Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Alt-J’

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Think You Can Wait

The National have a new album and are headlining NXNE. Your argument is invalid.

Photo By Deirdre O'CallaghanDeirdre O’CallaghanSometimes the best kinds of surprises are the ones you already knew were coming. For example – everyone knew The National was making a new record. High Violet came out way back in Spring 2010, touring behind it wrapped in late 2011, and they’ve since been posting updates from the studio via Instagram. Everyone knows they’ve not been idle, and yet it was hard not to feel a shiver when the official press release arrived in the inbox, announcing the album was done and would be out in May. No other details about the release like title or precise release date, but for now it was enough. Well, almost – it also revealed some Spring/Summer tour dates including the fact that The National would be the Yonge-Dundas Square headliner at NXNE.

I had wondered why NXNE was making their first official festival lineup announcement so early – last year’s Flaming Lips reveal didn’t come until mid-April – but I guess when one of your biggest act is going to let the cat out of the bag anyways, why not get on board? And so you can officially circle Friday, June 14, on your calendar as that evening The National will perform a free show for anyone and everyone who cares to listen at Yonge-Dundas Square. It won’t be the multi-sensory spectacle as The Lips offered last year, but it will be gorgeous, showered, and blue-blazered.

A whole batch of acts was announced alongside The National with some of the other high-profile acts coming to town including: Tuscon desert-rock stalwarts Calexico at The Mod Club on June 12, which explains why they’ve taken so long to come to town behind last year’s Algiers; Copenhagen post-punks Iceage at locations to be determined on June 15 and 16, which is why their current tour behind You’re Nothing has a curious Toronto-shaped gap in it despite there being time and space to fit it; one of the two Black Flag reunions – FLAG, featuring Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski – are at The Opera House on June 14; ascendant Californian garage-rocker Mikal Cronin, whose second album MCII is out May 7, assumes the Silver Dollar residency from June 13 to 15; and the touring bill of Milk Music and Merchandise will play showcases perhaps together, perhaps not.

It’s interesting that with a couple exceptions, most of what was announced yesterday tends to the loud, punk side of things. Perhaps the festival just wants to make an impactful first impression? Certainly did for me, and they’ve got almost four more months to roll out some more rangy acts. Can’t wait.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Iceage – “Coalition”
MP3: Milk Music – “I’ve Got A Wild Feeling”
Stream: Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out”

Austra took to Twitter to announce themselves as a rather late add to Canadian Musicfest; they’ll be playing The Danforth Music Hall on the evening of March 23. Austinist has an interview with frontwoman Katie Stelmanis.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

Stepping out of festival-y stuff for a moment, I’m excited that Stornoway are at The Horseshoe on May 9 in support of their second album Tales From Terra Firma, out March 19. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”

Keeping with the festival additions theme, Stars have been added to the Arts & Crafts past-and-present Field Trip lineup playing Garrison Commons at Fort York on June 8. Right now they’re a little further abroad, hence interviews at AsiaOne and The Sydney Morning Herald

MP3: Stars – “The Theory Of Relativity”

The Toronto Urban Roots Fest continues to make good on their promise to reveal a few more acts every week; this week’s adds to the four-day fest at Garrison Commons from July 4 to 7 include The Hold Steady, Justin Townes Earle, Frank Turner, The Lowest Of The Low, and The Skydiggers. Info on which specific date each act is playing and ticket on-sales are still a few weeks out, but if the festival’s intent is to keep building excitement each week until it lets details out… I think it’s working.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations”
MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues”
MP3: Frank Turner – “The Roads”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Skydiggers – “Alice Graham” (live)

And not a festival, but still sort-of keeping in theme as a new addition to an existing event and happening on an outdoor stage… more than a month out from their Sound Academy show, and Alt-J have already announced a return engagement on September 11 at Echo Beach, tickets $34.50 general admission and $50 VIP.

MP3: Alt-J – “Matilda”

And in non-concert announcement business… Low have made another track from The Invisible Way available to download. They play The Great Hall on March 16 and the album is out March 19.

MP3: Low – “So Blue”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made the first single from Mosquito available to stream, largely putting to rest fears that the album art would accurately reflect the contents. It’s out April 16.

Stream: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”

Rolling Stone has a stream of another song from the new Iron & Wine album Ghost on Ghost, out April 16.

Stream: Iron & Wine – “Grace For Saints And Ramblers”

Clash talks to Jim James, paying a visit to The Phoenix on April 24.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House.

