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Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Guards, Mates Of State, and other support acts elevated to blog post headline status
Olivia MaloneSome weeks, the inbox is a veritable cornucopia of interesting concert announcements for acts big and small. Compiling the blog posts that collect those up is a genuine delight. And easy. Generally so easy. This was not one of those weeks. Indeed, most of the news was of the “support announced” variety, which isn’t necessarily uninteresting – sometimes it’s more interesting than the headliner – but it is less easy.
Anyways, we’ll kick off with New York’s Guards, who will be supporting Palma Violets at Lee’s Palace on May 3. They’re fronted by one Richie Follin, whose did time in Cults with sister Madelin and also worked with Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, and while either of those reference points are probably enough to garner attention, the sun-kissed, retro-styled power pop of their debut album In Guards We Trust, released in February, are far more in line with the former than the latter. It’s not revolutionary by any measure, but it is well-executed and likeable.
The Bay Bridged has an interview with Richie Follin.
MP3: Guards – “Silver Lining”
MP3: Guards – “Crystal Truth”
Video: Guards – “Ready To Go”
Video: Guards – “Silver Lining”
It’s a bit of an odd pairing, but throwback jangle-poppers DIIV will be supporting Trent Reznor’s How To Destroy Angels at The Sound Academy on April 25. They were also here in December supporting Japandroids, but I’m sure there’s enough fans of Oshin that a headlining show – which they last did in September – would also be welcome.
MP3: DIIV – “Sometime”
Not that Titus Andronicus need any help drawing a crowd, but their May 2 date at Lee’s Palace announced last week just got a boost regardless with the announcement that they’re being joined by Brooklyn’s So So Glos for what they’re calling the “Bring Back The Dudes” tour – which will be a pretty apt description of the demographic at the show. Their new record Blowout is out April 23 and there’s an interview at The L.
Video: So So Glos – “My Block”
Some bands worry about announcing multiple upcoming dates in a given market out of fear that one show may cannibalize ticket sales from the other; Ra Ra Riot clearly do not. They spent most of the lead up to their early March headlining show for Beta Love with their name also on posters for the Arts & Crafts Field Trip festival at Garrison Common on June 8, and now they’ve also announced that they’ll also be in town a couple weeks prior to that supporting The Shins at The Sound Academy on May 22. I don’t know if there are Ra Ra Riot fans so dedicated to hit up every one of their local shows, but if so, they’re probably pretty happy.
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Beta Love”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dance With Me”
Ra Ra Riot will also be opening up some of the dates on the upcoming Postal Service tour, but not Toronto – according to the itinerary released yesterday, we’ll have Mates Of State opening up at the Air Canada Centre on June 11 and that’s a-ok with me, though I can’t say I wouldn’t love to see peoples’ faces when Big Freedia shakes what she’s got on those west coast dates.
MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
And in headlining announcements – Spencer Krug will appear as Moonface in a solo piano context on May 12 at The Great Hall in something called The Conversation Room. I don’t know what/where that is, but I kind of hope it’s like The Champagne Room. Tickets are $16.50 and there is probably no sex.
MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips”
MP3: Moonface – “Headed For The Door”
One of the buzzier bads at CMF this year were German electro-pop duo BOY, and those who missed out on their shows will be pleased to know they’re back in town at The Great Hall on May 16 in support of their debut Mutual Friend. Tickets for that are $17.50.
Video: BOY – “Little Numbers”
I could be wrong but I don’t think Richard Buckner has been to Toronto since the “two really big dudes with gravelly voices” tour with Eric Bachmann in September 2006. In any case, the upcoming release of Surrounded – about which there’s no other information besides that it exists and will be called Surrounded – will bring him back to The Horseshoe on May 23, tickets $13.50.
MP3: Richard Buckner – “Escape”
One of the unfortunate casualties of the canceled Efterklang show during CMF last month was the local debut of Philadelphia’s Nightlands, who were supposed to open up. They’ll make that show up at The Drake Underground on June 3, playing songs from their debut Oak Island, from which they’ve just released a new video. The Concordian also has an interview with band principal Dave Hartley.
MP3: Nightlands – “300 Clouds”
MP3: Nightlands – “Suzerain (A Letter To The Judge)”
Video: Nightlands – “Born To Love”
Brooklyn’s Yeasayer will circle back behind their third album Fragrant World with a show at The Phoenix on July 2.
