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Archive for June, 2010

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Here Sometimes

Blonde Redhead commit themselves to Sparkle motion

Photo By Pier Nicola D'AmicoPier Nicola D’AmicoI’ve tried this past week, as I barrelled through all the NXNE coverage, to stay on top of the most time-sensitive or interesting announcements, but a lot a lot of stuff has just been filed away for a post that wasn’t tied to the festival… and that post is today’s. Or at least one of them. There’s a LOT of stuff that’s a-backed up.

And the best of it started on Monday, when word got around that there was a new Blonde Redhead song available to download from their website. No announcement of a new record, which would be their first since 2007’s delectable 23, just a song – “Here Sometimes” – to whet the appetite for more of the New York trio’s uniquely artful dreampop. The tease didn’t last too long, though, as details of the band’s eighth long-player were revealed on Wednesday: Penny Sparkle will be released this Fall, again on 4AD, and the first sample – as well as the presence of Fever Ray’s producers – hint at a more synth-driven effort than 23‘s shoegazing six-string salute, though Alan Moulder was once again behind the final mixes so you can be sure that the guitars won’t be lost and will be fuzzy.

All that is really certain is that a 2010 already chock full of amazing album releases looks set to add one more to the pile on September 14 when Penny Sparkle is released.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “Here Sometimes”

Another trio with an atmospheric bent that have kept their fans waiting for a new record are Los Angeles’ Autolux, who have remained silent since releasing their 2004 debut Future Perfect. That silence ends August 3 with the release of Transit Transit, and they’re now giving away a download of the first single, in lossless M4A format, in exchange for your email on their website. And while my affection for the band has never been as intense as some of my peers – they were always a bit too heavy for my tastes – I’m digging what I’m hearing. I may have to check them out when they play Lee’s Palace on August 24.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have released a new video for their latest single, just released on 7″.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Say No To Love”

BrooklynVegan talks to Dayve Hawk of Memory Tapes, who’s also got a new video out.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Bicycle”

Filter interviews Phantogram, who’ve got a date at Wrongbar on July 8.

NPR and Pitchfork have feature pieces on LCD Soundsystem.

Pitchfork checks in with Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes about how work on their new record False Priest, due out this Fall, is coming along. They have a date in Montreal scheduled for July 30 but nothing in Toronto yet – if it were happening, it’d have to be on the 28 or 29 because they’re in Vermont on the 31st.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles The Morning Benders, who are in town supporting The Black Keys at the Kool Haus on August 3 and 4. They also recently recorded a World Cafe session for NPR.

Wye Oak chats with Anika In London. They’re in Toronto on August 28 opening up for Lou Barlow.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss of Quasi.

Filter talks to Thao, whose tour with Mirah hits the Horseshoe this Saturday night.

The L has a big ass feature on Titus Andronicus – they’re coming to destroy the Horseshoe on July 14.

Cokemachineglow has words with The National bassist Scott Devendorf. The National are also profiled by CNN, alongside Spoon and The Hold Steady as artists who didn’t make it big until later in life.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review talks to Nicole Atkins, who announced this week that she’d signed with Razor & Tie for the release of her second album, now due out in early 2011 and still possibly entitled Mondo Amore. NYC Taper captured some of the new material in acoustic form when Atkins played a backyard session last weekend.

PopMatters interviews Tift Merritt.

The Phoenix and Spinner profile Joe Pernice of Pernice Brothers through the Pernice To Me book of collected tweets from Pernice manager Joyce Linehan that accompanied pre-orders of their latest record Goodbye, Killer.

Each Note Secure, The San Jose Mercury News and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile Blitzen Trapper, in town at the Opera House on August 3.

