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Archive for February, 2012

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

CONTEST – The Barr Brothers @ The Great Hall – March 1, 2012

Photo By Andre GueretteAndre GueretteWho: The Barr Brothers
What: Montreal-based, Boston-bred quartet led by 2/3 of art-pop trio The Slip who are, indeed, brothers surnamed Barr.
Why: Taking a break from their main gig produced a rustic-sounding self-titled debut that’s garnered much acclaim.
When: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Where: The Great Hall in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Fellow Montrealer Little Scream makes it a top-to-bottom solid bill
How: Tickets for the show are $15 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got one pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with, “I want to be a Barr Brother” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, February 28.
What else: CBC Radio 3 has a profile piece on the band.

MP3: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”
Video: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Hook You Up

Charlotte Hatherley reveals herself as Sylver Tongue devil

Photo via GuardianThe GuardianWith her tenure in Ash, as sidewoman to the likes of KT Tunstall and Bat For Lashes and a solo career that’s yielded three good albums, Charlotte Hatherley has pretty well established herself as a purveyor of sharp, smart power-pop and more than a bit of a guitar heroine. But apparently she’s been hiding another side of herself that worships at the altar of ’80s-vintage electro-pop and that side has now surfaced under the guise of Sylver Tongue.

So far there’s just the one single to represent her first work since 2009’s New Worlds, but it comes with an accompanying video that demonstrates in no uncertain terms what the aesthetic of the project is, which is to say happily neon and glammy. The track itself is far from a club floor banger, its dreamy pace probably better suited for slow dances at proms and if you traded some synths for guits, it wouldn’t have been out of place on her second album The Deep Blue. In any case, it’s good to know that Hatherley remains a solid songwriter, whatever the genre or identity.

Album information is still forthcoming, but the “New band of the day” feature at The Guardian implies they’ve heard more from her and they like it. Which bodes well.

MP3: Sylver Tongue – “Hook You Up”
Video: Sylver Tongue – “Hook You Up”

The Independent and The Fly have interviews with Beth Jeans Houghton.

Pitchfork has got the… interesting cover art from the new Spiritualized record Sweet Heart Sweet Light, due out April 17, and a stream of the first single. They’re at The Phoenix on May 5.

Stream: Spiritualized – “Hey Jane”

SXSW chats with We Were Promised Jetpacks, who will be at Lee’s Palace on April 15.

Mystery Jets have given their fourth album a title of Radlands and a release date of April 30; some details on the release and a trailer for the album can be found at Exclaim.

Charles Watson of Slow Club talks to The Vinyl District.

The Fly chats with the Brewis brothers of Field Music.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Los Campesinos!.

DIY interviews Fanfarlo, whose Rooms Filled With Light comes out on Tuesday, February 28. They play The Mod Club on March 25.

The April 17 Kaiser Chiefs show at The Phoenix has been moved to The Opera House due to “scheduling conflicts”, so don’t read the downgrade in venue as indicative of their popularity. No, seriously.

English DJ-type guy Star Slinger is back for a show at Lee’s Palace on May 14 as part of a Spring tour.

MP3: Star Slinger – “Mornin'”
MP3: Star Slinger – “Minted”

James Blake talks to Spinner about where he wants to head, musically-speaking, next.

Under The Radar has got videos of Blur’s comeback performance at The Brits earlier this week, and The Quietus examines the merits of some of their lesser-known, non-album tracks. Oh, and they’re now headlining the Way Out West festival in Gothenburg, Sweden in August – anyone want to go?

Holy Moly has a sit-down with Niki & The Dove. Their debut Instinct is out May 14.

The Line Of Best Fit has posted a video session with The Mary Onettes.

Denmark’s Alcoholic Faith Mission, whom I believe impressed a lot of people when they were here for NXNE last year, are coming back for a date at The Drake on May 2, tickets $13.50 in advance. They’re giving away their last album Daylight From Above until February 29 over here and their new one Ask Me This comes out March 27.

MP3: Alcoholic Faith Mission – “Running With Insanity”

Paste has an interview with Icelandic composer Ólufar Arnalds about his two new releases: Living Room Songs, which collects tracks that were recorded and released one a day last October and Another Happy Day, which is a soundtrack to the film of the same name and out next week. One of the Living Room Songs tracks also has a video, even though clips of the actual recording sessions for each song are also out there. Arnalds was one of the highlights at Iceland Airwaves last year, and has been soundtracking a lot of my time lately. Recommended if you like pretty things.

