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Archive for February, 2010

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Dream About Me

The Depreciation Guild announces second album

Photo By Josh EustisJosh EustisHaving quite successfully reaped the benefits of the “give it all away for free” ethos with their debut album In Her Gentle Jaws, given away as a free download from their website starting in late 2007 before making available for sale on CD and vinyl late last year, Brooklyn synth-rockers The Depreciation Guild have announced plans to release their sophomore effort Spirit Youth on May 18, presumably in “yeah you have to pay for that” physical form from the get go.

If it’s anything like In Her Gentle Jaws, though, it’ll be worth the price of admission – the debut was a splendid bit of dreampop whose Nintendo/Famicom-powered 8-bit aesthetic was so much more than a gimmick. It’s not clear if “Dream About Me”, the single released last Fall, will appear on the album but assuming it’s a reasonable barometer of where the band are now, they seem to be favouring a more organic, guitar-based approach – perhaps not surprising since a goodly amount of time and touring has elapsed since the debut was recorded. The blissful pop sensibilities remain, however, even if the wonderful Mario-gaze textures are dialed down, so I remain keen to hear the new record, regardless of what toys or technology went into its creation.

In advance of the record’s release, The Depreciation Guild are hitting the road supporting Serena-Maneesh, including their April 2 date at The Great Hall in Toronto. Spinner has an interview with the band.

MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Dream About Me”
Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Dream About Me”

Hey Interpol fans – how badly do you want to see them live again? Enough to shell out to see them open up for U2 on their Summer tour, including the July 3 Toronto date at the Rogers Centre? Really? Wow.

And people must really be missing themselves some Strokes – demand for the April 2 Julian Casablancas show has been such that it has been moved from the Phoenix to the Kool Haus.

The Hold Steady have announced that they’ll release their fifth studio album entitled Heaven Is Whenever on May 4. Recorded without recently-departed Franz Nicolay, it promises to be more guitar-heavy than their last few albums. Check out the official press release for some quotes from Craig Finn and Tad Kubler about what to expect from the new record.

Stuff New Zealand talks to kiwi emigre Dean Wareham.

Exclaim checks in with Ted Leo, who will release The Brutalist Bricks come March 9.

Sonic Scoop interviews producer Phil Palazzolo about how work is progressing on Nicole Atkins’ new album.

Nada Surf have released the first MP3 from their forthcoming covers album, if i had a hi-fi, which will go on regular sale June 8, after being available during their on Spring tour which begins March 25 and hits Lee’s Palace on March 29.

MP3: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Holly Miranda.

NPR is currently streaming the whole of Joanna Newsom’s new triple album Have One On Me – all two hours of it. I picked up the triple vinyl yesterday, but don’t know if/how I’ll absorb it in time for the March 13 show at The Phoenix. Hell, I don’t think I’ve fully processed her first two records. And if you were wondering, Vetiver guitarist Kevin Barker will be opening that show up.

Stream: Joanna Newsom / Have One On Me

NPR has a World Cafe session with Fruit Bats, slated to play the Horseshoe on March 24. A Daytrotter session with the band just went up a couple days ago as well.

RCRDLBL has got an MP3 from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s forthcoming Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, out March 9, available to download. Colorado Springs Independent also has a quick interview. They’ve got two local shows coming up – April 1 and April 11, both at The Phoenix.

There’s also a track available from The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s new album Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, for which they’ll be appearing at the Phoenix on June 2.

MP3: The Brian Jonestown Massacre – “Let’s Go Fucking Mental”

Girls are giving away a b-side to their new single “Morning Light”, a cover of Skeeter Davis’ “End Of The World”. They’re at The Phoenix on April 9.

MP3: Girls – “End Of The World”

Wayne Coyne talks to Spin about the origins of The Flaming Lips’ name. As Summer tour dates in support of Embryonic trickle out without anything up here in the 416, I wonder if they think Toronto has forgotten they’ve yet to make good on their promise to make up their aborted V Fest 2006 appearance. Because, y’know, we haven’t.

eMusic talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who recorded an Interface session for Spinner. They are in town for a show at Lee’s Palace on April 1. Update: The Interface session seems to be an old one, circa Rook… but still great.

Blurt talks to Midlake leader Tim Smith. They’re at the Mod Club on May 21.

AZCentral talks about the album format, Spoon, the vinyl resurgence and Record Store Day (April 17 write it down) in no particular order. Or in that specific order.

