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Archive for September, 2013

Monday, September 30th, 2013

The Silver Gymnasium

Okkervil River and Torres at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEveryone’s heard the old adage about how life is like a river, ever-changing, and in the case of Austin’s Okkervil River, it’s especially apt. The faces that make up the band have changed repeatedly over the years – singer-songwriter Will Sheff being the only real constant over their 14-year existence – and they’ve had their share of stylistic and thematic shifts over that time, albeit while hewing closely to the path marked folk-rock. And so it’s fitting that following their most rangy and experimental album in 2011’s aptly-titled I Am Very Far, they’d return to their roots – or the river to its source – with The Silver Gymnasium.

After Far‘s short story songbook, Gymnasium returns to the overarching album theme with a literary angle built around the memoir, focusing on Sheff’s ’80s youth in the small town of Meriden, New Hampshire. With that shift comes a musical realignment of sorts, with the more darker, exploratory sonics of Far put aside for a strummier sound with synth accents, perhaps meant to reflect the radio pop of the era or just draw in more listeners; in either case, these are the most accessible-sounding tunes Okkervil has turned out, right alongside the Stage Names/Stand-Ins set. The material may not be of the strata – at this point, time may well show that the years spanning Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names to be the band’s creative pinnacle – it’s a solid collection that reflects the Okkervil River that most of their fans know and love best. And with it, Okkervil returned to town on Saturday night for their first Toronto show since June 2011.

The support slot for the tour marked another achievement in a year of highlights for 22-year old Nashville-based newcomer Mackenzie Scott who, when onstage, answers to Torres. She self-released her self-titled debut in January and since then, with the help of endorsements from the likes of Sharon Van Etten, has gotten to the point where her presence on the bill constituted an actual draw. Fronting a powerful yet tasteful rhythm section, Scott’s set was built around distorted fingerpicking and raw, snarled vocals that reared up to feedback-laden, combat boot-stomping rock heights in the opening and closing numbers. Those who like their confessional singer-songwriter material with some teeth, both lyrically and musically, would be impressed.

A consequence of the earlier comment that Okkervil may have already hit their creative and critical peak a few albums back was the fact that this show was decidedly not sold out, but not being a buzz band doesn’t mean that your real fanbase is any less solid or devoted; so while those in attendance might have had a little more elbow room than in the past, their enthusiasm was hardly diminished. The Silver Gymnasium‘s one-two of “It Was My Season” and “On A Balcony” opened things up before giving way to a Black Sheep Boy‘s still-powerful “For Real” and “Black”, setting the tone for the rest of the set – a solid showing from the new record but plenty of attention to the back catalog, with only Down The River Of Golden Dreams being omitted entirely and with The Stage Names being leaned on for the show-stopping moments.

The current lineup of Okkervil, which underwent a sea change with the last record, sounded more cohesive than on the Far tour. Lead guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo’s style of guitar now better integrated into the songs in the way that it took Nels Cline a little bit to properly sound part of Wilco, and the sound of the band has adjusted accordingly with the focus alternating between Sheff’s vocals to Gurgiolo’s leads rather than the Okkervil orchestra as a whole, or maybe it just seemed this was as I was parked directly in Gurgiolo’s amp’s line of fire. Also in the “things that are different” department was Sheff’s taking the stage not in one of his signature sport coats but a leather jacket, now looking more the part of student than professor. The glasses still only lasted half the energetic and sweaty set, though, so reality wasn’t that altered. And though Jonathan Meiburg officially left the band five years ago, his vocal presence is still missed – particularly since his harmonies still appear on the records. It was a nice nod to the Okkervil of old, though, when mid-show the band left just Sheff and bassist Patrick Pestorius, the other longest-serving member of the band, to play “No Key, No Plan” acoustically.

The thing that struck me the most over the course of the show was how I’d forgotten how much I loved this band not that long ago. From 2005 to 2008 or so, they were one of the outfits in the heaviest rotation possible and somehow, unnoticed, they or I drifted away. And while those days probably aren’t coming back – despite said I would be thrilled if there was another masterpiece rattling around in Will Sheff’s head – this show was an hour-forty reminder of those times. And isn’t The Silver Gymnasium all about remembering days past?