MP3: Ólufar Arnalds – “Near Light”
Video: Ólufar Arnalds – “Near Light”
Stream: Ólufar Arnalds / Another Happy Day original soundtrack and Living Room Songs

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Tramp

Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTwo records is not really a lot of data from which to plot a creative trajectory, but based on Sharon Van Etten’s first couple records, you could make some projections. Her 2009 debut Because I Was In Love was simple and spare, elevated above your standard singer-songwriter fare by Van Etten’s gorgeous bruise of a voice and her correspondingly confessional songwriting; 2010’s mini-album epic showed what she could do with backing players, offering a perfect set of songs that arced from the darkness, both in tone and theme, of “A Crime” to the aching and even hopeful “Love More” in just over half an hour. So when word came that she was working with The National’s Aaron Dessner on her third effort, one could reasonably assume that it would be even more polished – in the best sense of the word – than its predecessors.

Which is why, I think, that it’s taken me longer than expected to wrap my head around Tramp. It’s not immediately more focused than epic, instead retreating back into the sprawl and thematic shadows of Because I Was In Love; the album shifts gears from song to song, for instance bouncing from the rocking “Serpents” through the drifting “Kevin’s” into the sprightly “Leonard” and within the songs, she favours more elliptical than direct melodies. Anyone fearing that Van Etten would be going pop the third time out can rest easy. Once personal expectations are checked in favour of what’s actually been delivered, Tramp affirms itself as a solid showcase of Van Etten’s talents; muscular where strength is called for and gentle when all it needs is to softly support. As a record to break Van Etten out to a broader audience, I still think epic was better suited, but Tramp is clearly doing the job just fine. Lee’s Palace, where she played Tuesday night, is a good deal larger than The Drake which hosted her first/last headlining visit in April 2011, and it was well and truly sold out.

It was gratifying to see that the room was comfortably full for Shearwater, who despite having finally graduated to headliner status for their last visit in April 2010 and having just released their own exceptional record in Animal Joy, were back in the supporting role on this tour. Now I had seen Shearwater a dozen times or so in various incarnations over the years since first seeing them in this very room in May 2005, but had never seen them like this – quite literally. Despite having commented on how the rawness of Animal Joy could be attributed to stripping things down to the core trio of Jonathan Meiburg, Kim Burke and Thor Harris, neither Burke nor Harris were to be seen on this night – instead, Shearwater was Meiburg and four all-new faces; clearly, even long-time fans were going to have to check their expectations.

And even the longest-term Shearwater fan couldn’t have been prepared for what this incarnation of the band would be about. Past writeups of both their albums and live shows inevitably centered around the sense of mystery and atmosphere that they created, led by Meiburg’s soaring vocals. Now, that voice was more banshee than choirboy and the band – all electric guitars, keys and drums – was unrelentingly urgent and visceral. No two ways about it, Shearwater 2012 is a rock band and a great one – “You As You Were” was jaw-dropping and set-closer “Star Of The Age” was stirringly anthemic in a way that the album version only hinted at. The bulk of the nearly hour-long set drew from Animal Joy, but “Rooks” from Rook and “The Snow Leopard” and “Castaways” represented The Golden Archipelago well, coming even more alive with this band configuration. Make no mistake, both Harris and Burke were missed but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine wanting to hear the new songs played any other way than they had. If the night had ended here, it’d have been a triumph.

But it wasn’t the end; this was still Sharon Van Etten’s night, even if her performance was more of a gentle, hour-long come-down following Shearwater’s bracing set. She also fronted a different band from the one she brought through last Spring; Doug Keith remained a fixture on bass but the drummer – whose name eluded me – was new, I think, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Heather Woods Broderick was definitely new. What remained the same was the disarming charm that Van Etten brought to the stage with her smile and light banter, which helped balance out the emotional weightiness of her material.

With the exception of “Save Yourself” early on, the main set was made up exclusively of Tramp material, with Van Etten resisting requests for “Tornado” to rep Because I Was In Love but she did offer up a searing “Serpents” as a dedication to one audience member, being sure to clarify that “this is not about you but for you”. It has to be said that live, the material hung together better for me than it did on record – the blend of omnichord and harmonium on “Magic Chords” was, well, magical and using a triple guitar setup not for aggression but atmosphere on “I’m Wrong” and allowing that to bloom and gently settle into the set-closing “Joke Or A Lie” was pretty special. For the encore, it as back to the harmonium for a reading of “Love More” that made you really grateful that Broderick and her harmonies were now part of the band and then, to close out on an up note, they invited Shearwater back onstage for a cover of The Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You” that was raucous, sloppy and a great if unexpected way to finish the night.

