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Archive for April, 2005

Saturday, April 30th, 2005

Break Me Gently

Bad luck for everyone scheduled for the first two weeks of the Doves North American tour next month including Coachella – as you’ve certainly heard, they’ve been cancelled because of Jimi Goodwin’s throat problems. Lucky for me Toronto is the second of the dates that will go on as planned. They’ve started rescheduling some of the west coast dates (More Cowbell has some details). Scheduled openers Mercury Rev are trying to schedule their own shows in the cancelled cities but will be back with Doves by the time that tour starts up in a couple weeks.

As consolation for those shut out, you can watch part 2 of that BBC feature on , including live performances of “There Goes The Fear” and “Black & White Town” (here’s part one), and the Live At Eden EP came out on Tuesday. I quite like the live footage from this BBC special, the band seems to have a lot more energy than when I saw them touring for Lost Souls, and there’s not a taped backing track in earshot.

Shitty buzz that Robyn Hitchcock has had to cancel his Canadian tour with The Sadies due to a foot injury. They hope to reschedule. And I just bought tickets!

The Kalamazoo Gazette and Columbus Alive both talk to Dave Gedge about the Wedding Present reunion.

And not to be outdone in the battle of Ohian music coverage, Cleveland.com see’s their Wedding Present interview and raises them a Ryan Adams piece.

Hit the new Matador new update for mp3s from the forthcoming Laura Cantrell and New Pornographers records.

Billboard finds out what Nellie McKay is doing for her Summer vacation, besides preparing her sophomore album for a September release.

The move went about as well as I could have hoped, and in just over three hours yesterday I went from Morlock to Eloi. Still, it was (is) a pain in the ass and the place is a mess. I’ve managed to get it down from general chaos to individual piles of chaos, but I am exhausted from the effort. I am never moving again. I will die here, and when I do, I will insist that I am buried here. On the fifth floor. The people on the fourth can just suffer.

np – Wire / Pink Flag

Friday, April 29th, 2005

Basement Living

So I am moving today. It’s a vertical move if not necessarily a forward move – I’m back at the apartment I was in for the first four years that I lived in Toronto, though this time I get the big bedroom. Just me for now but I’ll no doubt have to wrangle up a roommate to help cover costs. It is big, however, and above ground – two things my old pad couldn’t necessarily say. I’ve lived in a basement apartment for 20 months now – it seems like it’s been much longer and not long at all, all at the same time.

It’s been nice living on my own, I’ll be sorry to see that situation end before long, but I could probably stand to be a little more regularly socialized lest I go all Shining. There’s things I’ll miss about this place – being right at the hub of three transit lines, being walking distance to Lee’s Palace and the Annex, all the used CD shops… not to mention the quiet of living on a residential street. The new place is right smack downtown, spitting distance from Yonge, and is considerably louder and busier. I won’t, however, miss the regular flooding, funky air or general absence of sunlight. Nor the spiders. Won’t miss the spiders at all.

So I think I’ve gotten utility hookups and whatnot sorted out that I shouldn’t be offline for more than today, but there’s never guarantees with that sort of thing. Oh, if anyone reading this has me on any snail mailing lists for anything, please email me and I’ll get you my new address. Thanks. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Chart talks to Longwave about how their new album somehow turned into a concept record. There’s A Fire is out June 28.

Torr points us at the wonderfully weird video for Mercury Rev’s “In A Funny Way”.

Billboard previews the year in Ryan Adams releases, starting with Cold Roses out next week.

Young Mod Soldiers has a brief interview with Carson Ellis, the lady behind The Decemberists’ album artwork.

It occurs to me now that I will regret not labeling my boxes or even paying attention to what went where.

Okay, time to pack up the computer. Final dispatch from the underground! Seeya.

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Us Kids Know

The buzz event of this week has been Arcade Fire’s three-night stand at the Danforth Music Hall. It’s like, “Which night are you going?” has become a perfectly acceptable conversation opener around the water cooler or McDonalds drive-thru. Though last night’s show was the first announced and first to sell out, Tuesday’s show was the first to happen, though it was the last of the three to be announced and obviously attended only by layabouts and lollygaggers who weren’t keen enough to get tickets to last night’s show. Meaning what? I do not know.

