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Archive for September, 2012

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Lycanthropy

Patrick Wolf and Woodpigeon at The Music Gallery in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI think there’s two ways to look at the frequency with which Patrick Wolf tours North America. One one hand, you could say he’s not here nearly enough considering how much time he spends on the road and how devoted his fanbase is – his last visit was over three years ago, in support of The Bachelor. On the other, we’re probably lucky that he comes through as much as he does, considering how… fluid his label (and tour support) situation tends to be from record to record – his last album, 2011’s rather excellent Lupercalia didn’t even get a physical release on this continent – it’s probably a testament to his determination to service that devoted fanbase that he not only keeps performing, but that he keeps making such a memorable show of it.

His visit this past Tuesday night at The Music Gallery wasn’t belatedly for Lupercalia – domestic release or no, you can be sure his fans had copies of it and its Brumalia companion EP – but was instead part of the celebrations marking Wolf’s tenth anniversary as a recording artist. The celebrations also included the release of a new album of old songs, reimagined in orchestral/acoustic fashion as Sundark & Riverlight – it wouldn’t be physically released until October 16, but was already out digitally by the time Wolf took the stage. And in a way, it was almost better if the fans hadn’t heard the new versions beforehand – hearing familiar songs in a completely new way could be a thrilling experience, particularly in such an intimate setting, but it’s easy for me to say that as I’d already heard the new record and knew that the new versions were brilliant.

The tour also came with some Can-con in the form of supporting act Woodpigeon. Band principal Mark Hamilton recently relocated from his former homebase of Calgary to Austria both for love and a change of scenery, and like they say – you have to leave to come back; Woodpigeon moved to Europe only to land the biggest North American tour of his career. I’ve seen Woodpigeon live in a wide range of configurations, from folk vocal group to plugged-in rock band, but this time it was just Hamilton solo and acoustic, save for some looping equipment for his choral vocal effects and layered guitar parts. I’ve always thought that Woodpigeon needed to be some variant of band to sound their best – some of the arrangements on record were too pretty to be stripped down – but while there were points that I thought some sort of accompaniest might have been nice, he was doing pretty well on his own.

Knowing the rate at which he writes and records, I expect there are at least a couple new Woodpigeon albums in the release queue but the set stuck mostly to already-released material and it having been a while since I last heard them live – February 2010, to be precise – I’d forgotten how great those songs were. The laid-back atmosphere perfectly suited Hamilton’s gentle deliver, allowing him to be casual and conversational with the audience and preface most songs with quick, charming anecdotes. It’s a shame that Woodpigeon has migrated across the Atlantic, but if that translates into better opportunities (like this one) and perhaps more appreciation from his home and native land, perhaps the expatriate life is the right one.

Patrick Wolf had advertised this as an acoustic tour, but anyone expecting it to be an acoustic guitar strum through the songbook clearly doesn’t know Patrick Wolf very well. The area in front of the stage was filled with musical curiosities, from zithers, tenor guitars, and several violins and violas, musical saw, and oboe, through to a harp and grand piano. This wasn’t going to be no coffee house. Backed by one, and sometimes two, additional players, Wolf moved amongst all the instruments – and sometimes just sang – with the variety in tools and textures kept things sounding as rich and interesting as if he’d been touring with a full band; the amount of work that had gone into reinventing the song selections from all points of his eclectic career was very evident. The new arrangements also put the spotlight on what a stunning instrument Wolf’s voice was – its range and expressiveness has never been in question, but given the sonic density of some of his more recent albums, the fact that it’s such a massively powerful force on its own has been easy to overlook; no longer.

You couldn’t get further in vibe from this show to the 2009 appearance at the Mod Club. That performance showcased Wolf at most mercurial, for both good and bad, but this time he was happy and comfortable and just having a good time – at one point, he commented that he could see the CN Tower in all its LED-lit glory through the window, but much preferred the view inside the church. And why not? He’d filled the room with a couple hundred devout fans who, being more used to being able to act out and toss glitter around at his shows, had to try and restrain themselves in this setting and as a result just sat and trembled. It was pretty damn cute. And you knew they were die-hard because when Wolf stopped “House” midway through, saying that he wasn’t feeling it on account of being homeless while on tour – in its place, he took a request and swapped it for “Penzance”, a b-side from his very first single. Career-spanning, indeed.

