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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Singers And The Endless Song

Iron & Wine & Local & Natives & NXNE & TURF & shows & stuff

Photo By Craig KiefCraig KiefSpring is only barely here – the past few days’ weather notwithstanding – but the concert announcement machine is already making eyes at Autumn with the unveiling of a couple of pretty high profile tours coming through town when the leaves start to change and the days get shorter.

Sam Beam, the walking epitome of bearded folk music, released Ghost On Ghost – his fifth album as Iron & Wine – last month, but until now only had Spring dates in the northeast and Europe confirmed on the itinerary. Come Fall, however, he and his band will traverse much of the middle of North America – the USA and Canada both – before wrapping things up in Toronto at The Sound Academy on September 28, advance tickets $30 for general admission and $40 for VIP balcony.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and New York Times have interviews with Sam Beam.

MP3: Iron & Wine – “Belated Promise Ring”
Video: Iron & Wine – “Joy”

Los Angeles’ Local Natives have already come through town once this year in support of their second album Hummingbird, but even a venue upgrade from The Opera House to The Phoenix wasn’t enough to meet demand. Hence, they’ve added a slew of dates that will take them around the planet and then some, stopping in Toronto at The Kool Haus on September 21, tickets $26.50. And if you’re thinking that you already saw them in March, know that they’ll have the quite excellent Wild Nothing along as support, touring behind last year’s Nocturne full-length and the just-released Empty Estate EP. There’s Local Natives feature pieces at The Huffington Post, Seattle Weekly, and Georgia Straight.

MP3: Local Natives – “You & I”
MP3: Wild Nothing – “Paradise”

Dialing things back to the Summer – and the festival circuit in particular – there were some updates of note over the last couple days. If you thought the otherwise comprehensive Arts & Crafts lineup for Field Trip had a conspicuous Dan Mangan-shaped hole in the lineup, you were right. And now it’s been filled by Dan Mangan himself; not just a similarly-bearded impersonator. That all goes down June 8 at Garrison Commons, and yes he’s still on the lineup for the Mumford-y “Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover” on August 23 out in Simcoe, Ontario.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”

NXNE revealed a bunch more acts for this year’s festival, descending on Toronto’s clubs from June 12 to 16, including Dan Deacon (despite his coming back a few weeks later to support Animal Collective’s make-up show), Still Corners (confirming they’re still doing festival dates in addition to the June 12 date supporting CHVRCHES at The Hoxton), and a slew of Canadian acts including Wintersleep, No Joy, The Super Friendz, Gold & Youth, and more – check out the artists page for a full list of current confirmed acts. I’ve also collated some of the where and when information, but there’s no point in sharing that ever-changing information until the official schedule is posted, which won’t be long because hey – the festival is less than a month away.

MP3: Dan Deacon – “Lots”
MP3: Still Corners – “Fireflies”
MP3: Wintersleep – “Resuscitate”

The Toronto Urban Roots Fest is mostly making waves as a multi-day, outdoor festival the likes of which Toronto hasn’t seen in some time, but its club-level happenings are turning out to be just as impressive, particularly if you’ve no love of multi-day, outdoor festivals. Running concurrently with the main festival, the club series will see the likes of Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Alejandro Escovedo & The Sensitive Boys, The Wooden Sky, Dawes, and The Felice Brothers amongst others playing The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace from July 4 to 7, tickets ranging from $20 to $30 including surcharges, on sale May 23. Some who where and when information is available at the TURF website.

MP3: Frank Turner – “The Roads”
MP3: Dawes – “If I Wanted Someone”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”
Video: The Felice Brothers – “Ponzi”
Video: Alejandro Escovedo – “Sally Was A Cop” (live)

With their new record Planta set for a June 11 release and a new video from it just out, Brazil’s CSS have put together a North American tour that brings them to The Opera House on July 4, tickets $25.

MP3: CSS – “Hits Me Like A Rock”
Video: CSS – “Hangover”

There’s good news and bad news from the House Of Tomorrow: the good is that, with their new record Partygoing set to come out on June 4 (as well as the Memories of Love, Eternal Youth, and Partygoing. discography-collecting box set), Future Bible Heroes are undertaking a rare tour. The bad news is is that chief songwriter and personality Stephin Merritt will not be participating, though key members Claudia Gonson, Christopher Ewen, Shirley Simms, and Anthony Kaczynski will. So even without Merritt’s delicious dourness, a wonderful time should be had by all at Lee’s Palace on July 22. Tickets for that are $15.50.

Stream: Future Bible Heroes – “Living, Loving, Partygoing”

The Fly talks to Chicago’s Smith Westerns about their new record Soft Will, which will be out June 25. They’ve released the first video and rolled out a batch of tour dates via Pitchfork; the Toronto date comes July 29 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $17.

MP3: Smith Westerns – “Still New”
Video: Smith Westerns – “Varsity”

With a new album in Pura Vida Conspiracy due out July 23, everyone’s favourite – and probably only – Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello have announced a massive tour that comes to Toronto for not one but two nights – August 19 and 20 at The Danforth Music Hall. Rolling Stone has a conversation with frontman Eugene Hutz.

Stream: Gogol Bordello – “Malandrino”

Pinback are back for a date at Lee’s Palace on September 7 in support of last year’s Information Retrieved; tickets for that are $17.50 in advance.

MP3: Pinback – “Proceed To Memory”

FIDLAR – whose name stands for “Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk”, if you were wondering – are teaming up with fellow Los Angelenos The Orwells for a Fall tour that hits The Hard Luck on October 18, tickets $13. FIDLAR released their self-titled debut earlier this year whereas The Orwells’ debut Remember When came out last year. DIY and The Clock have themselves FIDLAR features.

MP3: FIDLAR – “Cheap Beer”
MP3: The Orwells – “Other Voices”

Grantland and MusicOmh profile The National, whose new album Trouble Will Find Me is out on May 21 and who play Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 14.

It won’t be out in time for her July 13 date at The Kool Haus, but Spin has some info on Solange’s new album, which will be out this year on her own label under Sony.

Exitmusic have premiered a new video from last year’s debut Passage at NPR.

Video: Exitmusic – “White Noise”

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

"Waitin' For A Superman"

Iron & Wine cover The Flaming Lips

Image via YetiYetiAesthetically speaking, you don’t get much further removed than Iron & Wine and The Flaming Lips. The former being essentially a solo project for Sam Beam specializing in beautifully intimate homespun folk, and the latter being unabashed musical weirdos who delight in somehow delivering out-there artistic experiments in (mostly) accessible pop packages.

One point where they do intersect, however, is “Waitin’ For A Superman” from the Flaming Lips’ 1999 masterpiece The Soft Bulletin. It finds The Lips at their most stately and heartfelt and thus translates perfectly to the Iron & Wine delivery, as happened circa 2003 when Beam added his interpretation of it to his live sets. It’s interesting that of the two recordings I have of it – one captured live at the Amstel Festival in Amsterdam and the other a presumably home studio effort that appeared with the second issue of Yeti – that the live one has the higher audio fidelity, not to mention the added bonus of a little bit of cursing from Mr. Beam.

The new Iron & Wine record Kiss Each Other Clean will be out on Tuesday; 17 Dots and NPR have interviews and NPR ups the ante with a Tiny Desk Concert. The Flaming Lips have ambitions to release a new song every month in 2011 among other experiments and collaborations – Wayne Coyne maps them out for Spin.

MP3: Iron & Wine – “Waitin’ For A Superman”
MP3: Iron & Wine – “Waitin’ For A Superman” (live)
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Waitin’ For A Superman” (live on Jools Holland)

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Iron & Wine cover Leonard Cohen

Photo By Matthew AvignoneMatthew AvignoneFor an establishment with the history and mythology that it has, the Chelsea Hotel in New York City really isn’t all that expensive – rooms can be had for as little as $129 a night which, for Manhattan, is kind of dirt cheap. Of course, it’s far from opulent and you’re probably not guaranteed the sort of time Leonard Cohen immortalized in his song, “Chelsea Hotel No 2”.

It’s one of Cohen’s finest compositions and certainly one of his most-covered, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam one of hundreds who’ve committed a version of it to tape, this recording dates back to around 2002. But though it’s both old and rare, it doesn’t appear on his forthcoming double-disc collection of rarities, Around The Well. Perhaps it was too obvious, considering the covers that did make the cut include songs originally by The Flaming Lips, Stereolab and The Postal Service.

Around The Well is out on Tuesday, the same date that Leonard Cohen plays Copp’s Coliseum in Hamilton. Me, I saw him on Thursday. More on that forthcoming.

MP3: Iron & Wine – “Chelsea Hotel No 2”
Video: Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” (live in San Sebastian, 1988)

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

CONTEST – Julie Doiron @ The Horseshoe – March 26, 2009

Photo by Aaron McKenzie FraserAaron McKenzie FraserOn her last record Woke Myself Up, Julie Doiron found a way to reconcile the noisier inclinations of her early work with Eric’s Trip with the listen-too-hard-and-it’ll-break delicacy of her solo works to find the perfect balance of frailty and volume and craft what was arguably the best record of her career, garnering a Polaris Prize nomination along the way. The winning formula continues on her new album I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, which finds her in stronger voice and with even more of a spring in her step than I think I’ve ever heard her.

To mark ther record’s release on March 24, Doiron is hitting the road, starting out at SxSW next week and then roaming the roads of southern Ontario in the later part of the month. One of the stops will be the Horseshoe on March 26, and courtesy of Killbeat Music, I’ve got three prize packs consisting of a pair of passes to the show and a copy of the new CD. If you’d like to enter, email met at contests AT with “I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. I will let this run until midnight, March 22.

Chart has an interview with Doiron about her headspace when making the new record.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Julie Doiron – “Heavy Snow”
MySpace: Julie Doiron

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

CONTEST – Julie Doiron & Calvin Johnson @ The Music Gallery – June 30, 2007

Those who prefer their singers with perfect pitch – or even pretty good pitch – would be well advised to avoid the Music Gallery this Saturday night. But those who are more interested in songcraft than technical perfection and want to see a couple of performers who are arguably indie rock royalty despite this may want to get in line as Julie Doiron and Calvin Johnson will be holding court there that evening.

Both are currently supporting releases that look back at their pasts while simultaneously looking forwarrd. For Doiron, her new album Woke Myself Up reunites her with her former Eric’s Trip bandmates for one of the best collections of her career. Johnson, on the other hand, has just released Calvin Johnson & The Sons Of The Soil which eschews his usual musical primitivism aesthetic and enlists “a band of real music-making people” (their words) to re-record songs from his Dub Narcotic Sound System and Halo Benders repertoires. The net result is one of the most listenable records he’s ever put out, at least for someone who’s never really been into his work.

But to business – courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to this show to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with your full name in the body and “I want to see Julie and Calvin” in the subject line. Contest closes at midnight, June 27.

And they’ll be playing songs together as well – head over to Gorilla Vs Bear to check out a Halo Benders song that Johnson and Doiron recorded special for them in Denton, TX a few weeks ago.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “No More”
MP3: Calvin Johnson – “I’m Down”
Video: Julie Doiron – “Me And My Friend” (MOV)
Video: Julie Doiron – “No More” (youTube)
Video: Julie Doiron – “Swan Pond” (MOV)
MySpace: Julie Doiron
MySpace: K Records/Calvin Johnson