Posts Tagged ‘Alela Diane’

Friday, April 10th, 2009

The Water

Watch "The Water", starring Feist and Cillian Murphy

Photo via PitchforkPitchforkDirected by Kevin Drew and filmed over two days in Toronto this past January, The Water had its genesis as a music video for Feist’s song of the same name but eventually grew into a mostly silent and very wintry 15-minute short film starring some bona fide Hollywood talent in Cillian Murphy.

The film will be available to watch online for one week starting today at PitchforkTV, and for some background on the piece, check out the video interview with Feist and Drew at PitchforkTV and another with Murphy at IFC. Paste also talked to Feist and Drew a bit back in February when word of the project first came to light. And if you’re really jonesing for more info, there’s a feature in this month’s Filter (that’s the physical magazine) that has Drew being interviewed by actor Zach Galifianakis about the project.

Video: The Water

Metric have released another video from Fantasies, Jimmy Shaw and Emily Haines gave an interview and acoustic performance to Rolling Stone and Haines and Shaw gave interviews to Dose and Fazer respectively. Metric play the Mod Club on Tuesday, April 14.

Video: Metric – “Help, I’m Alive”

It’s a double-shot of Neko Case at NPR, with a KUT radio session from earlier this week and last night’s show in Washington DC both available to stream. The DC show includes the opening set from Okkervil River’s Will Sheff and some absolutely classic stage banter – “Vas deferens!” – with Case and Kelly Hogan. And if that’s not enough Neko multimedia, there’s a video interview online between her and ABC News. Case is in town for two nights at Trinity-St Paul’s next Friday and Saturday.

Opening up both of those shows is Crooked Fingers, who are keeping a Tumblr tour blog whilst on the road.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Phony Revolutions”

NPR also has a World Cafe session with Alela Diane. Diane is also featured on The Silence Of Love, a covers album from Headless Heroes for which Diane was the voice. That record will be out May 19, some of it sounds like this.

MP3: Headless Heroes – “True Love Will Find You In The End”
Video: Headless Heroes – “The North Wind Blew South”

The star-studded SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS! covers compilation is now available to stream.

Stream: various artists / SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS!

Cryptacize and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone have a date at The Boat on July 8. Cryptacize’s new album Mythomania is out April 21 while Casiotone just released two records – the retrospective Advance Base Battery Life and all-new Vs Children.

MP3: Cryptacize – “Blue Tears”
MP3: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “Optimist vs. The Silent Alarm (When The Saints Go Marching In)”
MP3: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “Old Panda Days”
Video: Cryptacize – “Blue Tears”

Headlights are opening for Loney Dear on their Spring tour, including the May 8 date at the Rivoli. Nice! They’re almost done their third album and are aiming for an early Fall release.

MP3: Headlights – “Cherry Tulips” (TJ Lipple Remix)

Soundproof features Malajube.

Entertainment Weekly is hosting a video clip from Wilco’s forthcoming DVD Ashes Of American Flags, which will be out next Saturday as part of Record Store Day but which I will be seeing theatrically in May as part of Hot Docs. Because I’ve realized that the only way I’ll ever watch a music film is if I’m a captive audience in a theatre – DVDs will simply never get played.

Video: Wilco – “Side With The Seeds” (live)

Stay Thirsty talks to Jason Lytle. His new album Yours Truly, The Commuter is out May 19.

Sacramento News & Review and Honolulu Weekly talk to Jenny Lewis.

Fazer interviews Cut Off Your Hands.

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

Hot Freaks at SxSW 2009… revealed!

Photo By Donald MilneDonald MilneThe first one went over like gangbusters, and the second one was even better… so why wouldn’t we do it all again for 2009? Yes’m, I’m once again very proud to be able to announce – along with fellow music blog compatriots Aquarium Drunkard, Gorilla Vs Bear, Largehearted Boy, My Old Kentucky Blog and You Ain’t No Picasso – the lineup for Hot Freaks 2009, taking place during SxSW at the Mohawk and Club DeVille in Austin, Texas on March 20 and 21. Two days, three stages, 32 acts.

