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Archive for April, 2010

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Not Miserable

Review of Frightened Rabbit’s The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Photo By David GourleyDavid GourleyFrightened Rabbit’s 2008 album The Midnight Organ Fight earned itself many adjectives – “grand”, “anthemic” and “gobsmacking” from these parts, and less subjectively, “folk-rock” from most everyone. It certainly wasn’t afraid to get loud and electrified, but the foundation of the record was homespun and acoustic and the Scots rode that formula to great acclaim and a place as one of my favourites of the year.

For this year’s follow-up The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, the sonic dressings have received a significant bump in density and volume. More of the instrumentation is plugged in and turned up and the songs delivered with more aggression and intensity. The extra bombast and general tumult in the production can make for a bit of an exhausting listen and does take a while to adjust to, but thankfully Scott Hutchinson’s familiar thick brogue and the sentiments of angst and melancholy that it delivers are there to anchor things. And just as Mixed Drinks is the most musically confident thing the band has done, the lyrics offer a patina of hopefulness over their signature emotionally fragile core. Whereas Organ Fight was gloriously wracked with self-doubt, Mixed Drinks finds there’s nothing better to bolster one’s confidence than a brace of songs that cry out for mass sing-alongs and dares to stand up, even if its uncertain what it’s going to do once upright.

Though they missed a few dates due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption, Frightened Rabbit’s North American tour is now underway and they have a sold-out show at the Opera House in Toronto next Tuesday, May 4. There’s features on the band at Death & Taxes, NOW and The Boston Herald.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You” (alternate version)
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

And if you didn’t get tickets to said Frabbits show or are looking for something else to do the evening of the 4th, let me again make by strongest recommendation for Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, whose debut mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning will officially be out in North America that day and who are making their Toronto debut with a free show at the Horseshoe that night.

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”

Under The Radar talk to The Big Pink, who are giving away a free remix EP right now.

ZIP: The Big Pink / Tonight Remix EP

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with The Clientele. They’re promising a new release soon, as well as more shows – some west coast dates are already up, hopefully they come east again as well.

Hot Chip guitarist Al Doyle discusses their latest album One Life Stand with The Quietus.

Over at her MySpace, Kate Jackson is offering a taste of what she’s been up to since the dissolution of The Long Blondes last year – namely hanging out on Twitter, working with Bernard Butler and piecing together her solo debut. There’s no timetable as to when said record might be finished, but if “Homeward Bound” accurately sets the tone then it will be worth whatever the wait is.

Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen talks to Spinner about his feud with Bono in the ’80s about who had the tallest hair.

QRO and Interview talk to a random sample of Los Campesinos!.

Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine gives BBC an update on how sessions for album number two are going.

Doves tell Spinner that following the shows in support of their new best-of compilation The Places Between, they’ll be taking a break of around two years.

Public Image Limited’s May 7 show has been moved from the Kool Haus to The Phoenix.

Pitchfork endorses the brilliant Phonogram comics series, both volumes of which are now available in trade paperback form – on sale no less. The complete first issue of volume two is available to preview online. Also note that artist Jamie McKelvie will be in town next weekend for the Toronto Comics Arts Festival at the Toronto Reference Library, so if you like, swing by and say hi.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Chit Chat

Hannah Georgas at Criminal Records in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThanks to the rather depressed state of both the music and publishing industries, it’s not really surprising that in Canada we’re down to just one national music magazine, the venerable Exclaim. So it’s kind of telling when heading into a month where two of the three biggest names in Canadian rock (at least from the indie POV) are releasing new records, they instead opt to put a relative unknown just releasing their first full-length on the cover; which is to say they’re clearly pretty high on Hannah Georgas.

