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Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Don't Worry About The Future

Review of Dog Day's Concentration and giveaway

Photo By Paul HammondPaul HammondHalifax’s Dog Day have got the goods to be a terrific pure pop band, capable of crafting sublime melodies and hooks, but their fondness for the noisier virtues of the indie rock canon of the ’90s ensures that they’ll never be quite so easy to pin down. As such, their 2006 effort Night Group was an incongruous yet perfectly natural bit of doom-pop, all spiky and sweet – heavy and foreboding in intent but eminently hummable in execution.

Their recently-released follow-up Concentration takes those same classic college rock ingredients and brews up something familiar, but still new. It’s less immediate than Night Group, yet somehow smoother and more melodic and textured with Seth Smith’s vocals still distinctively monotone but Nancy Urich’s vox much stronger and expressive on this outing. Some may bemoan the absence of Night Group‘s punchier elements but the dream-pop qualities of Concentration reveal themselves with deeper listens and are just as rewarding.

Touring Night Group to death was a successful strategy for the band last time out, so it’s only logical that they pile into the van yet again for Concentration. Their cross-Canada tour already covered the Maritimes earlier this month but they’re covering all points Quebec and west starting next week, including a date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on the 28th of May. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got five pairs of passes to give away for this show which will also feature The Burning Hell, Wild Life and Pacific Trash Vortex and on top of that, courtesy of Pigeon Row, I’ve got two copies of Concentration on vinyl available to give away. I’ll run these contests separately, so to enter both, email me twice – contests AT chromewaves.net – either with “I want to see Dog Day” in the subject line and your full name in the body for the passes, or “I want to hear Dog Day” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body for the vinyl. Contest closes at midnight, May 26th.

There’s an interview with Dog day at The Coast.

Update: Just announced – Dog Day are also doing an in-store at Soundscapes on May 27 at 6PM.

MP3: Dog Day – “Rome”
Video: Dog Day – “Happiness”
MySpace: Dog Day

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the new Royal City compilation Royal City, and can tell you it’s a beautiful package – hardcover and bookbound – and oh yeah, the music is pretty terrific too. The limited edition set collects an album’s worth of unreleased material from the departed Guelph outfit and is set for release June 23.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”

Royal City guitarist Jim Guthrie’s new project Human Highway was just featured in a session on NPR.

NOW and The Cord talk to Joel Plaskett, who plays Massey Hall tomorrow night.

Metric have rolled out a new video from Fantasies.

Video: Metric – “Sick Muse”

eMusic and The Quietus have typically entertaining interviews with Jarvis Cocker. He also talks to The Guardian about his thespian ambitions in the new Wes Anderson adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr Fox.

It’s like a nostalgia trip back to SxSW 2009 at Bandstand Busking as they present a session with Fanfarlo and another with Theoretical Girl.

These days it’s rare that a record of interest is put out without my being bombarded with press releases about it well in advance, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover the existence of Hard To Find – a digital-only collection of American Analog Set rarities which quietly came out in April. Covering the band’s years with Tiger Style and Arts & Crafts, it acts as a companion volume to 2001’s Through The ’90s. Considering that Andrew Kenny is now dedicated to his new project The Wooden Birds, this set could act as the final whirr and click in the quietly lovely story of AmAnSet.

MP3: The American Analog Set – “Stoney Chariots”
MP3: The American Analog Set – “Make It Take It”

Exclaim reports on the copyright clusterfuck that will essentially prevent the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse collaboration Dark Night Of The Soul from seeing any “legal” release.

Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs talks to Billlboard. They’re releasing a remix EP for “Zero” on June 9 on vinyl – it’s available digitally now.

Artrocker interviews School Of Seven Bells. They’ve also got a new video. A trippy new video.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “My Cabal”

The Line Of Best Fit, The Sun, The Georgia Straight and The Village Voice have features on Grizzly Bear. They’ll release Veckatimest next Tuesday, May 26, and have a show at the Phoenix on June 5. There’s also an in-studio performance at WNYC streaming at NPR.

Decider and Rolling Stone interview St Vincent’s Annie Clark. She will be at Lee’s Palace on August 8, and has just made available another MP3 from Actor.

MP3: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”

Paste and Decider have interviews with John Vanderslice, while I Pick My Nose has an interview AND a tour of the ‘Slice’s garden. He will be at the Horseshoe on July 10.

Good Times, Metro Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Sentinel talk to Jenny Lewis.

My contest to give away copies of Dean Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards wraps up tomorrow night, but if you don’t win a copy – and let me just say that the response to the contest has been overwhelmingly good and I wish I could give you all books – take heart, the folks at Ear Farm are also giving copies away AND they’ve got an interview with Wareham to go with it. So head on over and hedge your bets.

Other commitments keep me from partaking in this year’s Over The Top Fest, which began last night, but if you’re around this weekend and are looking to partake in some music and/or film, it’s really your best bet for discovering something new. There’s previews of some of the acts at this week’s NOW and eye.

Ottawa’s I Heart Music has been a tireless promoter of independent Canadian music for some years now, introducing both myself and countless others to great up-and-coming domestic talent via the blog and many, many live showcases. And it appears that no good deed goes unpunished as SOCAN, the national agency tasked to collecting royalties for Canadian songwriters, has gone after Matthew for royalties owed on his live shows, to the tune of a couple thousand dollars. Now if you’re of the inclination to donate to music media types in financial distress, you’ve obviously got a few options these days but Matt is fighting the good fight and deserves some support.

Monday, December 10th, 2007

The Horseshoe

All of the local media articles commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Horseshoe Tavern (officially celebrating its birthday yesterday) have run off a list of the unforgettable shows that have earned the Queen West institution its adjective “Legendary” – Golden Smog, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Rolling Stones”, to name a few. And while I’ve seen my share of great shows there over the years – hell, over the past week – the venue’s own birthday party on Thursday night was one for the ages.

Though the performers were kept secret when the invite-only party was announced, it got out pretty quickly that it was going to be Chicagoan country-rock shitkickers The Waco Brothers – an outfit beloved by the Horseshoe owners – and the closest thing the ‘Shoe has to a house band, Toronto’s own Sadies. And, of course, where go The Sadies, special guests are sure to follow.

And follow they did. Their set could well have been released as the follow-up to their In Concert: Volume One live set as they called friends and family onstage to play with them including the Good brothers’ parents, Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor, The Skydiggers’ Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson, Waco Brothers (from different mothers) Jon Langford and Tracy Dear – all of whom came as no huge surprise – and one who did: The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie. I wouldn’t say I’ve been any sort of Hip fan for over a decade but there’s no denying the band – and especially their frontman – hold a special place in Canadiana so you could feel the energy levels in the bar, already well into the red, soar when he bounded onstage.

In hindsight, it probably shouldn’t have been a shock to see him – he had played with the Sadies just last month in a performance for CBC’s Fuse and here they reprised some of that set, opening with “Fire In The Hole” from 1994’s Day For Night and closing with an absolutely searing cover of The Stooges’ “Search And Destroy” (a reasonable-quality video of which you cans see below). Maybe it’s been a while since Downie’s played a stage as small and intimate as this one but he absolutely tore it up. It’s not often that it’s the audience that needs to take a breath after a performance while the band just won’t stop.

Calling The Sadies a tough act to follow is the very definition of understatement, but the Waco Brothers are no slouches in owning a stage. I was only minimally familiar with the Wacos before this night – basically I knew who they were and what they did, on paper anyways – but thankfully there’s not that much to get. If you can appreciate the magic of country and old-school rock’n’roll welded together by sweat and margaritas, you can appreciate the Waco Brothers. With an all-request set list made up of originals and covers, they were the perfect band to play a birthday party for a bar with the musical pedigree that the ‘Shoe has. I had to bail at 1AM but have no doubt they kept their word to keep the music and beer flowing till 2AM.

Happy 60th, Horseshoe.

Glide and The Vancouver Sun have interviews with The Sadies, who will once again be at the Horseshoe for their annual New Years Eve celebrations. And the final show of the Horseshoe’s 60th anniversary celebrations, scheduled for next Monday December 17, is set to be announced today. I’ve already basically told you who it is, but when the official word is out I’ll update accordingly.

Photos: The Waco Brothers, The Sadies @ The Horseshoe – December 6, 2007
MP3: The Sadies – “The Horseshoe”
Video: The Sadies – “The Horseshoe”
Video: Gord Downie with The Sadies – “Search & Destroy” (live at the Horseshoe)
MySpace: The Waco Brothers
MySpace: The Sadies

And after a pretty packed week of ‘Shoe shows, I capped things off with Jose Gonzalez’s in-store at Sonic Boom on Friday evening. I’ve no doubt his show that same night at the Mod Club was good but I found the intimate atmosphere of the in-store, with its wood-paneled rec room vibe and polite and attentive audience, to be the perfect setting for Gonzalez. Cross-legged on the floor is the right way to enjoy his music, which was hypnotically lovely over his short set.

JAM! and The New York Daily News have conversations with Gonzalez about the political and religious undertones of his music.

Photos: Jose Gonzalez @ Sonic Boom – December 7, 2007
MP3: Jose Gonzalez – “Teardrop” (live)
MP3: Jose Gonzalez – “Crosses”
Video: Jose Gonzalez – “Teardrop”
Video: Jose Gonzalez – “Down The Line”
Video: Jose Gonzalez – “Killing For Love”
MySpace: Jose Gonzalez

Spinner interfaces with Jens Lekman

CMJ talks a bit to The Acorn’s Rolf Klausener about Glory Hope Mountain, which is set for a US release on March 4 of next year and will apparently feature a bonus track, presumably not tied into the narrative thread of the rest of the record.

The New Pollution features Plants & Animals, in town Friday at the Mod Club opening for Patrick Watson. Their debut full-length Parc Avenue is out March 25 and you can check out an MP3 from said record below.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Faerie Dance”

Win Butler of The Arcade Fire tells The Australian that getting hit in the head with a shoe can really put a damper on one’s evening.

Stay Thirsty gives Feist some travel tips for Japan.
Losing Today talks to Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy, along with Laura Barrett and The Blankket, will be performing at the Gladstone on January 9 as part of a release party for Carl Wilson’s contribution to the 33 1/3 series of books, the much-anticipated tome Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste. And yes, all the performers will be doing Celine covers. Of course. The book is out this week.

Crawdaddy talks to author Jim Walsh about his book The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History.

The Boston Herald chats with The Fiery Furnaces, in town at Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night.

Jonathan Richman will be in town February 28 for a show at the Phoenix – quite a step up from his usual digs at the Lula Lounge. Update: Never mind – Pollstar was wrong, Jonathan Rice opening for Matt Costa, which is more logical but less interesting.

The new Harold and Kumar film has a new title – Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay – and a new, decidedly non-PG trailer. It’s in theatres April 28.

Trailer: Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Snow And Lights

Just fragmentary bits today.

Austin post-rock heroes Explosions In The Sky are hitting the road this Winter in support of their new album, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone. The record is out February 20 and they’ve got a date at the Opera House in Toronto on March 24 with The Paper Chase and Eluvium as support. I’m more than a little surprised at the size of the venue – quite a jump from their last time through when they played the Horseshoe. Maybe this is a consequence of the success of the Friday Night Lights television show, which I believe still uses the film score for the theme? Great – a whole new fanbase of high school football fans.

And some other Texans ill-advisedly coming up north in the dead of Winter are Midlake, in town at Lee’s Palace on February 12. I’ve got the good sense not to go to Austin in the middle of Summer, I don’t know what these guys are thinking.

Mojave 3 frontman Neil Halstead stopped in at AOL’s Interface recently and recorded a few songs, solo acoustic style, as well as an interview.

Aversion reports that The New Pornographers’ limited edition live album, which they’ve been selling on the road, will be made available for sale over their website when they’re done gallivanting around the world. Pitchfork has more details, including the title (Live!) and the specific limited edition (1000 copies). If that figure is accurate, I can’t imagine they’ll have any left over to sell when they get home. The recordings were culled from their Fall 2005 tour, which featured the dream team lineup with Dan Bejar and Neko Case, as well as their Winter ’06 jaunt with Belle & Sebastian.

Ted Leo talks to Billboard about making his new album Living With The Living, which will be in stores March 20.

If you missed the link in yesterday’s comments, Things I’d Rather Be Doing has an interview with Richie Edwards of Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s.

Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub ruminates to Harp on how and why Bandwagonesque retains such a fond place in peoples’ hearts after 15 years.

Exclaim recounts the story of Pulp. Apparently Jarvis Cocker’s solo record Jarvis is quite good. This is encouraging – I always thought that Pulp were the best and most interesting of the bands lumped into the Britpop movement. Not that I’d agree they belonged there, but timing, as they say, is everything.

Andy Partridge has an expansive sit-down with Amazon.com about the past, as documented on the Fuzzy Warbles Collectors Album box set, and the future for him, XTC, whoever. He also makes many album recommendations which, conveniently, you can buy right there at Amazon.

Tiny Mix Tapes’ redesign = the awesome.

np – Explosions In The Sky / How Strange, Innocence

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Unified Field

Rob Dickinson has a new solo acoustic record, Live And Alone, which he will be shilling whilst on tour opening for The Church over the next month. But for those of us not on the itinerary, fear not – he’ll be selling it online after the tour’s done. As a teaser, he’s made the track of Catherine Wheel’s “Heal” available to stream off his MySpace. There’s also an interview and some live studio performances available over at Rehearsals.com.

The Church are supporting the release of their umpteenth record Uninvited, Like The Clouds, which is an anthemic, stately and glistening thing. There’s not a lot of what you’d call fire or real urgency in the proceedings but the richness in Steve Kilbey’s voice, the textures of Marty Wilson-Piper’s and Peter Koppes’ guitars and general atmosphere of the record happily make up for it. They’re a band that seems oblivious to fashion, content to soldier on and turning what by rights should sound dated into something instead timeless. There’s something to be said for consistency.

You may (or may not) remember The Church from their one 1988 hit “Under The Milky Way”, which is probably as unfair as saying you may remember Rob Dickinson from Catherine Wheel’s one 1995 hit “Waydown”, but you know that’s how some of their shows are being billed… no justice I tells ya.

MP3: The Church – “Unified Field”
Video: The Church – “Under The Milky Way” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Church

Oklahoma’s Evangelicals tells Chart about the importance of always looking on the bright side of life. They are in town opening for Serena Maneesh and Film School on September 13 at Lee’s Palace.

Richard Edwards of Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s explains to Harp the appeal of Wes Anderson, from whose work the band drew inspiration for their horribly unwieldy name.

Oakley Hall’s Patrick Sullivan talks about the band’s influences to Harp. Oakley Hall are at the Mod Club September 11 with M Ward.

Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio tells The Independent how David Bowie came to appear on their new album, Return To Cookie Mountain, out in North America September 12. Via Largehearted Boy.

Camera Obscura frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell talks to Rolling Stone about the success of their new album Let’s Get Out Of This Country.

Tapes’N’Tapes tells NOW and The Toronto Star that they thank blogs for the success of their album The Loon. They play the Phoenix with The Futureheads next Wednesday.

And also in town next Wednesday – Mission Of Burma at the Horseshoe. eye talks to Clint Conley.

Not feeling especially inspired to write today. If you couldn’t tell.

np – Billy Bragg / Talking To The Taxman About Poetry

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

New Drink For The Old Drunk

I think Crooked Fingers is maybe the band that gets heaviest rotation in my listening that I’ve never actually done a proper post about. Time to rectify that. I’m a relatively new convert to the gospel of Eric Bachmann, really only seeing/hearing them for the first time in October 2004 when Bachmann opened for The Delgados as a solo act. I thought he was great but it wasn’t unitl last March when I was invited to the Crooked Fingers show at the Horseshoe that I was driven to pick up any of his recorded output starting with 2005’s Dignity & Shame. That record would end up in my top 5 albums of last year and the rest, as they say, is compulsive back catalog collecting.

The completistism hasn’t carried over to Bachmann’s old band Archers Of Loaf – I’ve got Vee Vee and Icky Mettle but their noisy 90s alt.rock is so far removed from the timeless troubadour persona that Bachmann took with Crooked Fingers that one does not satisfy a craving for the other. But before you old-schoolers jump all over me, I’m getting around to working on the AoL catalog. Put those pitchforks away.

It’s hard to say what I find so compelling about Crooked Fingers – on paper, it’s nothing especially original but I guess there’s something about Bachmann’s evocative songwriting, 50-packs-a-day rasp and the near-perfect production and instrumentation of the records that strikes a deep chord with me. It’s singer-songwriter done perfectly. So naturally I’m excited to hear that Bachmann will be releasing a new record on August 22 via Saddle Creek. CMJ reports that To The Races will be released under Bachmann’s own name and will apparently be very stripped down – just guitar and voice with some piano and violin accents. Recorded in a week in a North Carolina hotel room, it sounds to be quite a switch from the lushness of Dignity & Shame, maybe even more austere than the first couple Crooked Fingers records which were fairly sparse in their own right.

While I was obviously a fan of the richer Crooked Fingers sound, I’ve witnessed Bachmann solo and can testify that the man on his own is riveting. It’s telling that at SxSW this year, with all the buzz bands and next big things playing the fest, it was Bachmann’s solo set on the top floor of the Capital Place hotel that was hands down the best performance I witnessed. There’s something to be said for the wily veterans. Bachmann has some choice opening gigs this Summer for Calexico and Neko Case but will be doing a co-headlining tour with Richard Bucker this Fall.

I’ve taken the liberty of rounding up every legit Crooked Fingers MP3 I could find online, covering the breadth of their discography. Also be sure to hit their MySpace and their own homepage – they’re streaming Dignity & Shame‘s “You Must Build A Fire” and it’s essential listening for anyone with a heart. Also, Epitonic has Crooked Fingers’ cover of Prince’s “When U Were Mine” taken from their Reservoir Songs covers EP. I can’t figure out how to direct link the track so you’ll have to go there to get it. Update: And there’s a slew more MP3s available on the Crooked Fingers website – just click on the huge “music” graphic on the left side.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Call To Love”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Big Darkness”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Devil’s Train”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “New Drink For The Old Drunk”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Juliette”

One of the highlights of Dignity & Shame was the contrast in Bachmann’s vocals and those of Australian-in-New-York Lara Meyerratken. Meyerratken’s main gig is as keyboardist for Ben Lee but she also moonlights with other acts – though she didn’t tour with Crooked Fingers on their jaunt up here last year, I did see her as touring keyboardist for Luna a few years back. And she’s very lazily working on some solo material which you can have a listen to at her MySpace. The tracks sound great and her voice is like butter – I hope these see the light of day someday soon.

Full Of Wishes has a first look at the artwork for The Very Best Of Luna compilation coming out on June 20 and Amazon has the tracklisting. As Andy points out, the mysterious “Hard Times” is actually “Sideshow By The Seashore”, thus dashing the hopes of completists who were looking for some lost gem to make this comp worth owning. I’m a little disappointed that Rhino, who has usually done such a good job of loading up their best-ofs with rarities and whatnot, has apparently gone with a straight cull of album tracks for this one. One hopes that this means that a proper separate b-sides and rarities comp is in the works – after all, Luna were one of the best odds and sods bands of recent memory, their singles and EPs being as essential as the albums. But who knows.

Bradley’s Almanac makes me jealous with a recording of Margot & The Nuclear So And Sos in Boston Monday night. He’ll have the Film School portion of the show up soon as well.

It’s the darkness and the light at Lee’s Palace on August 3 with Black Heart Procession and Danielson, tickets $15. The Handsome Family and Curt Kirkwood, playing solo although the Meat Puppets have reformed, are at the Horseshoe July 15, tickets $13.50.

Happy belated birthday to Bob Dylan, who turned 65 yesterday. Billboard pays tribute to the now-senior citizen and The Toronto Star considers Dylan in print.

np – Evangelicals / So Gone