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Archive for March, 2007

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Either Way

Items of note in an email from Wilco yesterday. First, they will be streaming Sky Blue Sky on Sunday night starting at 1AM EDT and continuing for 24 hours. So if you missed it the first two times, third time’s the charm.

Second, when Sky Blue Sky is released in physical form on May 15, it will come in three formats – the standard CD and double 180-gram LP versions previously mentioned, and a deluxe CD/DVD package that will include a 48-minute film about the making of the record by Brendan Canty and Christoph Green called Shake It Off. The perfect addition to the massive pile of music DVDs I haven’t watched yet. You can preorder the record right now but honestly, the $7.25 shipping to Canada isn’t as off-putting as the “arrival 8-24 business days after the release date” promised. Ummm, no.

And thirdly, and most interestingly, they will be announcing tour dates next week for June for eastern North America, which last time I checked included Toronto. I wonder if this will be again at their usual haunt of Massey Hall or if they’ll be taking advantage of the warmer weather and doing something outdoors? Molson Amphitheatre or Old Fort York?

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists were at the 9:30 Club in DC last week and NPR has it available to stream or download. Express talked to Ted before the show and Leafblower was in attendance. The first video from Living With The Living is now up. Ted is at the Mod Club on May 2.

Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” (YouTube)

Exclaim! examines the current wave of Swede-pop conquering the world.

Nerve starts out interviewing Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan perfectly normally, but eventually manages to steer things to group(ie) sex. Bravo.

OregonLive Q&As Elvis Perkins very briefly. The Seattle Times and The Georgia Straight also have pieces on the singer-songwriter, who plays the Kool Haus with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on April 14.

np – Chris Garneau / Music For Tourists

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Get It On

Exclaim!‘s cover story this month is on Grinderman, the new band from Nick Cave and a subset of Bad Seeds. The new identity was chosen to reflect the different working process, whereas normally Cave would bring finished songs in to the band, here he was using the band’s musical chemistry to inspire his writing.

The net result? Some of Cave’s rawest, nastiest and most abrasive musical output in years. Many are comparing it to his earliest work with The Birthday Party, and while I’m not familiar enough with that period to comment, it’s definitely not the Bad Seeds. This is the sound of a man tired of simply singing murder ballads and is looking to get his nails dirty with some first-hand experience. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Cave’s stately, dignified work but hearing his blues amplified to 11 in a raging garage band is exhilarating as well.

The band’s self-titled debut is out on April 10 and there’s some video interviews available from the BBC and Spinner’s DL. The band’s website is also rich in audio and video content – check it out.

Video: Grinderman – “No Pussy Blues” (YouTube)
MySpace: Grinderman

Also in the new Exclaim! – a short feature on Great Lake Swimmers, whose Ongiara was released on Tuesday. Michael Barclay has the whole interview for the piece with Tony Dekker posted at Radio Free Canuckistan and The Gateway also talked to Dekker about the new album. Great Lake Swimmers play two shows at the Church Of The Redeemer on April 14.

So Much Silence has ripped The Broken West’s session for WOXY at SxSW a couple weeks ago.

Centro-Matic’s Operation Motorcide EP will be available starting April 3.

Stylus has finished the countdown of their top 50 one-hit wonders. The presence of The Cardigans on the same list as Right Said Fred makes me sad.

Whole bunch of show announcements in the last day or so. Quickly: Silversun Pickups, who are at the Ricoh Coliseum tomorrow night opening a sold-out show for Snow Patrol, will be back on May 9 for a headlining show of their own at Lee’s Palace. Tickets for that will be $17. The Clipse are at Tonic (in everybody’s favourite entertainment district!) on May 19, tickets $27.50. May 28 you’ve got a choice between seeing The Bravery at The Opera House (noooo) and The Rosebuds at the Horseshoe (yesss), tickets $10.50 – full tour dates at Pitchfork. Their new one Night Of The Furies is out April 10. And finally The Ladybug Transistor will be in town at a venue to be announced, one day after their new album Can’t Wait Another Day is released.

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Putting The Days To Bed

It’s a damn shame that The Long Winters’ 2006 record Putting The Days To Bed has been so overlooked and underappreciated by most everyone, including myself. It’s one of those albums that I forget is on my iPod until I go cruising for something to listen to and spin it and am reminded what a terrific pop gem it is. Witty, erudite and charming, John Roderick is a top-notch songwriter for those of use who like our songs wordy and he’s the same way as a frontman… but I’m getting ahead of myself. There were two other bands on the bill at the El Mocambo on Tuesday night. Them first.

