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Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Walk In The Park

Beach House lead additions to Toronto Island Concert

Photo By Jason NocitoJason NocitoFolks were justifiably disappointed when last year’s Broken Social Scene/Explosions In The Sky mini-festival on the Toronto Islands were Molson Indy-ed out, but in hindsight it seems to have worked out for the best. First Broken made up for it in July with a free show at Harbourfront that’s pretty much legendary now (or so I’ve been told – I missed it), and now they’ve bolstered this year’s edition of the Toronto Island Concert – already a must-see thanks to the presence of BSS, who will be able to showcase their new record Forgiveness Rock Record after its May 4 release, the reunited Pavement and Band Of Horses – with Beach House.

The Baltimore duo were part of last year’s ill-fated lineup as well, but at the time were positioned in the lineup largely in a supporting role rather than as a big draw. But now coming off the release of Teen Dream this past January and the pretty much universally acclaim that’s followed, Beach House has been elevated from a band to watch to a band that’s arrived. Like most, I’m of the opinion that Teen Dream represents a big leap forward for the duo – it’s far more engaged, awake and interesting a record than either of their previous releases, which I appreciated but only when I was in the mood for something dozy. If this record was a conscious effort by Beach House to reach for the brass ring, then congratulations to them – it worked.

Beach House’s March 30 date at the Opera House is now sold out, so if you procrastinated, your only option is now to head out to the lovely Toronto Islands on June 19 and enjoy their hazy dream-pop under the Summer sun (or torrential rain, one never knows). Life is so hard, I know. Still, quite a difference from their first visit to Toronto back in November 2006 where they played in front of maybe 20 people in the front room of the Tranzac by a roaring fire. I’ll freely admit I fell asleep during the show – I think that was entirely the point. Anyways, tickets for the Island show are $49.50 plus attendant fees and looking at prices for all the other Pavement shows announced so far, I daresay this is the best value of any of them, save for maybe Pitchfork Festival. And that one doesn’t let you ride a BOAT.

Spin and The Irish Times have feature pieces on Beach House and vinylphiles rejoice – not only has their self-titled debut been remastered and reissued on fancy heavy vinyl, they’re releasing a limited-edition 7″ EP for Record Store Day 2010 on April 17. Be the envy of all your friends with a copy of either/each on your phonograph.

MP3: Beach House – “Norway”
Video: Beach House – “Silver Soul”

Also added to the Toronto Islands show yesterday were Timber Timbre, whom I hope will recruit a band of some sort to make his blues-folk ruminations audible on the big stage, and local stalwarts Zeus, Flash Lightnin’ and The Beauties, under the collective banner of “Toronto Revue”. What’s that mean, exactly? I’ll tell you on June 20.

MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Ghost”
MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
MP3: The Beauties – “Wastin’ Time”

As for the Island festival headliners, Pavement kicked off their much-anticipated reunion tour the other night in New Zealand. Spin has a report from the show including career-spanning set list, Matablog checks in with Spiral Stairs on how rehearsals for the tour went and GQ sent pop culture essayist Chuck Klosterman to interview Stephen Malkmus. Quarantine The Past, the Pavement best-of, is out next week and let me tell you – hearing songs which had always been presented in the context of their respective albums in a mish-mash running order is weird. Unless you’ve always made Pavement mixes in which case it’ll probably seem perfectly natural.

Elsewhere in the wonderful world of concert announcements, Fucked Up have been announced as one of the kick-off bands for this year’s Canadian Musicfest – they will play the El Mocambo on March 10. Tickets are $15 with limited wristbands admitted. Chaos guaranteed.

MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”

Former Dead Kennedy leader Jello Biafra will be coming to town with his new musical (not spoken word) project The Guantanamo School Of Medicine for a show at the Opera House on April 4. They released their debut album The Audacity Of Hype last year. This will be Biafra’s first appearance with band in Toronto in some 25-plus years; tickets are $22.50 in advance.

Portland’s Horse Feathers have scheduled a date at the Drake Underground on April 28. Their listed tour dates also indicate they’ll be back in the area in July for Hillside.

MP3: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”

Austin’s Harlem have slated a slew of dates in support of their second album Hippies, due out April 6. Look for them on April 28 at the Horseshoe.

MP3: Harlem – “Friendly Ghost”

Everybody Was In The French Resistance… Now!, the new project from Art Brut leader Eddie Argos, has set a date for the El Mocambo on May 8, tickets $10. Their debut album Fixin’ The Charts, Volume One, came out late last year.

Video: Everybody Was In The French Resistance… Now! – “G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N.”

A correction to last week’s a-ha farewell tour announcement – the Toronto show at Massey Hall is scheduled for May 10, not 11. Tickets are $49.50 and $55.50, on sale Saturday at noon.