After a closing run of “Pelicans”, “The Magic Position” – no prompting needed to get the audience clapping, and “Bermondsy Street”, it occurred to me that this would probably be the first Patrick Wolf show I’d see that didn’t end with Wolf nearly naked. And indeed, when he returned for the encore, he was still fully dressed but had traded his medieval-styled tunic outfit for a strange black cloak/headdress combination that made him look like some sort of executioner bishop. It was a fitting outfit for the genuinely creepy piano and hammered saw rendition of “Vulture”, but for “City” he swapped the crucifix around his neck for a pentagram headdress and when he couldn’t properly sing into the mic with it on, he wore it upside-down as a crown. And, not wanting things to end just yet, he attempted an a capella reading of “Jerusalem” but after forgetting the lyrics a verse in, ditched, bowed, and left. An abrupt but still charming end to an utterly lovely night.

Panic Manual was also on hand. The Quietus and Portland Monthly have interviews with Wolf.

Photos: Patrick Wolf, Woodpigeon @ The Music Gallery – September 25, 2012
MP3: Patrick Wolf – “Vulture”
MP3: Patrick Wolf – “A Boy Like Me”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “For Paolo”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “The Way To Happiness”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Winter Song”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “I Am Your Balladeer”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty Hall Sing-Along”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Knock Knock”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “A Moment’s Peace For Mary Christa O’Keefe”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Love In The Time Of Hopscotch”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Oberkampf”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Overture”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “The City”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Together”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Falcons”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Time Of My Life”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “House”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Damaris”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Hard Times”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Vulture”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Accident And Emergency”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Magic Position”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Bluebells”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Libertine”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “Wind In The Wires”
Video: Patrick Wolf – “To The Lighthouse”
Video: Woodpigeon – “For Paolo”
Video: Woodpigeon – “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower”
Video: Woodpigeon – “Spirehouse”
Video: Wooodpigeon – “Featherstone”
Video: Woodpigeon – “A Moment’s Peace for Mary Christa O’Keefe”
Video: Woodpigeon – “…A Given”
Video: Woodpigeon – “Home As A Romanticized Concept Where Everyone Loves You”

The Guardian, Clash, NOW, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution have features on Beth Orton, who is streaming her new album Sugaring Season at NPR ahead of its official release next Tuesday. She plays The Mod Club on Sunday, September 30.

Stream: Beth Orton / Sugaring Season

A Music Blog, Yea?, Newbury & Thatcham Chronicle, BBC, and Panic Manual have interviews with Dry The River.

NOW welcomes Django Django to town; they’re at Wrongbar on Saturday night. SF Weekly also has a feature piece.

Exclaim talks to The xx, coming to town for a show at Massey Hall on October 23.

The Independent and NPR have features on Mumford & Sons, whose new album Babel is apparently set to sell a shit-tonne of records in its first week and top the charts. How about that. NPR also has a video session with the band.

Daytrotter welcomes Summer Camp for a session.

Charli XCX has a new video.

Video: Charli XCX – “So Far Away”

Exclaim gets to know Toy.

In addition to a stream of what is supposedly the first official single from Wolf’s Law, Seattle radio station 107.7 The End also has a firm release date for The Joy Formidable’s second album – it’s out January 23 of next year, and they’re opening up for The Gaslight Anthem at The Sound Academy on November 25 of this year.

Stream: The Joy Formidable – “This Ladder Is Ours”

Al Doyle of Hot Chip talks to Exclaim.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Metals

Feist wins 2012 Polaris Music Prize to almost universal, “yeah, okay”

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA day later than I would have liked – but some things like after parties, gin and tonics, and going to bed way too late can’t be helped – here’s my official writeup of Monday night’s Polaris Music Prize gala, in convenient short and long versions.

The short: Feist won the $30,000 prize for Metals. This pleased some people, displeased others. Eventually, everyone got on with their lives. Some got drunk first. Not naming names.

The long: Despite telling anyone who asked – or who’d listen – that I could see perfectly reasonable scenarios wherein six or seven of this year’s shortlist could walk off with the prize, I was more than a little surprised that in the end, it was Feist. This despite the fact that I become more convinced as time goes by that history will hold her as one of the most creative Canadian artists of this decade. I just thought that for all its artfulness, subtle merits, and general grower-ness, it hadn’t seemed to generate the sort of passion amongst listeners that would allow it to come out on top of such a strong pack of albums through what was surely a rough-and-tumble critical throw-down. Shows what I know.

