Posts Tagged ‘Adam & The Amethysts’

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011


Review of Malajube’s La caverne and giveaway

Photo By Joseph YarmushJoseph YarmushIt’s almost certainly too much to read an excess of meaning into the title of Malajube’s last albums, but when you’ve only got a (very) rudimentary working knowledge of the French language, you do what you can do. That said, there’s something to the fact that 2009’s Labyrinthes was as dark and dense as the title implied – at least relative to the almost giddily carefree nature of 2006’s Trompe L’Oeil (“deceive the eye” in English, if you were wondering) – and a far less immediate listen. Still, it rated highly enough to score the band its second Polaris Prize shortlist placement in as many records and basically confirm the band as the ambassadors of Francophone rock to the rest of Canada, even if it would be Karkwa who would score the first win for French Canada last year.

Those seeking to find similar meaning in the name of their new record, the just-released La caverne, may be disappointed to learn that it comes not from the dark, subterranean underworld of their collective psyches mined for inspiration but more likely the fact that the album was recorded in a house shaped like a geodesic dome. But listening to the new record you wouldn’t have to go very far to imagine that they decked the studio out with lasers and mirror balls, given it’s surprisingly sleek and dance-friendly vibe. Lead track and single “Synesthésie” gives immediate notice that things are different for the band this time out, applying a fresh shimmer to both guitars and synths and mating them with an irresistible rhythm.

While signature elements like Julien Mineau’s smooth/raspy vocals keep things familiar, La caverne is leaner and more focused than either Trompe-l’oeil or Labyrinthes and also possibly their most immediate. So what happens when a band that’s already twice been acclaimed as having made one of the ten best Canadian records in a year makes their big pop move? Three guesses.

Malajube are currently on tour in Quebec and southern Ontario, with a few US dates thrown in, and will be at The Horseshoe Tavern on May 30. JAM, The Montreal Gazette,, Montreal Mirror and The National Post have interviews with the band.

And courtesy of the label, I’ve also got three copies of La caverne on vinyl to give away – to enter, email me at contests AT with “Je veux la caverne” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest is open to residents of Canada and closes at midnight, April 28.

MP3: Malajube – “Synesthésie”
Video: Malajube – “Synesthésie”

With the April 26 release – in Canada, anyways – of sophomore album Was I The Wave? nigh, check out one the new Miracle Fortress songs. Americans

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Sometime Miracle Fortress-er Adam Waito’s own project Adam & The Amethysts have put out a video from their still-forthcoming second album Flickering Flashlight, due out sometime.

Video: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”

Pitchfork reports that Arcade Fire are going to let their Suburbs sprawl a little more this Summer, by way of a deluxe CD/DVD package due out on June 27. The DVD component will be the Spike Jonze-helmed mini-feature Scenes From The Suburbs and the CD will be their super-hit album with a couple of new songs added on for extra value.

Fucked Up have released the second of four MP3s leading up to the release of David Comes To Life on June 7 via Matablog, who also have details of a “Buy Early Get Now” presale promotion for the record in which you buy early…

MP3: Fucked Up – “A Little Death”

Caribou has elected to give away the complete recordings of the live Vibration Ensemble set from All Tomorrow’s Parties in upstate New York circa September 2009 – just hit their Soundcloud and make with the downloading. And while you wait, maybe refresh your memory as to what the Vibration Ensemble was with the writeup of their performance in Toronto the week prior.

MP3: Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Every Time She Turns Round It’s Her Birthday”

Planet Notion interviews Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy.

Crawdaddy has got a nice live performance video of The Rural Alberta Advantage in a Toronto church. I don’t think it’s an official video, but it’s nice; it could be. They’re playing the Phoenix on April 29.

Spinner, The Vancouver Sun, and The Leader-Post, See check in with Tokyo Police Club as they tour across Canada. Their next local gig is Edgefest at Downsview Park on July 9.

And though it’s their eighth birthday, Toronto label Paper Bag Records are the ones offering the gifts – in the form of True Blue, a free compilation of Madonna covers by their artists, including the aforementioned Young Galaxy and Rural Alberta Advantage, PS I Love You and more, but my favourite would be the title track by Montreal’s Winter Gloves and guest vocalist Hannah Georgas. And as a sidenote, I apparently don’t know nearly as much of Madonna’s oeuvre as I thought I did. And am okay with that.

