Archive for January, 2008

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Those Are Words You Used To Say

Men’s Vogue has an excerpt of Dean Wareham’s forthcoming memoirs Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, which will be released March 13. Not surprisingly, they chose what most would consider to be the “juiciest” part of the book to reprint – Wareham very candidly detailing how Britta Phillips joined the band, the start of their relationship and the end of his first marriage (in that order). Luna fans were probably equally confused/suspicious/intrigued by it all when it went down but were too polite to inquire. Now we know.

Back here in the present, Dean and Britta will be hitting the road next month and be in town at the Mod Club February 9. They’ve started up a blog to follow their exploits on the road and will have a new EP of remixes from last year’s Back Numbers available for sale at the aforementioned shows or available digitally as of January 29. Pitchfork has a track listing of the release, which will go by the name of Variations.

MP3: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Singer Sing”
Video: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”
MySpace: Dean & Britta

Check out a sample of She & Him’s (M Ward/Zooey Deschanel) debut album Volume 1, out March 18.

MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

And a couple new MP3s courtesy of SubPop from Band Of Horses (with whom The Tuscaloosa News has an interview) and The Gutter Twins (who are at the Mod Club on March 14).

MP3: Band Of Horses – “No One’s Gonna Love You”
MP3: The Gutter Twins – “Idle Hands”

Harp talks to Beach House, who will release Devotion on February 26 and play the El Mocambo on March 28. Stereogum has heard the record and has some thoughts.

The Village Voice follows Nicole Atkins to a kids’ soccer school with a video camera and ask her questions about her crack habits. Really. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 17.

Billboard reveals the title of the new My Morning Jacket album… Evil Urges. Look for it June 10.

Yo La Tengo have assembled a helpful video explaining how the band got their name, with the assistance of former New York Met Ed Kranepool (career: 1853 GP, 0.261 avg, 118 HR, 614 RBI).

Billboard reports that R.E.M.’s Accelerate, out April 1, will pack 11 songs into an efficient 34-minute package and do their best to make it sound like a return to (IRS-era) form.

Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields talks to The Los Angeles Times.

Some quick show (and release) notes – Baby Dee is at the Drake Underground February 6 (Safe Inside The Day out this past week), Louis XIV have a date at the Mod Club on March 19 (Slick Dogs & Ponies out January 29), Mike Doughty plays the Mod Club April 15 (Golden Delicious out February 19), Jay Reatard is at the Silver Dollar on April 17 (various singles coming throughout the year – details at CMJ) and Efterklang at the El Mocambo on May 31 (Parades out since last Fall).

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Hold On Now, Youngster

AOL Music Canda considers the glut of underage (or exceedingly youthful) bands coming up through the rock’n’roll trenches these days, based on the adventures of Welsh ragamuffins Los Campesinos! and Toronto’s (via Newmarket and Midland, respectively) Tokyo Police Club and Born Ruffians.

The Times has a similar-themed piece, but wonders more about how – between the gigs, driving and general rock’n’roll debauchery – they have time to do their homework? Gareth Campesinos (and others) responds. This Is Fake DIY talks to him about their plans for 2008, which includes releasing their debut full-length Hold On Now, Youngster… in North America on April 1 (February 25 in the UK) and Crawdaddy talks to he and some of his bandmates about punctuation and being (or not being) “twee”.

Incendiary offers a two-part interview with British Sea Power (part two being here). Do You Like Rock Music? is out February 12.

The Constantines will release their new album Kensington Heights on April 15, their first for Arts & Crafts. A sample comes courtesy of Exclaim.

MP3: The Constantines – “Hard Feelings”

Another Arcade Fire video, another dedicated Flash-laden website. Maybe you saw the making-of photos at Pitchfork, well now you can see what it was all for (and, of course, you’d best be prepared for the inevitable deluge of “Black Mirror” mash-ups, remixes and karaokes that’ll be all up in your Hype Machine). Playing with the mix is much more fun than the “patty-cake with Win” angle they took on the “Neon Bible” video, and also confirms (if you had any doubt) they don’t use auto-tuning on Win’s voice. At all.

Video: Arcade Fire – “Black Mirror”

Paste has a conversation with The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt.

Daytrotter has a session and Spinner a talk about comedy with John Vanderslice.

An Aquarium Drunkard gets a guided tour of Louisville, Kentucky from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.

Harp has a chat with both Allison Moorer and Tift Merritt. Man, the photographer for that session had such a hard day of the office. I feel for him, I really do. Psssh. Moorer’s Mockingbird is out February 19 and she’s at Massey Hall on March 4. Merritt’s Another Country is out February 26 and she plays the El Mocambo on April 1.