Arriving about 10 minutes before doors, the queue which stretched around the block thankfully moved quickly enough for us to get decent seats about 2/3 of the way back. We got settled in just in time to see the first opener – local boy Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy. When someone asks many years from now what the most important technological advance in music perfomance was in the first part of the 21st century, the answer will probably be the looper pedal. I’ve seen a number of performers use those doodads masterfully, and Final Fantasy is no exception. Stacking layers of violin on top of one another to create a mini symphony and singing over top, Pallett played a short but mesmerizing set of lovely chamber pop songs, closing off wht guests Jeremy and Regine from the Arcade Fire and Gentleman Reg helping out on a cover of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”. Final Fantasy has been quite the buzz around town for a while now but this was my first time taking in the experience, and I get what everyone is going on about.

Next up was Montreal’s Wolf Parade, who had the dubious distinction of being the most conventional-sounding act on the bill. With Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury pinch-hitting on bass and guitar for the shorthanded band, I actually started off being rather annoyed by them but was surprised to find myself won over with each subsequent song. Reminiscent of The Walkmen or Franz Ferdinand, their dancey, jagged sound is very much in the now but quite catchy and energetic. They only played an abbreviated set but probably won over a good portion of the crowd.

Their last time through town, Arcade Fire nearly demolished Lee’s Palace and left a sea of dazed converts in their wake. This time, they faced the somewhat unenviable task of trying to match, let alone top that performance and in a word, they didn’t. It’s probably unfair to judge one gig against another, but coming just seven months apart, it’s unavoidable (hell, anyone going to all three nights this week would certainly be doing the same). This shouldn’t be construed as some sort of complaint, though – I mean how many times can you expect a band to change your life? Anyway, I’ll try to put that aside and just discuss last night’s show on its own merits. All I’m saying is that like it or not, the conscious or unconscious comparisons will be going on in your skull. Or mine, at least.

Beyond the whole “you can’t experience something for the first time again” syndrome, there were quantifiable reasons I felt this way. For the first part of the show, the performance seemed to lack the visceral impact that makes their live shows so exciting. Maybe it was the larger room but the sound – particularly the drums – didn’t have the same body-blow impact as at Lee’s (whoops). It was a much more polite mix. It also seemed the band wasn’t quite connecting with the audience for that essential energy feedback loop. I mean, it was good and all but I wasn’t feeling that certain je ne sais quoi as they powered through much of Funeral, some material from the demo EP and the excellent new tune “Intervention”.

But then something happaned about 2/3 of the way through the set, with “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)” leading straight into “Rebellion (Lies)”. The band, playing as a 9- or 10-piece, depending, found that next gear, took into the stratosphere and didn’t come back down for the rest of the night. The remainder of the show was nothing less than sublime, including the encore of “Wake Up” where Win brought a good portion of the audience onstage to sing, stand around and otherwise feel cooler than those of use still on the floor. Onstage with Lord only knows how many fans surrounding him, Win looked like a preacher with his flock at some southern Baptist revival. He then climbed into the audience, nearly fell over top of me and ran off through the crowd to points unknown. While the encore and the show on the whole was a little short (the Tuesday night show got two or three encores, reports vary), it would have been tough to top that finale and I don’t think anyone left disappointed.

It’s funny that everyone stayed nicely in their seats until Wolf Parade’s set – someone must have noticed Win Butler standing up at the front because everyone then flooded up to the front of the stage. I joined in (baaa) and got close enough to take some decent pictures with only a nominal number of crowd heads in the shots. There’s not a whole helluva lot you can do compositionally from the distance I was at, and I had to wait for the lighting to turn favourable, but I got a better set together than I’d expected. No complaints.

So with three sold-out nights at a 1250-capacity venue, I have to wonder where the Arcade Fire will go from here. Larger venues would seem necessary unless they’re willing to continue doing three- to five-night stands in the city, but there’s really no concert halls larger than the Danforth that would come with either a significant increase in ticket price, significant decrease in vibe (imagine them in the Kool Haus, yuck!) and much complaining from the indie faithful in either case. It’s a tough spot to be in, that’s for sure, and I hope someone else is more imaginative than me in thinking of a solution.

