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Archive for July, 2013

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Common Burn

Mazzy Star will release their new album when they’re good and ready. And they’re good and ready.

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWell you certainly can’t accuse Mazzy Star of rushing it. The California duo of David Roback and Hope Sandoval released their last studio album of narcoleptic dream-pop Among My Swan in 1996, and while they were actively touring as late as 2000, it was presumed that with Sandoval’s unveiling of her solo project with The Warm Intentions and Roback’s general staying off the radar that the band itself was no longer a going concern.

But then in 2009, while doing press behind the second Warm Intentions record Through The Devil Softly, Sandoval mentioned that she and Roback were working together on a fourth Mazzy Star record, proof of which would come fully two years later with the release of the “Common Burn” single, which featured not one but two new Mazzy Star songs. Surely more wouldn’t be far behind? Sure, if you operate in geological time. Though the band did return to the stage for some US dates around Coachella 2012 and a number of European dates that Summer, nary a word was breathed about the status of that fourth record… until now.

Acting like it’s no big deal, Mazzy Star have announced the September 24 release of Seasons Of Your Day as well as a preview of one of the new songs that will appear on it. Spin has more details and the track listing, which confirms that both sides of their 2012 single will also be on the record. Meaning that when their first album in 17 years finally comes out, you’ll have already heard almost a third of it. Oh well.

Stream: Mazzy Star – “California”
Stream: Mazzy Star – “Common Burn”
Stream: Mazzy Star – “Lay Myself Down”

With the reissue of The Mountain Goats’ All Hail West Texas today, John Darnielle has dug up an unreleased We Shall All Be Healed-era tune to stream. He took to Tumblr to explain the track.

Stream: The Mountain Goats – “You & Me On A High Balcony”

Also out today is the new “Chained To Love” 12″ from Divine Fits. Both sides are now available to stream via lyric videos.

Lyric Video: Divine Fits – “Ain’t That The Way”
Lyric Video: Divine Fits – “Chained To Love”

NPR and The Cleveland Plains Dealer talk with Jason Isbell. He’s in town at Lee’s Palace on August 2.

Pitchfork follows Will Sheff of Okkervil River to some open mic nights where he plays songs from The Silver Gymnasium with a childhood friend. The record is out September 3 and they – Okkervil River proper, not Will and bud – play The Phoenix on September 28.

Funny Or Die gets Neko Case to play one of their Dressing Room Sessions. No, that’s not a real thing. Her new record The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is out September 3.

Paste have premiered the new video from Lissie’s forthcoming Return To Forever, out September 10.

Video: Lissie – “Further Away (Romance Police)”

Janelle Monáe discusses her new album The Electric Lady with The Fly. It’s out September 10.

NME gets to know Speedy Ortiz, who are in town in support of Chelsea Light Moving at The Horseshoe on September 15.

Rolling Stone talks to The Dismemberment Plan about their album Uncanney Valley, due out October 15. You can now stream the formerly telephone-only first preview of it without a phone.

Stream: The Dismemberment Plan – “Waiting”

Noisey has an in-depth interview with Johnny Jewel of Chromatics, as well as a million other bands.

MTV Hive talks to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips about his forthcoming comic book endeavours and Stereogum has premiered a new video of a relatively old Devo cover because if you have videos of Devo covers lying around, you may as well release them.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Gates Of Steel”

Low plays a video session for Pitchfork’s City Of Music series.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Memoriam

Ohbijou says “au revoir”, throws going-away party

Photo via FacebookFacebookThere was some sad news last week announcement last week that local stalwarts Ohbijou were going on an indefinite hiatus. Sad because not only was the city losing one of its finest orch-folk bands after three lovely albums – 2006’s Swift Feet For Troubling Times, 2009’s Beacons, and 2011’s Metal Meets – but it felt like the closing of a chapter in the story of Toronto’s independent music scene, one of particular resonance for me.

After making their acquaintance when they opened the very first V Fest in September 2006, I went on to see the band many many many many times over the years and delighted in seeing them grow in leaps and bounds as a live band. Further, their debut Swift Feet topped my 2007 Polaris ballot and I felt Beacons was even better; I don’t recall why it didn’t make my 2010 Polaris ballot though coming out on the very first day of the eligibility period may have caused to get lost in the shuffle. All of which is to say that Ohbijou have been a very rewarding band to be a fan of over the years.

