Archive for September, 2010

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

CONTEST – Woodpigeon / Balladeer: To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before

Photo via BandcampBandcampEgads, a contest that I can’t apply my (recently) new express who/what/where/why/etc concert contest format to. Was bound to happen, I suppose, and at least my laziness mechanisms are being compromised for a worthwhile giveaway of interest to more than just people in the 416.

It is, however, still limited to those interested to analog fetishists with a soft spot for pretty Canadian folk-pop – the sort that Mark Andrew Hamilton has been releasing as Woodpigeon over the last few years, and prolifically so. The Woodpigeon discography is like a set of Russian nested dolls, each album coming with a bonus album that is strong enough to stand on its own and is eventually released as its own entity… perhaps again with a bonus record. And so forth.

So it was that the CD editions of this year’s Die Stadt Muzikanten came with a second complete album entitled Balladeer – To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before. And since those songs, built from sessions with acclaimed producers Steve Albini, Howard Bilerman and Husky Hoskulds, were too good to restrict to just those handful of people who still bought CDs, it has now been released on 180-gram vinyl for the kids and as digital downloads… also for the kids.

And courtesy of Boompa, I’ve got two copies of the Balladeer vinyl available to give away to any resident of North America. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want the Woodpigeon LP” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 5.

Woodpigeon is currently on tour in Europe but will be making a stop in Toronto on October 6 to play a free noon-hour show at Yonge-Dundas Square before returning to Calgary to record another album or six.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “I Am Your Balladeer”

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

CONTEST – Phoenix @ The Ricoh Coliseum – October 22, 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Phoenix
What: Arguably the biggest French rock band on the planet right now and in years, scoring copious critical praise and record sales with their nonsensical but hugely catchy dance-pop
Why: Though this is their third show in Toronto for this record, when you score with album as massively as Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has, you milk it. MILK IT.
When: Friday, October 22, 2010
Where: The Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto
Who else: They’re making the show a true international affair, bringing along Americans Wavves and inviting locals Tokyo Police Club to open things up.
How: Tickets range from $39.50 to $45.00 in advance – plus fees – but courtesy of LiveNation, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want the Phoenix” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 14.
What else: Phoenix have posted up the multitrack audio stems of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix for fans to download and remix to their heart’s content. Haven’t you always wanted to remix a Frenchman? Sure you have!

MP3: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

CONTEST – Matt Pond PA @ The Mod Club – October 1, 2010

Photo By Munekazu ShimizuMunekazu ShimizuWho: Matt Pond PA
What: Philadelphia-born, Brookyln-based, Pennsylvania-saluting, orchestral-popping, always poignant indie rocker. And his band.
Why: Though their eighth album The Dark Leaves was released back in April, their touring itinerary is only bringing them up to Toronto now.
When: Friday, October 1, 2010
Where: The Mod Club in Toronto (early show)
Who else: Openers right now yet to be announced. But it’ll be someone. And they’ll be on first.
How: Tickets are $12 in advance but courtesy of Canvas Media, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Matt Pond PA” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight , September 29.

MP3: Matt Pond PA – “Starting”
Video: Matt Pond PA – “Remains”

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Today Never Ends

Teenage Fanclub and Rick Of The Skins at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs a genre/style/pigeonhole, power-pop is not one that traditionally gets a lot of respect. Though its primary qualities of melody and harmony are essential facets of pretty much every style of music that can be hyphenated with “pop”, in its undiluted, guitar-driven form it can be far too easy to do middlingly and incredibly difficult to do well. And so even when you’re a band that does it masterfully, as Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub have for over twenty years, you still might not have more to show for it than confirmed cult status, an unwaveringly loyal fanbase and gigs booked into incredibly intimate venues. Come to think of it, that’s not so bad at all.

The Toronto chapter of that fanbase was out in force on Wednesday night for the first of two shows at the Horseshoe kicking off the band’s first North American tour in five years, in support of their ninth album Shadows. Like its predecessors in their discography, it doesn’t mess with the Fanclub formula, instead further refining it such that while they sound dramatically different from the quartet that burst into the scene with Bandwagonesque, they’re still very much the same band; just older, wiser and more inclined to use a single, clean guitar line whereas once they’d have let rip with a solo. Some might complain that their songs have gotten slower and quieter with each subsequent release – and this is true – but when a band’s strengths were always a tunefulness and almost supernatural ability to craft a pop song rather than rock out and those strengths are still very much intact, well there’s really no grounds to complain at all.

