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Archive for February, 2005

Monday, February 28th, 2005

Poor Boy, Minor Key

It’s always risky going to a show when the artist has a new record to push and you don’t have that record. If they draw heavily from the newer material, will hearing mostly unfamiliar songs diminish one’s enjoyment of the show? That did weigh on my mind a bit last night when I went to see M Ward at the ElMo. I had yet to pick up Transistor Radio and had only listened to the stream at Merge once. But cut me some slack – it only came out last week. I haven’t had time to make it to the record store. Anyway.

Taking the stage in an unassuming brown shirt and wool cap, and considerably younger looking than I’d expected, Ward immediately tore into a frenzied acoustic instrumental (sounded familiar but I couldn’t pick out the name), leaving most of the audience’s jaws on the floor – what a way to start things off. The next hour and fifteen minutes were spent with Ward’s warm, raspy voice and virtuoso fingerpicked acoustic guitar (as well as some piano) while playing material from both Transfiguration Of Vincent and the new Transistor Radio. Scattered amongst the originals were covers of Joanna Newsom, David Bowie, Daniel Johnston, and The Beach Boys, done so uniquely in Ward’s folk/country style that if you didn’t know better, you’d swear they were his own compositions (though he did fess up to which ones weren’t his before starting). With the assistance of a looper pedal, his single acoustic guitar became almost a full band as Ward layered the various parts needed to recreate the arrangements of the albums – the result was nothing short of spectacular.

This show turned out to be part of a warm-up mini tour – Ward promised to be back in the next couple months with a full band, likely Norfolk & Western, whom I’d actually expected to be opening this show up. I have to wonder if Ward with a full band would be as impressive as him solo? I guess there’s only one way to find out, and if the ensemble experience is anywhere near as good as the one-man act, it’ll definitely be worth seeing. Only downside to this show was no merch – I guess I’ll have to get my copy of Transistor Radio the old retail way. Oh yeah, photos.

Kathleen Edwards will be at the Mod Club on April 7 for Back To Me, out tomorrow. Jason Collett supports. Tickets are $17 and appear to only be available through Maple Music.

Trashcan Sinatras are at Lee’s Palace on April 28. Lee’s Palace has new doors. Just thought I’d mention that. Info on the show from For The Records. As for the new doors, I saw them myself.

The first new House Of Love album in twelve years is out today. North Americans who don’t want to pay the import prices (that’s $28 CDN at Amazon.ca, if you were wondering), I direct you to the good folks at cdwow.com. Ten pounds for the album, postpaid anywhere in the world – whatta deal. I’ve dealt with them before and they’ve always been terrific. I don’t expect Days Run Away to get a domestic release, so this is probably my – and your – best bet.

np – The Chameleons / Strange Times

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

I'm The Ocean

I really enjoyed Ocean’s Eleven, with its blend of caper and comedy and terrific cast, so while it wasn’t exactly crying out for a sequel, I had been pretty keen on seeing Ocean’s Twelve even though the reviews were fairly lukewarm. Whereas the first one was a heist film foremost and a comedy second, the sequel flips that around playing more for laughs and trading on the charisma and chemistry of the players rather than concentrate on the heists. The end result is considerably sillier and more lightweight, though still pretty enjoyable.

After getting away with robbing the Bellagio in the original, someone feeds the whereabouts of all the thieves to thieve-ee Terry Benedict who proceeds to… persuade them all to return the money they took from him. This, of course, requires more heists, this time in Europe. The new member of the cast, thus necessitating the increment in movie title, is Catherine Zeta-Jones (whose haircut really works for her…) as an police detective and Brad Pitt’s ex-girlfriend looking to take the gang down. As I mentioned before, this film really looks to play up the humour, particularly in the third act where things become ridiculous beyond the point of incredulity, but at least entertainingly so.

