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Archive for January, 2011

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Lahaha

Review of Shugo Tokmaru’s Port Entropy

Photo via PolyvinylPolyvinylSo I’ve had to check myself a couple times from taking a, “Shugo Tokumaro‘s music is so weird and wonderful, it must be because he’s Japanese!” angle on this writeup. Because even though it’s not incorrect – Tokumaru IS Japanese and sings entirely in Japanese and many things that come out of Japan are weird and wonderful to Western sensibilities – it’s too reductive and doesn’t give Tokumaru enough credit for what he’s done with his music.

His latest album, Port Entropy is the second of his records I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in after 2008’s Exit and like its predecessor, it’s a whimsical whirlwind of instruments and orchestration, almost all played by Tokumaru, that lifts aloft his winsome and dreamlike melodies. For all the musical sophistication and cinematic scope of his recordings, the songs at their core have a childlike simplicity and pop appeal that transcends things like language or culture, and anyways “la la la” pretty much means the same thing universally.

Port Entropy was released in the Spring of 2010 in Japan and will be out in North America on February 15. Tokumaru toured over here behind Exit, assisted in the live setting by members of such acts as Beirut and The National, and word is that he’ll be crossing the Pacific again to support the new record.

MP3: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shogu Tokumaru – “Tracking Elevator”
Video: Shugo Tokumaru – “Rum Hee”

Spin talks to Bob Nastanovich about the future of the Pavement reunion, which apparently isn’t as over as though who saw them melt down at Matador 21 might have guessed – but even if they play more shows, don’t expect any new material.

PopMatters, Exclaim and The Star-Tribune talk to Mark Olson of The Jayhawks.

Spinner talks to Nicole Atkins about her Canadian connections while Vol. 1 Brooklyn asks her about her reading habits. Atkin’s second record Mondo Amore is out February 8 and she plays The Horseshoe on February 26.

State and Baltimore Magazine talk to Dean Wareham.

Black Book returns to Chicago’s Wicker Park with Liz Phair. Nashville Scene also has an interview.

The National Post, The Independent and Time talk to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, who are at The Sound Academy tomorrow night. NYC Taper is sharing a recording of their show in New York from last week.

Paste catches up with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

Le Blogotheque serves up an order of Take-Away Show with Spoon, up-sized to include downloadable MP3s of the performance.

The Georgia Straight talks to Daniel Kessler of Interpol, who have a date at The Sound Academy on February 15.

The Strokes make the press rounds in advance of the March 22 release of Angles, offering interviews to Spinner, Myspace and Spin.

Beggars USA reports that Alela Diane will release a new record entitled Alela Diane & Wild Divine on April 5th.

The New Zealand Herald and Pitchfork talk to Sufjan Stevens.

In support of the release of their new record Long Live on February 15, Snowblink will play an in-store at Soundscapes on March 3 followed by a record release show at The Music Gallery on March 5.

MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”

Plants & Animals will warm up for their March 5 show at Lee’s Palace with an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom that same afternoon at 4PM.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

The National has words with Dan Bejar of Destroyer. They are at Lee’s Palace on March 31.

NOW checks in with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

"Bachelor Kisses"

The Radio Dept. covers The Go-Betweens

Image via Friendly NoiseFriendly NoiseSweden’s Radio Dept. have a pretty singular sound when compared to the rest of the pop music landscape – making static and melancholy gleam and glisten as they do is easier said than done – but their musical genome is actaully pretty easy to map. That they use take texture from Jesus & Mary Chain and balance it with Belle & Sebastian’s soft, open heart is most obvious but the swooningly sophisticated pop sensibilities of, say, The Go-Betweens might be overlooked at first – or at least until you hear them covered.

The Radio Dept. covered The Go-Betweens’ “Bachelor Kisses” from their 1984 release Spring Hill Fair as a contribution to a 2007 issue of the Friendly Noise zine and it’s rather astonishing how they manage to make it sound exactly like something from their own canon while simultaneously paying tribute to the original by playing it as straight as they’re capable of doing. And from whichever angle you choose to look at it, It’s a gorgeous piece of work.

