Posts Tagged ‘A Camp’

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The Crowning

Review of A Camp's Colonia

Photo via mySpaceMySpaceThe first A Camp album came at an interesting time, with The Cardigans having proven themselves not just a one-hit wonder but a two-hit one (“My Favourite Game” to go along with “Lovefool”) but also rather burning out in the process. Nina Persson used the downtime to explore country music and Americana with the assistance of Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and not only crafted an excellent record in their self-titled debut, but carried the influences back to The Cardigans to inform my personal favourite of their repertoire, Long Gone Before Daylight. That stylistic uniformity went out the window with their next record, the eclectic but still very solid Super Extra Gravity and with the Cardies again on a break, Persson has taken that grab-bag aesthetic back to A Camp.

Colonia, released in Europe last week but not out in North America until April 28, collects 11 songs that could have been Cardigans tunes in another life but could never be mistaken as such in the forms that they’ve been recorded in here. With the formal addition of Persson’s husband Nathan Larson (of Shudder To Think) and Niclas Frisk as members of A Camp, it’s now more of an official band than before but rather than imprint that band with a particular sonic identity, they instead reinvent themselves in whatever way necessary to compliment the songs. Persson’s vocals are unmistakable but the sounds that surround it incorporate elements of show tunes, electronica, glam and country to name just a very few – there’s enough of everything to make it sound familiar but never to the point of being able to place a song in a tidy pigeonhole.

If there’s a common thread, it’s the sonic richness and elegance each song is imbued with. No matter what they put in it, it sounds marvelous, even if some songs are less memorable than others. But the keepers are worth cherishing – “My America” is buoyed by jaunty horns, the languidness of “Chinatown” beautifully channels Television in its guitar lines and lead single “Stronger Than Jesus” boasts a melody that’s as indelible as anything Persson’s ever come up with. Though I wish as much as any fan that the Cardies break will be a short one – apparently Persson’s bandmates are all using the time to tend to fatherly duties – if it continues to yield more A Camp records then there’ll be no word of complaint from me.

Persson is engaged in conversation by The Sunday Mail, The Telegraph and The Independent. And perhaps as a way of making up for the fact that the album isn’t out domestically for another three months, Nettwerk have made available a live session MP3 of “Stronger Than Jesus”. Update: Stereogum is streaming another song from the record and talk to Nina about it.

MP3: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus” (Harlem Session)
Video: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”
MySpace: A Camp

The Toronto Sun, The Province, Montreal Mirror and CityPages interview Lykke Li.

Spin gets a sneak preview of the new album from Mew, currently untitled but targeted for a June release.

There’s new videos from both bands playing The Phoenix on April 25 – Peter Bjorn & John, whose Living Thing is out March 25, and Chairlift.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Nothing To Worry About”
Video: Chairlift – “Evident Utensil”

Also with a new video – School Of Seven Bells.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Half Asleep”

Check out the title track of The Thermals’ new album Now We Can See, set for release on April 7.

MP3: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”

Some in-stores of note to tell you about. The Von Bondies will hit up Criminal Records this Friday, February 13, at 5PM before heading down the street for their show at the Horseshoe. And next weekend,Alela Diane, whose To Be Still is coming out next Tuesday, will be at Soundscapes on February 21 at 6:30PM in advance of her show at the Horseshoe that evening opening for Blitzen Trapper and the next day (February 22) at 3PM, Sonic Boom will host Ben Kweller leading up to his show at the Mod Club that evening.

MP3: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
Video: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
Video: Ben Kweller – “Fight”

The National are returning. They’re at the Kool Haus on May 21, tickets $24.50.

