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Archive for December, 2009

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

See You Later

Field Music to tour with The Clientele

Photo By Ian WestIan WestLet’s be honest here. It’s a couple of days before Christmas and a four-day weekend – something that people of all faiths can agree is a good thing – and you’re probably not reading this. Goodness knows why I’m writing this. I mean, I could be watching Lost right now – after years of holding out, I’ve picked up all five seasons on DVD and am ploughing through them like a fat kid on Smarties. But seeing as how I’ll be enjoying said upcoming long weekend almost certainly sans blog, I should probably clear out whatever little bits and bobs I’ve still got on the plate today and tomorrow.

And we’ll start with the Brewis boys of Field Music. Done with their respective side projects of The Week That Was, whom I liked, and School Of Language, whom I didn’t like as much, David and Peter Brewis have reconvened their original band and will release a new double album on February 16 entitled (Measure). And it will be followed up with North American dates as support on the final third of The Clientele’s upcoming Winter tour, which includes the March 19 show at the Horseshoe in Toronto. You know, the one I’ve been kvetching about missing. I won’t harp on that anymore, but even though I never liked Field Music nearly as much as some, the first samples from (Measure) sound pretty damn good and I’d have liked to have caught this bill. Alas. Tickets for the show are $14.

MP3: Field Music – “Measure”
Video: Field Music – “Them That Do Nothing”

Fact talks to director Saam Farahmand about his plans to make an audio-visual sculpture from The xx’s debut album while the band tells Spinner that they loves them some Beyonce. Hey, who doesn’t. The xx are back on April 20 at the Kool Haus in support of Hot Chip.

Black Book solicits some random facts about the band from Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar. The band also put up a video of themselves covering Low’s “Just Like Christmas”, recorded in their tour van whilst en route to a radio session for NPR.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Just Like Christmas” (Low cover)

Editors have released a second video from In This Light And On This Evening, which will have a North American release on January 19. They play The Phoenix on February 16.

Video: Editors – “You Don’t Know Love”

Frightened Rabbit drummer Grant Hutchison offers The Scotsman a holiday-themed poem. Frightened Rabbit’s The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is out March 16.

Rolling Stone talks to Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien about the decade that was.

Clash solicits some Christmas memories from The Horrors’ Faris Badwan.

The Big Issue has a quick chat with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Filter has a three-part conversation with Bad Lieutenant frontman Bernard Sumner. Congratulations go out to Heather, Caroline, Andrea, Brian and Jo who won copies of Never Cry Another Tear on vinyl.

The AV Club interviews Ray Davies.

The Times contemplates the future of the album as an artistic statement, looking to Bat For Lashes, Kasabian and Mastadon for input.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Some Party

Wavelength turns 500, goes out with a bang

Photo By Jeremy R. JansenJeremy R. JansenA birthday party is a bit of an odd time to announce a memorial, but such was the case this past February when, at the end of the successful 9th anniversary bash for Toronto’s venerable Wavelength weekly music series, it was announced that the 2010, 10th anniversary shows would also mark the final edition of the showcase… at least in its present form. While the weekly showcases are ending, the Wavelength marque and ethos will continue on via monthly showcases and one-off events, thus ensuring that the stages that gave countless Toronto acts – including Broken Social Scene, The Hidden Cameras and Constantines to name but a very few of the better known – will remain open and inviting.

But before the new Wavelength can begin, the old must be celebrated and put to bed, and that’s what the second weekend of February is going to be all about. Wavelength 500 will bring together acts from all throughout its history, some of whom have gone on to bigger things and some who have simply gone but all of whom are crucial parts of Toronto’s musical tapestry over the past decade. The festival will run over five nights at five venues, starting on February 10 and running through to February 14 for what’s sure to be the loudest, sweatiest Valentine’s Day bash on record. The lineups and locales for each night are as follows:

February 10 @ The Music Gallery: Bruce Peninsula, Evening Hymns, Pony Da Look, Deep Dark United, Canaille ($12)
February 11 @ The Steam Whistle Roundhouse – Holy Fuck, The Russian Futurists, Fembots, Diamond Rings, Professor Fingers ($18)
February 12 @ Sneaky Dee’s – From Fiction, The Bicycles, Laura Barrett, Magic Cheezies, Young Mother ($12)
February 13 @ The Polish Combatants Hall – Constantines, Rockets Red Glare, Donne Roberts, Picastro, Danger Bay ($20)
February 14 @ The Garrison – Kids On TV, Barcelona Pavilion, Mean Red Spiders, Neck, Boars (PWYC)

Advance tickets for the first four nights are available at the prices noted, while the fifth and final night will be pay-what-you-can. In addition, festival passes guaranteeing admission to all five shows will go on sale January 7 at the wholly reasonable price of $50. The timing of the festival is a bit unfortunate as there’s a lot a lot of other stuff going on before, during and after that weekend, but it’s not Wavelength’s fault – they’ve had this date circled on the calendar for, oh, a decade.

MP3: Laura Barrett – “Robot Ponies”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MP3: Canaille – “Vincent Massey” (live)
MP3: Constantines – “Nighttime Anytime It’s Alright”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Fembots – “Good Days”
MP3: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”
MP3: Picastro – “Hortur”
MP3: The Russian Futurists – “Paul Simon”

Constantines are no strangers to anniversary parties, having just wrapped up four Toronto shows to mark their own decade mark this past weekend. Spinner talked to frontman Bry Webb about the milestone.

Southern Souls is featuring a couple of video performances from Evening Hymns, who in addition to playing the Wavelength anniversary will be at the Garrison on January 22 for the Out Of This Spark 3rd anniversary show, alongside The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers and Jenny Omnichord. Evening Hymns are also on HeroHill’s “best of 2009” list with a couple of unreleased tracks up for grabs and interviews with many of their picks.

Forest City Lovers frontwoman Kat Burns offers a couple of solo performances and an interview in this video feature from The National Post.

BlogTO has a feature on the Third Floor Sessions which have been happening at Ryerson University and yielding downloadable sessions from the likes of Ohbijou and The Wooden Sky… and yes, that is your cue to make with the clicky and download the goods (while watching the videos, of course).

NXEW is offering a free Christmas EP from Oh No Forest Fires that’s probably louder and fuzzier than your usual holiday fare. Thank goodness.

The Line Of Best Fit’s “Oh! Canada” series of compilations is also back with another volume, just in time for the holidays. Go get.

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Being On Our Own

Review of Fruit Bats’ The Ruminant Band

Photo By Annie BeedyAnnie BeedyThe last time Seattle’s Fruit Bats visited was way back in 2005, opening up for Son Volt at the Opera House and in support of their album Spelled In Bones. At the time, I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the album and show not for what they were, but what they weren’t – namely their previous effort Mouthfuls and the cozy little show at the long-defunct B-Side in 2003.

And as I stated at the time, it was mainly the departure of vocalist Gillian Lisee from the Fruit Bats lineup that I had trouble with, having been such a fan of the way she and main Bat-man Eric Johnson’s parts played off one another on that earlier record. Objectively speaking, Johnson and the new Fruit Bats lineup did just fine on their own in crafting winning and winsome folk-pop – perhaps even better, with a less sleepy and more dynamic sound – but at the time I was having none of it and subsequently paid little attention to them over the next few years. Which worked out well, as the Fruit Bats went on a hiatus of sorts shortly thereafter with Johnson bringing home paycheques as a member of The Shins. And though James Mercer has cleaned house somewhat since The Shins’ last record, at last check Johnson was not only still a member, but Fruit Bats bassist Ron Lewis had also been recruited as a Shin.

Fruit Bats has continued as an ongoing proposition, however, and this past Summer they returned with a new album in The Ruminant Band. And with the benefit of a few years perspective, it’s easier to appreciate what Johnson has done since Mouthfuls – the new record is another terrific collection of feel-good, classically-styled pop that goes down real easy. Those who like some bitter with their sweet would be well advised to look elsewhere, because angst and melancholy aren’t part of the Fruit Bats recipe – just head-nodding, toe-tapping and melody to spare. Not to say that some female harmonies wouldn’t be the perfect compliment at a few points, but that’s neither here nor there.

