The Next Big Irish Thing
Hailing from Dublin, HAL seem to have been born in another era. Their music has a classic quality to it, an innocence that takes you back to the days when you actually probably your parents would spend summer afternoons at the beach and evenings at a friend’s place cooking out and listening to records. HAL sings happy songs about love and rock and roll. Mercury Rev relaxing at the beach with Brian Wilson. Brothers Dave (guitars, vocals) and Paul (bass, vocals) Allen, Steve O’Brien (keys, vocals) and Steve Hogan (drums) fuse falsetto harmonies with lovely organs, bright guitars, and enough pop percussion to pack a punch.
HAL’s music already shines brightly across the pond even though their first album has yet to be released. Over the last few months the band shared stages with the likes of Granddaddy, Starsailor, Doves, The Magic Numbers, and fellow Dubliners The Thrills. Having offered up a couple singles to European audiences, the band’s label, Rough Trade, will release HAL’s self-titled debut LP May 10th here in the States and April 24th in Europe.
Critics have lauded these guys since the band’s inception. One BBC review, for example, projects HAL will be playing Wembley Arena within a year’s time. Mostly this sort of hype means death to would-be talents. But with a masterful upcoming record, some preliminary roadworthy testing, and the European festival circuit ahead of them, HAL appears poised to take on the challenge of critical acclaim.
Recently we sat down with the band before their third U.S. date at North Six, where they opened for Blood on the Wall, Dios Malo, and the Fiery Furnaces. They played the Mercury the previous night and spent SXSW in Austin playing the Rough Trade showcase and buying guitars on South Lamar. The conversation was easy these lads are kind, humorous, gracious, and blown away that they get to spend their time playing and talking about rock and roll music.
FREEwilliamsburg: How long have you all been playing together?
Dave: Steve and I actually started playing about six years ago. Most of the songs didn’t end up on the album.
Steve: Yeah, Paul never played an instrument before or anything, until about three years ago.
Paul: I’d be dicking around my dad’s house, and the lads would be in there making music. And I’d say, “Geez, that sounds fucking great, lads, why don’t you go and get a band together?” And the lads kind of showed me how to play a bit of bass and do a bit of singing, so we kind of started developing like that. We got ourselves a drummer and a few gigs, and here we are.
FREEwilliamsburg: Dave and Paul, your parents are folk singers?
The Next Big Irish Thing
Our favorite douchebag, GOP Senator Pat Roberts, appeared on Meet the Press yesterday and was asked to discuss last week’s report on prewar intelligence. You know, the one that concluded that everything we were told was “dead wrong.” Jump back to 2004 and you’ll recall that the GOP also agreed to investigate whether or not intelligence had been manipulated by policy makers (um, Dubya, Rummy, Wolfowitz) in order to justify an invasion of Iraq. Democrats reticently agreed to wait for this phase 2 investigation until after the election. Here’s what Robert’s (who heads the investigating committee) had to say yesterday about phase 2:
MR. RUSSERT: But as you well know, when your report came out there were many people who said that you were not going forward with phase two about exaggerations and shaping because you didn’t want to involve yourself, influence the election. You made a firm commitment to do just that.
SEN. ROBERTS: Even as I’m speaking, our staff is working on phase two and we will get it done…..
I’m more than happy to finish this, and I want to finish it, but we have other things that we need to do.
Saturday, April 9 – $10
MoMA (11 W 53rd St, 212.708.9400)
Not since the Hal Ashby and Robert Altman films of the ’70s has improvisation been used well for dramatic purpose. Instead, as Curb Your Enthusiasm and the brilliant films of Christopher Guest have made clear, improvisation is now a comic medium, and a successful one at that. Guest’s This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind top any list of improv’s greatest moments. This latest incarnation of MoMA’s Great Collaborations series unites stars from those films: Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, and Bob Balaban. Tonight’s event includes an acoustic performance by the Spinal Tappers, and conversations with the rest. Scripts not included.
Gawker has yet another blog. Released yesterday, Sploid promises to be the much-needed anti-Drudge website. Plus, unlike right wing douchebag Matt Drudge, it looks like the people behind Sploid actually know how to write HTML. Here’s how they define themselves:
“Sploid is a news site with a tabloid mentality — top stories up top, played big, as fast as they break. If there’s a political line, it’s anarcho-capitalist: sniffing out hypocrisy and absurdity, whether from salon left or religious right.”
From press release:
It’s already been quite a year for London, England’s Bloc Party: their debut, Silent Alarm (Vice Records), was released last month to a large heaping of critical acclaim on an international scale. Their first tour of the US has been packed with sold out, incredible shows. And now they’re making their nationwide television debut on “Late Show with David Letterman” this evening. Check them out tonight at 11:30 on NBC.
Author Saul Bellow dies
image c/o Dmitri Kasterine
Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “Herzog,” “Humboldt’s Gift” and other essential tales of memory, chaos and the sensitive soul in 20th century America, died Tuesday. He was 89.
Bellow’s close friend and attorney, Walter Pozen, said the writer had been in declining health. Pozen said Bellow’s wife, Janis, and daughter, Naomi, were at his side when he died at his home in Brookline, Mass.
Few writers have been so honored in their time. He won three National Book Awards: in 1954 for “The Adventures of Augie March,” in 1965 for “Herzog” and in 1971 for “Mr. Sammler’s Planet.” In 1976, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “Humboldt’s Gift.” That same year Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize, cited for his “human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture.”
In 2003, the Library of America paid the rare tribute of releasing work by a living writer, issuing a volume of Bellow’s early novels.
“The backbone of 20th-century American literature has been provided by two novelists — William Faulkner and Saul Bellow,” Philip Roth said in a statement Tuesday. “Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th century.”
Bellow was the most acclaimed of a generation of Jewish writers who emerged after World War II, among them Roth and Bernard Malamud, leading Bellow to joke that he and his two peers were the “Hart, Schaffner & Marx” of literature. To American letters, he brought the immigrant’s hustle, the bookworm’s brains and the high-minded notions of the born romantic.
by Dave Thomas
After three months of some of the worst major releases Hollywood has ever had to offer (only four major releases have received a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes so far this year), we finally have something to rejoice about. The month begins and ends with two of the most widely anticipated adaptations in recent memory. And there’s some good stuff in between, too (though most of that’s coming from the indies).
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
It’s “Sin City.” Either you know, or you don’t. But in an effort to be an equal opportunity geek, I’ll tell you that this is an anthology based on the popular, gritty Frank Miller comic.
Now, just wait until “Sim City” comes out next month. That’s gonna be a motherfucker!
WILL IT SUCK?
How can I put this delicately? This is the fan-boy spooge-fest of the year. And not just because of Jessica Alba in a stripper/cowgirl outfit. Though that helps. No, the geeks have been waiting for this for years and to have Frank Miller not only sign off on it but co-direct it (in a move which cost co-director Robert Rodriguez his DGA membership) is the ultimate endorsement.