Thursday, December 19th, 2013
The heat death of a music blog
WikipediaOh hi, I didn’t see you there.
Welcome to the final post on chromewaves.net. Yes, that’s right. After eleven years and four months and a number of days I can’t be bothered to add up, after hundreds of concerts and festivals, countless record reviews, concert announcements, news links, MP3s, videos, and whatever the hell else I’ve posted here since September 2002, I’m calling it a day.
For the whys and wherefores, I would direct you to the tin anniversary post from last September. Go ahead, I’ll wait. What’s interesting to me in re-reading that post is that I have very little else to add, either gratitude or grievance. Every factor cited then in my thinking very hard about quitting this blog – general tiredness, industry fatigue, declining metrics, a lack of interest from within and without – still holds as much now as it did then, probably even moreso. As it turns out, the slow lane that I supposedly pulled into for the past 16 months wasn’t all that much slower than the fast lane, and it has become evident that my only choices are to either keep my foot on the gas until the needle hit ‘E’ and I flame out spectacularly or to take the next off ramp. And so here we are.
This is not a decision that I’ve taken lightly. I’ve basically spent the past year waiting/hoping for the spark of musical discovery and impulse/compulsion to share to reignite, but it simply hasn’t. Know that early drafts of this post were very different and very pointed – I planned wonderful rants about commodification, listification, commercialization, devaluation, trivialization, all kinds of -ations – but while therapeutic, were not the note I wanted to go out on. Music and blogging and music blogging have been very, very good to me, but I fear that were I to keep at it that gratitude would further curdle into resentment and cynicism and this thing that I’ve built, that has defined and directed so much of my life this past decade plus and am very proud of would suffer for it.
Already I feel the quality of what I do has diminished relative to its peak and I don’t want to stay around too long, like the pro athlete who doesn’t know when to quit and needs either a torn hamstring or demotion to the minors to get the message. And so I’ve played out this season – I think we’re done with 2013 things – and am hanging it up. I am certain that I will miss many, many things about being an active and constant voice in the conversation about new music, but shouting at and over the ever-deafening din of the music hype echo chamber to fewer and fewer ears won’t be one of them. The machine can’t stop, won’t stop, and I need to get off.
I will still be active – probably more active – on the Twitters with broadcasting stuff I come across that I find interesting or thing may be of interest, and maybe I’ll get around to trying out this Tumblr thing. Plus at some point I intend to finally attend to that redesign of this site I talked about and convert it into something more archivally-inclined than an old-school blog form.
But for now, I am going to walk away and do anything but write about music. Maybe the itch will return someday; I’ll deal with that if and when it does. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy, not least of which is disassembling a decade’s worth of blog-publishing life routines. Will my index finger start twitching at 8:30AM looking to click on “Publish”? Additionally I’ll get to work on that massive pile of books collecting on my shelf. Learn to cook something new. Use all those cameras I’ve got for photographing anything but bearded dudes with guitars in shitty light. Spend some quality time with the cat. Learn to play the solo from “I Am The Resurrection” on guitar. Listen to whatever records I want and ignore the zeitgeist guilt-free. Go to a show and not take notes and when I get home, go straight to bed. Just do all those things that I said I’d do more of if I didn’t always have to block off hours every day for the blog. Instead of constantly asking, “what’s next?”, the question is, “what now?”. It’s terrifying and exciting, but I think absolutely necessary for my own good. It is no longer time to make the donuts.
So to everyone whose paths I’ve crossed – artists, labels, promoters, publicists, bloggers, photographers, fans – it’s been a slice and I thank you and I’ll still see around. It’s been life-affirming and life-changing and life-devouring. Take care of yourselves.
MP3: Ride – “Chrome Waves”
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Colin Stetson leads lineup for Wavelength 14
Scott IrvineWhen I listed off a couple of Colin Stetson shows slated for February last week, it was a bit reluctantly as I had a hunch that I was missing some crucial information about the context of the performance – the unconventional venue and absence of formal press release or ticket information, in particular, were flags. But I went with it anyways and now, a week later, I’m amending the info with lots of context – which I should have guessed, given the timing. The twice-Polaris-shortlisted saxophone maestro will be performing as part of Wavelength’s 14th anniversary festival, taking place around Toronto from February 13 to 16 of next year with his show – just one, now – happening February 15 at the Polish Combatants Hall on a bill that includes US Girls amongst others, tickets $20 in advance.