Further, it’s not without significance that they were the very first band to open that inaugural V Fest as Broken Social Scene closed the fest the next night; that was about the time that the initial Can-indie rock explosion was beginning to settle and if you were to draw a rough circle around the artists that represented Toronto across Canada and abroad in the post-Broken era, it could well be the Bellwoods musical community led largely and hosted literally by Ohbijou. You can’t look at the lineup of artists that they drew together for the two Friends In Bellwoods compilations in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank and not be impressed by the names involved: The Acorn, Basia Bulat, The Rural Alberta Advantage, the Diamond Rings-begetting D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Bruce Peninsula, Evening Hymns, Hooded Fang, the pre-Austra Katie Stelmanis, Snowblink, Timber Timbre, and The Wooden Sky, to name but a few. These are many of the bands that over the run of this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing arise from playing tiny clubs or gallery spaces to much larger stages and acclaim, and have been proud to share an area code with.

And so even with so many of those acts soldiering on, with Ohbijou hanging it up for the foreseeable future it really does feel like the end of an era. But going out on a down note just wouldn’t be their style, so with this lovely video message from frontwoman Casey Mecija as an invitation, the band have announced a final show – with many of the aforementioned Bellwoods artists as guests – on September 7 at The Great Hall; tickets for the show are $20 in advance. I know everyone looked at the Arts & Crafts Field Trip fest as the year’s big celebration of Toronto’s emergence as a musical heavyweight; in its way, I think this matters as much.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Mossy Lungs”
Video: Ohbijou – “Niagara”
Video: Ohbijou – “New Years”
Video: Ohbijou – “The Woods”

Braids have premiered a new video from their forthcoming Flourish//Perish; it’s out August 20.

Video: Braids – “In Kind”

The Weeknd appears to be totally over his camera-shyness, as evidenced by Abel Tesfaye plastering his face on the cover of the forthcoming Kiss Land, which can be seen at The Line Of Best Fit. And more relevantly, the release date for said record appears to be August 27 September 10; well ahead of his three-night stand at Massey Hall on October 17, 19, and 20.

Exclaim talks to Colin Stetson about getting another Polaris nod for his New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light and his contributions to the forthcoming Arcade Fire record. Stetson plays The Great Hall on September 5 as part of the Constellation Records touring caravan.

Lightning Dust have released another video from their latest Fantasy. They play The Drake Underground on September 10.

Video: Lightning Dust – “Loaded Gun”

Kathleen Edwards talks festival life from the artist’s perspective with CBC Music.

Loud & Quiet has an interview with METZ.

Indie88 talks with Young Galaxy.

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Fresh

Summer Camp “Fresh”-en up for second album

Photo By Eleanor McDowallEleanor McDowallHaving gone high concept with their ’80s teen movie-evoking, fictional California community-set debut album Welcome To Condale, English retro-lectro-pop duo Summer Camp have been keeping relatively mum about what to expect from their forthcoming second album. It’s self-titled, so there’s not much to be gleaned there, and the trailer unveiled last month also didn’t do much besides offer a look around Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey’s flat, set to a surprisingly funky soundtrack.

That song has just been released as the first official sample of the new record by way of an uncommonly fun lyric video premiered at Gorilla Vs Bear. It’s a sweet disco-flavoured tune that happily and hopefully allays the reservations I had about Condale, specifically that all the ’80s-referencing would become more distraction than inspiration – they’ve got some ’70s in there now as well! I’ll happily take an album of great pop songs that aren’t necessarily about anything in particular; here’s hoping. Summer Camp is out on September 9.

Lyric Video: Summer Camp – “Fresh”

NME reports that The Vaccines will put out a new EP around the recently-released non-album single “Melody Calling”; it’s out August 12 and they play The Molson Amphitheatre supporting Mumford & Sons on August 26.

DIY and The Guardian talk to Kele Okereke about life in Bloc Party, with the former finding him dismissing the severity of the indefinite hiatus talk surrounding the release of their Nextwave Sessions EP on August 13.

Le Blogotheque has an Empty Spaces session and The Guardian a studio session with Franz Ferdinand, wherein they perform two of the songs from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. The album comes out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Under The Radar talks to Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian about their forthcoming rarities compilation The Third Eye Centre, out August 27.

Good news and bad news for those hoping Bat For Lashes would schedule some of her own headlining shows amongst the support dates for Depeche Mode this Summer; the good news is that yes she is, the bad news is that Toronto doesn’t get one – but Buffalo does, if you’re up for a road trip. She’s at the Town Ballroom on August 31 before opening up for Depeche Mode at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 1. And yeah, there is still an off day between Toronto and Montreal, so if you’re the finger-crossing type, commence or continue crossing fingers.

Despite having a new album in AM coming on September 10 that their fans would surely love to hear more from, Arctic Monkeys are doing a bit of trolling by streaming a new track that will not appear on the record. They play The Kool Haus on September 15.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys – “2013”

Under The Radar and Sticky talk to Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, whose debut album The Bones of What You Believe is out September 24 and who are at the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

Elvis Costello talks a bit about Wise Up Ghost, his collaboration with The Roots coming out September 17, with Mojo.

Spin has got the backstory on a new Kate Nash song that’s been made available to stream; listen, read, help if you can. Nash plays The Phoenix on November 5.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Pink Limo Ride”

While they’ve not offered any specifics besides the fact that it’s done, Fanfarlo have made a track from their forthcoming third album available to download. DIY has the statement from the band about it.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Myth Of Myself (A Ruse To Exploit Our Weaknesses)”

Daytrotter has a session with Sky Larkin, who’ve got a new record ready to go sometime this Summer, or so they claim.

Despite having lost frontman Daniel Blumberg to a solo career as Hebronix, Yuck have offered a track from their second album which will be out later this Fall, and you know what? It’s pretty good.

MP3: Yuck – “Rebirth”

DIY talks to The Maccabees, who’re working on album number for with an eye towards an early 2014 release date.

David Bowie gets simple and a bit scary for the next video from The Next Day, and if you like your Bowie a little more vintage, Aquarium Drunkard points to a BBC documentary about the inception of Ziggy Stardust.

Video: David Bowie – “Valentine’s Day”

Johnny Marr has put out another video from The Messenger and is streaming a new, non-album track at Pitchfork for good measure.

Video: Johnny Marr – “New Town Velocity”
Stream: Johnny Marr – “The It-Switch”

Rolling Stone has premiered the newest video from The Joy Formidable’s latest Wolf’s Law.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Silent Treatment”

Little Boots is giving away a track from Nocturnes in exchange for an email and offering a live acoustic video of that same tune.

Video: Little Boots – “All For You” (acoustic)

Rolling Stone welcomes Editors to their studios for an unplugged video session. There’s also interviews with the band at The Sun, Digital Spy, Burton Mail, Londonist, and The Scotsman.

Fractured Air and Elle talk to Tracyanne Campbell and The News Observer to Gavin Dunbar, both of Camera Obscura.

Daytrotter welcomes Stornoway to their studios for a session.

In an interview with Under The Radar, Brett Anderson reveals why Suede are so reluctant to do any touring in North America and to which I say there’s no “London” here in Canada so get your skinny ass over here.

Interview sends Daniel Craig – yes, that Daniel Craig – to interview about Atoms For Peace and Radiohead.

The Independent talks to Noel Gallagher about his one-time sneaker addiction. Which apparently was a real thing.

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Biophilia

Björk at Echo Beach in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangLucia GracaWhile no one would argue that Björk has always done exactly what she wanted from an artistic point of view, the broader audience that met her first three solo releases and made her one of the unlikeliest stars of the Alternative Nation in the ’90s – as well as probably the most famous Icelander in the world – has waned somewhat in the 21st century. But regardless of the muted response to 2011’s Biophilia, she still counts her fans by the thousands and they were out in force at Echo Beach on Tuesday night for her first local show in almost six years, since headlining the first night of V Fest 2007.

