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Archive for July, 2011

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The It Girl

Review of Louise Wener’s Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop

Photo via The IndependentThe IndependentOne thing that should have been well-established over the run of this blog is that I am an irredeemable Britpop kid, having come of musical age in the mid-’90s with my nose buried in issues of Select and spending too much money I really couldn’t spare on import CDs on their breathless recommendations. Many were pretty terribly, in retrospect, or even worse just wholly unremarkable, but one of my enduring favourites beyond the Oasis/Blur/Pulp triumvirate is Sleeper, whose three albums of scrappy pop have aged quite nicely, unlike some of their peers.

Since splitting just before the collapse of the scene, frontwoman Louise Wener has turned her pen from song lyrics to fiction and written some well-received novels – I’ve read a few, they’re pretty good – but her memoirs, released last year as Different For Girls: A Girl’s Own True-Life Adventures In Pop and re-released last month as the more descriptive Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop is the tome that fans have been waiting for.

Rather than attempt to document the scene, it follows Wener from her seemingly well-adjusted suburban London adolescence of wanting more than anything to be a pop star to getting swept up in the Britpop wave and managing to actually become a pop star and then walking away when it became clear their time in the spotlight was done. Aside from the breaking up with the guitarist to go out with the drummer thing, it’s not particularly rife with scandal or gossip – Sleeper were never quite on the inside of the Britpop royal court and while there was plenty of drugs and alcohol, they didn’t become casualties of it. I do question the authenticity of all the quotes used in the text – either they’re liberally paraphrased or Wener has an astonishing memory – but nothing libelous is attributed to anyone and they work well with Wener’s writing style, which is brisk and fun with the right amount of self-deprecation. It’s almost too brisk and self-deprecating at points and all over too soon, but perhaps that’s befitting the whirlwind nature of their career – their three albums came out over the minuscule span of three years. But Wener’s perspective is clear-eyed and while she looks back on things fondly, it’s pretty obvious there won’t be a reunion any time soon or ever, and that’s just fine. We’ve got the records, we’ve got the videos and we’ve got the book.

And oh, I’ve got two copies of the book – accidentally bought it under both titles – so Different For Girls is an official lending copy since it’s pretty much impossible to find on this side of the pond. And if anyone has an MP3 of Elvis Costello covering “What Do I Do Now” from the All This Useless Beauty b-sides as a bit of quid pro quo or just a gift, I’d love to get a hold of it…

MP3: Sleeper – “Statuesque”
Video: Sleeper – “She’s A Good Girl”
Video: Sleeper – “Nice Guy Eddie”
Video: Sleeper – “Sale Of The Century”
Video: Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now”
Video: Sleeper – “Vegas”
Video: Sleeper – “Inbetweener”
Video: Sleeper – “Delicious”
Video: Sleeper – “Swallow”

One of my other favourite pieces of Britpop-related literature is the Phonogram comic series. They’re sticking to their guns of not doing any more than any more series beyond Rue Britannia and The Singles Club, but writer Kieron Gillen has released the complete script for the first issue of The Singles Club, the first issue of which is also available online in its entirety to compare and contrast. I don’t recall what the official Phonogram position on Sleeper was… hopefully kinder than to Echobelly.

The Fly has a courtyard video session with Slow Club, who’re prepping their second album Paradise for a September 12 release.

Clash are offering a taste of the new Peggy Sue album, entitled Acrobats and due out on September 12 in the UK.

MP3: Peggy Sue – “Cut My Teeth”

They made their local debut back in May as support for Tame Impala and tacked an in-store set onto the visit, but Yuck have taken a surprisingly long time to bring their more ’90s than ’90s fuzz-pop to town for a headlining show. That will be rectified as of September 25, when they play The Horseshoe – tickets $13.50 in advance. eMusic has an interview with the London outfit.

MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”
MP3: Yuck – “Georgia”

Laura Marling will follow the September 13 release of her third album A Creature I Don’t Know with what she’s calling the “When The Bell Tolls” tour; it includes a stop at The Great Hall on September 23, tickets $20 in advance on sale Friday. For a two-time Mercury shortlister, she’s had a habit of playing drastically undersized venues here – her 2008 debut was at the tiny Rivoli and her last visit last February at Lee’s Palace, a month before I Speak Because I Can was released, was originally supposed to be at the Drake. All of which is to say that tickets for this show will go quickly. NME has a track-by-track breakdown of her new record, one song of which is available to stream via the YouTubes.

MP3: Laura Marling – “Ghosts”
Stream: Laura Marling – “Sophia”

Stereogum and The Telegraph talk to The Horrors, who’ve released an MP3 from their new album Skying – it gets an August 9 release in North America. The Horrors are at Lee’s Palace on September 27.

