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Archive for July, 2004

Saturday, July 31st, 2004

Shake It Out

I discovered Omahans Tilly & The Wall through Allmusic.com’s Artist Spotlight feature on their homepage (which you may have noticed if you weren’t too busy raging at their redesign), which just goes to show that having cute girls in your band really can help your career. Who knew. Signed to Conor Orbest’s Saddle Creek-spinoff label Team Love and featuring some Bright Eyes alumnus (though really, is there any musician in Nebraksa who’s not?), the five-piece outfit plays big, buoyant Spector-ish pop songs made distinctive by their wonderful co-ed wall of vocals and their decision to eschew a drummer in favour of a tap-dancer (!). Yeah, it sounds gimmicky, but it really works and you’ll be too busy grooving to the songs and vocal harmonies to give it too much notice – and I’m betting it makes for a terrific live show (Jasper at jenyk calls them “the cutest band in the world” and is willing to testify about the live experience). I’m liking this quite a lot, it’s just so happy. Go here to download their whole debut album Wild Like Children (it’s cool, it’s from their label) which came out last month and watch the video for “Reckless”.

Jay Farrar talks to The Orlando Sentinel about the state of radio, politics and his new live record Stone, Steel & Bright Lights. He also mentions that he and Jeff Tweedy haven’t been in touch “this century”, so stick that in your Uncle Tupelo reunion pipe and smoke it. Link from LHB.

First, there was no news. Now there’s just conflicting news. Billboard has an interview with Matthew Sweet about his two upcoming records, as does Rolling Stone. Whereas my initial information had Living Things coming out on September 7 and Kimi Ga Suki on October 5, the Billboard piece hsa Kimi Ga Suki released on September 7 and Living Things on October 19. To muddle things up even more, Rolling Stone says they’re both out on October 19. Whichever it turns out to be, they’re at least in consensus on the material itself. Sweet gets his electric ya-yas out on Kimi Ga Suki and goes for a much lusher, more orchestrated and acoustic feel on Living Things, though it features many of the same players. Touring should commence in October.

The French Kicks are at the Guvernment on September 21. I don’t know if this is a headlining show – are they big enough to have their own show at the Guvernment? That surprises me.

Thrashers Wheat has taken the trouble to compile every press clipping comparing Jeff Tweedy’s guitar playing on A Ghost Is Born with Neil Young. In case you wanted all those quotes in one convenient location, of course.

np – Old 97’s / Drag It Up

Friday, July 30th, 2004

Shiftless When Idle

Ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson takes some time off from doing nothing with Guns N Roses and comes to the Horseshoe September 9 to promote his new solo record Village Gorilla Head, which just came out this week (And for the record, he insists Chinese Democracy is still coming out – probably when China actually has a democracy). Anyway, $10 gets you in the door and also gives you the right to shout out drunken requests for “Bastards Of Young” AND “November Rain”. Until he jumps off stage and kicks your ass, of course, but really – won’t it be worth it? Download “Motivation” from his new album here.

The Toronto Star ran this piece on Jim White yesterday – he sounds like an interesting guy, to say the least. Some local media outlets are suggesting he might just upstage Wilco this Tuesday at their Mod Club show – I doubt that, but I am intrigued by the guy.

Swedish combo The Concretes will make their Toronto debut October 11 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $15.

I am listening to the new Rilo Kiley record. Holy shit this is good. Well, Blake’s one song is kinda shit and sticks out like a sore thumb, but Jenny’s songs rule. More Adventurous is out August 17 and they’re in town October 3. You can preview a few tracks from the new record here.

Athens, GA’s The Flagpole has a couple nice features brought to my attention by Largehearted Boyan interview with Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura and a European tour diary from Elf Power.

I think I am far too excited about Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, opening today. The reviews are surprisingly good and I think if you were to filter out the ones whose chief complaint is that the film is a 90-minute commercial for a burger joint (though one that doesn’t exist in Canada so it may as well be fictional – Lord knows the Slyder sounds too ridiculous to be real), the ratings would be even higher. In all likelihood I will be seeing it this long weekend.

Oh yeah, what I said yesterday about having next week’s mp3 picked out? Nix that – I have some other ideas… but fret not, everything will make an appearance in good time.

np – Rogue Wave / Out Of The Shadow

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Just For A Day

I’ll warn you straight off – today’s post is dedicated to shoegazer giants Slowdive. If you’re not interested, scroll down. Waaaay down.

Why the love-in? Well, the Reading, England-based band will be the recipients of a double-disc anthology entitled Catch The Breeze on Sanctuary Records, out September 27 in the UK. I say “recipients of” because no one from the band had any hand in putting this together. Content-wise, it’s a decent enough collection of stuff from their three albums and some EPs (Full tracklisting here) and considering how hard the non-album material and Pygmalion are to find, it’s filling a real gap in record store shelves.