However I was disappointed in how incidental the heists became – they weren’t so much integral to the plot as just devices to give Clooney and the boys to banter and josh. Almost every interesting plot twist is recounted in flashback form, stripping away much of the suspense that might have otherwise come from it and forcing the viewer to suspend disbelief that much further. There does come a point that it becomes pretty damn hard to suspend disbelief that someone could plan that many moves in advance, even a criminal mastermind like George Clooney.

Feist has a new website with some nice new content. I particularly liked seeing the video for Broken Social Scene’s “Almost Crimes”. From For The Records.

…And now it’s a triple-header. Arcade Fire, Danforth Music Hall, April 26. You know the drill.

It’s 1994 all over again! Nine Inch Nails – yes, those Nine Inch Nails – are at the Kool Haus for two shows May 9 and 10 and Garbage is at the Kool Haus on April 25. Remember Garbage? Sure you do. They were that band. With that song. And Nine Inch Nails were that other band. With that other song. Both acts have new albums to flog, but you know the crowd will only want to hear those old songs. Congratulations Trent, Shirley, you’re officially classic rock. More Cowbell has NIN presale info.

I’ve begun playing Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. I’d held off for a little while, but have given in. Remember me fondly.

But in an attempt to counter the hours that will be devoured by trying to save the galaxy from Dark Jedi (or maybe I’ll go Dark and try and destroy the galaxy), I am becoming proactive on my long-rumoured redesign. Seriously – there are photoshop files, massive FTP transfers, code being written… it’s all very impressive. I hope to have it down before Guns’N’Roses release Chinese Democracy.

np – Shoegazeradio.com

Saturday, February 26th, 2005

Rake At The Gates Of Hell

The tragedy of it all is that of all the comic book adaptations that have found their way to the big screen in recent years, Hellblazer would have been one of the easiest to do right. Part of the beauty of the character of John Constantine is that he’s all about the premise. There’s no real continuity to be adhered to, nothing that would make the fanboys scream if you strayed from canon. Just be true to the character, and you’re all set. That’s why so many different writers have been able to work so well with him – with a few exceptions, you can start him from tabula rasa and be good to go. He’s blond, British, smokes a shitload, wears a dirty trenchcoat, is hip-deep in the occult and is a right bastard.

Which is why it’s so confounding that they got the film so bloody wrong. Brown hair, set in Los Angeles, black suit… dear God. I won’t even get started on Keanu… Someone like Robert Carlyle or David Thewlis could have been spectacular in the role, but no, they had to go with an action figure for a part that really doesn’t demand action at all. John Constantine is cerebral, not physical. He’s useless in a punch-up – he’s all about outthinking and outplanning his opponents. Obviously traits that Keanu embodies. It’s funny that by straying so far from the source material (so much so that Alan Moore apparently disavowed the film entirely, even forfeiting his creator credits and any monies that would come along with it), they’ve made a film that’s so unrelatable to the comics that I read for years that I could probably appreciate it on its own merits, whatever those may be. No, I haven’t seen it yet, but my argument doesn’t really require me to. And I may actually do so at some point, either at the rep or by rental. And amazingly, it’s done well enough at the box office that they’re already talking sequel. Gah.

Achtung Baby had a pretty thorough Hellblazer post last week, pretty much covering all the links I would have wanted to use. So I’ll just send you to this fansite and let you take it from there, if you’re so inclined. I read Hellblazer for years, from the tail end of Jamie Delano’s tenure all the way through Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s definitive run. The title stumbled for a bit post-Ennis with a variety of creative teams taking swings at the story, but never really getting the momentum back. I bowed out around then as it wasn’t holding my interest anymore and finances were tight. But man, those Ennis/Dillon issues are still amazing. I’ve recently started going back and trying to catch up on the stuff I missed – if the attention from the film has accomplished one positive thing, it’s to remind me of how good a character John Constantine can be in the right hands. A pity Hollywood couldn’t figure it out.

But if you DO like Keanu, you’re probably excited about A Scanner Darkly, which I admit, looks pretty cool. I’m not sure the rotoscoping works for the tone of the film though, it seems a little too cartoon-y. It’d have been nice if they went with something a little more jagged or Sienkiewicz-y.