And Fruit Bats will be here for the first time since that Opera House show with Son Volt – they’ll be at The Horseshoe on March 24, tickets $10. Usually doctor’s orders are to hole up for at least a week post-SxSW to handle the breakfast taco withdrawal, but here an exception might be in order.

MP3: Fruit Bats – “The Ruminant Band”
MP3: Fruit Bats – “My Unusual Friend”
Video: Fruit Bats – “The Ruminant Band”
MySpace: The Fruit Bats

While the new Shins record has no more precise target than sometime in 2010, James Mercer’s side-project with the ubiquitous Dangermouse – Broken Bells – is much more real. The album isn’t out till March 8 but the duo are giving away an MP3 of “The High Road” for one day only – today – in exchange for your email address. Head over to their website to submit and receive. There’s more details on the project at Exclaim.

Paste checks in with The Long Winters’ John Roderick about an upcoming collaboration with Kathleen Edwards, which should see the light of day after the next Long Winters album is completed. Which can’t be soon enough.

Penny Black interviews Trespassers William, who also recently recorded a video session with Off The Beaten Tracks, featuring a couple of songs from Trespassers William side projects but performed by both principals of Trespassers William. Which sort of makes them covers but not. Trespassers William are recording a new album this year.

The second installment of Paste‘s “Moog Sessions” is up and features a performance from White Rabbits.

NPR is streaming a radio session with Monsters Of Folk.

Exclaim reports that the Flaming Lips cover album of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon will have the excessive but factually accurate title of The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon. It will be released digitally only – tomorrow on iTunes and next Tuesday at other online retailers. Pitchfork talks to Wayne Coyne and his nephew Dennis (of the titular Star Death and The White Dwarfs) about their decision to remake the classic rock staple. NPR also has an interview with The Flaming Lips frontman about their other “proper” album, Embryonic.

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

"Last Christmas"

Manic Street Preachers cover Wham!

Photo via WikipediaWikipediaIrving Berlin, Mel Torme, Vince Guaraldi… George Michael? Penning modern-day holiday standards isn’t easy, but I think it’s fair to put Mr. Michael in that esteemed company. Since being released as a single in 1984, Wham!‘s “Last Christmas” has become perhaps the most-covered Christmas song of the last 30 years, maybe longer. There already exists a website – last-christmas.com – dedicated to tracking the ever-increasing number of interpretations of said tune. 430 as of this writing, and that doesn’t include the Ohbijou version that was released last Friday (but does include the Montt Mardie version I linked to on Tuesday.

Also on the list is this track by Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield, recorded back in 1996 on the BBC program TFI Friday, and the video footage from the holiday special is pretty funny with Bradfield settled in at the bar, serenading pub patrons. The audio was released as a bonus/hidden track on the 2003 rarities and b-sides comp, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History.

The Manics released one of my favourite albums of the year in Journal For Plague Lovers. George Michael hasn’t released a new studio album in five years but did put out a live DVD in Live In London earlier this year. Andrew Ridgeley is still giving away copies of Son Of Albert as Christmas gifts.

MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “Last Christmas”
Video: Manic Street Preachers – “Last Christmas”
Video: Wham! – “Last Christmas”

Friday, December 18th, 2009

(I Can't Seem To) Make You Mine

The Clientele plots most inconvenient North American tour ever

Photo By Andy WillsherAndy WillsherOkay, most inconvenient tour ever is probably a bit of an overstatement. From a logistical/routing point of view, The Clientele’s upcoming jaunt across the pond in support of Bonfires On The Heath makes perfect sense – fly into New York, head south, west through Texas to California, up the west coast and back east along the 49th, cross the border for a couple Canadian dates, back down to New York and then home. But for me – and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? – it sucks. Because the Toronto date at the Horseshoe Tavern falls on March 19 (not the 18th, as listed in itinerary), when I will be half a continent away in Austin at SxSW.