Aquarium Drunkard has assembled a terrific tribute record to Television’s vastly underappreciated second album Adventure. It features contributions from a host of Los Angeles talents, including Local Natives, The Henry Clay People, The Happy Hollows and more. It’s available for free but donations to the Silverlake Conservatory Of Music are encouraged – so that SoCal can keep putting out great bands and they can keep appearing on great comps like this. It’s like the water cycle, people.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

NXNE Day Four

De La Soul, Kid Sister, The Phenomenal Handclap Band and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo when this run of NXNE reports began earlier this week, I dismissed last Wednesday’s claim of being “day one” of the festival for its general lack of options in programming. So what made Sunday, the final day of the fest and also with only a smattering of options on offer, worthy of being called “day four”? Well, the fact that I went. I never promised anyone consistency.

It was a one-stop evening, though, with only the Yonge-Dundas mainstage on the agenda. After the rock-heavy, anarchy-inducing antics of the previous night’s Stooges show, the focus for the last day turned to more urban sounds and a hip-hop heavy lineup. It had run throughout the day but I only got there in time to see Big Freedia, who was visiting from New Orleans preaching the gospel of something called “New Orleans Sissy Bounce”, which as far as I could tell mainly consisted of soundtracking the impressive ass-shaking of Freedia’s two backup dancers. This was not the sort of N’awlins culture I saw on Treme. Apparently the scheduling of so… graphic an act in the late afternoon offended at least a few people and yeah – it was probably horribly inappropriate, but maybe that’s why it was so great. Well, great for the first little bit. Then it got old and I went for dinner.

Photos: Big Freedia @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 20, 2010
MP3: Big Freedia – “Gin In My System”
MySpace: Big Freedia

Foodstuffs were obtained in time to make it back for New York’s Phenomenal Handclap Band. I’d seen them at SxSW 2009 and mainly recall them practically falling off the tiny Peckerheads stage whilst trying get a disco vibe going on, only somewhat successfully. Since then, however, they’ve released their self-titled debut and graduated to bigger stages such as this one while honing their sound even further. From their opening instrumental jam, it was clear they were bringing the deep groove and dancing was not going to be negotiable. The disco influence was still omni-present, but the presence of funk, soul and classic rock moves kept them from being so easily categorized. With super-tight harmonies and musicianship, the Phenomenal Handclap Band brought the funk it was nigh impossible not to enjoy it, unless you hated the funk. And if that was the case, what the hell were you doing there?

Photos: The Phenomenal Handclap Band @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 20, 2010
MP3: The Phenomenal Handclap Band – “15 to 20”
MP3: The Phenomenal Handclap Band – “You’ll Disappear”
Video: The Phenomenal Handclap Band – “Baby”
Video: The Phenomenal Handclap Band – “15 to 20”

We had boked Kanye protege Kid Sister for our Eastbound & Found show at SxSW this year, and while I didn’t catch her set properly, I did see some of it from afar and it was, to put it mildly, a party. A terrific rapper and, as she ably demonstrated a few times, a good singer as well, she came out with loads of energy and never let it flag, delivering one jam after another just keeping the party going strong. She would play again later that night at the festival wrap party at Wrongbar and made a pretty compelling argument for folks to head over there after the show to see her do her thing again.

Photos: Kid Sister @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 20, 2010
Video: Kid Sister – “Daydreaming”
Video: Kid Sister – “Right Hand Hi”
Video: Kid Sister – “Pro Nails”
MySpace: Kid Sister

But there would be no leaving before the night’s headliners. Legendary Long Island hip-hop trio De La Soul have been at it so long that even I remember hearing them way back in high school, and folks? That was a while ago. And appropriately, they were the very definition of “old school” – with just three mics, some turntables and a load of classic songs like “Me Myself & I” and “Saturday” (okay, those were the two that I knew best), shout-outs and banter, they were a reminder of an era of hip hop that was all about dropping rhymes and having a good time. Almost as much time was spent egging on the crowd with remarks like, “where’s the hip hop?” and “where’s the party?” and jokes about their age and the amount they were cursing. Some might complain about the amount of time spent talking, but it was evident that the reparte was as integral a part of their show as the rapping. They weren’t just there as performers, but as the masters of ceremony for the closing party for what had turned out to be a terrific festival and the best NXNE that I can recall. Congratulations to everyone involved, and see you next year. Exclaim and Spinner also have reviews of the show.

