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Archive for October, 2013

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Hall Of Mirrors

Review of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan’s Uzu

Photo By Derek BelchanDerek BelchanIf you thought that unclassifiable Montreal-Toronto outfit Yamantaka//Sonic Titan would have difficulty following up their utterly 2011 debut YT//ST, that their blend of prog-rock, Japanese opera, and metal amongst many other influences would inevitably turn from unique to self-parody, or that the pressure of going from obscurity to 2012 Polaris Prize shortlister would paralyze them creatively, then you don’t need to look up what Uzu – the title of their second album due out on October 29, means – it means “you are dead wrong”.

Even as an avowed fan of the band, I wasn’t sure how they’d follow up YT//ST, so singular a work that it seemed to be, but clearly Yamantaka//Sonic Titan had no such reservations. Whereas much of the excitement of YT//ST came from the primal, alchemical reactions of bringing their disparate elements and ideas together, Uzu intricately crafts them all together with a much more assured hand – rather than melding all those styles together, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan now sound like they’ve created their own. And remarkably, that’s not even what stands out the most about Uzu – that would be how much better they’ve gotten at sounding conventional.

Lead track “Atalanta” opens with a classical piano figure that is quickly joined by Ruby Kato Attwood singing a plaintive and achingly pretty melody. It’s the sort of move that a band determined to hold onto the “experimental” adjective might eschew as too straight, too accessible, but which too Yamantaka is clearly just the right thing to do for the song. The greater emphasis on melody and straight emotion persists through the record and gives Uzu a heart that YT//ST might have possessed, but kept in the background. The two-part “Seasickness” is the best example of how far they’ve come, with the first part emphasizing the austere beauty of the approach and the second demonstrating how well it meshes with their established sound. What this all means is that those who liked Yamantaka before because they were weird will continue to like them because their weird, but those who found them too weird before may well now find them to be sufficiently more accessible to be won over. What this all means is that with Uzu, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan may now be unstoppable.

Pitchfork has an advance stream of the album. They play The Garrison on November 6.

Video: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “One”
Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / Uzu

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from The Belle Game’s debut Ritual Tradition Habit, while NOW previews their show at The Drake Underground on Friday night, October 25, with an interview.

Video: The Belle Game -“River”

Your latest Arcade Fire inevitability updates: Pitchfork has a lyric video for the next officially-released preview, NPR will host a live concert showcasing Reflektor before its release the next day, and both Rolling Stone and Macleans have interviews with Win Butler about the new album, The National Post with Will Butler, and Radio Free Canuckistan throwing in Q&As with Richard Reed Parry and Tim Kingsbury for good measure. Update: And yeah now you can stream the album in whole.

Lyric Video: Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
Stream: Arcade Fire / Reflektor

Pitchfork has stepped up with an advance stream of the new Moonface record Julia With Blue Jeans On, which comes out on October 29.

MP3: Moonface – “Everyone Is Noah, Everyone Is The Ark”
Stream: Moonface / Julia With Blue Jeans On

Kashka has premiered a new video from her forthcoming Bound at Indie88; the album is out November 5 and there’s a record release show for it at The Great Hall on December 5.

Video: Kashka – “Never Had It”

Exclaim reports that the new album from Vancouver retro-rockets Chains Of Love will now be an EP, or series of EPs, starting with Misery Makers Vol. 1 which comes out November 5.

The Vancouver Sun, Halifax Chronicle Herald, and What’s Up interview Braids. They’re at The Great Hall on November 10.

Neil Young continues to make his fans easy to Christmas shop for via his Archives series; Consequence Of Sound reports that he’ll release Live At The Cellar Door, capturing a 1970 residency in Washington DC, on November 26.

The Besnard Lakes have released a new video from Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO; they’re at Lee’s Palace on November 26.

Video: The Besnard Lakes – “Colour Yr Lights In”

Death From Above 1979 want some of your Boxing Day spending money, having just announced a show at The Danforth Music Hall for December 26. Tickets will run between $33.50 and $39.50.

Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”

Shad explains some of the stories behind the lyrics on Flying Colours to The Grid and also talks to JAM, The Huffington Post, The Edmonton Journal, The Coast, and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. He’ll be back in town to perform it at The Danforth Music Hall on January 31.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Rose Cousins; The Georgia Straight also has an interview.

Paper Bag Records is proud to present a new video session with Diana. Or at least I assume they are. Why wouldn’t they be?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

We Looked Like Giants

Death Cab For Cutie celebrate Transatlanticism‘s 10th with naked baby photos

Photo By Peter EllenbyPeter Ellenby2013 marks the tenth anniversary of all kinds of things – the US invasion of Iraq, Lost In Translation, the passing of both Johnny and June Carter Cash – but also the debut of a television show called The O.C. which hand to god I have never watched but know of because it catapulted one of my then-favourite bands in Death Cab For Cutie from bubbling-under buzz band into bona fide (indie-scale) stars. Well their endorsement, plus the momentum of Ben Gibbard’s other project The Postal Service, and also the release of the band’s most beloved album in Transatlanticism. I personally preferred its predecessor The Photo Album, but a generation of indie kids came of age to this record and so its decade anniversary is almost certainly making a lot of people feel really old right now; my world and welcome to it.

In any case, it’s a milestone that merits commemoration and the band’s former and spiritual home of Barsuk Records is doing so with the re-release of the album on double vinyl, after several years out of print, and as a bonus have released the original demos for the record alongside it. The set of song sketches comes as a download with the LP or can be purchased on its own. Both versions of the record are available to stream right now at NPR before being officially released next week on October 29.

Entertainment Weekly and Consequence of Sound have pieces on why the album endures, and if you’re more about living in the now than the past, Billboard reports that they’re back in the studio working on their next record.

MP3: Death Cab For Cutie – “Title and Registration”
Stream: Death Cab For Cutie / Transatlanticism 10th Anniversary Edition

Another tenth anniversary of a much sadder note came to pass this week; the passing of Elliott Smith a decade ago this week. Tributes abound online, but Pitchfork has assembled an impressive oral history of the songwriter’s career.

Spin has an advance stream of Widowspeak’s new EP The Swamps, which sees official release on October 29. They’re in town at The Silver Dollar on November 2.

Stream: Widowspeak / The Swamps

Paste talks to The Head & The Heart, in town for a show at the Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

Matablog has posted a new track from the forthcoming and inevitable deluxe edition of Kurt Vile’s last album Wakin’ On A Pretty Haze: Deluxe Edition (Post Haze), out November 19.

MP3: Kurt Vile – “Feel My Pain”

Tone Deaf chats with James McNew of Yo La Tengo. The deluxe edition of their latest album Fade comes out November 19.

Sub Pop is really emphasizing the “Pop” with the release of a Low/Shearwater split 7″ for Black Friday Record Store Day on November 29; the a-side will feature Low’s already-released Rihanna cover, while the b-side unveils Shearwater’s take on Frank Ocean. Proceeds go to charity, vinyl is limited to 3500 copies, and both tracks will be made available digitally.

Stream: Low – “Stay”

Pixies have released another video from their recent EP-1, which they’re using to justify their show at Massey Hall on January 15.

Video: Pixies – “Andro Queen”

Electronic duo Darkside have released a new video from Psychic; they’re at Lee’s Palace on January 15.

Video: Darkside – “Metatron”

Brooklyn’s Hospitality have announced a January 27 release date for their second album Trouble; check out a trailer for it and check out their 2012 self-titled debut if you don’t know why they’re a good band.

Trailer: Hospitality / Trouble

The reunited Dismemberment Plan continue to be a topic of discussion with MTV Hive, Stereogum, Paste, and The 405, and NYC Taper has posted a recording of their recent Terminal 5 show in New York.

Dean Wareham has released a video from his solo mini-album Emancipated Hearts.

Video: Dean Wareham – “Love Is Colder Than Death”

Jim James has put out another video from his solo record Regions Of Light and Sound Of God.

Video: Jim James – “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)”

DIY talks to Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River talks to The Guardian.

The Big Takeover and examiner.com interview Charlie Hilton of Blouse.

To celebrate their 20,000th Twitter follower, Superchunk have posted an acoustic version of “Breaking Down”, which appears fully electrified on their latest I Hate Music.

