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Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Before Us

The Dog Day(s) of December are here

Photo By Seth SmithSeth SmithI’m not entirely sure when or why Halifax’s Dog Day fell off my radar; I was very much on board circa their 2007 debut Night Group and the 2009 follow-up Concentration, but missed out on 2011’s Deformer – which saw the quartet reconfigure themselves as just the duo of Seth Smith and Nancy Urich – completely.

But I’m on the ball with their new album Fade Out – which incidentally finds themselves a quartet again – and it’s nice to know that despite the personnel shuffles, out of the speakers not a lot has changed. Their roughly-hewn and downcast yet unfailingly melodic still evokes the spirit of their ’90s Maritime Can-rock forebears but those ingredients have also underpinned great rock music from many eras and locales. Dog Day sound very much like where they’re from but don’t confuse that with having only a regional appeal.

Fade Out is out December 10 and their eastern Canadian tour brings them to Toronto’s Cinecycle on December 14. Exclaim, The Halifax Chronicle Herald, and The Coast have interviews with Smith about the new album, which you can stream below.

MP3: Dog Day – “Wasted”
Stream: Dog Day / Fade Out

NOW gets to know No Joy, in town at The Garrison tomorrow night, December 5.

Rolling Stone has an advance stream of the new Neil Young archival release Live At The Cellar Door, which captures two acoustic shows in 1970. The album is out December 10.

Stream: Neil Young / Live At The Cellar Door

Pitchfork has surfaced a new song from Doldrums, currently without context but perhaps pointing towards a new release in 2014. Doldrums is at The Great Hall on December 13 for the second Long Winter.

Stream: Doldrums – “Dive Deep Pt 1”

The Drake Hotel has announced the lineup for this year’s What’s In The Box? mini-fest, which fills the Underground with the sounds of local bands and DJs for the five nights following Christmas at the non-inflationary price of $5. As always, there’s all sorts of up-and-coming talent on the bill, but readers of this site will want to circle December 27, when Alvvays take the stage, and December 30, when Rich Aucoin does his thing in a room he’s far too big to play in anymore.

MP3: Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”
MP3: Rich Aucoin – “It”

And speaking of musical holiday traditions, The Wooden Sky have announced details of their fourth annual holiday revue fundraiser to benefit the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank. It goes December 29 at 918 Bathurst and tickets will run $20, plus a donation of a canned good.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”

Stars are helping local radio station Indie88 celebrate their increased signal strength – which means I can now finally hear them in my car in downtown Toronto – with a rare club show at Lee’s Palace on January 18. Tickets are $8.81 and go on sale Friday.

MP3: Stars – “The Theory Of Relativity”

After touring their self-titled debut around North America straight though to the year’s final days, local punks PUP will take a little breather and come right back for a hometown show at The Garrison on January 31.

MP3: PUP – “Reservoir”

Toronto synth-goth artist Trust has announced a March 4 release date for his second album Joyland. Exclaim has details, inevitable trailer is below.

Trailer: Trust / Joyland

If you were holding off on going to see Arcade Fire at the Air Canada Centre on March 13 because the only costumes or formalwear you have are for warm weather, then rejoice – the band have announced a return engagement as part of some late Summer tour dates at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 29. Tickets range from $30.50 to $70.50 and go on sale December 13 at noon.

Video: Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”

Young Galaxy look set to run away with the record for most videos from an album that’s not really an album, namely the bonus disc of the Ultramarine Deluxe edition. They premiered the latest clip via Stereogum.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Hard To Tell”

Tone Deaf and The New Zealand Herald interview Metric, who’ve released another new video from Synthetica.

Video: Metric – “Lost Kitten”

A Music Blog, Yea has an interview with The Darcys while The Toronto Star finds out why their recent gigs have been at area high schools.

Beatroute, The Montreal Gazette, Seattle Weekly, The Georgia Straight, and Victoria News talk to Basia Bulat.

Dan Bejar of Destroyer tells The Line Of Best Fit why he decided to make a record in Spanish. There’s also a video session with Destroyer at Dutch radio station 3voor12.

Beatroute checks in with Amber Webber of Lightning Dust.

CBC Music has video of Fucked Up’s tribute to the legendary Teenage Head show known as The Last Pogo, recorded at a very punk rock 9AM on a Saturday morning at The Horseshoe Tavern, scene of the original show in 1978.

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Headphone Space

An introduction to A Sunny Day In Glasgow and giveaway

Photo By Ever NalensEver NalensThis isn’t quite an introduction as I first said hello to A Sunny Day In Glasgow back in December 2006, but considering they’re far from the same band they were at the time of their first EP, I think we can let it slide. When I first took notice of the Philadelphia outfit, they were a family unit – Ben Daniels on songwriting and instrumentation with twin sisters Robin and Lauren on vocals – with some clear genetic predilection for blending wispy melodies with fuzzy, clattering programming and cut-and-paste production, the net result sounding like a proud standard-bearer for electro-twee-gaze, if such a genre ever existed.

And while that sounds like the sort of thing that would be target-marketed to my musical sensibilities, I found their 2007 debut Scribble Mural Comic Journal a little too much of a head trip to really fall in love with. The melodies, while present, were buried under reverb and white noise and the song structures deliberately bent into disorienting shapes. Clearly this was deliberate aesthetic and musical choice on their part, and points should probably be given and not taken away for not doing the easy “pop” thing, but I never found myself wanting to listen to it much.

The follow-up, last year’s Ashes Grammar, continued along the path forged by the debut but with enough added clarity and growth to make it a far superior effort, at least by my standards. The aural gauze that swaddled all of Comic Journal has been thinned out enough that it’s easier and more enjoyable to pick out the many tones and textures at play. The vocals are still deliberately ghost-like, but given stronger melodies to wrap themselves around, they can’t help but make their presence more strongly felt. It’s a record that manages to be much more what I wanted to hear from them and yet remaining very much what they envision for themselves – win-win.

So of course as soon as the record came out, the band went off and reinvented themselves, personnel-wise. Through a series of circumstances, both sisters left the band and a new lineup more suited to touring was assembled around the one constant of Ben Daniels. It was this ASDG Mk2 that I saw a couple weeks ago at SxSW and who surprised me just how direct-sounding the live renderings of their songs are. Granted, reproducing the records verbatim would be as difficult as it is pointless, but it was still a bit of a shock – pleasantly so – how willing and able they were reinvent themselves as a relatively straight pop band on stage.

Due to an inability to tell time, I only caught the tail end of their performance but it was enough that for all the live music options in Toronto this coming Friday night, April 2, I’ve committed to catching their local debut at the Garrison. Tickets for the show are $10 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to spend A Sunny Day In Glasgow” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 31., The Daily Free Press and Spinner have interviews with ASDG leader Ben Daniels.

MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Sigh Inhibitionist”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Ashes Grammar/Ashes Math”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Best Summer Ever”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Watery (Drowning is Just Another Word for Being Buried Alive Under Water)”
Video: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “A Mundane Phone Call To Jack Parsons”
Video: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “So Bloody Tight”
MySpace: A Sunny Day In Glasgow

NOW and The Boston Herald have feature pieces on Beach House, playing a sold-out show at the Opera House tomorrow night and then returning for the Toronto Island Concert on June 19.

Faster Louder talks to Neil Halstead about the legacy of Slowdive. A legacy which is being anthologized (again) in a new collection entitled Shining Breeze, out April 26 in the UK. There’s details on the collection over here – looks like it’s a mix of album and single/EP tracks, but nothing that wasn’t made available via the reissues in 2005 or the presumably out of print 2004 best-of Catch The Breeze.

California Chronicle interviews The Big Pink.

Field Music talks to eye.

The Pipettes have released a new video from their forthcoming record Earth vs Pipettes, due out on June 28.

Video: The Pipettes – “Stop The Music”

NME chats with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, who has released a new video for “The Dog Days Are Over” from Lungs. I thought the original one was fun and fine, but if you’ve got budget to spend I guess you may as well. Florence is at the Kool Haus on April 10.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “The Dog Days Are Over” (new version)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “The Dog Days Are Over” (old version)

The Music Magazine talks to Emmy The Great about how things are progressing on album number two. Answer: slowly.

BBC6 and Clash talk to Laura Marling about her new record I Speak Because I Can, out in North American on April 6. There’s a couple videos of the song “Rambling Man” now available – the official video and a Black Cab Session recorded at last year’s SxSW festival.

Video: Laura Marling – “Rambling Man”

Spinner talks to Mumford & Sons about their just-released Interface session.

Toro Y Moi has had to cancel Tuesday night’s appearance at the Drake Underground as a result of having his gear nicked in New York the other night. Headliners The Ruby Suns are still performing.

Sloan will be marking Record Store Day on April 17 with an in-store at Sonic Boom, time TBA. Blurt has a piece on why Record Store Day and record stores in general are awesome.

Rufus Wainwright will be performing at the Elgin-Winter Garden on June 15. His opera Prima Donna is running that week as part of LuminaTO, but it seems this date will be a concert from Rufus himself. Update: PR just confirmed the 15th is a solo Rufus show and a second show has been added for June 17.

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Oh, Dead Life

I’d have been remiss if I didn’t follow up Thursday’s post, exhorting y’all to go see Dog Day at the Drake Underground on Saturday night, by showing up myself. So between other engagements I popped by the Drake to catch their compact set.

Considering the band had been on tour since mid-September with only a week off, I expected them to a) be really tight and b) be really tired. Two for two. Well, the former was obvious as the punched through material from Night Group quickly, efficiently and proficiently while evidencing some Pavement-y and early Built To Spill-y influences that weren’t as obvious from the record.

To the latter point, I can only speculate based on the fact that the band have been living out of a van and criss-crossing the continent for six weeks. But whatever the reason, Dog Day’s performance evidenced a good deal of concentration if not intensity, letting the strength of the songs carry the show rather than their stage presence. Of course, it could be that that’s how they are even after a week of bed rest and three squares a day – their deadpan demeanour is part of the charm of the album, I suppose it makes sense that it’d carry over to their live show. So this past paragraph? Never mind.

Either way, they crammed a lot into their barely-40 minute set and even if the opening of “Lydia” didn’t come off quite as apocalyptically heavy as I’d hoped, it mainly reminded me how good a record Night Group is (not that I necessarily needed reminding having listened to it incessantly last week). And they were done in time for me to make it to a friend’s party at exactly the stroke of fashionably late. That’s what we call a good night.

Photos: Dog Day @ The Drake Underground – December 1, 2007
MP3: Dog Day – “Oh Dead Life”
MP3: Dog Day – “Use Your Powers”
Video: Dog Day – “Oh Dead Life” (Blip)
Video: Dog Day – “Lydia” (YouTube)
MySpace: Dog Day

Kevin Drew discusses the state of Broken Social and his solo works with The Montreal Gazette. Drew and his crew are at the Kool Haus on Saturday night.

Reveille offers up video (and transcript) of an interview with Stars’ Torquill Campbell and Pat McGee as well as live footage of the band performing in Minneapolis last month. NPR has an interview and session available to stream.

Chart talks extensively with Rolf Klausener of The Acorn about the process of making Glory Hope Mountain.

Thom Yorke talks to The Sydney Morning Herald about Radiohead’s decision to release In Rainbows online, PWYC and in the process become a verb (and an annoying one). In Rainbows is out in shiny, plasticy physical form on January 1 though those of you who splurged for that fancy-pants box set version should be getting yours right about now. Which means, of course, another four billion blog posts from people reviewing and dissecting every bonus track contained therein. Whee.