Photos: De La Soul @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 20, 2010
Video: De La Soul – “Baby Phat”
Video: De La Soul – “Oooh!”
Video: De La Soul – “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)”
Video: De La Soul – “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’”
Video: De La Soul – “Me Myself & I”
Video: De La Soul – “Buddy”
Video: De La Soul & Teenage Fanclub – “Fallin'”

Blurt interviews Teenage Fanclub about their new album Shadows. They’ve got two nights at the Horseshoe on September 22 and 23.

Frightened Rabbit have released a new video from The Winter Of Mixed Drinks and with a lot of open space around a just-announced late October date at Terminal 5 (!) in New York City, may be putting together some more North American touring plans.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Living in Colour”

Spinner chats with The Joy Formidable.

The National Post and Spinner have interviews with Kele, who just released his solo debut in The Boxer and will be at the Mod Club on July 27.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

NXNE 2010 Day Three

Iggy & The Stooges, Avi Buffalo, Wavves and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe demise – for this year, at least – of Toronto’s Virgin Festival had one positive side effect, in that the corporate title sponsor found themselves with some budget to spend on a music event and nowhere to throw it… and so they threw it at NXNE. This not only gave the festival the means to land a bona fide, big time headliner to build things around, but they were able to present said act for free on a big stage in the heart of the city. No question, Iggy & The Stooges was going to be an event.

But not the only event. The Yonge-Dundas mainstage had a full slate of acts leading up to the big show, including a number of acts who were significant draws unto themselves. My evening started with Florida’s Surfer Blood, who came into the fest as one of the bigger buzz bands and with a number of showcases on the schedule in addition to this one. And it’s a good thing they did, because if this were their only chance to impress, it’d have been a mighty flop. Presumably through no fault of their own, the young quintet’s equipment began self-destructing just a few songs into their set, causing extended delays on stage, clearly frustrating the band, boring the audience and killing any momentum they’d have hoped to build. They finally did manage to get it together to close their set out strongly, but this performance would almost certainly have to go in the better-forgotten pile. And even without the technical difficulties, I wasn’t especially impressed with what I heard. Decent guitar pop, but not really anything worth getting so excited over. Go figure. Clash and Spinner have features on the band.

Photos: Surfer Blood @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 19, 2010
MP3: Surfer Blood – “Swim”
Video: Surfer Blood – “Swim”
MySpace: Surfer Blood

Though San Diego’s Wavves made headlines a year ago for an on-stage meltdown by frontman Nathan Williams, he was the model of composure this time out. Previewing material from his forthcoming sophomore album King Of The Beach, out August 3, Williams was chatty and good humoured on stage, if a bit odd and manifesting a Paulie Shore fixation. But no meltdowns and without the benefit of a home studio with which to layer on the lo-fi fuzz onto their songs, the sounded much more melodic and comprehensible than on records. Still fast and loud, but tuneful. A pleasant surprise. Yours Truly and PitchforkTV have video sessions with Wavves.

Photos: Wavves @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 19, 2010
MP3: Wavves – “So Bored”
MP3: Wavves – “No Hope Kids”
MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
MySpace: Wavves

An outdoor stage in the daylight isn’t the first place you’d expect to find Denmark’s Raveonettes, but as much as you’d think their bubble-gaze aesthetic best suited for dark clubs, it proved to work surprisingly well out in the open air. Assisted by copious amounts of reverb, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo – accompanied by a full rhythm section – filled the square with the loud yet airy sounds of their latest album In And Out Of Control. As ever, they weren’t the most animated performers on stage, but their distinct look and sound – and hooks aplenty – would be enough to keep all eyes on them. They’re currently preparing a b-sides compilation and will have a new album ready in the new year.