The Radio Dept. releases their singles/b-sides compilation Passive Aggressive last week – and “Bachelor Kisses” is included amongst the latter – and their first full and proper North American tour starts on Tuesday night, making its way to Lee’s Palace in Toronto on February 7. The Go-Betweens came to an end in May 2006 when Grant McLennan died of a heart attack. His songwriting partner Robert Forster has continued on as a solo artist, most recently releasing The Evangelist in 2008.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Bachelor Kisses”
Video: The Go-Betweens – “Bachelor Kisses”

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

CONTEST – The Moondoggies @ The Horseshoe – February 2, 2011

Photo By Christopher NelsonChristopher NelsonWho: The Moondoggies
What: More harmony-laden rootsiness from the Pacific northwest, but with more rock of the classic variety in their souls than their peers. And soul.
Why: Their second album Tidelands was released in the later part of 2010 and they’re now on the road to support it.
When: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Where: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto
Who else: Portland – or should that be Portlandia – outfit Quiet Life is accompanying them on this tour.
How: Tickets for the show are $10 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got six pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Moondoggies” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me before the end of January 2011.
What else: Express Night Out and SF Weekly have features on the band and their live shows are available to download at Archive.org.

MP3: The Moondoggies – “It’s A Shame, It’s a Pity”
MP3: The Moondoggies – “What Took So Long”
MP3: The Moondoggies – “Changing”
MP3: The Moondoggies – “Fly Mama Fly”
Video: The Moondoggies – “Empress Of The North”

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Getcha Good

Jenn Grant plans splendid Honeymoon

Photo via jenngrant.comjenngrant.comJust to be clear – Haligonian songstress Jenn Grant’s upcoming Toronto show would have been pretty much a must-see regardless. Her latest album Honeymoon Punch is just about the record I’ve been hoping she’d make since she arrived with her debut Orchestra For The Moon in 2007. It sheds some of the overly tasteful production choices that held it and 2009’s Echoes back and gets both breezy and scrappy, pushing the electric guitars up, and introducing synths and nimble rhythms to accompany Grant’s splendid voice and accentuate its playful qualities.

In short, it’s a treat and the opportunity to hear these songs live would have made for a great evening unto itself, but Grant’s gone off and stacked the bill meaning that if you’re anywhere but the Horseshoe Tavern from doors to last call on February 19, it can only be because you are crazy. Opening up the evening will be Calgary’s Rae Spoon, whose 2010 hybrid electro-folk effort Love Is A Hunter surprised and impressed and then you’ll have London’s Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, whose second full-length And Now We Sing may have been an 11th hour add to my year-end list but has more than proven that it belongs in the weeks since. Folks, this will be a superb show and there’s not much else to say besides that tickets are $15 in advance and you should get one.

The Chronicle Herald and Chart have interviews with Jenn Grant while Here chats with Rae Spoon.

MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
MP3: Rae Spoon – “Death By Elektro”
Video: Jenn Grant – “Getcha Good”

Earlier that day – 5:30PM to be exact – you can see another Canadian buzz band in Braids as they play an in-store at Sonic Boom in advance of their show at the El Mocambo later that evening in support of Baths. They do pretty much nothing for me but their just-released debut Native Speaker is garnering all kinds of praise so I’m betting people will be interested in seeing them for free (well, for the price of a canned good donation). There’s interviews with the band at Culture Bully and Midnight Poutine, and they just released a new video.

MP3: Braids – “Plath Heart”
Video: Braids – “Plath Heart”

It’s a combination of words that I just can’t reconcile – “The Lowest Of The Low” and “Massey Hall” – and yet those two very things will come together when the Low, whose 2007 dissolution clearly hasn’t taken, play the fanciest stage the city has to offer. Tickets are $29.50 and $49.50 plus fees. The Low. Massey Hall. Crazy-pants.

MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Subversives”

Basia Bulat performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

QRO talks to Greg Alsop of Tokyo Police Club. They play Edgefest 2011 at Downsview Park on July 9.

The Sadies have released a new video from Darker Circles, made with a little help from The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.

Video: The Sadies – “Another Day Again”

Also with a new video are Born Ruffians, who’ve just announced a cross-Canada tour that at present doesn’t include a Toronto date. But there’ll be one. They live here for goodness’ sake. They have to come back eventually.

Video: Born Ruffians – “The Ballad Of Moose Bruce”

Gentleman Reg checks in with NOW from the road and discusses how writing is going for his next album.

NPR, The AV Club, Exclaim, American Songwriter and The Vancouver Sun all have interviews with Dan Bejar of Destroyer about his new record Kaputt. He plays Lee’s Palace on March 31.

