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Thursday, March 1st, 2007

While You Were Sleeping

Elvis Perkins has a backstory, and while it may seem sensationalistic to discuss it, it’s rather essential to any discourse on his debut album Ash Wednesday. In brief – his father was Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho and died of AIDS in 1992 and his mother was actress Berry Berenson, who was on board the plane that hit the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. So you could say he’s had some heaviness in his life.

So while Ash Wednesday, written in the years following his mother’s death, would have every right to be a dark and depressing work – and It is melancholic and sad to the very core – it’s presented in a way that’s also suffused with lightness and beauty. Based around Perkins’ warbly tenor, evocative lyricism and sparse, folky arrangements, the record alternately invokes the timeless elegance of Nick Drake, another artist adept at wrapping up sadness in gorgeous melody, and the anguished psychedelic folk of Neutral Milk Hotel, especially when the musical saw shows up. Ash Wednesday may be rooted in sadness but it still grows upwards, hopefully reaching for the sun or the sky or perhaps the aeroplane over the sea.

The record was originally released independently last year but was picked up by XL Recordings and re-released last week. Perkins was originally slated to play the Mod Club in April with his band Dearland but that show was canceled in order to tour in support of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah including April 14 at the Kool Haus. I’m going to try and catch him at SxSW though I’m not sure I’ll be able to make any of his shows – more than likely I’ll have to hope he comes back on his own later this year.

A couple months ago Filter ran what they claimed was the first interview Perkins ever granted and addressed the topic of his parents head-on, though it’s written in an elliptical (and rather awful) metaphor involving Indian mythology. The Boston Herald and Metro have much more concise conversations with Perkins and last week offered up a session with him, including four downloadable songs and an interview. Metacritic is also on the job, doing what it does.

MP3: Elvis Perkins – “While You Were Sleeping”
MP3: Elvis Perkins – “All the Night Without Love”
MP3: Elvis Perkins – “Ash Wednesday”
Video: Elvis Perkins – “All the Night Without Love” (YouTube)
MySpace: Elvis Perkins

So you thought the cast of Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan – Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Christian Bale and Richard Gere, amongst others, all of whom portray Dylan – was odd? Pitchfork reports that director Todd Haynes is taking a simliar approach with the soundtrack, with the likes of Stephen Malkmus, the Hold Steady and Calexico (with a variety of guest vocalists) all covering Dylan at various points in his career. Uncut also recounts a portion of an interview with Cate Blanchett where she talks about her part in the film. The film is set to premiere this May in Cannes.

Billboard and The Toronto Star examine another version of Dylan on celluloid – the expanded DVD edition of D.A. Pennebaker’s 1965 tour doc Don’t Look Back.

The schedule for this year’s edition of the Over The Top Fest, taking place May 3 to 6 around Toronto, is now up and tickets go on sale today. Honestly, a whole lot of names I’m not very familiar with there so I’m going to have to do some research before deciding what to see but The Hylozoists with The Explorer’s Club at the Tranzac on the 3rd seems like a pretty rock-solid bet. Any recommendations on the other shows?

Chart talks to Robert Schneider of Apples In Stereo.

A pile of new release dates and news came out yesterday – let’s take it chronologically, starting with a couple of North American releases for UK bands. May 8 will see the domestic release of new ones from Maximo Park and Fields, via Pitchfork and Tripwire respectively. Both the former’s These Earthly Desires and the latter’s Everything Last Winter are out in the UK on April 2.

Fields will also be conducting a short North American tour following their Coachella appearance including a May 11 date at the Opera House in Toronto. If this tour is with them headlining, I find the choice of venue more than a little perplexing – they were here in October of 2006 and played to a couple dozen people. Have they seriously worked their way up to 800-capacity venues in the intervening seven months? I kinda don’t think so. And while I enjoyed that show and their EP 7 From The Village, I’ve only put that show in my calendar tentatively. My distaste for the venue is well documented and I don’t know if that’s where I really want to spend my 32nd birthday. Update: Thanks to Dimitri for pointing out that Fields will be opening for Blonde Redhead, which I probably could have learned if I could be bothered to do a modicum of digging. That makes it more enticing, 23 is a wicked record, though I will be seeing them at SxSW and don’t know if that’ll be a better use of my evening than getting drunk and throwing up like I used to when I was young. Which isn’t to say I couldn’t do both.

Anyway. Voxtrot have thought long and hard about it and finally came up with a name for their debut full-length, out May 22. It will be called… Voxtrot. Ask for it by name! Pitchfork has more info and a track list. Also note that they’re at Sneaky Dee’s on June 8 with Au Revoir Simone and Favourite Sons.

Aaron Dessner talks to Billboard about The National’s Boxer, also out May 22.

Ryan Adams will release Easy Tiger on June 5. It’s unclear if this’ll be credited just to him or with The Cardinals.

CMJ reports that Saturday Looks Good To Me’s next record, originally conceived as a double-CD opus, has now been pared down to an economical 11 tracks. Look for Fill Up The Room on September 11 via K Records.

CBC looks at the art of selecting a band name.

By : Frank Yang at 8:28 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Dimitri says:

    Hi Frank,

    Fields are opening for Blonde Redhead

  2. danieljosef says:

    Frank,

    Any word on Voxtrot tickets and when they go on sale?

    In regards to OTT, I’d suggest the Mt. Eerie show, and I would have liked to check out Daniel Johnson, but I have a show conflict that night.

  3. ack says:

    Wow, if I had the chance I’d go check out the Casiotone show for Over the Top. Owen is amazing.

    Vague Angels are opening.. that is Tedl Leo’s brother’s band… and he puts on a good show as well

  4. Chad says:

    My picks for OTT: the obviously awesome Julie Doiron, and the increasingly messianic godfather of indie Mayor McCa. Don’t be surprised if he disappears in a cloud of magic powder half way through his set. I’ve also heard great things about Daniel Johnston.

  5. Beth says:

    OTT: Julie Dorion and Japanther are making me happy in the pants. In totally different ways, but equally happy!!!

  6. adam says:

    I was at the Fields in October and cant wait to see them again. They were incredible and I highly recommend them. I have never seen Blonde Redhead but ill take the word they are good live.

  7. suckingalemon says:

    overthetop:

    matt and kim look like alot of fun.
    mount eeire of course.
    the matinee show with our brother the native looks really good – they are on fat cat records.
    the casiotone show looks good too, so do vague angels.
    also page france.

    and iv been hearing that ryans album is with the cardinals.

    cheers

  8. Anony Mous says:

    I saw Elvis Perkins open for Okkervil River last year. One of the better opening acts I’ve seen in a while…