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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Ritual Tradition Habit

The Belle Game and Bear Mountain at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’d mentioned back in April that Vancouver’s Belle Game – purveyors of soulful, atmospheric pop – had taken their own sweet time in releasing their debut album Ritual Tradition Habit, and they were lucky that it was as good as it was, lest the more impatient among us pettily punish the record for taking so long to exist. Instead, those of us seeking something to grouse about could turn our attention to how long it was taking them to come play a live show in Toronto. It seemed odd that an act with the stars seemingly aligning would have missed out on both CMW and NXNE (though, to be fair, they’d been here for those fests in 2011 and 2012), and while they did play a free show at Harbourfront Centre in July for the SoundClash fest, I missed it so in my egocentric worldview, it didn’t happen. All of which is to say that Friday night’s show at The Drake Underground – which caught the band headed home after a successful CMJ in New York – took long enough to happen.

With them were fellow Vancouverites Bear Mountain, whom I knew nothing about but kind of hoped would be some unholy combination of Grizzly Bear and Black Mountain. Which they could still be described as if someone had never heard of either act and assumed they made peppy, disco-inflected electro-pop. Showing off their debut album XO, it was evident that in the Bear Mountain mandate, maintaining the party vibe was paramount and in that, they succeeded admirably. To this end, they utilized such tools as a keytar in its intended purpose of rocking out synth solos, a maybe-ironic cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” with the original video projected on their stage decor screens, in case you weren’t sure, and some cheesy but effective crowd-rousing banter. Oh and some catchy if kind of lightweight songs. Assured in what they were doing and entertaining, they weren’t a band that you’d leave saying you’d seen the future of anything, but you would say you had fun.

As mentioned, The Belle Game had a pretty good amount of buzz around them leading up to Ritual Tradition Habit‘s release this Spring, so it’s not unreasonable that they’d have drawn a good crowd based strictly on that… but being on Pitchfork’s radar? I’m sure that didn’t hurt either. But however they got there, room was comfortably filled with punters – especially for an early show – when the band took the stage. Though offering less instant gratification than Bear Mountain, they established their atmosphere quickly and effectively. Not an especially showy sextet, they were largely focused on the task at hand – while demonstrating terrific individual musicianship and chemistry as a unit – with frontwoman Andrea Lo shouldering the duty of engaging the audience. Luckily for her, all she needed to do to accomplish this was let loose with her formidable voice.

If the show had kept to that level throughout, it’d have been perfectly fine if not overwhelming, but as it progressed, it became clear that they were actually capable of more. Moments where the aforementioned musical chemistry seemed more akin to alchemy in creating something powerful; of a new slow jam of a song that pointed to an intriguing new dimension for the band; readings of “River” and “Wait For You” both impressively looser and more intense than the recorded versions; an unexpectedly raucous cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” as an encore. And oh yeah, local Broken Social Scenester Kevin Drew showed up to provide guest vocals on another new song. So, all in, a show that both satisfied but also left you eager to see the next stage in the band’s evolution; if that means having to wait a little while until they come back again, then it may well be worth it.

Photos: The Belle Game, Bear Mountain @ The Drake Underground – October 25, 2013
MP3: The Belle Game – “Blame Fiction”
MP3: The Belle Game – “River”
Video: The Belle Game -“River”
Video: The Belle Game – “Wait For You”
Video: Bear Mountain – “Faded”
Stream: Bear Mountain / XO

The Guardian and Canada.com talk to Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and NPR to Butler and Regine Chassagne about Reflektor, which is finally out today. And their live webcast performance from last night is available to stream on-demand at NPR.

The Montreal Gazette talks to Spencer Krug of Moonface about his new record Julia With Blue Jeans On, officially out as of today, along with a new video.

Video: Moonface – “Barbarian”

Also at the Montreal Gazette and out today are features on Yamantaka//Sonic Titan and their new album Uzu, respectively. They play The Garrison on November 6.

Beatroute gets to know July Talk, while Huffington Post gets some background on the recording of “Guns & Ammunition”; they’re at The Sound Academy on December 3 opening up for Frank Turner.

A sad day for fans of domestically-grown power-pop: PEI’s Two Hours Traffic are calling it a day. But as Exclaim reports, they’re doing it with a farewell tour that kicks off in Toronto at Lee’s Palace on December 12; tickets for that are $15.