That announcement came at the end of another largely entertaining Polaris gala, dedicated this year to the memory of Canadian music icon Sam ‘The Record Man’ Sniderman who’d passed away the day before.. Now that it’s in its seventh year, folks pretty much know what to expect: CBC’s Grant Lawrence hosting – this year with MuchMusic’s Lauren Toyota as co-host – cracking a few jokes but mainly passing things off to the journalists/jurors who would introduce each of the nominees and, if they were present, said artist would make an appearance or perform. This year’s live slate included seven of the ten shortlisters, with Japandroids bowing out on account of touring in Europe, Handsome Furs not performing on account of no longer existing, and Drake not showing up on account of being Drake.

The perennial question of, “who plays when?” had an extra angle this year in, “who plays after Fucked Up?” And since it would be unfair to make any one act follow their maniacal live show, the organizers probably did the smart thing in making everyone follow them while also kicking the show off with a bang. With the band laying down David Comes To Life, frontman Damian Abraham wandered onstage in a sweatshirt and backpack, looking like he just ducked out of class at Ryerson to attend to this, and got down to it. Having seen Fucked Up many times, this performance seemed a little more perfunctory than usual – not surprising given the setting, and unlike in 2009, they were here as former champions, not outsiders with something to prove. Still, they sounded good, Abraham still stripped down to his shorts and it was nice hearing Jennifer Castle on hand to reprise her vocals on “The Other Shoe”.

Handsome Furs had their moment next, with Alexei Perry offering an emotional and heartfelt thank you to all – Polaris and public – for their support over the band’s career. CBC has the full text of her acceptance speech, which no matter what came next would be the most moving part of the evening.

While some artists in the past have used the Polaris gala as an opportunity to do something different or fancy, Cold Specks opted to eschew performance frills and played to her strengths, letting her huge, emotive voice carry the songs from I Predict A Graceful Expulsion to the roof of the concert hall while her band played it spare and tasteful. Sticking with the “let the music do the talking” modus, Al Spx offered few words after performance, offering just, “cool” and “thanks”.

Cadence Weapon had the stage next, and playing with just his DJ as he always did, there was a lot of stage for him to work with. Taking advantage of the spotlight and working with efficiency, he got through three songs in his allotted time, rapping, dancing, and as on the nominated Hope In Dirt City, even trying a little actual singing. The beats were turned up loud but still sounded pretty tinny, though that’s less a flaw than a deliberate fidelity choice as on the record. One would hope.

Conversely, Kathleen Edwards only offered up one song, but decked it out with youth choir in addition to her full band. But rather than flirt with excess, “Soft Place To Land” from Voyageur was as vulnerable and bare a performance as the evening would offer. Edwards’ detractors – myself sometimes amongst them – often take issue with the traditionalness of her songwriting, but moments like this were a potent reminder that sometimes words, a voice, and a guitar are all you need. And a youth choir, if you’ve got access to one. Her acceptance speech was also solid and worth transcribing, or at least CBC Music thought so.

It’s possible that Grimes was conscious of how visually static her performance might seem, given that she wouldn’t have the time to deck the stage out in the way she would for her usual shows, so she did the only logical thing to spice it up: she hired a male pole dancer. And so as she went to work assembling the selections from the heavily-favoured Visions live, layering keyboards, triggering samples, and providing vocals, dancer Gary – whom she said she’d only met 10 minutes earlier – wowed the crowd with his moves up and down the stripper pole. It was all very tasteful and artistic, but not entirely PG – after messing up at one point an effected and very amplified, “fuck” rang out. Yup.

While acknowledging that Yamantaka//Sonic Titan might have a tough time recreating the dense and dynamic visual atmosphere of their typical live shows, I had still hoped that they’d be as much of a wild card on the evening’s performances as they were on the shortlist itself. That wasn’t to be, as they played without full costumes or stage props – the kabuki make-up was there, though – and chose the most prog and pop ends of YT//ST – “Reverse Crystal” and “Hoshi Neko” – to introduce themselves. It wasn’t as out there as some might have hoped for, but compared to Cold Specks, it still may as well have been from the furthest reaches of outer space.

Finally, there was Feist. She’d already begun slowly disassembling her Metals touring band when I saw her at FME earlier this month, so it wasn’t surprising that she had assembled a new band for the occasion. And while I didn’t recognize them at first, they were actually all familiar faces – Dan and Daniela from Snowblink on one side of her, AroarA (aka Andrew Whiteman from Broken Social Scene and Ariel Engle) on the other, forming a pretty formidable guitarmy with the added firepower of four-part harmonies. And this goes to what I’d said earlier about her creativity. No one would have said boo if Feist had just performed a couple songs from Metals solo – Feist solo is far from a simple, strummy affair – she instead went out and enlisted a new batch of players and rearranged the songs yet again for maybe a one-off performance. And while the other Metals shows were hardly polite, polished affairs, this was a raw, forceful performance that had the record had this kind of energy, even fewer people would be taking issue with its Polaris win.