MP3: Winter Gloves w Hannah Georgas – “True Blue”

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Canadian Musicfest 2011 Day Two

Karkwa, Esben & The Witch, Adam & The Amethysts and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Friday night of Canadian Musicfest saw the only bit of club-hopping that I’d be engaging in over the weekend, but even that was just across a couple of blocks in Parkdale, and I took a streetcar. No, not so much with the spirit of the club-level festival.

Stop one was the Drake Underground for Olenka & The Autumn Lovers. I’d seen them just a few weeks prior, but while that show had been as a stripped-down four-piece, advance billing promised a full lineup for this one. But instead of the stage-filling configuration that played The Garrison in October 2009, this show was again Olenka Krakus with Sara Froese on violin, Kelly Wallraff on cello and Tyler Belluz on upright bass. And if there’s any trace of disappointment in that, it’s just because it meant that some of the songs from And Now We Sing that required a fuller presentation would again be left out of the set. And yes, this show was similar if not identical in structure to the Horseshoe show but actually probably better overall thanks to the more intimate setting encouraging a more conversational tone between Krakus and the attentive audience. Don’t get me wrong – I still love these songs and am happy to hear them however they’re presented, but if next time out they bring a drummer along… I won’t be upset.

Spinner has an interview with Olenka Krakus.

Photos: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers @ The Drake Underground – March 11, 2011
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”

Montreal’s Adam & The Amethysts made a positive impression with their debut Amethyst Amulet back in 2008, but kind of fell off the radar since I saw them live that Summer. That looks to change with the impending release of their second album Flickering Flashlight, and while details of that release are still forthcoming their showcase did a good job of reminding why they were worth paying attention to in the first place. Their appreciation and affinity for classically-styled, music in the vein of The Zombies is still as sharp as ever, their songs all understated hooks and sneaky sophistication. I wasn’t able to stick around for the whole of their set but was there long enough to whet my appetite for the new record. Hope it gets out sooner rather than later.

Chart has thoughts on their set.

Photos: Adam & The Amethysts @ The Drake Underground – March 11, 2011
MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”
Video: Adam & The Amethysts – “Gitche Gumee Yeah Yeah”

Then it was further into the dark heart of Parkdale to Wrongbar, where 2/3 of what would have been the best bill of the festival were ready to make an argument that it still was. Leading their case was reigning Polaris Music Prize winners Karkwa, who’d been spending no small amount of time since the win last September introducing themselves and the winning record Le chemins de verre to English Canada. And making those introductions by way of live performance was really putting their best foot forward as their show was nothing less than electrifying. I’d seen them play at the Polaris gala and while I didn’t know it at the time, that was Karkwa at their most subdued what with frontman Louis-Jean Cormier on piano – and while that was fine, having him brandish guitars as he did this night made for a very different sort of show.

My French hasn’t gotten any better since September so I still didn’t understand any of what they were singing, but the collective musicianship of the band and melodic and visceral impact of their songs needed no translation. Not even Le chemins de verre properly captured the intense dynamics and surprising amount of brutalism (a good thing) that was on display here. I know that there was a fair bit of head-scratching when Karkwa won the Polaris, both with respect to who they were and whether they deserved it. The former shouldn’t be an issue anymore and the latter? Just go see them live. And make sure the guitars are out.

Spinner and Chart were also on hand at the show while The Globe & Mail has a feature piece.

Photos: Karkwa @ Wrongbar – March 11, 2011
MP3: Karkwa – “Dors Dans Mon Sang”
Video: Karkwa – “Le pyromane”
Video: Karkwa – “Echapper au sort”
Video: Karkwa – “Marie tu pleures”
Video: Karkwa – “Oublie pas”
Video: Karkwa – “Échapper au sor”
Video: Karkwa – “À la chaîne”
Video: Karkwa – “Combien”
Video: Karkwa – “La facade”
Video: Karkwa – “La fuite”
Video: Karkwa – “Vrai”
Video: Karkwa – “Le coup d’etat”
Video: Karkwa – “Poisson cru”

It took a while to tear down after Karkwa’s set – to say they’ve got a lot of gear is an understatement – it didn’t take long to get Brighton’s Esben & The Witch, who don’t need a whole lot in the way of equipment to build their dark, atmospheric sound, to get ready to go. This show was considerably different from their local debut supporting Foals back in September; whereas that one came across as decidedly primal and amorphous with its heavy percussion and free-form vocals, this performance had much more structure, dynamics and overall intent – as though the building blocks that had been present but strewn about in the Fall had now been assembled into something using their debut Violet Cries as a blueprint. But even though it was more controlled, there was still plenty of intensity on offer be it from Daniel Copeman’s hair-whipping guitarwork, Rachel Davies’ plaintive vocals or any or all of the band beating the bejesus out of a single floor tom. Though Esben in general isn’t really my thing, I think I still prefer the album to the live show – it offers up their songs in their most fully-formed state – but neither form is boring.

Chart also has a review of the show.

Photos: Esben & The Witch @ Wrongbar – March 11, 2011
MP3: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Marching Song”

Spin chats with Noah & The Whale before soliciting a video performance from the band. Their new record Last Night On Earth is out today and they play The Mod Club on March 24.

British Sea Power have released a new video from Valhalla Dancehall, just in time for their North American tour, which starts next week and hits Lee’s Palace on March 24.

Video: British Sea Power – “Who’s In Control”

Clash has an interview with Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable, whose The Big Roar is now officially out in North America. They’re at The Horseshoe on April 2.

Another video from Mogwai’s latest Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will has been released. The band are at The Phoenix on April 26.

Video: Mogwai – “San Pedro”

Drowned In Sound meets Yuck, who’re giving away their single to download. They’re at The Phoenix on May 1.

MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”

NPR has a World Cafe session and JAM an interview with chart-topper Adele. Her May 18 show at the Kool Haus is looking mighty undersized and intimate right about now, eh?

With the April 12 release of their self-titled debut just about here, Jonny – aka Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s Euros Childs – have announced a North American tour that kicks off with two nights at the Drake Underground in Toronto on June 3 and 4.

Video: Jonny – “Candyfloss”

Elvis Costello’s tour in support of last year’s National Ransom brings him to the Sony Centre on June 23.

The Quietus has details on the extensive series of Suede remasters and reissues that will be getting rolled out starting May 30 and ending June 22. I am loathe to re-buy these albums, particularly on CD, but man I can’t imagine not having the “definitive” Dog Man Star. Damn you, Suede.

PopMatters and Under The Radar talk to Elbow’s Pete Turner and Guy Garvey respectively about the band’s stunning new record build a rocket boys!.

The title track from PJ Harvey’s latest Let England Shake is now available to download.

MP3: PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake”

Mumford & Sons tells Rolling Stone they’re intending to record album number two this year.

DIY talks to Ladytron’s Reuben Wu. Their Best of Ladytron: 00-10 is out March 29.

The Creators Project Q&As Mica Levi of Micachu.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

May You Never

Review of Land Of Talk’s Fun And Laughter

Photo By Joseph YarmushJoseph YarmushWhen you’re Land Of Talk fan, you’ve got to keep an eye open. While any self-respecting follower of the band – or music-lover, for that matter – owns copies of their buzzsaw debut EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss and the more nuanced but just as rewarding full-length Some Are Lakes, not everyone even knows about let alone possesses the now sold-out live acoustic L’aventure Acoustique document released between the EP and full-length. And while I, at least, did my best to notify the masses, I wouldn’t be surprised if most haven’t heard their most recent release, the Fun And Laughter EP which came out in the Fall to coincide with their first tour following Liz Powell’s recovery from throat surgery.

And if it’s slipped under your radar on account of not being available in stores, go rectify that right now. At four tracks (and three videos), it’s a bit slight in volume but there’s not a throwaway or weak track in the bunch – if anything, it’s a reaffirmation of everything that makes Land Of Talk great. The front half marries the more polished aspects of Lakes with the fierier approach of Applause and the last couple of tracks invokes their gentler side without sacrificing meatiness or feeling overly pastoral. Really, Fun And Laughter occupies the middle ground between their previous two releases which hasn’t actually been explored yet and if this is a sign of what’s to come on full-length number two, due out in Spring or Summer, then it’s going to be a doozie.

