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Archive for February, 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

III

The Deer Tracks believe good things come in threes

Photo By Angel CeballosAngel CeballosThe serial as a form of structure is hardly uncommon in art these days; it’s the standard for television, has been used as long as books have been published, and is increasingly the norm in cinema. In popular music, however, it’s almost the complete opposite – the three-minute single – which remains the fundamental unit of currency. But don’t tell that to Gävle, Sweden’s The Deer Tracks – the duo of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors have spent the last two years crafting an epic song cycle they’ve called The Archer Trilogy, stretching over an EP and two albums and 103 minutes – to say nothing of the 40-minute ambient prologue.

And what’s more remarkable than the ambition – after all, anyone can come up with a grand concept – is how well they’ve pulled it off. The Archer Trilogy is a remarkably stylistically and thematically cohesive arc of distinctly Scandinavian múm-meets-Postal Service synth-pop that’s by turns atmospheric and anthemic, frail and forceful, mysterious and vulnerable, but always beautiful – and all written, recording, and toured worldwide in a few years. The third and final instalment was released in January and while it doesn’t contain the same heart-bursting moments as “Fa-Fire” or “The Archer” from the middle part, it’s more than a satisfying Jedi to Part 2‘s Empire, veering into more thoughtful if marginally less immediate territory as it glides to the finish line.

As The Deer Tracks tour the complete Archer Trilogy across North America, David was kind enough to answer some questions via email about making a trilogy of records. They’re at The Silver Dollar tonight around midnight and you may recall I skipped The Flaming Lips at NXNE last year to see them play and don’t regret it a bit– so consider that an endorsement.

How far in advance did you plan out the three parts of the trilogy? Was it written as you went along, or was it a fully-conceived whole from the beginning?

We planned to do a trilogy from the start. We wanted to do something that would grow with and on to us over a longer period of time. We had the whole idea story behind it mapped out and then we deliberately took different paths to come up with the end result.

Did you have an actual narrative in mind to tie together the three (or four, counting Prologue) parts of “The Archer Trilogy”? If so, is it meant to be discernable to the listener?

If you listen to the whole thing I think everything falls into place what the whole idea with this trilogy is. That there is a deeper meaning to the four parts and that their bond is obvious. It is like an own microcosms with it’s universal cycle of life, death and foreverness.

Did you have a specific aesthetic you wanted stick to across the albums? Did you find yourselves having to shelve good ideas because they didn’t fit, did you make them fit, or did you let the work evolve as you wanted it to?

The work with this trilogy has been lovely, inspirational, brutal, mind twisting, haunting and everything else in between and beyond. To develop a trilogy of a three part recording series (+ an Prologue) was a big adventure. It helped us understand a lot about ourselves as musicians, friends, spiritually beings and as most of all, what it really is to have a musical bond with someone else.

Should fans expect your next work to sound different from The Archer Trilogy? Are there aspects to The Deer Tracks that you’re looking forward to exploring next?

If you truly believe that only your own imagination and musical mind can hold you back, anything is possible in a universe of creativity. Now we can’t wait to share our journey and discoverys with you on another album. That will probably take on a another shape and form both sound and music wise. Creativity and exploring is what we love the most. Repetition is not.

The Huffington Post and Minnesota Daily also have interviews with the band.

MP3: The Deer Tracks – “Dark Passenger”

The Mary Onettes are streaming the title track of their new album Hit The Waves, out March 19.

Stream: The Mary Onettes – “Hit The Waves”

Junip have released the first video from their new self-titled album, due out April 23.

Video: Junip – “Line Of Fire”

El Perro Del Mar has a new video from her latest album, Pale Fire.

Video: El Perro Del Mar – “I Was A Boy”

Swede-pop veterans Club 8 have announced a May 21 release date for their eighth album Above The City.

Elliphant is the stage name of one Elinor Olovosdotter, a new artist from Stockholm who’s another entry in the ever-expanding electropop field; she’s in town opening up for Twin Shadow at The Phoenix on June 7 so if you’re going or thinking about it, have a listen.

MP3: Elliphant – “Down On Life”
Video: Elliphant – “Live Till I Die”
Video: Elliphant – “Down On Life”

Rolling Stone interviews Iceage, in town for NXNE on June 15 and/or 16.

Paste has premiered the new video from Ólafur Arnalds’ forthcoming For Now I Am Winter, available in North America on April 2.

Video: Ólafur Arnalds – “Old Skin”

Drowned In Sound gets Phoenix bassist Deck d’Arcy on the horn to talk about their new album Bankrupt!, out April 22.

Melody’s Echo Chamber have put out a new video from last year’s self-titled debut.

Video: Melody’s Echo Chamber – “Crystallized”

Esquire offers some style tips from the career of Nick Cave. He will be dressed how he’s dressed at Massey Hall on March 23.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Motorway

Little Boots takes scenic route to second album

Photo By Jack Featherstone and Max ParsonsJack Featherstone, Max ParsonsAt long last, Little Boots is finally ready to let the follow-up to 2009’s Hands out of the studio and into the world. I don’t think anyone – not even Victoria Hesketh – expected it to be almost four years between debut and follow-up, but according to Spin, it took her that long to find the sweet spot between being the “proper songs” she wanted to write and the disco dance floor bangers she was expected to.

Still, her fans have been able to accompany her on that journey of discovery as she’s been releasing new songs intermittently since late 2011 as sort of signposts of the journey; two of those three already-previewed tracks will appear on the new record – entitled Nocturnes – when it’s released on May 7. Details on the release can be had at Billboard and the first official single from it is available to hear via free download or watch via video.

Some might argue – and perhaps correctly – that Little Boots didn’t deliver on the massive hype that accompanied her BBC Sound of 2009 win, but there’s no arguing that Hands was a very solid album of catchy electro-pop and if Nocturnes offers more of the same, then we’re all better off.

MP3: Little Boots – “Motorway”
MP3: Little Boots – “Every Night I Say A Prayer”
Stream: Little Boots – “Superstitious Heart”
Stream: Little Boots – “Shake”
Video: Little Boots – “Motorway”

Drowned In Sound, Billboard, MTV Hive, Consequence Of Sound, and NPR talk to Johnny Marr about going solo; The Messenger came out this week and he brings The Healers to The Phoenix on April 27.

CBC Music has an interview and The Alternate Side a session with Palma Violets, whose debut 180 is out this week and streamable at NME. They play Lee’s Palace on May 3.

Stream: Palma Violets / 180

Spin is streaming the whole of Mogwai’s just-released soundtrack for French zombie television series Les Revenants, and keeping on topic, Stuart Braithwaite offers The Guardian his five favourite undead bits of cinema.

Stream: Mogwai / Les Revenants

The Guardian interviews Thom Yorke about Atoms For Peace, whose debut AMOK is out this week.

Spin and CBC Music talk to Kate Nash about her latest Girl Talk, which is also streaming in whole at the CBC and from which a new vide was just released. The album is out March 5 and she brings it to The Horseshoe on March 15.

Video: Kate Nash – “3AM”
Stream: Kate Nash / Girl Talk

The Line Of Best Fit, The Quietus, and Stereogum talk to Robyn Hitchcock about his new record Love From London, out March 5.

Today in David Bowie: The Guardian compiles a profile of the Thin White Duke based on the recollections of those who’ve known him from childhood through today, Mr. Porter offers a guide to Bowie style through the years, NME crows about getting an exclusive cover photo, and Rolling Stone learns more about the Next Day sessions from drummer Zack Alford and guitarist Gerry Leonard. The album arrives March 12 and oh yeah the video for the second single from it is out now.

Video: David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

eMusic solicits a list of favourite sophomore albums from Veronica Falls, who are too modest to include their own Waiting For Something To Happen on the list. They play The Garrison on March 12.

Crack has a feature piece on Daughter, whose debut If You Leave is out March 18 in the UK and April 30 in North America. They play The Great Hall on May 7.

The Telegraph has not one but two interviews and NPR a World Cafe session with Richard Thompson, who opens for Emmylou Harris at Massey Hall on March 22.

eMusic and The Scottish Sun interview Frightened Rabbit, who’ve a new video from Pedestrian Verse to show off. They play The Phoenix on March 31.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Backyard Skulls”

Spinner and The Independent have features and Yours Truly a video session with Jessie Ware, whose Devotion gets a North American release on April 2 and plays The Opera House on April 6.

DIY has the details of Charli XCX’s long-overdue debut album; True Romance is due out on April 15. MTV Hive also has an interview with the artist, who will be in town at the Sound Academy on May 23 opening for Marina & The Diamonds.

Art Brut will sum up their career thus far with the release of a double-disc best-of/rarities compilation entitled – of course – Top Of The Pops. It’s out April 16.

Still Corners have announced details of their second album, entitled Strange Pleasures, out May 7, and based on the second sample – “Fireflies” was released as a single last Fall – it will not be Creatures On An Hour part two. At all.

MP3: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”

Spin has an interview and The Line Of Best Fit an acoustic session with Foals. They are at The Kool Haus on May 11.

The Wedding Present might be getting attention mostly for their Hit Parade recital tour, but they’ve also just put out a new video from last year’s Valentina. There’s also an interview at The New Zealand Herald.

Video: The Wedding Present – “Mystery Date”

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from Bat For Lashes, taken from The Haunted Man.

Video: Bat For Lashes – “Lillies”

The Line Of Best Fit reports that The Big Pink is now officially a solo project for Robbie Furze, with Milo Cordell opting to leave the band. If you’re not sure which was which, if you’ve ever seen The Big Pink live then Cordell was the one you never noticed.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Think You Can Wait

The National have a new album and are headlining NXNE. Your argument is invalid.

Photo By Deirdre O'CallaghanDeirdre O’CallaghanSometimes the best kinds of surprises are the ones you already knew were coming. For example – everyone knew The National was making a new record. High Violet came out way back in Spring 2010, touring behind it wrapped in late 2011, and they’ve since been posting updates from the studio via Instagram. Everyone knows they’ve not been idle, and yet it was hard not to feel a shiver when the official press release arrived in the inbox, announcing the album was done and would be out in May. No other details about the release like title or precise release date, but for now it was enough. Well, almost – it also revealed some Spring/Summer tour dates including the fact that The National would be the Yonge-Dundas Square headliner at NXNE.

I had wondered why NXNE was making their first official festival lineup announcement so early – last year’s Flaming Lips reveal didn’t come until mid-April – but I guess when one of your biggest act is going to let the cat out of the bag anyways, why not get on board? And so you can officially circle Friday, June 14, on your calendar as that evening The National will perform a free show for anyone and everyone who cares to listen at Yonge-Dundas Square. It won’t be the multi-sensory spectacle as The Lips offered last year, but it will be gorgeous, showered, and blue-blazered.

A whole batch of acts was announced alongside The National with some of the other high-profile acts coming to town including: Tuscon desert-rock stalwarts Calexico at The Mod Club on June 12, which explains why they’ve taken so long to come to town behind last year’s Algiers; Copenhagen post-punks Iceage at locations to be determined on June 15 and 16, which is why their current tour behind You’re Nothing has a curious Toronto-shaped gap in it despite there being time and space to fit it; one of the two Black Flag reunions – FLAG, featuring Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski – are at The Opera House on June 14; ascendant Californian garage-rocker Mikal Cronin, whose second album MCII is out May 7, assumes the Silver Dollar residency from June 13 to 15; and the touring bill of Milk Music and Merchandise will play showcases perhaps together, perhaps not.

It’s interesting that with a couple exceptions, most of what was announced yesterday tends to the loud, punk side of things. Perhaps the festival just wants to make an impactful first impression? Certainly did for me, and they’ve got almost four more months to roll out some more rangy acts. Can’t wait.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Iceage – “Coalition”
MP3: Milk Music – “I’ve Got A Wild Feeling”
Stream: Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out”

Austra took to Twitter to announce themselves as a rather late add to Canadian Musicfest; they’ll be playing The Danforth Music Hall on the evening of March 23. Austinist has an interview with frontwoman Katie Stelmanis.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

Stepping out of festival-y stuff for a moment, I’m excited that Stornoway are at The Horseshoe on May 9 in support of their second album Tales From Terra Firma, out March 19. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”

Keeping with the festival additions theme, Stars have been added to the Arts & Crafts past-and-present Field Trip lineup playing Garrison Commons at Fort York on June 8. Right now they’re a little further abroad, hence interviews at AsiaOne and The Sydney Morning Herald

MP3: Stars – “The Theory Of Relativity”

The Toronto Urban Roots Fest continues to make good on their promise to reveal a few more acts every week; this week’s adds to the four-day fest at Garrison Commons from July 4 to 7 include The Hold Steady, Justin Townes Earle, Frank Turner, The Lowest Of The Low, and The Skydiggers. Info on which specific date each act is playing and ticket on-sales are still a few weeks out, but if the festival’s intent is to keep building excitement each week until it lets details out… I think it’s working.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations”
MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues”
MP3: Frank Turner – “The Roads”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Skydiggers – “Alice Graham” (live)

And not a festival, but still sort-of keeping in theme as a new addition to an existing event and happening on an outdoor stage… more than a month out from their Sound Academy show, and Alt-J have already announced a return engagement on September 11 at Echo Beach, tickets $34.50 general admission and $50 VIP.

MP3: Alt-J – “Matilda”

And in non-concert announcement business… Low have made another track from The Invisible Way available to download. They play The Great Hall on March 16 and the album is out March 19.

MP3: Low – “So Blue”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made the first single from Mosquito available to stream, largely putting to rest fears that the album art would accurately reflect the contents. It’s out April 16.

Stream: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”

Rolling Stone has a stream of another song from the new Iron & Wine album Ghost on Ghost, out April 16.

Stream: Iron & Wine – “Grace For Saints And Ramblers”

Clash talks to Jim James, paying a visit to The Phoenix on April 24.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Losing You

Solange at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSolange may have initially garnered attention thanks to her surname, but her recent ascension to the forefront of what’s being regarded as a new wave of R&B artists has been almost entirely on the back of her own talent; well, hers and Dev Hynes’. The Lightspeed Champion/Blood Orange producer-songwriter was my gateway drug to the work of Ms. Knowles; obviously, I knew who she was, but I suspect like more than few filling the Danforth Music Hall on Friday night for Solange’s Toronto debut, it wasn’t until her adoption by the indie nation with her EP True that I actually paid attention. Which is kind of funny, because as this show was proof of, she’s actually kind of impossible to ignore.

A full three hours after doors opened, she strode onstage in a dazzling dress and magnificent afro “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work”, a sentiment clearly not directed at her band. The six-piece outfit, including two backup singers, were super-tight and struck the right balance between organic feel and synthetic texture to recreate True‘s smooth, throwback feel. It’s a vibe that fits Solange’s vocals and persona perfectly – a modest yet wholly confident blend of gorgeous and glamorous that was only as showy as it needed to be to impress. The whole show was slickly presented and immaculately choreographed without projecting any artificialness. In return, the audience responded with a degree of adoration that one would have expected for her big sister, conveyed through huge cheers and lots of happily un-self-conscious dancing. Good times were being had.

Some complaints about the sound were justified – while Solange’s vocals largely managed to rise above the mix, bass-heavy mix, Hynes’ suit was frustratingly often louder than his guitar – but the move from the much-smaller Hoxton to the Danforth was probably a good one, offering a classier setting and allowing more revelers while still feeling intimate. By the time the main set neared it’s conclusion and Solange’s invitation to “dance like there’s no tomorrow” for “Losing You” was more than enthusiastically accepted, it felt like you were in the closing prom scene of a high school rom-com, meant in the very best possible way. The band didn’t even bother leaving the stage before the encore, but Knowles still pulled off a bit of a surprise by inviting local internet dancing sensation Phil Villeneuve onstage to join her for “Sandcastle Disco”, having been brought to her attention for his interpretation of “Losing You” at the Bay-Bloor intersection. A wonderful, uniquely Toronto touch to a wrap a joyous show that ran just under an hour, but left nothing feeling wanting. It confirmed Solange as a talent that no matter who her family is, exists in no one’s shadow but radiates her own light.

Exclaim, The Grid, The National Post, BlogTO, and NOW also have reviews of the show; Entertainment Weekly grabbed an interview with Knowles.

And any Solange fans who haven’t yet heard Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange – aka Dev Hynes – you really gotta. It’s not just in your wheelhouse, it IS your wheelhouse.

Photos: Solange @ The Danforth Music Hall – February 22, 2013″
Video: Solange – “Losing You”
Video: Solange – “T.O.N.Y.”
Video: Solange – “Sandcastle Disco”
Video: Solange – “I Decided”
Video: Solange – “Feelin’ You”

DIY talks to Caitlin Rose, whose new album The Stand-In arrives next week. She plays The Garrison April 5.

With its March 5 release date almost upon us, Josh Ritter has made his new album The Beast In Its Tracks available to stream at NPR. He brings it to The Danforth Opera House on April 16.

Stream: Josh Ritter / The Beast In Its Tracks

Youth Lagoon’s new record Wondrous Bughouse is also out next week and streaming over at NPR. Expect to hear lots of it when they play The Great Hall on May 13.

Stream: Youth Lagoon / Wondrous Bughouse

Magnet sits down with Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, who brings their latest We The Common to Lee’s Palace on March 27. A new track from the album is now available to download.

MP3: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “We Don’t Call”

Rolling Stone talks to Charles Bradley about his second album, Victim Of Love. It’s out April 2 and he brings it to The Phoenix on May 11.

You can now stream a new Okkervil River song, taken from Reasons To Believe, the new tribute album to Tim Hardin, out today. Hardin and Okkervil have a long-standing connection, of course, the former’s “Black Sheep Boy” providing the inspiration for Okkervil’s best album cycle so far.

Stream: Okkervil River – “It’ll Never Happen Again”

Billboard talks to John Vanderslice about turning to Kickstarter to fund his next record, Dagger Beach. It should be out this Summer.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

CONTEST – Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Foxygen/Wampire v. Night Beds/Indians – March 4, 2013

Photo By Neil KrugNeil KrugOn any given night, in this great city of Toronto, you’ve got no shortage of entertainment options vying for your evenings and dollars, but sometimes there occurs a confluence that simultaneously reminds you of how lucky we are as well as how unfair the universe can be. Case in point, this coming March 4, when the equivalent of a Pitchfork Festival sidestage will descend on Parkdale across two venues, and while you can try to club-hop, realistic logistics will probably force you to make some hard choices.

Over at Wrongbar, you’ve got: Kiwi-American acid-pop outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra, touring behind their new album II; Los Angeles psych-folk duo Foxygen, whose debut We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic is drawing raves; and Portland’s electro-pop duo Wampire, readying their debut Curiosity for release in May.

And just east, across the great Dufferin divide, The Drake Underground hosts the Nashville-based timeless Americana of Night Beds and their debut Country Sleep, and all the way from Copenhagen, Søen Løkke Juul – aka Indians – and his debut album of atmospheric pop, Somewhere Else.

Tough decisions, yes, and I’m here to make those decisions easier/harder. Tickets for the UMO/Foxygen/Wampire show are $13.50 in advance and Night Beds/Indians goes for $12, but courtesy of Embrace I’ve got two pairs of passes to each to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with either “I want to see UMO” or “I want to see Night Beds” in the subject line and your full name in the body, as well as which of the two shows you’d prefer should you enter both. Which you can do if you like. Contest closes at midnight, February 27.

Austinist has an interview with UMO principal Ruban Nielson; NPR has a World Cafe session with Foxygen; The Guardian makes Wampire their New Band Of The Day; MTV Hive, Gigwise, and American Songwriter talk to Night Beds frontman Winston Yellen; and Indians are profiled by The San Francisco Examiner, The Georgia Straight, and MTV Hive.

MP3: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “I’ll Come Back 4 U”
MP3: Foxygen – “Waiting 4 U”
MP3: Night Beds – “Even If We Try”
MP3: Indians – “Cakelakers”
Stream: Wampire – “The Hearse”