That show – also on the water, albeit across the harbour from this one on Olympic Island – was a confetti-and-laser-and-brass-powered extravaganza fitting the tone of her previous album Volta, but given the relatively inward-looking tone of Biophilia – the first tours in support of it were performed in intimate theatres in the round – it’s not surprising that the stage setup was rather more austere. Or so it seemed, at first. As far as players went, Björk was traveling with only a percussionist and keyboardist/programmer, but the fourteen members of female Icelandic choir Graduale Nobili would prove to be more than the equal to a conventional band.

It’s hard to take the spotlight off of Björk, especially in an electric blue sparkly dress and huge orange Biophilia wig, but Graduale Nobili were the perfect backdrop/accompaniment for her, both aurally and visually as the stage setup was more akin to a theatre space than a concert stage and they were called on to perform as dancers as well as singers. Their parts meticulously and brilliantly arranged, they were by turns mysteriously foreboding or giddily celebratory and offered their matriarchal leader support or cover as the show demanded, their presence energized the show and especially gave extra life to the Biophilia material, with the presentation of “Crystalline” in particular coming across as revelatory compared to the recorded version.

But as improved as the newer material sounded live, it was still the older songs that proved the show-stoppers, and not just because they were the most familiar. “One Day” – the only nod to Debut despite marking its 20th anniversary this month – was stripped down to a gorgeous and haunting vocal and steel hand drum, and if Graduale Nobili had been brought along only to provide the call-and-response chorus to “Pagan Poetry”, it’d have been worth the price of the airfare. If there’s a moment everyone will remember, however, it’d be “Army Of Me” wherein a pair of Tesla coils in a cage descended from the stage ceiling, their electrical arcs synched to the synths while over a dozen girls danced like mad on the stage. Simply amazing. And ranked right alongside as show highlights would be “Hyperballad” transforming midway into a strobe-powered rave up cover of LFO’s “Freak” (so I’m told, I wouldn’t know an LFO song if I heard one) and the massive walls of flame and sparks that backlit set closer “Náttúra”. After that breathtaking peak, the banging one-song, Trayvon Martin-dedicated encore of “Declare Independence” seemed almost unnecessary – the preceding highs were not to be topped – but considering how rarely Björk finds her way here and how spectacular her shows are, if you’re doing anything less than savouring every minute of it, you’re quite simply doing it wrong.

The Toronto Star, Exclaim, BlogTO, The National Post, The Huffington Post, and NOW also have reviews of the show. Noisey reflects on Björk’s 20-year solo career in terms of both music and visual style.

MP3: Björk – “Verandi”
MP3: Björk – “It’s In Our Hands”
MP3: Björk – “Cosmogony”
Video: Björk – “Hollow”
Video: Björk – “Mutual Core”
Video: Björk – “Moon”
Video: Björk – “Crystalline”
Video: Björk – “Innocence”
Video: Björk – “Declare Independence”
Video: Björk – “Wanderlust”
Video: Björk – “Dull Flame Of Desire”
Video: Björk – “Earth Intruders”
Video: Björk – “Where Is The Line”
Video: Björk – “Triumph Of A Heart”
Video: Björk – “Who Is It”
Video: Björk – “Oceania”
Video: Björk – “Hidden Place”
Video: Björk – “Cocoon”
Video: Björk – “Pagan Poetry”
Video: Björk – “Joga”
Video: Björk – “Bachelorette”
Video: Björk – “Hunter”
Video: Björk – “Alarm Call”
Video: Björk – “All Is Full Of Love”
Video: Björk – “Isobel”
Video: Björk – “Possibly Maybe”
Video: Björk – “I Miss You”
Video: Björk – “Army Of Me”
Video: Björk – “Hyperballad”
Video: Björk – “It’s Oh So Quiet”
Video: Björk – “Human Behaviour”
Video: Björk – “Venus As A Boy”
Video: Björk – “Big Time Sensuality”
Video: Björk – “Violently Happy”
Video: Björk – “Play Dead”

The Village Voice has an interview with Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and Altsounds asks him what kind of gear he’s brought along for his current US tour.

Exclaim reports that Icelandic pop singer Emiliana Torrini has set a September 9 release for her new record Tookah, and the first single from it is available to stream now.

Stream: Emiliana Torrini – “Speed Of Dark”

Norwegian singer/producer/pop star Annie tells Noisey that the break that followed 2009’s Don’t Stop is over and to prove it, a song from her new release The A&R EP, out August 5, is available to stream.

