Mister Heavenly is the musical collaboration of Nick Thorburn (Islands/The Unicorns), Ryan Kattner (Man Man), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse/The Shins). The trio released its debut album as Mister Heavenly, Out of Love, on Sub Pop this summer. They recently stopped by the XPN2 studios to perform tracks from the album live, and now you can stream our session whenever you like. We’ll hear live performances of “Bronx Sniper,” “Pineapple Girl” and more, and XPN2′s Eric Schuman talks with Nick, Ryan, and Joe about forming the band and making time for the new project in their busy schedules.
Mister Heavenly includes Nick Thorburn (Islands/The Unicorns), Ryan Kattner (Man Man), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse). When they performed at The Church on Friday, November 4th, the band stopped by the XPN studios and recorded a studio session for XPN2. The full session will be broadcast and webcast next Friday, December 9th at 3 p.m. on XPN2. We wanted to give you a special taste of the session. You can download “Pineapple Girl” below.
Congrats to Kurt Vile, War on Drugs and Mister Heavenly for making the Paste Magazine Top 50 Best Albums of 2011 list. Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo came in at #44; Slave Ambient by War On Drugs was #37 and Mister Heavenly’s Out Of Love came in at #36. You can read the entire list here. Download some songs below, including an acoustic version of “Brothers” that War On Drugs’ lead singer and guitarist Adam Granduciel recorded for a Key Studio Session last August.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4th
It was only a matter of time before the indie-rock veterans who comprise Mister Heavenly tried to concoct their own music genre. Though the band’s debut LP, Out Of Love, was released just last August, the threesome began coining the phrase “doom wop” to describe its sound since forming last year. Made up of stray members of three other bands—Islands’ Nick Thornburn, Man Man’s Ryan Kattner, and Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer—the group’s invented genre is used to describe its mix of classic-sounding melodies with an underbelly of grittier hard rock songwriting. In reality, Out of Love sounds less like a new innovation for indie rock and more like a mash-up of all three band members’ past lives, offering some well-rounded moments amongst the chaos of Thornburn’s and Kattner’s vocal wars and the capricious tone that shifts with the start of every track. Perhaps not necessarily deserving of its own musical genre, Mister Heavenly at least has the ability to trick listeners into finding something new amongst its recycled parts. Mister Heavenly performs with Mr Dream and Buffalo Stance at 8 p.m. at First Unitarian Church; tickets to the all-ages-show are $13.—Marielle Mondon
Also Playing: Chris Kasper + Vandaveer, Adrien Reju at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., all ages, $15–$20); Enter The Haggis + Scythian at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $20); Fang Fang + Library Voices, Geology, Mercury Radio Theater, Jeff Dernian at North Star Bar (9 p.m., 21+, $10); Illinois + Breakfast In Fur, Former Belle at Kung Fu Necktie (7:30 p.m., 21+, $8); The New Connection + Crills Wilson, Abstract Verses, North End at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10)
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5th
Amos Lee + Brett Dennen at Academy Of Music (8 p.m., $34.50–$44.50); Lefty’s Deceiver + Busses, Ports Of Call at Johnny Brenda’s (9:15 p.m., 21+, $10)
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6th
The title of Noah And The Whale’s most recent album, Last Night On Earth, is an affirmation of the upbeat, bittersweet songs it embodies. As the name would imply, the album was recorded as an anthem to the last night on earth. From doubt to complete bliss, Noah and the Whale covers the range of emotions one would expect from such a hefty theme. Departing from its folk, acoustic roots that can be heard on 2008’s Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, the band plays Kinks-esque pop tunes supported by bouncy backbeats and electric guitars. The most recent single, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N,” is the perfect illustration of the album’s optimistic despair. Alternating voices happily declare, “On my last night on earth, I’ll pay a high price to have no regrets and be done with my life.” Although the music is deceptively more up-tempo, Noah and the Whale maintains its thought provoking lyricism. Noah And The Whale perform Sunday at 7 p.m. at Theatre Of Living Arts; tickets to the all-ages show are $20 ($29 via Live Nation). —Caitlyn Grabenstein
Also Playing: Nothing + BRANES, Void Vision, Joey Casi at The Barbary (6 p.m., 21+, $6–$8)
The members of the self-proclaimed “doom wop” trio Mister Heavenly have just announced dates for an upcoming fall tour in support of the band’s debut album, Out Of Love. The tour will kick off in Philadelphia on November 4th at First Unitarian Church and wrap up in New York City on November 20th at Mercury Lounge. The band, which features Nick Thorburn (Islands/The Unicorns), Ryan Kattner (Man Man), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) wrapped up a two-week West Coast tour earlier this month. You can listen to a pair of tracks from the album and check out the tour dates below; our review of Out Of Love can be found here.
