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Archive for October, 2012

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Asleep In The Pews

Evening Hymns stream last Toronto show, slate next Toronto show

Photo via FacebookFacebookThe last time that Evening Hymns graced a Toronto stage, it was back in August as part of the Summerworks festival and came a few days before the official release of their gorgeously heavy second album Spectral Dusk. After that show, which featured a band and lightshow specially assembled for that performance, Jonas Bonnetta and Sylvie Smith – the Evening Hymns principals – jetted across the ocean to tour the record across Europe with friends and album collaborators The Wooden Sky, only returning a couple weeks ago only to set out on a coast-to-coast, cross-Canada tour last week which will keep them working the Trans-Canada Highway until the end of November.

And then they’ll come home.

The band have just announced a tour-ending, hometown performance for December 15 at the Church Of The Redeemer in Toronto, a room that doesn’t frequently host live music but sounds marvelous when it does. It’s hard to think of a more appropriate locale to bookend what has surely been a physically and emotionally draining Autumn for Bonnetta. And to coincide with the Canadian tour and show announcement, CBC Music has made a recording of that August show at The Great Hall available to stream. And yep, it’s as beautiful as I remember it.

MP3: Evening Hymns – “Arrows”
Video: Evening Hymns – “Family Tree”

Also just announced and perhaps of interest – Gentleman Reg will release his third Leisure Life EP of the Fall digitally on November 6, with the collected physical edition coming not long after on November 20 and a hometown release show taking place at The Gladstone on December 2. Details at Exclaim, and all three are available to stream

Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part One
Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part Two
Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part Three

Cold Specks has been added as support for Conor Oberst at Massey Hall on December 8. Remaining tickets range from $39.50 to $69.50.

Video: Cold Specks – “Winter Solstice”

Since they’ll be all rehearsed up for their European tour in November as part of Constellation Records’ 15th anniversary, Do Make Say Think have slated a hometown show for The Opera House on December 7, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Do Make Say Think – “The Landlord Is Dead”

Beatroute talks quickly to Plants & Animals, in town at The Great Hall on November 15.

Interview, The Ottawa Citizen, The Grid, and Durham Region talk to John O’Regan of Diamond Rings, bringing his Free Dimensional tour through Toronto to The Mod Club on November 29.

The Broken Speaker talks to The Wooden Sky, playing a tour-ending, homecoming show of their own at The Phoenix on December 1.

Drowned In Sound chats with Japandroids, hitting The Phoenix on December 12.

The Balconies have squeezed a new video out of their now-three-year-old-and-counting self-titled debut. Why yes, that is a passive-aggressive nudge for a new record, how good of you to notice. At least the video is seasonally-themed.

Video: The Balconies – “Do It In The Dark”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Snowblink.

Spin and The Calgary Herald profile METZ.

The AV Club has a Blogotheque-produced video session with A.C. Newman, guest-starring one Neko Case. They sound great together – they should make a record or something.

NOW talked to The Wilderness Of Manitoba before last week’s record release show at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Beatroute and Queen’s Journal chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

No One Ever Sleeps

The Walkmen and Father John Misty aim to find out exactly how often is too often

Photo By Arno FrugierArno FrugierUsually when a band says, “we’ll see you soon” as they walk off the stage, it’s a mostly-empty platitude that means “we’ll see you when we’ve got a new record to push”, or “we’ll see you when our next single becomes a huge hit and allows us to come back and play a much bigger room”. For New York rock stalwarts The Walkmen and Los Angeles psych-folk bard Father John Misty, though, at least lately, it’s been an ironclad promise.

The Walkmen were here twice already this year – once in March at The Phoenix as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations, and again in August at the Molson Amphitheatre supporting both Florence & The Machine and their latest album Heaven – and Father John Misty has one-upped them, making his local debut at The Horseshoe in May, opening up for Youth Lagoon at The Opera House in July, and then returning again to headline Lee’s Palace just this past weekend, all in support of his debut Fear Fun. Which is great news for their fans if a bit hard on their fans’ pocketbooks.

But if you reside in that section of their fanbase Venn diagrams that intersect, the fact that they’re teaming up for a Winter tour should be an exciting one. It will bring them to The Danforth Music Hall on January 16 with ticket prices ranging from $33.50 to $45.50, which isn’t the cheapest, but when you consider the two-for-one value proposition, it’s a pretty good deal.

Le Blogotheque has a couple videos from The Walkmen’s 10th anniversary show in New York this Summer. Bullett, The Chicago Tribune, and The Phoenix have interviews with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty, who is continuing on his current tour.

MP3: The Walkmen – “Love Is Luck”
MP3: The Walkmen – “Line By Line”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”

Grantland goes behind the scenes of the first video from Titus Andronicus’ Local Business. That record brings them to Lee’s Palace on November 27 and provides context for this interview at The Guardian

Video: Titus Andronicus – “In A Big City”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Band Of Horses, hitting Massey Hall on December 5.

