Archive for May, 2010

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010


Arcade Fire announce show at Toronto Islands

Photo via Last.fmLast.fmIt’s been a long time since there’s been a live music throwdown of any kind at the city’s most picturesque and moderately inconvenient venue, the Toronto Islands. The 2009 edition of the almost-annual Islands concert was canceled thanks to a combination of the Toronto Indy and sluggish ticket sales, so excepting a private frosh week event last September, the last time the throngs gathered on Olympic Island was V Fest 2008, and that ended with the ignoble thud of Noel Gallagher getting knocked on his ass. 2010 seems set on making up for that absence, however. In addition to the heavyweight lineup of Pavement, Broken Social Scene, Beach House and Band Of Horses (and more) playing the June 19 Toronto Island Concert, a second excuse for people to complain about having to take the ferry was announced yesterday.

Having sold out three nights at Massey Hall on their last visit to Toronto in 2007, where Arcade Fire would play next was a reasonable question – the idea of another multi-night stand would make wallets ache and still probably not meet demand, and yet any of the larger venues in the city – Sound Academy, Air Canada Centre, Molson Amphitheatre – seemed unlikely for a multitude of reasons. But having played the inaugural Olympic Island Concert in 2004 at the bottom of the bill as veritable unknowns, Arcade Fire will return six years later on August 14 as one of the biggest bands in the country. Tickets are $47 in advance, plus ferry, fees and $1 charitable donation to Partners In Health, and go on sale Friday at noon. The band remain cagey about releasing details of their third album, but a single could/should be out next Tuesday and the record will probably follow soon after, almost certainly before their touring schedule starts in Finland at the end of June.

Gates for the show are at 4PM, so while that’s a little too late to assume this will blossom into a mini-festival, there’s certainly enough time for a few decent supporting acts to be added. So while this Summer is looking awfully lean as far as fests in the GTA go – V is MIA/probably DOA, Rogers Picnic’s 2009 hiatus looks to now be permanent, Imagine is feeling more like a pipe dream and there hasn’t even been a peep about Edgefest for the kids – we’re doing alright for festival-setting shows. And if you like, you can think of the Arcade Fire and Broken/Pavement show as a single excellent multi-day festival – just one that’s two months apart and require separate admissions.

MP3: Arcade Fire – “Keep The Car Running”
MP3: Arcade Fire – “Black Mirror”
MP3: Arcade Fire – “No Cars Go”
MP3: Arcade Fire – “Wake Up”

Having sold out their May 28 show at the Horseshoe, Born Ruffians will entertain those who couldn’t get tickets or just need another another encore with a free in-store at Sonic Boom on Saturday, May 29, at 3PM. Their new record Say It is out next Tuesday.

MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”

Also confirmed for an in-store are Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit. Their debut The Big Black & The Blue is out now, and they’ll showcase it both at the Rivoli on the evening of June 12 and at Criminal Records that afternoon at 4PM. Exclaim has a feature on the band.

MP3: First Aid Kit – “Hard Believer”
MP3: First Aid Kit – “Sailor Song” (live)

The Old Crow Medicine Show will be at the Phoenix on July 13.

Video: Old Crow Medicine Show – “Wagon Wheel”

The Black Keys have added a second local date in support of the just-released Brothers; in addition to the sold-out August 3 show at the Kool Haus, they’ll also be there the following night, August 4. The Morning Benders will support both nights.

Video: The Black Keys – “Next Girl”

Though the new Belle & Sebastian record is nearly finished – their Twitter is abuzz with updates and hey, does anyone remember when this band was all mysterious and stuff? – Stuart Murdoch continues to find time to tend to his God Help The Girl project, releasing a new non-album single and video. “Baby You’re Blind” features vocals from Linnea Jonsson of Swedes Those Dancing Days; it’s available digitally and as a 7″, and has an accompanying video. And while I haven’t figured out exactly where they got it, the pull quote at BrooklynVegan certainly implies that there’ll be some B&S live dates in Canada this Summer/Fall. Hey, maybe we can get THEM to play the Islands as well!