The Line Of Best Fit has got another “Oh! Canada” compilation of Can-con goodies available to download. That’s fourteen, if you’re counting.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Solitaire

Wilco go off on their own, Jeff Tweedy goes it alone

Photo via FacebookFacebookThere’s been no news to report on with regards to the new Wilco album proper besides that it will be out in 2011, but there still a few very noteworthy items to surface lately. Firstly, what with their deal with Nonesuch expiring with 2009’s Wilco (The Album), the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the band have done what pretty much everyone expected and started their own label to release their next album. The marque will be called dBpm Records and will be distributed by the folks at Anti Records, so the band will be in control of their own destiny yet remain in good hands.

More immediately and of interest to those in the general northeast/midwest of North America, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is striking out for a handful of solo shows starting on March 22 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto. This will be the first time Tweedy has come here alone since an appearance at Trinity-St. Paul’s in 2001, a show I missed in favour of seeing the Toronto debuts of Doves and some flash-in-the-pans called The Strokes at The Opera House; a decision I simultaneously regret enormously and not at all. And whether I’ll be able to see this one is up in the air as I might still be in Austin post-SxSW on work when it goes down. Alas. Ticket info on the show is still forthcoming, stay tuned.

And of course a few weeks back it was confirmed that the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival would be returning for a second year at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts from June 24 to 26. No word on performers yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Wilco will be playing.

Wilco – doing it for themselves, yo.

MP3: Wilco – “What Light”

A slew more show announcements over the last few days – the latest addition to Sub Pop’s burgeoning stable of sensitive folk-pop artists from the Pacific northwest are Seattle’s The Head & The Heart, who released their self-titled debut last year and had it reissued digitally by the label earlier this year with physical re-release coming for April 16. They will be at The Horseshoe on February 24, tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Jessica Lea Mayfield will be at the Drake Underground with Daniel Martin Moore on April 4, tickets $15.50. Her new record Tell Me is out February 11 and his latest In The Cool Of The Day came out last week. Full tour dates at Pitchfork. Mayfield was declared “New band of the day” by The Guardian a couple weeks back if you need a primer.

MP3: Daniel Martin Moore – “In The Cool Of The Day”

Lou Barlow’s got to hold some sort of record for active ongoing projects or reunions – in addition to his solo work and Dinosaur Jr – and you know The Folk Implosion would be back if he could find John Davis – he’s also reconvened Sebadoh what with the impending reissues of Bakesale and Harmacy and will be hitting the road this Spring. Exclaim reports that Bakesale will be out on April 4 in the UK with Harmacy following in the Summer, but North American release details are still unclear. What is clear is that the band will be at Lee’s Palace on April 6 and that tickets will run you $23.50. Gimme indie rock… reunions.

MP3: Sebadoh – “Dreams”
MP3: Sebadoh – “On Fire”

The Old 97’s will make up that cancelled show with Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond at the ElMo back in November by bringing the rest of the band along for a date at The Horseshoe on April 6. Teddy Thompson supports and tickets are $23.50 in advance. Denver Westword talks to frontman Rhett Miller.

Video: The Old 97’s – “Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)” (live)

Toronto’s Timber Timbre will release their second fourth record in the terrifically-titled Creep On Creepin’ On on April 5 and follow that up posthaste with a show at Trinity St. Paul’s on April 8, tickets $20. Details and further tour dates at Chart.

MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Ghost”

The Phoenix will be doubling as some kind of garage on April 16 when The Black Lips and Vivian Girls come to town. Tickets will be $18.50 and Pitchfork has the full tour itinerary. Black Lips have a new record due out this Summer while Vivian Girls’ third album Share The Joy is due out this Spring.

MP3: The Black Lips – “Short Fuse”
MP3: Vivian Girls – “Where Do You Run To?”

Oakland, Californians Hunx & HIs Punx will release their new album Too Young To Be In Love on March 29 and hit The Horseshoe on April 27; details at Exclaim.

MP3: Hunx & HIs Punkx – “Lover’s Lane”

French dance-pop queen Yelle will release her second record Safari Disco Club on March 29 and will be touring North America post-Coachella, including a May 4 date at The Opera House.

Video: Yelle – “Je Veux Te Voir”

New York’s Sleigh Bells and Brazil’s CSS are teaming up for a Spring tour that includes two nights in Toronto, May 16 and 17 at The Mod Club. The Prague Post interviews Sleigh Bells.

MP3: Sleigh Bells – “Infinity Guitars”
MP3: CSS – “Rat Is Dead”

With a new album complete and presumably out sometime this Summer, Australia’s Architecture In Helsinki are coming to town for a date at The Mod Club on June 11.

MP3: Architecture In Helsinki – “Heart It Races”