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Archive for August, 2013

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Drain

Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, and Dilly Dally at The Silver Dollar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA glance at the sandwich board outside the Silver Dollar on Saturday night would shown a bill of bands with largely vague and generic names, yet if one were to have stepped inside and takn in the bill, they’d have found the appellations remarkably descriptive and appropriate.

I’d seen locals Dilly Dally a few years ago at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010, and despite the rough edges – or maybe because of them – I liked what I heard and was happy to have the opportunity to check in with them again, what with their not having especially blown up in the interim. What had transpired between then and now, however, was a dialing down of the early ’00s garage rock snottiness in favour of a heavier, jerkier Pixies-esque sound and songwriting style. So while still rather on the nose with their influences, their material was definitely more distinctive and, should a record finally emerge, it should be interesting and an aural salve for anyone who feared sullenly tuneful indifference was a thing of the past.

I don’t know if Toronto really had a former great shoegazing hope amongst all the bands operating, but they’ve certainly got a next one in Breeze. Looking and sounding the part of the first wave of the genre – Jazzmasters, check; shaggy curly hair and striped shirts, check – their songs were simply structured, unfailingly melodic, and struck the right balance of soft, dreamy vocals and churning guitars that wisely saved their really noisy moments for the instrumental breaks. There wasn’t any specific aspect of them that marked them as burgeoning superstars but as a unit they were really strong on fundamentals, their drummer as solid as he wasn’t flashy. Signed to local label Hand Drawn Dracula, they’ve only got a couple singles out at the moment but a debut album is forthcoming and for fans of the genre, worth keep an eye out for.

Philadelphia’s Nothing were the front half of the touring bill that was anchoring this show, and though I hadn’t heard them before, their name was a pretty good indicator of where they were coming from. While you could technically argue they were in keeping with the shoegazing theme of the evening, they were less about having sound wash over you than hit you like a brickbat. Though punishingly loud, they avoided sonic incoherence and if you paid close attention, were fundamentally tuneful under it all – a trait which became clearer the few times they turned the distortion down. I’m kind of amazed how different they sound on their last release, the Downward Years To Come 12″ EP, which is much more classically shoegaze in conceit and execution. Though as it turned out, that Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon wasn’t isolated to them.

The first sign that this Whirr set might not be what I was expecting was that as Nothing tore down and they set up, the grinding feedback that closed the former’s performance continued to reverberate through the club until they began playing. The second was that there was no sign of singers Alexandra Morte, who appeared on their Pipe Dreams and Distressor albums, or Kristina Esfandiari who appeared on this year’s Around mini-LP. Considering the female vocals are a huge part of the band on record – their being the softness that buttresses against the band’s waves of sound – it was a pretty big absence. Not that they’d have necessarily been heard anyways, since the guitars and drums were so loud that the vocals were rendered completely inaudible. Seriously, they could have been lip-synching or singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and you wouldn’t have known; given this, that Nothing’s singer jumped on stage to sing one song was kind of hilarious.

This is not to suggest the show lacked presence or impact; Whirr had a physicality onstage not often seen at shows of this ilk, with all five moving as though jerked by marionette strings or being impacted by the notes they were playing, but given that their ability to capture on record that My Bloody Valentine-esque dichotomy of sonic brutality and aural beauty is a huge part of the band’s appeal, that they’d choose not to indulge that at all was rather frustrating. An guitar line would occasionally surface that gave some indication of what song it was they were playing, but the live renditions were so far removed from the recordings – if the album versions were watercolours, live they were huge swathes of jet-black paint – that experiencing the show on anything but a purely visceral level was largely futile. And while that approach was satisfying in its way, it also got tedious after a while. I found it curious that the band would go through the trouble of writing, recording, releasing, and touring these songs only to opt to bludgeon them to death every night, but I suppose that’s their prerogative. I do hope, however, that some of the people who were impressed enough to buy records after their set take them home, put them on, and are confused by all the actual songs.

The Aquarian has a short interview with Whirr.

Photos: Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, Dilly Dally @ The Silver Dollar – August 17, 2013
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”
Stream: Whirr – “Drain”
Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Nothing / Downward Years To Come
Stream: Breeze – “Paradise (In a While)”
Stream: Breeze – “Repent”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Tip Toes”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Green”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Killing Time”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Candy Mountain”

Grantland, The AV Club, and The Fly talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, whose new album I Hate Music is out this week.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the low-down on the players replacing the missing Replacements at Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson’s side at Riot Fest at Garrison Commons on August 25.

Neko Case has made her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to stream a full two weeks ahead of its September 3 release via NPR.

