Archive for January, 2009

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

CONTEST – The Von Bondies @ The Horseshoe and record giveaway

Photo By Jim NewberryJim NewberryOriginally coming to prominence as part of the great American garage rock wave of the early aughts, Detroit’s Von Bondies have managed to stick around beyond that scene’s expiry date despite undergoing a number of lineup changes and not being especially prolific – Love, Hate & Then There’s You, out Tuesday, is their first album in five years and just their third since 2001.

But back they are and with the new record comes touring, starting off with a visit to Canada that brings the band to the Horseshoe in Toronto on February 13 and courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got a pair of passes to said show to give away. But that’s not all – to the rest of Canada, and to any Toronto folks who can’t make the show, I’ve also got four prize packs consisting of a copy of the new album on CD alongside either a copy of the album on LP or a 7″ of their new single “Pale Bride”. So that’s five winners in total. To enter, email me at contests AT with a subject line of “I want Von Bondies live” if you want to see the show, “I want 7 inches of Von Bondie” if you want the CD and single or “I want 12 inches of Von Bondie” if you want the CD and LP. Also include your full name and mailing address. You can enter for the show and either of the records, but only one entry for either of the record prize packs please. And as mentioned, contest is open to residents of Canada only. It closes at midnight, February 2.

Exclaim! has an interview with head Bondie Jason Stollsteimer about the band’s extended, involuntary half-decade layoff while Filter asks one question of drummer Don Blum.

MP3: The Von Bondies – “Pale Bride”
Video: The Von Bondies – “Pale Bride”

Friday, January 30th, 2009


Review of Bruce Peninsula's A Mountain Is A Mouth

Photo ByYuula BenivolskiYuula Benivolski When you’ve become gotten to know a band exclusively through their live performances, it can be difficult to accept them as a recorded entity. Especially so when the band in a live setting possess a sort of elemental energy that you can’t imagine being done justice in a studio environment. This was the case with Toronto’s Bruce Peninsula, who made a serious impression with a series of shows back in 2007 which established the band, ten members deep when at full strength, as a potent new force on the local music scene.

A listen to their first recorded output last Summer – a 7″ of traditional folk recordings – verified that they’d somehow managed to capture their sonic potency, but it took some time with their debut album A Mountain Is A Mouth – out on Tuesday – to confirm that they’d really made a record that fulfilled all the expectations that had accumulated since August of 2007. And they have.

Mountain seems to have been crafted to emulate nothing less than a massive gathering storm. Opener “Inside/Outside” coalesces from a gentle, ghostly breeze into an ominous stomp whose energy remains mostly unrelenting through the whole of side one. Pounding yet surprisingly nimble percussion alongside singer Neil Haverty’s gruff field holler provides the foundation from which the choir’s angelic voices rise. And these aren’t the touchy-feely kind of angels – they’re the flaming sword-wielding kind. But for all the effectiveness of their sound and fury, it’s the eye of the storm – the delicate “Weave Myself A Dress” – that really pulls it all together. Misha Bower’s weary-beyond-her-years vocals are devastatingly vulnerable in contrast to tumult that surrounds them. The song provides a brief but essential respite before the winds again begin to whip.

The other revelation of the album is how solid the songwriting is. By choosing to work in such an old sort of blues/gospel/folk aesthetic, the band had to face the conundrum of how to sound authentic and yet still bring something new to the table and it’s saying something that the two traditional songs they’ve included in the set fit seamlessly with the original material. It’d have been easy enough to just rely on the intensity of their delivery to impress, but they’ve still taken the time to create something richly melodic and with real depth. It’s safe to say that A Mountain Is A Mouth is most unlike anything else you’ll hear this year, and for that reason alone it’s worth your attention. And if you need another, I’ll throw in the fact that it’s excellent.