Though originally hailing from Newmarket, out on the outskirts of Toronto, Georgas is now based in Vancouver and it’s there that her just-released debut This Is Good was recorded. The title of the record might be an easy mark for critics, but by and large it delivers on that promise – she probably even could have gotten away with calling it This Is Very Good. It takes Georgas’ seemingly disparate jazz and folk influences and finds a common ground in the realm of radio-friendly pop music. Some of the stylistic ranginess smacks more of trying to cover bases rather than genuine eclecticism and the production could use a little less gloss and more atmosphere, but those quibbles fade in the light of the sheer catchiness of many of the numbers. Georgas has a flexible voice, possessing some of Feist’s breathiness, some of Sarah Harmer’s folksome twang as well as a quirky extrovertedness that’s hers entirely, and puts it to good use on standouts like “Chit Chat”, “Bang Bang You’re Dead” and the title track.

She put both her voice and songs on display Tuesday evening, when she marked both the release of her album and her issue of Exclaim with an in-store performance at Criminal Records, following a proper show at the Garrison the night before. Backed by a two-piece band, Georgas turned in set that showcased both her subdued and scrappy sides (alliteration unintentional) in front of a decently-sized, if maybe overly respectful audience. Not to suggest that there should have been acting out, but sometimes the between-song silence at in-stores just feels… awkward. But she seemed grateful for the attentiveness, and in return proved that while it’s probably overreaching to suggest she’ll ever attain the status of either of the acts she bumped off the Exclaim cover, it’s pretty much certain that for the next little while, at least, you’ll be hearing more of and about Hannah Georgas.

The Vancouver Sun has a feature interview with Georgas.

Photos: Hannah Georgas @ Criminal Records – April 27, 2010
MP3: Hannah Georgas – “Chit Chat”
Video: Hannah Georgas – “Thick Skin”
Video: Hannah Georgas – “The Beat Stuff”

The San Francisco Chronicle talks Forgiveness Rock Record with Broken Social Scene’s Charles Spearin. The record is out next Tuesday and the band play the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Also out next week is The New Pornographers’ Together. The National Post talks to that band’s Kathryn Calder; they play the Sound Academy on June 15.

The Calgary Sun, Georgia Straight and JAM talk to Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes, who will be at the Mod Club on June 17 as part of NXNE.

NOW previews Caribou’s May 3 show at the Phoenix by talking to Dan Snaith.

Holy Fuck have released the first video from their new record Latin, due out May 11. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 9 opening up for Metric.

Video: Holy Fuck – “Latin America”

The Hold Steady are also making May 4 a day to hit up your local record store – their new one Heaven Is Whenever is out that day, and they talk to Spinner about some of the themes of the new album. They’re at the Kool Haus on July 17.

The Skinny talks to Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner of The National while GQ finds the band showered and blue blazered in a fashion spread, alongside some of their New York indie rock brethren. Their new opus High Violet is out May 11 and they play two nights at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

The Antlers, who open up both of those National shows, are featured in The Georgia Straight and their video session series at PitchforkTV ran three parts this week.

Interpol appear ready to get back in the game, offering up a new MP3 for free from their website and sporting a shiny new logo. They promise more information – presumably an album release date and touring news – soon, but in the meantime, offer you “Lights”. Not bright, just lights.

Under The Radar interviews Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand of Beach House at Coachella. They’re playing as part of the Toronto Islands show on June 19.

Le Blogotheque Take-Away Shows Quasi.

Clash gets a behind the scenes look at Disconnect From Desire from School Of Seven Bells – the new record is out July 13.

John Stirratt of Wilco tells Faster Louder the band are going to be spending the Summer recording and offers some speculation on what the next record might sound like.

Because apparently three months is all it takes for bruises to heal, Titus Andronicus are coming back to kick Toronto’s asses all over again when they play the Horseshoe on July 14. The Courier-Journal talks to frontman Patrick Stickles.

MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”

The Specials have finalized their make-up date for the canceled Toronto show last week – they’ll now be at the Sound Academy on August 27.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

My Best Friend Is You

Kate Nash, Brett Alaimo and Supercute! at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhenever I see reviews of Kate Nash’s just-released sophomore effort My Best Friend Is You that put forward the tracks that represent her well-documented discovery of Riot Grrl as the standouts and bemoan the number of pure pop numbers on the record, I have to wonder if the writers of said pieces actually like Kate Nash. Because as commendable as it is that she’s seeking to branch out beyond her precocious piano girl image and explore her interest in louder, rawer sounds, the inescapable fact is is that she’s not very good at it.

In its finest moments, Best Friend finds Nash taking what made Made Of Bricks such a delight – the fast-talking sass and hooky piano-led melodies – and honing them further, exhibiting the growth you’d expect over three years without sounding too grown-up. Tracks like “Paris”, “Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt” and lead single “Do Wah Do” are immediate and indelibly catchy sugar bombs that hold up over repeat listens, and the like thankfully outnumber those where Nash attempts to get her punk on. While “Mansion Song” actually works better than you’d expect, segueing from profanity-laced spoken word intro into a clattering, stomping sing-along, other stylistic forays like “I Just Love You More” find Nash tries to sound angry and guttural but instead comes across as on the verge of laughing hysterically – probably not the desired effect – and the lo-fi “I’ve Got A Secret” just wobbles aimlessly. But missteps aside – Bricks had its share as well – Best Friend is a largely enjoyable listen that gives Nash fans what they want… and sometimes you have to take the crunchy with the smooth.

That said, the balance of the two wasn’t what many would have liked on Monday night at the Mod Club in Toronto. It marked the kickoff of her North American tour and in rounding up support acts, she didn’t have to look too far. Rachel Trachtenburg opened for Nash before – The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players opened up for her on a number of her 2008 dates – but this time, she was fronting her new band Supercute!, which teamed the 16-year old with 13- and 14-year old accomplices in shiny outfits and giant hair bows, playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd covers alongside self-penned songs about candy, hula-hooping and boys. It was short, sweet and strange. Considering that there would have been an hour wait between the end of Supercute!’s set and the start of Nash’s, the unbilled set by Nash guitarist Brett Alaimo was a welcome one. Playing mostly solo, except for one song where he was accompanied by the rest of Nash’s band, he was part Libertines, part Billy Bragg and part spoken-word poet/stand-up comic. Certainly a more enjoyable way to pass the time than constantly checking my mail (especially since I wasn’t getting much mail).

At this point it’s worth noting that this show was a) all-ages and b) sold-out, which is generally a recipe for a) feeling old and b) losing a few degrees of hearing from the squealing that inevitably occurs when the headlining act comes on stage. And so it was that the crowd went mad when Kate Nash finally followed her band onstage and seated herself at the keyboard with the empowering message, “A c*nt is a useful thing” emblazoned across a sheet draped off it (the message itself wasn’t censored, just my transcription). Grinning ear to ear at the enthusiasm of the crowd, she kicked off with Best Friend‘s “Paris”, which proved as excellent a set opener as it is an album opener, and straight into “Do Wah Do” and then Bricks’ “Mouthwash”, all sounding great and setting the tone for what was looking like a terrific show. She then surprised by moving over to guitar for the next song and remaining there for the next few numbers, all scrappy pop selections from the new record and all also sounding quite good.

The second half of the show was decidedly less triumphant, with the more questionable bits of her repertoire making appearances and Nash seemingly determined to redefine herself as guitar-wielding rocker chick right then and there. While some fans indulged her, even attempting to pogo or mosh a bit, most waited patiently for her to get back to doing what she did best. They were repaid with the likes of “Foundations” and “Very Merry”, but the show failed to end on a high note. Both main set closers “Mansion Song” and “I Just Love You More” came across more awkward live than on record – and as stated, the latter was pretty awkward to begin with – and the encore selection was b-side “Model Behaviour”, which gave Nash leave to do more shrieking and sent many heading for an early exit.