The Daily Herald profiles Justin Townes Earle, in town at the Horseshoe on March 1. The giveaway for passes to the show ends tonight!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Change Of Heart

El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’d been some underlying confusion surrounding Sunday night’s show at the Mod Club since it was announced. First it was El Perro Del Mar. Then it was El Perro Del Mar and Anna Ternheim. Then it was El Perro Del Mar, Taken By Trees and Anna Ternheim. Then it was El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees. Then it was Taken By Trees and El Perro Del Mar, on account of their alternating closer, co-headliner arrangement. An arrangement that got turned around somewhere mid-tour and so by the time it was all said and done, it was Taken By Trees opening and El Perro Del Mar closing. And about as much reason as one would ever need to be sure to arrive at the venue on time, though I’d like to think that anyone attending this show would have the good sense to want to see both acts regardless of order.

I’d always felt that the greatest strength of The Concretes was how Victoria Bergsman’s sleepy vocals contrasted with the big pop arrangements underneath. Since going solo as Taken By Trees, contrast has been exchanged for compliment, as the gently orchestrated folk accompaniments of her new project mesh perfectly with her voice. Open Field had very much the sort of pastoral aesthetic you’d expect a voice like Bergsman’s to wrap itself in, but she mixed that recipe up a bit on her latest record, East Of Eden, which sounds very much a product of being recorded in Pakistan without being overwhelmingly so.

Though still quite demure, Bergsman seemed in much better spirits than her last visit to Toronto on the final Concretes tour in May 2006 – she visited Montreal once circa Open Field but for whatever reason didn’t make the trip down the highway. Thanks to the backlighting and smoky incense haze, she appeared more silhouette than anything, but what you weren’t able to see was more than made up for by what you heard. With the help of a terrific backing band, she was able to forge the airy folk-pop of her debut with the eastern influences of her latest into a strong and distinctive sound, with a welcome emphasis on the rhythmic elements of her songs. In fact, I liked Taken By Trees considerably more live than on record; the extra oomph served her well. Now if only we could get her to allow some light on her face, we’d be cooking with gas.

Henceforth, I swear to no longer describe El Perro Del Mar as “sad”. Despite the persona that comes across on her records, the Sarah Assbring that danced onstage to “Let Me In” from her latest record Love Is Not Pop was no melancholic moper. Sharing a band with Taken By Trees meant that Assbring only needed to strap on the guitar for a few numbers and spent the rest dancing and generally putting on the sort of show that I would not have expected.

The set drew mainly from the new record, which to be fair, does expand El Perro Del Mar’s sound well beyond the ’50s doo-wop that underpinned her first two records. Live, her sound was transformed further as the shimmering guitarwork and solid, danceable basslines gave everything a distinctively ’80s 4AD-ish sheen that really suited her. And considering one of her set’s highlights was an unexpected cover of The xx’s “Shelter” – done faithfully yet still sounding every bit like El Perro Del Mar – perhaps that’s a direction she’ll be moving further in in the future. Either way, it does seem certain she’ll be moving. And swaying. And dancing.

Chicagoist has an interview with Victoria Bergsman and Pitchfork has some audience video of El Perro Del Mar’s xx cover from the New York show. Panic Manual, Chart, Exclaim and It’s Not The Band I Hate It’s Their Fans also have reviews of the Toronto show.

Photos: El Perro Del Mar, Taken By Trees @ The Mod Club – February 21, 2010
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart” (Rakamonie Remix)
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Glory To The World”
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Anna”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Watch The Waves”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Lost & Found”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Glory To The World”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
Video: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”
Video: Taken By Trees – “Lost And Found”
MySpace: El Perro Del Mar
MySpace: Taken By Trees

New from Sweden this week and streaming at Spinner are European, the new record from Sambassadeur, Work from Shout Out Louds, who are also coming to town for a show at the Mod Club on May 8.

Stream: Sambassadeur / European
Stream: Shout Out Louds / Work

Spinner talks to Serena-Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen about his distaste for music prizes and showcase festivals. Not that that’s stopping him from playing a showcase festival in Texas next month. Their new album S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor is out March 23 and they play The Great Hall on April 2.