It’s nice to see Slowdive getting some belated appreciation. My Bloody Valentine rightfully gets cited as the be-all and end-all of the shoegazing movement, but in my mind Slowdive was just as important. Where MBV was about the all-out sonic assault and experimented with dance rhythms, Slowdive took the more ambient route and created walls of dreamy, beautiful sound.

Their influence is becoming evident in more and more contemporary ambient/shoegaze bands (Sigur Ros, I’m looking in your direction!) as well as electronic-type acts who’ve likely worn out a copy or two of Pygmalion. Case in point: Blue Skied An’ Clear, a tribute album put out by the electronic-centric German label Morr in 2002. It comprised one disc of covers and one disc of songs ‘inspired’ by the band – basically, a clever way of introducing the label’s bands to Slowdive fans who picked up the tribute album. I got a copy off Gary a while ago, and I think I just decided my next cover of the week is gonna be. Three guesses, first two don’t count.

I wasn’t completely honest when I said earlier that the EPs and such were really hard to find – if we’re talking about downloadable mp3s, they’re dead easy to find. You’d be hard-pressed to find any of this material in stores as it’s all way out of print, so I think you can download with a clear consience (assuming your conscience has an opinion on the topic of downloads). It is worth noting, however, that rights to all the Slowdive material will revert back to the band in the upcoming months and there are rough plans to reissue it all – presumably with bonus tracks and such. There’s also a couple of live shows and videos available online. The unofficially official Creation Records website conducted interviews with Rachel Goswell and Christian Savill in 2002 wherein they reflected on their band’s legacy and life in the Creation madhouse. And while I’m tossing out every related link I can find, here’s schematics of Neil and Christian’s guitar rigs.

So where are they now? Since disbanding in 1995, three of the principals in Slowdive – Rachel Goswell, Neil Halstead and Ian McCutcheon – traded in their Kevin Shields fan club membership cards for a milk crate of old Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and Gram Parsons records and a new band. Mojave 3 is a much folkier, strummier sort of outfit although vestiges of their former band’s dreamy sonic approach remain, especially in the live show which is surprisingly powerful – I’ve often described them as the loudest quiet band around. They’ve released four albums, 2003’s Spoon & Rafter being the most recent release. Christian Savill now plies his trade in Monster Movie.

They’ve been busy outside Mojave 3, as well. Neil Halstead released his first solo album Sleeping On Roads in 2002 and Rachell Goswell put out Waves Are Universal earlier this year. She was slated to support Tanya Donelly on a mini-American tour in August (how great would that have been?) but had to pull out due to illness. Alas. I’m hoping Rachel will make up the dates and include a Toronto show – when Neil was plugging his record, I think he came through town on three separate occasions. And finally, there should be a fifth Mojave 3 album out next year.

Update: Check out Ed’s comment below for some clarifications, namely that Rachel WILL still be opening for Tanya’s tour in August.

…And I think that about does it. For those of you with no interest in Slowdive who waded through all that, here’s your reward:

The Batman Begins trailer. You know what? I like it. I like the set-up, and that’s not just the fanboy in me talking. This will be good.

The nice folks at The Beguiling gave me an Alien Vs Predator t-shirt yesterday. And when I say ‘gave’, I mean they pretty much forced me to take it – seems they got a big box of these things for a promotion they had no interest in taking part in. So even without trying, my wardrobe gets a little bit geekier every day. Why fight it?

Jude Law as Ian Curtis in a film adaptation of Touching From A Distance? NME says it can happen, and Peter Hook says it’s a good choice.

American Music Club’s first tour in God knows how long has been announced, and it’s not coming here. And with Will Johnson opening. That’s it, this calls for a rock-n-roll road trip. I’m serious. November 6 in New York City or November 13 in Chicago. They’re both Saturdays. One of these, I’m going. I’m serious. Chi-town is on my calendar over the left and everything. Who’s coming?

np – Tanya Donelly / Whiskey Tango Ghosts

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

The Dark Of The Matinee

One of the things I’ve intended to do since I moved to downtown Toronto like FIVE years ago was get tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival – well this year, I’m finally doing it. Bought a book of ten tickets and with luck, there’ll be good films playing and I’ll score tickets. The official programme doesn’t come out for another month, though, so till then there’ll be a lot of waiting and wondering what the hell I’m going to do with ten tickets. I’ve been to some screenings in past years, mostly from either free tickets or friends with extras. If memory serves, I’ve been to a couple ‘gala premieres’ (Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen and Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee & Cigarettes) as well as a not-so-gala matinee from the international documentaries category (Cool & Crazy, a film about a Norwegian men’s choir. Yeah). The city always takes on a cool vibe when the TIFF is in town, though, it’s a good chance to see how much shorter celebrities are in real life. I think my top celeb sighting was Willem Dafoe sitting at a patio just north of my apartment a couple years ago. He had these crazy glasses on. Yeah, not much of a story, I know.