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Stuck For The Summer”

Emily Haines of Metric remembers Lou Reed, with whom the band both played live with and recorded, at Rolling Stone.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Toronto Urban Roots Fest Day Four

Belle & Sebastian, Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, and more at TURF 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith the first three days of the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest having gone swimmingly, certainly the fourth and final day – boasting inarguably the strongest lineup of them all – would be the best? Well it turns out “swimmingly” would be kind of the wrong word to use, but everything started out enough.

Though as per usual I missed the first few acts of the day, I was there in time to see Kurt Vile make his first local appearance in support of his new record Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, which has garnered pretty much universal acclaim, though I only go as far as saying I like it more than his last one. I’ve always found Vile’s stuff to be pretty same-y in that lightly psychedelic laid-back drone-pop way – an impression confirmed and amplified when I saw him at Pitchfork 2010 – but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s pretty pleasantly trippy. As with that show, this performance mainly had Vile in two modes – huge rug of hair draped over the mic stand while he sang, or huge rug of hair draped over his guitar while he soloed. His bandmates in the Violators did mix things up somewhat by adding mandolins and 6-string basses into the mix, and Vile was equally comfortable ripping leads on electric or acoustic, but a few noisey bursts aside, Vile was pretty content to just let the set mosey along at its pace and his fans were content to mosey right alongside him.

Photos: Kurt Vile @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Wakin’ On A Pretty Day”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “In My Time”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “The Creature”
Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Runner Ups”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Freak Train”

It was with some regret that I skipped Yo La Tengo’s stop at The Phoenix back in February in support of their latest Fade, but the confidence they’d put on a solid show couldn’t win out over the fact that I’d seen them play said solid show many times before – most recently in 2010 in Vegas at Matador at 21 – that I gave it a pass. Happily, their return for this festival meant that I’d still get to hear the new tunes, and not have to make any special effort to do so. Win! And as nice as it can be to hear Yo La Tengo stretch out live, there’s really something to be said for imposing strict time constraints on them; though they sounded quite the opposite of rushed, the blend of new songs – which sounded really terrific live, perfectly suited to the hazy afternoon – and old favourites done perfectly and without the excesses the band sometimes fall prey to, in some cases twice as “Autumn Sweater” came unravelled early on in the set with a blown amp fuse and had to be returned to later on.

NYC Taper has got the Yo La Tengo’s set from the Wilco-run Solid Sound fest a few weekends ago available to download. The Boston Globe, Metro, and Cincinnati CityBeat have interviews.

Photos: Yo La Tengo @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Nuclear War”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Don’t Have To Be So Sad”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm” (tree)
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Nothing To Hide”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Tom Courtenay”

I’d never given either Luke Doucet or Melissa McClelland much concern with their solo careers, so when they came together as Whitehorse I still didn’t pay any attention, at least until their second album The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss made it onto this year’s Polaris Prize long list. And while the adult contemporary-skewing roots-rock that’s the foundation of their sound isn’t normally what I’d be into (even if, phrased like that, you think it might) I found the record pretty enjoyable in a Steve Earle “chick song” sort of way, though rather slicker in execution; that’s why I expected that their live setup would involve a polished band comprised of session player types, not just the two of them and a garage sale’s worth of instruments and microphones. Okay, so the setup was meticulously arranged for exactly that DIY effect with telephone handsets and old-school shockmounted mics installed just so, but there was no faking the way the two built up the structures of each song by sampling acoustic instruments and looking stylish while doing it. They spent the first part of their set entrenched in their fortress of gear, but eventually strutted out to the front of the stage and sang together into a single mic armed just with guitar and bass. Straight, simple, and to their strengths.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald has a feature piece on the band.

Photos: Whitehorse @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

If you’re looking for writeups of either The Cat Empire or Xavier Rudd, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I spent their sets huddled under a leaky ATM tent hiding from the deluge that resulted when the skies opened up right around dinnertime. The rain eventually eased up, but not before turning the whole of the festival grounds into some manner of swamp. Not really an ideal setting for anything, let alone enjoying Neko Case’s set, but looked at another way, if there’s anything out there worth enduring this sort of weather for – after a short dry spell, the skies opened up even harder a couple songs in – it’s Neko Case.