Bruce Peninsula play the Horseshoe tomorrow night in support of The Tom Fun Orchestra, play an in-store at Soundscapes on February 4 to mark the album’s release and do a proper record release show on February 22 at the Polish Combatants Hall. You can miss one, or even two of these shows. But miss all three? Not an option. Exclaim documents the formation and formulation of the band, they talk to NOW about the process of capturing their sound on tape and there’s further interviews over at Echo and The Hamilton Spectator.

MySpace: Bruce Peninsula

Stereogum is offering up an MP3 from the new Great Lake Swimmers record Lost Channels, due out March 31. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

The Globe & Mail profiles Laura Barrett, complete with awful, awful headline.

Rolling Stone reports that Metric will release their new album Fantasies on April 14.

Final Fantasy have a new video from his Plays To Please EP.

Video: Final Fantasy – “Horsetail Feathers”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencier talks to Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene.

Paste and Exclaim have features on AC Newman, playing Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Neko Case sounds off on animal rights to Spinner and verifies that you shouldn’t expect to see her in any PETA ads anytime soon. Her April 18 show at Trinity-St Paul’s is almost sold out and the April 17 date probably won’t be far behind. Hesitate and lose.

Popmatters plays 20 questions with Jason Isbell. He has a date at the Horseshoe on March 4 and is swapping an MP3 from forthcoming album Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, out February 17, in exchange for your email.

Drowned In Sound finds out what’s next for The Magnolia Electric Co.

The Daily Texan speaks briefly to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who aim to have a new album out this year.

NOW talks to Gary Louris on the circumstances surrounding Ready For The Flood, his collaboration with former Jayhawks partner Mark Olson. They play the Mod Club February 4 and you can stream the album right now at Spinner.

Stream: Mark Olson and Gary Louris / Ready For the Flood

Drowned In Sound offers up a three-part interview with M Ward. Hold Time is out February 17.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


Doves to reign over Kingdom Of Rust

Photo via Doves.netDovesJoyous news to start the day yesterday when it was announced that Doves had not only assigned a release date to their fourth album and first in over four years – Kingdom Of Rust will be available on April 7 in North America – but they were also offering the lead track from the record, “Jetstream”, available as a free download on their website for a fortnight in exchange for signing up to their mailing list. Curiously, said offer seems to have disappeared for the moment but I expect that’s due to technical difficulties and it’ll be back soon.

And though the breathless press release verbiage that accompanied the news heralded the new record as their “most sonically adventurous, intimate, cerebral, propulsive to date”, I suspect it’ll be much like the previous three Doves records. Take two parts soaring anthemicism, two parts atmospheric melancholy, season with equal portions of dance and dreampop influences and serve. Guaranteed to be mostly brilliant. Doves arrived almost fully-formed with their 2001 debut Lost Souls and have basically been refining their sound ever since, oblivious to musical trends. Never quite fashionable, but still successful – it won’t surprise me one whit to see Kingdom hit #1 on the UK charts as its predecessor Some Cities did – and basically forging a… what’s it called? Oh yes, a career.

Though it’s amusing to think back to a couple of their first gigs in Toronto, where they displayed a knack for picking support acts who would manage to break quite big. Their first visit in March 2001 was in the company of a scruffy band of New Yorkers called The Strokes and their third in September of 2002 introduced the city to a band of beards who called themselves My Morning Jacket. So if the music thing hadn’t taken off as well as it did, they’d have quite possibly had a promising career in A&R.

Doves expect to tour North America sometime in the Spring. Pitchfork has a tracklist for Kingdom Of Dust.

MySpace: Doves

Spin is streaming Elbow’s contribution to the War Child: Heroes compilation coming out on February 24 – a cover of U2’s “Running To Stand Still”.

The Toronto Sun, The Globe & Mail, Stuff NZ and Out converse with Franz Ferdinand.

NPR welcomes Laura Marling for a World Cafe session.

The Shield Gazette interviews Emmy The Great about the darkness of her debut album First Love, out February 9.

Patrick Wolf discusses his battle to release Battle independently with The Quietus.