MP3: Yeasayer – “Henrietta”
MP3: Yeasayer – “Longevity”
Two-tone legends The Specials are coming back to town, slating a July 9 date at The Kool Haus, tickets $39.50.
Video: The Specials – “Message To You Rudy”
“Edge” certainly doesn’t mean what it used to. Traditionally the region’s premier bro-fest, the CFNY-sponsored Edgefest has gone acoustic and plaid for 2013, taking advantage of Lollapalooza weekend to present a lineup headlined by The Lumineers and Band Of Horses at Downsview Park on July 31. Quite an about face from past editions of the festival, which has in the past been closed out by the likes of Billy Talent, A Perfect Circle, Stone Temple Pilots, and Our Lady Peace. Tickets for the day are $49.50 plus fees.
MP3: Band Of Horses – “No One’s Gonna Love You”
Video: The Lumineers – “Hey Ho”
Okay, so as it turns out there was more announced this week than I thought. Elsewhere…
Philly.com talks to Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald, who will tear things up at The Horseshoe tomorrow night, April 11.
The Thermals are streaming their new super-short but super-intense new album Desperate Ground at Pitchfork before its out on Apri l6. They play The Horseshoe on May 21.
Stream: The Thermals / Desperate Ground
Another new track from Steve Earle’s Low Highway – out April 16 – has been made available to stream.
Stream: Steve Earle & The Dukes (and Duchesses) – “Calico County”
DIY talks to Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne ahead of next week’s release of The Terror.
Under The Radar interviews Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, in town at The Kool Haus on May 9.
NPR has a Mountain Stage session with Calexico, coming to Toronto for a NXNE show at the Mod Club on June 12.
Exclaim, The Village Voice, Pitchfork, and Consequence Of Sound all want to talk to Kurt Vile about his latest album Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, out now. He plays the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common on July 7.
Lissie has rolled out a lyric video fro the first sample of her second album, due out this September.
Lyric Video: Lissie – “Shameless”
NPR has a World Cafe session with Caitlin Rose.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
Review of Cat Power’s Sun
Stefano GiovanniniIt seems counter-intuitive to not look forward to hearing an artist’s first album of new material in half a decade – the follow-up to arguably her best work, no less – but then things are rarely straightforward when you’re talking about Cat Power. With all respect to those who’d bestow the honour on You Are Free or Moon Pix, but The Greatest was as good as its title as far as I was concerned. It may not have been as musically adventurous or emotionally bare as some of her other works, but I found the document of an artist trying something new with the Memphis soul style and sounding so in her element irresistible.
So why fear for the follow-up? Well, there was 2008′s Jukebox, which took the aesthetic of The Greatest and applied it to a selection of classic songs and somehow ended up feeling utterly bloodless, with Chan Marshall seemingly falling into the diva trap of now being an impressive voice overemoting the words of others; it was like the feeling of comfort that permeated The Greatest had turned into complacency. Further, while the two shows I saw in 2006 in support of The Greatest were, with a few hiccups, outstanding shows that seemed to put Marshall’s reputation as a shaky live bet to bed, her appearance at the 2007 Rogers Picnic was uneven and uncomfortable and while she was certainly more together at Matador at 21 in 2010, that set didn’t really point to her leaving her Dirty Delta comfort zone anytime soon. In other words, my greatest fear for Sun, promised as far back as 2007 but only arriving next Tuesday, would that it would be an overworked, underwhelming rock’n'soul pastiche that showcased Marshall’s voice but shortchanged her songwriting. And I didn’t want to hear that happen.
Well as it turns out, there was nothing to fear. Nothing. At. All. Marshall’s soulful rasp is as rich as it ever was, but there’s little trace of the gospel-blues singer that she wore a little too well. Sun is a wildly eclectic record, and even those who’ve kept up with Cat Power through her various creative phases may be taken aback by the introduction of electronic textures, programmed beats, and even some autotuning effects, but no one would dare dismiss this as genre tourism. It’s more as if Cat Power has been captured through a prism and refracted into a spectrum of musical colours – perhaps new and unfamiliar when taken in bits, but all still very much parts of the whole.