When she was here last in December 2011 opening up for The National at the Air Canada Centre, the assumption seemed to be that if she was back on the road, then her new record – the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Middle Cyclone – must be close to being done. Not, as it turned out, so much. But nineteen months later, she was back and this time the new record – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – was done, locked, and loaded for a September 3 release. The set contained a few of those new songs, all of which sounded of the same high calibre of lead sample “Man”, and a solid tour of her repertoire – “Red Tide”, with its “I hate the rain” lyrics, was especially topical – and always-entertaining banter with backing singer Kelly Hogan. With the time she takes between records, it can be easy to forget just how amazing a talent Neko is; call her alt.country or folk-rock or jangle-pop or whatever you like, her voice and songwriting transcends all labels. And the only thing better than being reminded how good she is was the promise to return for another show sometime in the next six months. Ideally indoors.

Photos: Neko Case @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “Maybe Sparrow”
Video: Neko Case – “Furnace Room Lullabye”

Finally, with the rain seemingly past though the resultant mud pits remained, it was time for Belle & Sebastian. It’s remarkable how the mysterious mystique the band cultivated in their early years still persists to some degree, and even though they’ve toured North America behind pretty much every album this century, their live shows are breathlessly anticipated like once-in-a-lifetime unicorn herd migrations. Of course, those studio albums are fewer and further between than most would like – their last visit was October 2010 behind Write About Love – so with no new record on the horizon, the fact that they were still coming to town to play a show apart from the usual promotional cycle was actually unicorn-rare, and as is often the case when the artist doesn’t have anything specific they need to push, offered the promise of being a much more unique show.

That this wouldn’t be a typical show was confirmed from the opening number, as instead of one of their obvious (but still beloved) songs, it was the electronic instrumental b-side “Judy Is A Dick Slap”. Anyone who says they had that in the “what’ll be the first song?” pool without consulting previous set lists is lying. “I’m A Cuckoo” then let Stuart Murdoch properly take centre stage and show off his dance moves, slippery stage be damned, “Another Sunny Day” was rolled out as a musical anodyne to the weather, and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win earlier in the day saluted with “Stars Of Track And Field”. The catalog-hopping trajectory of that first salvo of selections delightfully carried on through the show, and while hardcore fans might suggest they could have gone for deeper cuts, I was more than happy to hear “The Model” and “Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner” dug out of the archives.

If it wasn’t quite a greatest hits set song-wise, it certainly was with their audience participation exercises. There was the girl brought onstage to read Isobel Campbell’s spoken word outro overtop “Dirty Dream Number Two” (she sang it, but whatever), the other girl who managed to fit a dance routine amidst playing Scrabble against the band onstage during “The Model”, the girl (sensing a trend? Oh, Stuart) who applied makeup to his face during “Lord Anthony”, the bevy of dancers brought onstage for “The Boy With The Arab Strap”… there was no lobbing of autographed footballs into the audience this time, but the rain probably would have washed the signatures off anyways. The between-song shenanigans might have taken up time that could have gone to another song or two, but you’d have had to be a serious grump to complain about the love-in vibe that they generated. And we should all count ourselves lucky that no one brought onstage insisted on singing one of her own songs. No, what we got was a joyous show that felt like a gift, wrapped a terrific inaugural TURF, and just about made you forget that you probably had trench foot. No mean feat.

The Huffington Post and Pittsburgh CityPaper have interviews with keyboardist Chris Geddes about the current tour and their plans to write their next record when it’s wrapped. The band’s new collection of b-sides and rarities, The Third Eye Centre, comes out August 27.

Photos: Belle & Sebastian @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Write About Love”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “White Collar Boy”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Blues Are Still Blue”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Wrapped Up In Books”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I’m A Cuckoo”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Step Into My Office Baby”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David” (70s version)
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Wrong Girl”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Legal Man”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “A Century Of Fakers”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dirty Dream #2”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Lazy Line Painter Jane”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dog On Wheels”

CBC Music have got the Canada-only stream of the new Pet Shop Boys album Electric, out July 16. Americans can hit Pandora and Brits can use Rdio via The Guardian. They play The Sony Centre on September 25, and Spin, Huffington Post, and Metro have interviews with Neil Tennant about going indie on their latest record.

Stream: Pet Shop Boys / Electric

Fashion retailer Mr. Porter has an interview and fashion shoot with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party; their Nextwave Sessions EP is due out August 13.

