Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
When you think about A.C. Newman’s quirky indie-pop, what immediately comes to mind? Odds are, it’s a melody. Whether on his own or with his more famous “supergroup” project, The New Pornographers, Newman has, over the past decade, developed into one of his generation’s most inventive songwriters, twisting tongue-tied poetry around hooks so strong, you need to pull an Eternal Sunshine to forget them.
AC Newman, with former bandmates Dan Bejar and Neko Case, were the aughts’ palace-court mavens of sublime pop. With Shut Down the Streets, Newman proves this supremacy still counts for something. The nitro-powered esoterica of his New Pornographers days has faded, though, in favor of a more restrained beauty. On the standout “You Could Get Lost,” a repeated cliché attains majestic significance, proving that simplicity is often a popsmith’s best weapon in the war against boredom.
For as consistently great as A.C. Newman is, both solo and with the New Pornographers, he has always been slowly but steadily stretching his palate. The quick, slightly off-kilter tempos of Get Guilty reimagined the New Pornographers' power-pop sound, while the last New Porno's record, Together, supplanted the crunch of guitars for the low rumble of cellos, twisting their rock tendencies into something closer (but no less vital) to chamber pop.
A.C. NEWMAN plays Lee's Palace October 21. See listing. Rating: NNNN Carl Newman, best known as the frontman for the New Pornographers, became a father and lost his mother since his previous band and solo releases. But those changes haven't led the red-haired melody-maker, once Vancouver-based but ….
A. C. Newman, the wry, prolific, poker-faced New Pornographer, has kept his cards close to his vest over the years, pairing offbeat stream-of-consciousness lyrics with mercurial power pop melodies that suggest a steady diet of Cheap Trick, Guided by Voices, and Pet Sounds, but on Shut Down the Streets, his third solo outing, the native Vancouverite and current upstate New York denizen comes clean about his personal life, ruminating on the birth of his son, the death of his mother, and all of the conflicting emotions that hitched a ride along the way.
AC NewmanShut Down The Steets[Matador; 2012]By Brendan Frank; October 11, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetAs the frontman for one of the most dangerously named bands of all time, Vancouverite Allan Carl Newman has brought an elasticity to the reasonably structured power pop format. Across five albums, the New Pornographers have shifted from one strength to another, developing a musical arsenal as broad as any other band playing their game. Even though their music has always maintained a caffeinated, off-the-wall vibe, they are uniquely gifted at building albums.
It inevitably happens. You get old. Your body starts to fail you. You suffer through the death of parents. You celebrate and possibly curse the arrival of children. In short, you become a father (or a mother), while you bury yours. You trade in wild, youthful abandon for aged, restrained wisdom ….
The New Pornographers’ frontman Carl Newman wrote Shut Down the Streets after his mother’s death and before his son’s birth, and as open and airy as these songs sound, they are also anchored by weighty lyrics about indecision and ambiguity. In other words, the album’s cover, featuring Newman standing in a spacious glade surrounded by fallen trees, is perfect. .
A.C. Newman has always conveyed a kind of brainy troubadourism. The Canadian singer-songwriter’s pining narratives project a wry strain of Americana, one that easily shifts between poetry and intellectualism in the same way his acoustic soundscapes alternate between twangy backwoods folk and coffeehouse indie pop. He is, essentially, the male equivalent of his New Pornographers bandmate and frequent collaborator Neko Case, whose own brand of anecdotal alt-rock closely mirrors Newman’s.
Review Summary: "No, I've never been close, but I've never been far away." At this point, it’s hard for Carl Newman to defy the expectations automatically placed upon any album bearing his name. There are the two albums with Zumpano, a ‘90s power-pop outfit (see: Sloan, also of the Great White North, who did it better). The five eerily consistent albums with the New Pornographers, a Canadian power-pop “supergroup” who reasonably could only fall under that term if you were a fervent follower of obscure ‘90s indie acts or in tune with mildly popular transplanted alt-country singers.
When Carl Newman of the New Pornographers rebranded himself as the more authorial-sounding A.C. Newman for his first solo record, 2004's The Slow Wonder, indie's foremost creator of over-caffeinated pop-rock signaled a small but important change in direction. On his own, Newman took a deep breath and a couple of steps back from the hopped-up band dynamic of the Pornographers; as A.C.
The songwriting of A.C. Newman, lead tunesmith of indie power-pop heroes The New Pornographers, has always been a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, his lyrics, intricate and impressionistic, don’t seem all that catchy on the page. Yet, once his irresistible hooks kick in, listeners tend to find themselves shouting along with head-scratching refrains like “Sing Me Spanish Techno” as if they were singing “She Loves You.” Newman has a seemingly boundless ability to churn out albums full of such songs, so much so that his career with his regular band can’t contain them all.
High praise tends to get lost when mentioned late in reviews, so before diving into thoughts concerning A.C. Newman’s Shut Down the Streets, something needs to be said. Opening track “I’m Not Talking” is a sublime example of songwriting that supposedly died off in the late ’60s, maybe early ’70s. It teases twee, but somehow avoids it, eliciting silent sways instead of joyous jumping about via tambourines and clarinets.
You may recognize the voice, not necessarily the name when you hear Canadian artist, A.C. Newman. His golden billowy swells trademark the innate ability for capable indie pop expression. A more familiar chant for your curiosity may be the potent power pop jams such as Twin Cinema’s “Use It” or Mass Romantic’s “The Fake Headlines”.
Bat for Lashes Passions run high, and so do musical ambitions, in the songs of Natasha Khan, the English songwriter who records as Bat for Lashes. “Never whisper you a great love story/Only scream and cry and moan,” she sings on her third album, “The Haunted Man” (Capitol). With the ….
‘No, I’ve never been close / But I’ve never been far away’ sings Carl ‘A.C.’ Newman on ‘I’m Not Talking’, the opening number of ‘Shut Down The Streets’. Newman’s been plying his trade of witty, oblique power-pop for about ten years now, keeping us at arm’s length whether with The New Pornographers or on his solo records. With this, the third record under his own name, he’s finally letting us in.‘Shut Down The Streets’ is a very grown-up album.