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The Return Of The Thin White Duke

Some more thoughts on the return of David Bowie and other stuff

Photo By Jimmy KingJimmy KingIn the wake of David Bowie’s sudden and unexpected return to public life on Monday night, there’s understandably been a lot of Bowie talk in the past few days. Linking to them all would be futile, but here’s some of the pieces I’ve particularly liked. The Quietus does a great job of summing up why his return matters, why it’s different from all the other reunions and career resurrections that we’ve seen, as well as what we might expect from The Next Day when it drops on March 12.

Both The Guardian and The Quietus analyze the odd and polarizing artwork that will grace the new album – I honestly thought it was a joke when I first saw it – and if you missed my addendum on Tuesday, there’s an interview with the designer of the cover at Virus Fonts. Rolling Stone sums up an interview with producer Tony Visconti about the making of the record, which has been two years in the making, and what the rest of the album feels like – hint: not like the lead single – and over at Ultimate Classic Rock, guitarist Earl Slick talks about his own contributions to the record and the challenges of not saying a damn word about it until now. Update: In a forthcoming NME interview, Visconti re-emphasizes Bowie’s intentions to not perform live for this record. So there’s that. Update 2: Billboard also has an interview with Visconti.

For my part, despite being one of the many who probably hasn’t given any of Bowie’s late-era works the consideration at least some of it surely deserves, I’m quite excited about the new record. I really like the new song, and I especially like the fact that this is an album that exists not because Bowie felt he was obliged to make one – most everyone had accepted that he was retired and no longer owed anyone anything; he had successfully transitioned into myth – but because after an unprecedentedly long layoff, once again has something to say musically. I look forward to hearing what that is.

And in the meantime, check out these 34 portraits of Bowie by famous cartoonists over at Buzzfeed, have another look at the piece in The Daily Mail from last year that seemed to confirm his domestic bliss and try to read the, “yeah sure it looks like I’m just out to do some shopping but I’m really making a new record that you have no idea about” in his smile. Oh, and here’s that new single/video again.

Video: David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

The Bowie news, of course, blew the news of Suede’s own new single right off the front pages of certain music news sites, but to remind us that also was a thing, the band have released a rehearsal space video for the song. Their new album Bloodsports is out in March, though hopefully not on the 12th lest they want to be overshadowed by Bowie yet again.

Video: Suede – “Barricade” (Rehearsal Room video)

Pitchfork has debuted the new video from Esben & The Witch’s second album Wash The Sins Not Only The Face, out in a couple weeks on January 22.

Video: Esben & The Witch – “Despair”

DIY has got a stream of the new single from British buzz band Palma Violets, in town at The Horseshoe on January 24 and dropping their debut 180 on February 25.

Stream: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”

The Guardian has a wide-ranging interview with Johnny Marr, covering everything from The Smiths to his solo debut The Messenger due out February 26. Another new track from the album is streaming at KROQ.

Stream: Johnny Marr – “Upstarts”

The Walking Dead is back on TV come February 10 but those who like their Zombies a little less shambling and a little more classic baroque pop will want to catch the Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent-led 2013 lineup at The Sound Academy on March 3.

Video: The Zombies – “She’s Not There”

NME reports thatKate Nash will release her third album Girl Talk on March 4; stream the first single below.

Stream: Kate Nash – “3AM”

Le Blogotheque has a Takeaway Show session with Django Django. They play The Opera House on March 12.

The 405 has details on If You Leave, the debut album from Daughter which will be out on March 18 in Europe and the UK but not until April 30 in North America.

The Alt-J show on March 27 originally set for The Phoenix has been moved to The Sound Academy and is now all-ages. The extra 2000 or so tickets go on sale today and are still $17.50. NPR has a video session as well as a Tiny Desk Concert with the band and Clash gets them to reflect on their rather successful 2012. Under The Radar also has an interview.

MP3: Alt-J – “Tessalate”

The 405 has a quick update on the new Primal Scream album, which if their producer’s Facebook is to be believed, will be called More Light and be out in May.

Rolling Stone talks to Neil Halstead about the just-released new video from his latest Palindrome Hunches.

Video: Neil Halstead – “Digging Shelters”

Charli XCX has released a new gunplay-happy video that’s drawing some ire from those who are a bit sensitive on the topic of guns right now. Which is understandable to a degree, but I hope they’re saving some of their vitriol for the people/organizations actually responsible for the excess of real-life gun violence rather than a British pop singer latching onto a ubiquitous aspect of western pop culture.

Video: Charli XCX – “You (Ha Ha Ha)”

DIY talks to Summer Camp about how things are coming with album number two while The Line Of Best Fit learns about the documentary the band are also making about late ’90s/early ’00s teen movies entitled Beyond Clueless.