Support for the first evening was Rick Of The Skins, an act I’d never heard of, and I expected my research to reveal them as some group of young upstarts who scored a plum opening slot. And indeed, I did find some positive reviews of their debut album Here Comes The Weekend – they just happened to be a decade old. The band’s story is unclear to me, but I gathered that they started out on the east coast, a fact borne out by their direct and occasionally primitive psychedelic pop sounds, and don’t really play regularly, evidenced by one of them commenting that this was “their fourth reunion”. Over a short set where all of them changed instruments almost every song and any rustiness – and there was their share – was made up for with enthusiasm.

Though they’d been touring throughout the Summer over in the UK, this was still the Fannies’ first gig of the tour and their first show in over a month and as such, a few hiccups were inevitable. These were limited to the occasional missed note or instrumental flub and corresponding grimace on either Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley or Gerard Love’s faces but rather than detract from the show, they gave it that extra bit of warmth. Not that the performance needed it – with a remarkably efficient 20 songs over 90 minutes, the Fanclub and their immaculate harmonies – up to five parts at times – were like a wonderful blanket of tunefulness that made any angst over having to wait a half-decade since their last visit evaporate. And while McGinley and Love were characteristically stoic through most of the set – though both cracked smiles at various points in the night – Blake did fine handling frontman duties on his own, cracking the requisite corny jokes and fielding requests and repartee from the audience.

The set leaned heavier than one might have expected on Shadows – bands at this point in their careers tend to make more concessions to the “greatest hits” type of show – but the new material made up over a third of the set and sound about as good as any of the more classic material. It’s been said but bears repeating – though they’re not as prolific as they once were, when Teenage Fanclub releases a record, it’s going to be a good one. As for the rest of the set, it was packed with glorious, sing-along pop gems from throughout their career, focusing on the late ’90s glory days of Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain with a few later works added in for good measure. “The Concept” may have been the only representative from Bandwagonesque but was done perfectly with McGinley showing he could stomp the fuzz pedal and rip a solo when the occasion called for it and both he and Blake would get the chance to show off their chops on “Everything Flows”, which closed out the show pretty much perfectly. Certainly there were several sets worth of material that didn’t get aired – not a single tune from Thirteen made the cut – but I’m sure they were saving some favourites for the second night (which would surely have a lot of repeat patrons) and the selections they did choose to play were pretty much beyond reproach. They may not release records or tour as often as their fans would like, but when they do, they do it right.

Panic Manual and Chart also have reviews of the show. talks to Norman Blake about his move from Scotland to Kitchener, Ontario.

Photos: Teenage Fanclub, Rick Of The Skins @ The Horseshoe – September 22, 2010
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “It’s All In My Mind”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Dumb Dumb Dumb”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “What You Do To Me”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “I Don’t Want Control Of You”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Ain’t That Enough”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Hang On”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “What You Do To Me”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “The Concept”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Star Sign”
MySpace: Teenage Fanclub

Spinner interviews The Vaselines about their first new record in forever, Sex With An X. They’re at the Horseshoe on October 30.

Drowned In Sound, The Liverpool Echo and State have feature pieces on Manic Street Preachers while NME finds out why Tim Roth graces the cover of their new record Postcards From A Young Man. It’s out next week.

British Sea Power’s Scott Wilkinson talks to Spinner about their new album, as yet untitled but due out in January 2011, and the Zeus EP which will precede it on October 4. The title track from said EP is available to download now.

MP3: British Sea Power – “Zeus”

Elbow’s Guy Garvey gives NME a status update on their new record, due out next year.

eye, NOW, Chart and The Montreal Mirror have interviews with Foals, who have released a new video from Total Life Forever and will be at Lee’s Palace on Monday night.

Video: Foals – “2 Trees”

The Los Angeles Times and NPR talks to The xx; they’re at Massey Hall on September 29.

There’s a second video out from Johnny Flynn’s second album Been Listening gets a domestic release on October 25. He plays Lee’s Palace solo on October 18, tickets are $12.50 in advance.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Barnacled Warship”

Paste declares Stornoway amongst their “best of what’s next” – they play the El Mocambo on November 30.

Tricky has scheduled a date at the Mod Club for December 12. His new record Mixed Race is due out October 5.

Video: Tricky – “Murder Weapon”

M.I.A. has a new video from /\/\/\Y/\ and it comes with its on URL and everything.

Video: M.I.A. – “Story To Be Told”

The High Wire have a new video from their gorgeous record The Sleep Tape.

Video: The High Wire – “Pump Your Little Heart”

New York Magazine talks to Kele about his impending move to New York City.

And the cause of Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes’ on-stage collapse last week and subsequent cancellation of the band’s North American tour has been revealed as a brain tumour. Pete Salisbury, ex of The Verve, will sub in for their Fall tour commitments while Brookes heals. Best wishes for a full recovery and return to good health.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010


Neil Young brings Le Noise

Photo By Adam CK VollickAdam CK VollickWhen it was announced that Neil Young was working with Daniel Lanois on a new record, you couldn’t help but pay attention. Not only did you have two Canadian musical icons working together for the first time, but Lanois was behind records that rejuvenated more than a few legendary careers, including those of Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. Whether Young’s career – 40 years old and defined by numerous artistic swerves – needed rejuvenation is another matter but the fruits of his collaboration with Lanois, entitled Le Noise and out next Tuesday, will certainly stand as an interesting addition to his catalog.

It’s a solo record in the purest sense, featuring Young and Young alone on acoustic and electric guitar and perhaps due to the stripped down aesthetic and recording in his own home, it finds him sounding particularly introspective and vulnerable. Lanois mainly makes his presence felt in the post-production, looping Young’s parts over themselves, adding delays and reverbs and generally adding his sonic signature. Initial listens might leave even long-time Young fans used to his twists and turns a bit disoriented – “Angry World” is the most bent track on the record and was, of course, the first released taste – but it doesn’t take long to find one’s footing and appreciate one of the more interesting and revealing works he’s turned out in recent years.

NPR is streaming Le Noise right now, and over the past week, there’s been a number of fittingly lo-fi videos released for some of the songs; I suspect we can expect more before they’re done. The Los Angeles Times has a photo gallery of Neil Young through the years.

Video: Neil Young – “Walk With Me”
Video: Neil Young – “Hitchhiker”
Video: Neil Young – “Angry World”
Stream: Neil Young / Le Noise

Look at What the Light Did Now is a documentary about the making of Feist’s last record The Reminder. It will premiere at Pop Montreal in a couple weeks and then make a circuit of festivals and special screenings; nothing in Toronto yet but you can’t believe that something’s not in the works to run it somewhere hereabouts eventually.

Trailer: Look At What The Light Did Now

NPR is streaming a session with Sarah Harmer; she plays Massey Hall on November 20.

For those still asking “who?” with regards to new Polaris champs Karkwa, has assembled a primer on the Montreal quintet.

After a few delays, Woodpigeon’s Balladeer: To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before, released earlier this year as a bonus CD with Die Stadt Muzikanten, should be available on its own in both digital and vinyl editions. Also new for Woodpigeon completists (a futile quest if ever there was one) is a digital EP for “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower” and accompanying video. Woodpigeon will play a free noon-hour show at Yonge-Dundas Square on October 6.

Video: Woodpigeon – “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower”

Also playing a free show a little sooner than that – as in tonight – are Sloan, Bedouin Soundclash and Great Lake Swimmers as part of a CBC-sponsored event. The live music gets underway around 7:30 PM and goes until 9. A few more details over at Exclaim.

Pitchfork reports that the two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney who are not Corin Tucker have teamed with Mary Timony, ex of Helium, to form a new band called Wild Flag. There’s no fruits of their labours to hear yet but they’ve already signed to Merge and are looking to have a record out in early 2011.

Los Angeles’ Glasser has a date at the Drake Underground on November 11 in support of her debut Ring, out next Tuesday.

MP3: Glasser – “Home”

Following a dust-up in Indianapolis, No Depression reports that Justin Townes Earle has suspended his Fall tour to enter rehab – this includes the October 15 date at the Horseshoe.

Spinner continues to milk an interview with Nick Cave of Grinderman (that link is a two-fer) while Pitchfork talks to Cave and drummer Jim Sclavunos. They play the Phoenix on November 11.

First Aid Kit has a new video from their debut The Big Black & The Blue. They are at The El Mocambo on October 15.

Video: First Aid Kit – “Ghost Town”

Clash talks cultural differences with Phoenix.