Other festival showcases include Hooded Fang spin-off Phedre and friends at The Silver Dollar on February 13 ($10), American guitar goddess Marnie Stern with local synth-pop heroes Diana and post-punkers Odonis Odonis at The Adelaide Music Hall on February 14 ($17), and Haligonian two-headed rock machine Cousins bring things to a close with an eclectic bill at The Garrison on February 16 ($10). Plus, there’s some in-store talks and events happening at local record stores through the weekend. Wavelength the music series and especially the anniversary festivals have always done a great job of showcasing new and established talent from at home and abroad, and this year’s lineup is no exception.
Tickets are available for individual shows or a four-day festival pass can be had for just $49.
MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”
MP3: Marnie Stern – “Transparency Is The New Mystery”
MP3: Diana – “Born Again”
Video: U.S. Girls – “Work From Home”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Better”
Stream: Cousins – “River”
Even though they were just here in November, New York’s Holy Ghost! are pretty sure people want more of their new album Dynamics and so they’re coming back for another show at The Hoxton on February 14.
Video: Holy Ghost! – “Okay”
When she announced her Toronto debut back in August, I had to ask, “who is Lorde?” Not asking that anymore. The Kiwi teen is bringing her massively massive debut Pure Heroine back to town for a show at Sound Academy on March 15 as part of a North American tour, tickets the appropriately massive $44.50 to $55.
Video: Lorde – “Royals”
Synth/New Wave legend Gary Numan has announced a North American tour in support of his latest album Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind). He’ll be at The Phoenix on March 27, tickets $29.50. The National Student has an interview.
Video: Gary Numan – “Cars”
Another of José González’s contributions to the Secret Life Of Walter Mitty soundtrack has been released, this time with a video. The film is out December 25, aka Christmas Day.
Video: José González – “Stay Alive”
The Quietus has an interview with TOY, who will be in town at The Horseshoe on January 14.
Black Francis discusses the departure of Kim Shattuck from Pixies with Yahooo!. He really sounds torn up about it; hopefully he’ll be able to pull it together for their show at Massey Hall on January 15.
DIY talks to Yuck, who’ve rolled out a new video from their latest Glow & Behold. They’re in town at The Garrison on January 17.
Video: Yuck – “Lose My Breath”
Clash talks to Efrim Menuck of Thee Silver Mount Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor about the new Mount Zion record Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything, due out January 21.
The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Warpaint, who will release their second full-length Warpaint on January 21 and play The Danforth Music Hall on March 25.
The New Mendicants – that’s Joe Pernice, Norman Blake, and Mike Belitsky if you’ve not been keeping up – have made a few tracks from their debut album Into The Lime available to stream. It’s out January 28.
Stream: The New Mendicants – “A Very Sorry Christmas”
Stream: The New Mendicants – “Sarasota”
Stream: The New Mendicants – “If You Only Knew Her”
The Fly talks to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls about their new record Too True, out January 28. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 29.
The Fly talks to Joe Jonas of Metronomy, who release their new album Love Letters on March 10. Watch the just-released first video from it below.
Video: Metronomy – “I’m Aquarius”
NPR has posted a KCRW video session and Filter an Ernie Ball session with The Head & The Heart; they’re at The Kool Haus on March 30.
Pretty Much Amazing have an interview with London Grammar have released a stream of an old, unreleased track via Rolling Stone. They’ll be back in Toronto at The Phoenix on April 7.
Stream: London Grammar – “Everywhere You Go”
Noisey has premiered the latest video from The Vaccines, taken from last year’s Come Of Age.
Video: The Vaccines – “If I Was A Girl”
Interview talks to Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, whose apartment in New York tragically burned down Monday night, taking with it all his belonging and his new puppy. Fundraising efforts are underway to help Dev get back on his feet and while they’ve already well past their original modest goal of $5000, every bit will help.
Kate Nash has released a new video from her seasonal EP Have Faith This Christmas.
Video: Kate Nash – “I Hate You This Christmas”
Under The Radar has an interview with Summer Camp.
Esquire and The Huffington Post chat with Elvis Costello.
Islands have made a brand-new song available to stream. Islands. Stream. Hmm.
Stream: Islands – “Hawaii”
Filter gets to know Braids.
Noisey talks sex and politics with Austra.
Tone Deaf has an interview with Born Ruffians.
Majical Cloudz have released a video for the non-album track made available to stream last month.
Video: Majical Cloudz – “Savage”
The Line Of Best Fit just beat the Christmas shipping deadline with the release of their fifth holiday-themed Ho! Ho! Ho! compilation of Canadian indie artists, along with a promise to be more frequent in the new year.
Tone Deaf chats with Ken Stringfellow.