Mister Heavenly Tour Dates:
Nov 04 First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Nov 05 Metro Gallery (MD), Baltimore, MD
Nov 06 Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
Nov 07 Tin Roof, Charleston , SC
Nov 08 Cafe Eleven, St. Augustine, FL
Nov 09 Back Booth, Orlando, FL
Nov 10 The Earl, Atlanta, GA
Nov 11 Cosmic Charlie’s, Lexington, KY
Nov 12 Firebird, Saint Louis, MO
Nov 13 Subterranean, Chicago, IL
Nov 14 Pike Room, Pontiac, MI
Nov 15 Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights, OH
Nov 16 Great Hall (ON), Toronto, Canada
Nov 17 Il Motore, Montreal, QC
Nov 18 Daniel Street, Milford, CT
Nov 19 Remis Auditorium, Boston, MA
Nov 20 Mercury Lounge, New York City, NY
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Mister Heavenly (Man Man frontman Honus Honus’ side project with Islands’ Nick Thorburn), you can listen to and download four tracks recorded with Daytrotter. The songs—from the band’s new album Out of Love—are “I Am A Hologram,” “Pineapple Girl,” “Doom-Wop” and “Your Girl.” Though Honus Honus’ voice sounds close to breaking, the tracks are pretty faithful renditions of the album versions. Another difference: Michael Cera joined them on bass for these recordings. You can listen to the Daytrotter session here; our review of Out Of Love can be found here.
At its core, Mister Heavenly is about the interplay of inverse forces. The band’s debut, Out Of Love, seeks to meld light-footed doo-wop harmonies with burly guitars and creepy lyrics; to wed Ryan Kattner’s (of Man Man) unruly circus-romp rock to Nick Thorburn’s (of Islands and The Unicorns) bleeping, cavorting electro-pop. The result, like its components, is a little uneven. There are moments when you believe that “doom-wop”—the too-clever moniker coined by the band for its nascent genre—has real potential. There are also moments when the record sounds like an Islands song pasted together piecemeal with a Man Man outtake and a 1950s B-side.
Kattner’s voice is a skidding, abrasive rumble that jars against Thorburn’s amiable yelp. Kattner occasionally manages to cajole his growling tones into something like the croon needed to narrate bouncing duets full of whistles and plinking, twinkly riffs. He navigates honeyed verses like “Her lips are like ships to sail right through the thoughts that you harbor” with surprising dexterity—though on the closing track, “Wise Men,” an unfortunate lyric (“I’m cracking like a coconut”) elicits winces, especially as it’s relayed via Kattner’s rasp. Kattner’s talents are best tailored to “I Am A Hologram,” where he commandeers the chorus’ rhyming, timely couplet and makes the song his own.
Thorburn and Kattner share vocal duties for most of the album, trading off like they’re the only subs in a one-person game. The combination can be almost lovely: “Your Girl” charms despite (or perhaps because of) its weird amalgam of cute come-ons and veiled threats, and you’ll find the melody from “Wise Men” replaying in your head hours later, lodged there seemingly permanently. And then there’s “Pineapple Girl,” which takes as its subject the strange correspondence struck up between notorious Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and then ten-year-old American Sarah York in 1988. Thorburn channels Noriega: “I’m not a mean one, I’m just another leader,” while Kattner plays the part of the little girl: “I don’t desire to be a clueless creature.” With its disconcerting theme and unorthodox casting, “Pineapple Girl” is the last thing you’d expect it to be: sweet.
Out Of Love falters when it fails to successfully integrate its opposing influences. Opener “Bronx Sniper,” for example, is a fuzzy, fairly standard rocker with a lilting intro affixed awkwardly to the beginning. “Doom-Wop” is a jumble of out-of-tune vocals, squealing reverb and a dull, pounding beat. “Harm You” suffers from the same split-personality ailment as “Mister Heavenly,” divided as it is between a snarling, spitting verse and a delicate refrain.
On “Harm You,” Thorburn sings, “I’m in love with the myth of who made you.” It’s an appropriate notion for a band billed as an “indie super-group.” There’s always more expected when there are branded names in the liner notes, and history is littered with the botched attempts at famous collaboration that are so much less than the sum of their parts. Mister Heavenly’s Out Of Love has its missteps, but it’s worth listening to for its flashes of brilliance