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Small Talk

Ultraista, Atoms For Peace only making plans for Nigel (Godrich)

Photo via Temporary ResidenceTemporary ResidenceNot many record producers manage to achieve the sort of household name status as the artists they work with, but Nigel Godrich has done as well as anyone in the recent memory. Partly because of his work on high-profile records from the likes of Beck, Pavement, and Paul McCartney, but mainly because he’s the unofficial sixth member of Radiohead, having been behind the boards for every one of their records from OK Computer onwards.

He’s been getting out of the studio and onto the stage of late, though. He’s one third of Ultraista, along with Joey Waronker – best known as R.E.M.’s first post-Bill Berry drummer circa Up and Reveal, and singer/artist Laura Bettinson. They released their self-titled debut in October, and while it’s obviously its own thing separate from what Godrich has worked on in the past, his signature is clearly evident in the beats and electronic textures contained therein. A full North American tour itinerary has yet to be revealed, they will definitely be at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on January 26, tickets $15.

Rolling Stone talks to Godrich about the project while The Dumbing Of America chats with Bettinson.

MP3: Ultraista – “Small Talk”
Video: Ultraista – “Bad Insect”
Video: Ultraista – “Gold Dayzz”
Video: Ultraista – “Our Song”
Video: Ultraista – “Static Light”
Video: Ultraista – “Small Talk”

Godrich and Waronker are both also part of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s sideproject Atoms For Peace – along with Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and percussionist Mauro Refosco – and they just announced the February 25 release of their debut full-length, Amok. Consequence Of Sound has specifics on the record and Yorke talked to Rolling Stone about how the band evolved out of his 2006 solo record The Eraser. They’ve just given away a b-side as download on their website and released a video for a lead single earlier this year. At least some touring is presumed to be planned for 2013 so everyone waiting for that make-up Toronto Radiohead date? Don’t.

MP3: Atoms For Peace – “What The Eyeballs Did”
Video: Atoms For Peace – “Default”

So what does winning the Mercury Prize get you, in concrete terms? For Alt-J, a venue upgrade from Wrongbar – where they made their local debut in September – to The Phoenix, where they’ll headline on March 27. Tickets are $17.50 and the full North American itinerary can be seen at Exclaim.

MP3: Alt-J – “Tessalate”

Chickfactor has premiered the first sample of the new Amor de Días album The House at Sea, due out January 29.

MP3: Amor de Días – “Jean’s Waving”

The National Student interviews Frightened Rabbit. Their new album Pedestrian Verse us out February 5.

DIY and The Guardian sit down with Jessie Ware to discuss her whirlwind 2012.

Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine talks to Drowned In Sound about joining Primal Scream this Summer and the return of MBV.

Pitchfork reports that Lost Sirens, that compilation of New Order outtakes circa Waiting For The Sirens’ Call that absolutely no one has been clamouring for, will be released on January 22.

Rolling Stone has another live clip taken from the Blur live set Parklive, and naturally it’s the song that North American audiences would know best. And speaking of North America, Blur have confirmed their first live appearance on the continent in who knows how long for next Spring – but it’s not where you’d expect.

Video: Blur – “Song 2” (live at Hyde Park)

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Suede have slated a live show for London next Spring, expected to coincide with the release of a new album. Which, in a perfect world, would be produced by Bernard Butler who would secretly replace all of Richard Oakes’ guitar parts with his own.

Rolling Stone is streaming another song from Johnny Marr’s solo debut The Messenger, out February 26.

Stream: Johnny Marr – “The Right Thing Right”

Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that The House Of Love – who have only barely been active enough to qualify as not dead since their 2005 reunion album Days Run Away – have in fact finished a new record and will presumably actually be releasing it.

The Quietus talks to all three members of Saint Etienne while Artvinyl talks to the design shop who put together the wonderful album art for their latest, Words & Music By Saint Etienne.

Charles Watson of Slow Club gets political with Under The Radar.

Loud & Quiet and This Is Cornwall have interviews with Patrick Wolf.

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Tesselate

Alt-J and JBM at Wrongbar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangCambridge, England quartet Alt-J couldn’t have known how prescient they were when they named their debut album An Awesome Wave, as that’s pretty much what they’ve been riding through 2012. Released across the pond in May, it only came out over here officially this past Tuesday – timed to coincide with their inaugural North American tour – but in the interim that wave of buzz had quite definitively crossed the Atlantic, ensuring that arrived on these shores more like heroes than an act with something to prove.

