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Archive for March, 2012

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Night Three A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWe’re almost done, I swear. The writeup for the Friday night of SXSW 2012 is over here.

Tashaki Miyaki
– Mysterious Los Angeles duo who perform as a trio and prefer nothing to be known about them besides that they dig The Velvet Underground, Everly Brothers and Jesus & Mary Chain who’ve just released the equally mysteriously-titled EP.

Photos: Tashaki Miyaki @ Latitude 30 – March 16, 2012
MP3: Tashaki Miyaki – “Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin'”
Video: Tashaki Miyaki – “Best Friend”
Video: Tashaki Miyaki – “Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin'”
Video: Tashaki Miyaki – “Get It Right”
Stream: Tashaki Miyaki / EP

Fort Lean
– Brooklyn-based five-piece that sounds like what you’d expect a Brooklyn-based five-piece in 2012 to sound like; all dreamy guitars and complex rhythms. They’re in town at Lee’s Palace on April 14 opening for We Were Promised Jetpacks. The Vinyl District and EastScene have features on the band.

Photos: Fort Lean @ Karma Lounge – March 16, 2012
MP3: Fort Lean – “Sunsick”
Video: Fort Lean – “Beach Holiday”
Video: Fort Lean – “High Definition”
Video: Fort Lean – “Perfect”
Stream: Fort Lean / Fort Lean

Razika
– Just another Norwegian all-girl ska-pop band; a dime a dozen. Just kidding about that latter part – a bit understated but fun times.

Photos: Razika @ The Iron Bear – March 16, 2012
MP3: Razika – “Eg Vetsje”
MP3: Razika – “Nytt pa Nytt”
Video: Razika – “Vondt i hjertet”

Team Me
– Exuberant gang of Norwegian youths with a penchant for acting out (in a good way). Their debut To The Treetops came out earlier this month.

Photos: Team Me @ The Loft – March 16, 2012
MP3: Team Me – “With My Hands Covering Both of My Eyes I Am Too Scared To Have a Look At You Now”
Video: Team Me – “Dear Sister”
Video: Team Me – “Show Me”

Howler
– Youthful Minneapolis outfit who’ve been tagged as the next saviours of garage rock. Whether it’s actually true or just hyperbole, their debut America Give Up is pretty good and their live show is better; see for yourself at The Drake Underground on April 5. The Vancouver Sun, Georgia Straight, and San Francisco Examiner have feature pieces on the band.

Photos: Howler @ Latitude 30 – March 16, 2012
MP3: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck”
Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck”
Video: Howler – “Told You Once”

2:54
– London-based Thurlow sisters who recall the goth- and dream-pop acts of the ’80s with an added dose of sultriness. Their self-titled debut is due on May 28; look for them in Toronto for NXNE – June 15 at Lee’s Palace, to be precise – as part of a North American tour. The Fly has an interview with the pair.

Photos: 2:54 @ Latitude 30 – March 16, 2012
Stream: 2:54 – “You’re Early”
Video: 2:54 – “You’re Early”
Video: 2:54 – “Scarlet”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day Two

July Talk, Chains Of Love, The Big Sleep and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDespite only seeing four bands, I like to think that I covered a fair bit of ground – stylistically, geographically, exploratorily (?), what have you – on the first night of Canadian Musicfest. The Friday night stuck slightly closer to home on all fronts but yielded much better and consistent results.

The evening kicked off at Rancho Relaxo with Neufovin in all the way from Finland (I mistakenly called them Norwegian in my festival preview and apologize profusely). Besides having an affinity for anything Scandinavian, the foursome impressed me with the samples posted online – they’ve yet to release a debut album but already sound like a tight and creative unit only somewhat all over the place with respect to what they want to sound like. But based on their set, they were leaning towards a low-level orbit brand of space-rock, propelled by their nimble drummer whose work reminded me of The National’s Bryan Devendorf and that’s basically the highest praise I can give a drummer; I could have just sat and listened to him play all night. The vocals could use a little more expressiveness but hearing their confident transitions from sonic grace to chaos and back again, I would definitely like to hear that debut whenever it’s done.