NYC Taper is sharing a recording of one of Yo La Tengo’s shows at Brooklyn’s Bell House last week.
Under The Radar talks to Cameron Mesirow of Glasser.
The Life Of Best Fit has an interview with Midlake.
Stereogum spends some time with Titus Andronicus‘ Patrick Stickles.
And that, I guess, will just about do it.
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2013
If it’s the year’s end and this is a list, then this must be a year-end list. You should all know the drill by now: ten albums released this year, listed alphabetically and not in order of preference, that largely reflects my listening habits for the year. No promises that all of these records will remain in favour as the years pass – goodness knows that past lists don’t bat 1.000 for shelf life – but I’ll take honesty over prognostication.
There’s only one debut in the batch, but a few sophomore efforts that reinforce the fact that the artists are no flash in the pans, and that’s arguably more exciting than some rookie who tears up the league the first time out and then fades away. Two – or three, depending on definition – reunion/comeback albums as well, which is also surprising considering most records of this ilk are half-hearted excuses to stage cash-grab tours. Which I’m not inherently against, but to have artists back as genuine creative forces and not just nostalgia machines is obviously better, no?
Either way, pretty good year for music. And many thanks to Christine Kwan for taking the chore of making graphics for this list off my hamfisted hands from concept to execution and dressing them in seasonal finery.
Read the rest of this entry »
Monday, December 16th, 2013
Son Lux raises Lanterns on tour
Tim NavisDenver-born, New York-based artist Ryan Lott has been popping up on a good number of year-end lists – or at least his alias of Son Lux has – on the strength of his latest album Lanterns. I’d seen descriptors like post-rock and hip-hop attached to his work in the past, but on delving into Lanterns they’re only as much a factor as every other genre of popular music out there, all of which is thrown into the mix but none of which dominates.
Instead, Lanterns is an electro-orchestral opus that sounds like the classical past being recreated from incomplete notes by robots from the future. Those seeking a more concrete frame of reference can look to James Blake and also Sufjan Stevens, with whom Lott collaborates in S/S/S, with Lanterns occupying some of that middle space between Seven Swans and Age Of Adz. Yes, that’s a pretty big space, but it’s one worth exploring. As is Lanterns.
Son Lux have announced some Spring headlining dates in support of his latest album; look for him at The Drake Underground on March 23, tickets $12 in advance. The 405, Bowlegs, and Interview have interviews with Lott and Stereogum has premiered a new video.
MP3: Son Lux – “Lost It To Trying”
Video: Son Lux – “Pyre”
Video: Son Lux – “Lost It To Trying”
Stream: Son Lux / Lanterns
Broken Bells have released a stream of the title track from their new album After The Disco. It’s out January 14 and they play The Danforth Music Hall on March 3.
Stream: Broken Bells – “After The Disco”
Californian synth-pop outfit Gardens & Villa have announced a North American tour behind their second album Dunes, out February 4, and will be at The Drake Underground on February 27, tickets $13.50.
Stream: Gardens & Villa – “Bullet Train”
Pitchfork reports that Speedy Ortiz will be releasing a new EP called Real Hair on February 11, a quarter of which you can stream below. They’re in town for NXNE next June.
Stream: Speedy Ortiz – “Everything’s Bigger”
Esquire chats with Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices. Their new record Motivational Jumpsuit comes out February 18.
Even though Shearwater just released an album of covers in Fellow Travelers, their version of Frank Ocean’s “Novocane” wasn’t included – probably because they haven’t toured together. Yet. Anyways, the track was released as part of a split-7″ with Low for Record Store Day, and is now available to stream if you missed out on the limited edition vinyl. Maybe they’ll play it when they hit The Horseshoe on March 27.
Stream: Shearwater – “Novocane”
Erika M Anderson – aka EMA – has announced details of her follow-up to 2011’s Past Life Martyred Saints and they can be found at her new label of Matador. The Future’s Void will be out in the Spring and the first single from it can be streamed below.
Stream: EMA – “Satellites”
In conversation with Rolling Stone, James Murphy reveals that the final LCD Soundsystem show at Madison Square Garden – as documented in Shut Up And Play The Hits – is being remixed for release as a live album.
NPR is streaming a KCRW session with of Montreal.
NOW talked to Charles Bradley ahead of his show at the Kool Haus last week.
Drowned In Sound and The Line Of Best Fit talk to Aaron Dessner of The National about this and that and what it’ll be like to open for Neil Young at Hyde Park next June.
Neko Case has released a new video of the lyric variety from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.