The National Post also has a review of the show and the Toronto media welcomed Van Etten to town with interviews in Chart, The Toronto Standard, The Grid, The National Post, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Toro, and NOW and out of town, The Boston Phoenix says hello. Meanwhile, Blurt has a feature on Shearwater and Meiburg gives The Montreal Gazette a list of what he’s listening to these days and pens an essay on Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock for adequacy.net.

Photos: Sharon Van Etten, Shearwater @ Lee’s Palace – February 21, 2012
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”
MP3: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”
MP3: Shearwater – “Black Eyes”
MP3: Shearwater – “God Made Me”
MP3: Shearwater – “Castaways”
MP3: Shearwater – “South Col”
MP3: Shearwater – “The Snow Leopard”
MP3: Shearwater – “Rooks”
MP3: Shearwater – “Red Sea, Black Sea”
MP3: Shearwater – “Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five”
MP3: Shearwater – “White Waves”
MP3: Shearwater – “Whipping Boy”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
Video: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”

Peppy Los Angeles soundtrack fodder outfit Grouplove have made a date at Wrongbar for May 9, tickets $18. It’s part of a Spring tourNever Trust A Happy Song.

Video: Grouplove – “Colours”

Mark Lanegan has taken a break from being a grim, gravelly voice for hire to release a new solo record in Blues Funeral that’s, well, probably grim and gravelly. He and band will be taking it on tour and stop in at The Mod Club on May 15, tickets $15 in advance, and there’s features at The Quietus and Exclaim.

MP3: Mark Lanegan Band – “The Gravedigger’s Song”
Video: Mark Lanegan Band – “The Gravedigger’s Song”

tUnE-yArDs is pretty sure people are still discovering and being wowed by last year’s WHOKILL, and so she’s going to give them another chance to hear it live – Toronto gets its third show for the album on August 1 at The Phoenix, tickets $20.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Powa”
MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”

Bon Iver has released a full 25-minute video session recorded for their European label wherein Justin Vernon and Sean Carey do Bon Iver-y things. And incidentally, Carey will release a new EP entitled Hoyas on May 8; his 2010 solo debut All We Grow was a gem, so if you dig what he does in the session, check his work out.

Video: Bon Iver / 4AD Sessions

Paste talks to Beth and Philip of Bowerbirds while Eater has some food-talk with violinist Mark Paulson. Their new record The Clearing comes out March 6 and they’re at The Garrison on March 27.

Kurt Wagner of Lambchop discusses the song, “If Not I’ll Just Die” with NPR; he also talks Mr. M with No Depression and The Telegraph.

Rolling Stone reports that the long-rumoured Mermaid Avenue, Vol III from Billy Bragg and Wilco will finally be coming out this year, just in time for the centenary of Woody Guthrie’s birth. It’ll be available either as part of the four-disc Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions with the first two albums and the Man In The Sand documentary film or on its own. More details on the release are available at Billy Bragg’s blog.

A second sample of M. Ward’s forthcoming A Wasteland Companion is now available to stream; it’s out April 10.

Stream: M. Ward – “Primitive Girl”

James Mercer of The Shins talks to Exclaim about their new album Port Of Morrow, due out March 20. The first video from said record was released a couple days ago and you can finally watch it online, after originally only being available as an iTunes download – free, sure, but annoying and I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, PR-speaking.

Video: The Shins – “Simple Song”

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Kinds Of Light

It’s streaming day in Canada with new albums from Memoryhouse, The Wooden Sky, Trust and more

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsIt’s gotten to the point where the Tuesday before an album is officially released is as much a day to look forward to as the day an album is actually released. That’s because it’s standard practice these days to make any record anyone might care to buy available to stream at least a week before its official street date – it theoretically helps offset downloads of leaks, gets the promo cycle revved up, all of that sort of thing. It’s a trend I’m fully in favour of.

And based on this, it would seem that there’s a lot of anticipated Can-con coming out next week, starting with The Slideshow Effect from Guelph-via-Toronto duo Memoryhouse. It may be just their first album, but it already sees them trying to expand their sound beyond the slow-motion dreampop that got them attention in the first place without diluting that appeal. Does it work? Let’s find out. The Quietus has a song-by-song annotation of the record from the band and 77 Square and DIY have interviews.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Walk With Me”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “The Kids Were Wrong”
Stream: Memoryhouse / The Slideshow Effect

Further over in the electronic spectrum is another Toronto-born debut; TRST, the first record from Trust – it should hold much appeal for goths who still like to get their dance on. They have a record release show at Wrongbar on March 3. The Grid has an interview.