MP3: The Horrors – “Moving Further Away”

Welsh singer Anika – protege of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Nico soundalike – will be at Wrongbar on October 8 in support of her 2010 self-titled debut, which is available to stream on her website. eMusic has an interview.

MP3: Anika – “Yang Yang”
Stream: Anika / Anika

And given that Barrow will be in town the next two nights at The Sound Academy with Portishead – October 9 and 10 – it’s not unreasonable to assume that he’ll be at Anika’s show. Pitchfork talks Geoff Barrow about the band’s upcoming North American tour.

NPR has a KCRW radio session with Friendly Fires, in town at The Phoenix on October 23.

Noel Gallagher has finally unveiled his debut solo single and listening to it and what Beady Eye have done, it’s really no wonder that Oasis fell apart. Even if the brothers Gallagher didn’t hate each other, their creative directions were pretty clearly on opposite trajectories. Think Liam would have stood for those horns? No, I don’t think so. Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds will be out on November 8 stateside.

Video: Noel Gallagher & The High Flying Birds – “The Death Of You And Me”

The Von Pip Musical Express chats with Emma-Lee Moss, aka Emmy The Great.

Gorilla Vs Bear is streaming one of the new songs from Summer Camp’s forthcoming debut album – due out whenever it’s fully funded via Pledge Music.

The first proper recording from The Kate Jackson Group – fronted by the former Long Blondes singer – is available to stream at God Is In The TV and it’s kind of fantastic. I had some concerns about Jackson’s solo output considering that Dorian Cox was the primary songwriter in that band, but if this is an indication of what Jackson can do on her own, those concerns are unfounded. Bring on the album.

The Sydney Morning Herald checks in with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, who will be coming off hiatus later this Fall.

Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar gives Paste an update on the progress of album number two, due out in the early part of next year.

I was happy enough to hear confirmed details on the new Loney Dear record Hall Music, out October 4, but to know that Emil Svanäaut;ngen and company will be back in town on November 5 for a show at the Drake Underground? That’s even better. Tickets are $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Loney Dear – “My Heart”

Lykke Li is coming back to town this Fall are part of a North American tour and she’ll be accompanied by fellow Swedes, sister act First Aid Kit. They’ll be at The Sound Academy on November 15, tickets $30 for general admission and $40 for VIP balcony. DIY talks to First Aid Kit about how work is coming on their second album.

MP3: Lykke Li – “Youth Knows No Pain”
MP3: First Aid Kit – “I Met Up With The King”

The Quietus and Billboard have feature interviews with Bjork while Billboard also chats with Michel Gondry, who directed her just-released new video. A track from her new album Biophilia is available to download; it’s out on September 27.

MP3: Bjork – “Cosmogony”
Video: Bjork – “Crystalline”

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Butterfly Knife

EMA at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn case anyone was wondering – and I certainly was earlier on on Saturday night – there is no air conditioning at The Garrison. Had I known this for sure beforehand, it would have been another compelling reason – right behind a week-old broken bone and backlog of television to watch – to stay home and just not deal with the world. But EMA was in town and easing myself off prescription meds as I was, getting out for a show was the sort of distraction I could use.

I confess to no familiarity with Erika Anderson’s last band Gowns, but her debut under the acronym identity Past Life Martyred Saints has been on fairly heavy rotation over the past couple months. Its a fascinating balance of rawness and poise, grunge and folk, all tied together with Anderson’s almost uncomfortably bare and confessional lyrics – I quite wanted to see how it would all come off live.

As did a healthy number of other people – a couple hundred by my guesstimate – all adding to the general sweatiness of the proceedings but also providing plenty of incentive for Anderson and her three bandmates to turn in an impressive show despite looking like hot messes before even playing a note. Throughout their hour-long set they alternately and simultaneously evoked Sonic Youth – thanks in no small part to Anderson’s Kim Gordon-esque vocals – and The Velvet Underground – duelling violins in a rock context will do that – all with a distinctly ’90s alt-rock vibe that was equal parts Nirvana and Pavement.

Between songs Anderson was chatty, a bit dorky and a lot funny, a decidedly different character than you might expect given the open wound vibe of the album’s stream of consciousness confessionals. But expecting every live show to be some sort of catharsis would be unreasonable and probably unhealthy – instead the show contained a healthy dose of attitude and snarl and was delivered with a surprising degree of theatricality. Things weren’t so polished, however, that after closing the set with a properly intense and stage-messing “California”, Anderson had to spend a little while putting her pedals and gear back together before being able to close out with one more song. Short, sweet and satisfying. And sweaty. Oh so sweaty.