And yeah, I’m sure some/most/all of you will have some difficulty mustering up any sympathy for me, basking as I will be in the warm Texas sun surrounded by tunes and BBQ, but missing out on their distinctively English atmosphere, particularly if they make good on the promise/threat to call it a day after this album, is definite cause for sadface. I’ve seen them before – once in Summer 2005 when I wasn’t a fan at all and last at V Fest 2007, when I was a moderate fan. Too miss them now, when I’m a full-on devotee, is all kinds of disappointing. And possibly cause for a road trip sometime down the road… though it’d probably have to be an air trip.

Anyways. Anyone local who’s reading and is planning on attending – which I would think is at least some of you (should be all but whatever…) – I may be asking you to get me a shirt, yo. In return I will bring you some BBQ sauce.

MP3: The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
MP3: The Clientele – “I Wonder Who We Are”
Stream: The Clientele / Bonfires On The Heath
MySpace: The Clientele

Pitchfork has the new video from Field Music’s comeback album (Measure), out February 16. They will be playing with The Clientele at the Horseshoe show mentioned above – the one I won’t be at.

Video: Field Music – “Them That Do Nothing”

A trailer has been released for Falling Down A Mountain, the new album from Tindersticks, out on February 16 in North America.

MP3: Tindersticks – “Black Smoke”
Trailer: Tindersticks / Falling Down A Mountain

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Fanfarlo’s CMJ show in Brooklyn from October.

NPR is streaming a radio session with Florence & The Machine and BBC6 an interview about their next record.

BBC6 talks to Futurehead Barry Hyde about their new album, still untitled but due out in the early part of 2010.

Final Fantasy is no more! After a half-decade of paying tribute to the venerable video game franchise with his stage name, Owen Pallett has opted to retire it (possibly/probably with the assistance of legal advice) and continue on as simply “Owen Pallett”. Less memorable, but more easily Googleable and probably less costly. Heartland will still be released on January 12, but under the Owen Pallett brand and past releases will be reissued in the near future. So does that make my promo copy of Heartland, very much credited to Final Fantasy on the spine, a collector’s item? Now soliciting bids! The Music Magazine has reprinted the full official statement on the name change.

Stereogum and Under The Radar talk to Matt Berninger of The National – the former about how one of their songs came to soundtrack a Google ad and the latter about the progress of their next album.

Yours Truly has a video of Holly Miranda covering Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” in a living room while Paste has an interview. Her solo debut The Magician’s Private Library is out February 23.

Paul Banks of Interpol hints at an “orchestral” direction for their next album, due out next year, in conversation with BBC6. I can see them in the studio with a philharmonic now… “No, no! Only downstrokes! Pointier! Stabbier!”

Black Book and Paste talk to Peter Silberman of The Antlers, who are at the Phoenix on February 16 supporting Editors. NYC Taper is also sharing a recording of a recent Antlers show in New York.

NPR is streaming a radio session with Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard.

Elliott Smith’s Roman Candle and From A Basement On A Hill are getting the LP reissue treatment on April 6 courtesy of Kill Rock Stars, and they’ve made available a previously-unreleased song, circa 1997, to mark the occasion.

MP3: Elliott Smith – “Cecelia/Amanda”

American Songwriter has drinks with Jason Isbell.

Grant Hart tells Blurt why a Husker Du reunion is not likely to happen, ever.

Fuzzy-fi practitioners Real Estate and Woods are teaming up for a North American tour that includes a stop at the Horseshoe on March 14. I know there’s a joke to be made about, um, property values or topography or something, but damned if I can think of it right now.

MP3: Real Estate – “Black Lake”
MP3: Real Estate – “Beach Comber”
MP3: Woods – “To Clean”

A first track from Retribution Gospel Choir’s new album 2, out January 26, is now up for grabs. They play the Drake Undeground on January 25.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Hide It Away”

Also subscribing to the philosophy of naming ones albums sequentially, Serena-Maneesh have released details on their new album S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor, now set for a March 23 release. A suitably epic first MP3 is available to download and keep in mind, it’s just an edit. The album version is almost sure to be even more… more.

MP3: Serena-Maneesh – “Ayisha Abyss”