Photos: Okkervil River, Torres @ The Phoenix – September 28, 2013
MP3: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Mermaid”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe”
MP3: Okkervil River – “The President’s Dead”
MP3: Okkervil River – “No Key, No Plan”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Black”
MP3: Okkervil River – “It Ends With A Fall”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Kansas City”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Red”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Westfall”
Stream: Torres – “Honey”
Video: Okkervil River – “Your Past Life As A Blast”
Video: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
Video: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
Video: Okkervil River – “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe”
Video: Okkervil River – “Girl In Port”
Video: Okkervil River – “For Real”

Stereogum have premiered a stream of a new Phantogram song, taken – as they’ve just revealed – from a new self-titled EP that will be out on September 30, which is to say today. Their second full-length is coming next year.

Stream: Phnatogram – “Celebrating Nothing”

Polar and Billboard have interviews with Cameron Mesirow of Glasser, whose new album Interiors comes out October 8 and is streaming at The Guardian. She plays The Drake Underground come October 13.

Stream: Glasser / Interiors

Billboard and Vulture talk to Sleigh Bells about their new record Bitter Rivals. It’s out October 8 and they play The Phoenix on November 13.

Dean Wareham has made available for preorder his new solo mini-album Emancipated Hearts, which will be out as a 10″ LP on October 15.

Interview talks to Mazzy Star, who have marked the release this week of their new record Seasons Of Your Day with a new video. They play The Danforth Music Hall on November 16.

Video: Mazzy Star – “California”

Though rumours that the current Guided By Voices reunion will be winding down have been floating basically since it began, they’ve confirmed that they’ll be releasing a fourth studio album in Motivational Jumpsuit late next February, amidst a slew of other Bob Pollard-related releases. Stereogum has all the details.

Rolling Stone reports that Television have had a new studio album in the can since 2007 – presumably after Richard Lloyd left and Jimmy Rip replaced him – but that it won’t see the light of day until Tom Verlaine decides he wants to, if ever. So do with that information what you will.

Modern Farmer talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats about goats.

Magnet turns their website over to Superchunk/Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster with a Q&A, while Washington City Paper chats with Mac McCaughan.

The National discusses their inclusion on the soundtrack of the new Hunger Games soundtrack with NME.

The Quietus reflects on the 20th anniversary of The Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen.

Gaper’s Block, Des Moines Register, and NOW chat with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

aux.tv has an interview with Kurt Vile.

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

CONTEST – Deltron 3030 @ The Phoenix – October 16, 2013

Photo By Darren SamuelsonDarren SamuelsonWho: Deltron 3030
What: Sci-fi hip-hop supergroup comprised of Del The Funkee Homosapien, Dan The Automator, and Kid Koala.
Why: Ready to release their second album Event II this coming Tuesday, September 30 – a mere 13 years after their debut – they’re going all in with a North American tour where they’ll be accompanied by a full orchestra. Because why not.
When: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto (19+)
How: Tickets for the show are $24.50 in advance but courtesy of Union Events, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Deltron 3030” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 10.
What else: The new album is available to stream at Pitchfork for a limited time. LA Weekly talks to Dan The Automator and Clash to Del about the return of Deltron.

Video: Deltron 3030 – “City Rising From The Ashes”
Stream: Deltron 3030 / Event II

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Electric

Pet Shop Boys at The Sony Centre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI can pinpoint the exact date, time, and place that I became a Pet Shop Boys fan – 8PM on August 30, 2009 at the Molson Amphitheatre. That was when they took the stage – the penultimate act of the final V Fest in Toronto and part of the “Pandemonium” tour in support of that year’s Yes – to the sampled voices of “Heart” and kicked off one of the most ridiculously entertaining hours of live music I can remember. I’d known the songs, of course – everyone knows many of those songs even if they don’t – but the marriage of their perfect pop and over-the-top, technicoloured building block visuals was impossible to resist, and since that too-short festival-length performance, I’ve been waiting for them to come back for their own full-length show.

It didn’t happen for last year’s Elysium, but for its strengths – maybe I liked it more than most because it was the first new PSB record to come out with me as a card-carrying member of their fanbase – its relatively low-key presentation may not have been the strongest foot to launch a world tour from. So thank goodness for this year’s unexpectedly fast follow-up Electric, a far more danceable and banging companion album that would get the Boys back on the road with the festival circuit in the Summer, and North America this Fall, stopping in at The Sony Centre in Toronto on Wednesday night.