And the win. Feist may genuinely not have expected to win – she’d later say she, like so many others, expected Grimes to take it – she reacted pretty quickly to the announcement of her name by Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara of Arcade Fire, repping last year’s winners, and immediately ducked under her table.

Recovering gracefully, she accepted the giant novelty cheque and opened her acceptance speech with the pullquote-ready soundbite, “This was my worst fear”. It’s unclear if she meant public speaking – you’d think she’d be used to having an audience by now – or actually winning the Polaris. The latter would be understandable for as much as Feist is generally universally respected in Canadian music, she’s committed the cardinal-to-some sin of being successful and as soon as her name was announced, you know the “she doesn’t need the money” comments began to swirl. Which, of course, is absolutely no one’s business but hers, but in the post-gala press conference she mentioned that at least some of the winnings would go to support the fight against the Melanchthon mega-quarry north of Toronto. See, there’s an upside when someone who doesn’t necessarily need to pay off van repair bills and bar tabs comes into the prize money.

In any case, the Polaris win is a very nice punctuation point on Feist’s year of Metals, and I’ve no doubt she’ll wear the title of reigning Polaris champ well. And if you don’t like it, just wait twelve months – there’ll be a new musical injustice for you to rage about.

Canada.com, Exclaim, Torontoist, Rolling Stone, Spinner, and The Globe & Mail were all on hand to cover the proceedings, and The Grid has documented the evening in animated .gif form.

Photos from the evening are below, and if you needed a refresher as to the what of the shortlist, I’ve got that too.

Photos: The Polaris Music Prize 2012 Gala @ The Masonic Temple – September 24, 2012

Cadence Weapon / Hope In Dirt City (Upper Class Recordings)
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning

Cold Specks / I Predict A Graceful Expulsion (Arts & Crafts)
Video: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”

Drake / Take Care (Universal Republic)
Video: Drake – “Marvin’s Room”

Kathleen Edwards / Voyageur (Maple Music)
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Feist / Metals (Arts & Crafts)
Video: Feist – “The Bad In Each Other”

Fucked Up / David Comes To Life (Matador)
MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”

Grimes / Visions (Artbus)
MP3: Grimes – “Oblivion”

Handsome Furs / Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
MP3: Handsome Furs – “Repatriated”

Japandroids / Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST (Psychic Handshake)
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”

BlogTO grabbed a pre-gala interview with Fucked Up.

DIY has a chat with Grimes.

Spinner talked to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan about the whirlwind of acclaim that brought them from obscurity to the Polaris shortlist, and Pitchfork points to a stream of the band covering David Bowie as a bonus track attached to a new compilation from Paper Bag Records. As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations (which kick off Thursday night at The Great Hall for three evenings and at which new signees Yamantaka//Sonic Titan play Friday), they’ve assembled a tribute album to David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars – itself turning 40 this year – and it’s available for free download. And while this comp would be noteworthy fun simply for existing, it’s actually really good. Like REALLY good. Listen to it while you read this piece at The National Post about the decade of Paper Bag.

Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “John, I’m Only Dancing”

Crystal Castles have released a new video from their still-untitled third album, due out sometime in November. And speaking of November, their November 3 4 show at The Kool Haus is now happening on November 4 3; all tickets are still valid for the new date. And I’ve probably not helped the confusion at all. Sorries. Update 2: Pitchfork reports the album will be called (III) and will be out November 5.

Video: Crystal Castles – “Plague”

Spin has premiered a new video from Caribou extra-electronic side-project Daphni whose debut album Jialong arrives October 16.

Video: Daphni – “Pairs”

Rolling Stone has premiered the first video from Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s new album Psychedelic Pill, and no – they’re still clearly not allotting much budget to their videos in Neil’s camp. We won’t be seeing anything of the calibre of “Wonderin'” anytime soon. The album is out October 30 and they’re at the Air Canada Centre on 19.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Walk Like A Giant”

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Long Vows

Band Of Horses, The xx, and some other concert announcements

Photo By Christopher WilsonChristopher WilsonBecause clearly I’m shit at this retirement or even just taking a day off thing… Some recent concert announcements with on-sales earlier than I’d have likely gotten to them otherwise. This is me. Thinking of you.