Mumford & Sons have released a video for the title track of last year’s Babel. They’re at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 24.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Babel”

Hot on the heels of those advance streams, Franz Ferdinand have released the video for the sort-of title track of their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”

Exclaim and The Daily Beast interview CHVRCHES about their forthcoming debut album The Bones of What You Believe, out September 24. They play The Danforth Music Hall on September 15, and if you need something new and CHVRCH-y to listen to before then, there’s this Haim cover they recorded for BBC.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Falling” (Haim cover)

Manic Street Preachers have announced details of one of the two new records they’ve got in the can. Based on the title track, largely sung by the inimitable Richard Hawley, Rewind The Film is the largely acoustic album that had been previously mentioned; it’s out September 16 and more specifics on it can be had at DIY. James Dean Bradfield also talks to NME about the other album that’s been recorded alongside it, due out in Spring of next year.

Video: Manic Street Preachers w Richard Hawley – “Rewind The Film”

Veteran British folk-rock outfit The Waterboys are making their first return to town in some years to kick off a major North American tour; they’ll be here on September 17 at a venue to be announced, but last time through in 2007 it was at The Danforth, so presumably it’ll be somewhere similar.

Video: The Waterboys – “The Whole Of The Moon”

With their self-titled debut due out in September, up-and-coming UK outfit The 1975 will be at The Mod Club on October 13 as part of their first major North American tour.

Video: The 1975 – “Sex”

Belfast post-rock firebrands And So I Watch You From Afar and Oxford math-rock trio TTNG – formerly This Town Needs Guns before they thought better of it – are teaming up for a co-headlining tour that hits The Horseshoe on November 9, tickets $15.50. ASIWYFA released their third album All Hail Bright Futures this past Spring, TTNG’s second long-player 13.0.0.0.0 came out in January.

Stream: And So I Watch You From Afar / All Hail Bright Futures
Stream: TTNG / 13.0.0.0.0

The Skinny talks to Yannis Philipakkis of Foals.

Tone Deaf and Clash have interviews with Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

DIY wonders aloud something I’ve periodically wondered to myself – whither The Rumble Strips?

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

(I Believe In) Travellin’ Light

Belle & Sebastian pack up recent rarities for The Third Eye Centre

Photo By Belle & SebastianBelle & SebastianMy Belle & Sebastian record collection is pretty thorough, but one omission from their official discography is the 2005 compilation Push Barman To Open Old Wounds, on account of the fact that I zealously collected the seven Jeepster EPs whose tracks make up the set when they were initially released between 1997 and 2001. Indeed, if you’re at all a fan of the Scottish popsters and haven’t heard some or – gasp – all of these songs, none of which appeared on their proper studio albums – then attend to that posthaste. Some of the very best songs the band has ever recorded can be found in these grooves.

I can’t claim the same sort of thoroughness with the singles that accompanied their last three albums, though, since the economics of being so comprehensive took a real hit after they started coming with just one or two new songs as b-sides instead of four. And so it’s excellent news that ostensibly to coincide with their upcoming North American tour dates, which include a TURF-closing show at Garrison Common this coming Sunday night, they’re putting out another double-sized b-sides compilation in The Third Eye Centre on August 27. Matablog has details and the tracklisting, which happily includes a number of songs I know I haven’t heard, as well as some remixes that I’m pretty sure I’d be just as happy never hearing but what can you do. One of those remixes has been made available as the first advance sample of the record.

Stream: Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown” (Miaoux Miaoux remix)

The 405 and DIY talk to Editors about their new album The Weight Of Your Love, which came out this week.

Magnet interviews Camera Obscura ahead of making them guest editors of their website this week, while NPR welcomes them to the Morning Becomes Eclectic studios for a session and Chicago Magazine also has a chat. They play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common tonight, July 4.

New Order’s new live album Live At Bestival 2012 is now available to stream ahead of its release next week on July 8, courtesy of The Guardian

Stream: New Order / Live At Bestival 2012

A couple worthwhile complete sets from this past weekend’s Glastobury fest are available to watch online; there’s Savages, who’re at The Mod Club on July 16, and Daughter, who play The Phoenix on September 29.

Video: Savages @ Glastonbury 2013
Video: Daughter @ Glastonbury 2013

White Lies have released a video for that last new song from their forthcoming Big TV, out August 21. They play The Opera House on October 1.

Video: White Lies – “There Goes Our Love”

Franz Ferdinand have made a couple tracks from their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action available to stream. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Stream: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”
Stream: Franz Ferdinand – “Love Illumination”

The previously announced but not yet booked Tricky date now has a venue; he’s at The Mod Club on October 6, tickets $29.50 in advance. He’s touring behind his latest album False Idols. The Guardian recently hosted and posted a video session with the artist.

MP3: Tricky – “Anti-Matter”

Tindersticks turn 20 as a band this year, and they’re marking the occasion with the release of a new album of old songs. Across Six Leap Years, the band’s tenth album, will feature ten re-recorded songs from the breadth of the catalogue; it’s out October 14 and there’s a short film/trailer on the recording sessions available now.

Trailer: Tindersticks / Across Six Leap Years

The Guardian grabbed an interview with Jessie Ware whilst at Glastonbury; she plays The Sound Academy on November 6.

Noah & The Whale have released a new video from their latest, Heart Of Nowhere.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Lifetime”

Le Blogotheque has a video session with Slow Club.

Johnny Marr gives The Guardian a musical tour of the key points of his life; he’s also interviewed by The Telegraph.

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Wait Up For You

The Belle Game done playing games with debut album

Photo By Rachel PickRachel PickThose with their ears to the ground with respect to Canadian independent music might have been hearing good things about Vancouver’s Belle Game for a few years now; they might have even heard their debut album was done and supposed to be out as long ago as last October. So they’d probably be wonder why, with it now being April, they hadn’t actually heard it yet. The whys and wherefores of the delay are really known only to the band and their label(s), but what’s important is that Ritual Tradition Habit is finally coming out next week on April 16.

I don’t fully buy the “dark noise pop” self-description – to ears accustomed to things both dark and noisy, it’s not that much of either – but it is very much the sound of a band who knows who they are and what they want to do. The sonic parameters drawn around Ritual are fairly rigid – I guess if you find a reverb setting you like, why not stick to it? – but within those lines the band have crafted a well-realized world centered around Andrea Lo’s yearning vocals and Adam Nanji’s roughly echoed guitars, tastefully bolstered by orchestral flourishes and all in support of some terrific songs of the sophistication you’d expect from a much more veteran outfit. It’s a record that may have taken longer than it should have to come out, but still manages to have been worth the wait.

The album is currently streaming in whole along with an interview at CBC Music and there’s another feature on the band at Ladywood.

MP3: The Belle Game – “River”
Stream: The Belle Game / Ritual Tradition Habit

Noisey interviews Moon King, whose are streaming a couple tracks from their new Obsession II EP, which is out on Tuesday. They played their hometown release show for it at the Drake last night, but will be back in June for NXNE.

Stream: Moon King – “Icarus”
Stream: Moon King – “Dreamtrap”

CBC Music also has a stream of the new Odonis Odonis EP Better ahead of its release April 16.

Stream: Odonis Odonis / Better

Spinner has made available to download Broken Social Scene’s contribution to the Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013 anniversary compilation due out April 16; a new recording of their very first song they recorded way back who knows when. Maybe they’ll play it when they headline the Field Trip festival at Garrison Common on June 8.

MP3: Broken Social Scene – “Deathcock”

Exclaim talks to Born Ruffians about their new album Birthmarks, out April 16, which they helpfully also have an advance stream of.

Stream: Born Ruffians / Birthmarks

The Irish Times and Irish Independent talk to Rachel Zeffira. She plays The Drake Underground on May 2

Paste have premiered a stream of a new Jim Guthrie song, taken from his new record Takes Time, out May 7.

Stream: Jim Guthrie – “What A Difference A Day Makes”

Local Krautrocking instrumentalists Fresh Snow have released a new video for the title (and only) track of their “Saturation Complete” single. They’ll play the May edition of Feast In The East at Polyhaus on May 10.

Video: Fresh Snow – “Saturation Complete”

The Fader has premeired a new video from Doldrums, taken from Lesser Evil. He plays The Horseshoe on May 11.

Video: Doldrums – “Lost In Everyone”

Exclaim has details on Gravez, the new album Hooded Fang. It’s due out May 28, a song from it is available to stream right now and they’ll play songs from it at The Horseshoe on May 31.

Stream: Hooded Fang – “Graves”

Exclaim has the results of the Red Bull Hometown Tour concert series, which I didn’t tell you about but which will be bringing Tokyo Police Club to Sugar Beach – that’s Sugar, on the east end, not Echo at Ontario Place – for a free show on June 2. RSVP for admission.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “All My Friends”

Black Mountain spinoff Lightning Dust have announced a June 25 release for their new album Fantasy and are streaming a song from it.

