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Archive for February, 2011

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Sounds Like Hallelujah

The Head & The Heart at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe technology woes that made the end of last week so unexpectedly… interesting have largely been resolved – hello from my new laptop – but Thursday night was most definitely an evening that I was perfectly fine with not having anything to do with anything electronic. In other words, an ideal time for The Head & The Heart.

The acoustically-inclined Seattle six-piece’s self-titled debut was originally self-released last year but being rootsy, harmonious and from the Pacific northwest it was inevitable that Sub Pop would come a-calling. And so it was that between the digital re-release of the record back in January and its physical re-release on April 16, the band were on a transcontinental tour, both as support for the likes of Dr. Dog and The Walkmen and as headliners, as they were this evening. So even though the full promotional push for the record was probably yet to come, word had clearly already gotten out to some degree and a decently-sized crowd as in place to welcome them to Toronto for the first time.

It’d be easy and not entirely inaccurate to assume from the beards and toques that The Head & The Heart would be easily comparable to their geographic and label brethren in Fleet Foxes or Band Of Horses – certainly they’d be listed as RIYLs – but to my ears the best reference point comes a few thousand miles southeast and a decade in the past – specifically, Pneumonia-era Whiskeytown. Though they build their sound on Kenny Hensley’s piano rather than with guitars, there’s more than a bit of Ryan Adams twang in frontman Joseph Russel’s voice and Charity Rose Thielen’s contributions on vocals and violin are reminiscent of Caitlin Cary and her fiddle. And more than that, their songs share the sort of rich and finely-arranged melodicism that Whiskeytown achieved on their swan song once the punk-rock raggedness was fully contained.

But that’s just a reference point, and doesn’t account for the fact that rather than evoke the sort of weariness that Whiskeytown did – even when smoothed out – The Head & The Heart come from a much more wide-eyed and optimistic place, and the enthusiasm that goes along with that was fully on display in performance. You wouldn’t think that they were dancing in the studio while recording the record but after seeing them play, you can’t imagine that they weren’t – rarely were they stationary while playing, instead stepping and sliding around the stage, moved by the music. With Josiah Johnson and Russel alternating lead vocals – the former’s croon contrasting nicely with the latter’s rasp – or together with Thielen filling out the three-part harmony, often delivered with a gospel-ish fervor. Though the record only clocks in at around 35 minutes, they managed to fill out an impressive and energized hour-long set with a couple new songs and humble, charming and appreciative banter. A superb local debut from an act that we will be hearing much more of in the future.

Creative Loafing and Seattle’s City Arts have interviews with the band.

Photos: The Head & The Heart @ The Horseshoe – February 24, 2011
MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Filter pits tourmates Josh Ritter and Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison in an interview throw-down.

Spinner talks to Lissie.

Paste catches up with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, who’re at the Sound Academy on March 13.

Incendiary interviews Wye Oak, whose new record Civilian is out on March 8 and available to stream at NPR right now. They play The El Mocambo on April 9.

Stream: Wye Oak / Civilian

Also streaming at NPR is The Mountain Goats’ latest All Eternals Deck, even though it’s not out for over a month – it has a street date of March 29. They’ll be at The Opera House on April 3.

Stream: The Mountain Goats / All Eternals Deck

Portugal. The Man, whose latest American Ghetto came out last year, have put together a Spring tour that stops in at Lee’s Palace on May 27.

MP3: Portugal. The Man – “People Say”

Spinner chats with J Mascis, whose new solo record Several Shades Of Why is out on March 15 and who has a couple of performances on tap in Toronto for March 11 – an in-store at Sonic Boom at 5PM and a full and proper show at The Great Hall later that evening.

Drive-By Truckers work the media as Patterson Hood of talks to Jambands, Mike Cooley chats with The Lincoln Journal-Star and Shona Tucker with The Las Vegas Review Journal, all for their latest album Go-Go Boots.

Tiny Mix Tapes talks to some of the performers taking part in the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour that rolls into Lee’s Palace on March 18.

The Wall Street Journal profiles DeVotchKa, who release their new record 100 Lovers tomorrow. They play The Mod Club on March 30.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills talks to Billboard about why the band won’t be touring behind their new record Collapse Into Now after it’s released on March 8. A stream of the record will be posted at NPR tomorrow at 2PM EST.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

"Last Nite"

Adele covers The Strokes

Photo By Alex SturrockAlex SturrockAdele Adkins was 13 when The Strokes put out their first album Is This It back in the Fall of 2001 and 17 when their last album First Impressions Of Earth came out in January 0f 2006. And in the half-decade since, she’s dropped the last name to be known just as Adele, released her debut album 19 in 2008, won a couple Grammy awards for it, and has just followed it up with the possibly even better and probably chart-topping 21, making her one of the hottest commodities in music right now.

That success is thanks to her emotionally resonant songwriting and rich, soulful vocals but it’s worth noting that she was a teenager when The Strokes were in their heyday, and teenagers do love their rock’n’roll. So it’s not so surprising that her cover selection for a January 2008 appearance on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio One Live Lounge, she opted to tackle The Strokes’ very first single and prove that yeah, she’s great at the heartbreak-y stuff, but she can rock, too. And while it’d be nice to think that she’s handling guitar duties on the cover, that’s probably a bit much to ask.

The Strokes as a unit have been pretty quiet while Adele has ascended, but have also managed to somehow have an upwards career trajectory over the past five years -they’ve now graduated to major festival headliner status without actually doing anything. But now they’re officially back in action with their fourth album Angles due out on March 22. Adele has North American tour dates set for this May, and expect The Strokes to be back on the road this Summer as well.