As tempting as it would be to make the new sonic direction the story of the record, or dwell on the remarkable fact that it was not only self-produced but that Marshall played virtually every instrument on the record, to do so would be to not focus on the most crucial aspect of Sun and that the songs are fantastic. The frailties of her early work have given way to a swaggering confidence that permeates everything; Marshall is focused, confident, and not only willing to take on anything, but determined to succeed. A closer examination of the lyrics reveals as much emotional honesty as she’s ever offered – after all, you can’t raise the sun without casting some shadows – but the darkness only adds depth, it never defines. Sun is an astonishing statement from Chan Marshall that shows that rather than banish the demons of her earlier work as The Greatest might have inferred, she’s utterly made them her bitches and put them to work.
The New York Times, News.com.au, and Spin have feature pieces on Cat Power and NPR is streaming Sun ahead of its release next week. She plays The Kool Haus on October 20.
MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”
Stream: Cat Power / Sun
Another stellar effort from a veteran performer out next week is Silver Age from Bob Mould; it’s also now available to stream along with an interview at Rolling Stone. The first video from said record also surfaced last week.
Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Stream: Bob Mould / Silver Age
To mark the release of the Divine Fits debut long-player A Thing Called Divine Fits this week, there’s feature interviews with Britt Daniel and/or Dan Boeckner at Consequence Of Sound, The 405, Interview, 680 News, Seattle Weekly, Pitchfork, The AV Club, and The National Post. Divine Fits play Lee’s Palace on September 5.
Also out this week was Nocturne, the second album from Wild Nothing. Accompanying that were features at eMusic, The Fader, Clash, DIY, Austinist, The Line Of Best Fit, and Paste. They’re at The Great Hall on September 18.
A goodly number of show announcements to get through. We’ll start with The Killers, because statistically speaking some of you must be fans, just as some of your must be human and others dancer. Their new record Battle Born is out September 18 and they’re at The Sound Academy on September 22, tickets $54.50. That seems undersized for them so I figure this counts as the “intimate club gig” before they return in a few months at the arena level.
Video: The Killers – “Runaways”
Presumably having sorted themselves out following the departure of bassist Jen Turner, Here We Go Magic will be at The Garrison on September 23 as part of a tour support of their latest record A Different Ship. Tickets for that are $12.50 in advance. Spin has a feature on the band.
MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Casual”
Having been through for festivals and as support, Exitmusic finally have their own proper headlining show in support of their debut Passage. They’re at The Horseshoe on October 1, tickets $10.50.
MP3: Exitmusic – “The Sea”
Californian psych-poppers Woods will have a new record in Bend Beyond out on September 18, and they’d like to play some of it for you. Be at The Garrison on October 2 if you’ld like that too; tickets are $12.50 in advance.
MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”
There’s no measure by which this isn’t a strange tour, but it must make sense to someone. That’d be The Psychedelic Furs, The Lemonheads, and Juliana Hatfield, who will also be reprising her Ray-era bass duties in The Lemonheads. She’ll sort of have a new record to push in her self-titled cover album, a sort of companion piece to The Lemonheads’ last release, the all-cover Varshons. Wouldn’t it be weird if both their sets were all covers? Or maybe all Psychedelic Furs covers? Yeah I have no idea what this is, besides at The Danforth Music Hall on October 16. Ticket info still forthcoming.
Video: The Psychedelic Furs – “Love My Way”
Video: The Lemonheads – “It’s A Shame About Ray”
Video: Juliana Hatfield Three – “My Sister”
They are from Brooklyn, they are seventeen members strong, they are disco, they are Escort, their 2011 debut album was also Escort, I hear they were awesome at SXSW, and they’re at The Horseshoe on November 10. Tickets are $16.50 – that’s less than a dollar a band member!
MP3: Escort – “Starlight”
Yellow Ostrich are at The Garrison on November 12 in support of their second album Strange Land. $12 gets you in the door, full dates at Plug In Music.
MP3: Yellow Ostrich – “The Shakedown”
San Diego’s Pinback return with their first album in five years in Information Retrieved, and are touring in support. Said tour wraps up at Lee’s Palace on November 21, tickets $16.50.
MP3: Pinback – “From Nothing To Nowhere”
Rolling Stone has premiered the surprisingly dark new video from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Tempest. It’s out September 11 and the man hits the Air Canada Centre on November 14.
Video: Bob Dylan – “Duquesne Whistle”
Exclaimtalks to Lou Barlow about the new Dinosaur Jr album I Bet On Sky, out September 18. They play three nights at Lee’s Palace from September 24 to 26.