Poor finish aside, the night still went in the win column though only barely. This was my first time seeing Nash live and it was great to finally hear some of those songs done live – though more than three selections from Bricks would have been nice – and Nash’s rapport with her very devout fanbase was charming and fun to watch. But if she’s going to continue to try and be the second coming of Bikini Kill, she’s really going to have to work on her screaming.

The Toronto Sun, Spin, Exclaim, Chart and Panic Manual also have reviews of the show while The Daily Mail and Nylon have interviews with Nash.

Photos: Kate Nash, Brett Alaimo, Supercute! @ The Mod Club – April 26, 2010
MP3: Kate Nash – “I Just Love You More”
MP3: Kate Nash – “We Get On” (live at the BBC)
MP3: Supercute! – “Not To Write About Boys”
Video: Kate Nash – “Do Wah Doo”
Video: Kate Nash – “Foundations”
Video: Kate Nash – “Mouthwash”
Video: Kate Nash – “Pumpkin Soup”
Video: Supercute! – “Not To Write About Boys”
MySpace: Kate Nash

The San Francisco Examiner and The Portland Mercury interview The Wedding Present’s David Lewis Gedge.

Under The Radar talks to Ian McCulloch and The Centre Daily Times to Will Sargent, both of Echo & The Bunnymen.

The Music Slut asks eight questions of Los Campesinos!, who’ve finally beat the volcano and made it over to North America.

Camera Obscura, who were already on this side of the Atlantic when Iceland blew up, talked to Under The Radar at Coachella.

The Boston Herald interviews Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. They’re at the Opera House on May 4.

Many – myself included – thought that two nights at the Sound Academy was overambitious for Jonsi, so it’s not surprising that the May 1 show has been canceled, leaving just this Friday’s April 30 performance. However the official reasons given aren’t ticket sales, but the logistics involved with tearing down the elaborate stage sets in time for a later event at the venue. Both nights were originally supposed to be with the venue in a theatre configuration, holding around 1200 if memory serves, but now the Friday show will be with the Sound Academy at full size. All Saturday tickets will be valid for Friday and refunds are also available. Unfortunate venue aside, all reports from the tour have been that the show is astonishing so if you can swallow the Sound Academy, it could be worth your while. Or even more disappointing.

The Summer concert season continues to shape up with a bunch more announcements to go with the slew that came yesterday. The Gaslight Anthem will be at the Sound Academy on July 14, presale already open. Their new album American Slang is due out June 14 and New Zealand City, Spinner and Gibson Guitars have features on the band.

Bear In Heaven and Twin Sister are teaming up for a Summer tour that stops in at the El Mocambo on July 15. Spoonfed interviews Bear In Heaven.

MP3: Bear In Heaven – “Bag Of Bags”
MP3: Twin Sister – “Dry Hump”

Their show at the Mod Club tomorrow having sold out in a hiccup, MGMT are playing a more appropriately-sized room in the Kool Haus when they return on August 5. Tickets are $35 in advance, on sale Friday.

I’m a little surprised that Australia’s Empire Of The Sun is fixing to do a few North American dates around their Lollapalooza appearance – 2008’s Walking On A Dream didn’t exactly do mad business over here. I still prefer The Sleepy Jackson to EOTS’ electro-disco-glam, but am intrigued by the Toronto date at the Sound Academy on August 8 as apparently the live show is a spectacle and a half.

Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Walking On A Dream”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “We Are The People”

And CBC Radio 3 has revealed the first wave of acts playing this year’s Hillside Festival in Guelph on July 23, 24 and 25. Lots of familiar names, but still immensely quality – you’ve got Los Lobos, The Hidden Cameras, Basia Bulat, Calexico and Sarah Harmer, to name but a few. Tickets go on sale this Saturday.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

For Almost Ever

Bill Fox to help Kelp Records celebrate 16th birthday

Photo via Last.FMLast.fmSo apparently there’s this guy – based in Ohio but sings with an affected British accent, played in a band with his brother for a while, has a habit of writing amazing pop songs and recording them onto 4-track cassette and is worshipped by those in the know. I’m talking, of course, about Bill Fox. Why, who were you thinking of?