Photos: Neufvoin @ Rancho Relaxo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Neufvoin – “Drunken Captain”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Villasukka”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Mouse On Mars”
Video: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”

I’m not sure who booked New York’s The Big Sleep into The Painted Lady, but it was a weird venue for them, being better suited to singer-songwriter acts than heavy, lumbering rock acts – to wit, they kept getting asked to turn down their amps through their set. But while the band had a track record, their third album Nature Experiments had just come out in January and was their first in four years; they probably had to work to get back onto peoples’ radars. I for one had lost track of them after seeing them at Pop Montreal 2006 circa their debut Son Of The Tiger, but remembered them well enough to know I wanted to see/hear them again, given the chance. Happily, time hadn’t messed with my memory and they were as good as I recalled, coming across equal parts intense and cool and heavy all around. Sonya Balchandani and Danny Barria have distinct vocal styles but maintain a similarly detached personality, offering a nice balance to their decidedly pummelling guitar-bass-keys instrumental groove. I imagine it’d make great car chase music.

Photos: The Big Sleep @ The Painted Lady – March 23, 2012
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Bad Blood”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Pinkies”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Murder”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “You Can’t Touch The Untouchable”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Valentine”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Murder”

At this point, the best laid plans kind of fell apart as catching a streetcar across College from Ossington to Spadina turned into walking across College from Ossington to Spadina, an exercise that took quite a bit longer than intended (it wasn’t by choice). But being late for an 11PM showcase means you’re early for an 11:30 one, so I managed to slip into the El Mocambo between sets and get in position for one of the festival’s hotter acts, Vancouver’s retro-soul revivalists Chains of Love. They’d been a highlight of last year’s NXNE and their just-released debut Strange Grey Days was a solid one, so I was pretty content with this plan B. This show was somewhat less gleefully chaotic than that Silver Dollar show – the ElMo stage affording enough space that the band weren’t falling over each other up there – but while that was part of the fun last time, its loss was mitigated by the fact that the band were more polished and all-around better sounding than last time, and the extra space allowed for frontwoman Nathalia Pizarro’s dance moves and tambourine workout. They wisely stuck to their uptempo material for the set and while that meant that it was all over extra fast – I don’t think it even clocked in at half an hour – they definitely proved that NXNE show wasn’t any kind of fluke. Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: Chains Of Love @ The El Mocambo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Chains Of Love – “In Between”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “Breaking My Heart”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “You Got It”

And if Chains Of Love were going to pass on their title of “best new discovery at The Silver Dollar during a music festival” – it’s a real thing, look it up – then across the street July Talk were ready to take it. I didn’t know a thing about them ahead of time, but The Silver Dollar is usually a pretty safe bet during either CMF or NXNE – at the very least, whatever you see will be loud and rocking and at the very most, it’ll be amazing. That might be overselling July Talk a bit, but they were definitely one of the most entertaining sets I’d see all week. Fronted by the duo of Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, they offered a sort of rowdy, sleazy blues punkabilly take on June & Johnny/Gram & Emmylou with not a little Sailor & Lula/Mickey & Mallory dynamic thrown into the mix. They two were electric onstage, whether playfully shoving, biting or rubbing up against each other or working the audience – Fay graciously put lipstick on more than a few members of the crowd – all the while leading their band through some foot-stomping, ass-shaking tunes that were almost as tuneful as they were theatrical. Tremendously fun, and I don’t know what is says about me that I assumed they were an out-of-town act from Los Angeles or the like… and not from right here in Toronto. Who knew we had it in us?

Photos: July Talk @ The Silver Dollar – March 23, 2012
M4A: July Talk – “Paper Girl”
M4A: July Talk – “The Garden”

PS I Love You are gearing up for the May 8 release of Death Dreams with a second MP3 and a set of tour dates that includes a May 15 date at The Garrison.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers”

The AV Club gets to know Army Girls; they’re opening up some of those PS I Love You dates, no word if they’re going to be doing so in Toronto but one can hope. Update: Yup, they’re opening the Garrison show.

And not to give up the title of pre-eminent loud Canadian rock duo, Japandroids will release their new one Celebration Rock on June 5 and have plotted their own Summer tour which brings them to The Horseshoe on June 23. A stream from the new record is available now.

Stream: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

It almost goes without saying that the just-announced Fucked Up show at The Power Plant art gallery space at Harbourfront on May 1 will be something more than just a concert, but they haven’t said what yet. But if you’re looking to get some Fucked Up in you life, keep the date open.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

The Wooden Sky have released the third instalment of their “Grace On A Hill” video session series at Chart. They play The Opera House on April 20.

Exclaim and The Awl talk to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, whose new album New Wild Everywhere is out next week and streaming in full over at aux.tv. They’re at The Music Hall on June 2 and have just announced an in-store at Sonic Boom for April 3 at 6PM.

Stream: Great Lake Swimmers / New Wild Everywhere

Opening up that Great Lake Swimmers show will be Cold Specks, who was profiled by NOW and The Globe & Mail. I Predict A Graceful Explosion will be out May 22.

The Globe & Mail, Willamette Weekly, Edmonton Journal, and NOW talk to John K Samson.

Exclaim and aux.tv talk to Joel Plaskett about his new record Scrappy Happiness. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

The National Post and Spinner chat with John O’Regan of Diamond Rings about his second album and how it feels to be a Juno nominee.

Also up for a Juno is Dan Mangan; The Vancouver Sun has an interview with the singer-songwriter.

Spin points to a stream if another of Arcade Fire’s contributions to the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Horn Of Plenty”

Pitchfork reports that Caribou’s performance at the 2009 ATP festival as the Caribou Vibration Ensemble is available to watch in its entirety at Vimeo. Caribou opens up for Radiohead at Downsview Park on June 16.

A track from Moonface’s new album With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is now available to download. It’s out April 17.

MP3: Moonface – “Headed For The Door”

DIY interviews Claire Boucher of Grimes.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

SXSW Day Three A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were to ask me what the daylight portion of SXSW Friday, I’d just point you over here.

Shearwater
– Austin art-rock band led by Jonathan Meiburg whose latest album Animal Joy is their most visceral and possibly best release to date. Clash talks to Meiburg about his literary influences and Stereogum has premiered a new video.

Photos: Shearwater @ The ACC Radio Day Stage – March 16, 2012
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: Shearwater – “You As You Were”
Video: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”

Fanfarlo
– Anglo-Swedish collective who’ve just released their difficult second album in Rooms Filled With Light. The Boston Globe has an interview and NYC Taper is sharing a recording of another of their SXSW showcases.

Photos: Fanfarlo @ The ACC Radio Day Stage – March 16, 2012
Video: Fanfarlo – “Shiny Things”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Replicate”
Video: Fanfarlo – “De.Con.Struc.Tion”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Atlas”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Fire Escape”
Video: Fanfarlo – “The Walls Are Coming Down”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”

The Big Pink
– London electro-rock duo who followed up their breakout 2009 debut A Brief History Of Love earlier this year with the bigger-reaching Future This.

Photos: The Big Pink @ Stubb’s – March 16, 2012
MP3: The Big Pink – “Stay Gold”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Give It Up”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Dominos”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Velvet”
Video: The Big Pink – “Hit The Ground (Superman)”
Video: The Big Pink – “Dominos”
Video: The Big Pink – “Velvet”
Video: The Big Pink – “Too Young To Love”

Best Coast
– California guitar-pop duo with the most famous cat in indie rock will release their second album The Only Place on May 15 with a date at The Phoenix to follow on July 21. Fuse has an interview with frontwoman Bethany Cosentino.

Photos: Best Coast @ Stubb’s – March 16, 2012
MP3: Best Coast – “The Only Place”
MP3: Best Coast – “Boyfriend”
MP3: Best Coast – “Something In The Way”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
Video: Best Coast – “Our Deal”
Video: Best Coast – “Boyfriend”
Video: Best Coast – “Crazy For You”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day One

Aerials Up, Old World Vulture, Squarehead and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBack to back festivals! What a great idea. Just prior to heading out to engage with Canadian Musicfest’s 2012 edition, I took a look back at years past and noticed a couple trends – one, that I usually complain about the lineup (check!) and that as a result of not wanting to see the same old same old, I try to branch out and see new and unknown acts, usually from foreign climes, with little background and no guarantee of quality… with consistently mixed results. Would the class of ’12 fare any better? Let’s find out.

Toronto/St. Catharine’s quartet Old World Vulture didn’t really fit into the “unknown to me” category as I’ve been writing them up and recommending them since 2009 but this would actually be the first time I’d ever gotten around to seeing them live, so in that sense it was new. They were playing the upstairs of The El Mocambo, where I don’t think I’d set foot in nearly a decade – since the Blow-Up Britpop nights moved to other venues – and having undergone some renovations since then, it felt both unfamiliar and nostalgic. Not that that was either here nor there – Old World Vulture’s loud and heavy sound was about as far removed from The Wannadies as you were going to get and they were going to keep my attention firmly in the present. In a sense, it’s good that the post-rock genre is rather formulaic as it forces purveyors of it to find a unique angle; Old World Vulture set them apart with their synth leads, which were most interesting when evoking a ’70s sci-fi film vibe. Elsewhere, they were more reminiscent of mid-era Mogwai with less reliance on the loud-quiet thing and more on maintaining a steady, lumbering menace. I was glad to finally be able to tick “see Old World Vulture” off my to-do list.

Photos: Old World Vulture @ The El Mocambo – March 22, 2012
MP3: Old World Vulture – “J.R. Flood”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Trophy Lovers”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Bastard Engine”

It’s no short hop from the El Mo to The Drake, but I made pretty good time in hoofing it from A to B in order to catch Scottish collective Aerials Up make their Toronto debut. Looking at the band – a co-ed collective of happy young people brandishing an assortment of rock and orchestral instruments, you might think you know exactly what to expect: big, exuberant pop with multi-part harmonies and swells of strings bouncing off crunchy electric guitar… and you’d be about right. But even though they don’t add anything new to the style, they don’t make it feel any more played out thanks to their enthusiasm, charm, and likeable tunes. The turnout was decent enough for the gig though it was a bit hard to say how many were genuinely paying attention – even when exhorted by the band to stand up, some wouldn’t give up their seats. The Daily Record reports on some of the fundraising efforts the band undertook to afford to come over to Canada.

Photos: Aerials Up @ The Drake Underground – March 22, 2012
Video: Aerials Up – “I Am”
Video: Aerials Up – “Superglue”

It was then a streetcar ride down Queen to get to The Rivoli where the Irish showcase had been chugging along all night. I arrived in time to see Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake get started, I thought their moody, ambient approach promising – vocalist Daniel McAuley certainly had a falsetto that you could build impressive things around. But within a few numbers it became clear that their songs were not going to coalesce into more coherent songs, and instead would remain sketches more interested in allowing the vocals to roam than offer a memorable listening experience, the extended breaks between songs fiddling with the laptop not helping matters either. A few pieces did possess enough structure to offer optimism about the future and there’s no question they’re in possession of some impressive instruments to work with, but they really need some melodies.

Photos: Cloud Castle Lake @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
Stream: Cloud Castle Lake – “A Wolf Howling”

On the other hand, Dublin’s Squarehead were pretty much as advertised: a scrappy power pop trio with garage-y and punkish tendencies It did take a few songs for the expected raucousness to kick in – they seemed to need a little time to warm up – but their acceleration was steady and by the end of their set, they were getting pretty punchy up there. A fun and tuneful set that made up somewhat for the fact that I didn’t get home till 2:30AM and all the SXSW recovery that I’d been stockpiling through the week was basically all squandered.

Photos: Squarehead @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
MP3: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Video: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Stream: Squarehead / Yeah Nothing

Nada Surf will warm up for their show at The Opera House that evening with an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 4 at 6PM. The Seattle Times has a chat with frontman Matthew Caws.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”

Nebulously-named buzz band the praise for their new record Open Your Heart into town for two shows – June 14 at The Garrison and June 15 at Wrongbar. And if you intuit from the timing and frequency that this’ll be for NXNE, you get a cookie.

MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”

Pitchfork reports that Mission Of Burma will release a new album entitled Unsound on July 9; the first single is available to stream now.

Stream: Mission Of Burma – “Dust Devil”

If you didn’t download that mixtape they offered last week or just want to hear the one new song, Titus Andronicus’ contribution to a split 7″ with Diarrhea Planet is now available to stream.

Stream: Titus Andronicus – “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus”

Retribution Gospel Choir have release a video from their new EP The Revolution/.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “The Stone (Revolution)”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a Bowerbirds show in New York last week and Gapers Block an interview.

Prefix interviews M. Ward.

Paper talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent/. She has a couple of collector-interest releases coming up – a 7″ with two new tracks for Record Store Day on April 21 and a deluxe edition of Strange Mercy called – wait for it – Stranger Mercy that comes with a DVD of her 4AD Sessions and attendant promo videos on May 8.

Magnet and The AV Club talk to James Mercer of The Shins, who will be paying a visit at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

The National Post and Chart talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. Their show at The Phoenix now in the books, their next visit will come April 27 and 28 at The Air Canada Centre opening up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Night Two A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWriteups of all things Bruce and non-Bruce from Thursday night can be found over here.

The Low Anthem
– Rhode Island threesome-become-fivesome who are fluent in folk, blues and pop dialects of the language of Americana; their fourth album Smart Flesh came out in 2011.

MP3: The Low Anthem – “To Ohio”
Video: The Low Anthem – “Ghost Woman Blues”
Video: The Low Anthem – “Boeing 737”
Video: The Low Anthem – “Charlie Darwin”

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
– Bruce Springsteen. The Boss. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He was at the festival to do the conference keynote and, of course, he had to play a show. His new record Wrecking Ball had just come out a couple weeks prior. NPR has got his keynote from earlier in the day available to stream.

Photos: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater – March 15, 2012
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “We Take Care Of Our Own”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Ain’t Good Enough For You”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Save My Love”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “The Wrestler”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “My Lucky Day”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Working On A Dream”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “A Night With The Jersey Devil”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Long Walk Home”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Radio Nowhere”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “O Mary Don’t You Weep”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Pay Me My Money Down”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Devils & Dust”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Lonesome Day”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “The Ghost Of Tom Joad”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Dead Man Walkin'”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Secret Garden”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Murder Incorporated”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Streets Of Philadelphia”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Leap Of Faith”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Better Days”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Human Touch”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Tougher Than The Rest”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “One Step Up”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Brilliant Disguise”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “War”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “My Hometown”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Glory Days”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “I’m On Fire”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Born In The USA”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Dancing In The Dark”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Atlantic City”

Patrick Watson
– Montreal-based singer-songwriter/band/perennial Polaris shortlister whose third album Adventures In Your Own Backyard comes out April 17. He/they play The Music Hall in Toronto on May 29.

Photos: Patrick Watson @ St. David’s Historic Sanctuary – March 15, 2012
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Fireweed”
Video: Patrick Watson – “The Storm”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Drifters”
Video: Patrick Watson – “The Great Escape”