Stream: Superchunk – “Breaking Down” (acoustic)

Aquarium Drunkard interviews the Kadane/Johnson/Bazan-powered beast that is Overseas.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Time In The Machine

Review of Black Hearted Brother’s Stars Are Our Home

Photo By Frank YangSabine ScheckelWith all due respect to Mark Van Hoen and Nick Holton and their works with Seefeel and Holton’s Opulant Oog, respectively, it’s entirely reasonable to discuss Stars Are Our Home, the debut album from England’s Black Hearted Brother, almost entirely in terms of Neil Halstead. Because not only is it Halstead’s work in Slowdive, Mojave 3, and as a solo artist that’s going to sell this record, it’s his past work which offers the strongest reference points. And yet what fans of the aforementioned will get out of this record depends entirely on the expectations they come into it with, for despite a return to electric instruments, a band context, and the unapologetically cosmic allusions of the record, Stars occupies an orbit all its own that promises no return to Souvlaki Space Station.

In fact, for all the echoes of Halstead’s past work that inhabit Stars, there’s little that’s reminiscent of Slowdive at their most beloved. The downbeat “Take Heart” comes closest to recreating a Souvlaki-esque sigh, but for the most part guitars have more psych and bite than swell and bloom, and the electronics at play leave little of the space that defined Pygmalion. The songwriting at its best captures the brighter, poppier side of Mojave 3 as well as the laid-back melodicism of solo Halstead – both “This Is How it Feels” and “UFO” combine these marvellously – and even when it’s not quite as refined – some of it feels jammier than you’d have ever found on a M3 or Slowdive record – the palpable enjoyment these long-time mates get out of playing together still carries it through.

As I mentioned the last time he came through town, Halstead’s gift for musical reinvention while remaining wholly himself is quite remarkable, and with Black Hearted Brother – who use their own past as influences, but still create something all-new – this continues.

Stars Are Our Home is out today, and MusicOmh gets a track-by-track walkthrough of the album from the band. Meanwhile, Exclaim! has an extensive interview with Halstead about not just Black Hearted Brother, but the plausibility of a Slowdive reunion (the door he opened last year remains reluctantly wide open) and the upcoming solo gigs at which Rachel Goswell will guest on vocals for a planned live record.

And further to the Halstead singularity in which we now find ourselves, a limited-edition 7″ featuring solo versions of “Alison” and “Yer Feet” will be made available for sale online this Friday, providing they don’t sell out at the London gigs. Which they really should.

Update: Also fun – the band have put out an introduction video for those not familiar with the principals.

MP3: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”
Video: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”

The Boston Herald, Boston Globe, and Metro profile Franz Ferdinand, coming to town for a show at The Kool Haus on October 24.

The 405 talks to Los Campesinos! about their new record No Blues, coming out next wek on October 29.

With the November 5 release of her new album Matangi a couple weeks away, Pitchfork, The Fader, and The Guardian all want to talk to M.I.A..

Clash has a stream of another new tune from Rose Elinor Dougall, who will release the Future Vanishes EP on November 18.

Stream: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Poison Ivy”

Toy have released a video for the title track of their new record Join The Dots, coming out December 9.

Video: Toy – “Join The Dots”

Slate The Disco and Leeds Music Scene talk to Lanterns On The Lake about their new album Until The Colours Run, which gets a North American release on January 14.

Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace has rolled out another video from AMOK and a making-of video for said video, viewable at Pitchfork.

Video: Atoms For Peace – “Before Your Very Eyes”

When Scottish rockers Idlewild announced a hiatus following 2010’s Post-Electric Blues, it certainly seemed like the permanent sort but this photo posted yesterday to their Facebook implies that they’re feeling it again, which is good news. Or they’re just messing around with the emotions of their Facebook page fans.

Guitar World talks to Noah & The Whale guitarist Tom Hobden about his world of guitars.

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Manic Street Preachers have unearthed some new Holy Bible-era material – not music, but archival material – and may include it in a 20th anniversary release.

Editors have a new video from The Weight Of Your Love.

Video: Editors – “Honesty”

The Fly chats with Yuck 2.0.

David Gedge of The Wedding Present discusses the return to Hit Parade with The Glasgow Evening Times and lists off the soundtrack of his life for High 50

NPR welcomes Daughter for a Tiny Desk Concert, while The List and Refinery 29 have interviews with frontwoman Elena Tonra.

Arctic Monkeys describe to Rolling Stone how they went reinvented themselves from being a chart-topping rock band to a chart-topping rock band.

And since this is where my head has been at lately, know that the 1993 Suede live concert film Love and Poison is available to watch in its entirety on YouTube; the VHS-transfered visuals aren’t amazing but the soundtrack is quite acceptable.