Stream: Annie – “Hold On”

Indians have rolled out a new video from their/his debut Somewhere Else.

Video: Indians – “Magic Kids”

The Independent talks to Jose González of Junip.

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Wet Blanket

METZ add dose of loud and all-caps to 2013 Polaris short list

Photo By Colin MedleyColin MedleyThe prevailing trend that I saw amongst Polaris Music Prize-spotters as yesterday’s short list announcement drew close was that there was hardly any consensus as to which of the 40 long list albums would make the cut. This wasn’t especially surprising since as I observed last month when the long list was revealed, the nominees were all over the place without a lot of big names or obvious picks; with absolutely nothing to back this up, I would speculate that this year’s ballots were the most diverse in the history of the prize.

But whether one point or a thousand separate first place from last, the math is the math and we now have the 2013 Polaris Prize short list. And it looks like this:

A Tribe Called Red / Nation II Nation (Pirate’s Blend)
Video: A Tribe Called Red – “Electric Pow Wow Drum”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor / ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Mladic”

Zaki Ibrahim / Every Opposite (Motif)
Video: Zaki Ibrahim – “Go Widdit”

Metric / Synthetica (Metric Music International)
MP3: Metric – “Clone”

METZ / METZ (Sub Pop)
MP3: METZ – “Wet Blanket”

Purity Ring / Shrines (Last Gang)
MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”

Colin Stetson / New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation)
MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”

Tegan and Sara / Heartthrob (Warner Music)
Video: Tegan & Sara – “Closer”

Whitehorse / The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss (Six Shooter)
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

Young Galaxy / Ultramarine (Paper Bag)
Video: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”

Even though three of my five picks made the short list, I’m personally disappointed that my numbers one and two, Evening Hymns and Jim Guthrie, didn’t make the cut. I genuinely thought they’d make it and in my more fanciful moments, could even envision a win if the stars aligned. Shows how much I know. Well, I know enough to not speculate on who’ll win come September 23 at The Carlu in Toronto. Even in a year with strong/obvious frontrunners, the prize has been predictably unpredictable and while at the moment I’d like to see METZ, whom I swapped for Rachel Zeffira on my second ballot, take it, I’m also really curious if and how Godspeed would respond to a win. What I do know that with two two-time almost-winners in Shad and Kathleen Edwards hosting the gala – did Susan Lucci ever host the Daytime Emmys? Martin Scorcese ever hand out the Best Director Oscar? – it’ll be entertaining. And for the first time, they’ll be selling tickets to the gala, if you want to see it in person – they’ll be $50 and go on sale July 22.

The Fly talks to Raphaelle Standel-Preston of Braids, whose new full-length Flourish//Perish is out August 20.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Diana drummer Kieran Adams about their debut album their debut album Perpetual Surrender, out August 20. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

Beatroute talks to Lightning Dust about their new album Fantasy. They play The Drake Underground on September 10.

Dazed & Confused has an interview with Daniel Woodhead of Moon King, who’ve announced their series of Obsession EPs will be released in the UK as a single volume on September 16. I would hope that a similar edition is made available domestically, for those of us who’re a little more space-conscious with their record collections.

Austra have released the second video from their second album, Olympia. They play The Phoenix on September 27.

Video: Austra – “Painful Like”

Arcade Fire have announced, via Twitter, that their fourth album will be out October 29. I like to think that somewhere in Montreal, as soon as they hit the send button on that tweet, quietly said, “boom”.

Complex has posted a cover story interview with Abel Tesfaye of The Weeknd, whose album Kiss Land is due out this Fall, probably around the time he plays three nights at Massey Hall – October 17, 19, and 20. He also released a new video from the album, the sample of which was not cleared by Portishead, and Geoff Barrow’s not happy about it.

Video: The Weeknd – “Belong To The World”

KEXP welcomes METZ for a video session.

Beatroute talks briefly with Al Spx of Cold Specks.

CBC Music asks the likes of The National’s Matt Berninger, amongst others, why On The Beach is their favourite Neil Young album. It’s mine as well, but no one asked me why.