I actually can’t pretend to be one of those aforementioned “in the know”, however. Prior to a few weeks ago, the first I’d heard of Bill Fox was via the first sample of Nada Surf’s forthcoming covers record, if i had a hi-fi, and “Electrocution” offered a terrific first impression – both of the Nada Surf record and the songwriting talent behind that song. And then a copy of his 1998 record Transit Byzantium was forwarded on to me by the folks at Ottawa-based Kelp Records, both for my own musical edification and by way of invitation to help them celebrate their 16th anniversary.

Apparently the traditional 16th anniversary gift is silver holloware, but who doesn’t have enough of that cluttering up their homes? Instead, Kelp – who has been and still is home to such acts as The Acorn, Hilotrons and Jim Bryson, is marking their 16th by throwing a series of parties in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, featuring Mr Bill Fox and a variety of Kelp friends and family. For my part, I’m pleased to be co-presenting the Toronto show which will take place on Wednesday, May 12, and feature sets by Andrew Vincent, Chris Page, Leif Vollebekk and of course, Bill Fox.

Obviously I cannot pretend that I’m anything resembling an old-school fan of Bill Fox or his old band The Mice, but my crash course in his story and works has been a wholly enjoyable one: The Mice are terrific scrappy power pop and Fox’s solo works more folkish and thoughtful but just as melodic. And so I’m happy to be able to associate my name with a Canadian label that’s been fighting the good fight for so long and a show that is no doubt bringing much happiness to those out there who ARE old-school Bill Fox fans. For a while Fox had dropped almost completely out of sight – his Wikipedia page more or less tells the tale – and while he’s now playing live more and his catalog is slowly being reissued courtesy of Scat Records, the man doesn’t really tour so this is, as they say, an opportunity.

Tickets for the Toronto show are $10 in advance. Grab a free sampler of Kelp artists at Bandcamp.

MP3: The Mice – “Not Proud Of The USA”
MP3: The Mice – “More Than I Can Talk About”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”

Stereogum has premiered the new video from Born Ruffians’ forthcoming Say It, due out June 1. They play The Horseshoe on May 28.

Video: Born Ruffians – “What To Say”

The New Pornographers are streaming Together in its entirety at Exclaim, a week ahead of its May 4 release. They will be at the Sound Academy on June 15.

Stream: The New Pornographers / Together

School Of Seven Bells have finally put a release date on their second album, Disconnect From Desire. Pitchfork has the vitals on the new record, which will out on July 13.

Alison Mosshart of The Kills tells BBC 6 that their new record is more than halfway complete.

The Fly interviews James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, whose This Is Happening is out May 18 and who are at the Kool Haus on May 25. Slowly, but surely, I am starting to get LCD. It’s fun like parties, right? I get that.

Shout Out Louds are taking over the editors desk at Magnet this week as they gear up for their North American tour which brings them to the Mod Club on May 8.

Mew have released a typically weird new video from No More Stories.

Video: Mew – “Beach”

In concert news, the June 9 She & Him show has been moved from the Phoenix to the Sound Academy. I’m somewhat surprised at this, as the show has been sold out for well over a month and I figured if a move was in the offing, it’d have happened sooner. But so it is that Matt and Zooey will now be visiting in the most despised room in the city, but look on the bright side – it’s now all-ages so at least some of the 2000 more people who can attend won’t be very tall. And no, there’s no info on getting refunds because you have the new room. Sorry.

