneath the surface of their work that I just don’t see in TATE’s material. Their lyrics are somewhat more obscure, and their appeal a little less immediate. Both are brilliant to be sure, but they’re not cut from exactly the same piece of cloth. Certainly, I hope TATE never follows Arcade Fire down the road of masks, face paint and oversized costumes in which the latter’s been dabbling of late; I’m afraid that’s a bridge too far for me. And while TATE is unlikely to supersede Arcade Fire as critical darlings any time soon, I personally prefer my rock a little more straightforward – though I confess I can’t wait to check out Reflektor when it’s released next week.

Going Dutch

It warmed my Dutch heart to dig up not one but two Dutch reviews of Such Hot Blood this week. Unfortunately, I’m Dutch only in ancestry, not in language, so I had to rely on good old Google Translate to guide me through them.

A writer from File Under feels that the sophomore album, All At Once, failed to scale the heights achieved by TATE’s first hit, “Sometime Around Midnight.” Whether or not you agree with that assessment, the reviewer proclaims Such Hot Blood a fine return to form, highlighted in particular by Anna Bulbrook’s viola and vocals. “Safe” and “The Fifth Day” are pinpointed as standout tracks.

Festival Info, meanwhile, awards the album 4/5 stars. Applauding the highly descriptive lyrics, the raw edge in singer Mikel Jollett’s voice and his harmonization with Anna, reviewer Mark den Dulk is suitably impressed.

Closing the Books on the UK Tour

With the band’s tour schedule now sadly vacant, this could be the final concert review round-up for the foreseeable future. But there’s plenty here to keep you going for awhile…

We’ll start with recent This Is Nowhere contributor Stephanie Webb, who, in addition to helping us all cope with our post-tour blues, also penned a Birmingham review for AltSounds. Stephanie is a multi-talented TATE fan, as her written review serves to supplement her exquisite photographic work, captured in less than ideal circumstances, what with the low lighting and “charismatic lead singer Mikel Jollett engaging the crowd by jumping onto the photographers’ seats as his adoring crowd reached for him.”

Moving on to Glasgow, The Gig Review’s Iain McGregor found himself awed by “ebullient, efflorescent, energetic, exuberant Mikel.” And not just the singer, but the whole band:

At one point the lights dimmed and the band stood mannequin-esque, frozen to their respective spots as the audience went ‘bat-shit’ (that’s x decibels louder than ‘ape-shit’ by the way!) and as the crescendo intensified to industrial strength, Mikel, for one, stood there with an ever increasingly appreciative grin which worked itself into a full blown smile of absolute wonderment at what he and his cohorts were capable of creating. This is a group of artists who not only produce an excellent product but are also grounded enough to fully enjoy the reaction their art produces. They are still humbled by the experience and long may that continue, it is an essential connection between artists and their public. Yin and yang, give and take, joy and pleasure.

We turned to our handy dandy Dutch translator again for help with Beatpersecond’s coverage of the tour’s final stop in Leuven, Belgium. While noting that the band appeared to be tired, the reviewer was still captivated by the emotional complexity of the lyrics. The writer also claims that “Hell and Back” describes the difficult relationship of the band with their previous record label, which is an entirely new take on the song that I’ve not heard elsewhere. And, tantalizingly, the reviewer mentions that the band promised to return by the summer – a claim echoed by several fans who were told at various times that TATE will be back in Europe by the spring.

We close the books on TATE’s 2013 tour with two more fabulous photo galleries, courtesy of Corkrean Photography (from the Columbus show back in May) and Elena Vilain (from Utrecht, Holland). Thankfully, it sounds like we may not have long to wait till we can see the real thing again, live and in the flesh!

Toxic Gold

Finally, we complete this week’s Dutch theme by taking a final look at the Utrecht show, with this video of the always fun “Happiness is Overrated,” courtesy of YouTube user likeahurricane69:

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

  1. Jamie says:

    Great Toxicity Glen, as always! I am so impressed that you are able to make such interesting posts week after week.


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