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Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Light You Up

Review of Forest City Lovers’ Carriage

Photo By Ryan MarrRyan MarrToronto’s Forest City Lovers began essentially as a pseudonym for singer-songwriter Kat Burns, and while ably assisted by members of Toronto’s burgeoning music community her debut The Sun & The Wind was accordingly spare, but still gave hints to her broader pop ambitions. 2008’s Haunting Moon Sinking found Forest City Lovers no longer a pseudonym but a proper band and accordingly, it was a much fuller and rangier affair with a few moments of pure pop bounce amidst the more contemplative numbers. It made clear that talent-wise, Forest City Lovers had the potential to be one of the city, if not the country’s, finer pop bands though to make the grab for that brass ring seemed at odds with the understated charm that seemed to be such a fundamental part of their appeal. How would they reconcile that, if at all?

The answer comes in the form of Carriage. Their third album, released this week, is the sort of record that you always hope that a band you believe in will make, but don’t really expect for fear of being disappointed. Somehow Forest City Lovers have managed to make a game-changer of an album without actually changing their game – the core of their sound, Burns’ insightful and evocative lyrics delivered with her gentle, hint-of-smoke vocals, are intact and front and centre but this time out they’re cast against type in some big pop arrangements and damn if they don’t more than rise to the challenge.

Bookended by different versions of both sides of last year’s Phodilus and Tyto 7″, Carriage comes with a wealth of fresh ideas and it seems the more unexpected the turn, the more rewarding the outcome. Perhaps the best example of this is the confidently off-kilter “Minneapolis”, whose two minutes and forty seconds boasts one of the most infectious choruses you’re likely to hear anywhere this year. It’s pretty much the sort of song that you’d have thought Forest City Lovers would be great at but never would have expected them to write, and that feeling of both surprise and satisfaction permeates the record. The presence of new drummer Christian Ingelevics is surely a big part of the album’s heightened energy – he’s certainly brought such to their live show – and perhaps the decision to work with an outside producer for the first time is also part of it, though the record still maintains much of the of intimate, unvarnished vibe of the earlier recordings. But I think that most of the growth on Carriage can be attributed to a band that was simply ready to take that next step and decided to make it a huge leap forward. So very, very rewarding.

I Heart Music also has a review of the album and is offering a download of “Minneapolis”, also his pick as the key song on the record. Exclaim couples their review with a quick interview and Soundproof, The National Post and Chart have features on the band. Forest City Lovers start a three-week North American tour this weekend and will play a hometown record release show at the Great Hall on August 12, preceded by an in-store at Soundscapes on August 10, before heading back out on the road in September.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
MySpace: Forest City Lovers

Left-field Vancouver art-poppers Apollo Ghosts are touring their Polaris Prize-nominated album Mount Benson right across Canada and are making two stops in Toronto – on July 27 for an in-store performance at Criminal Records at 7PM and then after hitting the east coast, will double back and wrap things up on August 6 at Sneaky Dee’s with Dog Day.

MP3: Apollo Ghosts – “Coka Cola Admen”
MP3: Apollo Ghosts – “Things You Go Through”

The Take interviews The Balconies.

Chart talks to The Sadies, who will ring in Canada Day with a free show at Harbourfront Centre tonight.

Great Lake Swimmers have released a new video from last year’s Lost Channels.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “River’s Edge”

Also with a new video are Black Mountain, whose Wilderness Heart is out September 14. They’re at the Horseshoe on July 23.

Video: Black Mountain – “Old Fangs”

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon. They’ll be back in town on October 6 to play a free noon-hour show at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Washington City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly talk to Carl Newman of The New Pornographers, whose performance in Washington DC last week is available to stream over at NPR.

Pornographer going solo Kathryn Calder has released another MP3 from her forthcoming debut Are You My Mother?, out August 10.

MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Arrow”

CBC, Chart and Exclaim interview members of Stars. They are at Massey Hall on October 23.

John O’Regan of Diamond Rings offers The Line Of Best Fit a guide to his Toronto.

The Vancouver Sun talks to Shad, who’s at the Kool Haus on October 1.

Clash interviews Emily Haines of Metric. The video for their Twilight theme song is now available to swoon at. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on Friday, July 9

Video: Metric – “Twilight (All Yours)”

Supporting Metric on that show are Holy Fuck; hour.ca has an interview.

Rae Spoon will release Love Is A Hunter, the follow up to 2008’s excellent Superioryouareinferior, on August 17 and the first MP3 is available to download.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “You Can Dance”

The Hidden Cameras will play two intimate shows at the Lower Ossington Theatre on August 5 and 6 as part of the Summerworks theatre and film festival. According to Chart, they will be taking the opportunity to reimagine their last album Origin: Orphan as a theatrical work. Tickets for the shows are just $10.

MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “Walk On”

Half of this Take-Away Show with Land Of Talk was posted a couple weeks ago but the second video posted at Le Blogotheque, presumably a track from Cloak & Cipher, is the real jaw-dropper. So very excited for this record, which will be out August 24.

Exclaim talks to members of Wolf Parade.

PunkNews interviews Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up.

Harbourfront Centre’s Love Saskatchewan festival will feature free performances from Rah Rah and Library Voices on July 23 and July 25, respectively. And with lots of Saskatchewan-related goodness in between.

Tourisme Montreal talks to Basia Bulat, who was there last week for the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Wired interviews Scott Pilgrim director Edgar Wright and star Michael Cera. Hilarity ensues. Pitchfork also talks to Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning about their contributions to the film soundtrack.

The National Post examines the state of the Summer concert season.

Happy Canada Day, everyone. I am marking this auspicious occasion by leaving the country. I’m off to New York City for an extended long weekend – I think these are called vacations. We’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Watching The Detectives

To everyone who told me that it would be worth my while to watch Veronica Mars, I thank you. Being an avowed fan of the “sassy girl” television genre, it definitely hit the spot. So much so that after seeing the first few episodes, I was going to be damned if I was going to wait through CTV’s pokey one-a-week airing schedule and so I downloaded the whole of season one a couple weeks ago and pretty much powered through them in a weekend. Don’t judge me. It was so worth it.

The show combines a season-long plotline about solving the murder of Veronica’s best friend with individual single episode-mysteries, generally set in the local high school, playing like a cross between Nancy Drew and Buffy (The Arizona Republic looks at just how well Veronica Mars is doing at filling the shoes of Buffy). Did I mention that in addition to being a high school student, Ms Mars also works as a private investigator for her dad’s agency? Yeah, there’s the angle. The main storyline wrapped up very very nicely in the season finale – whatever will they do for an encore? Like the aforementioned vampire-slaying show, Veronica Mars combines sharp writing with very solid acting and a cute blonde protagonist, though Veronica Mars is somewhat lighter in the angst and melodrama. Unfortunately, it also follows in Buffy’s footsteps in another way – much critical acclaim, poor ratings.

It has been renewed for a second season, but will no doubt remain on the bubble for its lifespan, however long that is (though I’d prefer the show die than acquiese to the network’s helpful suggestions on how to improve the show – bring in Tara Reid as a sidekick? Oh god no. Having Paris Hilton guest star once was bad enough). It’s a damn shame, but sadly par for the course. As with everything else on television, the first season will be coming out on DVD this Fall. The only question is what sort of extras, if any, there will be.

The show also possesses a sharp, indie-friendly soundtrack that’s looking for fresh talent for season two. Said producer Rob Thomas:

“Here’s how it works. You e-mail me MP3s of unsigned bands. I’ll make sure that at least once every four episodes, we’ll use one of these bands in the show. We’ll pay the band $1000 for the use. Send these MP3s along with band contact information to music@slaverats.com. I’d love to use bands that are actually fans of the show, but it’s no requirement. As most of you know, I’ve used quite a few songs by Austin, TX bands. That’s my home. Those are the bands I know, but y’all have the chance to enlighten me about your particular region now.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.

I think I’m going to try and give every post this week an Elvis Costello-themed title.

Anyone who missed Broken Social Scene’s Feist/Haines/Millan-powered show at Olympic Island this past Sunday (that would be me) would do well to be at Dundas Square on July 8 at 10pm when they perform a free show as part of the Celebrate Toronto street festival. Chances of the full-chanteuse lineup are nil, however, as Feist is in Minnesota, Metric in PEI that day and Stars are is Stockholm the day before, Ottawa the day after. She could theoretically squeeze all that travel and a one-hour nighttime BSS set in, but I’m not holding my breath. They should bill this one Broken Sausage Scene.

Aimee Mann talks to The New Zealand Herald about her latest obsession, pugilism, and how it relates to her career and her latest album, The Forgotten Arm. And not to be outdone by the missus, Michael Penn is releasing a new album of his own – Mr Hollywood Jr, 1947 is out August 2. You can stream it here.

Now that the initial press hoopla around Nellie McKay’s Get Away From Me has faded away, PhillyBurbs finds out what she plans to do for an encore with her sophomore release due out in September. Via Pop (All Love).

Interviews! Pitchfork talks to Doves, Stylus raps with Interpol’s Carlos Dengler and Chart chats with Stephen Malkmus.

Pretty amazing response to the Doves contest. You guys do like the free stuff, dontcha? Obviously I’ve made it too easy. Next time… next time you’re gonna have to EARN it… Oh yes.

np – Engineers / Engineers