Photos: The Raveonettes @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 19, 2010
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Last Dance”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Suicide”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “The Chosen One”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Dead Sound”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Aly, Walk With Me”
MP3: The Raveonettes – “Attack Of The Ghost Riders”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Heart Of Stone”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Last Dance”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Dead Sound”
Video: The Raveonettes – “You Want The Candy”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Aly, Walk With Me”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Attack Of The Ghost Riders”
Video: The Raveonettes – “That Great Love Sound”
MySpace: The Raveonettes

As the evening progressed, it was interesting to see the composition of the audience change. Earlier on, it was the kids more interested in the hot new acts than the veterans and keener fans, diligently arriving early to score a spot up front to get the best view of the rock legends. But as the hour of the show drew closer, a more… shall we say “punk correct” element began to make up a larger percentage of the audience and by show time, the Square and adjoining streets – they wisely closed off Yonge St between Queen and Dundas for the event – were jammed and teeming with representatives from every imaginable cross-section of society, including the crustier ones.

None of which was of immediate concern to me, as I had arguably the best seat in the house for at least the first couple songs of the set, right up front in the photo pit. And there was no doubt as to when the show began, as James Newell Osterberg, Jr – Iggy Pop to his friends – bounded out on stage and clad only in a pair of jeans and in both great and grotesque shape for his 63 years, wasted no time in letting everyone know that The Stooges’ advance billing as one of the greatest rock bands ever was far from just hyperbole. And seriously, he was amazing to watch as he danced, posed, raced around the stage and climbed into the audience while singing the never more appropriate “Raw Power”, delivered with righteous fury by a Stooges lineup composed of Scott Asheton on drums, James Williamson on guitar, Steve Mackay on saxophone and Mike Watt on bass – not period correct, but seriously heavyweight nonetheless. It was truly something to behold, if for only six or seven minutes until we had to vacate the pit. At that point, it became less a concert than a soundtrack for fascinating people watching since there was no way to see the stage for the sea of humanity spilling over the edges of the Square. I heard there was a stage invasion during “Search & Destroy” but couldn’t tell you for sure. What I can tell you is that I saw the people who had waited at the front all day getting pulled out and over the barricade by security because there was no other way out, I saw people drunk and stoned out of their minds freaking out, either from Iggy or whatever they were on, I’m not sure, I saw a kid punch a cop (that didn’t end well), all to the sound of The Stooges sounding pulverizing and vital. The vibe was suitably dark and on the edge of violent, with Iggy right on the edge of inciting more chaos, but as far as I know no one was hurt, and so it can go down in the books as a pretty remarkable milestone in NXNE and Toronto concert history. I do challenge the assertion that it was the biggest free concert in the city ever – the free R.E.M. show in 2001 was pretty freaking massive and stretched all the way down Yonge St… but I digress. Iggy. Stooges. Epic. Spinner also has a review of their show.

Photos: Iggy & The Stooges @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 19, 2010
MySpace: Iggy & The Stooges

Clearly, this would have been a logical time to call it a night – there was no way to be topping Iggy – but fact is it wasn’t even 11PM and there was still plenty to see, so after a breather at home, it was back out to see Avi Buffalo at Lee’s Palace. The California quartet led by Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg just released their self-titled debut, and it featured the right balance of unusual and accessible, thanks largely to Zahner-Isenberg’s warbly indie-pop vocals and songwriting and searing jazzy-prog guitar chops, reminiscent of Nels Cline. Their live show wasn’t far off from their recorded work, with Zahner-Isenberg indulging in more than a little guitar face during instrumental excursions, and punctuated with some odd banter, though that may have just been a consequence of the band being excited to be somewhere they were of legal to drink.

Photos: Avi Buffalo @ Lee’s Palace – June 19, 2010
MP3: Avi Buffalo – “Remember Last Time”
MP3: Avi Buffalo – “What’s In It For?”