The first video from Band Of Horses’ forthcoming Mirage Rock is now available to watch. It’s out September 18.
Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”
Stereogum chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Their new record Transcendental Youth is out October 2, they play The Phoenix on October 20.
Benjamin Gibbard – you may know him as just Ben – has released the first sample of his forthcoming solo record Former Lives, out October 16. He plays The Danforth Music Hall on October 14.
MP3: Benjamin Gibbard – “Teardrop Windows”
Exclaim has details on a new release from Andrew Bird, a companion piece to this year’s Break It Yourself. Hands Of Glory is out October 30.
Sleigh Bells’ Reign Of Terror has yielded another new video.
Video: Sleigh Bells – “End Of The Line”
NPR welcomes Beachwood Sparks for a video session. LA Weekly also has a feature on the band.
The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, SF Weekly, The Pitch, Colorado Daily, and Boulder Weekly have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Wild Nothing streams Nocturnes; clever headline eludes blogger
Shawn BrackbillWhen I first started playing guitar in high school, I spent an inordinate amount of time in music and pawn shops looking for pedals – they were (relatively) cheap, fun, and would obviously make me a far better player than, oh, practice. And one thing that these shops’ stock had in common were chorus pedals. So many chorus pedals. Some shops were like a veritably baby blue sea of Boss chorus pedals. Because this was the early ’90s, when grunge was king and everyone wanted distortions and no one wanted to sound like Andy Summers.
If I’d only known that in about 20 years, that shiny, shimmery guitar tone would be back in style courtesy of bands like Real Estate and DIIV, I’d have grabbed a few. Jack Tatum certainly did, and you can hear it all over his recordings as Wild Nothing, the second album of which – Nocturne – comes out next Tuesday. I actually rate Wild Nothing ahead of most of his stylistic peers as in addition to having great melodic chops, Tatum is able to give his songs some tension to go with the pretty.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, the album is available to stream in whole right now at Death & Taxes; take it for a spin. They’ve also got a stream at Dazed but their interface is kind of terrible so maybe just go there for their interview with Tatum, and if you want more there’s also features at Under The Radar and Stereogum. And if you agree and want to see them live, be reminded that Wild Nothing is on tour with the aforementioned DIIV this Fall, stopping in at The Great Hall in Toronto on September 18.
MP3: Wild Nothing – “Shadow”
MP3: Wild Nothing – “Paradise”
Stream: Wild Nothing / Nocturne
A whole brace of concert announcements to get through… Former emo kids – though I guess they’d be emo adults, now – rejoice. Movement forebears Mike Kinsella and Bob Nanna will be in town as Owen and Braid respectively for an acoustic evening at Wrongbar on September 20. Tickets $18.50 in advance, details at Facebook.
MP3: Owen – “Places To Go”
MP3: Owen – “Abandoned Bridges”
MP3: Braid – “Consolation Prizefighter”
MP3: Braid – “Eeyore And Easel”
Austin’s Ringo Deathstarr will release their second proper album Mauve on September 24 and follow it up with a world tour that brings them to The Garrison on October 13 with Halifax’s previously endorsed Kestrels. Fuzz pedals will be stomped, shoes will be gazed upon. Vice has an interview with Ringo Deathstarr.
MP3: Ringo Deathstarr – “Imagine Hearts”
Video: Kestrels – “The Past Rests”
If you remember Laura Burhenn from her tenure as half of Georgie James or have heard some of the praise for Generals, her new album under the name The Mynabirds, you may be interested to know she’ll be supporting AC Newman on most of his Fall tour dates including the kickoff at Lee’s Palace on October 21. Colorado Daily, The San Francisco Examiner, and College Times all have interviews with Burhenn.
MP3: The Mynabirds – “Generals”
MP3: The Mynabirds – “Body Of Work”
MP3: The Mynabirds – “Radiator Sister”
Because I’ve learned it’s not worth it to aggravate the still-legions of Corgan apologists, I offer this without comment. Smashing Pumpkins will be at the Air Canada Centre on October 25 as part of a cross-Canada tour, tickets available in $39.50, $49.50, and $79.50 brackets. They will perform their new album Oceania in its entirety and then delve into their back catalog for selections both obvious and not. It will be a half-arena configuration, not full, because not even Billy is that deluded. Oh damn, almost made it.