The Asbury Park Press talks to Nicole Atkins about her late-night TV appearances, her next video and rediscovering her love of New Jersey. Atkins is at Lee’s Palace on February 17.

Bridging The Atlantic talks to at least one of or perhaps all of Peter Bjorn & John. It is ambiguous.

Reveille talks to the Pale Young Gentlemen, whom you may (or may not) remember from this review last month.

Matthew Caws tells Harp ten things they – and you – didn’t know about Nada Surf. Lucky is out February 5 and they play the Opera House on April 7. They also just released the first video from the record.

Video: Nada Surf – “I Like What You Say”

Ra Ra Riot’s Wesley Miles tells Chart they don’t want to be a party band. Which isn’t to say they don’t like to party – I fully expect a party to break out when they play the El Mocambo tomorrow night. Just not BE a party band. You know what they mean. And congrats to Matt and Jenilee, who won the passes to the show.

So. This year’s grand vacation is booked… inbound and outbound flights, anyway. In May, I’m heading to Dublin for four days and London for five. That’s all that’s set – everything else is still up in the air. What to do, where to stay, all that incidental stuff. Suggestions? Recommendations? Warnings?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Subtle Changes

While offering an almost textbook example of classic indie pop done Swedish-style, Sambassadeur’s self-titled debut failed to really grab me. With its jangly guitars, sweet and wispy girl-boy vocals and melodies you could bob your head to it certainly had the right ingredients but for some reason it came off just a little weak for my tastes.

But with their sophomore album Migration, released in Sweden last year and officially out in North America as of this week, they’ve managed to tweak something – or maybe everything – just right because I was hooked from the first listen – the new songs have an extra oomph that makes them irresistable. From the glorious strings on “Subtle Changes” through the unabashedly ’80s danciness of “Final Say”, Migration manages to be both extroverted and demure at the same time, evidencing the wonderful stoicism that’s a hallmark of great Swedish pop and I find it goes great with the glitzier clothes. Does anyone else pick up on that or is it just me? Maybe it’s the accents.

Though the album has got US distribution, there’s no plans for any sort of Stateside touring. Labrador needs to put together some sort of traveling caravan with all their best acts and put them on a Summer tour. Call it the “Swedish Bikini Team” if they must. They’re doing it in Asia. But seriously. Come visit.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Subtle Changes”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “Kate”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “New Moon”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “Between The Lines”
Video: Sambassadeur – “New Moon”
MySpace: Sambassadeur

And I can’t think about Swedish pop without checking in on The Radio Dept and… there’s nothing going on. They even made a blog post saying as much. The new album “is still TBA” and a gig scheduled for Thailand was cancelled. That’s all. Or course, that’s a torrent of news compared to their countrymen in Douglas Heart, who haven’t checked in in almost two years. Sigh.

The Cardigans are releasing a best-of compilation creatively titled The Best Of The Cardigans – it’s out January 30 in Sweden and March 18 in North America. The Swedish version is worth seeking out as it comes with a second disc containing two dozen b-sides and rarities. This will probably be it from Cardi-land for the next while as Nina Persson is working on a new A Camp album, hopefully out sooner rather than later this year.

eye features Ra Ra Riot, in town on Saturday night at the El Mocambo – the contest for passes to said show ends tonight at midnight.

Black Mountain-eer Steven McBean gives Ukula a song-by-song annotation of their latest In The Future, which was just released this week. The Georgia Straight also has a feature. You know, I’d never have thought they would really be my thing but I am actually quite digging the record. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 4.

In town that same night is Steve Earle, though at the somewhat fancier Massey Hall. He’s just released the first official video from Washington Square Serenade.

Video: Steve Earle – “City Of Immigrants”

File this one under destiny – Sonic Boom, playing the Silver Dollar under the Spectrum name February 2, will also be doing an in-store the following day at… Sonic Boom, the store for which he is the namesake. That gets underway at 5PM and will be a proper band performance. Pitchfork has details on his plans for this year, including full tour dates and an EP slated to come out this Spring followed by a full-length later in ’08.

Spin invites Nicole Atkins to their offices – which between you and me look more like a college student’s loft – and gets a video of her performing “War-Torn”, acoustic-like. She’s at Lee’s Palace on February 17.

Billboard has details on Portishead’s first album in over a decade. Third will be out in the UK on April 14, North American release details still forthcoming.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The Harrowing Adventures Of…

Tokyo Police Club will finally release their debut full-length Elephant Shell in late April and have put together some extensive touring plans to promote. It kicks off tonight in Oakville (my hometown and a burg that didn’t even have a rumour of a live music scene when I lived there), winds around a number of Ontarian campuses and stops in at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on the 26th for a free show. Then, in mid-March they launch a full-scale North American tour for six weeks, hitting pretty much every town you can think of and will return home – hopefully triumphantly – for two shows at the Opera House on May 2 and 3. So far the only taste of the new record is this single, which was released as a single last Summer.