I don’t think there’s any way that naming your band after a Belle & Sebastian song can be construed as a good idea, but if you were expecting cardigan-tugging twee anthems from Portland’s Stars Of Track & Field, think again. The duo instead offer up an overly-earnest mix of Coldplay sensitive anthemicism and Postal Service electro-pop that just wasn’t especially interesting. And I tend not to trust any band that sees fit to go on tour with a Floyd-worthy stage setup of smoke machines and motorized spotlights but no bassist. Especially if they’re wearing ascots.

Los Angeles’ Broken West were already in my good books for a) turning out an excellent Cal-pop debut in I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On earlier this year and b) opening up day two of Hot Freaks two weeks ago at the ungodly hour of 11AM and still turning in a great set. On this however, their Canadian debut performance, they should have billed themselves as The Broken Strings as they broke no less than three guitar strings within the first few songs of their set, forcing both guitarists to play Keith Richards-style. As a result (or coincidentally), their set wasn’t especially tight and they were also plagued by a rather dodgy mix coming out of the PA. They still made it through an shortened set (maybe not wanting to play longer and tempt the fates further) and the strength of their songs still came across, but I hope they make it back soon and have better luck. And some extra high-e strings.

And back to John Roderick and gang. The man totally reminded me of your favourite high school history teacher, the one that you could imagine going out for drinks with or fronting a rock band in his spare time. Declaring the show to be all-request from the get-go, the band let the audience – smallish but obviously devoted – dictate the set list. Though a lot of the selections ranged back to earlier records, EPs and singles, they still managed to cover a lot of material from Days, which is good since that’s their only record I’m really acquainted with. But for popsmiths of Roderick’s calibre that’s hardly a prerequisite for enjoying the songs – those hooks make good contact the first time around. Combine that with the fact that Roderick is, as mentioned earlier, a grade-A stage banterer and the fact they got the mix sorted out and things were actually sounding pretty good and you had a fine evening.

The Long Winters have been doing mucho Canadian press on the current tour (which if you’re still downstream you’d do well to check out) – they talked to Canada.com Montreal, Canada.com Edmonton, Vue, The Georgia Straight and Chart. OnMilwaukee also say hello. JAM!, meanwhile, chatted with Stars Of Track & Field.

Photos: The Long Winters, The Broken West, Stars Of Track & Field @ The El Mocambo – March 27, 2007
MP3: The Long Winters – “Pushover”
MP3: The Broken West – “Down In The Valley”
MP3: Stars Of Track & Field – “Centuries”
Video: The Long Winters – “Fire Island, AK” (YouTube)
Video: Stars Of Track & Field – “Movies Of Antarctica” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Long Winters
MySpace: The Broken West
MySpace: Stars Of Track & Field

ABC catches up with The Shins.

The Temple News talks to The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee.

PopMatters and The New York Observer talk to Ted Leo while WOXY’s new blog The Futurist has some exclusive live MP3s from a session Leo did for them recently. Ted’s at the Mod Club on May 2.

The Futurist has also got a couple tracks from a session with Land Of Talk recorded at SxSW, including one new song. Their Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, which is only now available in the US, scored a very solid 7.5 from Pitchfork.

UGO has an interview with Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, whose new album Traffic & Weather, out next Tuesday, is kinda being crapped on. They’ve got a gig at Lee’s Palace on June 10.

And three days after opening for Blonde Redhead at the Opera House, Fields will be back in town for a session at the Amp’d Studio on May 14. Tickets not available yet, but when they are, they’ll be free.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I Want You To Know

Today’s post brought to you by UK artists formerly in other bands.

Charlotte Hatherley gave fair warning late last year that her second solo record The Deep Blue would be a much different record than her debut Grey Will Fade, but even as an avowed fan of that record as I am, I wasn’t expecting the follow up to be so damn good. The first record proved that Hatherley could combine sweet vocals, wicked guitar chops and a killer pop sensibility into a deliciously power-poptacular package, but with the new one she demonstrates a songwriting elan that makes you wonder why she spent as long as she did playing second fiddle in Ash.