Video: Suede / Love And Pain

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Lady Toronto

Fucked Up almanac predicts another Long Winter with high probability of King Cobb Steelie

Photo via FacebookFacebookHaving found their prescription of music, art, film, dance, food, and community to have been wholly effective at warding off the Winter blues, local hardcore heroes and good citizens Fucked Up have announced a second edition of the Long Winter arts series, set to take place monthly from November 2013 through March 2014.

Though Fucked Up themselves headlined three of the five shows of 2012-13, they’re ceding centre stage for the season opener – set to take place November 8 at The Great Hall – to Guelph’s electronic-jazz-funk pioneers King Cobb Steelie, their on-again/off-again status again in the “on” position following the re-release of their 1994 album Project Twinkle last Fall. They’re joined on the musical portion of the bill by Rheostatics spin-off Bidiniband, local post-punkers Ell V Gore, and many more. Admission to the event is pay-what-you-can.

Stream: King Cobb Steelie – “Mano Ponderosa”
Stream: King Cobb Steelie – “Deadbeat”
Stream: King Cobb Steelie – “Home”
Video: King Cobb Steelie – “Rational”

As mentioned, Fucked Up aren’t playing the first edition of this year’s series – although it’s a certainty they will before Spring arrives – but they are playing a local show that same weekend. Those willing to make the trek to Scarborough can see them at Rockpile East on November 9.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

The National Post and Vancouver Sun talk Flying Colours with Shad, out now and behind which he has two local area shows scheduled – a sold out gig at The Opera House tomorrow night, October 19, and another at The Danforth Music Hall on January 31.

JAM has an interview with Will Butler of Arcade Fire, whose Reflektor will finally be out on October 29. And if album trailers wasn’t annoying enough, now we’ve got song trailers. Arcade Fire – groundbreaking as ever.

Trailer: Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”

July Talk will be at the Sound Academy on December 3 as support for Frank Turner. Exclaim is streaming their just re-released debut album with the four bonus tracks, so if you haven’t heard it or even if you have, you should probably give a listen.

Stream: July Talk / July Talk

No Joy have made a date at The Garrison for December 6, ostensibly in support of their Pastel And Pass Out EP which is due out November 4, but probably mostly just because.

MP3: No Joy – “Heedless”

Local psych-pop upstarts Moon King will be at The Drake on December 12, perhaps in expectation that the third and final part of their Obsession EP series will finally be out, though they did just release a video from part II so maybe they’re not quite done with that one yet. Either way, hope they don’t burn the place down.

MP3: Moon King – “Appel”
Video: Moon King – “Almost Blue”

Exclaim has details on and a stream from a new tour cassette EP from Austra-adjuncts Tasseomancy, as they spool up for a European tour and a new album next year.

Stream: Tasseomancy – “Braid. Wind Is Coming”

The Winnipeg Free Press, Georgia Straight, and Edmonton Journal talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra.

Basia Bulat plays a Take-Away Show for Le Blogothèque.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Rock Steady

Review of Trans’ Red

Photo By Chris McAndrewChris McAndrewThough I already celebrated the existence of Trans – all-caps is about as excited as I get online, I’ll have you know – I only recently got a hold of Red, the first in a series of EPs from Bernard Butler – ex of Suede and, in an informal poll of me, greatest guitarist of the past 20-plus years – and Jackie McKeown of Yummy Fur and more recently 1990s, whom Butler was producing when they met and began jamming together.

And jamming is the correct word, rather than writing, because the four tracks that comprise Red are certainly more about their improvised musical interplay than the considered composition that one would presume from Butler, given his track record of crafting ornate and elaborate pop music. As reluctant as I am to use the band’s own words to describe them, the Can-meets-Television descriptor is pretty apt, as the most defining aspects of the band so far are their steady, almost motorik rhythm section and free-form yet melodic guitarwork, at its most Verlaine-Lloyd-ish in the extended “Jubilee”. Lyrics are pretty throwaway, mostly nonsensical riffs on a phrase, but they both add a punky snottiness – Butler’s vocals a far cry from the ’70s singer-songwriter earnestness of his solo albums – and anchor the proceedings in a pop idiom.