Video: Tokyo Police Club – “Your English Is Good”

Feist has a new video, another one-taker wherein she trades her sequin-clad dance troupe for lots of explosives. I dunno, after conquering 2007 it seems kind of unfair that she doesn’t just sit ’08 out. She has a sold-out show at the Sony Centre on May 13.

Video: Feist – “I Feel It All”

Pitchfork talks to Patterson Hood about the Drive-By Truckers’ new album Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, out now. If you had trouble with the CMT stream I posted last week or just didn’t want anyone thinking you watched Country Music Television, Spinner now has the album up and streaming. Truckers are at the Opera House on March 19.

Stream: Drive-By Truckers / Brighter Than Creation’s Dark

Also out yesterday, Cat Power’s Jukebox. The New York Sun has a profile of Chan Marshall, who is in town at the Kool Haus on February 9.

Pitchfork has specifics on the forthcoming album from the M Ward/Zooey Deschanel project dubbed She & Him. Volume 1 is out March 18 and will be released by the good people at Merge, Ward’s usual label. They also confirm they’re playing the Merge showcase at SxSW in March. Excellent. My plan is all coming together. And keep an eye out for the new issue of Under The Radar – the one with the cover that looks like this. Le sigh.

The Verve bassist Sion Jones promises NME great things from their comeback album, targeted for a Spring release. Great great great great things. Unicorns and rainbows and flying cars for everyone.

The long-awaited and oft-delayed new record from Spiritualized still doesn’t have a title, but it does have a release date. In the UK, anyways. Pitchfork reports that the record will be out over there on May 19 and that details about the North American release as well as a full-on, presumably electrified world tour will be along shortly.

Also returning from a bit of a hiatus, Supergrass. Their new album Diamond Hoo Ha Man is out in the UK March 24 and there’s a video for the title track, which seems to find Gaz Coombs getting in touch with his inner Jon Spencer. Album details at Ultimate Guitar.

Video: Supergrass – “Diamond Hoo Ha Man”

Elbow’s Guy Garvey talks to NME about their new record The Seldom Seen Kid, due out in March.

Wireless Bollinger talks to Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion whose album Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is out here next week (and which I’m enjoying more and more with each listen) and has a free acoustic show at the Horseshoe on March 4.

The Kooks, tipped to be the “next big thing” oh so long ago (last year, I think), are in town at the Mod Club on February 11.

Just five months after their last visit, Gogol Bordello return with a gig at the Sound Academy on March 2.

Toronto’s venerable Wavelength concert series celebrates its eight anniversary next month with a series of shows across the city from February 14 to 17. Grok the full lineup and schedule (and general excitement) over at Stille Post.

Wired has the Shortlist of Music shortlist and predicts an LCD Soundsystem win.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Out Standing In Their Field

So what with yesterday being fairly quiet thanks to the US holiday, the biggest news was the announcement of the lineup for Coachella 2008, and the general reaction seems to have any excitement of the presence of Portishead and The Verve on the bill being offset by the overwhelming meh-ness of Roger Waters and Jack Johnson resulting in a net net output of raging indifference with a chaser of indignation.

Now Coachella was not and is not on my radar – I’m not a “standing in the desert” kind of guy and not even if the My Bloody Valentine rumours were true (their management debunked those months ago, by the way, saying that the June gigs in the UK would be their first) would I have hopped a plane to wherever the hell Indio, California is. But this press release marks the unofficial kick off of the 2008 festival season and if you haven’t been paying attention, North America’s dance card is looking pretty full.

It used to be that the massive, multi-day festivals were the domain of Europe and the UK in particular, but after events like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits proved that the massive, multi-day affairs could be successes over here, they’ve been springing up like mushrooms in shit. Consider the North American options for this year (excluding the multi-day, club-hoppy fests):

Langerado: March 6-9 – Everglades, FL
Coachella: April 25-27 – Indio, CA
Virgin Festival: May 17-18* – Vancouver, BC
Sasquatch: May 24-25* – The Gorge, WA
Wakarusa: June 5-8 – Lawrence, KS
Bonnaroo: June 12-15 – Manchester, TN
Virgin Festival: June 21-22 – Calgary, AB
Pitchfork: July 15-17* – Chicago, IL
Lollapalooza: August 1-3 – Chicago, IL
All Points West: August 8-10 – Jersey City, NJ
Vineland Music Festival: August 8-10 – Vineland, NJ
Virgin Festival: August* – Baltimore, MD
Bumbershoot: August 30-Sept 1 – Seattle, WA
Virgin Festival: September 6-7* – Toronto, ON
Osheaga: September* – Montreal, QC
Treasure Island: September 13-14* – San Francisco, CA
Monolith: September 13-14* – Denver CO
Austin City Limits: September 26-28 – Austin, TX
Vegoose: October 24-26* – Las Vegas, NV
Voodoo Music Fest:: October 24-26* – New Orleans, LA