This would appear to be the first clear picture of Christian Bale in the Batman costume. First time I saw this, I thought it was an action figure or a statue or something. I don’t know if that reflects well on the costume designers or not. Looks better than Clooney’s outfit, anyway. A one-minute Batman Begins trailer should be out any week now, probably with either The Village this week or Aliens Vs Predator next week. Funny, I would have thought Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle would have been the obvious choice.

Ain’t It Cool has a left-field yet oddly credible rumour about the adversary in Spider-Man 3. I’ll give you a hint – it rhymes with “Wenom”.

And a postscript on the topic of movies – finally got around to seeing Barton Fink last night. The story of a 1940s playwright who travels to Los Angeles to become a movie scripwriter, it was interesting in simultaneously being one of the least weird and yet strangest Coen Brothers films I’ve seen yet. Excellent performances from everyone in the cast – John Turtorro, John Goodman and Tony Shalhoub are all greatly underappreciated actors.

It’s shaping up to be a helluva Fall concert season. I mean, just look at my calendar over there on the side. That’s an insane lineup, and it doesn’t even include expected dates from Steve Earle, Luna, Matthew Sweet or American Music Club. Damnation. Here’s what’s come to my attention in the last 24 hours or so:

A shit-kicking good time will be had at the Horseshoe on September 11 when Alabama’s Drive-By Truckers roll into town with the lovely, talented and lovely Allison Moorer in tow. The DBT are pushing The Dirty South, out August 24 and Allison Moorer released The Duel earlier this year. Tickets are $13.50.

Two-man blues clues The Black Keys will play Lee’s Palace September 28 to support the September 7 release of Rubber Factory, tickets will cost you $15. I dunno, I saw the Black Keys open for Sleater-Kinney last year, and I didn’t think they were worth $15. You could just rent Ghost World and skip to the “Blueshammer!” scene. But that’s just me.

Fellow UK New Wave revivalists The Futureheads will be opening for Franz Ferdinand at The Docks October 1.

Meanwhile, Scots Sons And Daughters, who accompanied FF to town the last time around, will be back on November 5 supporting Clinic, along with Los Angeles’ Midnight Movies.

And some other bits and pieces:

REM’s new album will be out October 5, the leadoff single is entitled “Leaving New York”.

You can see the video for Wheat’s “I Met A Girl” here. It’s a neat vid, shot entirely with still 35mm cameras.

New Spoon website! Updated demo tracks from the new record, too. From Catbirdseat.

Chart finds out just who Rogue Wave are and why they’re getting the attention they are. Me, I just picked up Out Of The Shadow last night (made it to Soundscapes after all). It’s pretty but I haven’t had the opportunity to form any deeper opinion yet. They’re opening for AC Newman August 8 at Lee’s.

np – Old 97’s / Drag It Up

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

You Say You Want A Revolution

You can preview three tracks from Steve Earle’s new album The Revolution Starts… Now on his website. The album is out August 24, tour dates for the Fall to be announced shortly. There will also be a CD and DVD culled from last year’s Tell Us The Truth tour with Billy Bragg and Tom Morello coming out in October.

A few more concert announcements:

  • Rilo Kiley on October 3, venue to be announced. More Adventurous is out August 17.

  • Snow Patrol are back in town at the Opera House September 17.

  • Ben Lee is at the Mod Club September 22.
  • The rain today has put a bit of a damper on my plans to dash out after work and pick up the new Tanya Donelly, Old 97’s and Rogue Wave records. I suppose I can wait a day, but when you’re geek like me, buying stuff on the day it’s released is half the fun. Actually, make that just a couple percentile points of the fun. If it were literally HALF the fun, then I’d really need to reconsider how I’m spending my amusement money.

    Verrrry slow day today – I almost posted this article in The Toronto Star about life in Oshawa as a sort-of follow-up to my entry about life in Oakville last week. Despite the fact that a) I only lived in Oshawa for four months on a co-op placement about six years ago, and b) I absolutely hated it – it may have been good for anecdotes (living in the dog room, a mouse infestation, having some jackass disable the neutral safety switch on my car and then having my license plates stolen a couple weeks later) but it truly sucked, otherwise. Apologies to anyone who grew up in the ‘Shwa, but you know it’s true. Anyway, I thought about posting the article but decided not to bother.

    np – The Delgados / Hate