Stream: Lightning Dust – “Diamond”

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Another Sunny Day

Belle & Sebastian ready to show off their urban, rootsy side at Toronto Urban Roots Festival

Photo By Reuben CoxReuben CoxThe Toronto Urban Roots Festival has existed under a shroud of mystery since its existence emerged late last month, and even with its grand unveiling last week, it still only had two acts on its opening night – She & Him and Camera Obscura – to its roster. A promising start, but still eliciting more questions than excitement.

That balance has arguably skewed in the other direction considerably with yesterday’s announcement of Belle & Sebastian as the headlining act on the festival’s closing night, July 7. That they’re coming to town isn’t a big surprise – their presence at the Montreal Jazz Festival a few days earlier was a matter of public record since the start of the year and the idea of their not playing Toronto was absurd – but it’s nice to be able to put a date and place to it. It will be quite a different setting from Massey Hall, which has hosted their finest moments in the city, but considering that without a new album to promote and a Summer itinerary of only big festivals, a set list packed with fan favourites from throughout their career seems likely – plus there’s something to be said for being able to get up and dance without worrying about venue security descending upon you. People, this will be great. And to further whet your Scots-pop appetites, PitchforkTV has created a documentary feature/oral history on the making If You’re Feeling Sinister.

On top of the Belle & Sebastian add, TURF will also feature Neko Case, The Joel Plaskett Emergency, and Flogging Molly amongst their performers. Neko – who could well have a new record out by then because goodness knows it’s been long enough – will also be playing on July 7, while Plaskett and Flogging Molly (Flogging? The Flogs?) have yet to confirm which of the four days they’ll be slotted on. In any case, all this – plus the promise of another 25+ acts – makes the $99.50 early bird, four-day pass seem like a pretty good deal when it goes on sale in mid-March.

MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “The Boy With The Arab Strap”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
MP3: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
MP3: Joel Plaskett – “When I Go”
Video: Belle & Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister

Those concerned about being able to get into UK post-punk buzz-band Savages’ March 23 Canadian Musicfest showcase at Lee’s Palace on March 23 should take note that they’ve added a second showcase the night before, March 22, at The Horseshoe. Not that Horseshoe shoes are any easier to get into during CMF, but still.

Stream: Savages – “Flying To Berlin”

Jenn Grant is at The Horseshoe on April 13, still touring last year’s The Beautiful Wild. Tickets for that show are $15 in advance.

Video: Jenn Grant – “The Fighter”

Widowspeak have finally plotted out a North American tour in support of their excellent second album Almanac; catch them at The Garrison on April 14, tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”

Marnie Stern will be at Parts & Labour on April 16 behind her new record The Chronicles Of Marnia. Hit up Pitchfork for full dates and a stream of a new track.

MP3: Marnie Stern – “Transparency Is The New Mystery”

EmptyMansions, aka the solo project of Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino, will release their debut album snakes/vultures/sulfate on April 2 and be at Garrison on April 30 in support. Toneluster has an interview with Fogarino about the project and Rolling Stone has premiered the first video from the record.

Video: EmptyMansions – “ThatMan”

Booking two shows three months apart isn’t usually considered prudent – they just played The Phoenix at the start of February – but arguably Purity Ring still have the demand to do it. Plus, they’re bringing along Blue Hawaii – side-project of Braids frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston – to sweeten the bill. They’re at The Danforth Music Hall on May 5, tickets $22.50 for floors and $20.00 for balcony.

MP3: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”
MP3: Blue Hawaii – “In Two II”

And in long-awaited – as in ten years or so – news, The Postal Service are finally coming to Toronto. To mark the 10th anniversary of the release of Give Up – a decade ago this past Monday, to be exact – they’ve announced a massive North American tour that brings them to the Air Canada Centre on June 11, tickets $49.50 to $59.50, on sale February 25 (presale) and 28 (general onsale). And to the FAQ section: yes, it will be in theatre configuration but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that expand if demand outstrips the 6000 or so seats that allows – remember, they sold out the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn in a heartbeat; yes, Jenny Lewis will be along for the ride to sing her parts and presumably cover Jen Wood’s parts for “Nothing Better”; yes, the album is only 45 minutes long but think of all the extra material that the April 9 deluxe edition of Give Up will bring. It’ll run an hour at least.

MP3: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
MP3: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”