See that? That’s nuts. And I probably missed some (let me know if I did). Some of the dates – those marked with a * – are unconfirmed and pure speculation on my part, but with the exception of V Fest USA, if they fall in line at the same time as they ran last year, that should be correct. The B-more party only ran against Lolla last year so they could secure the Police as headliners – doubtful they’ll do that again, so I’d guess August 16 and 17 is more likely there.

Idolator pondered whether or not the bottom was going to fall out anytime soon, especially with the addition of the two more east coast parties this year with All Points West from the creators of Coachella (via BrooklynVegan) set to take place at Liberty State Park just across the river from Manhattan and with Radiohead headlining and the Vineland Music Festival intended to take place not too far away in New Jersey and on the same weekend, no less.

Now consider that the pool of bands who can and will do the festival circuit each year isn’t nearly deep and varied enough to offer a hugely different lineup from fest to fest – this essentially means that a goodly portion of one festival’s lineup will look an awful lot like the next’s. Even going head to head with another fest as V Fest Baltimore and Lolla did last year doesn’t guarantee diversity – some acts racked up the frequent flier miles playing both and last September, Spoon managed to play ACL, Monolith and Treasure Island. The point being, as more of these crop up in peoples’ backyards, the urge and need to travel diminishes and instead of being events with national appeal, they become more regional happenings. Why fly to Chicago when you can just stay wherever you are and let the big-ass stages come to you? Sure, there’s still the adventure aspect of it all but it all just seems that much less essential. Of course, actually attending the festivals is secondary – it’s the lineup-spotting (and criticizing) that’s the most fun.

Most of the above was just thinking out loud on my part, no grand thesis at work. I’m suspect that if properly run (and the organizers involved have proven they know how to do that), at least these new fests will succeed if not a few more. I doubt we’ll see any Field Day fiascoes anytime soon, but with seemingly every other aspect of the music industry and the economy as a whole trending downwards you have to wonder just how much the market will bear.

Anyway, whether these things continue to propagate or collapse is someone else’s concern. Last year, including the club-hopping dealies, I hit ten festivals in seven cities. That’s just dumb. This year, I’m intending to be more conservative. There’s the in-town ones which are gimmes – CMW (whose schedule is becoming a little fuller every day), NxNE, V Fest and Over The Top but SxSW is the only out of town jaunt currently on the calendar. Though I had a great time at all last year, I’m not committing to Hillside, Wolfe Island or Dog Day Afternoon yet, that’ll depend on lineups and logistics. Pop Montreal is also on the bubble – again, great time but it’s pretty expensive and most of the bands that I can see there make the jaunt down the 401 that same weekend anyways. Odds are one of the big US fests will end up being attended, though which one I’m not sure. There’s actually very few bands out there right now that I would travel to see – I’ve pretty much seen everyone I want to that I can reasonably expect to… Either way, 2008 will involve less sunburn for me. I hope.

Seeing the Coachella lineup, however, has got me wondering about who we might see at V Fest Toronto come September, presumably the 6th and 7th again out on the Toronto Islands. It’s still way early since last year the headliners weren’t announced till mid-March (I remember getting the press release while sitting in a hotel room in Austin) this Drowned In Sound report that The Verve has committed to the UK editions of V Fest makes me think that they might be a good bet for one of the Toronto headliners, assuming the reunion lasts that long. I’m sure the festival circuit is more financially artistically rewarding and while you could debate their stature in the US (they’re noticeably NOT the top-billed act at Coachella), they could easily close out the Toronto festival.

I dunno, sometimes I love festivals, sometimes I hate them. From a photo op point of view, they can’t be beat but getting access and dealing with waivers and contracts and power-mad road managers can also be more trouble than it’s worth. It’s obviously not the same degree of intimacy you’d get at a club or a theatre but there’s something about the sense of communion in sharing the experience with tens of thousands of other fans. But sometimes – oft times – those fans smell really bad and are drunk/stoned/what have you. And then there’s that sunburn thing. And the dehydration thing. And the portapottie thing. And the transportation thing.

So what are your 2008 festival plans, if any?

Oh, you want some music? Well the last stream of Cat Power’s Jukebox – out today – didn’t last too long but here’s another one. Let’s see how long it stays up. She’s at the Kool Haus on February 9.

Stream: Cat Power / Jukebox