Stream: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

USA Today has premiered the next performance video from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium, this one of which finds Will Sheff playing in the titular gymnasium of his old grade school. The record comes out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Video: Okkervil River – “Lido Pier Suicide Car” (live in the Silver Gymnasium)

Consequence Of Sound have a stream of another track from the new of Montreal album lousy with sylvianbriar, out October 8.

Stream: of Montreal – “She Ain’t Speakin’ Now”

Matablog has details on Lee Ranaldo’s new solo record; credited to Lee Ranaldo & The Dust, Last Night On Earth will be out on October 8 and you can stream the first track from it below. This offers some context to Ranaldo’s previously-announced date at The Horseshoe on October 11.

Stream: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust – “Lecce, Leaving”

Magnet spends some (a lot) of time with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. You can do the same when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre solo on October 15.

Pitchfork has a new sort-of performance video from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, whose co-tour comes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17.

We Talk You Die interviews new Midlake frontman Eric Pulido about their new record Antiphon, coming November 5.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with Yo La Tengo.

KCRW is streaming an acoustic studio session with The National.

NPR welcomes Mikal Cronin for a World Cafe session; Spoonfed also has an interview.

MTV Hive and Glamour talk to Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee.

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

CONTEST – CHVRCHES @ The Danforth Music Hall – September 15, 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: CHVRCHES
What: The next big things out of Scotland are two blokes and a bird armed with nothing but synths, big pop songs, and a wanton disregard for the rules of spelling and grammar.
Why: Proving you no longer need something as old school as an album to stage a successful tour, the band are back for their third local show in six months – the first was back at Canadian Musicfest in March, then NXNE in June – and will pull off the impressive feat of playing a 1000+ room before their debut album The Bones Of What You Believe comes out a week and a bit later, on September 24.
When: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Where: The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Floridian electronic act XXYXX opens up; I expect that backstage will just be a giant bonfire of language arts textbooks.
How: Tickets for the show are $23.50 in advance but courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got a prize pack consisting of a pairs of passes to the show and an autographed poster to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to go to CHVRCHES” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, September 7.
What else: USA Today introduces their readers to the band.

MP3: CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
Video: CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
Video: CHVRCHES – “Gun”
Video: CHVRCHES – “Recover”

Friday, August 16th, 2013

CONTEST – Riot Fest @ Garrison Commons – August 24 to 25, 2013

Photo By Daniel CorriganDaniel CorriganWhat: Riot Fest & Travelling Exposition
Why: Riot Fest that started as a Chicago-based punk event but has expanded to other markets, including Toronto starting last year. But of course this year, it’s really just the backdrop for the much-anticipated Replacements reunion and, if they don’t play a warmup show in Minneapolis over the next week or something, Toronto will be their first show in 22 years. Of course it’s not just The Mats – the second day of the fest is further stacked with Iggy & The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, and more. The first day of the fest features a bunch of bands who, hand to god, I have never heard of.
When: Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25, 2013
Where: Garrison Commons at Fort York in Toronto
How: Two-day passes for the festival are sold out though single-day tickets remain, but courtesy of Union Events, I’ve got a pair of weekend passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to go to Riot Fest” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, August 21.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
Video: The Replacements – “Bastards Of Young”
Video: Iggy & The Stooges – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Rocket From The Crypt – “On A Rope”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

New House

Hear the (very near) future of Canadian music today, featuring Diana

Photo By Laurie KangLaurie KangA disproportionate number of intriguing Canadian indie releases scheduled for the 20th of August means a disproportionate number of intriguing Canadian indie advance streams the week prior to the 20th of August. And perhaps the most intriguing of these is Perpetual Surrender, the debut album from Toronto’s Diana, an outfit that barely existed a year ago and only started to gather notice locally last Fall, thanks to their connections to Destroyer – keyboardist/saxophonist Joseph Shabason was part of the Kaputt band – and Army Girls – frontwoman Carmen Elle’s main gig prior to this.

But clearly the time is right for ’80s-vintage, soft-focus synth-pop that sounds simultaneously luxurious and dissatisfied because Diana (sorry, won’t indulge the all-caps) are making impressive waves both at home and abroad and signing to esteemed label Jagjaguwar for the latter territories. They’ve opened for Fucked Up and Tegan & Sara, and went from being the undercard on one of the hottest shows at CMF to themselves being one of the big draws at NXNE. And while I will confess to feeling a slight bit of disappointment in Perpetual Surrender, that’s only because it delivers exactly what Diana has promised, and not anything more. That should be more than enough for most, though, and if Diana turn out to be Toronto’s new musical ambassadors to the world for the next while, hey – I’m okay with that.