The Toronto Star has a nice feature celebrating the 60th anniversary of The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. The Toronto institution officially turns 60 next Sunday but the festivities start up this week beginning with a free show from the Lowest Of The Low tomorrow night and carrying on through the rest of December. This first week, in particular, is going to be more than a little nuts – if anyone’s looking for me, just check the ‘Shoe. And writeups of the events may be a little slower in coming than usual… An almost-complete list of the anniversary shows is up at the venue’s MySpace page and as for the remaining surprise guests, The Star accidentally let one of the names not officially announced slip – Blue Rodeo, most likely on either the 17th or 18th. How long do you think the line for THAT one is going to get?

The Movie Network offers a helpful guide to drug culture lingo to help you get into the right mindset for season five of The Wire, premiering in just over a month on January 6. Season four comes out on DVD tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Know Who You Are

By rights, it should not have been nearly this difficult to write up something to describe Halifax’s Dog Day. I mean, as nebulous a descriptor as “indie rock” is, it absolutely fits as the shortest distance between two points for their latest record Night Group. With janglesome guitars, co-ed vocals, classic pop sensibilities and a stripped-down, no note wasted aesthetic they fall perfectly in line with their Maritime forebears like Sloan, Eric’s Trip, jale and Hardship Post.

And while that’s all well and good and accurate, but I hate to leave it at that because it sells Night Group far short. I’ve spun the album a lot in the last while trying to gather my thoughts and each time, something new or different jumps out at me – like rolling a 20-sided die (RPG geeks unite!) and having a different result each time. But what I find most fascinating is the way they try to balance their innate pop instincts, which recall the likes of The Go-Betweens and mid-era Wedding Present, with their obvious affection for heavier, noisier and decidedly minor-key styles in the vein of Sonic Youth. As a result, more than a few songs start out ominously before exploding in a hail of razor-sharp hooks, yet still delivered with a straight face. I’m not sure if this recipe is deliberate or incidental but either way, the tension it creates is delicious.

I was going to finish that last paragraph off with something like “…and it sets this Dog apart from the pack” but didn’t. You’re welcome. JAM! and The Toronto Star get to know Dog Day, who are into the home stretch of a three-month North American tour and stop in at the Drake Underground in Toronto on Saturday, December 1.

MP3: Dog Day – “Oh Dead Life”
MP3: Dog Day – “Use Your Powers”
Video: Dog Day – “Oh Dead Life” (Blip)
Video: Dog Day – “Lydia” (YouTube)
MySpace: Dog Day

The Airfields have finally finished work on their debut full-length, or at least intend to very soon as they’ve got a CD release show scheduled at Sneaky Dee’s for February 2 of next year. Happy Groundhog Day indeed.

JAM! talks to Pete Carmichael of The Diableros.

Joel Gibb briefs Exclaim! about what 2008 has in store for The Hidden Cameras and mentions that the band will be playing the Hart House at U of T on December 13 for an AIDS benefit.

Chart brings holiday tidings from The New Pornographers in the form of a digital-only Christmas EP out on Tuesday in the US and on December 11 in Canada.

Here’s a show announcement that’s a little odd, a little unexpected and a lot welcome – February 9 at the Mod Club, Keren Ann and Dean & Britta. Will Keren Ann rock it up a bit or will Dean & Britta mellow out some? We’ll have to wait and see. Full tour dates are available here and head over to A Head Full Of Wishes for details on Dean and Britta’s limited-edition (500 pieces) Christmas 7″ single, available to pre-order now.

Crawdaddy looks at how everything old is new again, talking to The Hold Steady, The Pipettes and Jack Penate as research.

The Cleveland Free Times and The Georgia Straight talk to Jose Gonzalez, in town next Friday for an in-store at Sonic Boom and a proper show at the Mod Club.

