Emily Haines

That's Entertainment - I "heart" Metric

Emily Haines
FantasiesTuesday 31/3 is the release date of Metric's fourth album entitled "Fantasies" in digital format (cd and vinyl are expected in mid-April). So this gives me the perfect opportunity to write about one of my favorite bands of the current decade and publicly confess my love for Emily Haines!

But let's take things from the beginning. And the beginning takes place in Toronto sometime around 1998, when Emily Haines (born in 1974 in New Delhi, India, daughter of Canadian poet Paul Haines) meets guitarist James Shaw through common friends from the local music scene. This circle of friends includes important musicians of the Canadian scene, such as Torquil Campbell, Amy Milan and Kevin Drew who went on to form the great Broken Social Scene and Stars, with whom Metric have collaborated on many occasions (actually Emily and James are among the many members of the B.S.S. collective). The result of this meeting is the recording of the "Mainstream" EP, essentially a collection of demos.

Metric

Metric live at Gagarin 205 (27/10/2006)

GrowThe name Metric is adopted as the band's moniker the following year, when the duo move to Williamsburg, New York to live in a loft that they share with another group of aspiring musicians, whose members would later form bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and TV On The Radio. Their music starts to attract the interest of record companies and in 2000 they relocate to London where they begin recording songs for their first album, titled "Grow Up and Blow Away", with the help of producer Stephen Hague (New Order, Pet Shop Boys). The recording of the album is completed by 2002 but the release is shelved until much later (it was eventually released in 2007). The line up of Metric becomes complete in 2001 with the addition of Joules Scott-Key and Joshua Winstead on drums and bass. The addition of a rhythm section gives the group a rock dynamic, a shift from the synthesizer-based electro-pop direction of their early recordings. In the same year they also release the EP "Static Anonymity".

old worldTheir first album that actually manages to reach record stores is the excellent "Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?" in 2003, an explosive combination of electro-pop and dance-punk that includes highlights such as "IOU", "Combat Baby" and "Dead Disco".live

In 2005 the dynamic follow up, "Live It Out", is released with a more aggressive rock sound, featuring tracks like "Empty" or "Monster Hospital" where the guitar and the scorching rhythm section take central stage, while the synthesizer is no longer intended for the sweet electro-pop tunes of the past, but to be the object of Emily's vicious attacks. As part of the tour for the promotion of this album, Metric paid us a visit for a gig in Athens - certainly an unforgettable experience for the few of us in attendance at the Gagarin 205 club on 27/10/2006 (from where the video at the end of this article was taken).

KnivesIn the almost 4 year interval until this year's "Fantasies", Emily Haines released her solo album entitled "Knives Don't Have Your Back" in 2006 (released under the name Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton), a somber work dominated by Emily's naked voice and piano (best song: "Doctor Blind"). Also Scott-Key and Winstead released an album with their side-project, the group Bang Lime, while Metric's forgotten first album "Grow Up and Blow Away" finally saw the light of day, a release aimed for the band's hardcore fans.

"Fantasies", which is officially released this Tuesday, consists of 10 compositions that take the dynamic rock direction of "Live it out" to the next level. While the album is not lacking in more mellow ("Twilight Galaxy", "Collect Call") or pure pop ("Gimme Sympathy") moments, for the most part its sound is dominated by Shaw's fierce guitar playing and the explosive rhythms of Scott-Key and Winstead. But the most important ingredient that takes Metric to a class of its own is the voice and especially the fiery performance of Emily, who returned renewed after a brief stay in Buenos Aires in search of songwriting inspiration. Almost half the tracks on the disc are among the best moments of the band's career: "Help I'm Alive", "Sick Muse", "Front Row" and the epic finale of "Stadium Love" (go to the band's site to find out about the source of inspiration for its surrealistic lyrics).

Note that this album is a genuinely independent release. The group decided to release it by itself with the cooperation of a few small labels (Arts & Crafts, Last Gang) around the globe, so it will be a good idea for the faithful who decide to own this excellent music to show their support by actually purchasing the album instead of using the "usual" downloading methods (the album has already leaked to mp3 blogs and torrent sites).

If you like rankings, I would give at least an 8 out of 10 ... and my love to Emily ... it's obvious that I'm under the influence of spring!

 

Playlist : 1. Dead Disco, 2. Combat Baby, 3. Empty, 4. I.O.U., 5. Gimme Sympathy

Monster Hospital (live) - Gagarin 205 (27/10/2006)


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