Monday, May 13th, 2013
Stornoway and Field Report at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank Yang2010 wasn’t really that long ago, but apparently it was long enough that I’d just about forgotten about Oxford, England’s Stornoway despite their debut Beachcomber’s Windowsill making it onto my year-end list, helped along by a stellar local live debut that December at the El Mocambo. Which is not to say that I had forgotten them completely or that I liked them, but by the time their follow-up album Tales From Terra Firma came out in mid-March, they’d fallen far enough off the front burner of my memory that I rolled into Thursday night’s show at The Horseshoe driven more by curiosity than excitement.
Support act Field Report, hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and making their Toronto debut, didn’t worry too much about cultivating curiosity from their audience. Playing songs from their self-titled debut, they offered raspy narratives over slow, atmospheric folk tunes dusted from the well-worn roads of Americana. Crafting something fresh didn’t seem to be as of much importance as doing it in great detail, as well as building a rapport with the audience – much time was spent introducing the songs, chatting with the audience, and complimenting the city. Ultimately more charming than memorable.
I’m not normally one to allow Pitchfork to dictate the conversation – at least not ones that I’m having – but that their tepid review of Terra Firma cited a lack of memorable melodies as a one of its chief complaints is just bewildering to me. I may not have spent the time I’d have liked with the record prior to this show, but even the handful of listens I’d given it affirmed it as at least as tuneful as its predecessor, which itself was plenty melodically rich. The reason this came to mind at the show was because when the six-piece band got into full swing – the core quartet were joined by a touring violinist and multi-instrumentalist, both with sheaves of sheet music in front of them – the problem was not trying to find a delicious melody to listen to but choosing which one to concentrate on.
They were like a candy store of folk-pop, every hand and mouth contributing to the glorious rustic orchestra onstage; it was hard to not be drawn to Oli Steadman’s basslines, so much funkier and more prominent in the live mix than on record, Jon Ouin’s textured bed of keyboards or spidery guitar leads, Rob Steadman’s wonderfully creative drum patterns, or Brian Briggs’ gorgeous tenor, often leading immaculate, multi-part harmonies. Listening to any of them in isolation would have been lovely; hearing them in concert with one another was astonishing, even without most of the instruments as on their reading of “The Ones We Hurt The Most”, the four-part harmonies performed perfectly and unaccompanied save for acoustic guitar and single violin. And then there was their use of live wood-chopping as the rhythm bed for “Farewell Appalachia”. Who does that?
The set was split about evenly between the two records, keeping a consistently jaunty pace with occasional spikes of jubilant, yet always sounding elegant and sophisticated. Unlike some more populist acts who could be filed as their peers in the genre, Stornoway don’t need to try to broadcast authenticity with their dress or mannerisms; they’re timeless – not throwback – and just plugged directly into it. And while their audience might not have been as large, they were devoted and clearly in it for the long haul – even those, like myself, who’d temporarily forgotten that they were. But if there was an upside to that memory lapse as to how great Stornoway were, it was that it allowed me to rediscover the fact all over again.
Photos: Stornoway, Field Report @ The Horseshoe – May 9, 2013
MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”
MP3: Stornoway – “On The Rocks”
MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
Video: Stornoway – “The Bigger Picture”
Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”
Video: Field Report – “I Am Not Waiting Anymore”
Spin and Interview have features on Copenhagen’s Vår, who’ve released a new stream from their debut album No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers, out tomorrow.
Stream: Vår – “Into Distance”
Pitchfork reports that New Order will be releasing a benefit live album recorded at last year’s Bestival on the Isle Of Wight. Live at Bestival 2012 will be out July 8.
The livestreamed Savages put on last week to mark the release of their debut Silence Yourself is now available to stream on demand at YouTube; The Creators Project has a Q&A with the performance’s director. They play The Mod Club on July 16.
Planet Notion offers an interview with Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots.
Daytrotter has a session with Noah & The Whale.
The Toronto Star talked to Foals ahead of Saturday night’s gig at the Kool Haus.
The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Iceland’s Sóley.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Jesper SkouboellingWho: D’Angelo
What: Modern American soul singer born Michael Archer whose legend is as much based on his two released albums – 1995′s Brown Sugar and 2000′s Voodoo – as the now-mythical third, which has been rumoured and laboured over for the past 13 years and counting.
Why: After many fits and starts, 2013 appears to be the year of D’Angelo’s comeback. Album number three – James River – should be out this year and shows are being scheduled – yes, the previous Toronto scheduled for April was canceled almost as soon as it was announced, but this one is happening. Or so it would seem.
When: Friday, May 31, 2013
Where: The Sound Academy in Toronto (19+)
How: Tickets for the show are $72.50 in advance but courtesy of Union Events, 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 to see D’Angelo” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that to me by midnight, May 22.
Video: D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”
Video: D’Angelo – “Brown Sugar”
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Daughter and Wilsen at The Great Hall in Toronto
Frank YangThings move quickly these days; this I know and understand, and yet it still manages to astound me sometimes. The ascent of London’s Daughter, for example. It wasn’t much over a year ago that the trio was still largely unknown, only getting on my radar by old-fashioned word of mouth and becoming one of my favourite discoveries of SXSW 2012. When they came around to make their Toronto debut last October – still a ways off from releasing their debut album or making any real promotional push – they still managed to sell out The Drake, albeit with the help of a fairly buzzy supporting bill. Still, that was a pretty good tip off that by the time the band returned on Tuesday evening, just a week after the domestic release of If You Leave, the only surprise would be not that they had sold out the much larger Great Hall, but that they hadn’t moved the show to even bigger environs.
Benefitting from the packed house were Wilsen, a band of Americans fronted by Englishwoman Tamsin Wilson who were really as good of a RIYL pairing for Daughter as you could hope to find. Their dark, atmospheric folk music came from a similar place as the headliners, but distinguished themselves with a tonally lighter touch, not to mention Wilson’s whistling skills and guitarist Johnny Simon Jr’s penchant for playing his guitar with coffee cans, tobacco tins, whatever. Unexpected and quite effective was a stately cover of Grimes’ “Oblivion”, and by the close of their 40-minute set, many new fans were made and a more than a few copies of last year’s mini-album Sirens were sold.
I don’t think I’m the only one who, to some degree, conflates a band’s sound with their appearance. In Daughter’s case, it’s hard not to compare their sound to frontwoman Elena Tonra’s appearance: beautiful, elegant, and demure, yet with an unquestionable strength and steeliness just under the surface. They’re traits evident throughout If You Leave, which bolsters Tonra’s gorgeous vocals and emotionally raw songwriting with Igor Haefeli’s billowing guitarwork and Remi Aguilella’s subtly powerful percussion to become something expansive, yet intimate. It’s an aesthetic that fits very well with that of their European label 4AD, and that’s the context in which I tend to think of them. In North America, however, they’re on Glassnote and if you’ve no idea what difference that makes, well I didn’t give it a second thought either, until Tuesday night.
Glassnote may not have the history and personality of 4AD, but they do know how to reach the Mumford & Sons demographic. And when, midway through the set during “Landfill”, much of the room loudly sang along with “I want you so much/but I hate your guts”, did I realize that this was a Mumford audience – surprisingly young, definitely excitable, and preferring to experience the music as a boisterous community. Tonra’s songs might be delivered like a private and intensely personal conversation, but they were being shouted and cheered back. It wasn’t necessarily off-putting – okay a little – but it certainly recontextualized my experience of the songs; rather than enveloping me completely, they now needed to act as a sort of barrier to shut out the background noise.
Tonra herself may have seemed taken aback by the intensity of their reception – her “thank you”s were almost inaudible squeaks – but seemingly happily so. Opening with Leave closer “Shallows”, Daughter sounded as brilliant as ever, mixing material from the album with selections from the Wild Youth and His Young Heart EPs. The band was bolstered by a utility player on bass, guitar, and keys, but even with those extra hands, the show had no shortage of instrument swapping; their sound might be skeletal, but it’s arranged precisely and impeccably so.
Only during “Winter” were the band really knocked off their game, as The Great Hall’s lighting rig seemed to pick up a poltergeist, going from black to blinding and causing Tonra to crack up several times (Haefeli was visibly less amused), though to their credit they finished the song, even though ditching would have been totally understandable, and both stage lights and band pulled it back together to wrap up the set with a crashing, cathartic “Home”. A satisfying show, but one that left me wondering if I’d choose to see them again next time in an inevitably bigger room, or if staying home, alone, with the curtains drawn and the record turned up might not be more the Daughter experience I’d prefer.
Photos: Daughter, Wilsen @ The Great Hall – May 7, 2013
MP3: Daughter – “Love”
Video: Daughter – “Still”
Stream: Wilsen – “Dusk”
Stream: Wilsen – “Anahita”
Soundcheck WNYC is streaming a radio session with Little Boots, while Consequence Of Sound has an interview.
Sweden’s Club 8 are streaming another new song from their forthcoming album Above The City, out May 21.
Stream: Club 8 – “I’m Not Gonna Grow Old”
Cheers to Frightened Rabbit for keeping alive the tradition of releasing their singles as proper EPs with b-sides and bonus tracks and the like. Case in point – the next single from Pedestrian Verse will be Late March, Death March, and DIY has details on the EP for it that’ll be out on June 4.
The Guardian asks Romy from The xx about her experiences playing festivals; they play a sorta-fest at Downsview Park on June 6 with Grizzly Bear.
Stereogum has premiered a new track from Swedish electro act Kate Boy, who are making their Toronto debut at Wrongbar on June 9.
Stream: Kate Boy – “The Way We Are”
Interview has a feature on Palma Violets, who were just here last week but are back August 3 as part of the Grove Fest at Garrison Commons.
The Alternate Side has an interview and session with Phoenix, who are headlining the aforementioned Grove Fest on August 3.
NPR has a World Cafe session with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, who’ve premiered their new video from Push The Sky Away – recorded at their Los Angeles concert this past March – at Rolling Stone.
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Mermaids”
David Bowie has released the video for the title track of his latest The Next Day, and proves not only that he can still cause plenty of controversy, but that he’s got much cooler friends than pretty much everyone else.
Video: David Bowie – “The Next Day”
Ólafur Arnalds has a new video from For Now I Am Winter, and NPR is streaming a live concert by Arnalds wherein he and an orchestra performed the whole of the new album live in New York earlier this Spring.
Video: Ólafur Arnalds – “Only The Winds”
Stereogum has premiered the new video from The Mary Onettes’ latest Hit The Waves.
Video: The Mary Onettes – “Don’t Forget (To Forget About Me)”
A Music Blog, Yea has an interview with Mystery Jets.
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Deerhunter coming to town to play you songs, raid your mom’s closet
Robert SemmerOn the list of ideal days on which to announce a tour itinerary, there’s not many occasions better than the day the album you’re actually going to promote goes on sale. And so yesterday, with the official release of their latest full-length Monomania, Atlanta’s Deerhunter have announced the itinerary for their Fall tour behind it. It’s an outing that brings them to The Phoenix in Toronto on September 12, and that leg of the tour also includes support from Marnie Stern, who herself released The Chronicles Of Marnia in March. Tickets for the show will run $20 in advance.
Also good to run on or around the release date of an album are feature pieces on them. And so, peruse these interviews with the ever-quotable Bradford Cox at The Salt Lake Tribune, MTV Hive, Pitchfork, and Interview. Marnie Stern is interviewed by The Washington Examiner, Soundcheck WNYC, MTV Hive, and Heeb.
Video: Deerhunter – “Monomania”
Video: Marnie Stern – “Immortals”
Also coming to town – chiptune champtions Anamanaguchi are going to be at The Hoxton on May 23, tickets $12. Their Kickstarted new album Endless Fantasy is out May 14.
MP3: Anamanaguchi – “Meow”
Los Angeles indie-R&B sibling duo Inc. have announced a North American tour that brings them to The Garrison on June 4. Their debut No World came out back in February.
MP3: Inc. – “5 Days”
MP3: Inc. – “The Place”
Also from LA but working a more electro-pop yet still soulful angle are Superhumanoids, who will be in town at The Drake on June 18. Yours Truly recently posted a video session with the band.
MP3: Superhumanoids – “Simple Severin”
Bear In Heaven have been announced as support for Wire for their July 10 date at Lee’s Palace.
MP3: Bear In Heaven – “The Reflection Of You”
Following her triumphant local debut in February, there wasn’t much question that Solange would be back sooner rather than later. And just like that, she’s made a date at The Kool Haus on July 13, tickets $26.50.
Video: Solange – “Losing You”
Also subscribing to the Deerhunter model of “announce your tour the day your record comes out” are Savages, who accompanied yesterday’s release of their debut Silence Yourself with a brace of North American dates announced via Matablog; they’ll be back in Toronto on July 16 for a show at The Mod Club, tickets $16.50. Interview has a brief feature on the band.
Video: Savages – “Shut Up”
Australian songstress Lenka – she did that adorable song in Moneyball, that Aaron Sorkin film about baseball that you of course would remember adorable songs from – will be at The Drake on July 24, tickets $15. Her new album Shadows will be out on June 4.
Video: Lenka – “The Show”
Brooklyn’s Oberhofer haven’t released a full-length follow-up to last year’s Time Capsules II yet, but the Nostalgia EP that came out last month seems to be enough pretence to hit the road; they’re at The Garrison on August 1, tickets $11.50.
MP3: Oberhofer – “Dontneedya”
We’ve only just started gotten to enjoy Spring and/or Summer, but if you need a reason to look forward to Autumn, perhaps the double-bill of Toro Y Moi and The Sea & Cake – the former touring this year’s Anything In Return and the latter last year’s Runner – will do it. The solid double-bill will be at The Phoenix on October 27, tickets $20. The Independent has an interview with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick.
MP3: Toro Y Moi – “Saturday Love”
MP3: The Sea & Cake – “On And On”
That star-studded yet endlessly contentious Great Gatsby OST came out this week and has also been streaming at NPR. So if you want to hear what next year’s CD dollar bin – if such a thing still existed – sounds like, head on over.
Stream: The Great Gatsby original soundtrack
Pitchfork has an advance stream of the self-titled debut from Dungeonesse, due out next week on May 14.
MP3: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”
Stream: Dungeonesse / Dungeonesse
Vampire Weekend are a week out from the release of their new record Modern Vampires Of The City, and so of course it must be streaming. And so it is, at iTunes. They’re at the Sony Centre on May 16 and are the subject of feature interviews at Pitchfork and The New York Times.
Stream: Vampire Weekend / Modern Vampires Of The City
FVCKTHEMEDIA and CMJ have interviews with Laura Stevenson about her new record Wheel, which she’s in town to promote at The Drake Underground on May 21.
aux.tv, Blurt, Georgia Straight, and The Fly talk to Hutch Harris of The Thermals, coming to town to play The Horseshoe on May 21.
Paste has an advance stream of the new Saturday Looks Good To Me record One Kiss Ends It All, out May 21.
Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me / One Kiss Ends It All
NPR has premiered the first video from Kurt Vile’s latest, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. He and his Violators play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.
Video: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have released a video for the title track of their latest, Mosquito.
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Mosquito”
The Flaming Lips have a new video from The Terror – the NSFW caveat pretty much goes without saying, doesn’t it? – and there’s interviews at Stereogum, Loud & Quiet, and Bon Appetit.
Video: The Flaming Lips – “You Lust”
Janelle Monáe has released the first video from her next album The Electric Lady, due out later this year.
Video: Janelle Monáe w Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.”
NPR, Seattle Weekly, and Aquarium Drunkard talk to Caitlin Rose.
Blurt profiles The Men.
NPR has a World Cafe session with Low.
Pitchfork gets an update from the studio from Spoon. Who are in the studio.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Editors done editing new record and lineup, hope Love is worth the Weight
Matt SpaldingAt the risk of being overly literal, it probably goes without saying that a band called Editors would hardly be averse to making changes. But the Birmingham band’s decision to push synthesizers to the fore on their third album, 2009′s In This Light And On This Evening, might have been a little more stylistic revision than they or their fans bargained for. It didn’t fare nearly as well, commercially-speaking, as either of its predecessors – fans apparently preferred them when they were aping Joy Division rather than New Order, even if their instincts for all things dramatic and anthemic remained intact and Tom Smith sounded as overwrought and faintly ridiculous as ever – and when the dust settled founding guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had left the band.
So while it may have taken a little while longer than usual to regroup, the band have done just that – they’re now a five-piece – and will release their fourth album The Weight Of Your Love on July 1 in the UK. They’ve made the first single available to preview by way of a video, and it certainly seems to indicate a return to a guitar-based sound – mayhap Urbanowicz’s issues with their creative direction weren’t what you might expect – as well as an increased appreciation for all things U2. Altsounds sums up the press release for the new record and DIY has an in-studio chat with the band about the new record.
Video: Editors – “A Ton Of Love”
The Guardian has an extensive feature interview with Savages, whose debut Silence Yourself is out this week.
The Huffington Post, Boston Globe, and Bullett mark the release of Little Boots’ second album Nocturnes today with feature interviews.
Noah & The Whale are profiled by The Guardian, The Independent, and The Boar on the occasion of the release of their new record Heart Of Nowhere this week.
A Heart Is A Spade, Junkee, and MusicFeeds chat with Charli XCX, in town at Echo Beach on May 23 supporting Marina & The Diamonds.
Laura Marling has released the first video from new album Once I Was An Eagle, which will be released on May 28. She plays 99 Sudbury in Toronto on May 25.
Video: Laura Marling – “Master Hunter”
DIY talks to Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. Their new record More Light is out this week in the UK and on June 18 in North America.
Quip Q&As Polly Scattergood about her new record Arrows, out June 18.
Buzzfeed has a sit-down with Stuart Murdoch about Belle & Sebastian and his God Help The Girl feature film. They will close out the final night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 7 at Garrison Commons.
Pitchfork has a stream of a new song from Sky Larkin, who have an as-yet untitled album done and ready for release later this Summer.
Stream: Sky Larkin – “Motto”
Spin finds out what Yuck are up to now that frontman Daniel Blumberg has left the band and is now operating under the name Hebronix. Their second album is due out in the Fall and the first Hebronix album – Unreal – is out July 9; you can stream the title track below.
Stream: Hebronix – “Unreal”
MTV Hive checks in with Dev Hynes about getting back to business as Blood Orange; a second album is hopefully coming this year but with all the other projects on the go that Hynes mentioned, holding one’s breath isn’t necessarily recommended.
Under The Radar and Rolling Stone have interviews with Johnny Marr about his solo work, while The Daily Mail talks to him about the 30th anniversary of The Smiths and specifically, the writing of their first single “Hand In Glove”. Marr marked the anniversary in a way at a recent New York show, staging a half-reunion when Smiths bassist Andy Rourke joined him onstage for the show-closing “How Soon Is Now”.
The Fly has a video session with Veronica Falls.
State and entertainment.ie interview British Sea Power.
Billboard has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Billy Bragg.
Exclaim has a feature interview with James Blake.
The Line Of Best Fit is streaming a re-recorded, full band-boasting version of a track from Neil Halstead’s 2012 album Palindrome Hunches. It sounds great, but would probably sound better slowed down, drenched in reverb and delay, and with Rachel Goswell singing harmonies.
Stream: Neil Halstead – “Spin The Bottle”
DIY reports that Damon Albarn told a Hong Kong audience that, having had shows in Japan this week postponed, Blur will while away the time in Hong Kong by trying to record a new album. Which is encouraging, because it’s one thing to bait nosy journalists, but unsolicited declarations to thousands of fans is quite another.
So ever since I posted this five years ago, I’ve periodically tried to find out what British singer-songwriter Candie Payne has been up to, looking for either word of a follow-up to I Wish I Could Have Loved You More or confirmation that she’s retired so that I can stop trying to find out what she’s been up to. As it turns out, she’s formed a band called The Big House with a former member of The Zutons and has been working on some of that boy-girl Californian country-pop stuff that the kids are all about these days. Still not a whole lot to show for it, but at least it’s something.
Video: The Big House – “Canyon Home In The Sun”
Video: Candie Payne – “One More Chance”