MP3: Adele – “Last Nite”
Video: The Strokes – “Last Nite”

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

CONTEST – Ty Segall @ Wrongbar – March 12, 2011

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Ty Segall
What: San Francisco-based garage rocker whose brand of rowdy punk rock attracts rowdy fans, as I learned first-hand in Halifax last Fall.
Why: Still touring behind last year’s Melted, this time he’s performing as a part of Canadian Musicfest.
When: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Where: Wrongbar in Toronto, 19+
Who else: Plenty else on the bill, including Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, The Pack AD, Heavy Cream and Teenanger. That these bands will be loud and/or snotty seems like a given.
How: All festival wristbands, subject to capacity, will be admitted and advance tickets are $13.50 but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Ty Segall” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that to me before midnight, March 6.
What else: There’s interviews with Segall at The Miami Times and Dallas Observer

MP3: Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

CONTEST – Middle Brother @ The Opera House – March 11, 2011

Photo By middlebrother.commiddlebrother.comWho: Middle Brother
What: Americana-styled supergroup made up of the principals from Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit
Why: In addition to promoting their self-titled debut, which is out as of this Tuesday, it’s Canadian Musicfest – that right there is plenty of reason
When: Friday, March 11, 2011
Where: The Opera House in Toronto, 19+
Who else: It’s an old-fashioned revue as full sets from both Dawes and Deer Tick before the main event, and don’t be surprised if Delta Spirit’s Matthew Vasquez busts out a couple of their songs
How: In addition to all festival wristbands being accepted (subject to capacity), advance tickets for the show are available at $18.50, but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to be the Middle Brother” in the subject line with your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 6.

MP3: Middle Brother – “Me Me Me”
MP3: Middle Brother – “Middle Brother”

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Four Letter Word

My laptop died last night so as karmic retribution, you get Beady Eye

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickSo good times, my laptop died last night after 3.5 years of service due to a failed hard drive. I had planned on replacing it this year anyways, but hoped to squeeze a little more out of it – like a week. Fittingly, it died just as I was looking at the new upgraded Macbook Pros on the Apple site so… yeah. Anyways. Just some stuff from the old world to clear out before the weekend, so…

Beady Eye. Their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding is out over here on March 1 and kind of surprisingly, advance word seems to be that it’s not terrible. Not any kind of groundbreaking, being mostly bog-standard retro-styled Brit rock, but pretty alright for what it is. I haven’t heard it, this is just what I’m hearing. Anyways, I do hope it does okay if just for Andy Bell’s sake, and I get the sense that they’ll be doing a proper North American promotional push and that should include touring, perhaps come Fall. Anyways. The Guardian, BBC, Spinner and Exclaim all have features on the band.

MP3: Beady Eye – “The Roller”

Under The Radar talks to Andy Bell’s former compatriot Mark Gardener on the occasion of Ride’s 20th anniversary and yes, the reunion question comes up and no, there are not plans for it but as the Bieb says – never say never.

Captain’s Dead has rounded up a bunch of Lush’s Black Sessions MP3s for your shoegazing nostalgia purposes. Another band highly unlikely to ever get back together.

Drowned In Sound talks to Yan of British Sea Power. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 24.

Spinner talks to Norman Blake of Jonny, whose self-titled debut is due out in North America on April 12.

Spinner has an interview with Ellie Goulding, whose debut Lights gets a US release on March 8 and who is at The Phoenix on March 27.

The Mirror reports that Duffy, disappointed in the disappointment surrounding her disappointing second record Endlessly, is considering ending her music career.

Exclaim has made PJ Harvey their cover story for the month.

The Independent and Tour Dates chat with Patrick Wolf, whose new record Lupercalia is out May 23.

The Quietus, Irish Independent and Irish Times interview Guy Garvey of Elbow, whose build a rocket boys! is out March 8 in the UK but not until April 12 in North America.

Glasvegas have released a new video from their second album Euphoric Heartbreak, due out April 4. Guitarist Rab Allan talks to The Scotsman while James Allan offers a track-by-track overview of the record to The Daily Record.

Video: Glasvegas – “Euphoria, Take My Hand”

Also with a new clip are White Lies, taken from Ritual. Dose has an interview with the band.

Video: White Lies – “Strangers”

The Quietus reports that Wild Beasts have given their new record a title of Smother and release date of May 10.

Secret Sessions has a solo acoustic video session and interview with Tim Compton of The High Wire.

PitchforkTV has a Tunnelvision session with Yuck, who also have their self-title up to stream at Soundcloud. They play The Phoenix on May 1 and Gigwise has an interview.

Stream: Yuck / Yuck

Lykke Li talks to Spinner and Billboard and names off her dream band to The Independent. Her new record Wounded Rhymes is out on Tuesday and she plays The Phoenix on May 22.

Shockhound, Consequence Of Sound and Spinner chat with The Radio Dept, who just picked up their second Best New Whatevs in less than a year from Pitchfork. They’re at The Horseshoe on May 29.

Peter Bjorn & John have a new vid from Gimme Some, out March 29. They play Lee’s Palace on May 6.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance”

The Megaphonic Thrift have rolled out a new vid from Decay Decoy, out March 8.

Video: The Megaphonic Thrift – “Talks Like A Weed King”

Keren Ann’s new record 101 is now streamable in advance of its March 22 release. She plays The Drake Underground on June 28.

Stream: Keren Ann / 101