Lyric Video: Neko Case – “Calling Cards”
Tone Deaf talks to Lee Ranaldo about his solo work and the future of Sonic Youth.
Willamette Week and Seattle Weekly have interviews and NPR has posted a World Cafe session with Midlake.
There’s updates from the Sparklehorse tribute album project reported on last month: Last Box Of Sparklers: A Tribute To Mark Linkous is into its final week of fundraising, and remain $7000 short of their $50000 goal. To encourage those who might be able to help them bridge that gap, Box Of Stars have made a few more of the songs that are a part of the project available to stream, most notably The Joy Formidable’s take on “Gold Day” and The Flaming Lips‘ version of “It’s A Sad And Beautiful World”.
Stream: The Joy Formidable – “Gold Day”
Stream: The Flaming Lips – “It’s A Sad And Beautiful World”
Stream: Last Box Of Sparklers: A Tribute To Mark Linkous sampler
Friday, December 13th, 2013
Summer Camp wish you a very Moshi Moshi Christmas
Ollie EvansBecause apparently there is a law of some sort that each year, at least one indie band must add another version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” to the already-massive pile of indie versions of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”; this year it’s Summer Camp, though at least this follows in their own tradition of releasing a Christmas covers – back in 2010, they left their version of The Waitresses’ contemporary classic “Christmas Wrapping” under the tree and last year, offered what I will take Consequence Of Sound’s word was a Mariah Carey/Paul McCartney hybrid of some sort.
The track appears on a free downloadable EP of holiday tunes from their label Moshi Moshi which you can get for the price of a Facebook like or stream below and amongst the other artists offering contributions for your holiday party mix are Slow Club with their version – another one of many – of Phil Spector’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, which they originally released on their 2009 EP Christmas, Thanks For Nothing.
Stream: Summer Camp – “Last Christmas”
MP3: Summer Camp – “Christmas Wrapping”
Stream: Summer Camp – “All I Wonderful Christmas Is You”
Stream: A Christmas Gift For You From Moshi Moshi Records
The Wall Street Journal has premiered another of José González’s songs from the soundtrack of Secret Life Of Walter Mitty while Rolling Stone shows off one of his other contributions with Junip. It opens Christmas Day.
Stream: José González – “#9 Dream”
Stream: Junip – “Far Away”
The Fly has an interview with Tom Dougall of TOY, who will be in town at The Horseshoe on January 14.
Shout4Music has a video session with Lanterns On The Lake. Their new album Until The Colours Run gets a North American release on January 14 and they’ll be The Drake Underground on February 1.
Noisey has premiered the new stream from Bombay Bicycle Club, taken from their forthcoming album So Long, See You Tomorrow. It’s out February 3.
Stream: Bombay Bicycle Club – “It’s Alright Now”
Arthur Beatrice have released a stream of another song from their debut album Working Out, which while out on February 3 in the UK will not get a domestic North American release until March 4.
Stream: Arthur Beatrice – “Midland”
As they promised following the release of 2009’s Kingdom Of Rust and the 2010 best-of compilation The Places Between, Doves have been on a proper hiatus but frontman Jimi Goodwin has finally surfaced with some solo work. Under The Radar reports that his first solo record Odludek will be coming out next year on March 24, and have a stream of the decidedly strummily acoustic first single from it.
Stream: Jimi Goodwin – “Oh! Whisky”
English singer-songwriter Sam Smith – who I’m led to believe is being tipped to be one of the big things of 2014 – has put together a North American tour to capitalize and build on this buzz before dropping his debut album next Summer. He’ll be at The Mod Club on March 28.
Video: Sam Smith – “Lay Me Down”
Primal Scream have announced a North American tour behind their latest album, More Light. They’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on May 16.
Video: Primal Scream – “2013”
Wild Beasts talk to DIY about their forthcoming new album, which little is known about except that it exists and will be out early in the new year.
Vogue and Under The Radar talk to Anna Calvi, who has put together a mixtape for Dummy which features, amongst other things, a brand new track from Charlotte Hatherley’s Sylver Tongue project. Her debut album is done and mixed and release information will be forthcoming.
DIY, BBC, and Digital Spy have interviews with Charli XCX, who is already working on her second album, targeted for release some time next year.
The Toronto Sun chats with Icona Pop
Exclaim has an interview with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, who’s made a new track that didn’t make it onto Cupid Deluxe available to stream.
Stream: Blood Orange – “West Drive” (Profit Vocal dub 2)
The Alternate Side has a session with Two Door Cinema Club.
Daytrotter welcomes The Joy Formidable to their studio for a session.