Video: Smashing Pumpkins – “Cherub Rock”
If that Ringo Deathstarr/Kestrels bill is the sort of thing that gets your juices flowing, take note of the bill hitting The Garrison on November 3, as a double-bill of Bay Area dreampop in the form of Tamaryn and Young Prisms will be taking the stage. The former release their new album Tender New Signs on October 16 and the latter are still riding their sophomore effort In Between, released back in March. Tickets for that show are $10.
MP3: Tamaryn – “Sandstone”
MP3: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”
Brookyln’s The Men, who tore the shit out of the Garrison during NXNE, return to do the same thing to The Hoxton on November 9, tickets $16.50 in advance.
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”
MP3: The Men – “A Minor”
Though he put the Pedro The Lion name to bed back in 2006, David Bazan will be revisiting their beloved 2002 album Control in its entirety on a Fall tour that hits The Horseshoe on November 11, tickets $14.50 in advance.
MP3: Pedro The Lion – “Rapture”
MP3: Pedro The Lion – “Penetration”
Austin’s …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead will be in town in support of last year’s Tao Of The Dead with a show at Lee’s Palace on November 20, tickets $18.50 in advance.
MP3: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Mistakes And Regrets”
MP3: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Crowning Of A Heart”
Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and Pitchfork both have feature interviews with Chan Marshall of Cat Power, while Exclaim offers a bullet point chaser to their cover piece. Cat Power’s excellent new record Sun arrives September 4 and the second sample from it is now available to download. She plays The Kool Haus on October 20.
MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
Daytrotter has a session with Wye Oak, stopping in at the Horseshoe on September 17.
Dinosaur Jr has released the first video from I Bet On Sky, out September 18. They play three nights at Lee’s Palace from September 24 to 26.
Video: Dinosaur Jr – “Watch The Corners”
The first sample of Mark Eitzel’s new solo record Don’t Be A Stranger is now available to stream. It’s out October 2.
Stream: Mark Eitzel – “I Love You But You’re Dead”
Richard Avery talks to Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs. Their reunion tour hits The Phoenix on October 3.
The Skinny has an interview with Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius. He plays 918 Bathurst on October 5.
Wayne Coyne gives Rolling Stone a preview of the next Flaming Lips record, which might be called The Terror and might also be out as early as this Fall.
Interview talks to Jim James of My Morning Jacket.
The Hook interviews Will Sheff of Okkervil River.
Tom Tom hosts a drummer summit between Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo and Rachel Blumberg, formerly of The Decemberists and now of Norfolk & Western.
Magnet has an interview with Steve McDonald of Redd Kross ahead of giving he and his bandmates control of their website for the week.
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Wild Beasts at The Mod Club in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s right here, in these very pages, the fact that I didn’t dig on Wild Beasts’ last record Two Dancers and only after some persistence was able to reach a point of understanding it if not appreciating it. But mayhap that exercise softened me up enough that even though it wasn’t as acclaimed as its predecessor, I took to this year’s Smother almost immediately and also put Two Dancers back into rotation. All of which is to say that while I had no problem skipping the band’s visit to the Mod Club last Summer, I was not going to be missing this year’s go-around last Thursday.
The quartet intended to make a dramatic entrance onto the stage but a technical hiccup a few bars into “Lion’s Share” sabotaged that, forcing them to sheepishly say, “hello” rather than just get into it but the net effect was endearing rather than embarrassing and it would basically be the only misstep the entire evening. Why did no one tell me how good of a live band they were? And while we’re at it, why did no one tell me that the swooping and swooning vocals on their recordings were not just courtesy of Hayden Thorpe, but also of Tom Fleming? Here I was thinking that it was Thorpe alone with the inhumanly multi-octave range, when in fact it’s both of them. Which is ridiculous. That they should both be equally adept at playing guitar, bass and keyboards whilst utilizing those voices is even more ridiculous. And that Katie Harkness of Sky Larkin was on board as touring keyboardist was just a nice surprise.