The last stop of the night was the El Mocambo, where London’s The Gin Riots would fulfill my British rock quota for the festival. I’d likened their sound to that of The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, but watching them perform I was reminded more of The Rumble Strips, albeit more country inflected and less idiosyncratic. They were entertaining and engaging performers with a brace of energetic and songs, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that everything they do has been done before and done better. But considering how solid and fully realized they are without even having released an album yet, there’s still plenty of time for them to find their own niche.

Photos: The Gin Riots @ The El Mocambo – June 19, 2010
MP3: The Gin Riots – “The Polka”
MP3: The Gin Riots – “In The Bedroom”
Video: The Gin Riots – “The Polka”

Black Cab Sessions takes Band Of Horses for a ride while Spinner staged a surprise show for the band in New York’s Grand Central Station and turned it into an Interface session.

aux.tv talks to Pavement drummer Bob Nostanovich.

The Globe & Mail and Chart interview Broken Social Scene while MTV finds out about their contributions to the Scott Pilgrim movie soundtrack.

U2’s ($150,000,000) loss is Interpol fans’ gain – with the cancellation of the U2 Summer tour and Interpol’s opening slots on it, they’ve assembled their own Summer tour which includes a date at the Kool Haus on August 10. Tickets are $30 and go on sale Thursday – it’s been a while since they’ve been here, but that’s surely an undersized venue for the band so expect it to sell out fast. Their fourth, self-titled album is out September 7 and the new video is available to watch over at Stereogum.

Video: Interpol – “Lights”

Here just a couple weeks ago, Jamie Lidell will be back on September 14 for a show at the Opera House.

Video: Jamie Lidell – “The Ring”

The Walkmen will release their new record Lisbon on September 14 and be at the Opera House on October 9 to support.

MP3: The Walkmen – “Louisiana”

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

NXNE 2010 Day Two

The Happy Hollows, Inlets, Gramercy Riffs and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Friday night programme of NXNE didn’t have, at least for me, any must-see anchor act around which to plan my evening so, instead, I assembled an itinerary of acts I was curious about, had recommended or were just conveniently slotted. A smorgasbord of showcases, if you will, which could either turn out great or… not so great.

Things kicked off at Bread & Circus in Kensington, partly because of its proximity to Big Fat Burrito and partly because Christopher Smith was playing at 8PM. The Beckon Call was both the name of the Vancouverite’s band and his debut album, and though just a four-piece when their show began, there were still more of them in the room than audience. And while obviously no one wants to play to no one, the emptiness was quite suited to the spectral qualities of Smith’s delicate voice and slow motion folk-pop songs. And by their set’s end, there were many times more people in the room than on stage. Well, three times. Or so.

Photos: Christopher Smith & The Beckon Call @ Bread & Circus – June 18, 2010
MP3: Christopher Smith – “Gently, Gently”
MP3: Christopher Smith – “Piece By Piece”
Video: Christopher Smith – “Gently, Gently”
MySpace: Christopher Smith

It should have been a quick shot down College to get to the Whippersnapper Gallery, but that plan was foiled by the massive Taste Of Italy street fair which slowed things down considerably, but I still got to the space in time for Inlets. The project led by Sebastian Krueger wasn’t a far stretch from what I had just seen Smith do, but his compositions from Inter Arbiter had a more jazzy or baroque feel to it, and with more blood and sinew. Though nominally a three-piece live, they were a bassist and performed quite effectively as a two piece, putting the focus squarely on Krueger’s unconventional melodies and Intricatley shifty guitarwork. Music suited for sitting quietly on the floor of an art gallery to.