Video: God Help The Girl – “Baby You’re Blind”

Yours Truly has posted a video session with Camera Obscura.

Amelia Fletcher, formerly of Heavenly and currently of Tender Trap, talks to Spinner about being name-checked on the new Hold Steady record. The new Tender Trap record Dansette Dansette is due out on June 22.

MP3: Tender Trap – “Girls With Guns”
Video: Tender Trap – “Girls With Guns”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Neil Halstead’s performance at the Truck America festival in New York state earlier this month.

Love Shack Baby catches a word with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, who also stopped in to play some songs for Tripwire, captured on video.

Johnny Marr tells BBC6 that work on The Cribs’ new record is coming along swimmingly.

Clash talks to The Futureheads about their new record The Chaos; it’s out next week and they’re at the Mod Club on June 10.

Platform chats with Frightened Rabbit.

Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen gives Spinner his thoughts on audience participation at their shows.

Billboard talks to Richard Thompson about his decision to record his new record Dream Attic, out August 31, entirely live in concert.

NME reports that the second album from Nick Cave side-project Grinderman will arrive on September 13 under the title of Grinderman 2. The first record was greasy, grimy and awesome – I expect no less from this one.

Interview interviews Jonsi.

Magnet has a Q&A with Bettie Serveert’s Carol van Dyk as a kick-off to her week as guest editor of their website.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Yaa I Get It

Shad at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI think I’m done qualifying any opinions I might voice on the subject of hip-hop. Which doesn’t happen often, no, but when it does, I’ve always felt the need to point out that I don’t have the experience with the genre to form what I’d consider a properly contextualized viewpoint and so end up with a quarter-assed collection of observations rather than my usual half-assed.

This insecurity manifested itself most acutely a couple years ago when I was on the grand jury for the 2008 Polaris Prize and was unsure about throwing my support behind Shad’s shortlisted sophomore album The Old Prince because, even though I knew I liked it, I wasn’t sure I could actually say it was a great – objectively-speaking – rap album because, well, I didn’t know what that meant, exactly. And I’d like to think that I wasn’t the swing vote in The Old Prince not winning that year.

I’m much more confident this time around about things Shad and Polaris, specifically his new record TSOL – out today – and where it stands relative to my ballot when it goes in in a couple weeks – because it’ll be on there. From the first listen, TSOL succeeded in capturing my attention thanks to Shadrach Kabango’s imaginative wordplay and ability to convey heart and humour without getting schmaltzy. It doesn’t hurt that it’s more direct and pop-rock influenced than The Old Prince, which had more jazzy inclinations, but that doesn’t make it less sophisticated than its predecessor – just louder and heavier at a few key points. And strong enough that I can get up and say that this is one of the best, or at least one of my favourite, Canadian records of the past twelve months. Of any genre.

Shad was marking the release of the new record last night with an in-store at Sonic Boom, and despite it being perfect long weekend weather for basking in the sun, a goodly number of folks headed for the Annex record store’s basement to see the London-bred, Vancouver-based rapper showcase some of his material. Though a non-functioning guitar kept him from demonstrating his instrumental skills, his mic was working just fine and backed by a DJ and bassist-keyboardist – and getting guest vocals on “We Are The Ones” from Relic – he powered through a selection of TSOL tracks, highlights including his soulful tribute to women in “Keep Shining” and the big rock declaration of “We, Myself & I” (can someone please tell me where that guitar riff is lifted from). Those, combined with a couple of must-haves from The Old Prince demonstrated why despite sometimes seeming easy-going and self-effacing to a fault, he’s a charismatic and energetic MC, more than capable of working a room and putting on a show equal to the material. As Polaris jurors, we’e not supposed to let the artist’s live show influence our decision-making process – it’s all about the records – but it never hurts to have decisions that have already been made be reinforced.

Shad plays the Opera House on June 12. He talks to Winnipeg Free Press and Metro, is the cover boy of this month’s Exclaim and gives Spinner a track-by-track breakdown of the new record.

