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Archive for January, 2013

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Full Of Fire

Video dispatches from Scandinavia and beyond, featuring The Knife

Photo By Alexa VachonAlexa VachonPresently trying to work out this year’s vacation schedule, which if all goes according to plan will feature a return engagement to Reykjavik and Stockholm in late Summer. Which has everything and nothing to do with why I’m clearing out a number of Scandinavian-sourced videos released to the internet over the last week or so.

Beginning with the nine-minute short film that doubles as the first taste of The Knife’s new album Shaking The Habitual. I missed out the sibling duo of Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer circa their 2006 debut breakout effort Silent Shout – not out of ignorance, but out of fear; their creepy electronica scared me, I admit it – but have gotten over that right about in time for the April 9 release o the follow-up. And it’s just as well, because it certainly doesn’t seem like they’ve gotten any less weird or unsettling in the interim. Pitchfork has details on the new record, which is a 98-minute epic that will probably be the best-selling triple-LP since Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me. Which wasn’t scary at all, unless harps scare you.

Video: The Knife – “Full Of Fire”

Of Monsters & Men have released another video from last year’s – or 2011’s, if you’re being pedantic – breakout debut My Head Is An Animal.

Video: Of Monsters & Men – “King and Lionheart”

Clash has a feature interview with Søen Løkke Juul of Indians, who has released a first video from his debut album Somewhere Else, officially out this week. He and his band are at The Drake Underground on March 4.

Video: Indians – “I Am Haunted”

Also out of Copenhagen – but at the other end of the musical spectrum – are Iceage, who have put out a clip from their next album You’re Nothing, in stores February 19.

Video: Iceage – “Ecstasy”

The National Post, U-T San Diego, and Seattle Weekly have interviews with Swedish electro-pop duo Niki & The Dove.

PopMatters talks to Sarah Assbring of El Perro Del Mar.

Pitchfork sums up the salient points from Sigur Rós’ Reddit AMA last week: namely that keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson’s temporary hiatus from the band is now permanent, leaving them officially a trio, and a new “aggressive” album that’ll basically be the polar opposite of last year’s ethereal Valtari will be out later this year. They play The Air Canada Centre on March 30.

Over to the UK, Daughter have released the first video from their forthcoming debut If You Leave, out March 18 in Europe and April 30 in North America. They play The Great Hall on May 7.

Video: Daughter – “Still”

Stereogum has premiered a new video by London’s The History Of Apple Pie, taken from their just-released debut Out Of View.

Video: The History Of Apple Pie – “See You”

Pitchfork is streaming Veronica Falls’ new album Waiting For Something To Happen, out February 12. They play The Garrison on March 12.

MP3: Veronica Falls – “Teenage”
Stream: Veronica Falls / Waiting For Something To Happen

Spinner interviews Foals. Their new record Holy Fire is out February 12.

Peter Hook rebuts and escalates the war of words with his former bandmates in New Order via interviews in Billboard and MTV Hive.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit talks to The Skinny and Drowned In Sound about their new one Pedestrian Verse, out Tuesday, and also gives the former a track-by-track walkthrough of the new record. They play The Phoenix March 31.

If you thought it weird that Billy Bragg’s previously-announced North American tour dates in support of his new record Tooth & Nail, out March 18, skipped over Toronto then you were right. It was weird. And now it’s rectified. He’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on May 4, tickets $32.50 to $37.50. And a song from the new record is available to stream or download via his website in exchange for an email.

Stream: Billy Bragg – “Handyman Blues”

Noah & The Whale have announced a May 6 release date for their new record Heart Of Nowhere.

Billboard interviews Charli XCX, who predicts an April or May release for her debut album – just in time for her May 23 appearance at The Sound Academy supporting Marina & The Diamonds.

And back to videos, though far from Scandinavia, Tame Impala have a new clip from Lonerism. Head to Urban Outfitters for notes from the video’s director and aux.tv for an interview with bandleader Kevin Parker.

Video: Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief”

Shugo Tokumaru has gone stop-motion animation for the new video from In Focus?.

Video: Shugo Tokumaru – “Katachi”

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I’ve Got Your Number, Son

She & Him are playing the what and where? Mysteries abound!

Photo By Sam JonesSam JonesShe & Him are not a band given to mystery. Despite the anonymous name, everyone knows it’s Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel and their sugar-sweet old-timey country-pop sound is pretty well-established at this point. And if you’re at all surprised that their third album, announced yesterday as coming May 7, is called Volume 3, then you really haven’t been paying attention. But residents of the Greater Toronto Area looking at the tour dates that accompanied the announcement can be forgiven for scratching their heads about the local date on the itinerary. Toronto Urban Roots Festival what?

With a lineup comprised so far of She & Him and Scottish pop darlings Camera Obscura – and presumably there’ll be more, else it’s not much of a festival – we also know it’s happening July 4 at a venue that Pollstar not-so-helpfully lists as “Toronto Urban Roots Festival Grounds”. Possibilities include an Olympic Island concert – it’s been a few years since we’ve had one of those though the Thursday date makes it unlikely to be the full-day event that would probably be necessary to justify the logistics – or maybe an evening-into-night to-do at the new go-to outdoor venue of Garrison Commons at Fort York? Surely it’s something besides an indoor venue show, else why the fancy name? The trail of online bread crumbs also tells us who’s running it, but they’re not talking right now. Next week, perhaps. Until then, we’ve got us a little mystery to chew on.

MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “My Maudlin Career”

Far less ambiguous is the return of “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” – Mr. Charles Bradley – in support of his second album Victim Of Love, out April 2. BrooklynVegan has all the tour dates but all Toronto needs to know is that he and his Extraordinaires will be at The Phoenix on May 11, tickets will be $22.50 in advance, his last visit was incredible, and a song from the new record is available to stream below. See how easy it is, Zooey?

Stream: Charles Bradley – “Strictly Reserved For You”

Austin country-rockers Phosphorescent will release their new one Muchacho – stream a song from it below – on March 19, and the subsequent tour dates bring them to The Horseshoe on April 15. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Stream: Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”

With the release of We The Common less than a week out, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down are streaming the new record over at NPR; there’s also an interview with Thao at Exclaim. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace on March 27.

MP3: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Holy Roller”
Stream: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down / We The Common

The 405 and Express Milwaukee talk to Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and if you’re more of a James McNew fan you’ll be pleased to know his first two records as Dump are getting reissued on vinyl for the first time ever. Superpowerless is out March 19 and I Can Hear Music on April 16; stream a track from each below.

Stream: Dump – “Secret Blood”
Stream: Dump – “Slow Down”

Mount Moriah are streaming a song from their new album Miracle Temple, out February 26. They play a Canadian Musicfest showcase at The Drake on March 20.

Stream: Mount Moriah – “Bright Light”

Whole lotta Bob Mould on your TV (or the computer you use as your TV). His performance from last weekend’s episode of Austin City Limits is now available to stream, and a new video from Silver Age – premiered via Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – was just released. See Bob in person at The Horseshoe on March 1.

Video: Bob Mould – “Star Machine”

Brooklyn’s The Men have gone the live performance route for the first video from their forthcoming New Moon, out March 5.

Video: The Men – “Electric”

Interview has an interview with Ra Ra Riot, who have made the title track of their new album Beta Love available to download. They play Lee’s Palace on March 6 and are part of the Arts & Crafts Field Trip fest at Fort York on June 8.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Beta Love”

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are streaming the first track from their forthcoming Specter At The Feast. It’s a sentimental choice, being a cover of The Call’s biggest hit; Call frontman Michael Been – father of BRMC frontman Robert Levon Been – passed away in 2010. The album is out March 18 and they play The Kool Haus on May 9.

Stream: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Let The Day Begin”

With their new album Hummingbird out this week – and a new MP3 from it available to download – Local Natives are the subject of features at The Line Of Best Fit, The Daily Beast, BBC, Consequence Of Sound, and The 405. They play a sold-out show at The Opera House on March 28.

MP3: Local Natives – “You & I”

The Flaming Lips have confirmed an April 2 release for their new album The Terror and have put out a lyric video for the first single. Details on the release over at The AV Club.

Lyric Video: The Flaming Lips – “Sun Blows Up Today”

The Strokes have released a new single which pretty much guarantees that a new album isn’t far off, but they’re not offering any other details for now. You can download it from their website in exchange for an email address and a promise not to make any a-ha jokes. Update: It’s called Comedown Machine and out March 26.

Stream: The Strokes – “One Way Trigger”

Spin and Washington City Paper have conversations with Widowspeak, who’ve released a new video from their excellent new record Almanac. It’s really excellent.

Video: Widowspeak – “Locusts”

Also with a new video are Grizzly Bear, taken from last year’s Shields. They’ve also offered some director’s notes on the clip via their Tumblr.

Video: Grizzly Bear – “gun-shy”

NPR welcomes Dinosaur Jr for a World Cafe session.

Billboard finds out what Jenny Lewis has been up to – finishing up a new solo record, putting in time on that Rilo Kiley rarities comp, and maybe taking part in the Postal Service tour?

LA Record chat with Redd Kross.

Wears The Trousers and The Telegraph have interviews with Aimee Mann.

NPR are streaming a World Cafe session with Father John Misty.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Strangers On The Street

It’s a veritable Two Hours Traffic jam of concert announcements. Yeah, that was bad. I know.

Photo By David BastedoDavid BastedoSo at this point I may as well just earmark Tuesday posts as concert announcement roundups, Mondays being the busiest day for tour-related press releases and also being the easiest to put together as I wait for a torrent of Bunheads to surface. Shut up, it’s a great show.

First up is Prince Edward Island’s finest power-pop band Two Hours Traffic, now with a slightly altered lineup – guitarist Alec O’Hanley left after 2009’s Territory and can now be found in Always, who’ve gotten a fair bit of ink around here – and a new album in Foolish Blood coming out February 19. Touring machines that they are, they hit the road almost immediately afterwards for a Spring tour that takes them from the Maritimes down to Austin for SXSW, then back up through Toronto for a Canadian Musicfest headlining showcase at Lee’s Palace on March 21, and then across the rest of Canada. Saskatchewan’s Rah Rah will accompany them for most dates of the tour.

Stream: Two Hours Traffic – “Last Star”
Stream: Two Hours Traffic – “Amour Than Amis”

Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes step in as the big draw at Lee’s Palace for the Friday night of CMF – March 21 – previewing their new album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO before it comes out April 2.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

March 22 is also the day The Indies – the festival’s bizarro mish-mash of awards ceremony no one really understands and musical bill of some of the fest’s biggest names playing abbreviated sets – goes down, but this year it’s at the Kool Haus rather than the ballroom of the Royal York hotel and the lineup is somewhat more coherent. Metric will headline and the undercard contains the likes of Diamond Rings, Yukon Blonde, The Wooden Sky, and Cadence Weapon. Tickets for that are $49.50. Yup.

MP3: Metric – “Artificial Nocturne”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning”

When Portland’s Parenthetical Girls were last here in April, their series of Privilege EPs had yet to be completed, only getting compiled into 21-song box set form last Fall. On February 19, it gets recompiled into a concise, 12-track album of the same name and gives them an excuse to tour again, this time coming to Double Double Land on March 28.

MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”

Scottish indie-rock heroes The View will give their new record Cheeky For A Reason – out last Summer in the UK – a North American release on February 13 and have a date at Lee’s Palace on March 29 to promote it. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Stream: The View – “How Long”

Pitchfork brings Wavves news; specifically a new album in Afraid Of Heights coming March 26, a stream of a song from said new record, and tour dates in support of it including an April 5 date at The Horseshoe. Accompanying them on this tour are FIDLAR and Cheatahs, both of whom come with their own head of buzzy steam and equal facility for mangling the English language.

MP3: FIDLAR – “Got No Money”
Stream: Wavves – “Demon To Lean On”
Stream: Cheatahs – “The Swan”

The release of Jim James’ solo debut Regions Of Light And Sound Of God is upon us next Tuesday – February 5 – and with that comes and advance stream courtesy of NPR,interviews courtesy of Rolling Stone, CBC Music, and Exclaim, and a North American tour – dates courtesy Pollstar – that includes an April 24 stop at The Phoenix, tickets $26 in advance.

Stream: Jim James / Regions Of Light And Sound Of God

British “can we not call it dubstep” electronic artist James Blake will have a new album out later this year, but first comes a Spring tour built around Coachella that brings him to the Danforth Music Hall on May 4. Tickets $25 in advance.

MP3: James Blake – “To Care (Like You)”

Even though they were here just in December, Marina & The Diamonds have made a return engagement in support of second album Electra Hart and will be at the Sound Academy on May 23 as part of a Spring tour with support coming from next big thing Charli XCX. Tickets for that show are $28.50.

MP3: Charli XCX – “Glow”
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “How To Be A Heartbreaker”

Crystal Castles also aren’t waiting long to play another local show, but they live here so it’s a little less of an undertaking. Following their release show for III back in November – from which they just released a new video – they’re back at the Sound Academy on June 8 and those tickets are $28.

MP3: Crystal Castles – “Wrath Of God”
Video: Crystal Castles – “Sad Eyes”

Washington DC punk/hardcore legends Bad Brains put out a new record in Into The Future late last year, and will be here on June 13 at The Phoenix to play some songs from it. And probably some old ones. Almost certainly some old ones. Tickets $30.50.

MP3: Bad Brains – “Pay To Cum”

The Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark reunion continues apace, with a second 21st century album – English Electric – due out April 8 and an accompanying North American tour confirmed. They’ll be at the Danforth Music Hall on July 11, advance tickets $35.

Video: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – “If You Leave”

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Step Up For The Cool Cats

Palma Violets, Decades, and Always at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor those not in the business of keeping up with the buzz bands of the moment, Palma Violets may not yet have appeared on your radar. Though the release of their debut album 180 is still a month out, they’ve already been heralded as the vanguard of the return of guitar rock – I didn’t realize it had ever gone away – and various permutations of This Year’s Model. A title which, while a tremendously helpful leg up as far as getting people interested goes, is also a decidedly two-edged thing as by its very definition, it means that next year it’ll be someone else. Perhaps this is was why they opted to stage a North American tour before their record was out or the buzz had necessarily carried over the Atlantic except to the most devout Anglophiles; they built their name in the UK based on their live show, so why not do the same over here? And so, motivated by curiosity and an urge to get the first show of 2013 in the books, even in the tail end of a frigid cold snap, it was to the Horseshoe I went last Thursday night.

Opening up were some familiar faces in Always – very familiar, as they’d also supported the last few shows I caught at the end of 2012; such ubiquity from an act that had done its best to keep as low a profile online as possible. Each time out had been a little different, however – the full five-piece lineup that opened for The Joy Formidable was back following the stripped-down trio configuration that supported Joel Plaskett, and superficially frontwoman Molly Rankin was now very blonde. The tunes, as always, were indie-pop gems and with the full band back in place, it was a chance to again appreciate how well-arranged and fully-formed the songs were and their selection of The Primitives’ 1988 UK hit “Crash” as a cover was perfectly suited. Perhaps best of all, the online demos that went AWOL shortly after my first writeup on the band have now been replaced with properly-recorded versions that are meant for public ears to hear, so you don’t have to take my word for anything anymore – just go listen.

I’d spent the weeks leading up to the show assuming that the middle band on the will was this Decades – a metal band from Albany, New York – and not this Decades from right here in Toronto. Bands, let this be a warning for you and your generic names. Even when the five-piece took the stage and clearly weren’t metal-punk bros, their wildly-mixed aesthetic – flowery shirts, fedoras, medallions, hoodies, eyeliner – didn’t offer much guidance as to what to expect. When they started playing, however, it all came together as a well-studied blend of goth and New Wave that struck a good balance between concise and atmospheric and was over and done in under 30 minutes. They’d have benefitted from a cleaner mix – particular on the vocals and guitar – and a decision to either commit to or dispense with a look, but were enjoyable well beyond simply not being what I feared/expected.

The problem, as Palma Violets are likely to find as their coming-out party progresses through 2013, is the question that will be asked will not simply be “are they good?” but “do they live up to the hype?”. And based on the three singles they’ve released to date and this show, the answer from this quarter to the former will be “not bad,” but to the latter, “no”. Frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson have a great energy and chemistry onstage and do a good job of engaging a favourably disposed audience, but they don’t have the same facility for melody or anthemicism as the band they’re most frequently compared to, The Libertines. Their approach is punkier and more willing to descend into noisier, thuggish territory which goes to the band’s good live reputation but ultimately and most importantly, the songs aren’t very memorable. Their biggest single to date – “Best Of Friends” – succeeded in inciting a bit of laddish dancing and singalongs, but there wasn’t much sense that they brought anything more to the game than all the bands that held their place in the spotlight in years past. This isn’t to say that 180 won’t still surprise and reveal new depths, but whether their career trajectory will go more the way of The Vaccines or Brother remains unclear.

Photos: Palma Violets, Decades, Always @ The Horseshoe – January 24, 2013
Video: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”
Video: Palma Violets – “Last Of The Summer Wine”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends”
Stream: Decades – “Celebrate”
Stream: Decades – “Can You Love Me Now”
Stream: Always – “Next Of Kin”
Stream: Always – “The Ones Who Love You”

DIY gets to know The History Of Apple Pie, whose debut Out Of View is out this week.

The Guardian, Clash, and Spin profile Frightened Rabbit and their new album Pedestrian Verse. It’s out next week on February 5, but is available to stream at The Guardian right now. They’re at The Phoenix on March 31.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit / Pedestrian Verse

NME reports that British Sea Power have completed work on their next album and will release Machineries Of Joy on April 1.

If you’d been hoping that the new old Pulp song that surfaced at the very end of last year might become available to purchase legitimately, rejoice – Artrocker reports that it should be available for iTunes download as of today (though not there at the moment, as far as I can tell). But if you’re happy with the stream, that’s cool too. Jarv ain’t fussed.

Stream: Pulp – “After You”

DIY and Elle interview The Joy Formidable. They’re at The Phoenix on April 12.

Rolling Stone talks to guitarist Earl Slick about the secret recording sessions that produced the new David Bowie record The Next Day, out March 12.

Richard Thompson’s new Electric album is up to stream at NPR; it’s out next week and he plays Massey Hall supporting Emmylou Harris on March 22.

Stream: Richard Thompson / Electric

Clash and The Quietus talk to Esben & The Witch.

SF Weekly interviews Patrick Wolf.

Interview catches up with Emmy The Great at the Sundance Film Festival, where the film Austenland – which she scored – premiered.

And normally I wouldn’t file a single tweet as news, but when it recounts Kevin Shields saying at last night’s My Bloody Valentine show as saying their new album would be available in “two to three days”… that’s news. You missed your 2012 deadline, Kev, but come through on this promise and all is forgiven.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

In The Winter Sun

Review of Amor de Días’ The House At Sea

Photo By Alfredo Arias HorasAlfredo Arias HorasWhen Amor de Días released their first album Street Of The Love Of Days in Spring of 2011, they weren’t presenting themselves as successors to either The Clientele or Pipas, but given that neither of those outfits have released anything new since Alasdair MacLean and Lupe Núñez-Fernández turned their attentions to it, it’s not unreasonable to expect that the new project provide at least some of the elegant pop fix that fans of either outfit would have demanded from them otherwise.

And with some degree of adjusted expectation – there’s more acoustic guitar than electric and tempos more languid, even compared to The Clientele’s autumnal pace – The House at Sea does just that. Floating above the hazy atmospherics, MacLean’s voice is a familiar, warm blanket and Núñez-Fernández’s timbre doesn’t follow far behind. And while those traits are holdovers from Street, the songwriting and arrangements on House are much more assured than on the debut – a benefit, no doubt, of being both artists’ primary concerns rather than a side-project. It’s unclear if we’ll be seeing new music from either The Clientele or Pipas in the new future – hiatus is such a nebulous word – but until then, Amor de Días will do quite nicely.

KEXP has an advance stream of the album ahead of its release on January 29. They’re also coming for a North American tour in March but, alas, are not stopping in Toronto this time.

MP3: Amor de Días – “Jean’s Waving”
Video: Amor de Días – “Jean’s Waving”
Stream: Amor de Días / The House At Sea

NOW welcomes Palma Violets to town for their Toronto debut at the Horseshoe tonight. They just released the latest video from their debut 180, which drops February 25

Video: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”

The Line Of Best Fit chats with Veronica Falls, whose are streaming a new track from Waiting For Something To Happen before it comes out February 12. They play The Garrison on March 12.

Stream: Veronica Falls – “Buried Alive”

A Heart Is A Spade has a chat with Foals, who’ve released a new video from Holy Fire, out February 12.

Video: Foals – “My Number”

DIY points to a new clip from The Cribs for an old, previously unreleased song that will appear on their forthcoming best-of compilation Payola, due out February 25.

Video: The Cribs – “Leather Jacket Love Song”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Django Django, in town at The Opera House on March 12.

They’re only one-minute clips, but the two new songs being previewed by The House Of Love at their Facebook are pretty damned promising. The new album She Paints Words In Red is out April 1.

Those waiting for a North American release date for Jessie Ware’s Devotion – hopefully with a vinyl edition – can circle April 2 on their calendars. Those waiting for more North American tour dates… sit tight. Maybe read these features at The New Zealand Herald, The Age, The San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian.

The Telegraph talks to Richard Hawley, who has released a video for the final single from last year’s Standing At The Sky’s Edge – a clip that it has taken far too long to find a non-geoblocked version of, I might add. Anyways.

Video: Richard Hawley – “Don’t Stare At The Sun”

The Alternate Side has posted a video session with Bat For Lashes.

Billboard reports that Elvis Costello and The Roots have completed a collaborative album that will be released later this year. Even without having heard a note, it’s probably safe to say this will be the funkiest record of Costello’s career.

Spinner gets Bernard Sumner’s take on the drama that ended with Peter Hook leaving New Order.

Perhaps detecting that I was finally going to get around to completing my XTC back catalog collection – or perhaps commemorating the 35th anniversary of their debut White MusicThe Guardian have dug up a feature interview with the band circa 1978.