Photos: Inlets @ The Whippersnapper Gallery – June 18, 2010
MP3: Inlets – “Bright Orange Air”
MP3: Inlets – “Spotsylvania”
MP3: Inlets – “In Which I, Robert”
Video: Inlets – “Bright Orange Air”

Six-string prowess was also on display at Lee’s Palace the next hour, courtesy of The Happy Hollows’ Sarah Negahdari. The frontwoman of the trio was like 2/3 of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in one, combining the on-stage energy and charisma of Karen O (and similar looks) with some insane guitar chops, a la Nick Zinner, albeit more shreddy than sound effect-y. Carrying the copious guitar solos which had Negahdari skipping and whipping around stage were punchy tunes from their debut Spells, equal parts glam, punk and prog. A wicked wake-up call for what had heretofore been a pretty sleepy night.

Photos: The Happy Hollows @ Lee’s Palace – June 18, 2010
MP3: The Happy Hollows – “Faces”
Video: The Happy Hollows – “Meteors”
Video: The Happy Hollows – “Big Bad Wolf”
Video: The Happy Hollows – “Vietnam”
Video: The Happy Hollows – “Death To Vivek Kemp”
Video: The Happy Hollows – “My Wet Tongue”
MySpace: The Happy Hollows

A trip down a Bathurst St jammed with traffic – road closures would be the recurring theme of the weekend – to Czehoski would bring the tempo back down, thanks to Denmark’s Katerine Ottoson, aka CALLmeKAT. The one-woman act offered a set of moody, slinky electro-lounge that thanks to an array of keyboards and her elastic voice, was able to engage but over the course of a set, the limits of her aesthetic became clear. The good songs were great but in the long run she needed more to offer the ears.

Photos: CALLmeKAT @ Czehoski – June 18, 2010
MP3: CALLmeKAT – “Flower In The Night”
Video: CALLmeKAT – “My Sea”

From there I doubled back to Kensington and Chinatown and the El Mocambo, where Haligonian Rich Aucoin was gearing up to show why people got so excited about his live shows. And even before they played a note, it was pretty clear what we could expect – the balloons, tambourines, beach balls and other party favours strewn about the stage telegraphed Aucoin’s dollar store Flaming Lips ambitions, and indeed his set was all about the party. With his bottomless bag of audience-engaging tricks, from songs comprised of call-and-response slogans and parachute play (like in grade school gym class), fun was pretty much guaranteed but taking a step back, it was hard to ignore that the songs didn’t really have much substance and were more soundtracks for the antics than standalone statements. Which is fine, but also kind of unfortunate. If he could couple the shenanigans with good and proper songs, then he’d really be onto something.

Photos: Rich Aucoin @ The El Mocambo – June 18, 2010
MP3: Rich Aucoin – “10,342 Cuts For The US”

And then it was back to where the night began – Bread & Circus – though by this time of night it was quite full of NXNE-ers. The draw were Gramercy Riffs, in all the way from Newfoundland. Though their debut It’s Heartbreak didn’t make the Polaris Prize long list, it did garner enough positive chatter amongst jurors to warrant a look- and listen-see. And yeah, the pop-rock from the band ably fronted by Lee Hanlon and Mara Pellerin is eminently likeable and catchy, even when it’s delivered in as much of a state of inebriation as the band seemed to be. Straight ahead and built on big melodies and choruses with just enough frills and flourishes to catch the ear, Gramercy Riffs are still relatively unknown outside of The Rock but seem well on their way to rectifying that. Spinner also caught the show and talked to the band afterwards.

Photos: Gramercy Riffs @ Bread & Circus – June 18, 2010
MP3: Gramercy Riffs – “Call Me”
MySpace: Gramercy Riffs

For one week, PitchforkTV is streaming the Rian Johnson-helmed concert video for The Mountain Goats’ last record The Life Of The World To Come.

Video: The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come

JAM and The Toronto Star talk to Sarah Harmer about plugging back in on her new record Oh Little Fire, out now. It’s streaming over at Spinner this week and she plays a sold-out record release show at the Palais Royale tonight.

