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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Fossil, I

Review of Sky Larkin's The Golden Spike and live video from Amsterdam

Photo via FabchannelFabChannelAfter considerable listens, I think I’ve twigged on to why I’m so taken with The Golden Spike, the debut album from Leeds’ Sky Larkin’s. The crackling pop-punk energy, barely contained in the power trio configuration, the odd and wiry yet undeniably accomplished guitarwork, the raspy vocals that can’t quite conceal the sweetness underneath – they remind me of Land Of Talk. A more youthful version, to be sure, with more exuberance and less anxiety, but the parallels – now that they’ve occurred to me – are obvious.

And, of course, after I’d written that, I did a little archive digging and discovered that in my first post about the band, way back in August 2008, I said the first taste of the band “grab(bed) me in a way that I don’t think I’ve been grabbed since I first heard Land Of Talk”. Technically, though, I was only using LoT as a chronological reference point and not necessarily as a stylistic one, as I’ve now done. But I actually completely forgot I said that and the preceding paragraph was written completely ignorant of that original observation. Okay, I’m boring the life out of me now. Moving on.

Band comparisons notwithstanding, I’m also totally taken with The Golden Spike because it’s a superb bit of guitar pop. Katie Harkin, she of the aforementioned guitarwork and vocals, is a forceful presence and her songs are unconventional and elliptical enough to encourage intensive listening, yet remain utterly melodic and hummable. It’s a corker of a record, and surely one of the finer debuts we’ll see this year. As previously mentioned, their label Wichita Recordings are setting up North American operations and The Golden Spike will be one of their first domestic releases – you can be certain I’ll let you know more about that as information becomes available.

FabChannel webcast the band’s show in Amsterdam this past weekend but don’t have it up in their archives for your eternal enjoyment just yet. They have, however, prepped a couple of songs from the show and have graciously allowed me to share them with you. Please enjoy.

MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
MySpace: Sky Larkin

Emmy The Great talks to NME about some of her lyrics and reveals the story of her “first love”. Drowned in Sound also has a two-part interview with the singer.

Details on the debut full-length from Florence & The Machine are still forthcoming, but this pre-order listing at CDWow seems to hint at July 6th release date, or thereabouts. Much more confirmable is the April 28 release of the A Lot Of Love, A Lot Of Blood EP, which collects her singles to this point and an unreleased track.

MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”

Spinner talks to PJ Harvey and John Parish about their working history together. Their collaborative album A Woman A Man Walked By is out March 30.

CD Times interviews The Joy Formidable.

QRO talks to Los Campesinos!. They’re at the Opera House on April 1.

This Is Fake DIY and Clash converse with Tilly & The Wall.

Magnet takes it upon themselves to identify the five most overrated and underrated Radiohead songs.

Exclaim! has a feature-length interview with Neko Case and have also assembled a timeline tracking her life and times. Her new album Middle Cyclone is out next Tuesday and the title track is now available to download. Her label is also giving away autographed copies of the record. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

MP3: Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone”

Maria Taylor has a date at the El Mocambo on April 17, tickets $10. Her new record LadyLuck is out April 7. $10

MP3: Maria Taylor – “Time Lapse Lifeline”
Video: Maria Taylor – “Time Lapse Lifeline”

Ladyhawk return for a show at the Horseshoe on April 23, tickets $12.50.

MP3: Ladyhawk – “I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying”
MP3: Ladyhawk – “S.T.H.D.”

Elvis Perkins In Dearland will be hitting the road in support of their self-titled record, due March 10, and will play the Horseshoe on April 29.

MP3: Elvis Perkins In Dearland – “Shampoo”

Not part of their upcoming Spring itinerary, but Plants & Animals will be at the Mod Club on May 7.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Bye Bye Bye”

And finally, an incredulous shout-out to Zoilus’ Carl Wilson, who will be appearing on The Colbert Report next Wednesday night to talk about his 33-1/3 book Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste. All instigated, if you didn’t know, by the Green Goblin 2. What a strange, strange thing.