New Order tells Billboard that they’re coming to North America to tour Waiting For The Siren’s Call (out April 12) this year. Honest. Swear to God. This might be exciting if I’d heard they were a decent live act… which I haven’t. Quite the opposite, actually, and the BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert album rather bears that opinion out. Still, it’s good of them to offer.

The Jayhawks do a little break-up backpedalling. Sorry guys, too late. You’re dead to me now. Dead.

The Independent challenges Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam to a no-holds-barred steel cage grudge match, and by that, I mean they sit down for a nice chat with the man. Via Coolfer.

Went to Dave & Buster’s last night for another 30th birthday party, this time it was Jeremy’s decade-odometer rolling over. Interesting place, like Chuck-E-Cheese with a liquor license. I went for the skee-ball but stayed for the Colorama (think roulette for idiots) and managed to cash out pretty well, taking home this bad boy. Spider-Man’s arms are poseable. POSEABLE!

np – Catherine Wheel / Adam And Eve

Friday, February 25th, 2005

We're Comin' Out

Let’s combine the last two days posts – Yesterday’s about classic albums from the Eighties getting a makeover from the good folks at Rykodisc and Rhino and Wednesday’s about beloved bands from Minnesota! Billboard gets the details on the Replacements deluxe reissues coming out this Fall on Rykodisc (for the TwinTone albums) and Rhino (the Sire albums). It sounds like this will be in lieu of the box set that was reported last Fall which would have covered the entirety of the Mats’ career. So much for one-stop shopping. I wonder what kind of goodies they’ll have for Let It Be? It’s really the only album I’d consider re-buying.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, the unreleased material from the All For Nothing/Nothing For All compilation wasn’t anything to write home about. Granted, that comp only covered the Sire years, but I wonder how much of the stuff in the vaults from even their earlier days is really for anyone but collectors and completists? However, seeing as how Let It Be is one of the greatest albums in the history of history (yeah, the hyperbole knob is turned up a little bit), one can only hope that the other material from that era was similarly divine, at least to some degree.

And related – Paul Westerberg will have a compilation of with best-of tracks, rarities and odds and ends out sometime this Spring.

Creationrecords.com catches up with former Slowdive-r Simon Scott, who is now fronting Televise. Scott was drummer for Slowdive on Just For A Day and Souvlaki before leaving the band and being replaced with Ian McCutcheon, who continues to play with Mojave 3.

To no one’s real surprise, the April 27 Arcade Fire show at the Danforth Music Hall sold out yesterday in something like four hours. So due to popular demand, a second show has been added for April 28th, same place, same price ($20), on sale now. And if I didn’t mention it before, part of the proceeds from the show will go to humanitarian relief in Haiti.

Thanks to For The Records for the tip that A Girl Called Eddy will be doing an instore at Soundscapes on Sunday March 6 at 4PM before playing the Horseshoe that night with Keren Ann. And on the topic of Soundscapes instores, I’ve been told that Jens Lekman will be doing one the following week before playing Wavelength.

Achtung Baby reports that Nellie McKay’s Get Away From Me will be coming out on DualDisc on March 22, probably the first title released in that format that’s of interest to me. But is it still a double-disc album? I assume the CD side will remain the same but the DVD side will have the album remastered in 5.1 and a live concert performance in high definition for those with really expensive televisions.

So since Lake Holiday broke up last Fall, I’ve been drifting musically, looking for some sort of new band sitch. Had a few false starts, but in the last couple months I’ve been playing with a couple of guys with promising results, but we’ve had a little difficulty pushing things forward with just two guitars and bass. Well last night, former LH drummer Clay swung by the rehearsal space to pick up some gear and climbed behind the kit for a little while. HOLY SHIT, I’d forgotten how good it was to play with a drummer – it was on a whole different level. A shame Clay is now busy with bass duties for Beneath Augusta… I have gots to find me a drummer. Anybody know one?

np – Patterson Hood / Killers And Stars

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

The Costello Show

It’s annoying when albums are reissued over and over again, ad nauseum, but every once in a while, it’s worth it. Rhino has been putting out all of Elvis Costello’s albums in deluxe double-disc editions, three at a time, over the last few years, even though Rykodisc had done the same, albeit in single-disc form, scarcely a decade and a half ago. How many times can you go back to the well? So while the Rhino packages have looked to be superior to the Ryko editions that I have, I haven’t been persuaded to buy any of them again. Until now.