Pitchfork has details on the solo debut from Christopher Owens, former frontman for Girls. Lysandre will be out on January 14 and a couple songs from it are available to stream.

Stream: Christopher Owens – “Lysandre’s Theme / Here We Go”

The first preview track from Local Natives’ new record Hummingbird, due out January 29, is now available to download. They’re at The Opera House on March 28.

MP3: Local Natives – “Breakers”

Though busy for the last while as being part of Thao & Mirah, Thao Nguyen has gotten back together with The Get Down Stay Down – though grammar geeks will find it interesting they’re now credited as “and” instead of “with” – and will release a new album in We The Common on February 5. Stream the first track below.

Stream: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Holy Roller”

Under The Radar points out that Telekinesis has, for shits and giggles, made a new Hallowe’en-themed song available to download.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Clock Strikes Midnight”

Loud & Quiet and The Huffington Post talk to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

Paul Banks talks to Exclaim and Northern Transmissions about and offers Drowned In Sound a track-by-track guide to Banks.

The Shins’ contribution to the now-available Starbucks holiday comp Holidays Rule – a Paul McCartney cover – is now available to stream in whole thanks to Stereogum, and if that’s not enough Shins for you, the whole of their Austin City Limits episode is available to watch. And if that’s still not enough, well I can’t help you.

Stream: The Shins – “Wonderful Christmas Time”

aux.tv talks to Lou Barlow about keeping the balance between Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, and all that other stuff he does.

Mojo interviews Bob Mould.

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

"I Walked With A Zombie"

R.E.M. cover Roky Erickson

Image via AmazonAmazonI was going to make this the first Sunday in almost a decade I didn’t post a cover, but then I remembered that this selection from Where The Pyramid Meets Eye – the 1990 tribute album to Roky Erickson – existed and even though I used it three years ago, I don’t care. Hallowe’en-themed songs are tougher to find than you might think.

And in those three years, a lot has changed. R.E.M., who at that time were coming off their celebrated return to rock form Accelerate and prepping their Live At The Olympia. Now, they no longer exist having retired after one final album together in last year’s Collapse Into Now. Now, Peter Buck has just released his deliberately low-key debut self-titled solo record and Michael Stipe is judging an art exhibition of animated .gifs. Because… yeah.

Erickson, for his part, has continued to re-establish the psych-rock legacy he started with the 13th Floor Elevators, releasing the Okkervil River collaboration True Love Cast Out All Evil in 2010 and touring semi-regularly. In fact, he was coming to town the week I posted this last time, and is going to be at Lee’s Palace again this coming Saturday, November 3. How about that?

MP3: R.E.M. – “I Walked With A Zombie”
Stream: Roky Erickson – “I Walked With A Zombie”

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

CONTEST – Rose Cousins @ The Glenn Gould Studio – November 3, 2012

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Rose Cousins
What: Maritime singer-songwriter whose stella, Polaris long-listing third album We Have Made A Spark came out back in February.
Why: After a wonderfully intimate record release show at The Rivoli in May, Cousins brings it back to Toronto in some decidedly more upscale digs.
When: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Where: The Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto (all ages)
Who else: Nova Scotia’s Jennah Barry supports.
How: Tickets for the show are $29.50 in advance but courtesy of Killbeat, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Rose Cousins” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, October 31.
What else: The Ottawa Citizen has an interview with Cousins.

MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”
Video: Rose Cousins – “Go First”

Friday, October 26th, 2012

London Conversations

Saint Etienne and Snowblink at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo after a five year layoff, following the almost-simultaneous implosion of all my bands, I’ve begun picking up the guitar again on a regular basis. Mostly just messing around, getting my chops back in order and my calluses back, but certainly with more seriousness than I have in a very long time (though if anyone wants to start a band that sounds like The Afghan Whigs meets Catherine Wheel, get in touch). This is relevant because the last time Saint Etienne were here in 2002, despite the fact that two acts I liked – Dot Allison and Stars – were opening and that I actually did enjoy the one comp I had – Too Young To Die – I gave it a pass because I was certain that a synth/sample-only act – read: no guitars – would be boring to see.

But older and wiser, and having spent the past decade getting decidedly better acquainted with their work as well as their latest effort Words and Music by Saint Etienne, I was quite excited to make up for that missed opportunity on Wednesday night for the first show of their North American tour in support of Words & Music, whether they brought an orchestra or iPod for accompaniment. See, this is me growing as a music fan.

Opening act Snowblink more than supplied any six-string fix I might have needed. The duo of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman let their respective guitars, a Joe Satriani signature Ibanez (!) and Snowblink signature antler-laden SG for her, a homebrew Telecaster for him, merge to create a gentle, atmospheric rain shower of notes for Gesundheit’s birdlike voice to flitter through in running through selections from their new record, Inner Classics. The two got a bit of help from a third player on percussion and electronics and the audience as a bell section, but most of the magic came from the two Dans. And if you thought that Gesundheit’s vocals would be ill-suited to something as earthy as a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Fall To Pieces”, well they’d have proved you wrong.

Moving the show from the Mod Club, where it was originally intended, to the Opera House may have turned out to be overly optimistic – the audience could have easily fit into the cozier room – but it’s possible that some of their hardcore middle-aged Anglophile demographic had been peeled off by the New Order show happening over at the Sony Centre. But those who were there were excited enough to make up for the elbow room, and when the four-piece Saint Etienne – the core trio plus backing singer – took the stage, Cracknell radiant in a sequined dress, feather boa, and huge smile, they were clearly just as happy to be there.

As expected, the live set up was with producers Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs in back of the stage, safely ensconced behind their keyboards and walls of technology, and Debsey Wykes off to the side with her mic and the only acoustic instruments of the evening – a cowbell and melodica – leaving most of the stage for Cracknell. And while there wasn’t literally a single, giant spotlight on her for the show, there may as well have been because even without much else going on on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off her; the elegant with a touch of coquette, glamorous yet grounded indie disco queen. From the opening synth beats of “Like A Motorway”, it was a near-perfect balance of hits and new material that focused on the upbeat over the torchy or ballady, turning the room into a time machine that carried the audience back to an era parallel to Britpop that was hip, stylish, and yob-free, to a romanticized London where you were 17 and the discovering music as a portal to another world – not unlike the experiences recounted in Words and Music opener “Over The Border”. It’s quite a feat to create such a vivid sense of nostalgia for a youth that wasn’t actually yours.

While my usual rule is that any electronic band would be better as a live band, it was no hardship to hear the songs done almost exactly as they were on record, given that extra dose of life by Cracknell and Wykes’ vocals and Wiggs and Stanley’s live keyboards overtop the sequences. Not many bands could make this sort of live presentation so enjoyable, but with a frontwoman like Cracknell and songs like theirs, Saint Etienne make it look effortless. I’m sure that there could be a wholly live incarnation of Saint Etienne that would be amazing to witness – “Sylvie” and “You’re In A Bad Way” would actually translate wonderfully – but it would probably require an absurd amount of players. This was more than fine as is.

After an hour long main set, they returned for a two-song encore that saw Cracknell botching the chorus in “I’ve Got Your Music”, but laughing it off and recovering wonderfully, before closing with a stellar version of “He’s On The Phone”. And despite an audience that really didn’t want to leave and demanded a second encore, that was the end. One could think about all the nuggets of perfect pop that we didn’t get to hear – “Hobart Paving”! “Hug My Soul”! – it was probably far better to focus on the goodness that we did get. Everyone seeing the band on their later dates, your in for a treat.

And if anyone wants to start a band that sounds like The Afghan Whigs meets Catherine Wheel meets Saint Etienne, get in touch.

Exclaim also has a review of the show and The Washington Post an interview with Sarah Cracknell.

Photos: Saint Etienne, Snowblink @ The Opera House – October 24, 2012
MP3: Saint Etienne – “Downey, CA”
MP3: Snowblink – “Unsurfed Waves”
MP3: Snowblink – “Black & White Mountains”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
Video: Saint Etienne – “I’ve Got Your Music”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Tonight”
Video: Saint Etienne – “How We Used To Live”
Video: Saint Etienne – “The Bad Photographer”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Sylvie”
Video: Saint Etienne – “He’s On The Phone”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Hug My Soul”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Like A Motorway”
Video: Saint Etienne – “I Was Born On Christmas Day”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Pale Movie”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Hobart Paving”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Who Do You Think You Are”
Video: Saint Etienne – “You’re In A Bad Way”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Avenue”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Nothing Can Stop Us”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Kiss And Make Up”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
Video: Snowblink – “Goodbye Eyes”
Video: Snowblink – “Black & White Mountains”
Video: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”
Video: Snowblink – “Ambergris”

Under The Radar and Paste talk to Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes.

In conversation with The AV Club, Noel Gallagher dishes on how the solo thing is going and what’s up with his Amorphous Androgynous electronic side-project (very little).

Clash gets a look at the Joy Formidable library. They support The Gaslight Anthem at The Sound Academy on November 25 and release their second full-length Wolf’s Law on January 23.

They’d already announced the title of their third album – Holy Fire – but further details on the new record Foals have emerged at The Quietus, most interestingly that it’s been produced by Alan Moulder and Flood, and will be out February 11.

Dublin’s Little Green Cars have celebrated the close of their North American tour – it wrapped here in Toronto on Monday – with the release of the official video for their current single. Their full-length debut is due out early next year.

Video: Little Green Cars – “The John Wayne”

Even though it seems like they’ve been touring and promoting Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming forever – it’s been a year – M83 have just released a video for the third single.

Video: M83 – “Steve McQueen”

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue have reprised their duet originally recorded for Cave’s 1995 Murder Ballads for Minogue’s new Abbey Road Sessions album, due out November 6 in North America. The track is available to stream and there’s an interview with Minogue about her quarter-century career at The Quietus.

Stream: Kylie Minogue with Nick Cave – “Where The Wild Roses Go”