Trying to describe Wild Beasts live requires a lot of adjectives that are typically more suited to blue movies than live music, but that’s just how it is – it’s the sound of sex, however you like it, and quite the contrast from the sentiments of love that Elbow brought to town the night before.. Seductive and dangerous, romantic and rough, primal and sophisticated, they build off a deep, swaying groove heavy on toms and accented with exotic percussion and alternately powered by keys or guitars, their songs are lifted by the intertwined vocals of Thorpe and Fleming in a way that just induces shivers. They split the set about evenly between Two Dancers and Smother and threw long-time fans a bone with “The Devli’s Crayon” from their debut Limbo, Panto and apologizing for never touring their that album. So rhythmically hypnotic was their hour-long main set that when it ended with “Hooting & Howling”, you didn’t even notice the finale coming until it was done – you might say the “End Come Too Soon” but the band saved that one to wrap the encoure, which thankfully ran a good three songs and allowed you the time to mentally prepare to extricate yourself from the music’s embrace and ready yourself to go back out into the cold world.
Prefix, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal and The Daily Texan have interviews with members of Wild Beasts.
Photos: Wild Beasts @ The Mod Club – September 29, 2011
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Thankless Thing”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Loop The Loop”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “All The King’s Men”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Bed Of Nails”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
Video: Wild Beasts – “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Hooting & Howling”
Video: Wild Beasts – “All The King’s Men”
Video: Wild Beasts – “The Devil’s Crayon”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Treacle Tin”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants”
Billboard has posted their upcoming cover story on Florence & The Machine, whose much-anticipated Ceremonials is out on November 1.
Wears The Trousers points to a video session by EMA in Vienna wherein they reinvent “Butterfly Knife”; worth watching.
Exclaim and The Chicago Tribune have interviews and NPR a World Cafe session with St. Vincent.
Spinner, The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and Paste talk to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 16.
Asobi Seksu recorded a session for Daytrotter, gave interviews to OC Music Magazine and The Vindicator and also posted up a Walkmen cover, well, just because. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 23 opening for Boris.
The Von Pop Musical Express interviews Juanita Stein of Howling Bells.
NPR welcomes Ryan Adams for a World Cafe session. Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre welcomes him for a show on December 10.
Gary Louris and Karen Grotberg take The Boston Globe down the long and winding road to the Jayhawks reunion.
The Illinois Entertainer talks to Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.
Men’s Health and The Sydney Morning Herald< talk with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The National Post gets some of Pat Sansone and John Stirratt’s time.
The Decemberists are still promising to take an extended break after they’re done working The King Is Dead, but that won’t be until after they’ve released the Long Live The King EP on November 1 – Exclaim has specifics.
Crystal Stilts are in town for a show at the Horseshoe on December 1.
MP3: Crystal Stilts – “Through The Floor”
Video: Crystal Stilts – “Through The Floor”
Okkervil River have released a new video from I Am Very Far, starring a very young Will Sheff.
Video: Okkervil River – “Your Past Life As A Blast”
Pitchfork takes Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks onto a New York City rooftop to play some songs. Or else.
The Quietus talks to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.
NPR has a KCRW session with Fleet Foxes.
Salon investigates why, in a time when record labels are supposed to be dying, Merge Records are thriving.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Dum Dum Girls, Diamond Rings, Stars and more at NXNE
Frank YangOne crucial way that NXNE has become more like its bigger, cooler acronym-a-like cousin SXSW is the increase of day shows to go along with the official evening showcases. Of course, I didn’t actually go to any of these new daytime events – the only afternoon party I hit up was one that had been happening for the last few years, the Kelp Records BBQ at the Global Village hostel, this year co-presented by the Brits at The Line Of Best Fit. After all – they had free food, cheap drinks and a solid lineup of bands. What else does a body need?
And as a bonus, I was able to catch a couple bands that otherwise would have required more hopping around in the night time. First up were The Elwins, an almost distressingly young outfit from the suburban wilds north of Toronto. Distressing because for all their fresh-faced earnestness, they possessed a polished and sophisticated pop sensibility that artists many years their elder would be envious of (and they just generally made me feel old). Hearing the amount of detail and ingenuity that had gone into their songs, you’d be tempted to think there was some pop genius sven gali behind them but I suspect that it’s all them and that’s remarkable. Their debut album And I Thank You is finished but, I believe, looking for a home. It deserves one.
BlogTO chatted with the band pre-fest. They play the Silver Dollar on July 21.