Whereas Grey was a mainlined sugar rush, Blue takes its time in revealing its melodic treasures – hell, opening track “Cousteau” doesn’t even have any lyrics, just Hatherley cooing “ooohs” for the duration (don’t worry, it’s great). While the bounce-off-the-wall anthems are fewer (though extroverts like “I Want You To Know”, “Very Young” and closer “Siberia” more than compensate in quality for quantity), the depth and breadth of songwriting and musical creativity on display. It’s sonically dense and rich without stepping into overproduction – just a superb album, top to bottom, of British pop the way I like it, free of affected snottiness and faux-punk attitude. But maybe most exciting is what it augers for Hatherley’s future musical output – if she keeps stepping it up the way she has between her first two records, she’s going to be turning out some (even more) amazing albums before long.

Hatherley talked to The Belfast Telegraph and Room Thirteen about the circumstances around her leaving Ash and crafting her second album. She’s also posted some praise from David Bowie on her website – hey, if I had a pull quote from David Bowie I’d post it too. Idolator makes the audio case for getting The Deep Blue a domestic release (though to be fair, the import price isn’t that dear) while I will just post the two excellent videos from the record. Unfortunately I think odds of that happening are pretty long, and chances of any live dates over here are probably non-existent because, well, there’s no justice in the world. Haven’t you heard?

Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “Behave” (YouTube)
Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “I Want You To Know” (YouTube)
MySpace: Charlotte Hatherley

Magnet, which sadly seems to have become a quarterly instead of a bi-monthly, shoots the shit with Andy Partridge about this and that and toy soldiers. He co-wrote “Dawn Treader” on Hathereley’s record and has his own double-disc of new material, an improvisational album with former XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews called Monstrance, coming out April 3. Check out an MP3 and video from the release:

MP3: Andy Partridge – “I Lovely Cosmonaut”
Video: Andy Partridge – “Winterwerk” (Flash)

Magnet have also got an interview with Jarvis Cocker about Jarvis, which also gets a North American release next Tuesday.

The Tripwire bills it as a “Stone Roses reunion”, but it’s just Ian Brown and Mani doing a charity gig. It’s not a proper debacle unless Reni and John Squire are along for the ride.

The Telegraph profiles Brett Anderson, whose solo self-titled debut came out in the UK Monday and was promptly crapped on by Pitchfork (via The Rich Girls Are Weeping). The Argus also has an interview and he tells BBC America he’s open to a Suede reunion. Richard Oakes’ fat little ears just perked right up.

Lisa Gerrard, ex-Dead Can Dance, will be at the Danforth Music Hall on May 13. The Best of Lisa Gerrard was released in February (and I know Gerrard and DCD weren’t British but they were on 4AD and based out of the UK for a while). The Courier-Mail talks to Gerrard about her DCD days.

Chart, Canada.com, The Daily Texan, Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times talk to Bloc Party. For The Records has video footage from their performance on MTV Live Monday night.

NME is streaming the whole of Maximo Park’s latest Our Earthly Pleasures, out in North America on May 8 and touring same later in the Summer including a July 14 date at the Mod Club in Toronto. The new album sounds great in almost exactly the same way the debut did. That’s not a complaint.

Also out in North America on the 8th of May is Everything Last Winter , the full-length debut from Fields. Initial impressions have been rather disappointing considering how much I like their 7 From The Village mini-album, but I’m still giving it a chance – check out an MP3 from the album and the video for the new single and judge for yourself. They’re at the Opera House on May 11 opening for Blonde Redhead.

MP3: Fields – “If You Fail, We All Fail”
Video: Fields – “Charming The Flames” (YouTube)

Interesting piece from The Independent stating that Scottish author Iain Banks is assembling a tribute album to Frozen Gold, the fictional band in his rock’n’roll novel Espedair Street. Maybe my favourite contemporary author, Banks’ latest novel The Steep Approach To Garbadale is out now. Which begs the question, where is the mailman with my copy?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

So Long, Lonesome

Even with the post-SxSW concert-going hangover, the lingering cold and the fact that it would be my fourth night out in a row (which isn’t really the best way to recover from either of the first two points), I was still really excited Explosions In The Sky’s show at the Opera House on Saturday night, their first of two sold-out shows in town this weekend. I’d been waiting ages to see them live and even though the Friday Night Lights factor put them in a larger venue than I’d have liked, I didn’t let that dampen my enthusiasm. That, as it’d turn out, would be taken care of elsewhere.