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

Their free record release show last week having been a huge (crushing) success, Plants & Animals will be returning for a June 24 show at the Opera House; unfortunately this one you have to pay for. They’re featured in The Montreal Mirror, The Montreal Gazette, Chart and The Toronto Sun.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

Could one band who hasn’t been here in ages and another who just visited make up the bill of the Summer? When it’s The Flaming Lips and Spoon, maybe so. The pair will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 and considering the show starts at 6:45 and curfew is 11PM, it seems the Lips will finally be making up for their 15-minute V Fest set in 2006. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10AM and range from $52.50 for GA floors (and the privilege of being in Wayne Coyne’s bubble walk route) to $29.50 for lawns (unlikely he’ll make it up there but you never know).

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Powerless”
Video: Spoon – “Written In Reverse”

The Swell Season will be coming back to town on July 12 for a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, tickets $39.50 to $42.50. It sounds as though Glen Hansard is getting The Frames out of mothballs for their 20th anniversary, so this could be your last chance to see him in a quieter headspace, not to mention Marketa Irglova.

MP3: The Swell Season – “In These Arms”

Ween are coming to town – look for them at the Kool Haus on July 20, tickets $35. Is it wrong that this is my favourite Ween composition?

MP3: Ween – “Where’d The Cheese Go?”

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Set The Sails

Dan Mangan and Aidan Knight at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDan Mangan has come through town a few times since his show at the Rivoli last October, but for my purposes that show and the one this past Thursday night at the Horseshoe make for very good comparison points. At that show, I noted he seemed “on the cusp of bigger things” and while the ‘Shoe is physically bigger than the Rivoli by a fair margin, selling it out as fully as Mangan did also represents a sort of watershed moment for a Canadian artist. Dan Mangan isn’t just rising; he’s risen.

And along for the ride (and this tour) was Victoria’s Aidan Knight, who himself has been getting some attention for his debut mini-album Versicolour… though not from me. Though I knew I had a copy, I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out before the show and so basically went into his opening set cold. What I found was an artist possessed of a voice that was simultaneously wearily aged yet earnestly youthful and with a timbre not unlike Tony Dekker’s and armed with a brace of songs whose tones ranged from quirky to weighty. Decent stuff made more entertaining thanks to Knight’s charmingly awkward stage presence and band arrangements that were more intricate and interesting than they probably needed to be. And I did finally give Versicolour a listen afterwards, and must say it’s a much more impressive document of Knight’s abilities than his live set was – well-crafted, musically ambitious and with just the right amount of downbeat mood, it definitely marks Knight as a talent to keep an eye on.

Which, really, is what people were probably saying about Dan Mangan a year or so ago, when his Roboteering EP was released and foreshadowed what was to come later last Summer with his second full-length Nice, Nice, Very Nice. And as much as credit must be given to that record for being excellent and one of my favourites of last year, I think it’s largely Mangan’s work ethic and relentless cross-country touring that was responsible for packing the Horseshoe on this night – the vibe in the room wasn’t so much of fans seeing a favourite performer but of friends visiting with one another, and that sort of rapport is really only built in the live setting.

Nowhere was this more clearly evident than early in the set for “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” – whereas at the Rivoli show, Mangan had a female band member cover Veda Hille’s vocals on the studio version, this time Mangan’s crew were all men so it seemed he was prepared to let the responses to his calls go unmade. The audience, however, would have none of it and quietly and chorally filled in that space, in particular one girl standing just behind me who nearly nailed Hille’s timbre and phrasing. Also unlike the Rivoli show, this time out Mangan had a full-time drummer behind him, giving the set a bit more meat and propulsion than in October but the overall pacing was kept at a fairly even keel and interspersed with corny jokes and anecdotes, such that the evening had less the feel of a performance than a friendly conversation. And for the quality of his songwriting and records, it’s that resonance and relatability that may be Mangan’s greatest talents – you can go far by just making great music, but there are some heights that can only be reached if you’re lifted up on the shoulders of your fans.

BlogTO, The Globe & Mail and Music Vice also have reviews of the show (though the Globe piece is really more of an extended, “I don’t get it”) while NOW and The Toronto Star chime in with feature pieces on Mangan.