Billboard reports that Bob Mould has enlisted Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and former Sugar bassist and accomplice Dave Barbe for his touring band this Fall in support of Body Of Song, out July 26. I’m quite happy to see Bob has returned to more conventional guitar-based compositions – I would never begrudge an artist for trying new avenues of expression, but Loudbomb? No thanks. Clever anagram, though. Update: Thanks to Frank in Atlanta for clarifying that while Barbe does play on Body Of Song, he is NOT touring with Bob. Note to self – read the damn articles next time.

UK glam psych rockers The Coral are at the Mod Club June 7 and Martha Wainwright is there a couple days later on June 9.

NOW chronicles the fall of 20Hz and rise of Stille Post. Probably of interest to Torontonians only.

np – Bob Dylan / Nashville Skyline

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

2, 3, Go

Four months into 2005 and we’ve got a front-runner for best show of the year. The revived Wedding Present exceeded all expectations with their set at Lee’s Palace last night, and they were pretty high expectations to begin with. I’ve done several posts recently about the band and how much I like them, so I’ll just get right to it.

Opening things up were Seattle’s Crystal Skulls – they were scheduled to start at 9:30 but they must have gotten the show time mixed up with the load-in time, because they only arrived with all their gear at half past. The didn’t get started until a little after ten and played a truncated set because of it. For whatever reason, I’d thought they were a power pop outfit or something, but they really weren’t. In fact, the pop was the one thing I found particularly lacking in their material. The dual intertwining guitars were very impressive, even stepping into amazing territory a couple times, and the musical arrangements were quite sophisticated without getting too “muso”. The only problem was that the hooks were too subtle, and while you could feel them fired across the bow, none of them actually hit. Perhaps the album would be a little more forthcoming with their charms? Either way, they ended up taking as much time setting up and tearing down as they did playing. Pity.

It’s funny what difference a name makes. Last time Gedge & co came through town, back in May 2001, it was as Cinerama and there were barely a couple hundred people in attendance, if even (they rocked the house regardless, for the record). This time, despite it being the same band, Lee’s was very nearly packed with folks itching to hear the old Wedding Present hits from back in the day (never mind that Cinerama had already incorporated Wedding Present tunes into their set in ’01). So despite having an excellent new album to promote in Take Fountain, the Wedding Present gave the crowd what they wanted with essentially a greatest hits set, drawing on the entire Wedding Present and Cinerama catalogs, from George Best through Torino, for one incredibly solid set of music. From the slow build of opener “Interstate 5” to the Seamonsters doubleshot of “Dalliance” and “Dare”, the band didn’t let up for nearly an hour and a half.

While I in no way felt that Cinerama had necessarily run its course as a vehicle for Gedge’s songs – I actually thought each subsequent album was better than the last – it’s undeniable that reverting to the Wedding Present moniker, and all the attention that has come with the move, has reinvigorated him. All night he was a study in intensity, all facial grimaces, impassioned vocals and a blur of a strumming hand, and a wry and charming frontman in-between. And there’s no way that he and guitarist Simon Cleave weren’t having a great time recreating the churning wall of guitars that defined so much of the earlier Wedding Present material. It’s good to see that even after being at it for twenty-odd years (Gedge doesn’t look anywhere near his 45 years), The Wedding Present is still a formidable act both in live performance and songwriting. And ever humble, despite being something of a legend to his fans, Dave Gedge still heads straight from the stage to the merch table to meet, greet and sell t-shirts. Fanboy that I am, I got my Take Fountain CD booklet autographed.

Maybe it’s a bit obvious declaring a veteran favourite band playing their best tunes as top show of the year thus far – I wouldn’t have expected anything less – but it doesn’t change the fact that it was one helluva show. And any concert where I come in at the young end of the age demographic is okay with me. Unless we’re talking, like, Yanni or Paul Simon or something. Voila les photos. Pretty good lighting made for some decent shots last night. I am pleased.

Drowned In Sound catches up with Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler in his native England.

Happy news from Matador – the new New Pornographers album, Twin Cinema, will be hitting the streets August 23. The use of the definite article in the URL of the band’s website is very important. Update: Pitchfork has some more details on the album.

The Tears’ debut album Here Come The Tears has a new release date of June 6 in the UK. Not hearing anything about a North American release. Their website has been redone as well, though there’s still not too much in the way of info there – the only thing of note is the official bio.

Sweden’s Caesars are at the Mod Club June 13.

MTV asks Britt Daniel about the making of Spoon’s Gimme Fiction, out May 10. Thanks to Achtung Baby! for the link.

I have a review of The Decemberists’ Picaresque over at Torontoist. Not the most fluid piece of writing I’ve ever done…

Arcade Fire tonight! By all accounts, last night’s show – the first of three – was epic. I am not anticipating getting close enough to get any decent pictures tonight, I’ll bet you there’s kids already lined up outside the Danforth Music Hall, but I will report back tomorrow regardless.

np – The Sleepy Jackson / Lovers

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Palmcorder Yajna

It’s Mountain Goats day!

Like it says over in the sidebar, the band are releasing their new album The Sunset Tree today. Amazon.com (who are really getting into this ‘hosting actual content’ thing) talked to John Darnielle about the making of the new album. He also offers up a suitably eclectic list of recommended listening. I don’t think there’s a single sanctioned MP3 from the album circulating so the four sample tracks on Amazon are the first I’ve heard from the record. And me likey. Much looking forward to picking up the new record and attending their show at Lee’s Palace on May 11.

More non-Largehearted linkage – The Reader chats with John Darnielle about the record, mountaingoats.net is a fansite with downloadable goodness, The BBC is hosting an unofficial video for “Slow West Vultures” from their last album, We Shall All Be Healed (though it’s sadly low-res) and both principals in the Goats keep blogs – Peter Hughes has The One Hundred Thousand Songs Of Me and John Darnielle has Last Plane To Jakarta. There’s also pics of the recording sessions for The Sunset Tree at producer John Vanderslice’s website.

And speaking of the ‘Slice, he will be releasing his new album Pixel Revolt on August 23. He’s been keeping a recording diary of the proceedings. He’s planning to tour in September.

Exciting news from Trespassers William – the band are working on the follow-up to Different Stars, one of my favourite albums of the last five years, with one of my favourite producers, Dave Fridmann. Some might think from his work with The Flaming Lips and Delgados that he’s all about bombast and is ill suited to working with such a delicate and quiet band, but I point you at his work on the new Low album – he took a band known for being delicate and quiet and, um, helped them make their loudest and most bombastic record to date. Okay, bad example, but The Great Destroyer is still a great record and I look forward to the fruits of his work with Trespassers William. It should be out on Nettwerk this Fall.

The Tarbox Studio news page mentions that the Flaming Lips were there recently recording a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for an upcoming Queen tribute album… oh my. Wayne Coyne is also on the cover of the new Harp and you can download the trailer for the Lips documentary Fearless Freaks here.

In the “not really useful news” category, the new Mojave 3 album is almost done. It’ll be out, um, sometime.

Shows – Aimee Mann brings her tour for The Forgotten Arm, out next week, to The Phoenix on July 29.

The Toronto Star (bugmenot: rats@rats.com / ratsrats) talks to Seth McFarlane about the return from the dead of Family Guy and his other project *cough*ripoff*cough*, American Dad. Both return to the Fox sched this Sunday, May 1.

Mary Lynn Rajskub tells The Boston Herald that it’s fun playing a freak like Chloe. And speaking of 24: Dear CTU: In the future, you may want to secure the weapons in your vehicles in the front of the vehicle where your agents sit, and not in the back where your prisoners sit. Love, a concerned citizen. And Chloe takes this season’s Kim Bauer award for most ridiculous hostage situation, trapped in a car while I guy with a shotgun takes potshots at her from all sides. And everyone who wants a high-res pic of Chloe toting the assault rifle for their new wallpaper, hands up. Yeah, thought so. Fun finale – obviously contrived for the Chloe fan club, but whatever. Yay for the return of Palmer – can Zombie Nina be far behind? I think not. I’ll bet you when it all shakes out, SHE’S the one responsible for today’s attacks. And I’m glad they’re done with President Dumbass, there was really only so much of that guy I could take. That is all.

np – The Flaming Lips / Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots