Quantcast

Archive for April, 2011

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Sadies at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangRelative to most of the people seeing any part of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s three-day, four-show residency at Lee’s Palace this past weekend, for which I hit up the Saturday night performance, I didn’t want to be there at all. I did, of course, but that was nothing compared to the anticipation so many had for the Montreal post-rock forebears’ first shows here in eight years, part of their surprise return to active duty – touring, at least – announced last Spring.

I just missed out on Godspeed the first time around – either being aware of them but not getting around to listening or listening but not getting around to getting, I’m not sure – but have spent the better part of the past decade getting acquainted both with their works and their ideological and musical mythology. Much of the latter, at least locally, centered around their legendary shows at the Palais Royale in the Fall of 2001 and the Spring of 2003 so the opportunity to witness them for myself – even if not on the edge of Lake Ontario – wasn’t to be missed and would hopefully be at least a fraction as unforgettable as those performances were purported to be. Dispatches from Friday night’s show certainly implied they would be.

One thing that was certain was that I picked the right show with regards to opening acts, at least. I didn’t know who either of the other two support acts were but I was pretty certain that The Sadies were better. And that’s because The Sadies are pretty much the best, be it headlining, opening, ordering tacos, whatever. And while it could be argued that their psych-country was a bit of an odd fit for Godspeed’s widescreen sonic apocalypses, doing so would be to ignore the dark and dusty gothic undercurrent that inhabits much of their work and also the fact that The Sadies are simply awesome. Given 45 minutes and a tiny portion of the stage with which to work, they powered through a set that was basically a Sadies 101, showcasing their songwriting and musical virtuosity and on-stage tricks, like the Good brother guitar neck-swapping of “Tiger Tiger”, which Dallas still managed even though he spent the rest of the set on a stool, still hobbled by the leg broken back in February. And all except for the guy standing beside me who couldn’t have looked more unimpressed – he had his Godspeed goggles on – I’d like to think they went over well.

I’d been tipped in advance of a few things with regards to the Godspeed live experience: That it would run two and a half hours, that photographically speaking house left was the better side to camp out on, that there would be no interaction between the band and the audience, with the band set up in a semi-circle and more intent on communicating with each other than those there to see them. And oh yeah, it would be incredible. I’ll be honest – as much as I wanted it to be a great show, I also hoped to somehow dispel some of the hyperbole that had enveloped the band in their time away by seeing and hearing it with my own earballs. And instead, I fear I may only be contributing to it.

The show-opening “Hope Drone” ceremony, wherein each band member entered the stage one at a time and began contributing to the din, wasn’t nearly as formal as I’d expected. It actually emerged out of sound check, perhaps at the expense of some of the drama, and the audience didn’t stop chattering until about halfway through when they finally turned on the film projectors. With the band arranged around the perimeter of the stage and three guitarists seated and hunched over, it was these projections of birds, glyphs, maps and a scrawled word “hope” which provided most of the evening’s illumination and visual interest – at least if you kept your eyes open. Eyes closed, you would be faced with whatever terrifying and beautiful imagery their music made your mind create.

The show drew heavily from the band’s masterwork, 2000’s Life Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, adding unreleased live staple “Albania” and one composition from F#A#∞ before closing with both sides of their Slow Riot For A New Zerø Kanada EP, but the specifics of what were played were really less important than the epic whole they created. And here’s where the hyperbole comes in. There was something unbelievably primal and elemental about what Godspeed You! Black Emperor create; like a force of nature if nature were sentient and pissed off. They moved slowly and inexorably, with massive weight and delicate grace and meant to be simultaneously marvelled at, feared and celebrated. The sound was deafening while perfectly clear, brutally beautiful and hitting with the impact of unchecked emotion made sound. I don’t doubt that the marathon-length shows are intended to add a dimension of actual physical exhaustion to the experience – are your knees buckling because you’re tired or because the existential momentousness of it all is too much to bear? Probably the former, but you can’t be sure.

But for those who endured and persevered through the entire show, who watched each member depart as they entered as “BBF3” was deconstructed, there was a very real sense of catharsis and transcendence – words far overused in music writing but wholly appropriate here – from the experience. Maybe it was because witnessing the performance had subtly changed everyone. Maybe it was just relief that they could finally get away from the pile of throw-up that someone left near the front of the stage during the second song. But either way, it was one to remember.

The National Post has a review of Friday night’s show; most notes are applicable to Saturday’s.

Photos: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Sadies @ Lee’s Palace – April 23, 2011
MP3: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven”
MP3: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “The Buildings They Are Sleeping Now”
MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”
MP3: The Sadies – “Anna Leigh”
Video: The Sadies – “Another Day Again”
Video: The Sadies – “Cut Corners”
Video: The Sadies – “Postcards”
Video: The Sadies – “The Horseshoe”
Video: The Sadies – “Flash”

Billboard profiles Explosions In The Sky, whose new record Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is out tomorrow.

Shearwater performed the whole of their last three albums – those dubbed The Island Arc – in a special hometown show in Austin earlier this year, and now a live album has been assembled, available to stream or digitally purchase at the band’s Bandcamp. The trilogy of Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago is also notable as it represents the band’s entire tenure on Matador; they just announced that they’ve signed to Sub Pop for their next record, due out in 2012.

Drowned In Sound and The Line Of Best Fit and Billboard have features on Okkervil River, whose new record I Am Very Far will arrive on May 10. They play The Phoenix on June 10.

Also out May 10 is The Antlers’ new record Burst Apart, which is streaming in whole at NPR. They are at The Mod Club on June 14.

Stream: The Antlers / Burst Apart

Arriving in town a day before their sold-out show at The Mod Club, Battles will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 28 at 7PM, admission free with suggested donation of a canned food good. Their new record Gloss Drop is out June 7 and Drowned In Sound has an interview with the band.

Video: Battles – “Tonto”

Both Junior Boys and Miracle Fortress have new albums at the ready – the former with It’s All True due June 14 and the latter with tomorrow’s Was I The Wave? – so it makes perfect sense that they’d team up for a Summer tour that kicks off at The Phoenix on June 9. North America, dancing shoes at the ready.

MP3: Junior Boys – “In The Morning”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Alela Diane released her second album Alela Diane and Wild Divine at the start of the month and has now released her touring itinerary for the Summer; look for her on June 11 at The Rivoli on Toronto.

MP3: Alela Diane – “To Begin”

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

"The Bed's Too Big Without You"

Foals cover The Police

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOn a component level, Foals’ take on The Police’s non-single but still sort-of hit from 1979’s Regatta De Blanc doesn’t differ that much from the original. That keyboard-y bit overtop is new, certainly, but the bassline stays true to what Sting originally laid down and while thankfully de-chorused, the guitar parts are also pretty faithful.

But by making the drums double-time, their version gets a pretty solid kick in the ass and is essentially de-reggaefied and made all tense and post-punky; throw in Yannis Philippakis’ decidedly more anxious vocal delivery – he’s really not cool with the size of the bed – and things are pretty full-on Foals-y. This recording was made in a session for Zane Lowe’s BBC1 radio show in April of 2010; I am telling myself the abrupt stop is deliberate and not just a bad recording.

Foals are in town this Saturday, April 30, for a show at The Phoenix – their second in support of last year’s Total Life Forever following last September’s thrown-down at Lee’s Palace. Having done their cash in reunion in 2007 and 2008, The Police will probably remain broken up for the rest of time.

MP3: Foals – “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”
Video: The Police – “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

CONTEST – Of Montreal @ The Phoenix – May 3, 2011

Photo By Patrick HeagneyPatrick HeagneyWho: Of Montreal
What: Veteran Athens, Georgia psychedelic electro-soul survivors with a bit of a flair for the theatrical and/or full-out batshit.
Why: Touring plans for last year’s False Priest didn’t include Canada, but now that their new EP thecontrollersphere is due – it’s out Tuesday – they’re finally on their way to visit both their namesake and Toronto.
When: Wednesday, May 3, 2011
Where: The Phoenix in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Joining the named-after-Canadians will be signed-to-Secretly Canadian duo Painted Palms and actual Canadians Braids.
How: Tickets for the show are $28 in advance, but courtesy of We Are Busy Bodies, I’ve got three prize packs to give away; an analog prize will consist of a pair of passes to the show, a copy of thecontrollersphere on 12″, False Priest on LP and 2008’s Skeletal Lamping on CD and two digital prizes will consist of a pair of passes and a copy of thecontrollersphere, False Priest and Skeletal Lamping, all on CD. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Of Montreal in Toronto” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address and format preference (CD or LP) in the body and have that in to me before midnight, April 30.
What else: Rolling Stone is streaming the whole of thecontrollersphere, while The Democrat & Chronicle and The New Haven Advocate have feature pieces on the band.

MP3: Of Montreal – “Black Lion Massacre”
MP3: Of Montreal – “Sex Karma”
MP3: Of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”
Stream: Of Montreal / thecontrollersphere

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

CONTEST – YACHT @ Lee’s Palace – May 2, 2011

Photo By Sarah MeadowsSarah MeadowsWho: YACHT
What: Portland duo steered by Jona Bechtolt who, in fact, have nothing to do with yacht rock but instead craft and austere yet danceable sort of electro-pop.
Why: Their last release was 2009’s See Mystery Lights but this tour will be previewing the June 21 release of their new album Shangri-La.
When: Monday, May 2, 2011
Where: Lee’s Palace in Toronto (19+)
Who else: New Yorker’s Light Asylum will be first mate on this tour.
How: Tickets for the show are $16 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 chromewaves.net with “I want to see YACHT” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, April 27.
What else: The Signal and examiner.com have interviews with Bechtolt.

MP3: YACHT – “Dystopia”
MP3: YACHT – “Voodoo City”
MP3: YACHT – “Summer Song”

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Freedom Of Choice

Are we not men? We are the NXNE 2011 lineup

Photo via WBWarner Bros.Or at least we are the first batch of acts officially announced on Tuesday for this year’s NXNE festival, running June 16 through 19 around Toronto. It’s certainly not all of them, but there’s some moderate to big names in there and perhaps most key, the headliners for the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square that have become the centrepiece of the fest have been revealed.

While there’s no one quite of the stature of last year’s Saturday night marquee of Iggy & The Stooges, New Wave legends Devo have certainly got the pedigree to act as a worthy centrepiece for this year’s event. They and their energy domes and jumpsuits will be headlining the YDS Stage on the Saturday night, closing off what will likely be a full day’s slate of acts. They were here in Fall 2009 offering full-album performances of Q: Are We Not Men and Freedom Of Choice, but have since released their first new album in forever with last year’s Something For Everybody. Which, I’m sure, the masses will want to hear lots of material from at this show. Mm hmm.

And while there’s enough tapped for the free stage that you could have a fine weekend just camped out in front of the Eaton Centre, NXNE is still a club-level fest and there’ll be hundreds more artists from near and far vying for your attention. The schedule won’t be out for a while yet but I’ve managed to cobble together a very early list of who will be playing where and when – obviously all subject to change – and while some of this was previously announced, a lot of it is new:

Thursday, June 16, 2011
The Descendents, OFF!, Rusty, Metz @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield, The Luyas @ Lee’s Palace
Snowblink, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns @ The Music Gallery
The Dodos, Deerhoof, Gauntlet Hair @ The Phoenix
Ty Segall, The Dig @ The Garrison
Woodsman @ The El Mocambo

Friday, June 17, 2011
Stars, Land Of Talk, Diamond Rings @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Suuns, No Joy, PS I Love You @ The Horseshoe
Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, The Flatliners @ The Phoenix
Art Brut @ The Mod Club
Braids @ The Garrison
Dum Dum Girls, Cults, Superhumanoids, Writer @ Lee’s Palace
Ty Segall, Julianna Barwick, Daniel Pujol, Secret Cities @ Wrongbar

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Devo, Men Without Hats, Cults, Writer @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Twin Shadow, Wild Nothing @ Lee’s Palace
Foster The People @ The Mod Club
Hot Water Music, A Wilhelm Scream, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, Sharks @ The Opera House
Talk Normal, Prince Rama, AIDS Wolf, Grimes, Doldrums @ 918 Bathurst
Chad Van Gaalen, Braids, Jennifer Castle, Duzheknew, Grimes @ The Great Hall
The Balconies @ Sneaky Dee’s

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Wild Nothing @ The Garrison
The Pharcyde, Digable Planets @ Yonge-Dundas Square

And some of the acts who don’t have any more specific information available besides “they’ll be there” are Crocodiles and Lower Dens. Yeah, I think I can find enough to occupy myself for four evenings or so.

MP3: Art Brut – “Lost Weekend”
MP3: Julianna Barwick – “The Magic Place”
MP3: Braids – “Lemonade”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Neverride”
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Deerhoof – “The Merry Barracks”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
MP3: The Dodos – “Don’t Stop”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
MP3: Grimes – “Vanessa”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”
MP3: The Luyas – “Tiny Head”
MP3: No Joy – “Hawaii”
MP3: OFF! – “I Don’t Belong”
MP3: Prince Rama – “Lightening Fossil”
MP3: PS I Love You (featuring Diamond Rings) – “Leftovers”
MP3: Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”
MP3: Talk Normal – “In A Strangeland”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Sara”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Castles In The Snow”
MP3: Woodsman – “Insects”
Video: Devo – “What We Do”
Video: The Descendents – “I’m The One”
Video: Digable Planets – “Rebirth Of Slick”
Video: Men Without Hats – “Safety Dance”
Video: The Pharcyde – “Drop”

If you prefer your festivals a little more rustically-set, Exclaim has the lineup announcement for this year’s Hillside Festival, happening in Guelph from July 22 to 24. The roster reads like a who’s who of up-and-coming Canadian talent, including The Rural Alberta Advantage, Dan Mangan, Karkwa, Little Scream and really too many more to list. Tickets go on sale May 7 at 10AM at $110 for a weekend pass and these sell out quickly every year so don’t dither too long if at all.

And while talking Canadian fests, it’s worth noting that Montreal’s Osheaga added a bunch more acts including Janelle Monae and Broken Social Scene among them, and broken things down day by day.

In other live music news, Steve Earle will be at the HMV at 333 Yonge for a signing and in-store on April 28 at 6PM – you’ll just have to buy a copy of I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive when it comes out next Tuesday for tickets. Or wait for his show opening up for Blue Rodeo at the Amphitheatre on August 20.

San Diego’s The Donkeys are in town at a venue to be determined Sneaky Dee’s on May 21 in support of their new record Born With Stripes, out on Tuesday.

MP3: The Donkeys – “Don’t Know Who We Are”

The Baseball Project – aka Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck and Linda Pitmon celebrating America’s pastime in song – will bring their second album Volume 2: High & Inside to Lee’s Palace on June 1. And yeah, the Jays are at home that evening against Cleveland. Oregon Live has a feature on the band.

MP3: The Baseball Project – “1976”

Louisiana’s Givers, just here supporting Wye Oak a couple weeks ago, will return for their own show at The Garrison on June 21. Their album In Light is out June 7.

MP3: Givers – “Up Up Up”

With their new record D due out May 24, White Denim have announced a date at The El Mocambo for June 28.

MP3: White Denim – “Anvil Everything”

Antony & The Johnsons have released a new video from last year’s Swanlights

Video: Antony & The Johnsons – “Swanlights”

Spinner reports that one of The National’s next projects will be curating a Grateful Dead tribute album for charity. I can only hope that everyone involved covers “Touch Of Grey” because that’s about the only Dead song I know.

Exclaim talks to Explosions In The Sky guitarist Munaf Rayani about their new record Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, out on Tuesday.

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James goes over some of his influences for Spin. Their new record Circuital comes out May 31 and they play The Kool Haus on July 11.

Titus Andronicus discusses his love of Fucked Up and plans for following up The Monitor with Spinner.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Iron & Wine while The Washington Post and Boston Herald have interviews with Sam Beam.

Spectrum Culture and Spin interview Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 27.

Bon Iver has declared their intention to make the Summer solstice a little more wintry by releasing their new self-titled album on June 21. Details at Pitchfork.

And finally, sympathies to family, friends and fans of TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith, who lost his battle with lung cancer yesterday morning. Fuck you, cancer. Just fuck you.