That March 31 Friendly Fires show of indeterminate locale I pointed out a couple weeks ago has come into much sharper focus – it will be happening at Lee’s Palace and also feature White Lies, currently holders of the #1 record in the UK, and The Soft Pack, formerly The Muslims. That, kids, is a ridiculously buzzy tour. Full dates at the Windish Agency. The Telegraph and The Shields Gazette have features on who is probably the headliner of that little troupe, White Lies.

Since it was Hot Press who first informed me last Summer that Irish dreampop outfit Butterfly Explosion had split up, it seems appropriate that it be Hot Press be the ones to inform me that they’re not so finished after all. Granted, with a number of lineup changes including the departure of keyboardist/vocalist Sorcha Brennan, it’s not the same band who impressed in April 2007 but still, it’s good that they’ll have another chance to fulfill the potential I saw in them.

MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Chemistry”

Soundproof interviews Mercury Rev.

Rolling Stone gets to know M83. They’ll be playing a one-off show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in March wherein Anthony Gonzalez will supply each and every member of the orchestra with their own distortion pedals.

Cut Off Your Hands have released a new video, and a local tour date is forthcoming very soon.

Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Turn Cold”

Magnet finds out what the members of The Smiths are up to these days.

The Guardian seeks the formula to the perfect pop song, consulting at length with Jarvis Cocker, amongst others, on the topic.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Everything Turns To You

Review of Loney Dear's Dear John

Photo via PolyvinylPolyvinylImagine a man, standing alone on a dark stage with just a guitar. This is Emil Svanangen, the principal artist behind the Swedish pop entity known as Loney Dear. Imagine the stage lights come up, revealing a carefully crafted backdrop of meadows, villages and blue skies but still Svanangen stands, stoic and po-faced, while the orchestra swells while somehow remaining oh-so twee. This was Loney, Dear’s North American debut, Loney, Noir. Now imagine the stage sets fall away and the lights dim, shifting the mood from Summer to Autumn. And still Svanangen remains, sad-faced and beautifully melancholic. This was Loney, Dear’s second 2007 release, Sologne. Very similar in theme and structure to its predecessor, yet somewhat starked in presentation.

And now with Dear John, the scene is set in darkness cut with neon lights and a metallic tang in the air. As you might expect, Svanangen is still mining the same rich vein of lost love and the songs still build to soaring crescendos, but the structures are more baroque and the materials utilized more synthetic and mechanical than in past efforts. It certainly creates a different atmosphere that takes some getting used to, particularly for those initially drawn to Loney Dear for their more sprightly orch-pop inclinations, but there’s still enough familiar moves and melodies to keep things anchored. Some of these moves and melodies can come off a little too familiar – Svanangen doesn’t seem to have as many tricks in his arsenal as one would hope, but what he does do he still does well. Dear John tries to walk the fine line between trying something new and not fixing what’s not broke, and while it does wobble as a result and occasionally strays farther than one might like, it still gets where its going eventually.

ABC News (!) has a video interview with Svanangen about his new record and Venus Zine has a feature interview. Dear John was released this week and is currently streaming on Spinner, and Loney Dear kick off a North American tour in support of Andrew Bird on Friday.

MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Video: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Stream: Loney Dear / Dear John
MySpace: Loney Dear

Andrew Bird gives interviews to The AV Club, Boston Herald and New York Magazine and gives Drowned In Sound a track-by-track breakdown of Noble Beast. He plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 3.

Lykke Li, headlining at the Phoenix on February 6, has released a new video.

Video: Lykke Li – “Tonight”

Magnet Q&A’s Jason Lytle, whose Yours Truly, the Commuter is out May 19.

The Yorkshire Evening Post talks to Richard Thompson, who recently got in a black cab and found himself recording a session.

SF Weekly congratulates John Vanderslice on the occasion of Tiny Telephone Studios’ 10th anniversary.