For most, anyways. Despite being more than predisposed to bands possessing UK passports, the appeal of Alt-J largely escapes me. Or more accurately, I get why some people would like them; I don’t get why so many people like them. I’d have thought their oddly bloodless, art rock – which I’d liken to a celibate Wild Beasts or a very politely English Grizzly Bear – would find a niche audience at best, but somehow they’ve connected to such an extent that they’re the odds-on favourite to win the Mercury Prize at the start of November. And that’s basically why I was at Wrongbar on Wednesday night to catch their Toronto debut – how often do you get the chance to see the buzziest new act out of the UK play a small club? And perhaps they were amazing performers who would win me over live. You never knew.

It didn’t take much to figure out what openers JBM were about. Named for the initials of frontman Jesse Marchant, their game as slow, broody singer-songwriter material made interesting by tastefully sparse and atmospheric arrangements, mainly courtesy of their understatedly dextrous drummer. In the demerit column were the echoes of the sort of brooding that had been left behind in the ’90s but at least they’d had the good sense to trade their plaid flannels for some gothic country livery. A touch more dynamicism and variety would have gone a long way to offset their more plodding instincts and Marchant’s vocals aren’t really expressive enough to carry what its trying to, but alright for passing a half hour or so.

However the rest of Alt-J’s Toronto debut would go, it didn’t have the most auspicious start. Opening, as Wave does, with “Intro”, the audience heard less of their jangly, intertwined, out-of-phase fingerpicked guitar movements and more of booming feedback that it took them almost the length of the song to tame – lead singer Joe Newman might have commented on it but his mic was also basically inaudible. Everything was mostly under control by the time they reached the first ‘proper’ song of the set, “Tesselate”, and from that point forwards it was smooth sailing. Some might say too smooth.

One of the good things about Wave is how the band are able to take their combination of Newman’s strangely nasal voice, almost medieval-sounding group harmonies, and contrasting cloud-like guitar parts and whirring keyboards and envelop it all with a real sense of mysteriousness. Live, with the four young English lads going about their business and recreating the album with minimal fanfare or showmanship, that veil was lifted and it’s hard to argue the music was any better for it. Not that I could have convinced most of the people around me of that.

Just as I found the critical and popular response to Wave disproportionate to what I thought it offered, the enthusiasm of the audience more than made up for the band’s reserve. Not that they were literally freaking out – there’s no measure by which this was music for freaking out to – but they sang along loudly despite there not really being any obvious singalong parts in the songs, dancing without need for heavy or steady rhythms, and waving their arms in the air just because. “Matilda”, one of the few songs with a conventional chorus, was greeted like a stadium-scale anthem. Even though by this point they must be used to big crowds at home, Alt-J seemed taken aback by the response they were getting – though mostly unflappable, Newman lost his place in “Breezeblocks” after getting distracted by the fan reaction.

Playing for 45 minutes – no encore – and covering most of Wave, it was a solid enough show that gave fans what they wanted but wasn’t the sort of performance that would change minds or sway doubters – I left with basically the same opinion that I went in with, and I’d like to think that I was open to being convinced. That’s okay, though, because Alt-J have clearly convinced more than enough people already.

The Independent has a profile piece on Alt-J and their probably impending coronation as Mercury Prize champs.

Photos: Alt-J, JBM @ Wrongbar – September 19, 2012
MP3: Alt-J – “Breezeblocks”
MP3: Alt-J – “Hand-Made”
MP3: Alt-J – “Matilda”
MP3: Alt-J – “Tesselate”
Video: Alt-J – “Something Good”
Video: Alt-J – “Fitzpleasure”
Video: Alt-J – “Breezeblocks”
Video: Alt-J – “Matilda”
Video: Alt-J – “Tessellate”
Video: JBM – “On Fire On A Tightrope”
Video: JBM – “In A Different Time”

Filter, BBC, and Edinburgh Evening News talk to another arty British band whose debut is up for the Mercury, is about to get released in North America, and are playing Wrongbar soon – that’s Django Django, whose self-title is out next Tuesday, and who are at Wrongbar on September 29.

Spotify talks to Sam Halliday of Two Door Cinema club. They’re at Sound Academy on October 11.

NOW has an interview and Daytrotter a session with Patrick Wolf, who is at The Music Gallery next Tuesday – September 25. His new album Sunlight & Riverdark is already available digitally via iTunes and will get a physical release on October 16. The Guardian has a studio video performance of the new arrangement of “Teignmouth”, which originally appeared on his second album Wind In The Wires.

Stereogum talks to Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes about her forthcoming record The Haunted Man. It’s out October 23 and a new song from it is available to stream.

Stream: Bat For Lashes – “All Your Gold”

Gaz Coombes has released a video from his solo debut Here Come The Bombs.