Video: Trust – “Bulbform”
Video: Trust – “Candy Walls”
Stream: Trust / TRST

The new Wooden Sky album Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun is also much anticipated by fans of the rootsier side of things, and it’s now up to stream at Paste. They play The Opera House on April 20.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Malibu Rum”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”
Stream: The Wooden Sky / Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun

And if you needed more evidence that Paste loves them some Canadian acts, they’ve also got the new Plants & Animals record The End Of That available to hear. They play Lee’s Palace on April 21.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”
Stream: Plants & Animals / The End Of That

You don’t have to wait until next week to get a hold of PS I Love You’s collection of Meet Me At The Muster Station radio session tracks – the Kingston duo are giving The Muster Sessions away via Facebook in exchange for an email address, and is streaming over at Exclaim if you’re the sort who wants to know what they’re getting for their email address before they hand it over. Their official second album Death Dreams is out May 8 and they’re at Lee’s Palace on March 23 for Canadian Musicfest.

Stream: PS I Love You / The Muster Sessions

Patrick Watson will bring their new record Adventures In Your Own Backyard to The Music Hall on May 29, tickets $29.50 and $24.50 in advance. The album is out April 30 and I’ve noticed in the SXSW schedule, they’re listed as “Patrick Watson & The Wooden Arms” – are they done with pretending “Patrick Watson” refers to the band and not just the man?

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

CBC Radio 3 chats with The Elwins, whose debut And We Thank You is officially out now. They have a release party for it at the Burroghes Building this Friday, February 24, and are also Rancho Relaxo on March 25 for Canadian Musicfest.

Nick Thorburn tells Exclaim that if you think the new Islands record is dark, you haven’t seen anything yet. They’re at The Music Gallery on February 28.

Billboard, Blurt, The Montreal Gazette, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Edmonton Journal have feature pieces on Grimes. She’s at The Horseshoe on March 19.

Exclaim reports that the next Black Mountain record will come in the form of a soundtrack for the surfer film Year Zero; it will be out on April 3 and the first track is available to download.

MP3: Black Mountain – “Mary Lou”

The Toronto Standard has a video session with Army Girls. Still waiting on the where and when of their Canadian Musicfest gig; it will be a highlight of the fest, guaranteed.

Jenn Grant gives CBC Radio 3 a look into her songwriting process.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Kathleen Edwards.

Watch this Evening Hymns performance from Belgium wherein they perform “Dead Deer” with a big-ass band. Majestic. Still waiting on Spectral Dusk details. And waiting.

Video: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer” (live at Transmusicales de Rennes)

Syncopated Sound talks to Damian Abraham of Fucked Up.

The Old Ideas With New Friends Leonard Cohen cover series continues, with Exclaim hosting a clip of Nicole Atkins doing “Bird On A Wire” and Matablog offering up AC Newman covering “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”.

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Horses Jumping

Slow Club and Air Waves at The Rivoli in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s said that for bands seeking exposure, television is the new radio as far as reaching a mass audience is concerned. Sheffield’s Slow Club can probably speak a little to that, having done pretty well as far as advert and show soundtracking goes. Not having cable or watch much/any broadcast TV, I had no idea about this – I found the duo the old fashioned way by having their 2009 debut Yeah So show up in my mailbox – but it did explain why instead of finding The Rivoli a quarter-full with Anglophiles on Sunday night for their Toronto debut, it was instead jammed full with Chuck fans.

Geting taken on tour with a more popular band is also a good way to garner new fans, so Air Waves lucked out there. But getting put in front of an audience is only half of it – you still have to win them over, and on that count the Brookyln quartet didn’t do so well. Frontwoman Nicole Schneit started things off solo and her fumbled guitarwork and off-key singing set the tone for the rest of their show. Bringing on the rest of the band helped mask those shortcomings to a degree, but if you cared about things like melodies or being on pitch in your music, it was still pretty poor; the songs themselves might not have been so bad but the delivery was difficult to get past. They have their fans, that much is obvious – the members of Slow Club in the audience were their loudest cheerers and Rebecca Taylor joined them on backing vox for one song – but I simply couldn’t fathom it.

At the other side of the spectrum, Slow Club made the very best of first impressions with Taylor and Charles Watson opening with an acoustic cover of Pulp’s, “Disco 2000” – a bold move but they pulled it off masterfully and then, bringing out the rest of the band, went straight into the rollicking “Where I’m Waking” off second album Paradise. That’s right – they had a band with them. Though they pulled off the duo thing with great aplomb when I saw them at SXSW 2010 and the old-school purist in me would like to bemoan the format change, it’s impossible to argue that the extra hands didn’t really improve things. The guitar-and-drums thing fit the spirit of Yeah So perfectly, but the more fully-rendered Paradise really did need the extra manpower to do justice.