Asobi Seksu talks to The Skinny. Hush is out February 17 and they play the El Mocambo on March 3.

Shout Out Out Out Out are at Lee’s Palace on April 25 in support of their new record Reintegration Time, out March 3. Tickets $15.

Woodpigeon are marking the release of Treasury Canada Library next Tuesday by giving away an EP for free over at eMusic. La Commission Scolaire contains tracks from the album, alternate versions and unreleased goodies to go along with the double-disc goodness of the record. Woodpigeon overload!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I've Got Your Number

Reaching back to Elbow's Cast Of Thousands

Photo via relationship with Elbow has been circuitous to say the least. Their debut Asleep In The Back failed to engage and I didn’t give them another chance until 2005’s Leaders Of The Free World, a record liked well enough, but it wasn’t until last year’s The Seldom Seen Kid that they really finally clicked – partly thanks to them crafting a terrific album but also because of my finally being able to reconcile expectation with reality.

And so it’s kind of ironic that the one album of their four that I skipped in all this, 2004’s Cast Of Thousands, would turn out to maybe be my favourite of their catalog. I grabbed it off of eMusic a while back, probably just burning through some downloads, and it’s slowly but surely worked its way into my brain to the point where I got up one day, decided “I need to own this properly” and ordered up the CD. Then hearing it on a proper hi-fi system rather than just through headphones confirmed that this, indeed, was a stunning record. It has a leanness that isn’t there on the subsequent records – which isn’t to say they’re bloated, they’re just definitely “bigger”, sonically. And well as that approach serves them, Cast has a certain lithe grace and melodicism which I find irresistible, and wouldn’t have expected considering Guy Garvey’s considerable presence. And I might go so far as to say that “Switching Off” is the loveliest song in their repertoire.

All of which is apropos of nothing, save to say that if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering this record and at are all interested in Elbow or the grand tradition of melancholic British rock, then do yourself a favour and seek this out. A little more in the here and now, the band performed their Mercury Prize-winning album The Seldom Seen Kid alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra back in December in the legendary Abbey Road Studios and a recording of the show – both aurally on CD and visually on DVD – will be made available come March. Those interested in pre-ordering the package can sign up to be notified when orders will be taken. I’m a little wary about what the fanciness of the package will cause it to cost, but I’m definitely curious to hear the show.

Elbow will appear on the forthcoming War Child: Heroes compilation, out February 24, covering U2’s “Running To Stand Still”. They’re also setting out on a UK tour next month supported by none other than Ottawa’s The Acorn. I find that terribly exciting for The Acorn. I don’t much expect there to be any North American touring in the near future – a damn shame – but maybe this complete concert from last Summer in Amsterdam at FabChannel will help just a little.

And to wrap up, the videos from Cast Of Thousands.

Video: Elbow – “Ribcage”
Video: Elbow – “Fallen Angel”
Video: Elbow – “Fugitive Motel”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job” (other version)
Video: Elbow – “Grace Under Pressure”
Video: Elbow – “Switching Off”

Spinner’s Interface welcomes Glasvegas for a session. They play the Mod Club on April 3.

Magnet‘sWrens Watch” begins to yield some real dividends as they’ve got a new song, still untitled but recorded just last week, available to download. And I daresay that even in such a rough form, it sounds GREAT.

Crooked Fingers will be opening up for Neko Case on her upcoming Spring tour, including the two Toronto dates at Trinity-St Paul’s despite what ANTI-blog says (well their MySpace says so, anyways).

Blurt chats with Cut Off Your Hands about working with Bernard Butler on their debut album You And I.

Drowned In Sound interviews Of Montreal.

Denmark’s Efterklang are at the El Mocambo on April 1, tickets $10.

Asobi Seksu have released a video from their new album Hush and will play the El Mocambo on March 3.

Video: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”

Paste catches up with Peter Bjorn & John, releasing Living Thing on March 31 and playing the Phoenix on April 25.