And finally, The Chicago Sun-Times weighs in on what could be the most disturbing bit of music industry news in a sea of disturbing music industry news, the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. No good can come of this, none at all. But my question is – how does this affect the Canadian divisions of those respective companies? I ask because I remember way back in the ’90s when Pearl Jam were boycotting all US TicketMaster venues, they still played TM-serviced venues up here and said that was because TicketMaster Canada was a separate entity from the US one they were protesting. Though it could/should have been pointed out that even if that were true from a corporate POV, they were still as asshat-acular as their Stateside counterparts when it came to price gouging and exorbitant service charges. And do you have to have bought tickets for a specific show to take part in the class action suit or can you just be generally irritated?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Pulled Fences

Wrens finally get off their asses and get back to work

Photo via Wrens.comWrensFor most bands, a gap of five and half years and counting since your last record would be cause for concern amongst the fanbase, but for The Wrens it seems right on schedule. The Meadowlands came out way back in September 2003 and that was a full seven years since their previous effort Secaucus, though that was as much the fault of their evil label as anyone else. None of this, of course, makes it any easier for fans eager to hear something new from the band.

But things are finally afoot, perhaps spurred by the good-natured fun that Magnet was having at their expense. They’ve begun recording album number four and have marked the occasion by releasing a new song entitled “Pulled Fences”, recorded live at Abbey Road studios in England and available digitally. Of course, the fact that they’ve only just BEGUN recording means that we likely won’t see any new material this year (it’s sad to be writing off the year in January) but at least it’s finally happening.

And if you needed some reminding of why hearing from Wrens again is cause for celebration, dig into their audio/visual vault.

MP3: The Wrens – “Everyone Choose Sides”
MP3: The Wrens – “This Machine”
MP3: The Wrens – “Built In Girls”
MP3: The Wrens – “Grey Complexion”

Loney Dear previews the release of Dear John on January 27 with a Bandstand Busking performance.

MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”

And maybe while they were playing, this Black Cab carrying a warbling Ryan Adams drove by. Hey, could have happened.

CNN discusses Sweden, Cardigans and A Camp with Nina Persson. Colonia, the new A Camp record, is out February 2 in Europe and April 28 in North America.

Scotland On Sunday, The Independent and New York Magazine have features on Antony & The Johnsons, whose new album The Crying Light isn’t out until next week, but is available to stream now at Spinner. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 17.

Stream: Antony & The Johnsons / The Crying Light

Franz Ferdinand recently released the new video from their new album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, out January 27. They also released an EPK video about the record.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”

The Boston Globe discusses the touring life with Frightened Rabbit.

The Quietus reports that Bat For Lashes’ sophomore effort Two Suns will be released on April 6.

Jason Lytle, ex of Grandaddy, recently recorded an acoustic session for Maps.

MP3: Jason Lytle – “Birds Encouraged Him” (live on Maps)

Blurt has the complete tracklisting for the star-laden, covers-heavy War Child: Heroes compilation due out on February 24.

The old inbox was simply overflowing with concert and tour announcements yesterday… in chronological order – A Brooklyn double-bill of High Places and Soft Circle will be at the Horseshoe on February 9, tickets $10.

Mekon and Waco Brother Jon Langford has a date at the Horseshoe on February 27. Ticket details forthcoming.

Lisa Hannigan, formerly a singer with Damien Rice but now gone solo with the release of Sea Sew on February 3, will be hitting the road this Winter and be at the Mod Club on March 1, tickets $15. The Times ran a feature on her last month.

Bloc Party have added a second show at the Kool Haus, this one on March 13, to go along with the previously-announced and presumably almost sold-out March 14 date. Tickets $35.

Also on the 13th and also a Canadian Musicfest show, Handsome Furs are at the Horseshoe. Exclaim reports that their new album Face Control has been pushed back from its originally-announced February 3 release date to March 10. The duo talked to Black Book about the new record back in December.

Clem Snide, presumed dead but apparently not, will release Hungry Bird on February 24 and follow that up with a tour that stops in at the El Mocambo on March 21. Tickets for that are $10.50.

Great Lake Swimmers will follow up the March 31 release of Lost Channels on March 31 with a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25, tickets $20.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Teeth Sinking Into Heart

Rachael Yamagata, The Low Anthem at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangGoing to as many shows as I do, I’ve come to expect a certain demographic in the audience with me. Which is to say largely male and frequently bearded. The audience at Friday night’s Rachael Yamagata show at the Mod Club, on the other hand, was most definitely predominantly female and for the most part, beardless. No, this was not one of my usual indie rock shows.

The audience was also impressively well-behaved, polite and attentive to support act The Low Anthem from Rhode Island. And they were easy to like, a trio with obvious and impressive musical ability – there was lots of instrument swapping on display – but able to check any muso inclinations in crafting a warm and gentle brand of country-rock, heavily indebted to Neil Young’s softer side but also able to turn it up a bit when the need arose. They may have been a bit too gentle to immediately spur me into seeking out their stuff, but a definite positive impression was made.

Rachael Yamagata has been through town a number of times in the past few years, supporting artists as disparate as Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore, but to my recollection this was her first headlining show in Toronto since her October 2004 show at the El Mocambo – that’s a long time. She even acknowledged as much early in the show, leading one to think she might make up for lost time and draw as much from her debut Happenstance as the just-released follow-up Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart, but the set list still leaned heavily on the new material.

And that was perfectly fine – Elephants is a solid record, showcasing Yamagata’s ability to draw endless inspiration from the subject of hurt and heartbreak and spin them into either bruised balladry or pointed rockers. I don’t necessarily agree with the choice to split the two sides into separate discs – Happenstance blended them and offered a stronger impression of her range – but it’s a minor quibble. Her live show mixed up the fast and the slow, with Yamagata moving from keyboard to electric guitar as need be to lead her three-piece band. Though it seemed at a few points she was favouring her lower register, her voice was rich, raspy and appropriately torchy, and capable of heart-rending emotion.

Though Yamagata’s songs tend to dwell largely on sadness, she’s an engagingly chipper performer, chatting and joking with the audience at length. It was quite nice seeing a dynamic between artist and audience based on such genuine affection, where the former doesn’t have to try and win over the latter, but because of that fact gives it their all. The crowd – attentive and dead silent while she played – obviously loved her, and the feeling was mutual. Elephants should lift Yamagata to the stature of one capable of headlining her own shows, no longer the perennial support act. In Toronto, at least, she’s already there.

Metro, NOW and A’N’E Vibe have interviews with Yamagata, the latter also adding a live review of the Mod Club show. The Toronto Sun was also there. Paste profiles The Low Anthem.

Photos: Rachael Yamagata, The Low Anthem @ The Mod Club – December 12, 2008
MP3: The Low Anthem – “To Ohio”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Faster”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sunday Afternoon”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Elephants”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sidedish Friend”
MySpace: Rachael Yamagata
MySpace: The Low Anthem

The long-discussed Will Sheff/Charles Bissell split-7″ – Will Sheff Covers Charles Bissell, Charles Bissell Covers Will Sheff – was released last week, and features Sheff covering The Wrens’ “Ex-Girl Collection” and Bissell doing Okkervil River’s “It Ends With A Fall”. Essential? Yes. Italian site Maps, the morning show for Italian radio station Citta Del Capo Radio Metropolitana, is also featuring a video/audio interview/session with Sheff. The site is in Italian but the interview is in English. Mostly.

MP3: Okkervil River – “Calling And Not Calling My Ex” (live on Maps)
MP3: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines” (live on Maps)

Maps also had The New Year in for the same deal. Thanks to Jonathan from A Classic Education (and also a host on the show) for the tip.

MP3: The New Year – “Wages Of Sleep” (live on Maps)
MP3: The New Year – “Seven Days And Seven Nights” (live on Maps)

The good news is A Camp’s Colonia will be getting a North American release. The bad news is it will happen on April 28. The good news is the European label is still listing their street date as February 2.

Though I had Bruce Peninsula’s debut A Mountain Is A Mouth as one of the “next big thing”-ey releases for 2009, it’s actually available digitally as of today – but the CD proper isn’t out until February 3. The band has lined up a number of dates in the new year to promote it – they’re at the Horseshoe on January 31 supporting The Tom Fun Orchestra, will do an in-store at Soundscapes on release day February 3 and play a proper release show of their own on February 22 at the Polish Combatants Hall. If you can only make one, I’d say that’s the one to circle.

And while the 2008 concert year is pretty much done with, 2009 is already stacking up quite nicely. Jayhawks by any other name, Gary Louris & Mark Olson will hit the road in support of Ready For The Flood, out January 27, including a February 4 date at the Mod Club in Toronto. Tickets are $22.50 for this seated show. Seats! At the Mod Club! Zounds!

Blitzen Trapper are at The Horseshoe on February 21, tickets $10.50. They’re offering up a second MP3 from Furr and are the subject of interviews at Chart and The Georgia Straight.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Gold For Bread”

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit will take their new eponymous album on the road following its release on February 17 and play the Horseshoe on March 4, tickets $12. There’s full dates at Paste and a new song streaming at their MySpace

Bloc Party continue their habit of coming to town only when it’s entirely inconvenient for me to attend (excepting festivals). Case in point, their just-announced March 14 date at the Kool Haus, tickets $35. Inconvenient because that’s the final night of CMW and I would hope that there’s worthwhile stuff going on at the festival, far from the foot of Jarvis St. Bloc Party also just rolled out a new video.

Video: Bloc Party – “One Month Off”

Australia’s Presets have a date at the Mod Club on April 6. Full dates at The Music Slut.

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Scandinavian Blonde

Review of Frida Hyvonen's Silence Is Wild

Photo By KnotanKnotanWith her 2005 (2006 in North America) debut Until Death Comes, Swedish songstress Frida Hyvonen established herself as a distinctive new voice, capable of veering from stark confessionals to demented whimsy at the drop of a hat. I base this as much on my recollections of her deliciously entertaining March 2007 performance at the Mod Club as I do from whatever impression the album itself made because, well, I no longer seem to have a copy of the album around to refer to.

But I do have the follow-up, Silence Is Wild, and it does reaffirm those impressions. This time out, she chooses to frame her compositions in richer and at points, more theatrical trappings which suit her quite well – better, in my estimation, than the simpler presentation of the debut. The focal point is still her voice – huge yet fragile – and piano, but the grander arrangements lift everything up and offer a broader emotional and musical range that Death simply didn’t have.

Considering my favourite tracks from the album – “Dirty Dancing” and “London” – are also the biggest, I obviously like this change in tact for Hyvonen. The vivid imagery of her lyrics combined with the exuberance of their delivery strike just the right chord in me, and offer a stronger contrast to the smaller, more intimate moments of the album. But even with what some may consider to be a more conventional musical approach, Hyvonen’s innate eccentricity still shines through and sets her apart.

Ms Hyvonen did some solo dates on the east coast in October, so I don’t know if there’s any further North American touring in the cards. But if so I do hope there’s a band involved, even though it’s probably cost-prohibitive. As charming and engaging as she was in the solo context last time, I couldn’t imagine a lot of the new material being done proper justice without all the proper sonic accouterments.

Hyvonen picks her favourite song of the year for Line Of Best fit, gives Aquarium Drunkard a guided tour of her hometown of Flarken and subjects to herself to an interview at RCRDLBL, where you can also download an MP3 of “Birds” from the new album. And check out a live performance of “Dirty Dancing” at PSL.

MP3: Frida Hyvonen – “The Enemy Within”
MySpace: Frida Hyvonen

Clash talks to Lykke Li about her really big 2008. She’s at the Phoenix on February 6.

The video for the first single from A Camp’s forthcoming Colonia is now up. The album is out February 2.

Video: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”

If you were one of those bummed about the cancellation of Noah & The Whale’s North American tour, maybe this Basement Tapes session with the band, recorded their last time through the continent and featuring downloadable live tracks, will ease the pain a bit.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “5 Years Time” (Basement Tapes session)

The Courier-Mail discusses the art of songwriting with Mountain Goat John Darnielle.

LAist interviews John Dragonetti of The Submarines. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 15 and The Morning Benders have been added as co-headliners on the whole tour.

New York City’s Virgins have a date at the El Mocambo on February 5, tickets $12.50.

MP3: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”
Video: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”, The Montreal Gazette and The McGill Tribune spend time with Stars, gearing up for a three-night stand at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre December 11 through 13.

Gentleman Reg, who is opening up the middle of those Stars shows (the 12th) as well as playing his own gig at the Drake Underground tonight, will release his new album Jet Black on February 24.

Le Blogotheque takes away a show with Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s.

Prefix talks to Mark Lanegan about working with Isobel Campbell.

JAM interviews Richard Thompson.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

...And We Became Sunshine

Review of The Uglysuit's self-titled debut

Photo By Selena SalfenSelena SalfenSometimes stuff sits on my shelf for ages before I get around to listening to it, and all I can do is slap myself upside the head for having wasted time that could have been spent with that record. Such is the case with the self-titled debut from Oklahomans The Uglysuit – it was released back in mid-August, which implies that I probably got the promo sometime in early August, and since I only gave it an airing in the last few weeks, that’s like two and a half months lost.

Two and a half months I could have spent basking in its sun-kissed, pastel-coloured, prog-adelic pop made up of sounds and styles all dear and familiar, yet combined so seamlessly and perfectly that you’d believe that they were invented for the sole purpose of crafting this record. Built on cascading guitars, majestic piano and keening vocals, The Uglysuit is epic in scale yet intimate in sentiment – an ornate and remarkably cohesive and unified record. It’s a suite of songs stretching and sprawling into one another, each one made up of even more miniature pop jewels, strung together like a necklace sparkling in the sun. And even when storm clouds gather – and there are points where things get loud and intense – the beauty remains, like watching thunderheads rumble over great plains.

Am I being overly effusive? Maybe. Probably. But The Uglysuit – a misnomer if ever there was one – is so welcoming and enveloping that it’s hard not to get swept up in it. This would be an astonishing record from anyone – the fact that it comes from a band this young makes it even more of an achievement. If you haven’t made its acquaintance yet, you now have no excuse. Beyond the first single and video, available to grab/watch below, Daytrotter posted up a session with the band last week. They were supposed to come through town last month opening for The New Year but that didn’t happen for whatever reason – here’s hoping that 2009 keeps them on the road and with a Toronto stop on the agenda. Rolling Stone also has a short profile.

MP3: The Uglysuit – “Chicago”
Video: The Uglysuit – “Chicago”

Matt Pond PA are celebrating (American) Thanksgiving by giving away a free EP lovingly entitled Freep. Sample the lead track or just grab the whole thing.

MP3: Matt Pond PA – “Hearts & Minds”
ZIP: Matt Pond PA / Freep

eye looks at the sudden and well-deserved boost given to the Rural Alberta Advantage by being selected by eMusic as their Featured Artists for the month of November. They’re playing tonight at Lee’s Palace with The Acorn and Ohbijou and are on at 9. If you’re going, go early! And note that in that eMusic link is an extensive interview where it’s clarified once and for all that only singer/songwriter Nils Edenloff has Albertan roots – the other 2/3 of the band do not. Mystery solved! Of course, I could have just asked them but where’s the fun in that?

Muzzle Of Bees reports that Jason Isbell will return with his second solo album on February 19 of next year, though it’s not technically a solo album anymore since it’ll be named for he and his band – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. Catchy.

Muzzle Of Bees also has an interview with Calexico’s Joey Burns, while Minnesota Public Radio is offering up a studio session with the band.

A man with a lot of names and a lot of positive press is making his Toronto debut early next year – Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson will be at the El Mocambo on January 14 in support of his self-titled debut, tickets $8.

MP3: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – “Buriedfed”
Video: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – “Buriedfed”

Pitchfork talks to AC Newman (Carl to his friends) about his forthcoming album Get Guilty!, out January 20. Did I link the first MP3? Can’t remember, too lazy to check. So here you go.

MP3: AC Newman – “There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve”

The Hold Steady have finally released the first video from Stay Positive, for the title track. The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Craig Finn.

Video: The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive”

The first single from A Camp’s Colonia is currently available to stream. The album is out February 2.

Stream: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”

Clash quizzes My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan about some of his favourite things.

NPR is currently streaming the whole of Neil Young’s forthcoming Sugar Mountain – Live At Canterbury House 1968 live set, which is going to be released next Tuesday. The first set of Archives is set for a January 27 release and Neil is at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.

Stream: Neil Young / Sugar Mountain – Live At Canterbury House 1968