With their just-announced show a the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 26, The Weakerthans will be undertaking that most curious of musical events: a live show in support of a live album. Their CD/DVD set Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre is due out March 23. Tickets for the show are $35.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Sun In An Empty Room”
MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

"Baby, You've Got A Stew Going"

Seriously, I intended to take today off but in my meanderings around the internets, I found some concert announcements. And then some more concert announcements. And then some more. And so I took them, threw them in a pot, added some broth, a potato. Baby, I’ve got a stew going. So here we go, quick like bunny. ‘Cause I need to go get groceries.

Of all the announcements, the only one that I would have immediately decided to attend was The Long Blondes’ May 22 date at Lee’s Palace, and I say “would” rather than “will” because on that date, I will be in London. It figures – I go to the UK, they come to Canada, and that’s not the only UK band I like that’s coming to town while I’m away. As for the other, well, scan the last few days of posts and you should be able to figure it out (not officially announced yet so I can’t say). Anyway, they’re releasing their sophomore record Couples on April 8 and Pitchfork has full tour dates and album info.

MP3: The Long Blondes – “Once And Never Again”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Weekend Without Makeup”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Giddy Stratospheres”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Separated By Motorways”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Once And Never Again”

And now the rest of the shows, in chronological order. If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to spend a fortnight in April camped out at the ElMo, your ship has come in.

One of the biggest bands in Ireland, Bell X1 try to win over North Americans with a tour in support of their album Flock, which has a February 19 release on these shores. The tour starts in Toronto on March 12 at the El Mocambo.

MP3: Bell X1 – “Rocky Took A Lover”
Video: Bell X1 – “Flame”

One of the next big things out of the UK – Duffy – is at the Mod Club on March 18, tickets $15.50.

Video: Duffy – “Rockferry”
Video: Duffy – “Mercy”

Sunset Rubdown are at Lee’s Palace on March 30, tickets $12. They’re still touring in support of last year’s
Random Spirit Lover.

MP3: Sunset Rubdown – “Winged Wicked Things”
MP3: Sunset Rubdown – ” Up On Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days”

Wolf Eyes hit Lee’s on April 1, no foolin’ (that was so bad). $12 in advance. Full dates here.

MP3: Wolf Eyes – “Stabbed In The Face”
MP3: Wolf Eyes – “The Driller”

Mick Jones’ new outfit Carbon/Silicon tour their debut Last Post to Lee’s Palace on April 2. Matt Pond PA support. Their new record Last Light was released last year.

MP3: Carbon/Silicon – “What The Fuck”
Video: Carbon/Silicon – “The News”
Video: Matt Pond PA – “Locate The Pieces”

VHS Or Beta are at the El Mocambo on April 3 in support of 2007’s Bring On The Comets. Admission is $10.

Video: VHS Or Beta – “Can’t Believe A Single Word”

Seattle’s Throw Me The Statue, coming off last year’s About To Walk EP and set to release their full-length Moonbeams at on February 19, are at the El Mocambo April 4. Tickets are $10. Other tour dates here.

MP3: Throw Me The Statue – “About To Walk”

The Dodos, all the way from San Francisco, will be at the El Mocambo on April 9 in support of their new record Visiter, out March 18. Full tour dates here.

MP3: The Dodos – “Jody”
MP3: The Dodos – “Fools”
Video: The Dodos – “Fools”

Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult have a new album in the can – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) – set for an April 8 release and will tour in support, stopping at the El Mocambo on April 14. That show will cost you $10.

Video: Cloud Cult – “Chemicals Collide”

Saul Williams and Dragons Of Zynth have a date at the Mod Club on April 14. This is a musical show for Williams, not just spoken word. Though he’s likely to speak at some point during the show as well.

MP3: Saul Williams – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
Video: Saul Williams – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

From the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves come The Cave Singers, who released their debut Invitation Songs last year. They’re at the Horseshoe on April 30, tickets $10.

MP3: The Cave Singers – “Seeds Of Night”
Video: The Cave Singers – “Dancing On Our Graves”

Laura Veirs, still working last year’s Saltbreakers, returns to town for a show at the El Mocambo on May 24 with Liam Finn. His debut is Call Me Lightning and yes, from his surname, you can surmise he grew up in a somewhat crowded house. Admission is $10 in advance.

MP3: Laura Veirs – “Galaxies”
MP3: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”
Video: Laura Veirs – “Cast A Hook In Me”
Video: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”

And finally, this Pitchfork piece indicates that on July 4, Harbourfront Centre will play host to both Ladytron and Datarock, almost certainly as part of their annual Beats, Breaks & Culture festival… which would mean this show is free. Yay for free. Ladytron’s new record Velocifero is out June 3.

MP3: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
MP3: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch” (Hot Chip remix)
MP3: Datarock – “Fa-Fa-Fa”
Video: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
Video: Datarock – “Fa-Fa-Fa”
Video: Datarock – “Bulldozer”

Reveille welcomes Basia Bulat back to Minneapolis. She plays Lee’s Palace on March 29.

Spinner features The New Pornographers in an Interface session. They play the Phoenix with Okkervil River on April 9.

With the Grammy Awards set for tomorrow night, the media has finally found a reason to give multiple nominee Feist some attention. Witness pieces in The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Sun, The Vancouver Sun, The Belfast Telegraph and The Los Angeles Times. Feist plays the Sony Centre on May 13.

Efrim Menuck tells Drowned In Sound why Godspeed You! Black Emperor had to stop, and how you can essentially change their status from “hiatus” to “defunct”. His current project, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band will release 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons on March 25 and play two nights at Lee’s Palace on June 7 and 8.

Apparently Arcade Fire aren’t the only Canadian band whose music was used by Fox in last week’s Super Bowl broadcast without permission. Chart reports that Ottawa’s My Dad Vs Yours had about 90 seconds of their song “Habla Paisano” used as background music in an interview segment without permission and, more crucially, without compensation. They are currently investigating the legalities of their situation.

Best news ever – according to this Globe & Mail travel piece on Austin, Texas, Air Canada will begin offering direct flights from Toronto starting May. NO MORE LAYOVERS IN O’HARE, BITCHES. I just did a quick test reservation for mid-May… $474 return. Hot diggity dog. If that holds for March as well, SxSW just got $200 cheaper and four hours faster. Of course, one flight a day means I have to book next year, oh, right now to get a seat but I’m willing to do that. I am.

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

SxSW XX III

Day three down and somehow I’m still upright! That’s actually thanks in large part to the Merge/SubPop party at Pok-E-Jo’s yesterday afternoon. Rather than having me dashing all around downtown to get from day show to day show, I got to plant my ass in front of the stage there and let the bands come to me, which they did. Excellent. So let’s get to it.

Metal Hearts (Baltimore, MD) @ Lucky Lounge – I only caught a song and a half of their set thanks to having to run around hunting down quarters for the parking meter, but what I did hear sounded pretty good. Very much like the record, but in a live context the quietly lo-fi songs take on a more interesting ambievalent dimension. Hard to explain. The addition of real drums overtop the programmed backings was also a nice touch.

Bound Stems (Chicago, IL) @ Lucky Lounge – I think I got sent a copy of these guys’ album many moons ago, but never listened to it. After seeing them play a couple songs (again, the parking meter) I’ve made a note to dig that record out and give it a proper listen. Fairly standard indie rock but with a certain je ne sais quoi that intrigues.

The Brunettes (Auckland, NZ) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – Arriving late I only caught the very end of their set, which was cute as always but maybe it was a little too early in the day for the crowd to really get in the proper mindset to enjoy their quirkiness. They did garner polite applause and their Mary-Kate and Ashley gag did get the guffaws from most. Not so much from me but I’ve already seen them do it three times now.

Kelley Stoltz (San Francisco, CA) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – Another artist who’s album I have at home, most likely unlistened to. He and his band played some slightly goofy, shambolic singer-songwriter-y pop that was rather good fun but didn’t make too much of an impression.

Eugene Mirman (Brooklyn, NY) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – The organizers had the great idea of having comedian Eugene Mirman come out and do some stand-up between sets. I’m not being sarcastic, it really was a great idea. Mirman’s a funny dude.

Band Of Horses (Seattle, WA) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – One of the bands on the bill that I most wanted to see, Band Of Horses gamely endured a truncated set time and a self-destructing microphone to put on a short but impressive set of beard-friendly countrified/country-fried rock. They’ve got a great sound and their debut is due out in a couple weeks. Should be worth checking out.

The Essex Green (Brooklyn, NY) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – A band that’s fallen off my radar of late, but undeservedly so. The put on a quick but quality set of pop from their new album, Cannibal Sea, which is out next week. It sounds classic but not as retro as The Long Goodbye – it may be that they’ve found that elusive zone of timelessness that all pop bands aspire to.

Camera Obscura (Glasgow, Scotland) @ Pok-E-Jo’s – Another band with a new album to shill, though Let’s Get Out Of This Century isn’t out until later this Summer. The new material they previewed all sounded great, and a good deal sprightlier than their older material. Tracyanne even cracked a smile or two! A red-letter day indeed.

Mates Of State (East Haven, CT) @ Beauty Bar – I technically wasn’t at this show, I had some time to kill and couldn’t get past the velvet rope so I just watched the beautiful people at the Jane party from over the fence. Mates Of State sounded excellent from where I was standing, creating a surprisingly full sound for just two people. I wouldn’t mind seeing them properly sometime.

Ambulette (Chicago, IL) @ Red 7 – Starting 15 minutes late (an eternity in SxSW time) and seeing rather disinterested, the band formerly (?) known as Bella Lea and risen from the ashes of Denali were behind the 8-ball a bit with me when they finally got underway. Still, anchored by the powerful and emotive voice of Maura Davis, their moody, dramatic rock was worth taking note of. Pity I couldn’t have stuck around for more than four songs, but tick tick tick.

Dirty On Purpose (Brooklyn, NY) @ Spiro’s – The boys played pretty much the same set as they did in Toronto a couple weeks ago (albeit abbreviated), albeit to a crowd probably exponentially larger. I have to say the sound on this little makeshift stage was actually better in some ways than the mix they got at Lee’s Palace. George’s shrieking guitar was way too low, but the vocals were actually audible. Someday, this band will get a good mix and they will rule the world.

Isobel Campbell (Glasgow, Scotland) @ Dirty Dog Bar – I think Isobel Campbell’s musical muse is still a work in progress. Even if her set hadn’t been plagued by technical gremlins, it probably still would have been rather patchy. Touring vocalist Eugene Kelly simply doesn’t have the weight or subtle menace that Mark Lanegan adds to the Songs From The Broken Seas album, and when paired up with Campbell’s wispy delivery, it just lacks the substance a lot of the material needs. This was particularly evident on their ill-advised cover of “Love Hurts”. When the benchmark for this song is Gram and Emmylou, you better be able to measure up if you try it in public, and they just couldn’t come close to giving it the emotion and gravity it deserves.

Eric Bachmann (Seattle, WA) @ Capital Place, 18th Floor – This fancy penthouse lounge was by far the strangest venue I’d been to this week. The Crooked Fingers leader was playing acoustically on this night, accompanied on a few numbers by a backing vocalist and violin, and my god was it amazing. Ironic that at a festival ostensibly dedicated to uncovering new and emerging acts, it would be one of the grizzled veterans who would put on the best performance of the week so far. Playing a few new numbers intermingled with classic material, Bachmann was absolutely riveting to see perform. His set was the perfect respite from the general state of bedlam occurring 18 stories down, and finale “You Must Build A Fire” was a moment of sublime beauty. Perfection.

Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves (Austin, TX) @ Club DeVille – Recently transplanted to Austin from her native UK, Sally Crewe and her band churned out a set of lean, compact and irresistably tuneful pop songs. The smallish crowd probably meant that she hadn’t yet won the hearts of her adopted home, but it should just be a matter of time before they catch on – while there was no immediately killer single in her catalog, everything they played was remarkably consistent and quality. Worth watching.

Soft (New York City, NY) @ Spiro’s Patio – A band I’ve written about in the past, Soft were unabashedly Anglo in their influences and it works for them. With a singer doing his best to ape Ian Brown and a band that captures the spirit of dancey Manchester, Soft offer a great alternative for those who want to emulate skinny folk who don’t get enough sun, but who can’t really figure out how to dance to the herky-jerky post-punk sound.

I didn’t make any 1AM shows because, well, there were obscene lineups coming from every club and I was in no mood to stand around and hope. In fact, I was quite happy to call it a night and head back to The Ranch. ‘Cause that’s what I call my hotel. The Ranch. I pretend the bathtub is a corral.

You’ll have to be patient for my SxSW photos – I’ve so far managed to get shots of every band I’ve seen, so there’s several hundred photos to sort through and process with still a day to go. I will be getting to that as soon as I get home, I’m as anxious to see how they’ve turned out as anyone, but in the meantime you can pop over to my now-complete run at Scene From My Life to see a couple of pics from the week. Rest assured there are many, many more.

There was also a big “Blogger Brunch” dealie yesterday morning where almost all the music/culture bloggers in town for the big to-do got together to gnarf down breakfast tacos and drink beer before noon, sponsored by Filter. They also had a “Blogger Of The Year” award to give away to one of the attendees, as voted on by the other attendees. The big prize went to Gorilla Vs Bear, but yours truly took home third place. Yeah, third. It goes without saying they only had prizes for numbers one and two.

And so henceforth, I declare myself no longer the Susan Lucci of the blogosphere – not only does that let on a little too much about my childhood watching soap operas but she actually finally won the damn dayime Emmy – but I am now the Martin Scorcese of the blogosphere. He is the true master of futility when it comes to awards. And, of course, this means I have to develop an unhealthy fixation on Leonardo Dicaprio. But at least The Globe & Mail had some nice things to say about me in the wake of my umpteenth Bloggies defeat.

More SxSW updates from Pitchfork and recaps of the first two days from Chart. Finally, Billboard covers Neil Young’s festival keynote address.

np – Saturday Looks Good To Me / March 2006 Tour EP