Perpetual Surrender is streaming now at Pitchfork. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

MP3: Diana – “Born Again”
Stream: Diana / Perpetual Surrender

Just as predicted, Braids have made their new record Flourish//Perish available to stream ahead of its release next week, also via Pitchfork. And also as predicted, I’m enjoying it considerably more than I did their debut, so that’s something. Exclaim has an interview with Raphaelle Standell-Preston about the departure of keyboardist Katie Lee; they’re this month’s cover story, which should be online soon. And those attending their November 10 show originally scheduled for BLK BOX should note that it has moved upstairs and will now take place in The Great Hall proper.

Stream: Braids / Flourish//Perish

Pitchfork didn’t get the advance stream of Sarah Neufeld’s solo debut Hero Brother, though – that went to The Quietus. Exclaim talks to Neufeld about work outside Arcade Fire and she’s playing guest blogger at Elle this month, offering thoughts on touring, yoga, and other stuff. She plays The Drake Undergound on August 22.

MP3: Sarah Neufeld – “Hero Brother”
Stream: Sarah Neufeld / Hero Brother

Murray Lightburn has doubled down on Exclaim to get the word out on his solo debut Mass:Light; they’ve got both an interview feature on the Dears frontman but also the complete album stream.

MP3: Murray Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”
Stream: Murray Lightburn / Mass:Light

CBC Music talks to Kathryn Calder about A Matter Of Time, the documentary film about ALS at which she and her mother are at the centre, as well as what’s going on with her next solo record and the new New Pornographers album. She should be with the Pornos when they play the CNE on August 17.

The Georgia Straight and Beatroute interview Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz. They play Wrongbar on September 17.

The Irish Examiner talks to Katie Stelmanis of Austra about life on the road. She leads them into The Phoenix on September 27.

If you thought The Polish Combatants Hall was an awfully small room for Basia Bulat to mark the October 1 release of her new record Tall Tall Shadow, you’d be correct. An October 11 show has been added to the previously announced October 10 date, tickets for both are $20.

Stream: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

Seeing as how in recent years, Great Lake Swimmers has ceased being a straight-up alias for frontman Tony Dekker and become a proper band, it makes sense that he might seek to go solo. And so he has, announcing an October 8 release date for his first record under his own name and performed entirely by himself, Prayer Of The Woods. Exclaim has details.

Relix has a video session with Hayden.

Gold & Youth play a video session for Exclaim.

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

My Beautiful Friend

RIP, Jon Brookes of The Charlatans

Photo via thecharlatans.netthecharlatans.netSad, sad news out of the UK yesterday when it was announced that Jon Brookes, drummer and founding member of The Charlatans, had passed away of brain cancer. The condition first surfaced during a 2010 North American tour that forced the cancellation of a number of dates, but until recently appeared to have been successfully treated, allowing Brookes to continue playing and recording with the band as recently as this Summer, with the band working on new material. Brookes was 44.

It’s not the first tragedy to befall the band – original keyboardist Rob Collins was killed in a car crash in 1996 – but in the almost 25 years of the band’s existence they’ve proven to be amazingly resilient, outlasting pretty much all of their Madchester and Britpop peers while building a really remarkable catalog of albums and singles. If any outfit could find the strength to carry on after such a loss – should they choose to – it’d be The Charlatans.

I feel fortunate to have caught them live at The Kool Haus in early 2002 circa Wonderland, their second-to-last visit (I believe) before a 2006 show at The Phoenix for Simpatico. It wasn’t supposed to be so, but the band were snakebit in their attempts to come back to support 2008’s You Cross My Path and 2010’s Who We Touch; for the former, they scheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, and re-cancelled a date at The Mod Club in Fall of 2009, eventually nixing the tour to allow Brookes to have shoulder surgery and their last attempt in September 2010 – which would have brought them to Lee’s Palace – was scrubbed after Brookes had a seizure in Philadelphia two nights before the show.

I’d been largely nonplussed about the band’s output this century, but those last couple records were genuinely solid and I had been quite excited to see them live again – especially in such small rooms – so those cancellations were extra disappointing. For that last Lee’s show, I’d already gone ahead and done the legwork of linking up their entire videography as I try to do for live reviews, and have actually had all of that HTML saved in a draft post for the past three years in hopes that they’d finally return and I could use it. Whatever happens with the future of the band, that return seems unlikely in the near term so I’ll instead post them as a tribute to Brookes and the band. Rest in peace, sir, and thanks for the music.