With no opening act, the sold-out house waited and chattered patiently until the house lights dropped and screaming (the good kind) commenced. With projections of geometric abstractions and speeding tunnels on the giant scrim covering front of the stage, Messrs Tennant and Lowe took the stage behind giant glowing silhouettes, and ping-ponged from present to past with Electric opener “Axis”, Actually‘s “One More Chance”, and Elysium – all obscured behind trippy visuals – before dropping the scrim for “Opportunities” and bidding the crowd a proper “hello” with the first of many, many shouts of, “Toronto!”.

Even though the visuals of this tour were completely different from the Pandemonium tour – the Lego-esque aesthetic put aside for lasers, strobes, and the aforementioned giant projections, all tied together by a printed circuit board aesthetic – the structure was quite similar. Visually, you had Chris Lowe expressionless at his keyboard station handling the music, Neil Tennant roaming the stage in excellent voice, sometimes accompanied by a pair of dancers, and all in a dazzling and nonsensical array of costumes involving but certainly not limited to giant antlered animal masks, finely-tailored suits, disco ball helmets, and tinsel bodysuits on pogo sticks.

Musically, they tied songs together into suites with corresponding choreography, and as per the opening numbers, they focused mainly on their last two albums and their platinum-selling early records, although Behaviour was curiously left out completely. Also curious was the omission of two of Electric‘s highlights – new single “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct” and Springsteen cover “The Last To Die”. But you can’t have everything, I suppose, so wishing that some more of their ’90s singles had also made the cut in lieu of the early ’00s tracks is really besides the point. Even with a near two-hour show, a band with a catalog of classic songs as deep as Pet Shop Boys as well as very worthy current records to promote is going to leave someone’s favourites out. Probably best to focus on the fact that even so, no one was having anything but a great time and even though the Sony Centre’s seats weren’t the most conducive to dancing, we did what we could.

The show’s finale was heralded by a string of the biggest tunes – “It’s A Sin”, “Domino Dancing”, “Always On My Mind”, and “Go West” are the very definition of show stoppers – but the final number was Electric closing number “Vocal”; not a classic like the others – at least not yet – but certainly a banger and if you wanted to send a giddy crowd into the night understanding that even after more than a quarter century, you’re still writing and releasing great, great songs to go with your great, great shows, you could do far worse.

Global News, Panic Manual, and Live In Limbo also have reviews of the show, and Philly.com and The New Statesman interviews.

Photos: Pet Shop Boys @ The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts – September 25, 2013
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Vocal”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Axis”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Leaving”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Winner”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Invisible”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Together”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “All Over The World”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Did You See Me Coming?”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Love Etc.”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Numb”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Minimal”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “I’m With Stupid”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Flamboyant”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Miracles”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “London”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “I Get Along”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Home and Dry”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “New York City Boy”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Somewhere”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “A Red Letter Day”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Single-Bilingual”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Se a vida ´ (That’s the Way Life Is)”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Before”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Paninaro 95”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Yesterday, When I Was Mad”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Liberation”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Go West”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Can You Forgive Her?”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “DJ Culture”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Jealousy”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes off You)”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Being Boring”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “So Hard”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “It’s Alright”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Left To My Own Devices”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Domino Dancing”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Heart”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Always On My Mind”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Rent”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “It’s A Sin”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Paninaro”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Suburbia”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Love Comes Quickly”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (version 2)
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (version 1)
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girls”

The New York Times has the advance stream of Yuck’s second album Glow & Behold, being released September 30.

Stream: Yuck / Glow & Behold

Also out next week is Johnny Flynn’s new long-player Country Mile, which is available to preview at For Folks Sake. And if that’s not enough, there’s the sampler A Recapitulation Of Johnny Flynn EP which is available to download for free (or a donation).

Stream: Johnny Flynn / Country Mile

Clash, MIPro, and New Statesman talk to Anna Calvi about her new album One Breath, which is out October 7 and from which a new song is available to stream.

Stream: Anna Calvi – “Suddenly”

The History Of Apple Pie are streaming the a-side of a new 7″-single, out October 14 to coincide with their hop across the Atlantic to play CMJ.

Stream: The History Of Apple Pie – “Don’t You Wanna Be Mine”

Clash premiered a stream of the first new Fanfarlo music in a while; it comes from their new EP The Sea, which will be released on October 14.

Stream: Fanfarlo – “A Distance”

Daytrotter has a session with Kate Nash, who plays The Phoenix on November 5.

Though her debut album True Romance is still only a few months old, Charli XCX has released a video for a new song from her next album, which she obviously hopes will be out sooner rather than later. She plays Wrongbar on November 9.

Video: Charli XCX – “Superlove”

The Guardian examines the new wave of psych-rock bands coming out of the UK including Temples, who are at The Horseshoe on November 20 ahead of releasing their full-length debut next year.

Foals have a new clip from their latest, Holy Fire.

Video: Foals – “Out Of The Woods”

Savages have released a new video from Silence Yourself.

Video: Savages – “Husbands”

Sky Larkin share their favourite mottos with Clash, while ZME Music settles for a regular old interview.

NPR has a video session and Exclaim an interview with CHVRCHES.

Spin talks to Elvis Costello and Questlove of The Roots about their collaborative record Wise Up Ghost.

Wild Honey Pie have posted a video session with Camera Obscura.

As part of their ongoing 4AD week – marking the release of Facing The Other Way, a new book about the legendary label, Drowned In Sound talks to Vaughan Oliver, the graphic artist responsible for the 4AD’s signature visual style.

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

1000 Answers

The Hives and object lessons in venue relativism

Photo By Tobias SutterTobias SutterThings that are true about live music rooms in Toronto: 1) Everyone hates the Sound Academy, for reasons that don’t really need to be expounded on; 2) a lot of people hate The Phoenix when it represents a tipping point for ascendant acts moving out of clubs and into bigger rooms; 3) a lot of people love The Phoenix when it offers a relatively intimate setting for who might normally play larger rooms but for whatever reason – choice or circumstance – are downsizing.

It’s that third category that I was front of mind yesterday as a batch of concert announcements rolled in. Already scheduled for two dates at The Air Canada Centre supporting Pink on November 30 and December 2, Swedish garage rock heroes The Hives have decided days off are for chumps and have scheduled their own show at The Phoenix for December 1, tickets $29.50. Their last headlining show in support of last year’s Lex Hives was in July 2012 and at The Sound Academy, so their playing a room one-third the size is rather a boon for their fans, at least those who didn’t rush out to buy Pink tickets to see them. Which I would think would include all of them.

Video: The Hives – “Wait A Minute”

New Zealand electro-poppers The Naked & Famous, on the other hand, may be finding out that they’re neither sufficiently naked or famous to fill the Sound Academy as they’ve downgraded their October 14 show in support of their just-released second album In Rolling Waves from there to The Phoenix. Playing the room wasn’t overreaching as their last show in support of their hit debut Passive Me, Aggressive You was there and was their fourth local performance in a year, no less, but kids these days have short attention spans. Remaining tickets for the show are $28.50 in advance. BBC has an interview with the band as does Noisey, along with a stream of the new record.

Video: The Naked & Famous – “Hearts Like Ours”
Stream: The Naked & Famous / In Rolling Waves

When British soul singer Jessie Ware made her local debut at The Opera House in April, it seemed a foregone conclusion that her next visit would be in a much bigger room. And while I won’t suggest that her upwards trajectory has stalled – she and Devotion are just too good to be denied – I was surprised to see that her November 6 show at The Sound Academy had also been downsized to The Phoenix. On the plus side, I already know a few people for whom this show has gone from “ugh” to “ooh”, so it should still be a good and full house when she and The Invisible return to town. Whatever tickets remain for that one are $25 in advance. Interestingly, one of her New York shows on this tour was also downsized from a 3000+ room to a 1000 but a Brooklyn show was also added, so maybe this is as much about the experience as soft sales. Or not. Anyways, if you were on the fence then it’s time to get to a ticket outlet.

Video: Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”

The Rural Alberta Advantage have been fairly quiet of late, presumably working on a follow-up to 2011’s Departing – their last local show was last Fall with Dan Mangan at The Danforth Music Hall – but they’ll be taking the stage at the Adelaide Music Hall on October 18 as part of Indie Week, which is apparently a thing. You can get in with a festival wristband or paying $25 for an advance ticket.

MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”

Widowspeak fans dismayed that their only opportunity to see them this Fall was as support for Iron & Wine at The Sound Academy – that place again! – on September 28 will be pleased to know that they’ll be back soon enough in support of their new EP The Swamps, out October 29, for a show at The Silver Dollar on November 2 with Pure Bathing Culture and tickets running a very reasonable $12.50.

MP3: Widowspeak – “The Devil Knows”

Baltimore’s Future Islands haven’t announced anything about a follow-up to 2011’s On The Water, but they’re still hitting the road and will be at The Drake Underground on November 10, tickets $15.50.

MP3: Future Islands – “Before The Bridge”

At some point, the release of Illinois roots-pop artist Lissie’s second album got pushed back a few weeks, but they’ve now committed to both an October 8 street date for Back To Forever as well as a Fall tour to support it. Ms Maurus will be at the Adelaide Music Hall on November 21, tickets for the show $22.50 in advance.

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

They may not have been crowned Polaris champs on Monday night, but Young Galaxy can still announce themselves as 2013 shortlisters when they take the stage at The Hoxton on November 22. Not that they would or should; that’s kind of gauche. Tickets for that one are $18 in advance.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Pretty Boy”

If you missed fantastical Swedish synth-pop duo The Deer Tracks when they were here in March – and mathematically, most all of you did – then you can rectify that when they bring their opus The Archer Trilogy back to North America for a victory lap. They’ll be back at The Silver Dollar on November 28.

MP3: The Deer Tracks – “W”

His Toronto debut a couple weeks ago having completely sold out even after being upgraded from The Drake to Wrongbar, Archy Marshall – aka King Krule – will bring his album Six Feet Beneath The Moon back as part of a larger tour and will be at Lee’s Palace on December 9, tickets $20. The New York Times has a feature piece on the artist.

Video: King Krule – “Octopus”

Interview, MTV, and Rolling Stone have features on Swedish electro-pop sensations Icona Pop, whose North American debut This Is… Icona Pop is out this week.

MTV Hive, Elle, and Interview chat with Nanna Øland Fabricius of Oh Land, whose new album Wish Bone is also out this week and is available to stream courtesy of The Line Of Best Fit. Esquire also has a video session with the artist, who plays The Great Hall on September 30.

Stream: Oh Land / Wish Bone

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

Video: Indians – “La Femme”

The New Strait Times, South China Morning Post, and Electronic Musician have interviews with Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds.

Le Blogotheque serves up an Empty Spaces session with Sigur Rós filmed in the catacombs of Paris.

A Heart Is A Spade interviews Kate Boy.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

'Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor win 2013 Polaris Music Prize; speechless seems an appropriate reaction

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWell I certainly didn’t expect that.

Even though Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s surprise comeback record‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! was high on my own ballot and certainly a worthy record by any standard – refer back to my review last October – I had expected that some combination of the band’s own refusal to interact with the media (and thus any of the jury), the relative bleakness/impenetrableness of their music, and just their lack of profile outside of old-school indie circles to stack the odds against them. Apparently not. Proving that predicting the Polaris Music Prize is a tricky, tricky pastime, the name that last year’s winner Leslie Feist read from winner’s envelope wasn’t Zaki Ibrahim or A Tribe Called Red or any of the other acts who were widely expected to walk away with the $30,000 in this unusually wide-open year, but Godspeed.

No one was sure if they’d even acknowledge the nomination though it was a pretty sure thing they wouldn’t show up to the ceremony, and indeed they didn’t. American music journalist Jessica Hopper said a few short words at the gala to acknowledge their nomination and Ian Ilavsky of Constellation Records, Godspeed’s label, said a few words after their win, thanking the jurors and announcing that the winnings would be donated to a program to bring music and instruments to Quebec prisons. There was no giant novelty cheque. And this morning, the band made their own official statement on the win and manage to be entirely gracious while remaining entirely Godspeed.

As to the rest of the gala, it was an eminently enjoyable affair in its fancy new home at The Carlu. Shad and Kathleen Edwards were fine hosts, with the requisite costume skits and making light of the fact that they were both two-time Polaris losers (including both of them in 2008 when my Grand Jury gave the prize to Caribou), as well as leveraging Edwards’ renowned potty mouth towards collecting money for charity via a swear jar on each guest table whenever she cussed. Which was often.

The performances opened with Purity Ring bringing their trademark cocoon lantern stage show to accompany their squelchy electro-pop, followed by and impressive set by R&B artist Zaki Ibrahim with costumes and dancers that was probably revelatory for most in attendance, since she’s hardly if ever performed live in Canada. As they did in 2009, Metric opted to perform acoustic as just the core duo of Emily and James but bringing in a grand piano to fancy things up a bit helped avoid the coffee house vibe of that previous showing.

What with having been sidelined very recently with a broken hand, solo saxophonist Colin Stetson was a surprise performer on the night but showed no ill effects fresh off the DL, turning in the most raw, elemental performance of the night and maybe the history of the Polaris Prize. Tegan & Sara also surprised, not by showing up and performing but by having Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! sub in with a brilliant and buoyant version of “Closer”.