One of my all-time favourite albums, King Of America, is next to get the Rhino treatment on April 26 and in a move befitting its stature in his catalog, it’s coming out on it’s own – not as part of a trio. While he made his name as the angry young punk of My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model, he’s always had a real fixation with classic American music. His first homage to this influence was the country covers album Almost Blue, which was initially reviled but is now regarded more favourably. 1986’s King Of America, however, was a classic from the get-go. Coming off his best album in years, Blood & Chocolate, Costello decided to enlist a band of crack session players (including Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and legendary producer T-Bone Burnett) to record an amazing record of roots/folk/soul-rock that features some of his very best songwriting. He also distanced himself from his past work by crediting the album to The Costello Show, listing Declan Macmanus (his birth name) as producer and songwriter and crediting the self-deprecating Little Hands Of Concrete as performer for his instrumental parts.

Because of the length of the original album, the Ryko edition only added five bonus tracks (I think there may have been another edition that had even more material, but I don’t have it). The new Rhino edition does that one several times better, presenting the original album on a single disc but adding 21 additional cuts on the second disc. TWENTY-ONE. There’s demos, live cuts, unreleased material – it’s sure to be a helluva treat. Full details here.

Costello returned to themes of America with his last album, The Delivery Man, which was pretty good but didn’t inspire the same way that King Of America did, but it’s still getting a double-disc reissue. Yeah, it only came out last year, but that never stopped label bean-counters before. A deluxe edition of The Delivery Man will be out on March 1 and feature a second disc containing the seven tracks that first appeared on the Clarksdale Sessions 10″ (yes, vinyl) which came out late last month.

Rock Snob points the way to a couple of new singles available online – there’s a radio rip of “Refugees”, the first single from the still-untitled debut from The Tears’, which is pencilled in for a May 2 release in the UK. It’s not an especially good quality rip, I can’t tell if Bernard’s guitar is effected or just suffering from a low bitrate, but the song’s alright. Brett and Bernard talk about the song with NME.

Also worth listening to is “River (Depot Song)”, taken from the new Longwave album There’s A Fire. It’s due out sometime this Spring and if this track is representative of the record, it’ll be a good one. Production by the legendary John Leckie is also a plus. There’s also some non-album tracks on the website jukebox that are worth a listen. It’s too bad better judgement has gotten the best of me and I’ve decided not to go to their March 16 show at Lee’s Palace… I hope they come back as many times as they did for The Strangest Things (at least three, by my count).

Can’t make The Futureheads show at Lee’s this Sunday? Fret not, you can also see them on April 23 at the Kool Haus with Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV. I think HHH is headlining, but I’m not sure. Either way, this show will be spastic with a capital spaz.

The SxSW music schedules are up. Oh my God my head is exploding. And now I really wish I was going to be there on the 16th, as well…

The State talks to Neko Case about making The Tigers Have Spoken. From LHB.

M Ward tells The Toronto Star (bugmenot: wow@mail.com/sowhat) how he yearns for the simpler days of radio. Maybe he’ll tell the audience the same thing on Sunday night when he plays the El Mocambo.

More reasons Charlotte Hatherley is awesomeness – great taste in music (obvs). Via Unca Grambo.

Blog Up conducts an interview with Yo La Tengo in two languages! Well, I doubt they asked the same questions in both languages, but still. It’s the first interview I’ve seen that looks like a Canadian cereal box.

np – Asobi Seksu / Asobi Seksu