Some other Norwegians coming to town – a-Ha will be at Massey Hall on May 11 as part of their farewell tour. I’ll have you know I listened to these guys a lot back in the day, and their first three records were pretty damn good. Much more than just “Take On Me”. Though that’s still a great tune. As is this one. Seriously thinking about going to this, though I don’t know if it’s quite how I want to spend my 35th birthday.

Video: a-ha – “The Sun Always Shines On TV”

The Raveonettes have rolled out a new video from In And Out Of Control.

Video: The Raveonettes – “Heart Of Stone”

Under The Radar talks to Simon Blathazar of Fanfarlo. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace on April 9.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Mumford & Sons.

The Tripwire has a feature piece on The xx, in town on April 4 at The Phoenix and April 20 at the Kool Haus.

Lucky Soul are giving away the title track from their new album A Coming Of Age in exchange for your email – believe me, it’s a deal and a half. The album is out on April 5 19 and is, no word of lie or exaggeration, awesome.

The Washington Post and Washington City Paper interview Alisdair Maclean of The Clientele, coming to town for a show at the Horseshoe on March 19.

Spinner has an Interface session with The Cribs.

Beyond Race and The Sentimentalist interview The Big Pink. They’re at the Mod Club on March 24.

NME has collected some of Jarvis Cocker’s finest bon mots over the years into an entertaining slideshow.

Barely six months after bringing their orchestral Ocean Rain to Toronto, Echo & The Bunnymen will return on April 23 for a show at the Phoenix. Presumably the only strings in play this time will be the ones on their guitars.

MP3: Echo & The Bunnymen – “I Think I Need It Too”

The Times discusses the political and the personal with Billy Bragg.

Music Snobbery interviews The Joy Formidable, who are putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length album and starting to book some North American dates for May – just NYC and the Truck Festival so far, but fingers crossed.

Frightened Rabbit are gearing up for the March 9 release of The Winter Of Mixed Drinks with a second video for new single “Nothing Like You” and a full steam of the new album on their MySpace. Scott Hutchison also talks to Tour Dates UK. The band are at The Opera House on May 4.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You” (alternate version)
Stream: Frightened Rabbit / The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Spinner reports that The Twilight Sad have replaced the low end supplied by recently departed bassist Craig Orzel. the new lineup will be in action for their upcoming North American tour which stops in at Lee’s Palace on May 26.

Aversion talks to We Were Promised Jetpacks.

PopMatters checks in with Glasvegas’ Rab Allen. The band is currently working on album number two.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Set You On Fire

Chromewaves co-presents Billions showcase at Canadian Musicfest 2010

Photo By Yannick GrandmontYannick GrandmontIt’s a bit eerie, but with the exception of an in-store in a couple weeks, details noted further down, I’ve got nothing going on in the way of live music for more two weeks until Canadian Musicfest starts on March 11. And that’s really just fine with me, because the double-shot of CMW/CMF and SxSW was exhausting when I was a younger man – these days, I am going to need the downtime to rest up in order to survive that gauntlet of concert-going, airport-hopping and breakfast taco-eating.

And to help minimize the impact of club-hopping during CMF, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be co-presenting the Billions showcase at Canadian Musicfest, taking place March 12 at Lee’s Palace, meaning that not only will I be able to associate myself with a super-solid lineup of Canadian acts (and one foreign one), I’ll be able to plant my ass in one place all night. Made of win.

The decidedly Montreal/synthpop-heavy lineup kicks off at 9PM with electro-poppers Winter Gloves, still riding the wave of their 2009 debut About A Girl, then Toronto’s Russian Futurists will preview their new album The Weight’s On The Wheels, out this Summer, at 10PM. At 11PM, The Acorn, having been squirreled away for the last while working on their new record No Ghost, will come of hiding to show off what to expect when the album arrives in or around May. Plants and Animals, whose new record La La Land arrives April 20, will take the stage at the stroke of midnight and then come 1AM, Think About Life will have you thinking about both having a disco-punk dance party and how not to get killed by getting caught in the middle of a disco-punk dance party soundtracked by last year’s Family. And, if you’re still standing after all that, Oklahoma ‘s The Uglysuit will usher in last call with the beautiful orch-pop of their 2008 self-titled debut. That is, unless Lee’s has also got 4AM extended drinking hours during Canadian Music Week. You’d think I’d know this but odds are I’ll have dragged myself home well before whether or not the taps are still flowing are an issue.