Photos: Shad @ Sonic Boom – May 24, 2010
MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
MP3: Shad – “I Don’t Really Like To”
Video: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
Video: Shad – “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”
Video: Shad – “I Don’t Really Like To”
Video: Shad – “Brother (Watching)”
MySpace: Shad

Filter gets to know The Besnard Lakes. They’re at the Mod Club on June 17 as part of NXNE.

Inside Toronto talks to Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers about their love of forests in cities. Their new record Carriage is out June 29 and they play the LEAF celebrations at Wychwood Barns on June 11.

Deer Tick were just here in April but will be putting out a new record in The Black Dirt Sessions on June 8 and as such, will be returning for a date at the Horseshoe on August 10. New York Magazine talks to frontman John McCauley.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Twenty Miles”

New York’s Liars will be at Lee’s Palace on September 29 in support of this year’s Sisterworld. The Georgia Straight has an interview with Angus Andrew.

Video: Liars – “The Overachievers”
Video: Liars – “Scissor”

The San Francisco Chronicle talks to Matt Berninger of The National. They’re in town on June 8 and 9 at Massey Hall.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with The Dodos; they’ve got a date at the Sound Academy on June 15 opening up for The New Pornographers.

Spin talks to Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. They are at the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Josh Ritter talks to Spinner about his literary ambitions: his debut novel Bright’s Passage is due out next Summer.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Sleep On Fire

Holly Miranda and Braids at The El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve already document thoughts in this space about Holly Miranda on record – specifically her debut The Magician’s Private Library – and Holly Miranda live – specifically one of her day shows at SxSW – so I’m a bit short on lead-in thoughts to her show at the El Mocambo in Toronto this past Thursday; her second solo appearance but first headlining.

I do, however, have some thoughts on Montreal’s Braids, who were supporting her on a handful of dates and who have been getting some modest buzz; buzz which played a fairly large part in getting me off the fence about going to the show (on the side of going, if that wasn’t clear). And from the very limited samples they’ve posted on their MySpace – “Lemonade” and “Liver & Tan” – they certainly sound like they’d be worthy of note. Both are fine balancing acts between aural experimentation and pop smarts, where complex vocal and guitar arrangements still resolve into hooks and however far they meander, they don’t lose sight of the melody, and if these songs – which I believe bookended their set – were representative of everything in between, then I’d happily be adding my voice to the chorus of praise. Unfortunately, much of what else went on sounded like the above description but without the pop element – there was plenty of impressive musicianship and four-part vocal chorals, but little in the way of structure. It’s worth noting, however, that I am anything but a card-carrying member of the Dirty Bear Collective into which the Braids aesthetic seems to fall quite squarely, so it’s possible/probable that I just don’t like or get what they’re about. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that there was enough there that I found appealing that the rest of it felt like a disappointment.

There was no such disappointment from the headliner, though it helped that I had a good idea of what to expect. Miranda was touring as the same four-piece that had been in Austin in March, which meant that the leaner and punchier version of The Magician’s Private Library would be in effect. With a low-key but magnetic stage presence, Miranda appeared appreciative of the decent turnout on the eve of a long weekend but obviously preferred to let the music speak for her. Library did a good job of capturing the dreamier side of Miranda’s songs and vocals, but those familiar with her works beyond just the record know that she’s got a grittier, earthier aspect to her that’s just as potent if not more. This was particularly evident in her show-stopping cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and main set-closing new song that called for equal rights first with yearning vocals, and then a raging guitar break. If Library was intended to capture the feeling of being asleep and dreaming, then the new material seems very much wide awake – most certainly a good thing.

NOW and Faster Louder have interviews with Holly Miranda. Braids’ debut full-length will be entitled Native Speaker and is due out in the Fall. They’re currently on a Canadian tour that includes another Toronto date at The Piston on May 29 as part of this year’s Pitter Patter Music Fest.

