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Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Canadian Musicfest 2013 Day Two

Sóley, Kool Thing, and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangShow cancellations are pretty much part and parcel of the Canadian Musicfest experience, particularly when you’re most keen on the international acts who’ve been duped coerced into playing the fest, but it’s especially disappointing when it’s a) one of the bands you most wanted to see, b) they were one of the very first acts confirmed for the fest in November, and c) it happens just hours before showtime.

But things like lymph node infections do happen, and with Efterklang singer Casper Clausen out of commission, their showcase at The Mod Club with Nightlands was nixed. I should be pleased for the band and their fans that Clausen recovered in time to pick up the tour in Montreal the next night and that Toronto was the only lost date, but I’m not really. So suddenly left with no plans for the evening, I opted for the in-store at Moog Audio presented by Scandiphile sites Nordic By Nature and Swede + Sour – even if I was going to miss out on the Danes, I could still get my Swede/Norwegian/Icelandic musical fix.

Sweden would get a bit of short shrift, unfortunately. Perhaps in keeping with their tight, Krautrock-influenced sound, Malmö’s This Is Head started precisely on time and I was running late, meaning I missed the first half of their set and was only able to take in a song and a half. Thankfully, their songs were pretty long and while their live sound was more of a conventional rock setup than I’d have expected from what I recalled of their 2010 debut 0001, it was still tight and grooving in the right places. I look forward to hearing their second album The Album ID when it gets released in North America later this Spring.

Photos: This Is Head @ Moog Audio – March 21, 2013
Video: This Is Head – “A-B Version”
Video: This Is Head – “De Trop”
Video: This Is Head – “0011″
Video: This Is Head – “0007″

Whatever it is in the water in the nordic countries that produces idiosyncratic female electro-pop artists, Sandra Kolstad has been drinking it. Fronting a three-piece band comprised of two keyboards and a percussionist, she turned in a set of energetic art-pop made of synths and tight, inventive percussion that may not have stood out from other artists doing similar things, but didn’t pale against them either. And while Kolstad was game for getting naked in her latest video, on this evening it was her drummer who stripped down for the appreciation of those who appreciate tall, half-naked, Scandinavian men.

Photos: Sandra Kolstad @ Moog Audio – March 21, 2013
Stream: Sandra Kolstad – “Right Now”
Video: Sandra Kolstad – “Run Away (Where Are We?)”
Video: Sandra Kolstad – “The Well (We Will Change It All”
Video: Sandra Kolstad – “Fire Burn, Blood Flow”
Video: Sandra Kolstad – “Circles (It’s Got Every Little Part Of Me Running In)”

As enjoyable as the other two acts were, it was mainly Sóley whom I was here to see. Though she had a few other sets over the course of the festival, all were in conflict with something else I wanted to see, so if there was a silver lining to Efterklang’s misfortunes, it was this. For me, at least. Her 2011 album We Sink has been doing regular duty in evoking reminiscences of Iceland for me, and listening to her recreate those songs live I found myself trying to decide if her delicate electro-folk sounded more like a fairy sporting a cybernetic exoskeleton or a space station overrun by moss and trees. With the sound of her layered vocals slowly permeating the room like ghostly echoes, Sóley was understatedly presented, yet sonically perfect. The National Post has an interview with Sóley Stefánsdóttir.

Photos: Sóley @ Moog Audio – March 21, 2013
MP3: Sóley – “Pretty Face”
MP3: Sóley – “Blue Leaves”
Video: Sóley – “I’ll Drown”
Video: Sóley – “Pretty Face”
Video: Sóley – “Smashed Birds”
Video: Sóley – “Blue Leaves”

The in-store complete, I engaged in the only club-hopping I’d do for the festival and hoofed it over to The Drake Underground to catch Irish-German outfit Kool Thing. As it turns out, I didn’t need to rush as their start time was delayed by some manner of broken gear – it’s never a good sign when everyone in the band are standing around, staring down at a single piece of equipment, talking. They eventually got underway, though, and I spent most of their abbreviated set trying to remember why I had wanted to see the duo of Jon Dark and Julie Chance (plus drummer) in the first place. This isn’t to say their faintly electro-goth sound wasn’t alright – their voices blended well and the guitar-keys recipe yielded some nice atmosphere – but it felt played out and obvious. A full set may have allowed them to better demonstrate what they could do, but that wasn’t in the cards this night. And with that, I was home just before – in a perfect world – Efterklang’s set would have begun. Sigh.

Photos: Kool Thing @ The Drake Underground – March 21, 2013
Stream: Kool Thing – “TV Tower”
Video: Kool Thing – “PLAN.LIFE.GO”
Video: Kool Thing – “Light Games”
Video: Kool Thing – “The Sign”

Sigur Rós have added some extra context to the North American tour which brings them to the Air Canada Centre on March 30; instead of a second tour in support of last year’s ambient Valtari, it’s now a pre-release tour in support of their next album, the much heavier Kveikur, due out June 18. Pitchfork has details on the release and the first video from the album can be watched below.

Video: Sigur Rós – “Brennisteinn”

The Guardian and Billboard talk to The Knife about their new record Shaking The Habitual, due out April 9.

April 9 will also be the release date for the soundtrack from the new Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion, which is only noteworthy in that M83 is doing the score. Pitchfork is streaming the theme song from the film, featuring Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør.

Stream: M83 featuring Susanne Sundfør – “Oblivion”

The Fly has an interview with Junip, who’ve made a new track from their forthcoming self-titled album, out April 23, available to download. They’ll be at The Great Hall on June 10.

MP3: Junip – “Your Life Your Call”

Swedish pop veterans Club 8 have made the first track from their forthcoming album Above The City available to download. It’s out May 21.

Stream: Club 8 – “Stop Taking My Time”

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Of Monsters & Men. They co-headline the CBC Music Festival at Echo Beach on May 25.

Totally Stockholm interviews Elliphant, in town June 7 at The Phoenix opening up for Twin Shadow.

Exclaim and Filter talk to Iceage, coming to Toronto for NXNE on June 15 and 16.

And just because this week’s roundup of concert announcements got pushed down to second-billing to the CMW writeup, don’t think that means that nothing good was revealed. For instance – Memory Tapes will be bring last year’s Grace/Confusion to Wrongbar on April 11. Tickets for that will be $12 in advance.

MP3: Memory Tapes – “Sheila”

Austin’s Pure X – specialists in doing it slow and dreamy – will be at The Silver Dollar on May 7 as part of a North American tour in support of their new album Crawling up the Stairs, out May 14. Tickets for the show are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Pure X – “Someone Else”
MP3: Pure X – “Things In My Head”

Los Angeles trio Sir Sly – whom I’m not going to pretend I know much about but who seemed to emerge from SXSW as one of the talked-about acts – will be in town at Wrongbar on May 14 as part of a Spring tour. Tickets for that are $10.

MP3: Sir Sly – “Ghost”

Portland’s Thermals have announced the dates for their Spring tour in support of Desperate Ground via Stereogum, and also debuted the first video from the album, out April 16. Look for them at The Horseshoe on May 21, tickets $15.

MP3: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”
Video: The Thermals – “Born To Kill”

British folk sister act The Staves will be at The Great Hall on May 23, presumably as part of a tour in support of the North American release of their debut Dead & Born & Grown, out this month. Tickets for the show are $14.50. Hit Fix, Blogcritics, and examiner.com have interviews with the Staveley-Taylor sisters.

Video: The Staves – “Facing West”

Jonathan Richman, who continues to not have anything resembling an official internet presence in 2013, will be doing things in meatspace at The Great Hall on June 5 and 6.

Stream: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – “Roadrunner”

If you were thinking CHVRCHES were just here, you were right. But they’re coming back as part of a Summer tour, and while the June 12 date at The Hoxton may make you think it’s a NXNE show, so far there are no indications that it is – so maybe pony up the $16 for a ticket instead of waving your wristband around. And while that show is still months ahead of their debut album’s release in September, their Recover EP is out now and streaming over at Pitchfork.

MP3: CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
Stream: CHVRCHES / Recover

What IS part of NXNE – and still venue-less at the time of writing – is the June 14 return of Still Corners, whose new album Strange Pleasures will be out May 7.

MP3: Still Corners – “Fireflies”

Space-surf pioneers Man Or Astro-man? are hitting the road and have made a date at Lee’s Palace for June 17, tickets $17.50.

Video: Man Or Astro-Man? – “Spferic Waves”

Darkwavers Cold Cave haven’t said specifically when their new EP Oceans With No End will be coming out, but presumably it’ll be around the time they roll their Summer tour into the Shop Under Parts & Labour – June 26. But Cold Cave isn’t the only thing that Wes Eisold has on the go – his old hardcore band American Nightmare is getting back into action and according to this Exclaim piece, one of the two reunion shows confirmed so far will be on June 6 in Toronto at a venue to be announced The Phoenix.

MP3: Cold Cave – “The Great Pan Is Dead”

And this week’s Toronto Urban Roots Fest additions come from near and far – the (relatively) near being Toronto’s own The Wooden Sky and Nova Scotia’s Matt Mays & El Torpedo, and the absolutely far being Australians The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd. Early-bird deals on multi-day tickets end tonight at 10PM, and single-day tickets go on sale this Thursday; the day-by-day breakdown is on their schedule.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”
Video: The Cat Empire – “Brighter Than Gold”
Video: Xavier Rudd – “Bow Down”
Video: Matt Mays – “Take It On Faith”

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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