There’s no question that Trans is of niche appeal, and if Butler were not involved I’m not honestly sure how much I’d have paid attention though now that I have, I can honestly say its an enjoyable listen on its own merits (and also fun to jam to on guitar), and I look forward to the follow-up releases. And while it’s probably too early to hope it leads to phone calls to David McAlmont or Brett Anderson – don’t worry Fat Richard, your job is safe – anything that gets Butler a little out of the producer’s chair and back towards making his own music is worth celebrating.

Uncut prepares for a feature interview with a short history of the project, while The Quietus has a chat with both Butler and McKeown.

Video: Trans – “Jubilee”
Video: Trans – “Rock Steady”
Video: Trans – “Building No. 8”

Speaking of musical heroes in new contexts, New York Times has got an advance stream of Stars Are Our Home, the debut from Neil Halstead’s new project Black Hearted Brother; the album is out October 22 and North American dates are going to happen. PopMatters, for their part, asks twenty questions of Mark Van Hoen, none of them specifically about the new album.

MP3: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”
Stream: Black Hearted Brother / Stars Are Our Home

With her new album Arrows finally set for release next week on October 22, Polly Scattergood has made it available to stream via her Tumblr.

MP3: Polly Scattergood – “Wanderlust”
Stream: Polly Scattergood / Arrows

DIY interviews Los Campesinos! about their new album No Blues, due out on October 29.

Drowned In Sound gets in-depth with Kate Nash, Noisey gets her to reflect on the moment “Foundations” broke her (in the good way), and she’s just released a new video for “Fri-End?” from Girl Talk and plays an acoustic version in a video session for The Telegraph. She’s in town at The Phoenix on November 5.

Video: Kate Nash – “Fri-End?”

Stereogum chats with Charli XCX, who finally makes her local headlining debut at Wrongbar on November 9.

Though it won’t appear on Cupid Deluxe when it comes out November 19, any new music from Blood Orange – including this Babyface and Toni Braxton cover with Samantha Urbani of Friends – is only a good thing.

Stream: Devonté Hynes & Samantha Urbani – “Hurt U”

Frank Turner isn’t kidding when he says he loves playing Canada. After doing two shows here for TURF back in July, he’s back for a gig at the Sound Academy on December 3; tickets are $23.50 general admission and $37.50 VIP balcony.

Video: Frank Turner – “Oh Brother”

London pysch-kraut outfit Toy have announced the December 9 release of their second album Join The Dots, a follow up to last year’s solid self-titled debut. DIY has details and the title track from the album has been made available to stream.

Stream: Toy – “Join The Dots”

Hot Minute gets to know The High Wire, who will release a new album early in the new year.

The new video from Travis‘ latest Where You Stand could double as an iPhone 5S commercial because it was shot entirely on the mobile phone. Drowned In Sound has the premiere and with it, details on how it was done.

Video: Travis – “Mother”

The Guardian has premiered a new video from Summer Camp’s just-released-in-North America self-titled effort.

Video: Summer Camp – “Two Chords”

British Sea Power have rolled out a new video from their latest album Machineries Of Joy. The Sunderland Echo looks into the inspiration for the song and clip.

Video: British Sea Power – “Monsters Of Sunderland”

Little Boots has premiered a new video from Nocturnes over at Nylon. CNet also asks Victoria Hesketh about her favourite smartphone apps.

Video: Little Boots – “Shake”

Boiler Room has a video session with CHVRCHES.

Under The Radar and FasterLouder talk to London Grammar.

Under The Radar (the New Zealand one) and Metro (the English one) have interviews with Anna Calvi.

Veronica Falls have decided to mark their upcoming Australasian tour with the release of a new song. Listen to said song now.

Stream: Veronica Falls – “Nobody There”

GQ declares Noel Gallagher one of its men of the year, presumably just to score an interview and get him to say batshit things. Mission accomplished.

For Folks Sake have an amiable little chat with Johnny Flynn.

Delirium On Helium talks to Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers.

Swedish electro-pop artist Elliphant has released a new video from what one assumes will be a full-length album someday.

Video: Elliphant – “Could It Be”

WNYC welcomes Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds for a session.

Wired talks music and technology with Björk.

Exclaim has details on the kidnapping drama that has prompted Spanish dance-pop band Delorean – who are fine now – to cancel their North American tour, including tonight’s date at The Horseshoe. The new date is February 20 at The Hoxton and the rest of the rescheduled tour dates can be had at Exclaim.

Phoenix’s episode of Austin City Limits is available to stream online for a limited time.