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Sunday Cleaning – Volume 96

The Ruby Suns / Sea Lion (Sub Pop)

It’s a long way from Auckland, New Zealand to Brooklyn, USA – possibly as long a way as is geographically possible – but listening to the second album from Kiwis The Ruby Suns, it’s difficult not to draw lines from them to New York’s Grizzly Bear. They share a similar aesthetic of landscapes where the reverb hangs like thick veils of fog and drifty, dreamy pop that’s in no hurry to get anywhere. Though fronted by an American ex-pat, the Ruby Suns have a distinctive South Pacific vibe to them, from exotic percussion instruments to the point of some songs being sung in Maori. Like a lava lamp, the mood and style shifts from playful pop to mysterious folk to just plain strange without crossing the line into inaccessible or inscrutable. It’s just a good trip.

The Ruby Suns are at the Mod Club on August 2 with Tilly & The Wall.

MP3: The Ruby Suns – “Tane Mahuta”
Video: The Ruby Suns – “Tane Mahuta”
MySpace: The Ruby Suns

Cinderpop / A Lesson In Science (Popoganda)

Vancouver’s Cinderpop practically comes with a “File under: power pop” label tattooed on their foreheads, but to assume that pigeonhole tells the whole story is to do them a tremendous disservice. Within their third album’s compact 13 songs, they draw from almost fifty years of rock music – though paying particular attention to the best aspects of ’70s songcraft – and do it masterfully. It’s ground that’s been well-covered, but when it’s done as well as this, you may as well be hearing it for the first time. Melodically gorgeous, it’s reminiscent of The Posies less the ’90s grunge-era production and with a higher synth quotient. Quite possibly the reigning title-holder of “best thing I’ve picked off my shelf at random and put into my CD player”. Recommended if you like: music.

MP3: Cinderpop – “Blonder”
Stream: Cinderpop / A Lesson In Science
MySpace: Cinderpop

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

NxNE 2008 II


Photo by Frank Yang

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. With the Killbeat/Kelp Records BBQ taking place at the Global Backpackers hostel just down the street from my office, I figured I could arrive right in time to catch the tail end of the day’s performances. Day shows aren’t really entrenched as part of the NxNE culture yet, certainly not anywhere near the scale as at SxSW, but this annual event was certainly becoming one of the daytime to-dos not to be missed.

I’d expected to be met with the rollicking rock sounds of Ottawa’s Camp Radio but unsurprisingly they were running late and I instead found the relatively quieter but still prone to noisy outbursts pop of The Violet Archers, the new outfit from former Rheostatic Tim Vesely. Pleasant enough to make mental note to give their new album Sunshine At Night a listen – I think I have a copy kicking around here somewhere. The Violet Archers play the Cameron House this Friday, June 20.

Photos: The Violet Archers @ Global Backpackers – June 13, 2008
MP3: The Violet Archers – “Sunshine At Night”
MySpace: The Violet Archers

And then Camp Radio did take the stage (er, linoleum) and reminded me of what a great blast of hooky, straight-ahead rock their self-titled album. They cut their set a bit short in a futile effort to get back on schedule, but filled the time they did have with a hyper-energetic show that may not have been groundbreaking, but was certainly wall-shaking. And it blew some of the cobwebs out of my head, thank goodness.

Photos: Camp Radio @ Global Backpackers – June 13, 2008
MP3: Camp Radio – “Cons At The New Moon”
MP3: Camp Radio – “At The Landing Strip”
MySpace: Camp Radio

Fellow Bytowners in the HILOTRONS may have been celebrating their inclusion the day before on the Polaris long list or may have just been smashed as a matter of course – that was sort of the purpose of the day – but they weren’t as tight, taut or impressive as I’d hoped based on what I’d heard on their Happymatic release.

Photos: HILOTRONS @ Global Backpackers – June 13, 2008
MP3: HILOTRONS – “Dominika”
MP3: HILOTRONS – “Emergency Street”
Stream: HILOTRONS / Happymatic
MySpace: HILOTRONS

By this point, the weight of the week was crushing my skull so I beat feet to get home and take a much-needed nap – it meant missing seeing The Blood Lines at the BBQ as well as Oh No Forest Fires at the Kathedral to start the night off, but it was an absolute necessity of survival. And there was one mother of a thunderstorm barreling down on us – I could see way too much lightning in the western sky for comfort as I biked over to Lee’s Palace for the Friday night main event.

There I was met by Uncut, a Toronto band that seems to have been around forever, opened for many big names but never quite managing to reach that next level of success. I think I’ve seen them at least three or four times incidentally, but never a whole set, and while I salute their perseverance and dedication to the fine art of volume, their blend of post-punk and textured noise didn’t manage to really engage me.

Photos: Uncut @ Lee’s Palace – June 13, 2008
MP3: Uncut – “Dark Horse”
MP3: Uncut – “Understanding The New Violence”

Bionic showed up with an axe to grind with, well, pretty much everyone. But jokingly so, I think. Between slabs of loud, hard rock riffage frontman Jonathan Cummins took shots at stoic Toronto hipsters, shoegaze fans and fellow Montrealers The Besnard Lakes. No matter who you were or what you were there for, he was ready to bait you – it was quite hilarious. But Cummins let his own indie roots show with the band’s closing number, a thundering face-kick of a cover of XTC’s “Travels In Nihilon”. Intense.

Photos: Bionic @ Lee’s Palace – June 13, 2008
MP3: Bionic – “Black Blood”
MySpace: Bionic

As they were taking the stage, Jace of The Besnard Lakes tried a little get-back at Cummins by trying to imitate his aggro vocal stylings. Not so effective. The rest of the Besnards’ set fared better, thankfully – I’ve seen them a goodly number of times now and they never disappoint. They didn’t set any new standards either, but it was interesting to see how much more efficient they’ve become, able to impress without extended jams or noodling. But it could also have been that they were as anxious to see the headliners as everyone else – bassist Olga Goreas mentioned how her old band in Vancouver opened up for Swervedriver back in the ’90s.

Photos: The Besnard Lakes @ Lee’s Palace – June 13, 2008
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “And You Lied To Me”
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “For Agent 13”
Video: The Besnard Lakes – “For Agent 13”
Video: The Besnard Lakes – “Devastation”
MySpace: The Besnard Lakes

And Swervedriver. Yes. Though by convenience they’ve usually been lumped in with the “shoegaze” scene but in truth, they had little in common with the usual touchpoints of the genre – certainly as loud, but not nearly as noisy, and built more around being sonically propulsive than monolithic. But however you choose to regard them, they were unquestionably beloved and Lee’s Palace was beyond sold out and sauna-like in anticipation at the Oxford quartet’s return after more than a decade away.

While it might have been nice to say that the boys hadn’t changed a bit since their last visit, that’d be an outright lie. There was nary a dreadlock was to be seen – probably a good thing – and all four looked downright unassuming and wouldn’t have gotten a second look if they weren’t on stage. But there was no mistaking the sound they made, their pummelling rock juggernaut rides having lost none of their potency in the past decade. The set actually started slower than one might have expected, drawing on the defended by some but generally acknowledged to be flawed Ejector Seat Reservation and 99th Dream, but towards the heart of the set, when they rolled out the Mezcal Head and Raise classics, they found another gear and just took off. Numbers like “Duel”, “For Seeking Heat” and “Son Of Mustang Ford” were pure bludgeoning beauty and main set closer “Duress” was hazy psychedelic bliss. It’s not just as a fan that I say that most of Swervedriver’s repertoire has aged marvelously – it’s a statement of fact. Throughout, they were as good as anyone could have hoped though I found Adam Franklin’s utterly serene countenance to be curiously at odds with the band’s aural intensity. The man was positively zen up there, if completely soaked through with sweat.

Capping an almost two-hour set with a single-song encore of “Never Lose That Feeling” – truer words were never spoke – the band gathered at the back of the club to handle their own merch sales, which was a fine gesture but made for slow going as everyone lined up was seeking handshakes and autographs in addition to t-shirts, posters and CDs. Me, I shook Adam Franklin’s hand and made off with the pedals t-shirt straightaway to bed. 4AM was WAY past my bedtime, but so worth it. And a footnote from the show… I feel a real compelling need to get re-acquainted with my Fender Jazzmaster.

Photos: Swervedriver @ Lee’s Palace – June 13, 2008
MP3: Swervedriver – “Rave Down” (live)
MP3: Swervedriver – “Son Of Mustang Ford” (live at St Andrew’s Hall)
MP3: Swervedriver – “Duel” (live on Stockholm radio)
MP3: Swervedriver – “Last Train To Satansville” (live at Maxwell’s)
MP3: Swervedriver – “Bring Me The Head Of The Fortune Teller” (live on Stockholm radio)
Video: Swervedriver – “Never Lose That Feeling”
Video: Swervedriver – “Duel”
Video: Swervedriver – “Sandblasted”
Video: Swervedriver – “Son Of Mustang Ford”
MySpace: Swervedriver

Spiritualized have set up a new website at spiritualizedharmonies.com to celebrate the band’s almost 20-year history as well as the release of their latest, Songs In A & E. The National Post talks to Jason Pierce about his magical guitar. They’re at day one of V Fest on September 6.

Billboard has details on the release of Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s’ follow-up to The Dust Of Retreat and… it’s not simple. The long-announced title Animals! is now going to be applied to a vinyl release while the CD, which presumably is the album they actually expect people to buy and hear, will be called Not Animal. Both will be available digitally Clear? Didn’t think so. The Indianapolis Star has a little more info and some background from guitarist Andy Fry as to why things shook out that way. Both releases will be out October 7 and they will presumably be playing material from both records when they arrive at the Horseshoe on August 6.

Doing things more conventionally are The Dandy Warhols, who will release Earth To The Dandy Warhols on August 19. They’ll also be at the Kool Haus on September 13. They’re still a Kool Haus-sized band? Who knew. Wired also has an interview.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “The World Come On”

Tilly & The Wall’s O is out today and you can stream the whole thing at Spinner, as well as download the single and watch the video. They’re at the Mod Club on August 2 and Sentimentalist has a short feature.

MP3: Tilly & The Wall – “Pot Kettle Black”
Video: Tilly & The Wall – “Pot Kettle Black”
Stream: Tilly & The Wall / O

And my episode of WOXY’s “Friends Of The Futurist” is now archived online so you can stream it and my bitching playlist, though I’m sorry to say they didn’t run my voice through the James Earl Jones filter like I’d asked.

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk


Photo by Frank Yang

I will confess that this was a show I really wouldn’t have expected to happen. It was perfectly logical that Lightspeed Champion would stop into town as he did in March as that was en route to his carpet bombing of Austin with performances during SxSW, but that he’d return so soon – and in a full band configuration rather than a duo – was a real surprise. Not because it wasn’t justified – Falling Off The Lavender Bridge remains one of my favourite albums of the year so far – but because it didn’t necessarily seem like Dev Hynes’ project was getting much traction in North America beyond the devoted Anglophile community, Conan O’Brien appearances notwithstanding, and mounting a full North American tour might not be the most sensible thing. But understand, this isn’t me complaining – just musing. Obviously someone saw a financial rationale for bringing Dev and co back to the continent and to them, I say “thanks”.

For this tour, Lightspeed Champion had picked up a couple of newer American acts as support, South Carolina’s The Explorers Club and from Omaha, Nebraska, Flowers Forever. The former is frequently pitched with simply as, “If you like the Beach Boys…” which while accurate, doesn’t paint nearly the whole picture. Yes, they frequently tread down the classic pop trail blazed by the Wilson clan and with their unbelievable five-part harmonies and four strong lead vocalists, it’s hard to find other reference points to do them justice. And really, if you CAN sing like the Beach Boys, why on earth would you NOT sing like the Beach Boys? But beyond their vocal prowess, the Explorers Club are gifted songwriters, musicians (their quadruple-guitar freak-out cover of “Johnny B Goode” was something to behold) and really engaging and entertaining performers. They definitely set the bar high for the rest of the evening.

A bar which Flowers Forever didn’t clear. At all. An outfit noteworthy as the side-project of Tilly & The Wall, it came off as a guy desperate to prove that he had some punk rock cred beyond being the dude in the band with the the cute tap-dancing girl. With a stage setup consisting of green floodlights, smoke machines and a trio of large, grotesque screaming head cutouts, the quartet seemed have a mandate to scare grade schoolers. Musically, they were loud and vaguely psychedelic, but anything interesting they might have had to offer in that direction was overshadowed by unfocused anger and random swearing. Juvenile much? Hopefully this little exercise has gotten that out of Pressnall’s system and he’ll be on his best behaviour when Tilly & The Wall come back to town on August 2 at the Mod Club.

When I’d first heard the words “Lightspeed Champion” and “full band” used together, I had fanciful visions of Dev Hynes accompanied by not just a rhythm section, but a full string section and Emmy The Great on vocals, set to recreate the full lushness of Lavender Bridge for my listening pleasure. Well the reality did indeed include the rhythm section, but that was the extent of it. Still, the addition of just those two players significantly altered the dynamic and presentation of the album’s material. Anna Prior, formerly of Leeds’ Dead Disco, not only handled drumming duties but more than ably covered some of Emmy’s vocal parts (and adorableness quotient) though not as loudly or as frequently as I’d have liked, but even a little went a long way.

But recreating the orchestrated wonder of the studio recording obviously wasn’t on the agenda – with the more conventional rock band setup (though again with Mike Siddell on violin) things were arranged relatively louder and heavier, though not to the detriment of the songs and based on the new material that was aired out, that seems to be the direction that Hynes’ songwriting is going anyway. With a (relatively) more structured set than he played in March, he also took the opportunity to trade the acoustic in for electric for a goodly portion of the set and demonstrate some serious chops that weren’t necessarily spotlighted on Bridge. His goofball humour was also on display, with between-song banter including asking the audience what they had for dinner and engaging in some discussion about the ongoing NBA finals. And of course, the hat. Last time in town, they played on the evening of one big-ass snowstorm so the big furry hunter’s hat was an understandable accoutrement. In the middle of Summer? Not so much, especially with Lee’s Palace’s air conditioning on the fritz. But the highlight, as I’m sure they intended, was the big rock reading of the Star Wars theme – Imperial march segueing into the main theme – leading into “Midnight Surprise”. Awesome.

Photos: Lightspeed Champion, Flowers Forever, The Explorers Club @ Lee’s Palace – June 11, 2008
MP3: Lightspeed Champion – “Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk”
MP3: Lightspeed Champion – “Waiting Game”
MP3: Flowers Forever – “Black Rosary”
MP3: Flowers Forever – “Beach Bum”
MP3: Flowers Forever – “Happy New Year”
MP3: The Explorers Club – “Do You Love Me?”
Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Galaxy Of The Lost”
Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Tell Me What It’s Worth”
Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Midnight Surprise”
Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Midnight Surprise” (short film)
MySpace: Lightspeed Champion
MySpace: Flowers Forever

The Boston Globe talks to Will Johnson, whose Centro-Matic were also in town on Wednesday night at the Horseshoe. Did anyone go? How was it? No regrets on my part but I’d have liked to have caught that show as well. I should have asked someone to grab me a copy of Dual Hawks.

Thanks to Torr for the tip-off that Neil Halstead will be releasing his second solo record Oh! Mighty Engine on July 29. Neil will be as close as Oro, Ontario on the shores of Lake Simcoe with label-boss/surfing buddy Jack Johnson on August 3, but apparently a proper tour is in the works for the Fall.

Incendiary talks to Isobel Campbell.

Spin catches Nicole Atkins backstage at Bonnaroo in a bale of hay, shoots video. Not nearly as dirty as it sounds.

The Old 97s stop by Spinner’s Interface for a session and have also got a new Tricia Helfer-powered, kung fu-ed video from their new album Blame It On Gravity. And speaking of BSG, that was a pretty dense mid-season finale, n’est-ce pas? Final scene was sort of what I expected, but still something to see. And now we wait till January for the last episodes. JANUARY. Frack. So glad that Weeds is back this week, otherwise I’d be ALL out of TV. And that’s just not right.

Video: The Old 97’s – “Dance With Me”

Also with a new video are The Besnard Lakes, who just opened up for Swervedriver on Friday night and will do the same for My Morning Jacket on Monday at the Kool Haus. That is what we call padding the resume.

Video: The Besnard Lakes – “Devastation”

Daytrotter features up a session with Headlights and also an interview with The Ting Tings, who’re in town at the Mod Club on Tuesday. Congrats to Kim and Diana who won the LPs and the passes to the show. And there’s a new video for that song. Yes, that one. No dancing silhouettes, though.

Video: The Ting Tings – “Shut Up And Let Me Go”

And though it’s been a bit lean in the last while, there’s some show announcements to get to. First, TV On The Radio’s July 2 show at the Kool Haus has been moved to the Phoenix. Half the capacity means twice the intimacy! I think.

A precise release date for Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s’ Animals! remains to be set, but some touring has been confirmed – they’ll make their Toronto debut on August 6 at the Horseshoe, tickets $10.50. They were supposed to check that off their to-do list back in April 2006 but had to cancel the show after their van checked out on them. Best of luck to them making it up here this time around.

Oneida are at Lee’s Palace on August 15, tickets $8.50. Their new album Preteen Weaponry is also out in August.

MP3: Oneida – “Preteen Weaponry”

Cuff The Duke will do a two-night stand at the Horseshoe on August 22 and 23, tickets for each show $12.

Baltimore’s Ponytail will be at Lee’s Palace on August 26. Their Ice Cream Spiritual is out on Tuesday.

MP3: Ponytail – “Celebrate The Body Electric”
Video: Ponytail – “Die Allman Bruder”

If you think the great reunion trend is limited to British shoegaze bands and American post-punk outfits – mid-90’s veterans of the college circuit are also getting into the act. Case in point, Winnipeg’s Watchmen are back together and will be at the Horseshoe on September 26. Tickets $20.

At the other end of the spectrum, new kids Black Kids will release their Bernard Butler-produced debut Partie Traumatic on July 22 and have booked a Fall tour to support. The Toronto date will be at the Mod Club on October 5 and tickets are $20.

Video: Black Kids – “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You”
Video: Black Kids – “Hurricane Jane”

And finally, Pinback will be at the Mod Club on October 7, tickets $16.

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Thirty One Today


Photo by Frank Yang

Actually, the title of this post isn’t quite accurate. I turned 33 yesterday. But it was still nice of Aimee Mann to stop by on Friday evening to say hello. Okay, it wasn’t specifically a birthday greeting, but her in-store in the basement of Sonic Boom was still something of an occasion if for no other reason than it’s not often you get a show as intimate as that with an artist of her stature.

I was a big fan in the days of her early solo records – the Roger McGuinn-aided classic pop of Whatever and Bernard Butler-gilded alt.rock of I’m With Stupid were staples of my musical diet through the late ’90s but after her turn of the century triumphs with Magnolia and Bachelor No 2. The follow-up Lost In Space felt tepid and a bit creatively stagnant however, and with a three-year gap between that and The Forgotten Arm my attention had wandered though I was pleased to see that the latter recaptured a bit of the energy that Space was sorely lacking.

Which brings us to her newest effort, @#%&! Smilers, to be released June 3. It was from this record that Mann drew exclusively for this short (half-hour) promo gig with herself on acoustic guitar and accompanied by a bassist and keyboardist. Assuming that the presentation of the recorded versions will differ significantly from this configuration, it was tough to judge the quality of the material based on this performance. Mann has always had an innate pop sense but her recent works have been less immediate and requiring more listens to fully appreciate. But that said, based on first impressions the new stuff sounds quite good and I look forward to hearing the album in whole.

Mann will be back in town for a proper date later this Summer at the Kool Haus on August 28. She also gives Newsweek some background behind the creation of the new record.

Photos: Aimee Mann @ Sonic Boom – May 9, 2008
MP3: Aimee Mann – “Thirty One Today”
Video: Aimee Mann – “Thirty One Today”
MySpace: Aimee Mann

Orgeon Live and The Age interview Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla while American Songwriter talks creative process with both Walla and Ben Gibbard. Narrow Stairs is out tomorrow and they play Olympic Island on June 7.

WOXY has posted the fruits of their Lounge Act labours with Okkervil River, including a new song that will likely make an appearance on their Stage Names companion disc which should be out later this year.

Exclaim! discusses Couples with Long Blonde Kate Jackson. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 22.

The Nicole Atkins feature in this month’s Spin is now available to read online via their digital issue reader thingie.

Have you been wondering what happened to Ambulance LTD? So has the The Harvard Crimson so they catch up with sole remaining original member Marcus Congleton at a gig and find out how their label going bankrupt has essentially screwed them for the foreseeable future. Brooklyn Rail also checks in with Congleton, gets the same story. Demos of new material are available on their MySpace, and that’s probably the most we’ll be getting out of them anytime soon.

Drowned In Sound talks to Mission Of Burma’s Roger Miller.

A bunch of show announcements to help you plan your Summer. Thanks to Graham for pointing out that Ted Leo will be in town for a show at the Mod Club for the “Converse 100th Anniversary Party” on June 12, an early show with tickets $15 at the door. And then the next day, he’s at Dundas Square for a free 6PM show, this one surely a NXNE event.

Today’s darlings of the internet – No Age – will be at the Horseshoe on July 16 in support of their new album Nouns. MTV and Exclaim have features on the Los Angeles duo.

MP3: No Age – “Neck Escaper”
MP3: No Age – “Eraser”

All done with opening for others, Bon Iver will be headlining at Lee’s Palace on July 22 with the very worthy Bowerbirds, who were recently featured in a Take Away Show, as support.

If that bill’s not to your taste, perhaps the Atlas Sound/El Guincho at the Mod Club the same evening would be more up your alley.

Tilly & The Wall has given up on keeping their new album, due June 17, nameless and will now consent to call it O. They will be in town to promote with a show at the Mod Club on August 2.

MP3: Tilly & The Wall – “Cacaphony”

Stereolab will take their latest Chemical Chords, out August 19, on the road this Fall and be in Toronto at the Phoenix on October 8. Monade, Laetitia Sadier’s side project, will open.

Okay, so as I mentioned many moons ago I’m heading out vacation this week first for a few days in Dublin and then hopping over to London for another while – ten days total. I’ve tried to do some research as to things to do but have been fairly busy and besides a laundry list of the more obvious touristy things, any recommendations in addition to what was rattled off in January? I’m told that getting a copy of Time Out is the place to start? I’ve got no particular agenda – just want to look around, hang out, start a band, become NME flavour of the week and fall out of favour. I figure I can accomplish all that in a week.