Photos: EMA @ The Garrison – July 23, 2011
MP3: EMA – “Milkman”
MP3: EMA – “The Grey Ship”
Video: EMA – “California”
Video: EMA – “Milkman”

St. Vincent has set up a StrangeMercy.com to build anticipation for album number three, Strange Mercy, before its release on September 13 and via a Twitter campaign, the first MP3 from the album was made available last week.

MP3: St. Vincent – “Surgeon”

Dum Dum Girls have also offered the first preview of their new record Only In Dreams, due out September 27. They play Lee’s Palace on October 16.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”

And Ume have shared the first sample of their new record Phantoms, out August 30.

MP3: Ume – “Captive”

The Chicago Tribune gets to know Wild Flag, whose self-titled debut drops September 13. They play Lee’s Palace on October 11.

Exclaim and The Globe & Mail talk to Eleanor Friedberger about her solo works and what’s next for The Fiery Furnaces. Though here just last week for a solo show, word is Friedberger will be back with a full band sometime in October. A new video from Last Summer also came out a few weeks ago.

Video: Eleanor Friedberger – “Roosevelt Island”

The Calgary Herald profiles The Head & The Heart.

Black Book checks in with Ivy about their return to active duty with All Hours, in stores September 20.

The Big Takeover, AV Club and Austin 360 have chats with Andrew Kenny of The Wooden Birds.

The Quietus interviews Zach Condon of Beirut. They play The Phoenix on August 2 and 4 and release a new album in The Rip Tide on August 30.

The new single from Bon Iver is up for grabs. Their just-started tour hits The Sound Academy on August 8.

MP3: Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Spinner has got a new MP3 from Richard Buckner’s next album Our Blood available to download while NPR is streaming the album in whole ahead of its August 2 release date.

MP3: Richard Buckner – “Escape”
Stream: Richard Buckner / Our Blood

Stereogum gets a progress report on the new Crooked Fingers record Breaks In The Armor, due out October 11, and the Archers Of Loaf reunion.

Pitchfork has streams of the latest Flaming Lips releases – the ones that come on USB sticks embedded in gummy fetuses – and there’s also a video for a track they recorded with Lightning Bolt. The Boston Herald and Montreal Gazette have interviews with Wayne Coyne.

Video: The Flaming Lips with Lightning Bolt – “I Want To Get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage”

FFWD and The Montreal Gazette chat with Yo La Tengo.

The AV Club offers a newcomer’s guide to the works of R.E.M..

Crawdaddy talks memoirs with Bob Mould.

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

"Confetti"

Frightened Rabbit covers The Lemonheads

Photo via AVCAV ClubSince kicking off last Summer, The AV Club Undercover series has been a real boon for covers bloggers like myself because, well, they make things so damn easy. Not only do they bring together the artists and the songs and provide high-quality video from which to extract the soundtrack, they get the artist to explain their choice. In this case, you’ve got Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison doing The Lemonheads solo style because, as he puts it, “I’ve always liked the song, you know it kind of fits in with the way that I like to write as well – it’s about a guy and a girl, and that works for me”. A-yup.

Frightened Rabbit should be working on the follow-up to last years’ Winter Of Mixed Drinks, but when Death Cab For Cutie invite you along for a Summer tour of North America’s outdoor amphitheatres, you kinda say yes. They’ll be at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre this Friday evening, July 29. As for The Lemonheads, the current lineup – who has been together since around 2005 so are pretty legit – have opted to dust off It’s A Shame About Ray for one of those complete album performance tours that are de rigeur these days and are taking it on the road this Fall – they hit Lee’s Palace on October 17.

Fun fact: I heard “Confetti” in a bar last night. Clearly a sign. Of something.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Confetti”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Confetti”
Video: The Lemonheads – “Confetti”

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

CONTEST – Phantogram @ The Mod Club – July 28, 2011

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Phantogram
What: New York state-based electro-trip-gaze-hop-on-pop duo whom despite having a myriad of immediately identifiable stylistic reference points, have managed to craft their own distinct sound, thanks in no small part to some great songs.
Why: The pair continue to tour their debut Eyelid Movies, which came out early last year. This will be at least their fourth or fifth time through Toronto.
When: Thursday, July 28, 2011
Where: 69 Bathurst The Mod Club in Toronto (19+)
Who else: The Glitch Mob are headlining this show and Com Truise rounds out the undercard.
How: Tickets are $20 in advance but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to the show to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Phantogram” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Have that in to me before midnight, July 26.
What else: Filter talks to Phantogram about working the Summer festival circuit.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”
Video: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”
Video: Phantogram – “Mouthful Of Diamonds”