While Watson stuck to guitar and vocal duties and really proved himself the anchor of the group, Taylor was constantly shifting roles – singer, guitarist, second drummer, first drummer – but always the focal point and frontwoman. The hour-long set – the band’s first sellout in North America, Watson was pleased to announced – focused mainly on Paradise material and also previewed a couple of new songs which continued on in the more soulful direction of Paradise and according to Taylor would appear on a forthcoming EP. The band’s more manic folk-rock tendencies from their debut were nodded at via the Paradise singles but their more sophisticated – albeit still energetic – side was primarily on display. Still, it was nice to see it back down to Charles and Rebecca for the encore as they headed into the audience, unamplified as they do, for a lvely reading of “Gold Mountain” before heading back onstage for a rollicking, “Giving Up On Love” to close things out. I had kind of hoped/expected to have their first show here to be a cozier, more intimate affair but hey – a big party was pretty good as well.

Photos: Slow Club, Air Waves @ The Rivoli – February 19, 2012
MP3: Air Waves – “Knockout”
MP3: Air Waves – “Keys”
Video: Slow Club – “If We’re Still Alive”
Video: Slow Club – “Where I’m Waking”
Video: Slow Club – “Two Cousins”
Video: Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”
Video: Slow Club – “Trophy Room”
Video: Slow Club – “Giving Up On Love”
Video: Slow Club – “Come On Youth”

I thought for sure they’d go for an arena date, but the Florence & The Machine date in support of Ceremonials for Toronto will be August 2 at the Molson Amphitheatre. Update: Tickets are $24.50, $39.50 and $49.50 plus fees, on sale Friday, The Walkmen are opening.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “No Light, No Light”

eMusic gets to know Veronica Falls.

The Quietus interviews Trailer Trash Tracys.

i-D talks to Greg Hughes of Still Corners, who’ve just debuted a new video from last year’s Creatures Of An Hour.

Video: Still Corners – “Endless Summer”

Clock Opera continue to pave the way to the April 9 release of Ways To Forget with videos; there’s a stripped-down performance clip of the current single and four-part “making of” series to watch at their YouTube channel.

Video: Clock Opera – “Once And For All” (under the floorboards session)

The Wedding Present have released the first video from their new album Valentina, out March 20. They’re at The Horseshoe on March 25.

Video: The Wedding Present – “You Jane”

Magnet kicks off a week of The Big Pink as guest editors with a band Q&A feature.

Field Music discusses the economics of being in a band with The Guardian.

Saint Etienne have released a video from their forthcoming album Words And Music By Saint Etienne, due out on May 21; full details on the album were just released and can be read over at The Line Of Best Fit.

Video: Saint Etienne – “Tonight”

Lightships – the new project from Teenage Fanclub’s Gerard Love – has released another video from their debut Electric Cables, coming April 3.

Video: Lightships – “Sweetness In Her Spark”

The Futureheads talk to NME about the process of recording their new a capella album Rant, out April 2.

NME has excerpted some choice passages from an upcoming feature interview with Noel Gallagher, and amongst other things the former Oasis songwriter says these days he’d rather collaborate with Damon Albarn of Blur than Radiohead.

Know who else is willing to collaborate with Albarn? Graham Coxon. The pair debuted a new Blur song the other night at a War Child benefit show, and while it’s a bit slower/ballad-y than anyone should hope a new Blur record would be, it’s unequivocally gorgeous. There’s a good quality video of the performance at Consequence Of Sound, NME antes up with a video of the full band doing a run-through of “Tender” before tonight’s appearance at The Brits and Alex James offers some thoughts on Blur as an ongoing proposition at The Sun. And oh yeah, the band is playing the closing ceremonies for the Olympics, says DIY.

Video: Blur – “Under The West Way” (live)

NPR is streaming the new Fanfarlo album Rooms Filled With Light ahead of its February 28 official release, and a third live session video has surfaced. The band are at The Mod Club on March 24.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Bones” (live session video)
Stream: Fanfarlo / Rooms Filled With Light

The Line Of Best Fit are streaming the whole of the new The Mary Onettes EP Love Forever, along with song-by-song annotations from the band. It’s out February 28.

MP3: The Mary Onettes – “Love’s Taking Strange Ways”
Stream: The Mary Onettes / Love Forever

Niki & The Dove’s debut album finally has a title and a release date, at least in Europe. Instinct will be out on May 14 on the eastern side of the Atlantic.