Photos: The Elwins @ Global Village – June 17, 2011
MP3: The Elwins – “Time To Kill Time”
I’d seen Saskatchewan’s Slow Down, Molasses and heard their debut I’m An Old Believer back in Fall 2009 and filed them into the ever-growing “has great potential, not there yet” file in my mind. With the release of their second album Walk Into The Sea, I was happy to move them up into the far more spacious “definitely getting there” section of my grey matter. It’s still unquestionably roots rock at its core but the band are able to take it into less-travelled territory, getting noisier where necessary but remaining heartfelt and melodic. And when you’re able to go from twang to a My Bloody Valentine cover and do it well, as this six-piece did whilst crammed into the tiny stage area set up on the hostel’s patio, then you’re onto something.
Photos: Slow Down, Molasses @ Global Village – June 17, 2011
MP3: Slow Down, Molasses – “Late Night Radio”
MP3: Slow Down, Molasses – “I’m An Old Believer”
From the laid back patio shows, things went to the mainstage at Yonge-Dundas for what became a sort of Polaris Prize sampler, with all three acts having been named to the long list the day before. Leading off was Diamond Rings, whom in my mind I’d seen a million times but in fact had not since SXSW 2010 – well over a year. And while there’s only so many changes a solo act can make to their stage show, there were a few notable changes. While it was still just John O’Regan, his keyboard and his guitar, the unicorn tapestry which used to grace his front of the former had been traded in for a more professional “Diamond Rings” banner and oh yeah, he was playing in front of thousands of people. The relentless touring and becoming BFFs with Robyn has clearly paid off because the response that Diamond Rings was getting from the decidedly younger-skewing audience was entering teen idol territory. And unsurprisingly, the show was more polished than I’d ever seen it, incorporating bigger beats, some sweet dance sequences and just generally more crowd-pleasing. I’d always thought there was a limit to how much O’Regan could do with the Diamond Rings persona, but maybe I was wrong.
Diamond Rings has just announced a tour with Twin Shadow, that includes a date at The Mod Club on October 3, tickets $15 in advance.
Photos: Diamond Rings @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 17, 2011
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Wait And See”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Show Me Your Stuff”
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Wait & See”
Land Of Talk and I got our start at this very festival five years ago and while it’s only two and a half kilometers or so from The Boat in Kensington to Yonge-Dundas Square, the figurative distance covered by the band in that time is far greater. Long-gone is the scrappy power trio that wowed me so long ago, replaced by a five-piece band – six if you count Gentleman Reg in his Light Fires guise of “Regina Gentlelady” on backing vox for a few songs – and including Snailhouse’s Mike Feuerstack on guitar; certainly not the same players as last September at Lee’s. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to remember the last time I saw Land Of Talk with the same lineup twice in a row – the only constant being frontwoman Liz Powell. In any case, this was easily the largest setting I’d seen the band in and it was satisfying to see just how well their tense and yearning songs were able to scale up in presentation, helped no doubt by the three-guitar attack. It wasn’t their tightest show, but even so there was plenty of impact to be felt.
Photos: Land Of Talk @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 17, 2011
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Swift Coin”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “May You Never”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Corner Phone”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”
Video: Land Of Talk – “It’s Okay”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Troubled”
Video: Land Of Talk – “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Speak To Me Bones”
Stars had graduated to playing this size of show for a while now, so it wasn’t surprising that their show was tight and polished, not unlike their music itself. Stars have hit on a winning formula in crafting their romantic, synth-tinged pop and while it can get a bit samey over the big picture, on a song by song basis, it’s hard to argue with their effectiveness – songs like “Ageless Beauty”, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” and “Reunion” are pretty much post-millenial Can-rock classics, and for good reason. The thousands packing the square were certainly happy to eat it all up as well, from the tossing of roses into the crowd to Torquil Campbell playing up the Montreal-based band’s Toronto roots. For a free fan- and family-friendly show on a warm Summer’s evening, you couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Spinner has an interview with Torq Campbell.