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Past In Present

Feist is being a bit of a tease

Photo by Mary RozziMary RozziI forget who I was talking to but it was just in the last couple of weeks and it was about how Feist has done a pretty good job of not having anyone notice it’s been a long time since her last record – almost four years, three months and counting. Sure, the first couple years of that was spent touring and promoting The Reminder as it blew up worldwide, but after that wound down she’s struck a pretty good balance between guest appearances – whether occasionally onstage with Broken Social Scene or on record as a duet partner with Wilco – to make people happy just to see and hear her, and staying out of sight enough that those same people don’t wonder why she’s not hidden away, working on a new record.

Well it turns out she has been, and with her website now taken over by the first of a dozen “vignettes” – short videos soundtracked by what we can probably assume are samples of the new record. And while I’m sure they’d like to keep details tantalizingly obscured, women’s magazine Chatelaine revealed, while nominating Ms Leslie as one of their “women of the year”, that the new record was targeted for an October 2011 release. Presumably they’re not just making that up – after all, it’s Chatelaine. In any case, the timeline indicated by the vignette calendar on Feist’s website – the third clip is dated July 25 – implies that this won’t be a long, drawn-out reveal; you’ll probably be able to pre-order whatever this is before the August long weekend is over.

Video: Feist – “My Moon My Man”

Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman slags his own band’s latest video and videos in general to Spinner and tells The Calgary Herald they didn’t deserve a book to be written about them, while Paste compiles a list of the bands that make up the Broken Social family tree.

FFWD chats with Beatrice Martin of Coeur de pirate, herself way overdue for a new album though at least she allows that when it arrives, it will likely be entitled Blonde.

Room 205 has another performance in their video session with Austra online while The Georgia Straight has a feature.

The Globe & Mail, The Georgia Straight and Uptown have interviews with Louise Burns.

Exclaim solicits a rooftop performance from The Darcys, who should be announcing details about the release of their second self-titled album soon. One would hope.

Bay Of Quinte and Napanee Guide interview Patrick Pentland of Sloan, who’re clearly in cottage country right now but will be back in the city playing a free show at Echo Beach on August 5.

The reconstituted Doughboys will warm up for their August 9 date opening up for Foo Fighters at the Air Canada Centre with a free show at the Bovine Sex Club the night before, August 8. I would like to go to this but I fear that my broken collarbone (hey guys I broke my collarbone for the third time) won’t be healed enough to survive the mosh pit that’ll surely ensue, even if it is a middle-aged mosh pit.

Video: The Doughboys – “Fix Me”

Mudhoney have a date at The Horseshoe on September 10, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Mudhoney – “I’m Now”
MP3: Mudhoney – “Sonic Infusion”

Paste catches up with Portugal. The Man while Mashable finds out about their sled dog-powered new video. They bring their new album In The Mountain, In The Cloud to the Opera House on October 18; tickets are $16.50 in advance.

Video: Portugal. The Man – “Got It All”

Neon Indian will follow up the September 13 release of Era Extraña with a North American tour that hits Lee’s Palace on October 18.

Video: Neon Indian – “Heart: Decay”

Flush with their second Polaris shortlist appearance, maritimers Hey Rosetta! are embarking on a cross-Canada tour and bringing aussies The Jezabels along with them. The Toronto stop is November 24 at The Phoenix, tickets $20 in advance. Hey Rosetta will also be the subject of a Polaris Salon on August 9 at the Drake, wherein a juror will talk to the band about their record, and The Jezabels are prepping their debut Prisoner for a Spring 2012 release.

MP3: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”

NOW, The Village Voice, Boston Phoenix and hour talk to Erika Anderson of EMA, who makes her Toronto debut at The Garrison tomorrow night.

Spin pokes around Stephen Malkmus’ home. Malkmus’ latest Mirror Traffic is out August 23 and he plays The Phoenix on September 21.

Hot on the heels of announcing their new record – Father, Son, Holy Ghost out September 13 – and Fall tour – The Mod Club on September 27 – Girls have put out a first MP3 from said record.

MP3: Girls – “Vomit”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Warpaint while The Japan Times and New Zealand Herald have interviews.

TV On The Radio have released a new video from Nine Types Of Light.

Video: TV On The Radio – “Caffeinated Consciousness”

Peter Silberman of The Antlers goes into some of the influences that went into Burst Apart for Stereogum.

Spin is marking the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind with a tribute album – available for free – featuring the likes of Titus Andronicus, EMA and The Vaselines, amongst others.