Photos: Holly Miranda, Braids @ The El Mocambo – May 20, 2010
MP3: Holly Miranda – “Waves”
MP3: Holly Miranda – “Forest Green Oh Forest Green”
MP3: Braids – “Lemonade”
MySpace: Holly Miranda

Land Of Talk have announced their second full-length album will be entitled Cloak & Cipher and be released on August 24. talked to Liz Powell a little while ago about making the record with producer Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes.

Dose talks to Carl Newman of The New Pornographers, in town at the Sound Academy on June 15.

Blurt has kicked off a multi-part series remembering Jeff Buckley.

Daytrotter has got a session with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, who will release their new record Let It Sway on August 17. Grab the first MP3 in exchange fr your email at Polyvinyl.

NPR has an interview with The Hold Steady; they have a date at the Kool Haus on July 16.

NYC Taper is sharing a live recording of Phantogram at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan last week and has an interview with guitarist/vocalist Josh Carter.

Cincinatti’s WHY? will be at the Horseshoe on July 15, tickets $13.50. Their most recent release was last Fall’s Eskimo Snow

MP3: WHY? – “The Blackest Purse”

With their new record Barbara due out June 15, We Are Scientists will be hitting the road this Summer including a date at the Horseshoe on July 19, advance tickets $15. TwentyFourBit has an interview with the band, who are also blogging over at The Guardian.

Video: We Are Scientists – “Rules Don’t Stop”
Video: We Are Scientists – “Nice Guys”

Much to the delight of people who hate Dave Matthews – which is to say everyone – The Felice Brothers have scheduled their own Toronto show for July 27 at the Horseshoe, following their June 1 date supporting DMB at the Molson Amphitheatre. Tickets for the show are $15. Simone Felice is also appearing solo at NXNE, with a show at the Great Hall on June 18.

MP3: The Felice Brothers – “Run Chicken Run”
MP3: The Felice Brothers – “Frankie’s Gun”
MP3: The Felice Brothers – “Wonderful Life”

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

"All My Friends"

Franz Ferdinand and John Cale cover LCD Soundsystem (not together but kind of simultaneously)

Image via rateyourmusicrateyourmusicI’ve already ‘fessed up to my late-to-the-partyness with regards to LCD Soundsystem, so I’ll not go over that ground again, save to say that I’m making up for lost time and better now than after James Murphy’s threat to retire is made real.

That said, I have had some LCD in my music collection for a while even though I’m not really sure I knew it was them. The cover of “All Your Friends” by Franz Ferdinand, which was commissioned by Murphy and company for inclusion as a b-side on the official LCD 7″ single sounds like it could have been an unreleased Franz track, which its wordy, new wave dance vibe fitting them like a pair of skinny jeans. The John Cale version, which was released as the flip of a different 7″ single, I only found recently after learning of its existence and while it’s not quite the effortless translation of the Franz version, the way the former Velvet Underground-er seizes it without reservations anyways makes it an even greater reinterpretation.

LCD Soundsystem are at the Kool Haus this Tuesday night. Franz Ferdinand started working on the follow-up to 2009’s Tonight earlier this year. John Cale continues to be generally awesome.

MP3: Franz Ferdinand – “All My Friends”
MP3: John Cale – “All My Friends”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

CONTEST – The Avett Brothers @ The Phoenix – June 1, 2010

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceSo I’m sitting down to write up this little contest giving away passes to see bluegrass bros The Avett Brothers and I’m getting the oddest sense of deja vu… because I did the very same thing back in September, when they played the Horseshoe in support of their just-released album I And Love And You.

So if you’re looking for some thoughts on the record, go re-read that post – I don’t think I’ve got anything to add to what I jotted down last Fall – but if you’re looking to score some passes to see them live, then this is where you want to be. The Avetts are coming back to town on June 1, but instead of the cozy ‘Shoe, they’re playing the much larger Phoenix – a sign, perhaps, of the success their major label debut has garnered in the past eight months.

Tickets for the show are $25.50 in advance, but courtesy of Embrace I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be an Avett Brother” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me by midnight, May 27.

There’s features on the band at Associated Press and Sign On San Diego.

MP3: The Avett Brothers – “I And Love And You”
Video: The Avett Brothers – “I And Love And You”