Stream: Sarah Harmer / Oh Little Fire

Hercules & Love Affair will play a live set at the Mod Club on July 26.

Video: Hercules & Love Affair – “You Belong”

Obviously waiting until their NXNE set was done to announce, Warpaint are coming back on August 11 for a show at Wrongbar supported by Javelin and Beach Fossils. Their debut album will be out on or around September 28. Update: Warpaint will also be opening up for The xx at Massey Hall on September 29. HMM.

MP3: Warpaint – “Billie Holiday”
MP3: Javelin – “Oh! Centra”
MP3: Beach Fossils – “Youth”

Pop rules as Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Telekinesis team up for a Fall tour – SSLYBY in support of the forthcoming Let It Sway and Telekinesis for last year’s self-titled debut. The Toronto date is September 4 at the El Mocambo.

MP3: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Sink/Let It Sway”
MP3: Telekinesis – “Coast Of Carolina”

And it will get a little bit astrological when Stars and Young Galaxy play Massey Hall on October 23 as part of Stars’ Fall tour in support of the just-released The Five Ghosts. The Vancouver Sun, Spinner and Edmonton Journal have features on the band.

MP3: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Long Live The Fallen World”

Pitchfork has details on the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, opening August 13.

Monday, June 21st, 2010

NXNE 2010 Day One

Warpaint, Free Energy, Anaïs Mitchell and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNitpickers may choose to point out that this year’s edition of NXNE began on Wednesday with a handful of official shows, and even though I didn’t hit the streets until the following night, calling this post “NXNE Day 1” is factually incorrect. To those people, I say: silence, monkeys. Thursday was the first night of the festival with a full and proper schedule of events and, anticipating what would be my most intensive NXNE yet, not leaving the house until absolutely necessary seemed like a good idea.

But Thursday night eventually came as Thursday nights are wont to do and it was off to the first stop of the weekend, ye olde Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, where locals Dinosaur Bones were kicking off the evening’s programming. I’d seen them in Summer 2008 and while they were pretty raw then, I heard a lot of potential in their moody and atmospheric alt-rock sound. Fast forward a couple years and a goodly amount of local hype, and rather disappointingly that potential doesn’t seem to have been fulfilled. Their musicianship and on-stage presence is still commendable, but the songs just didn’t have the hooks or melodies to stand out. None of which is to say they couldn’t still come out and impress – they’ve still yet to release an album – but I didn’t come away with the same sense of anticipation that I did last time. Dinosaur Bones open for Plants & Animals at the Opera House on June 24.

Photos: Dinosaur Bones @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Dinosaur Bones – “NYE”
MP3: Dinosaur Bones – “Life In Trees”
Video: Dinosaur Bones – “Ice Hotels”

Philadelphia’s Free Energy didn’t have any trouble bringing the hooks – their debut Stuck On Nothing is all about the vintage-hued power pop, and the energy of the record translates perfectly on stage. Led by lanky frontman Paul Spangers, the quintet wore their classic rock affections on their sleeves (which were attached to Neal Adams-art Batman and Styx tour t-shirts) with a set that was full of big riffs and solos and wholly dedicated to having a good time. They’re like the Hold Steady if they were more interested in actually partying instead of just documenting the party. All that said, I didn’t find it quite as exhilarating as when I saw them the last day of SxSW but they clearly won over the rapidly growing crowd.

Photos: Free Energy @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”
Video: Free Energy – “Bang Pop”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MySpace: Free Energy