The Tripwire reports that a release date has finally been set for the new Portishead record – they say record number three will be out in the UK on March 31 and speculate that means April 1 for North America. Of course, we all know what April 1 is, right? That’s right. TUESDAY.

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Lola Who?

Montreal label Secret City Records has had a charmed, if brief, existence. When this year’s Polaris Music Prize nominees were announced, their entire catalog was on the short list and one of them, Patrick Watson’s Close To Paradise, would end up taking the top honours.

So understandably, expectations are high for their third domestic signing, Montreal’s Plants & Animals. I caught them at Hillside back in July and found their psych-country-but-not sound intriguing but now, as I listen to their debut Avec/With EP, I’m trying to reconcile the band that I saw that afternoon with the one on this record and not quite managing to do it.

Though only four tracks deep, Avec/With covers a lot of stylistic ground and ranges so broadly that it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what Plants & Animals actually sound like. On the plus side, opener “Lola Who?” is a sumptuous bit of acoustic pop that builds like a steam train taking aim at the Beatles with the ghost of Jeff Buckley in the engineer’s cabin. On the negative side, their closing cover of the spiritual standard “Sinnerman”, done Latin-style, sounds like being trapped at a particularly heinous hippie jam with Santana’s band. Not a good place to be.

There is a common thread that runs throughout, though, and it leads right back to The Byrds circa Fifth Dimension, and their heady blend of psychedelia, folk and pop. It’s a deep well to draw from and Plants & Animals have certainly got the chops and creativity to take it somewhere interesting though I’d recommend steering clear of jam-land in the future. Their full-length Parc Avenue comes out next year and I’m going to hold back on laying Polaris 2008 odds until I hear it, see if they get their identity a bit more cohesive-like.

Chart has run a couple pieces on the band recently and eye has a feature this week on account of the band being in town to play not one but two shows this weekend. The first at Lee’s Palace tomorrow night as part of the Wood Wires & Whiskey tour with Elliott Brood and the second on Saturday night at the Drake Underground with Forest City Lovers and Great Bloomers.

And courtesy of Secret City and No Shame, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the Saturday show. It’s an early show (doors at 7) so if you’ve got a late evening planned (or no evening at all) and want to check this out, email me at contests AT with “I want Plants & Animals” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight tonight.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Feedback In The Field”
MySpace: Plants & Animals

Neil Young discusses Chrome Dreams II, the Archives project and the ongoing tour which brings him to Massey Hall in a week and a half with USA Today.

Want to help out a worthy local band? Head over to and vote for The Coast to perform on the Around The World For Free reality show thing. I don’t know what this is, but The Coast are good so go there and make with the clickly. The Coast are just finishing up recording their full-length debut which I’m looking forward to hearing in the new year.

Carl Newman talks to Wireless Bollinger about New Pornography.

A Broken Social roundup: Pitchfork reports on Metric’s forthcoming live DVD – Live At Metropolis out February 12 – and iTunes EP with material from the same show. Gothamist talks to Kevin Drew and Chart finds out how the Stars early digital release strategy for In Our Bedroom After The War worked out.

The fourth and final installment of Soft Focus’ sit down with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine is now up. And via Drowned In Sound… TOUR DATES. I hear Glasgow is lovely in July…

In-store news – The Acorn’s set at Soundscapes on November 24 has been moved from 4PM to 5PM and Sonic Boom will host Jose Gonzalez on December 7 at 6:30, before his show at Mod Club that same night.

The bonus EP for Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky is now available. If you already own a copy of the CD, just pop it into your computer and follow the instructions to download the goodies. Easy as falling off a log.

I picked up Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together yesterday… so good. I think more than anything else right now, this comic makes me proud to be a Torontonian though I do wish my life was a fraction as interesting as the Scott Pilgrim’s is. Comic Book Resources has an interview with creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley.