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Monday, October 7th, 2013

Nightcall

London Grammar and Jaymes Young at The Great Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs noted in my review of their debut album If You Wait, London Grammar should be commended for countering any cynicism about their sound being a little too of-the-moment – add one part Florence and one part Daughter to two parts xx, bake for 45 minutes, serve smouldering – by applying it to solid, affecting songs that should resonate with the lovelorn for years to come while still leaving plenty of room to grow. It wasn’t quite enough to make them the Mercury Prize favourites that their champions expected – they didn’t even make the shortlist – but even without that accolade, their inaugural North American tour was doing quite well, thank you very much, with Friday night’s Toronto date quickly getting the upgrade from the originally booked BLK BOX to the more spacious and appropriately elegant Great Hall upstairs.

Support came from Seattle’s Jaymes Young, who for his well-crafted and performed songs, didn’t quite manage to transcend his reference points to the same degree. The vaguely yearning vocals over echoey guitar tones with electronic flourishes sounded like a distillation of 2013 indie, and as such remained largely anonymous. And using a slow, soulful cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” as an audience-rallying moment was an odd move, considering that most in attendance weren’t allowed to stay up until 11:30 when The Roxbury Guys were a thing on Saturday Night Live. But maybe that was to his advantage as undoubtedly some in the audience thought the song was his own and were impressed.

New bands get a bit of leeway with regards to their effectiveness as a live act, particularly when they’ve potentially gotten swept up in a wave of buzz that might short circuit their normal development curve as performers. Happily for all involved, London Grammar didn’t need to be cut this slack. I was pleasantly surprised they didn’t bring any additional players with them as the trio of guitarist Dan Rothman, vocalist Hannah Reid, and multi-instrumentalist Dot Major set up across the front of the stage and set to recreating the space and texture of their debut with just the tools at hand – guitar, keys, and loops while occasionally turning to bongos or a drum kit for extra dynamics. The de facto visual and aural focal point of the band, Reid would get a bit showier with her vocals in pushing the melodies around – somewhat surprising given how the album seemed to make an effort to keep things in check, but such excursions were relatively modest and didn’t detract from the proceedings; if anything, they demonstrated the impressive degree of confidence with which the band were operating.

And if they didn’t come to the stage with that confidence, the audience would have given it to them. In one of their many between-song asides to the crowd, they commented on their willingness to cheer at everything – an observation which was, of course, met with cheers. Their 45-minute set encompassed most of, but not all, of If You Stay, with the pairing of “Strong” and “Metal & Dust” as a powerful closing couplet, followed by a on-the-mark cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” as an encore. A solid performance that decidedly increased my appreciation for the band.

Metro, The Sydney Morning Herald, and entertainment.ie have interviews with London Grammar.

Photos: London Grammar, Jaymes Young @ The Great Hall – October 4, 2013
Video: London Grammar – “Strong”
Video: London Grammar – “Wasting My Young Years”
ZIP: Jaymes Young / Dark Star

The Guardian and MusicOhm talk to Anna Calvi about her new album One Breath, which is out on Tuesday and from which she’s just put out a new video.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Sing To Me”

Drowned In Sound meets Peace, who have two local dates next week on October 14 at The Mod Club and October 15 at The Danforth Music Hall, both in support of Two Door Cinema Club.

The Quietus has a stream of Tindersticks’ forthcoming anniversary album Across Six Leap Years, coming out next week on October 14.

Stream: Tindersticks / Across Six Leap Years

It’s a touch late to actually act on the information, but Consequence Of Sound reports that Neil Halstead will be recording a couple of shows in London later this month on October 23 and 24 for release as a live record, and amongst the promised “special guests” will be Rachel Goswell, which means that both Slowdive and Mojave 3 move ever-so-slightly into the “active” column” but more importantly, that Goswell is healthy enough again to perform again – even if it is just for a few songs.

DIY goes behind the scenes of the new Los Campesinos! video, set to debut later this week. It’s taken from their new album No Blues, out October 29.

The Guardian has an extensive interview with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, who return for a show at The Kool Haus on November 5.

Stornoway will release a companion EP to this year’s Tales From Terra Firma – from which they’ve just released a new video – with the five-song You Don’t Know Anything, out November 12.

Video: Stornoway – “Farewell Appalachia”

DIY has confirmed details of Working Out, the debut album from London’s Arthur Beatrice. It’s out February 3 and they’ve released a first official video from the long-player.

Video: Arthur Beatrice – “Grand Union”

David Gedge has dusted off the Cinerama monicker under which he traded for several years between Wedding Present incarnations for occasional recent live shows, but has just issued the project’s first new release since 2002′s Torino with a tour-only 7″ with a new song and a live Disco Volante track recorded in 2012 – you can stream it and order the single below.

Stream: Cinerama – “I Wake Up Screaming”
Stream: Cinerama – “Unzip” (live)

Noisey talks to Yuck’s new frontman Max Bloom about having to become Yuck’s new frontman. DIY also has a feature interview.

Johnny Flynn lists off some of the influences that went into the making of his new album Country Mile for The Line Of Best Fit.

Billboard has an interview and video session with CHVRCHES.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Palma Violets’ debut 180.

Video: Palma Violets – “Rattlesnake Highway”

Clash chats with Kele Okerke of Bloc Party.

The Skinny talks to Elena Tonra of Daughter.

Paste has an interview with Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys.

The Quietus talks about the history and state of pop music with Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who incidentally has a new book on the topic in Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Crying My Heart Out

Young Galaxy offer up deluxe shade of Ultramarine

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsI’m going to resist the urge to rail against the whole idea of the “deluxe edition” of an album being issued just months after the original issue. The reasons of why it’s a shitty-ass trend are self-evident and the quite clearly, it’s not going away anytime soon as labels keep doing it, meaning the fans keep buying it. Perhaps the correct perspective to look at it is that since physical singles and EPs are basically relics of a bygone age, the avenues to release b-sides and unreleased stuff are far fewer than they once were so maybe, mathematically speaking, buying the same record twice is about on par with buying all those singles and more space-efficient, to boot. I don’t know if I actually believe it, but I’ll go with that for now and move on.

At the least, the bonus materials should be worthwhile and from the looks of the expanded, double-disc edition of Young Galaxy’s Polaris-shortlisted Ultramarine, they are. There’s two edits of their new single, streamable below, both sides of last year’s sold out “Shoreless Kid” 7″, a couple more unreleased original songs and the requisite remixes, and perhaps most importantly, it’s reasonably priced. It’s coming out on September 24, the day after it could conceivably be crowned as Polaris champ. Not saying it’s going to happen, but it could. Exclaim has specifics on the reissue and CBC Music has a quick chat with Young Galaxy keyboardist/guitarist Matthew Shapiro.

Stream: Young Galaxy – “Crying My Heart Out”

The National Post and Exclaim talk with Diana songwriters Joseph Shabason and Kieran Adams. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

Exclaim has posted this month’s cover story on Braids online, and there’s further writeups at The Montreal Gazette and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. They play The Great Hall in support of the just-released Flourish//Perish on November 10.

And tangentially and unexpectedly, Diana frontwoman Carmen Elle, as well as Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston, are featured in a New York Times fashion spread. So that’s unexpected.

CBC Music and The Montreal Gazette talk to Murray Lightburn about going solo on Mass:Light.

The 405, Victoria Times-Colonist, NOW, and Interview get to know Sarah Neufeld; she’s at The Drake Underground on August 22.

Though they’ve already shown off all kinds of ingenious promotional ideas to lead up to the September 3 release of The Silver Gymnasium, Okkervil River have topped themselves with an 8-bit video game that lets you explore Will Sheff’s youth while assembling the Triforce, pursuing the Death Angel, and knocking out Piston Honda. See a higher-res and more grown-up version of Sheff when he leads his band into The Phoenix on September 28.

PopMatters has an interview with Colin Stetson, who has had to drop off the Constellation Records showcase at The Great Hall on September 5 on account of a hand injury. He’s not just a pair of lungs, you know.

BrooklynVegan has an interview with Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up, who’ve finally traded in their Blogspot account for a proper website and filled it with all kinds of streamable rarities. They play 1st Thursday at the AGO on September 5.

The Darcys are streaming another new track from their forthcoming Warring, out September 17, via The AV Club and drummer Wes Marskell gives Thrillist a list of his favourite Toronto eateries. And oh, they’ve offered up the stems of their new song “The River” so you can make and submit remixes. So go to that, if it’s your bag, just don’t send them to me.

Stream: The Darcys – “Muzzle Blast”

Black Book interviews Nick Thorburn of Islands about their new record Ski Mask. It’s out September 17 and they play The Garrison on October 10.

Basia Bulat has used footage from her AGO 1st Thursday performance in January for the first video from Tall Tall Shadow. Paste has the premiere, the album is out October 1, and she plays at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10 and 11.

Video: Basia Bulat – “It Can’t Be You”

Though her September 10 date at The Drake supporting Lightning Dust is still a couple weeks away, Louise Burns has been announced as support for Hannah Georgas at The Great Hall on November 2.

Video: Louise Burns – “Emeralds Shatter”

Though they’ve yet to release any samples from their new record Static, coming October 15, Cults have announced a Fall tour that brings them to Lee’s Palace on November 25.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

The Daily Swarm talks to Alex Edkins of METZ. The Ottawa Citizen also has a feature.

Noisey gets to know Los Angeles trio Tashaki Miyaki, who should really put some new music out.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

New Summer

Review of Young Galaxy’s Ultramarine

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsThey couldn’t have known it at the time, but when naming their 2011 album Shapeshifting, Montreal’s Young Galaxy were describing not only their sonic shift from well-worn dream-pop to sleek, futuristic disco, but in their fortunes as well. Their first couple records had failed to launch them into an orbit commensurate with their band name but Shapeshifting would make them, if not stars, then an act who were genuinely doing something fresh and interesting and well worth watching. It was a fresh start that not many artists get.

It would also put whatever they did next under a next-level degree of scrutiny to see if Shapeshifting genuinely the start of a fruitful new direction for the band or just a lucky aberration. Doing everything they could to ensure the former and acknowledging that Swedish producer Dan Lissvik’s job mixing Shapeshifting was an essential part of the record’s magic and success, Young Galaxy doubled down on his input and traveled to Gothenburg to record with him fully-credited as producer, and it’s a gamble that has paid off handsomely. To say an album sounds like its predecessor is usually interpreted as a sign of creative stagnation, but for Ultramarine to be considered an equal to Shapeshifting is actually rather high praise.

The space-age, synthesized aesthetic that so surprised on its predecessor still feels fresh and more importantly, natural. It provides the perfect setting for now-sole vocalist Catherine McCandless’ vocals and their peripheral iciness, but also allows draws out some of her most affecting performances to date, particularly on album bookends “Pretty Boy” and “Sleepwalk With Me”. Also interestingly, Ultramarine doesn’t find the band venturing any further into dancey territory despite being tooled up for it, funky expedition “Out The Gate Backwards” being the notable exception but even that does its work by way of Madchester, rather than via any contemporary EDM affectations. Ultramarine is a strong record that cements Young Galaxy’s place in the Can-rock firmament, and if Shapeshifting posited the question of, “this is Young Galaxy?”, Ultramarine definitively answers it with “this is Young Galaxy”.

Exclaim talks to Catherine McCandless and The Advocate to drummer Andrea Silver about the making of Ultramarine. It’s out April 23 but streaming now in whole at Pitchfork. They play Lee’s Palace on May 31.

Stream: Young Galaxy / Ultramarine

Odonis Odonis have released a video for the title track of their just-out new EP Better. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 17 supporting METZ.

Video: Odonis Odonis – “Better”

PopMatters talks to Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and Arts & Crafts about the label’s tenth anniversary. The corresponding compilation Arts & Crafts 2003-2013 is now available to stream in its two-CD entirety at CBC Music, and the festival to go along with the comp – Field Trip – hits Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: various artists / Arts & Crafts 2003-2013

Spin has posted a stream of Moon King’s new Obsession II EP, though the Soundcloud link below is a bit more reliable in performance. Speaking of in performance, their NXNE appearances have been confirmed – look for them on June 13 at The Garrison, June 14 at The Drake, and June 15 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

MP3: Moon King – “Appel”
Stream: Moon King / Obsession II

Paste gets to know Born Ruffians, whose new record Birthmarks came out this week.

The Belle Game are celebrating this week’s release of their debut Tradition Ritual Habit by giving away another download from the album via Rolling Stone.

MP3: The Belle Game – “Blame Fiction”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews No Joy, who are streaming their new album Wait To Pleasure ahead of its April 23 release date over at Pitchfork. They’re also at The Garrison that night opening for Clinic.

Stream: No Joy / Wait To Pleasure

Stereogum talks to Colin Stetson about his forthcoming New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, out April 30. He and his lungs are at The Great Hall on May 19.

Arts Journal and NPR talk to Rachel Zeffira, who makes her local debut at The Drake Underground on May 2.

NPR has posted a Mountain Stage video session with Kathleen Edwards, who is part of the CBC Music Fest at Echo Beach on May 25.

Japandroids are coming back to town for a show at the Adelaide Music Hall on June 17, tickets $25. What the hell is the Adelaide Music Hall, you ask? Don’t worry – The Grid is on it.

MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”
MP3: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

Patrick Watson will be playing a free show at Pecault Square on June 20 as part of this year’s LuminaTO festivities.

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Words In The Fire”
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

BrooklynVegan has premiered a Moog Sound Lab video with Diamond Rings, who’s opening up for OMD at the Danforth on July 11 and 19.

The Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight have feature interviews with Two Hours Traffic.

DIY and Under The Radar talk to The Besnard Lakes.

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

CONTEST – Young Rival @ The Rivoli – April 17, 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Young Rival
What: Hamilton-based garage-rocking power trio who released their second album Stay Young – always solid advice – last Fall. The first video from it made the inaugural shortlist for the Prism Prize, created to recognize the best music video in Canada.
Why: They just showcased their goods last month at Canadian Musicfest, and are now playing this “J.D. Presents” showcase before embarking on a Spring European tour.
When: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Where: The Rivoli in Toronto (19+)
How: Tickets for the show are $10 in advance but courtesy of LiveNation, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Young Rival” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me by midnight, April 15.

Video: Young Rival – “Nothing You Know Well”
Video: Young Rival – “Two Reasons”

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Colour Yr Lights In

Dispatches from Canada’s space (rock) program with The Besnard Lakes and Young Galaxy

Photo By Richmond LamRichmond LamCanadian music is quite often equated with rootsier stylings – which to be fair we do a lot of and well – but we can also get downright trippy when the mood strikes and a couple of the country’s finest exemplars of this are back with new records this Spring.

Montreal’s Besnard Lakes have completed the follow-up to 2010′s The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night and if the title – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO – is any indication, this album will be out there, maaaaan. And if you need something a little more substantial than that to get on board, they’ve made the first single from the record available to stream. That should do it. The album is out April 2 and details on the release can be had over at Exclaim.

Stream: The Besnard Lakes – “People Of The Sticks”

Also out of Montreal – Mount Royal must be a good spot for keeping an eye out for extra-terrestrial landings – come Young Galaxy with the follow-up to their 2011 breakout album Shapeshifting. Whereas that record only brought in Swedish super-producer Dan Lissvik to mix and still got game-changing results from his influence, Ultramarine was recorded in his Gothenburg studio with Lissvik assuming full production duties. No preview yet aside from the obligatory teaser trailer, but even the beats showcased there are enough to engender a tingle of anticipation. Expect more such teases before the album hits on April 23. More details on the release over at Pitchfork.

Trailer: Young Galaxy / Ultramarine

It’s probably not accurate to call Suuns – also from Montreal, what – spacey, but their arty post-punk/new wave is definitely trippy. Their second album Images Du Futur is out March 5, and they’ve just released the first video from it as well as a pile of tour dates that confirm a Toronto appearance during Canadian Musicfest at Lee’s Palace on March 23.

MP3: Suuns – “Edie’s Dream”
Video: Suuns – “Edie’s Dream”

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – who lay equal claim to Montreal and Toronto as hometowns – talk to Spinner about their video game and rock opera aspirations. They play The Garrison tomorrow night, January 18.

Cult Montreal has an interview with Purity Ring – guess where they’re based – who are in town at The Phoenix on February 1.

Cœur de pirate has released a new video from 2011′s Blonde.

Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Place de la République”

Rachel Zeffira doesn’t hail from Montreal – she doesn’t even live in Canada anymore, being now based in the UK – but she’s originally from the Kootenays in British Columbia and if Canada didn’t rush to claim her as a native daughter from her work in Cat’s Eyes with Faris Badwan of The Horrors, then we surely will when her solo debut The Deserters – a heady blend of opera, classical, and dreampop released late last year in Europe – gets a North American release on March 12. Nylon recently premiered a new video from the album with some words from Zeffira on its making, and do yourself a favour and check out her My Bloody Valentine cover which also appears on the record.

Stream: Rachel Zeffira – “To Here Knows When”
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “Here On In”
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “The Deserters”

Pitchfork talks to Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene, who reveals that he’s got two albums coming out in 2013 – one solo record and one collaboration with Archies songwriter Andy Kim. This in addition to the June 8 BSS one-off (yeah right) reunion show at Fort York to mark Arts & Crafts’ 10th anniversary.

Ion has premiered a stream of a new song from the next Woodpigeon album Thumbtacks & Glue, coming February 26.

Stream: Woodpigeon – “Edinburgh”

You Say Party have released their first new music since reforming last Fall, a tribute to their late drummer Devon Clifford. More new material will follow later this Spring.

Stream: You Say Party – “Friend”

PopMatters chats with A.C. Newman.

NPR has a video session with Rose Cousins.

CBC Music has compiled a list of release dates for Canadian release big and small this year. Mark your calendars!