The aforementioned Fall tour covered both coasts of the US but didn’t end up making its way into eastern Canada, an oversight that’s being rectified in April as the band charts a short jaunt with Adam & The Amethysts starting in Powell’s old stomping grounds of Guelph, through Toronto and Kingston and up to Wakefield, Quebec, a little ways outside Ottawa. The Toronto date is April 8 at Lee’s Palace and while tickets are $10, area folk who’ve not gotten their hands on a copy of the EP will actually be rewarded for their procrastination because they’re offering a deal wherein you can get the EP, normally $7, and a ticket to the show for a total of $15 – so that’s essentially admission for $8 with no service charge. There is no earthly reason to not do this.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “May You Never”
Video: Land Of Talk – “It’s Okay”
Video: Land Of Talk – “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”

Okay, one reason not to go to the Land Of Talk show is that it’s the same night Owen Pallett plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Maybe you already have tickets. Maybe you prefer violins to guitars. Maybe you know who’s opening. Either way, Chart and Tiny Mix Tapes have interviews with Pallett and NYC Taper is sharing a recording of his show in New York in January. NYC Taper, incidentally, was recently profiled by The Village Voice. There’s a new remix of a Heartland track up for grabs as well.

MP3: Owen Pallett – “Keep The Dog Quiet” (Simon Bookish remix)

To everyone who’s been enjoying the (relatively) low profile that Broken Social Scene has been keeping for the past four years or so… break’s over. Just in time for their performance at the Toronto Islands on June 19, they’ll release their new, as-yet untitled album on May 4 – which happens to be the same day The New Pornographers drop their latest, Together. Shades of Blur vs Oasis, August 1995? If only. Pitchfork talks to Kevin Drew about the making of the new album and Paste does the same with head Pornographer Carl Newman.

The now-defunct Oh No Forest Fires have left a farewell gift in the form of a second album, entitled Wants To Try Something. And an unsightly stain on the Horseshoe stage, but let’s not talk about that.

ZIP: Oh No Forest Fires / Wants To Try Something

Spinner declares The Balconies a band you oughta know. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 10, as soon as they’re back from their tour of eastern Canada which they’ve been diligently blogging.

Exclaim talks to Woodhands, who’re giving away a new Pitchfork-baiting/hating track. For kicks, I guess.

MP3: Woodhands – “P’iss”

The Hylozoists have released a new video from last year’s L’Ile de Sept Villes.

Video: The Hylozoists – “Bras D’Or Lakes”

Spinner talks to Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton. They play the Drake Underground on February 11 and do an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14.

Le Hiboo has a video session of Basia Bulat performing “The Shore” in Paris whilst wearing a jaunty beret. The London Free Press has an interview with Bulat and a short chat with her viola player, Alison Stewart. Basia Bulat plays an in-store at Soundscapes on February 16.

The Toronto Star contemplates the many faces of Neil Young while Paste reports that he’s started work on his next album.

The Line Of Best Fit has posted their seventh volume of “Oh! Canada” Can-con mixes to download.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

When It's Dark

Yo La Tengo and The Horse's Ha at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn my review of Yo La Tengo’s latest Popular Songs, I lauded the New Jersey trio for their unbelievable ability to deliver excellent album after excellent album over their 25-year career, and having seen them five times before Saturday night’s show at the Opera House, I felt comfortable thinking that same sense of consistency could be applied to their live shows. There’d be a handful of new songs, a brace of old standards and at least a couple unexpected surprises from deep in their catalog. Performance-wise, you could count on Ira Kaplan being alternately hilarious and irascible, be guaranteed a transcendent moment or two and assured of at least one jam would go on for far too long. I know more than one person who’s said, “I love them but don’t think I need to see them again” and it’s a fair statement to make. I myself was going to skip out on this show in favour of one of a multitude of other entertainment options available that evening, but the excellence of Popular Songs persuaded me to go back for more.

Excepting their Beautiful Noise taping last April (that season is now airing on SunTV, by the by), this past Saturday night was Yo La’s first visit back to Toronto in three years and taking place at the Opera House rather than their usual digs at The Phoenix, it was a cozier show than they’ve played here in some time – TV taping aside. As such it was sold out, 800 steadfast fans giving up the early part of Nuit Blanche (or avoiding it entirely) in favour of getting their eardrums massaged and having no second thoughts about it.

Support for the Canadian dates on tour came from Chicago duo The Horse’s Ha, whose pedigree includes Freakwater and The Zincs, and who’ve just released their debut Of The Cathmawr Yards. Their brand of Americana-folk was on the decidedly polite and proper side, dusty-sounding yet immaculately clean in its delivery. Jim Elkington and Janet Beveridge Bean’s voices worked well together, but it was more their supporting players that kept things interesting, offering a rhythmic, musical backbone that they didn’t let fly until later in the set, culminating in a decidedly rewarding shredding cello solo. The Horse’s Ha have got talent and power on hand, and would do well to loosen the reins a bit.

Here’s the funny thing about the list of Yo La Tengo live givens I rattled off earlier – they didn’t happen. It could be that as much as their fans were feeling their shows were getting a bit familiar to hear, the band thought it was getting a bit familiar to play so just as Popular Songs seemed to take every Yo La song template and offer something new in that mould, their live show would also benefit from such a makeover. The set was far heavier on new songs than I’d expected, making up fully half the main set and as such the show felt simultaneously fresh and comfortable and when the band did reach further back into their extensive catalog for numbers like “Big Day Coming” or “Stockholm Syndrome”, it felt like even more of a treat. I was especially pleased to hear “Black Flowers” make an appearance, it being my favourite track off I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass and sadly omitted from the set last time around. And the choice of encore covers this time out – a James McNew-sung Velvet Underground’s “She’s My Best Friend” and Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” – were also impeccable.

Beyond the marvelous song selection, the show benefited from a dynamic arc that felt new to Yo La Tengo shows. Past shows had felt like enjoyable meanders through their repertoire but this show had a more unified feel to it, starting out a touch restrained despite opening with the uptempo “Double Dare”, going gentle in the middle while inviting Georgia Hubley out from behind the kit to sing and then closing out big with a gloriously frantic and guitar-abusive “And The Glitter Is Gone” and sugar-buzzed “Sugarcube”. Throw in a perfectly casual double-encore – James had to remind Ira of the chords to the VU tune – and you had a glorious, and perhaps more importantly faith-restoring, Yo La Tengo show. “I love them, when can I see them again?”.

And oh yeah, Ira seemed to be in a great mood. Maybe that was all the difference.

There’s interviews with the band at, Beatroute and The National Post.

Photos: Yo La Tengo, The Horse’s Ha @ The Opera House – October 3, 2009
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Beanbag Chair”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “The Summer” (live on KEXP)
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “I Feel Like Going Home” (live on KCMP)
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Little Eyes”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Don’t Have To Be So Sad”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “From A Motel 6”
MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “Asleep In A Waterfall”
MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “The Piss Choir”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Nothing To Hide”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Tom Courtenay”
MySpace: Yo La Tengo

And if you’re wondering, trying to start Nuit Blanche at 1AM at Queen West and Yonge is quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do, and that includes live scorpions infected with bubonic plague. I got a good look at a lot of lineups before giving up and heading home. Oh, and I had some popcorn. Woo, art! Woo, culture!

Spinner and JustOut talk to Bob Mould.

NPR is streaming the new Flaming Lips record Embryonic for a week, leading up to its October 13 release date.

Stream: The Flaming Lips / Embryonic

PitchforkTV has a Cemetery Gates session with Grizzly Bear.

It’s getting/already gotten colder than any right-thinking person would like, but if you’re thinking there’s still time to take one last hop out to the Toronto Islands then do it next Saturday, October 17, and stop by the ALL CAPS! Island Show at the Artscape Gibraltar Point. It starts at 3PM, goes till 10 and features a bunch of acts including but not only Great Bloomers, Adam & The Amethysts and Snowblink. It’s $10 or PWYC and all-ages.

You’ll have a clinic in teaching the indie kids to dance when Junior Boys and Woodhands hit Lee’s Palace on November 6. Junior Boys were just featured in a Daytrotter session.

MP3: Junior Boys – “In The Morning”
MP3: Woodhands – “Dancer”

The annual Make Some Noise events presented by the Toronto Public Library returns on November 7 when Bruce Peninsula and Timber Timbre make the North York Central Library sound like it’s haunted.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”

Constantines will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a pair of special shows at Lee’s Palace on December 10 and 11. Ticket pre-sales are already on, with early birds eligible for extra goodies.

MP3: Constantines – “Nighttime Anytime It’s Alright”

The Line Of Best Fit is offering a fifth volume of “Oh! Canada” series of downloadable Canuck mixes.

CBC Radio 3 has a shiny new website and the same old annoying habit of constantly rewriting the location in the browser back to Seriously, WTF.

And if you’re one of those people who not only still has cable, but has those ridiculously high-numbered channels which seem to only show Law & Order reruns, check out channel 107 as went on the air (well, the digital cable air) last weekend and features a slew of terrific music television programming that goes well beyond videos. There’s details on what the channel hopes to offer and how they’ll do it at The Globe & Mail and ChartAttack.