It’s taken a little longer than usual to get things together this year, but it’s been worth the wait. I mean, we’ve had some pretty impressive Hot Freaks alumnus over the last couple years – St Vincent, Shearwater, The Polyphonic Spree, Grizzly Bear, Land Of Talk, Jens Lekman, Lykke Li, The Acorn and British Sea Power to name just a few – but I will hold this Hot Freaks lineup up against any of the others we’ve pulled together in the past. But don’t just take my word for it – have a look:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Club DeVille (Insound Stage)
12:30 PM Obits / MySpace / MP3: “Pine On”
1:30 PM Handsome Furs / MySpace / MP3: “I’m Confused”
2:30 PM American Analog Set / MySpace
3:30 PM The Thermals / MySpace / MP3: “Now We Can See”
4:30 PM The Hold Steady / MySpace

The Mohawk Patio
12:00 PM The Wrens / MySpace / MP3: “Everyone Choose Sides”
1:00 PM Bishop Allen / MySpace / MP3: “Dimmer”
2:00 PM The Henry Clay People / MySpace / MP3: “Something In The Water”
3:00 PM Port O’Brien / MySpace / MP3: “I Woke Up Today”
4:00 PM The Rosebuds / MySpace / MP3: “Life Like”
5:00 PM Delta Spirit / MySpace / MP3: “People C’Mon”

The Mohawk Inside
12:30 PM The Rural Alberta Advantage / MySpace / MP3: “Don’t Haunt This Place”
1:30 PM We Have Band / MySpace / MP3: “Hear It In The Cans”
2:30 PM These United States / MySpace / MP3: “Honor Amongst Thieves”
3:30 PM Alela Diane / MySpace / MP3: “White As Diamonds”
4:30 PM Richard Swift / Richard Swift / MP3: “Lady Luck”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Club DeVille
12:30 PM Real Estate / MySpace / MP3: “Black Lake”
1:30 PM Girls / MySpace / MP3: “Lust For Life”
2:30 PM The Grates / MySpace / MP3: “Burn Bridges”
3:30 PM Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains / MySpace / MP3: “American Names”
4:30 PM Jeremy Jay / MySpace / MP3: “Beautiful Rebel”

The Mohawk Patio
12:00 PM Harlem / MySpace
1:00 PM Jason Lytle / MySpace / MP3: “Birds Encouraged Him” (live)
2:00 PM Vivian Girls / MySpace / MP3: “Where Do You Run To?”
3:00 PM Viva Voce / MySpace / MP3: “Drown Them Out”
4:00 PM Peelander-Z / MySpace / MP3: “Ninja-High Schooool”
5:00 PM Camera Obscura / MySpace / MP3: “My Maudlin Career”

The Mohawk Inside
12:30 PM Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers / MySpace / MP3: “Filthy & Free”
1:30 PM Roadside Graves / MySpace
2:30 PM Mason Proper / MySpace / MP3: “Fog”
3:30 PM Lemonade / MySpace / MP3: “Big Weekend”
4:30 PM Amazing Baby / MySpace / MP3: “Bayonets”

The Wrens are kicking things off at noon. The Rural Alberta Advantage will still be riding high on opening up for Grizzly Bear the night before. The American Analog Set – reunited and reactivated for this show only! – are playing The Golden Band in its entirety. The Hold Steady will be holding court on the Insound stage. Alela Diane will mesmerize. The Grates will be bouncing off the walls. Jason Lytle will unveil his post-Grandaddy works. Peelander-Z will do… what Peelander Z does. And Camera Obscura will close things out by showcasing their forthcoming album My Maudlin Career. This, my friends, is what we call bliss.

And thanks go out to our main sponsors GOOM Radio and, who are offering 75 free songs for signups. Please respondez s’il vous plait – admission is free, PBRs are $1. Awesome is guaranteed. And sorry, this is a 21+ event – the drinks will be flowing.

Add all our shows to your calendar. You DO have one, right?

MP3: Guided By Voices – “Hot Freaks”

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Polite Dance Song

The Bird & The Bee's Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future review and giveaway

Photo ByAutumn de WildeAsk yourself, “what is the smoothest record I’ve heard this year?” Now if the answer is anything except The Bird & The Bee’s new record Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, then you simply haven’t heard Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future. The sophomore effort from the duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin is effortlessly stylish and slick, in the very best sense of the word, blending lounge, jazz, tropicalia and, most importantly, Bacharachian pop into a blend that’s unabashedly retro in spirit but still very contemporary. After all – true cool doesn’t go out of fashion.

The Bird – that’d be George – has the sort of gorgeous coo that was made to go with berets and huge sunglasses but most importantly, perfectly suited to the sort of divine melodies that you’ll find in tracks such as “My Love” and “Birthday”. The Bee – Kurstin, of course – surrounds that voice with the perfect musical shimmer and shine and vintage beats of the sort you might have gotten had modern computers existed in the ’60s. And together, they create the sort of tunes that’d perfectly soundtrack the act of driving a convertible down from the Hollywood Hills and straight into a downtown penthouse lounge. Don’t question the physics of such an act – if you’re cool enough, it’s no problem. Sure, it’s all decidedly saccharine and breezy, but when you look and sound this good, who needs depth? Just sit back and go with it.

Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future is the sort of record that, by rights, should probably only ever be played on a proper vintage turntable, and so to that end, courtesy of Toolshed Marketing, I’ve got two copies of Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future to give away in lovely double-LP form. If you’d like one of them, email me at contests AT with “I want to hear about The Bird & The Bee” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. The contest open to residents of North America and will close at midnight, March 6.

Culture Bully and The Seattle Times have interviews with The Bird & The Bee.

Video: The Bird & The Bee – “Love Letter To Japan”
Video: The Bird & The Bee – “Polite Dance Song”
MySpace: The Bird & The Bee

The Walker Art Center and ask some questions of Dean & Britta in advance of their performances with screenings of Warhol’s 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. The DVD of the film will be out March 24.

Pitchfork talks to Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio. They play the Sound Academy on June 2.

Brendan Canning discusses revenue streams with Blurt.

Filter has a feature on Andrew Bird. He plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 3.

Exclaim talks to M Ward.

PitchforkTV has a video session with Alela Diane.

The release date for the new album from Wilco has narrowed from “Spring” to “June”.

Zach Condon talks to The AV Club about bringing Beirut to Mexico for the recording of March Of The Zapotec.

eye talks to Asobi Seksu about their decision to tone it down and go it as a duo on Hush. They play the El Mocambo next Tuesday, March 3. Bell supports.

Pitchfork gets a list of their favourite things from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

PitchforkTV goes into the studio with Dinosaur Jr, who have just signed with Jagjaguwar and will release their new album this Summer.

The Daily Swarm talks to Bob Mould about his forthcoming autobiography and new album The Life & Times, due out April 7.

Tommy Stinson tells Billboard that the recent round of reissues may well close the book for good on The Replacements – a reunion does not appear to be in the cards. Magnet, in the meantime, lists of the Mats’ top five overrated and underrated songs.

NPR has a session and interview with Robyn Hitchcock. He’s at the Mod Club on April 16 with the Venus 3.

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

White As Diamonds

Review of Alela Diane's To Be Still and Soundscapes in-store

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhat had been forecast as just some light snow on Saturday evening blew into town as more of a proper storm, apparently on the exact same route that Alela Diane was taking en route from Detroit and thus delaying her in-store performance at Soundscapes by nearly an hour.

Considering that she had to get to the Horseshoe to soundcheck for her sold-out show supporting Blitzen Trapper, it would have been understandable if she’d bailed entirely but sending her band ahead to the venue, she still made it to the shop to perform for a crowd that’d thinned only a little from the scheduled start time – a testament, perhaps, to how much people wanted to see her perform in such an intimate environment.

Chances are they’d been won over by her just-released and critically acclaimed sophomore album, To Be Still. And it’s not hard to see why – it’s a beautifully constructed contemporary folk record, with Diane’s evocative songwriting perfectly supported by her clear, strong voice – it’s not a showy instrument, but one which lilts and yodels in exactly the right spots to offer emotional emphasis to the words. Diane is then surrounded by just the right amount of accompaniment – fingerpicked guitar, banjo, fiddle, steel, gentle percussion – to fill things out without ever threatening to overpower. It’s a balance that’s harder to achieve than you might think, but To Be Still gets it just right.

But stripped of that backing as Diane was at the in-store, she still impresses. Her voice is much more powerful than you might expect and has a bit of a rawer edge that’s not as evident on record, and across a brief set – maybe 20 minutes – she was mesmerizing. At the end of it, she thanked us for sticking around and we thanked her for making it out. Everybody wins.

MPR has a streaming session with Alela Diane.

Photos: Alela Diane @ Soundscapes – February 21, 2009
MP3: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
Video: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
MySpace: Alela Diane

I forgot to post up an MP3 from the new Hylozoists record L’Ile de Sept Villes when I wrote up their Soundscapes in-store a couple weeks back. Consider that rectified. And check out an interview with the band at Chart.

MP3: The Hylozoists – “Bras d’Or Lakes”

And the next Soundscapes in-store will be with Gentleman Reg – that’s tomorrow night at 6PM and marks the release of his new album Jet Black, which is currently streaming at his MySpace. He also plays the Horseshoe on March 12 as part of CMW. The Queen’s Journal has a conversation with Reg.

MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re in a Thunderstorm”
Stream: Gentleman Reg / Jet Black

Reg also makes a brief cameo in the new video from Brendan Canning, which in which he channels his inner Tony Manero in the streets of Kensington. Pretty hilarious stuff.

Video: Brendan Canning – “Love Is New”

Daytrotter is featuring a downloadable session with The Acorn.

Pitchfork and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle talk to Grizzly Bear about their forthcoming album Veckatimest, due May 26.

M Ward talks to Spinner and The Philadelphia Inquirer about new record Hold Time.

Colin Meloy discusses The Decemberists’ pre-tour preparation with Billboard. Their shows will consist of one set comprising their new record Hazards Of Love (out March 24) in its entirety and in sequence and another set of older material.

Jenn Grant discusses new album Echoes with Chart. She plays the Reverb at midnight on March 14 as part of CMW.

Blurt has an extended feature on Jenny Lewis.

The New York Times and San Jose Mercury have features on and MPR a session with Antony & The Johnsons.

The Milwaukee Decider talks to Patterson Hood about current goings-on in Drive-By Truckers-land.

NPR welcomes DeVotchKa to the World Cafe for a session.

Fever Ray, aka Karin Dreijer Andersson. the she-half of Swedish electro duo The Knife, will release her self-titled debut album on March 18 and will be in town at The Phoenix on May 25. She’s interviewed by Sentimentalist and Drowned In Sound.

Video: Fever Ray – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Fever Ray – “If I Had A Heart”

Bonnie Prince Billy warns fans to Beware on March 17, but should be in a more welcoming frame of mine when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 14. Advance tickets for that are $25.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Fourteen Hour Day

$100, Brides, Hooded Fang, The Luyas and The Element Choir at Wavelength 450

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo yes I’m a bad Torontopian. I know it’d been a while since I’d been to Wavelength, but a little archive digging revealed that it’d been almost four years since I last darkened Sneaky Dee’s doorway on a Sunday night. That’s a long time. And so with the local institution not only celebrating its ninth anniversary but its upcoming final year this past weekend, I got off my butt and headed out.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always loved and supported the idea and mission of Wavelength, but I’m a pop guy and in recent years their programming has gotten more eclectic and less personally interesting to me. And late Sunday nights are hard. So anyways, of the four nights of anniversary shows I opted for the one the Saturday night soiree at the Polish Combatants Hall (a community centre now hosting shows), which featured a few bands I wanted to see and was (therefore) the most “conventional” lineup of all the Wavelength parties.

Or so I’d thought – any notions that this was going to be an evening of just guitar rock were dispelled with the very first act, The Element Choir. An improvisational choir featuring a couple dozen members, they gathered in the centre of the hall’s floor and proceeded to create a downright mesmerizing sound sculpture constructed of just their voices. The troupe utilized yelps, hums, moans, animal noises and random chatter to create an ever-morphing soundscape that was hypnotic to listen to and also fascinating to watch, as they took direction from conductor Christine Duncan. Certainly not something I’d ever seen before.

Next up were The Luyas, who despite having been around for a while sounded like a work in progress – not incomplete but more in the process of deconstructing what they were and seeking to become something new. There were vestiges of the pop leanings from Jessie Stein’s last band, the SS Cardiacs and from what I’d heard from the Luyas before, but it seemed like they were trying to become something more oblique or inscrutable. Not the most enthralling performance, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and check back in if/when they get where they’re going.

Faring much better were pop collective Hooded Fang. I had figured that since I saw them just a month ago that they’d deliver much the same set, but in fact they were much more assured and polished yet managed to not sacrifice any of the playful whimsy they’d demonstrated before. Considering how much better they’d gotten in just a month and factoring in the fact that they’ve only been in existence for a year, it seems like a mathematical certainty that they’ll be the best band on the planet in another two years. Okay, probably not, but if being the next Los Campesinos! is something that anyone would aspire to, it could well be in their grasp.

Though you could accurately describe Guelph’s Brides as atonal, skronky, and not at all pop – generally things I don’t look for in music – they more than surprised by turning out to be the highlight of the night. I’m at a bit of a loss to articulate exactly what it was about their performance that I found so engrossing. Perhaps it was the way that they managed to be all the things mentioned above without being deliberately difficult and sacrificing some structure or even melody for the sake of exploration, and deliver it all with intensity. I don’t really know what it was, but I liked it.

The last act of the night was $100, and after the stylistic smorgasborg of the night leading up to their finale, their decidedly traditional country songs seemed almost out of place. But straightforward isn’t a slight when you’re talking about hurtin’ songs and the directness of their approach, in particular the raw, honest rasp and twang of singer Simone Schmidt, conveyed that emotion quite effectively. I’ve gotten so used having country used in a hybrid sense with other styles that hearing it in such a pure, undiluted form was pretty eye- and ear-opening. There’s good reason that people are talking about $100.

Though the Polish Combatants Hall is certainly not Sneaky Dee’s – there’s no way I’d have sat on the floor at Sneaks – the evening was a terrific reminder of what makes Wavelength great. You may not like everything you see, but it’ll almost never be uninteresting. Happy birthday to a great Toronto institution and hopefully it won’t be a year before I see you again. But no promises.

BlogTO also has a review of $100’s set if not the rest of the evening.

Photos: $100, Brides, Hooded Fang, The Luyas, The Element Choir @ The Polish Combatants Hall – February 14, 2009
MP3: $100 – “No Great Leap”
MP3: $100 – “Forest Of Tears”
MP3: $100 – “Nothing’s Alright”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Land Of Giants”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “The Pageant”
MP3: The Luyas – “Cats In A Bag”
MP3: The Luyas – “Tantamount”
MySpace: $100
MySpace: The Luyas

And speaking of the Polish Combatants Hall (a nice and large community centre-type building by the University, if you were wondering), if you didn’t have tickets for Bruce Peninsula’s record release show there next Sunday (still some left but not many) or just couldn’t make it, take heart because they’ve already announced another show for March 28 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $8. And I don’t recommend sitting on the floor there. The National Post has a video performance and interview with the band.

Making it a three-peat, the “Rolling Tundra Revue” featuring Constantines and Weakerthans has added a third and final show at the Phoenix for April 2. Tickets $25. If you manage to miss out on this one as well as the two previously announced ones for March 31 and April 1, then congratulations – you are the absolute worst procrastinator in the world.

Tricky, who was here for a show at the Phoenix last September, returns for a much more intimate performance at the Mod Club on April 2. Tickets $29.50.

It’ll be all about the UK dance-rock at the Kool Haus on April 10 when The Whip and Late Of The Pier roll into town. Both are touring behind their debut albums – X Marks The Spot (out March 3) and Fantasy Black Channel respectively. Please don’t ask me what the mash-up below is, I really don’t know. It’s just there.

MP3: The Whip – “Trash”
MP3: The Whip Vs. Britney Spears – “Trash Circus” (Ruben X Trashmash)

The polar opposite of the previous bill – Damien Jurado and Laura Gibson – will folk things up at the Drake Underground on April 14. Jurado released Caught In The Trees last year and Gibson’s Beasts Of Seasons is out next week, though you can stream it right now at NPR. The song below is an older one. The Daily Vanguard has an interview. Full dates at BrooklynVegan.

MP3: Damien Jurado – “Gillian Was A Horse”
MP3: Laura Gibson – “Hands In Pockets”
Stream: Laura Gibson / Beasts Of Season

The Dears have scheduled at date at the Mod Club for April 30, tickets $20. The Montreal Mirror talks to Murray Lightburn. and The News interviews White Lies, whose debut To Lose My Life is out Stateside March 17 and they play Lee’s Palace on March 31 with Friendly Fires and The Soft Pack.

MP3: White Lies – “Death”
Video: White Lies – “Farewell To The Fairground”

Paste declares Alela Diane their artists of the week. Her new record To Be Still came out yesterday and is streaming at Spinner. She plays an in-store at Soundscapes this Saturday at 6:30PM and at the Horseshoe that night with Blitzen Trapper. That’s sold out, if you were wondering. Billboard has an interview with Blitzen Trapper.

Stream: Alela Diane / To Be Still

Also new this week and streaming – M Ward’s Hold Time. He also gave a solo performance and interview you can stream at NPR.

Stream: M. Ward / Hold Time

And to wrap up this week’s other new release streams of interest – Asobi Seksu’s Hush – they’re at the ElMo on March 3 – and Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3’s Goodnight Oslo. They play the Mod Club on April 16.

Stream: Asobi Seksu / Hush
Stream: Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 / Goodnight Oslo