Whitehorse only played one song when they could have easily done two in their allotted time, but that one more than ably showcased their abilities and appeal, with Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland’s intricately choreographed instrument swapping and looping an impressive demonstration of musicality and chemistry. And it speaks to the diversity of nominees on this year’s short list that Young Galaxy’s set would come across as unusual, what with them being a conventional rock band simply performing a couple of their songs.

A fancy-dress gala might have been an odd first time to see local punk heroes METZ, but their loud and loud and awesome and loud set successfully transformed the Carlu from a storied concert hall that once hosted Frank Sinatra and Glenn Gould into every dirty, grungy basement venue in the world, albeit a really well-lit one. And finally, to wrap the night, A Tribe Called Red added some visual interest to their three-DJ performance with a native break/hoop dancer who, while no Gary the pole dancer, certainly put on a memorable and unique performance.

And then they gave the prize to Godspeed. It’s funny – of all the years the Polaris has been a thing, this was the year I felt least invested in. The couple of records I would have really loved to see make the final round having not, I had a lot of difficulty getting interested in this year’s edition beyond an academic level. And of course, it turns out the album I was pulling for but had basically assumed was out of contention wins, and the gala features some of the very best performances I’ve seen at these things. The Polaris – you just never know. Photos from the gala and a reminder of who the shortlist was below.

Photos: The Polaris Music Prize 2013 Gala @ The Carlu – September 23, 2013

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 & 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”

Young Galaxy have premiered a stream of another of the new tracks on their Ultramarine deluxe edition, out today, at Stereogum. The Edmonton Journal and Metro have interviews with the band.

Stream: Young Galaxy – “Talk To Her”

The Lab interviews Katie Stelmanis of Austra, who brings their 2014 Polaris-likely second album Olympia to The Phoenix on September 27.

The AV Club is offering an advance stream of Basia Bulat’s new album Tall Tall Shadow before its release next Tuesday, October 1. She plays three nights at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10 through 12.

Stream: Basia Bulat / Tall Tall Shadow

Beatroute, The Montreal Gazette and CBC Music talk to Nick Thorburn of Islands about their new album Ski Mask. They play The Garrison on October 10.

Noisey have premiered the new video from The Darcys’ new record Warring, while B-Insider has an interview. They play the Adelaide Music Hall on October 11.

Video: The Darcys – “Muzzle Blast”

Shad discusses his new album Flying Colours with Respect. It’s out October 15 and he’s at The Opera House on October 19.

The Weeknd has premiered another video from Kiss Land; his three-night stand at Massey Hall begins October 17.

Video: The Weeknd – “Pretty”

NOW talks to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, who’ve released a first video from their new record Uzu, coming out October 29.

Video: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “One”

Consequence Of Sound reports that Arcade Fire will follow-up their September 27 appearance on Saturday Night Live with a 30-minute concert performance to be shown on NBC – so that’s 1AM EDT, if it was unclear. Elsewhere, Richard Reed Perry tells NME how David Bowie ended up on “Reflektor” and Under The Radar has got a stream of their cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers”, appearing on the forthcoming All I’ll Scratch Yours tribute album, out this week. Arcade Fire’s own Reflektor is in stores October 29.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Games Without Frontiers”

Also streaming from the Peter Gabriel tribute is this track from Feist featuring Timber Timbre; whether you choose to imagine a video featuring Leslie and Taylor clinging to each other for warmth for four minutes is your business.

Stream: Feist with Timber Timbre – “Don’t Give Up”

Destroyer has announced the release of Five Spanish Songs, an EP of songs by Spanish musician Antonio Luque of the band Sr. Chinarro, due out November 29. You may hear some of these songs when Dan Bejar plays The Great Hall solo on November 9. Or you may not.

Stereogum are streaming a new song from Odonis Odonis, presumably from a new album in the works or coming soon or something. They’ve not said.

Stream: Odonis Odonis – “Are We Friends”

Pitchfork welcomes Majical Cloudz for a City Of Music video session.

No Joy have released a new video from their latest, Wait To Pleasure.

Video: No Joy – “Blue Neck Riviera”

aux.tv has an interview with METZ.

Exclaim reports that the limited edition vinyl pressing of the first Super Friendz record Mock Up Scale Down is now a little less limited but more easy to buy, being on sale via murderrecords directly.