The ‘Shoe was pretty much jammed by the time Los Angeles’ Warpaint took the stage, proving that I wasn’t the only one fully excited to see them perform. While the one show of theirs I caught at SxSW was intriguing but inconclusive, I’ve no such ambiguity about their Exquisite Corpse EP. It’s a hypnotic blend of dreampop textures and grooves that comes with just the right amount of unsettling, and on this night – perhaps helpfully far from the bright Austin afternoon sun – Warpaint delivered a set that captured all of the magic of the record and then some. Vocalists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman led things with their mesmerizing vocals and intertwined, dreamwalking guitars lines, but it was really the thundering rhythm section – Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass and Stella Mozgawa on drums – who propelled things ahead. Interestingly, their original drummer was actress Shannyn Sossamon (who is also Lindberg’s sister – double trivia!) and while her work on Exquisite Corpse was terrific, the sheer power of Mozgawa’s style brings so much more to the table. It’s as though the record floats on the surface of their sound, and the live show dives in deep. The result is intoxicating. After their set, anticipation for their full-length debut, due out this Fall, increased exponentially. Update: Warpaint will be back in town on August 11 at Wrongbar. Update 2: They will also be opening up for The xx at Massey Hall on September 29.

Photos: Warpaint @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”
Video: Warpaint – “Stars”
Video: Warpaint – “Elephants”
MySpace: Warpaint

That marked the end of my tenure at the ‘Shoe, and then it was up to The Boat in Kensington for Sleepy Vikings. The six-piece arrived with practically no hype (except here) and played to maybe a dozen people but still made quite an impression. And not for their live show – it was sleepy to say the least, but they get a bye on account of having driven 26 hours straight from Tampa for the show – but for the strength of their songcraft and musicianship which even brink-of-death exhaustion couldn’t hide. They’re a big band but with a focused sound and sharp pop instincts that warrant dream, jangle and power descriptors and elicit comparisons to a moodier Velocity Girl (which explains my affection right there). They also gave away copies of their Ghost EP demo, which only contains three songs but more than confirms that these kids are on to something real and great.

Photos: Sleepy Vikings @ The Boat – June 17, 2010
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Calm”
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Flashlight Tag”

It was obviously too much to hope that Anaïs Mitchell might bring along either Justin Vernon or Ani DiFranco along to support her live they way they did on her last studio record Hadestown, the post-apocalyptic folk opera retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, but even solo Mitchell proved to be a more than captivating performer. Her set in the back room of Czehoski on Queen West only included a handful of songs from Hadestown but even without knowing the material, her delivery and charisma – not to mention the evocativeness of her songwriting – made it a wholly enjoyable performance. And a good way close out the night.

Photos: Anaïs Mitchell @ Czehoski – June 17, 2010
MP3: Anaïs Mitchell – “Flowers (Eurydice’s Song)”
MP3: Anaïs Mitchell – “Wait For Me”
MySpace: Anaïs Mitchell

Ed O’Brien tells BBC6 that the new Radiohead album is almost done. That there is the sound of the internet getting ready to break.

Shockhound and The Chronicle-Herald interview The xx. They’re at Massey Hall on September 29. Yeah, that’s still so weird to type.

Clash and Spinner interview Kele. The Boxer is out tomorrow and he’s at the Mod Club on July 29.

Spin profiles The Joy Formidable.

The itinerary for Teenage Fanclub’s Fall tour in support of Shadows has been made public and while the dream double-bill of them at Belle & Sebastian isn’t happening, Toronto still has plenty of reason to be excited – the tour kicks off here on September 22 and 23 with two dates at the Horseshoe! Spinner talks to Raymond McGinley about the band’s songwriting process.

MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”

The Clientele have announced that they’ll be releasing a new mini-album entitled Minotaur on September 6. One of the new tracks is streaming on their MySpace.

Let’s Wrestle have a new video for a tune which doesn’t appear on their debut In The Court Of The Wrestling Let’s, but a Record Store Day split 7″ with The Love Language.

Video: Let’s Wrestle – “I’m So Lazy”

Le Blogotheque Take-Away Shows with Mumford & Sons.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Frightened Rabbit.

NME checks in with Glasvegas on the status of album number two.

Drowned In Sound sends Emmy The Great to meet David Cross, who has just released a new comedy album in Black & Blackerer.

MP3: David Cross – “I Can’t Get Beer In Me”