Photos: Stars @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 17, 2011
MP3: Stars – “Going, Going, Gone”
MP3: Stars – “Fixed”
MP3: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
MP3: Stars – “The Night Starts Here”
MP3: Stars – “Ageless Beauty”
MP3: Stars – “On Peak Hill”
Video: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
Video: Stars – “Fixed”
Video: Stars – “The Night Starts Here”
Video: Stars – “Take Me To The Riot”
Video: Stars – “Reunion”
Video: Stars – “Ageless Beauty”
Video: Stars – “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”
Video: Stars – “Elevator Love Letter”
Done with the big stage for the evening, it was off to hit the clubs starting with Rancho Relaxo. There it was Volcano Playground, who impressed with their potential at the Wintergaze show back in December; I was quite interested to see how much further they’d come in the past six months. The answer: some ways. There was a lot of instrument swapping but the transitions were smoother than last time and didn’t disrupt the flow of hte show. Opening with a moody drone, they played a shortish set of spacey pop that didn’t sound distracted, kept moving by a heavy rhythmic element. At their best, they sounded reminiscent of Slowdive if they’d mixed the ideas of Pygmalion and Souvlaki and gotten a lot heavier, and when not at their best the potential of what they might do was still evident. I’m happy to keep them on my, “keep a solid eye on” list.
Their next show is July 10 at The Garrison.
Photos: Volcano Playground @ Rancho Relaxo – June 17, 2011
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Waiting”
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Anywhere”
At this point, my original plan had been to call it an early night for lack of anything I particularly wanted to see in the immediate area I was in. But when the Twitters brought word that one of the secret guest slots which peppered the schedule was going to be filled by the Dum Dum Girls, whom I’d resigned myself to missing, and that said show was happening across the street from where I was – albeit two hours hence – I had to stick it out. And sit through Rusty. OK, I suppose I could have just sat outside on the curb for a couple hours, read a magazine, but instead I opted to take in a ’90s Can-rock reunion that god knows I never asked for. If it’s not clear, I’d never been a fan of the band when they were MuchMusic/CFNY staples but clearly many others were, because the ElMo was packed with thirtysomething bro-types who were stoked – the only word to describe it – for their heroes’ return. And to be fair, they sounded pretty good considering that none of them (I think) carried on in music in any meaningful way after their dissolution over a decade ago. Though shorn of his signature dreadlocks, Ken MacNeil was still in pretty good voice (or as good as his raspy style required) and they collectively were pretty tight – a benefit, I suppose, of not having especially complex material to relearn. But they showed a good sense of humour about their age and the reunion and seemed genuinely grateful that their fans were still there.
Photos: Rusty @ The El Mocambo – June 17, 2011
Video: Rusty – “Empty Cell”
“Are you ready for us?” Dee-Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls was talking to the sound guy, but could easily have been addressing the couple hundred or so who’d stayed up till 2AM to see them play a second set of the night, following their sold-out appearance at Lee’s Palace earlier on. Cramming a busload of tunes into a half hour set, Dum Dum Girls proved why they were a cut above the other bands currently riding the girl-group/garage-pop wave – besides the most impeccable stage outfits, impressive musicianship and an innate coolness that just can’t be faked, they’ve got terrific songs that would be standouts in any production aesthetic. And they’ve got great friends, as proven when Crocodiles, fronted by Dee-Dee’s husband Brandon Welchez, popped by following their own set at the Silver Dollar across the street and offered both a 40 of whiskey and their services as backing dancers for their last song. Totally worth staying up for.
Photos: Dum Dum Girls @ The El Mocambo – June 17, 2011
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “D.A.L.”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”
Spinner talks to Nicole Atkins about her latest video, which they’re also conveniently premiering. Brightest Young Things also has an interview while The Herald-Citizen talks to her about her Bonnaroo experience.
Video: Nicole Atkins – “My Baby Don’t Lie”
Similarly, Spinner has the new video from and a conversation with Alela Diane, who will be at Massey Hall on July 14 opening for Fleet Foxes.
Video: Alela Diane – “Desire”
NPR coaxes The Decemberists behind a Tiny Desk and gets them to put on a show. They’re persuasive like that.
The National Post, The Globe & Mail and NPR have interviews with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, in town at the Sound Academy on August 8.
Each Note Secure talks to Daniel Kessler of Interpol. They’re at the Rogers Centre opening for U2 on July 11.
Rolling Stone finds out what’s next for The Strokes from Nikolai Fraiture and Albert Hammond Jr; a new record and probably some North American dates in the Fall once the European festival season is done.
PopMatters talks to Erika Anderson of EMA, in town at The Garrison on July 23.
Those suffering from Grizzly Bear withdrawal will be pleased to know that bassist Chris Taylor has struck out on his own under the guise of CANT and will not only be releasing his debut album Dreams Come True on September 13 – details at Exclaim – and be taking it on the road. Full dates still to come but Toronto gets a taste on October 21 at The Garrison, tickets $14.