Photos: Dan Mangan, Aidan Knight @ The Horseshoe – April 22, 2010
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
MP3: Dan Mangan with Shane Koyzcan – “Tragic Turn Of Events/Move Pen Move”
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
Video: Dan Mangan – “The Indie Queens Are Waiting”
Video: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Stream: Dan Mangan / Roboteering
Stream: Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
MySpace: Dan Mangan
MySpace: Aidan Knight

Pitchfork talks to Caribou’s Dan Snaith; they play The Phoenix on May 3.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Owen Pallett’s show in New York last week. Dallas Voice also has an interview.

Under The Radar talks to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Fresh off announcing the release date of her new record – June 29 – M.I.A. has released the first decidedly NSFW video and leaked the corresponding MP3 from the record herself. Clearly, motherhood has mellowed her out. Yeah, right. Update: YouTube has moved the video behind the adults-only curtain. Kids of all ages can watch it and it’s ultra-violence at her website, though.

MP3: M.I.A. – “Born Free”
Video: M.I.A. – “Born Free”

The Hot Chip/xx show from Washington DC this past weekend is now available to stream at NPR, and if you want some visuals to go with the audio, check out the photos over at Photokyle. There’s also a Hot Chip feature at The Independent.

Slow Club are giving away a free EP – head over here and swap your email for their Let’s Fall Back In Love EP.

Idlewild have chosen to call it a day – I guess that rumoured North American tour for the Fall isn’t happening.

An Horse have released a new video from Rearrange Beds. They play the Garrison tonight.

Video: An Horse – “Postcards”

MBV Music reports that the long-awaited new Versus album – their first in ten years – has a title of On The Ones And Threes and will be out this August on Merge and Teenbeat.

It seems I jumped the gun a bit on announcing that Mirah show at the Horseshoe last week. Not because the show’s not happening – it is, on June 26 – but because it’s part of a massive co-headline tour with Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. I can’t speak for the live Mirah experience – or the recorded one, really – but Thao live is terrific. I suspect this show – and tour – is wholly worth your time.

MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”

Billboard has an extensive feature piece on The National, whose High Violet is just a fortnight from release and who are at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

PitchforkTV has a video session with The Antlers; they open up both of those National shows at Massey Hall.

NPR interviews Midlake. They play the Mod Club on May 22.

The Georgia Straight and Tuscon Weekly talk to Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Band Of Horses’ Creighton Barrett. Infinite Arms is out May 18 and they play Toronto Islands on June 19.

Crooked Fingers has taken to Kickstarter to solicit financing for a most worthy of projects – a follow-up to their 2002 covers EP Reservoir Songs. Pledges can be for as little as $1, but starting at the $6 point you’re entitled to a download of the finished product, while $15 or $25 gets you a limited-edition LP and if you get into the four-figure territory, you can get to pick a song for them to cover or have them come to your living room to perform. For serious. They’re targeting an early Summer release for the EP and a new Crooked Fingers full-length before the year is out.

Seeing as how they initially reported on its existence, it seems fitting that Torontoist have an update of sorts on the Imagine Concert, which is still supposed to usher in a new Age of Aquarius (aren’t we already in one?) emanating from Downsview Park in Toronto starting the weekend of July 10 and 11. It seems the city still hasn’t signed off, never mind provincial or federal authorities and the promoter is tilting at windmills and trying to pay artists fees with peace and love. I also apparently gave them too much credit in assuming they’d secured The Flaming Lips as part of the “Pink Floyd tribute” portion of the show as updated touring itineraries show the Lips as being at Ottawa Bluesfest on the 10th and in Louisville, Kentucky on the 11th. That does, however, leave two days open between Montreal on the 7th and Ottawa on the 10th where the Lips could conceivably make their first Toronto appearance in three and a half years. Presumably at a show that would pay them in actual money, and not just good vibes. Now don’t get me wrong – I still hope this thing happens and that it’s wonderful or at least interesting (in a good way or a train wreck way, whichever) – but it doesn’t look too good right now.