Band OF Horses were just here in August, yes, but that was in a sort of support role for My Morning Jacket and it was a good month before their new record Mirage Rock came out – today, I believe. And so to go with the new record are a batch of North American tour dates, including a stop back in Toronto at Massey Hall on December 5. Tickets for that are $42.50 to $49.50 and go on sale this Friday at 10AM. Presales are also likely, I leave those to you to sniff out.

There’s band features at Toro, Spotify, aux.tv, and Under The Radar. NPR also has a World Cafe session with the band.

Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”

Also back for seconds are The xx. They previewed Coexist here at the end of July, but are back as part of their full North American tour – as I predicted – with a show at Massey Hall on October 23. Tickets for that will range from $39.50 to $59.50 and go on sale this Thursday at 10AM. JAM has an interview with the band. Update: Beggars Canada has some presale info for Wednesday at 10AM.

MP3: The xx – “Angels”
MP3: The xx – “Sunset”

A little bit of an odd pairing, but a good one if you like guitars big and loud – The Gaslight Anthem and The Joy Formidable team up for a trans-Atlantic rock summit at The Sound Academy on November 25, tickets $26.50 general admission and $39.50 VIP, on sale Friday at 10. The Gaslight Anthem released Handwritten back in the Summer and The Joy Formidable are readying their second full-length Wolf’s Law for release next January.

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Wolf’s Law”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”

Also offering a healthy amount of guitar pyrotechnics are Six Organs Of Admittance. They’re at The Drake on November 28 in support of their new record Ascent. Tickets are $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Six Organs Of Admittance – “Waswasa”

And while I’ve got you here, I may as well direct you to Rolling Stone where The Mountain Goats are streaming their new record Transcendental Youth ahead of its official release next week; Time also has a feature. They’re at The Phoenix on October 20.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Cry For Judas”
Stream: The Mountain Goats / Transcendental Youth

Wilco also have a new video, taken from The Whole Love. So watch that.

Video: Wilco – “Sunloathe”

Dum Dum Girls also have a new video, taken from their new EP End Of Daze, out today.

Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows”

Ume have turned to Kickstarter to help record their next record.

Exclaim, Spinner, and The AV Club have features on The Afghan Whigs. They’re at The Phoenix on October 3.

Exclaim chats with Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

CBC Music talks to Josh Tillman of Father John Misty, in town at Lee’s Palace on October 27.

JAM and NOW talk to Dinosaur Jr, whose second of three nights at Lee’s Palace is tonight.

Exclaim, Austinist, NPR, and NOW profile Grizzly Bear, in town at Massey Hall tomorrow night.

Damnation.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Waging Heavy Peace

It’s Polaris day. Here’s a bunch of Canadian stuff.

Photo ByPenguinThe 2012 Polaris Music Prize gets awarded tonight, so in honour of the occasion, here’s a bunch of maple-flavoured content led off by a Canadian icon who hasn’t lived in Canada in some 40-plus years. Yeah!

If you have some time to kill and an interest in who Neil Young is circa 2012, you could do worse than to spend it with this feature piece at The New York Times. It covers his current relationship with alcohol and drugs – there is none – as well as his new record with Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill, his new digital audio format Pono, and why he decided to write an autobiography after insisting that he never would. Those memoirs, Waging Heavy Peace, comes out tomorrow – September 25 – and Psychedelic Pill is due out a month later on October 30. Neil leads the band into the Air Canada Centre on November 19.

Following up with news blips from some shortlisters, both this year and past… Feist may be ramping down the touring in support of last year’s Metals, but she’s ramping up the session videos – there’s a Les soiree de poches set at Le Blogotheque and From The Basement

CBC Music talks to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, who also have some new music to hear in the form of their soundtrack contributions to the Mark Of The Ninja video game. They play The Great Hall this Friday night for PBR10.

Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / Mark & Blade

Spinner talks to Kathleen Edwards about her Polaris odds.

NPR has a w World Cafe session and BlogTO an interview with Cold Specks.

Fucked Up tells Spinner they’d like to have Drake up there with them for tonight’s Polaris performance. They won’t, but they’d like it.

Metro talks to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers.

The Boston Globe profiles Metric.

Julie Doiron has announced a new studio album in So Many Days, due out October 23. She’s released a first MP3 from the record and will be playing live on October 14, opening for Ben Gibbard at the Danforth Music Hall, and then October 30 at The Mod club supporting Grapes Of Wrath.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “By The Lake”

Spinner talks to The Sadies about backing Neil Young on their contribution to 2010’s Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of The Band. Yeah, two years ago. Whatevs.

You Say Party! talk to Exclaim and The Vancouver Sun about their return to active duty, starting this Saturday night at The Great Hall for PBR10.

Olenka & The Autumn Lovers have readied a new mini-album entitled Hard Times, and given it an October 2 release date. You can stream one of the new songs now.

Stream: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Don’t Make Sense”

The Bomber Jacket talks to Kat Burns of Kashka, playing a record release show for her debut Vichada at The Drake on October 5.

BrooklynVegan has an interview with METZ, who’ve released a second MP3 from their self-titled debut. It’s out October 9 and they’re at The Horseshoe to mark its release on October 12.

MP3: METZ – “Wet Blanket”

A second MP3 from A.C. Newman’s forthcoming Shut Down The Streets is available to download. It’s out October 9 and he kicks off the tour in support of it October 21 at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: A.C. Newman – “Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns”

Toronto’s July Talk – whom you may recall impressing me at at CMF earlier this year – have put out a video from their self-titled debut album, due October 16.

Video: July Talk – “Paper Girl”

Both Spinner and A Heart Is A Spade have feature interviews with Diamond Rings, who’s just announced a cross-Canada tour in support of Free Dimensional, out October 22. The Toronto date comes November 29 at The Mod Club, tickets $18.50.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”

The Wooden Sky offers a feature piece on The Wooden Sky, who will be at The Phoenix on December 1.

Rich Aucoin has a fancy new Beach Boys-saluting video from his album We’re All Dying To Live. Toro and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald also have interviews.

Video: Rich Aucoin – “Brian Wilson is A.L.i.V.E.”

Loud & Quiet, The Calgary Herald, and aux.tv have interviews with Purity Ring.

aux.tv investigates the new “weird Canada” music scene bubbling up around the country.

The Globe & Mail examines how far the Polaris Prize has come in the past seven years, and what it now means for Canadian music

And a moment of silence for Sam “The Record Man” Sniderman, who passed away yesterday at 92. I spent much of my youth and my youthful allowance in his stores. Wait, did I say silence? I mean LOUDNESS.

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

"Nightswimming"

You Say Party! covers R.E.M.

Image via StereogumStereogumI’ve credited this week’s selection to Vancouver’s You Say Party! rather than their former monicker of out of deference for their reasons for dropping the second half of their original name and in the interests of staying current as they prepare to make their live comeback later this week, returning from their year-and-a-half hiatus. They were still You Say Party! We Say Die! in 2007 when they contributed a track to the Stereogum-compiled Drive XV, a tribute album to mark the 15th anniversary of R.E.M.’s seminal Automatic For The People album, toning down their signature dance-punk energy for a surprisingly New Romantic-ish take on “Nightswimming”.

A little basic arithmetic tells us that if 2007 was the 15th anniversary of Automatic, then this year – 2012 – would be the 20th and surely that’d be reason enough for year-long celebrations to commemorate one the great American bands’ greatest records… and yet there’s been nothing. Maybe that’s because they’ve been concentrating on marking the 25th anniversary of another of the aforementioned great American bands’ greatest albums – that’d be Document, the deluxe reissue edition of which comes out this Tuesday, September 25. That also means we’ll have to wait five years or so for the 25th anniversary edition of Automatic, but it also means we’ve got quarter-century editions of Green and Out Of Time coming before then, so that’s something to look forward to.

You Say Party’s return is also marking an anniversary, but not theirs – their label. Paper Bag Records’ tenth birthday party goes this week, and YSP are one of the big draws for the Saturday night of the three-day bender. Odds are “Nightswimming” won’t be on the set list, but it’d be pretty sweet if it was. At the time Drive XV came out, bassist Stephen O’Shea explained to Stereogum why they chose to cover that particular song.

There probably doesn’t exist the occasion that will ever bring R.E.M. back together (though hey, the I.R.S. marque turns 35 in a couple years…). Their dissolution a year ago last week seems pretty firm, and honestly I hope they stick to it. A graceful exit is a difficult thing to achieve, and they did so. But they’ve not been idle; Spin reports that guitarist Peter Buck debuted his new band Richard M. Nixon in Seattle last week, and a solo record will be out sooner rather than later. So there’s that.

MP3: You Say Party! – “Nightswimming”
Video: R.E.M. – “Nightswimming”