Video: The Charlatans – “My Foolish Pride”
Video: The Charlatans – “Love Is Ending”
Video: The Charlatans – “Mis-Takes”
Video: The Charlatans – “The Misbegotten”
Video: The Charlatans – “Oh Vanity”
Video: The Charlatans – “You Cross My Path”
Video: The Charlatans – “You’re So Pretty, We’re So Pretty”
Video: The Charlatans – “NYC (There’s No Need To Stop)”
Video: The Charlatans – “Blackened Blue Eyes”
Video: The Charlatans – “Try Again Today”
Video: The Charlatans – “Up At The Lake”
Video: The Charlatans – “A Man Needs To Be Told”
Video: The Charlatans – “Love Is The Key”
Video: The Charlatans – “Impossible”
Video: The Charlatans – “How High”
Video: The Charlatans – “North Country Boy”
Video: The Charlatans – “One To Another”
Video: The Charlatans – “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over”
Video: The Charlatans – “Just Lookin'”
Video: The Charlatans – “Crashin’ In”
Video: The Charlatans – “Jesus Hairdo”
Video: The Charlatans – “I Never Want an Easy Life If Me and He Were Ever to Get There”
Video: The Charlatans – “Cant Get Out Of Bed”
Video: The Charlatans – “Tremolo Song”
Video: The Charlatans – “Weirdo”
Video: The Charlatans – “Me. In Time”
Video: The Charlatans – “Over Rising”
Video: The Charlatans – “Then”
Video: The Charlatans – “Sproston Green”
Video: The Charlatans – “The Only One I Know”

Travis have let Rolling Stone host the advance stream of their new record Where You Stand, which comes out August 19. Fran Healy talks to Metro, The Daily Mail, The Daily Record, and The Arbroath Herald about the new album, which they bring to The Sound Academy on September 25.

Stream: Travis / Where You Stand

DIY has both an album stream and track-by-track walkthrough of Absolute Zero, the debut album from Dublin’s Little Green Cars. It came out in North America back in the Spring but is only getting a European release next week, if you were wondering why they’re only getting around to it now.

Stream: Little Green Cars / Absolute Zero

The Fly and The Belfast Telegraph interview members of The Vaccines, who are streaming one of the tracks from their just-released Melody Calling EP via NME. They open up for Mumford & Sons at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 26.

Stream: The Vaccines – “Do You Want A Man” (John Hill + Rich Costey Remix)

Premier Guitar sits down with Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand to talk about their new record Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action with particular interest in – wait for it – their guitars, while The Age settles for a broader-interest feature piece. The record is out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Stereogum has premiered the lead video for Summer Camp’s self-titled second album, due out September 9.

Video: Summer Camp – “Fresh”

Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys talks to Rolling Stone about the new single and video from their forthcoming AM, which comes out September 10. They’re at The Kool Haus on September 15.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”

DIY have premiered the first video from Motto, the forthcoming record from Sky Larkin and Oxford Student also has an interview with the band. The new album is out September 16.

Video: Sky Larkin – “Loom”

Even though you’ve already seen her play it live at an in-store, The AV Club has posted the “proper” version of Charli XCX’s cover of The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”, as she learned the song for her contribution to their Undercover series. She also lists her five favourites songs for The Week. Charli XCX plays The Hoxton on September 16.

Peter Hook recounts to The Guardian what he sees when he looks in the mirror, which includes a guy who’s going to play Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies at The Hoxton on September 18; he talks to This Is Nottingham about how the live performance will work. And if you want to see what he looks like when he’s trying to teach you to play “Ceremony”, head over to Slicing Up Eyeballs for the video lesson.

Spin is streaming another new track from Johnny Flynn’s forthcoming Country Mile, due out September 30.

Stream: Johnny Flynn – “After Eliot”

Billboard has a video session and interview with Kate Nash. She plays The Phoenix on November 5.

After threatening to leak it herself, M.I.A. has been given a November 5 release date for her eternally-delayed new record Matangi.

Over at Noisey, Emmy The Great explains how she came to write the soundtrack for the film Austenland.

Editors have released another video from their latest album The Weight Of Your Love; Artrocker also has a quick interview with the band.

Video: Editors – “Formaldehyde”

MTV Iggy interviews Camera Obscura.

Mat Osman of Suede tells The Quietus what he’s been listening to lately.

In conversation with The Daily Star Alex James is simultaneously optimistic and hazy about the future of Blur.

Pitchfork has what I believe is the first extensive post-m b v interview with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, including outtakes.

In conversation with The Japan Times, Johnny Marr dumps a whole load of cold, harsh reality on those holding out hope for a Smiths reunion.