So while there’s options a-plenty for CMW/CMF – the schedule has really filled out the last few days and I’ll be doing a further preview closer to the festival’s start – I humbly submit that if you’re looking for a one-stop smorgasbord of tunes for Friday night, that Lee’s will be the place to be. And to help make up your mind, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show – to enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to Think About Canadian Music Week” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes midnight, March 5.

MP3: Winter Gloves – “Let Me Drive”
MP3: Russian Futurists – “Paul Simon”
MP3: The Acorn – “The Flood, Pt 1”
MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”
MP3: Think About Life – “Nueva Nueva”
MP3: The Uglysuit – “Chicago”

Ca Va Cool and Chart talk to Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes about their new album The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, out March 9. They headline the Thursday night of the Chart showcases at the Horseshoe for Canadian Musicfest on March 11, taking the stage at 12:10AM. As is always the case with the ‘Shoe during CMW/CMF/whatever, early arrival is recommended/mandatory.

Same goes for Two Hours Traffic, who are on at the same time on the Saturday night, March 13. But if you don’t get in and need a dose of maritime power-pop, note that they’ll be back on April 3 for a show at Lee’s Palace, tickets $13.50. They’ve also released a new video from their Territory record.

Video: Two Hours Traffic – “Noisemaker”

Chart talks to Paul Banwatt of The Rural Alberta Advantage and Woodhands about how he manages to balance drum duties in two bands, simultaneously blowing up right now. Woodhands are playing the Opera House on March 11 and the RAA at the Indie Awards at the Royal York on March 13. Vue has a feature piece on Woodhands and The RAA have been keeping a tour blog of their journey out west for the Olympics at Exclaim.

The Indie Awards will also feature a performance from Constantines, whose Daytrotter session went up for grabs last week and taught QTV how to play “Young Lions” on guitar.

Also offering a QTV a guitar lesson is Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton, who teaches them – and the whole internet – to play “Knock Knock”. The Concordian and Ottawa Citizen also have interviews with Hamilton.

The Montreal Gazette talks to Stars, whose presently untitled new album is apparently set for release in the first half of 2010.

Broken Social Scene have revealed the final details about their forthcoming album – Forgiveness Rock Record, their first proper album in almost half a decade, will be out on May 4 and you can get the first MP3 from the album, a 7-minute sprawler called “World Sick”, in exchange for your email at their website. Broken Social Scene plays the Toronto Islands on June 19.

The other big May 4 release from a Canadian supergroup is, of course, Together from The New Pornographers. The first MP3 from the album has been made available and is the almost-title track from the album.

MP3: The New Pornographers – “Your Hands (Together)”

Chart talks to Zeus, whose Say Us gets a release this week and is streaming until March 1 over at Exclaim. They’ve also scheduled an in-store at Soundscapes for 6PM on March 6 and will play Lee’s Palace on March 10.

MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
Stream: Zeus / Say Us

Canadian Interviews talk to Basia Bulat.

Thick Specs interviews Julie Doiron. Her current project Daniel, Fred & Julie, featuring Doiron, Attack In Black’s Daniel Romano and former Shotgun & Jaybird-er Fred Squire will bring their self-titled debut to the Horseshoe on April 15.

MP3: Daniel, Fred & Julie – “The Gambler And His Bride”

Anyone wondering about the set list for Fucked Up’s show at the Opera House this Friday need look no further than the back cover of The Chemistry Of Common Life – the band will be playing their breakout record in its entirety. And probably some more stuff on top of that.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Eyelid Movies

Phantogram at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor solo artists, it’s easy. Either play alone and keep things stripped down and simple (or, as is becoming more fashionable, looped) or gather up a band. Duos, however, are more and more inclined to try and make a go of it without hired help, particularly duos who’re already heavily reliant on technology for their studio efforts – after all, you don’t have to feed a laptop. And if the cost of that convenience is some energy and spontenaity in the live setting, then so be it.

So despite being quite taken with Eyelid Movies, the debut album from the great state of New York’s Phantogram, I went into their Toronto debut at the Drake Underground on Saturday night with modest expectations. But even if I’d gone in demanding to witness great things, I’d have still left feeling the same way – pretty damned impressed.

Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter don’t travel with much – she with a number of synths and laptop, he with a guitar and extensive but not excessive pedalboard – but armed with a brace of great songs and a genuine joy of playing them for people, it was all they’d need. Just as their idea of dream pop isn’t about hazy somnambulance, there was no de rigeur synth-pop iciness in their delivery – Barthel delivered her lines with emotion and whipped her head around to the rhythm when not, while Carter, whose vocals sounded even better live than on record, took advantage of the mobility afforded him by the guitar and wandered around the stage, adding some extra physicality to their performance. This, combined with the well-chosen projections that bathed the band during their set, made for a show that was more dynamic and engaging than some of their stylistic peers could achieve. They were having their own little dance party on stage and the rest of us were just lucky to be invited.

Phantogram will be back on March 12 for a show at Supermarket as part of Canadian Musicfest.

Photos: Phantogram @ The Drake Underground – February 20, 2010
MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House. They’re at the Opera House on March 30.

The New York Times has a feature piece on Holly Miranda, and confirms that The Jealous Girlfriends are pretty much done. There’s also an interview at Miami New Times with Miranda, whose solo debut The Magician’s Private Library is out this week. Her former bandmates continue on in New Numbers.

Joanna Newsom is the subject of an extensive feature in The Times, just in time for the release of her new triple-album Have One On Me this week. I will have hopefully made it through the opus at least once before her March 13 show at the Phoenix.

The Guardian declares Spoon “the best band of the last 10 years”. Spoon modestly agrees. They are at the Sound Academy on March 29.

Clash has an interview and NPR a radio session with Midlake. They play The Mod Club on May 21.

The Wooden Birds are giving away a free EP of studio recordings at Insound.

ZIP: The Wooden Birds / Montague Street EP

Spinner talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who’ve just released a new video – and live solo performance clip – from their new album The Golden Archipelago, out on Tuesday. They play Lee’s Palace on April 1.

Video: Shearwater – “Hidden Lake”
Video: Shearwater – “Hidden Lake” (solo)

The March 9 release date for Miles Kurosky’s solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects is drawing closer – check out the first video from the new record.

Video: Miles Kurosky – “Dog In The Burning Building”

Also out this week is American Gong, the new record from Quasi – it’s available to stream in its entirety. They’re at The Horseshoe on April 18.

Stream: Quasi / American Gong

Aux.tv has compiled a list of the best contemporary shoegaze bands right now.

Torontoist reports that plans are afoot for Downsview Park to host Imagine on July 10 and 11, a two-day festival from the people who brought you Woodstock (but not the knockoff sequels) intended to resurrect the ideals of hippie peace and love through a big-ass concert at a former military base. No acts have been announced but they’ve already promised tributes to The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin so that should give you some notion as to what direction they’re looking in. But if they manage to a) actually stage this thing and b) have it be the biggest concert in 40 years as they say, it’ll be impossible to ignore and the law of averages states they’ll have at least SOME interesting performers. Even if they’re only invited to join the inevitable mass, on-stage “Give Peace A Chance” singalong.

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

"Baby's On Fire"

Shearwater covers Brian Eno

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMaking the decision to start buying vinyl again late last year – for reasons of artifact fetishism, audio quality and just wanting to go buy stuff in record stores again – has been tougher than expected to follow through on than expected because, well, people keep sending me CDs. Yeah yeah, hard life. Acts like Shearwater, however, make it easier to enjoy both as the shiny plastic and vinyl versions of their new record The Golden Archipelago are different – the vinyl has two extra tracks and a different running order – and both worth owning.

Easier to accomplish is my mission to fill in some of the holes in my ’70s and ’80s-era musical education via used LP crate digging. Some recent acquisitions are the first couple of Roxy Music albums (though those were bought new, on sale), which go nicely with my oft-spun copy of Brian Eno’s first solo record Here Come The Warm Jets. Which is relevant because this week’s cover selection is of Shearwater reinterpreting “Baby’s On Fire” (side A track 3), live in Bruges, Belgium circa Fall 2006. See how it all comes together?

Shearwater’s The Golden Archipelago is out on Tuesday, February 23, and they play Lee’s Palace on April 1. Brian Eno continues to be a prolific musician, producer and collaborator and even contributed a couple of tracks to the much-rumoured new Roxy Music album. Last Fall, however, Brian Ferry told The Times that the album would now be coming out as a Brian Ferry album and not as Roxy Music. Which, really, is the only sensible thing to do.

MP3: Shearwater – “Baby’s On Fire”
Stream: Brian Eno – “Baby’s On Fire”