Starting things off was Eluvium, whose set was the aural equivalent of a glacier – slow, massive and unstoppable. Matthew Cooper, he who is Eluvium, built these enormous sonic constructs by piling on layers and layers of noise from his keyboard, guitar and laptop – all you could do was close your eyes and be taken away which was just as well, since there was really nothing to look at. Cooper sat at his little workstation way off to the side of the stage, essentially hidden from view, and a projector displayed the same video of birds flying around a smokestack for the duration of the 40-minute set.

But what Eluvium lacked in visual stimulus, the next band more than made up for. Led by John Congleton, who produced the latest EITS album, The Paper Chase came off like a less-tuneful, far more maniacal Dismemberment Plan. Aggressive, abrasive, theatrical and not at all what the typical Explosions concertgoer might have been expecting, The Paper Chase need to be commended for making an impression – after the show, I heard as many people talking about their set as much as they did the headliners. Most of them were complaining loudly, sure, but still. They didn’t do much for me either but it was an effective wake-up call after Eluvium.

Explosions In The Sky’s latest All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone hadn’t made as much of an impression on me as its predecessor The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place – I found it more cinematic but less visceral and impactful. The band were still, for my money, the pinnacle of instrumental post-rock, but the new record was a bit of a let down. But still, their live shows were supposed to be legendary so whatever they played I was sure I’d love it.

And it’s here I need to segue a bit to mention one of my fellow concert-goers, who had been making a minor annoyance of himself all night. Having smuggled a hash pipe in via his shoe (he made a grand display of extracting it making me wonder why on this, of all nights, the usually oppressive Opera House security staff was nowhere to be found), he had been getting more stoned, drunk and obnoxious and now that the headliners were on, he was extra-determined to be an utter asshat. Explosions’ music demands immersiveness on the part of the listener, a commitment that it’s hard to make or maintain when the guy beside you is yelling, “yeah! whoo!”, talking loudly to his friends or trying to tell the band while they’re playing that they rock, all the while shoving his way up front and being a total boor. Not necessarily unusual behaviour at a rock show but so much more unwelcome at this one.

Basically, save for a few moments where I was able to fully tune in and appreciate it, the Explosions set became background music for being annoyed by this guy. It was no longer a musical concert but a test to see how long I could go without putting my fist in this guy’s face (it came very very close and might have come to pass if I thought he would have felt anything through the booze and drugs). Bottom line, the show was pretty much ruined for me but from what I hear from those located elsewhere, Explosions were great. Maybe next time I’ll experience it for myself. I totally should have gone to the Sunday show like I’d originally planned. Oh well.

PopMatters has an interview with the band, Ground Control talks to drummer Chris Hrasky about writing the new record, guitarist Munaf Rayani shuffles his ipod for The AV Club and NPR still has the show from DC available to stream or download, which is what I’ll need to do to actually enjoy them live.

Photos: Explosions In The Sky, The Paper Chase, Eluvium @ The Opera House – March 24, 2007
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: The Paper Chase – “We Know Where You Sleep”
MP3: Eluvium – “New Animals From The Air”
MySpace: Explosions In The Sky
MySpace: Eluvium

Spoon makes their bid for worst album title of the year. Isn’t it someone’s job at Merge to prevent things like this? Either way, look for Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in stores July 10. Sigh.

JAM! reports on the state of Metric, including the release of long-lost debut album Grow Up And Blow Away in June and work on their next album, due out in Spring of 2008.

Have you been following along with the promo campaign for Feist’s new one The Reminder, out May 1? Various internet outlets have been getting “webisodes” (read: videos) for tracks from the new record to premiere – you can see the ones released so far at Pitchfork, Stereogum and Spinner. More to come? Feist plays two shows at Massey Hall on May 25 and 26.

Yes But No But Yes assembles the Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels – “Where’s My Money, Honey?” was a given but the rest of them are gold as well. Via I Am Fuel, You Are Friends.

And oh, how about that Battlestar Galactica finale? Huh. Either they’ve got some gigantic rabbit up their collective sleeves or they’re losing their minds in grand fashion. Either way, audacious.