Video: Gaz Coombes – “White Noise”

NME has premiered the new video from Allo Darlin’, taken from this year’s lovely Europe.

Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Northern Lights”

Spotify interviews Hot Chip, who’ve just announced an expanded edition of their latest album In Our Heads. Exclaim has details on the double-disc set, due out on November 19.

Russell Lissack of Bloc Party talks to DIY about the band’s road from hiatus to Four.

The Fly profiles Toy.

It’s worth noting that I wasn’t even supposed to be at the Alt-J show – Wednesday night was supposed to be the night of I Break Horses’ triumphant return to Toronto… right up until they canceled the tour. The second of their three session videos for Room 205 is a little bit of comfort on that front.

Video: I Break Horses – “Hearts” (live at Room 205)

Huffington Post talks to Sarah Assbring of El Perro Del Mar, whose new album Pale Fire is out November 13.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Efterklang. Their new album Piramida is out on Tuesday.

Daytrotter has a session with First Aid Kit, who’ve released a new video from The Lion’s Roar. They’re at The Danforth Music Hall on September 26.

Video: First Aid Kit – “Wolf”

A Music Blog, Yea finds out what Ida Maria has been up to.

From the El Mocambo to the Kool Haus in twelve months isn’t bad – Of Monsters & Men makes their third visit to Toronto in almost a year exactly when they hit the Kool Haus on November 15. Tickets $25 in advance. Update: And a second show has been added for November 16. Mental.

MP3: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”

Tame Impala have released a video from their new album Lonerism. It’s out October 9 and they play The Phoenix November 12.

Video: Tame Impala – “Elephant”

The AV Club talks to Nick Cave about his screenwriting endeavours.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Home From War

Frightened Rabbit check into State Hospital; diagnosed with fear

Photo via ClashClashWhen you’re a couple years on from your last album and still a calendar year off from your next, yet you want a pretence to stage a North American tour, what do you do? If you’re Frightened Rabbit, whose Winter Of Mixed Drinks was back in 2010 and major label debut isn’t due out until early 2013, you put together five-song EP of new songs, call it State Hospital, release it on vinyl and digital only – because the kids love their vinyl and MP3s – and you hit the road.

Not that they needed the excuse to tour – their October 10 show at the Mod Club was well sold out a while ago – but if they wanted to remind folks of why their decidedly Scottish, anthemically miserable folk-rock has made the band beloved, they’ve begun streaming the EP at Pitchfork ahead of its release on September 25, setting the stage for them to finish up some European dates before crossing the pond. For whatever reason, Winter didn’t have quite the charm of its predecessor, the breakout Midnight Organ Fight, but the new EP is whetting my appetite for the band again, which is to say it’s doing its job.

The Daily Record, The 405, and The Banter have interviews with frontman Scott Hutchison about the new EP and the next album.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit / State Hospital

Lots of angles from which to get your daily Neil Halstead fix: a new MP3 from Palindrome Hunches is available to download courtesy of IFC, a new video has premiered at Nowness, and an EP to go with the Fall tour that brings him to the Dakota Tavern on October 8 is available for free – or you can leave a tip if you like – at Noisetrade, and includes songs from all points of his career. Including Mojave 3. And Slowdive. Yeah.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Tied To You”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Hey Daydreamer”

Billboard has a conversation and The Alternate Side a session with Alt-J, making their Toronto debut at Wrongbar tomorrow night.

Bat For Lashes has made another track from The Haunted Man available to download; it’s out October 23.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Marilyn”

Beatroute and The Boston Phoenix talk to Bloc Party.

The Toronto Star has a feature on The xx, who’ve made another track from Coexist and a new track not on the album available to download.

MP3: The xx – “Sunset”
MP3: The xx – “Reconsider”

Billboard profiles The Vaccines.

Under The Radar reports that Ladytron frontwoman Helen Marnie has begun work on a solo record and is hoping to crowdfund it via Pledge Music. And by selling her car.

The AV Club reports that Manic Street Preachers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Generation Terrorists with a slew of special edition reissues coming on November 5. This is the album, if you’re recall, that was supposed to outsell Appetite For Destruction, propel the band to global superstar status, culminate in a three-night stand at Wembley Stadium, and then allow the band to burn out and disappear. Fancy-pants twentieth anniversary editions weren’t in the manifesto, but what really turns out the way we expect?

The Guardian profiles the career of Amelia Fletcher, now fronting Tender Trap.

For Folks Sake chats with Stevie Jackson

The AV Club offers a starter’s guide to the musical genre referred to as “shoegazing”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.