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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Bird’

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Human Being

Review of Cat Power’s Sun

Photo By Stefano GiovanniniStefano GiovanniniIt seems counter-intuitive to not look forward to hearing an artist’s first album of new material in half a decade – the follow-up to arguably her best work, no less – but then things are rarely straightforward when you’re talking about Cat Power. With all respect to those who’d bestow the honour on You Are Free or Moon Pix, but The Greatest was as good as its title as far as I was concerned. It may not have been as musically adventurous or emotionally bare as some of her other works, but I found the document of an artist trying something new with the Memphis soul style and sounding so in her element irresistible.

So why fear for the follow-up? Well, there was 2008’s Jukebox, which took the aesthetic of The Greatest and applied it to a selection of classic songs and somehow ended up feeling utterly bloodless, with Chan Marshall seemingly falling into the diva trap of now being an impressive voice overemoting the words of others; it was like the feeling of comfort that permeated The Greatest had turned into complacency. Further, while the two shows I saw in 2006 in support of The Greatest were, with a few hiccups, outstanding shows that seemed to put Marshall’s reputation as a shaky live bet to bed, her appearance at the 2007 Rogers Picnic was uneven and uncomfortable and while she was certainly more together at Matador at 21 in 2010, that set didn’t really point to her leaving her Dirty Delta comfort zone anytime soon. In other words, my greatest fear for Sun, promised as far back as 2007 but only arriving next Tuesday, would that it would be an overworked, underwhelming rock’n’soul pastiche that showcased Marshall’s voice but shortchanged her songwriting. And I didn’t want to hear that happen.

Well as it turns out, there was nothing to fear. Nothing. At. All. Marshall’s soulful rasp is as rich as it ever was, but there’s little trace of the gospel-blues singer that she wore a little too well. Sun is a wildly eclectic record, and even those who’ve kept up with Cat Power through her various creative phases may be taken aback by the introduction of electronic textures, programmed beats, and even some autotuning effects, but no one would dare dismiss this as genre tourism. It’s more as if Cat Power has been captured through a prism and refracted into a spectrum of musical colours – perhaps new and unfamiliar when taken in bits, but all still very much parts of the whole.

As tempting as it would be to make the new sonic direction the story of the record, or dwell on the remarkable fact that it was not only self-produced but that Marshall played virtually every instrument on the record, to do so would be to not focus on the most crucial aspect of Sun and that the songs are fantastic. The frailties of her early work have given way to a swaggering confidence that permeates everything; Marshall is focused, confident, and not only willing to take on anything, but determined to succeed. A closer examination of the lyrics reveals as much emotional honesty as she’s ever offered – after all, you can’t raise the sun without casting some shadows – but the darkness only adds depth, it never defines. Sun is an astonishing statement from Chan Marshall that shows that rather than banish the demons of her earlier work as The Greatest might have inferred, she’s utterly made them her bitches and put them to work.

The New York Times, News.com.au, and Spin have feature pieces on Cat Power and NPR is streaming Sun ahead of its release next week. She plays The Kool Haus on October 20.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”
Stream: Cat Power / Sun

Another stellar effort from a veteran performer out next week is Silver Age from Bob Mould; it’s also now available to stream along with an interview at Rolling Stone. The first video from said record also surfaced last week.

Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Stream: Bob Mould / Silver Age

To mark the release of the Divine Fits debut long-player A Thing Called Divine Fits this week, there’s feature interviews with Britt Daniel and/or Dan Boeckner at Consequence Of Sound, The 405, Interview, 680 News, Seattle Weekly, Pitchfork, The AV Club, and The National Post. Divine Fits play Lee’s Palace on September 5.

Also out this week was Nocturne, the second album from Wild Nothing. Accompanying that were features at eMusic, The Fader, Clash, DIY, Austinist, The Line Of Best Fit, and Paste. They’re at The Great Hall on September 18.

A goodly number of show announcements to get through. We’ll start with The Killers, because statistically speaking some of you must be fans, just as some of your must be human and others dancer. Their new record Battle Born is out September 18 and they’re at The Sound Academy on September 22, tickets $54.50. That seems undersized for them so I figure this counts as the “intimate club gig” before they return in a few months at the arena level.

Video: The Killers – “Runaways”

Presumably having sorted themselves out following the departure of bassist Jen Turner, Here We Go Magic will be at The Garrison on September 23 as part of a tour support of their latest record A Different Ship. Tickets for that are $12.50 in advance. Spin has a feature on the band.

MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Casual”

Having been through for festivals and as support, Exitmusic finally have their own proper headlining show in support of their debut Passage. They’re at The Horseshoe on October 1, tickets $10.50.

MP3: Exitmusic – “The Sea”

Californian psych-poppers Woods will have a new record in Bend Beyond out on September 18, and they’d like to play some of it for you. Be at The Garrison on October 2 if you’ld like that too; tickets are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”

There’s no measure by which this isn’t a strange tour, but it must make sense to someone. That’d be The Psychedelic Furs, The Lemonheads, and Juliana Hatfield, who will also be reprising her Ray-era bass duties in The Lemonheads. She’ll sort of have a new record to push in her self-titled cover album, a sort of companion piece to The Lemonheads’ last release, the all-cover Varshons. Wouldn’t it be weird if both their sets were all covers? Or maybe all Psychedelic Furs covers? Yeah I have no idea what this is, besides at The Danforth Music Hall on October 16. Ticket info still forthcoming.

Video: The Psychedelic Furs – “Love My Way”
Video: The Lemonheads – “It’s A Shame About Ray”
Video: Juliana Hatfield Three – “My Sister”

They are from Brooklyn, they are seventeen members strong, they are disco, they are Escort, their 2011 debut album was also Escort, I hear they were awesome at SXSW, and they’re at The Horseshoe on November 10. Tickets are $16.50 – that’s less than a dollar a band member!

MP3: Escort – “Starlight”

Yellow Ostrich are at The Garrison on November 12 in support of their second album Strange Land. $12 gets you in the door, full dates at Plug In Music.

MP3: Yellow Ostrich – “The Shakedown”

San Diego’s Pinback return with their first album in five years in Information Retrieved, and are touring in support. Said tour wraps up at Lee’s Palace on November 21, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Pinback – “From Nothing To Nowhere”

Rolling Stone has premiered the surprisingly dark new video from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Tempest. It’s out September 11 and the man hits the Air Canada Centre on November 14.

Video: Bob Dylan – “Duquesne Whistle”

Exclaimtalks to Lou Barlow about the new Dinosaur Jr album I Bet On Sky, out September 18. They play three nights at Lee’s Palace from September 24 to 26.

The first video from Band Of Horses’ forthcoming Mirage Rock is now available to watch. It’s out September 18.

Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”

Stereogum chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Their new record Transcendental Youth is out October 2, they play The Phoenix on October 20.

Benjamin Gibbard – you may know him as just Ben – has released the first sample of his forthcoming solo record Former Lives, out October 16. He plays The Danforth Music Hall on October 14.

MP3: Benjamin Gibbard – “Teardrop Windows”

Exclaim has details on a new release from Andrew Bird, a companion piece to this year’s Break It Yourself. Hands Of Glory is out October 30.

Sleigh Bells’ Reign Of Terror has yielded another new video.

Video: Sleigh Bells – “End Of The Line”

NPR welcomes Beachwood Sparks for a video session. LA Weekly also has a feature on the band.

The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, SF Weekly, The Pitch, Colorado Daily, and Boulder Weekly have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Someone Great

Review of LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up And Play The Hits

Photo via FacebookFacebookHaving only gotten around to discovering the genius of LCD Soundsystem with their third and final album This Is Happening, I feel immensely fortunate to have caught them live twice on their farewell tour – their final Toronto show in May 2010 and then in Chicago headlining that year’s Pitchfork Festival – probably more than someone as late to the part as I deserved.

But watching Shut Up And Play The Hits, the concert documentary covering their final ever concert at Madison Square Garden in New York in April 2011, I felt no small amount of regret that I didn’t move heaven and earth to be there. Not that I would have gotten a ticket, and not that I had even seriously considered it, but the film does such a great job of making it seem like it was much more than just a concert, but the a genuinely historic (at least from a musical perspective) passing of a band who so embodied their city for the decade that they were active. Even constrained to limited camera angles from the amount of gear and players on stage, the live footage captures both how great a live band they were – remarkable considering they were originally intended to be strictly a studio-bound concern – and just how much their fans loved them.

While I enjoyed the non-concert footage – particularly the Klosterman interview which I think became this Guardian feature – the scenes meant to show James Murphy’s first day of the rest of his life didn’t quite achieve the suspension of disbelief necessary. I mean, it’s possible that he acquiesced to having a camera crew waiting in his apartment while he slept and certainly does a good job of ignoring them while he goes about his band post-mortem business, but I don’t know. It’s too well-captured to not have been at least somewhat staged. And if I’m wrong and it really was all real life, fly on the wall stuff, my hat’s off to directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace for getting it so right. Ultimately a trivial complaint and I’m always up for more loving shots of New York City streets, but it did bother me.

The film is currently making the screening rounds – kind of a final farewell tour – and if you missed its last two times through Toronto (Hot Docs back in the Spring and last week where I saw it), note that it’ll be back for a third encore with screenings at The Bloor on August 3 and 4. The DVD edition, which also includes the entirety of the four-hour farewell show, is out October 9 and available to pre-order now – I long ago decided I’d stop buying music DVDs since I rarely/never watch them, but I think I’ll be making an exception for this one. And there’s a little bit of bonus/fan footage available to watch at The Creator’s Project.

Trailer: Shut Up And Play The Hits

If you were at that Shut Up screening last week, you would have seen a trailer for Searching For Sugar Man, the documentary that tracked down lost ’60s folk singer Rodriguez. The film begins a two-week run at The Bloor on August 10 and Rodriguez himself will be in town for a concert at The Mod Club on October 25, tickets $20. There’s feature pieces on the man and the film at The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Wall Street Journal.

MP3: Rodriguez – “Sugar Man”
Trailer: Searching For Sugar Man

Time makes a good case for why the just-released reissues of Sugar’s Copper Blue/Beaster and File Under: Easy Listening are so essential.

eMusic talks to Eternal Summers about their new album Correct Behavior. They’re at The Garrison August 7.

Interview talks to Cat Power about her new album Sun, due out September 4.

Trespassers William nave announced a September 4 street date for their final release Cast; a double-disc set with collects an album’s worth of rarities and b-sides and a full-length version of their 2009 EP The Natural Order Of Things.

NME talks to J Mascis about I Bet On Sky, the new Dinosaur Jr album due out September 18. They play Lee’s Palace September 24, 25, and 26 in support.

Rolling Stone talks Undersea with The Antlers, in town September 25 at The Great Hall.

The Mountain Goats have released the first MP3 from their new record Transcendental Youth, out October 2.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Cry For Judas”

October 2 also marks the release of the new Mark Eitzel solo record Don’t Be A Stranger. Details on the release – his third since the last American Music Club album The Golden Age was released but the first since that band was officially retired (again) – are available at Exclaim.

Paste checks in with Ben Gibbard, who’s putting out his first solo record Former Lives on October 16. This ode to recently-traded Seattle Mariners outfield Ichiro Suzuki probably isn’t on it.

Stream: Ben Gibbard – “Ichiro’s Theme”

Terribly if accurately named Los Angeles outfit He’s My Brother She’s My Sister are in town for a show at Parts & Labour on October 19.

Video: He’s My Brother She’s My Sister – “Touch The Lightning”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Andrew Bird, who’s just released a new video from Break It Yourself.

Video: Andrew Bird – “Give It Away”

Yours Truly has a video session with Of Montreal.

The Village Voice talks to Dean Wareham about Galaxie 500 and the odds of a Luna reunion. Update: NYC Taper has a recording of last week’s Dean & Britta performance in New York where they were joined on guitar by Sean Eden. 3/4 of the way there!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Long And Wasted Years

Bob Dylan plans new album and tour to make material from new album incomprehensible

Photo via GothamistGothamistYesterday’s news cycle brought not one but two treats for the baby boomers or those with boomer-like musical tastes. First, hot on the heels of the news that Bob Dylan would be releasing his 35th studio album, entitled Tempest, on September 11, came an extensive touring itinerary in support of the record that would bring the legendary artist – along with Mark Knopfler, himself not a no one – to the Air Canada Centre on November 14.

Or course, as anyone who’s seen Dylan live in recent years will tell you, his shows come with a caveat. Though his artistic bona fides are beyond reproach and he is to be commended for maintaining as intense a touring schedule as he does at age 71, those expecting anything resembling an oldies show or revue had best think again. His reputation for being a difficult live performer – often rearranging classic songs and melodies beyond recognizability and speak-singing in a way that even if he were playing them as you remember, you still probably wouldn’t know what they were – is well-earned. And it’s not that he can’t do things straight – he’s mostly choosing not to.

Still, he’s Bob Dylan and if anyone’s earned the right to do what he wants, it’s probably him. Ticket info for the Toronto show is still forthcoming but it probably won’t be cheap. He’s earned that right too.

Video: Bob Dylan – “Things Have Changed”

You can expect The Who – or The Two, if you don’t think it’s the same band without mssrs Moon and Entswistle – to stick to canon when they tour the arenas of North America this Fall and Winter, hitting the Air Canada Centre not long after Dylan clears out on November 23. That’s because they’re going to be performing their 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia in its entirety for these shows, in addition to their other songs you know and love. Tickets for that range from $37 to $127 and fan presales begin on Friday.

Video: The Who – “Love Reign O’er Me” (live 2006)

Getting just a touch more contemporary with the concert announcements, San Francisco duo Two Gallants will be at Lee’s Palace on September 29 in support of their fourth album, The Bloom And The Blight, out September 4. Tickets for that are $17.50 in advance.

MP3: Two Gallants – “Las Cruces Jail”

I genuinely thought that Two Door Cinema Club would soundtrack the Summer of 2010 and then quietly disappear, but clearly not – their fanbase has continued to grow and Rolling Stone reports that their second album Beacon will arrive on September 4 accompanied by an extensive North American tour that brings them to the Sound Academy on October 5 with Brooklyn party crew Friends supporting. Tickets range from $29.50 to $36.50.

Video: Two Door Cinema Club – “Something Good Can Work”
Video: Friends – “Mind Control”

With his show opening up for Sigur Rós at Echo Beach on August 1 well and truly sold out, Perfume Genius can safely announce a return date on October 5 at 918 Bathurst. This show will be dry, all ages, and cost $22.50 in admission.

MP3: Perfume Genius – “All Waters”

Los Angeles producer Flying Lotus, who has folks such as Radiohead and Erykah Badu on speed dial, will release his new record Until The Quiet Comes on October 2 and follow it up with a Fall tour that brings him to The Hoxton on October 15. Tickets for that are $23.50 in advance.

MP3: Flying Lotus – “Tea Leaf Dancers”

Oklahoma’s Other Lives, who have their own Radiohead connection in that they were tapped to open up their Spring tour dates earlier this year, will be at The Horseshoe on November 23, tickets $15.

MP3: Other Lives – “For 12”

The lead single from Dinosaur Jr’s new one I Bet On Sky is now available to download. It’s out September 18 and they settle in for a three-night stand at Lee’s Palace starting September 24.

MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Watch The Corners”

The Afghan Whigs have released their second piece of post-reunion music, and it’s another cover – this time of R&B man of the moment Frank Ocean. They’re at The Phoenix on October 3 and seeing as how this tune has been a fixture of their live shows in 2012, expect to hear it.

MP3: The Afghan Whigs – “Lovecrimes”

Guided By Voices have released a video from their second reunion album of 2012, Class Clown Spots A UFO.

Video: Guided By Voices – “Keep It In Motion”

Paste talks to Mission Of Burma drummer Peter Prescott about the quality of the band’s post-reunion albums.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel has an interview with Beachwood Sparks, who’ve released a new video from their new record The Tarnished Gold.

Video: Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song”

Beatroute, The Georgia Straight, and Tone Deaf chat with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty.

Ben Gibbard is stepping out of Death Cab For Cutie for a moment to release his solo debut in Former Lives, out October 16. Details at Stereogum.

Rolling Stone talks to Andrew Bird, in town tonight at Echo Beach.

The Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press, and Uptown talk to members of Beirut. They’re at The Sound Academy tonight.

NOW talks to Best Coast ahead of Saturday night’s show at The Phoenix; their show in DC earlier this week is available to stream over at NPR.

Another track from A Place To Bury Strangers’ latest Worship is available to download. Creative Loafing has an interview with the band, who’re back in town on August 12 closing out the second day of ALL CAPS! on Toronto Islands.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “And I’m Up”

The Phoenix New Times talk to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who have a new video from Animal Joy.

Video: Shearwater – “Immaculate”

Beatroute and Zimbio interview Phantogram.

DIY chats with School Of Seven Bells.

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

CONTEST – Andrew Bird @ Echo Beach – July 19, 2012

Photo By Cameron WittigCameron WittigWho: Andrew Bird
What: Chicagoan singer-songwriter-violinist-guitarist-whistling virtuoso who it has been scientifically and medically proven to have more talent in his little finger than most small villages and hamlets.
Why: His latest album Break It Yourself was released back in March and while fans were getting anxious that Toronto was left off of initial tour itineraries, it turns out he was just waiting for Summer to do it outside.
When: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Where: Echo Beach at Ontario Place, Toronto (all ages)
Who else: The inclusion of local singer-songwriter Basia Bulat as the undercard makes this an absurdly strong bill.
How: Tickets for the show are $37.50 in advance but courtesy of LiveNation, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to Break It Myself” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in before midnight, July 16.
What else: Michigan Live has a feature piece on Andrew Bird.

MP3: Andrew Bird – “Give It Away”
MP3: Andrew Bird – “Eyeoneye”

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Fragrant World

Yeasayer are now big enough to play The Sound Academy, and other assorted sundry news items

Photo By Anna PalmaAnna PalmaIt used to be that the room that every concert-goer in Toronto hated was The Kool Haus, a ridiculously-named concrete box on the waterfront that usually marked the point where a percentage of long-time fans would decide a band had gotten too big and would peel off to find the next big thing, only to have their places happily taken by folks from the more mainstream side of things who could care less that said band had been grinding it out in the clubs for years – they were that band with that one song that they’d heard on the radio/on a soundtrack/in and ad/whatever.

It was the circle of life, and it still applies now except that instead of the 2000-capacity Kool Haus marking that demarcation point, lately bands have been jumping straight from the clubs to the Sound Academy – an even more despised concrete box on the waterfront that, despite the number of people who swear they will never go to a show there, still sells out its 3000+ capacity with regularity. But on the plus side, people look at the Kool Haus a lot more affectionately these days.

All of which is to say that I’m mildly surprised – and yet not – that Brooklyn’s Yeasayer have booked themselves into The Sound Academy this Summer for their North American tour in support of their third album, Fragrant World. I guess I just didn’t think that Yeasayer had the sort of mass appeal that would justify a move from the 1000-person Phoenix, where they were their last time through in June 2011, to a room three times larger this time out. But hey, it’s happening – much to the dismay of many, I’m sure – on August 21, which also happens to be the day that the new album comes out. Tickets for that one will be $22.50 general admission and $32.50 for VIP balcony seats.

The first track from Fragrant World has been made available to download, and there’s a piece in Spin from last Fall where singer Chris Keating talked about the song, specifically.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Henrietta”

In other show announcements – The Dandy Warhols will play an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on June 3 at 4:30PM before their show at The Phoenix later that night. There’s interviews with the band at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Phoenix, and Vancouver Observer.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Country Leaver”

Brooklyn’s Ava Luna have made a date at The Drake Underground for July 14, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut album Ice Level was released earlier this Winter.

MP3: Ava Luna – “Wrenning Day”

California’s RACES – yes, I believe the all caps is mandatory – will be at The Drake on July 23 in support of their debut Year Of The Witch, which is also available to stream in its entirety.

MP3: RACES – “Big Broom”
Stream: RACES / Year Of The Witch

Los Angeles ambient-electronic artist Julia Holter will be at The Horseshoe on September 22 in support of her widely-acclaimed second album Ekstasis. Tickets for that are $12 in advance and The Quietus has an interview.

Video: Julia Holter – “Our Sorrw”

Beachwood Sparks have released a second MP3 from their comeback record The Tarnished Gold, out June 26.

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Sparks Fly Again”

Rolling Stone has premiered the new animated video from Andrew Bird, taken from Break It Yourself. He plays Echo Beach on July 19.

Video: Andrew Bird – “eyeoneye”

Filter has a video session with School Of Seven Bells.

Room 205 has posted the second installment of their video series with Blouse.

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from Jana Hunter of Lower Dens, in town at Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Coup de Main and Tulsa World talk to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Ume’s Lauren Larson chats with The Dallas Observer.

The Village Voice finds out what Amy Klein has been up to since leaving Titus Andronicus last Fall – mainly starting a new band, Leda. Which sounds like this.

MP3: Leda – “Halfway”

The Stool Pigeon talks to both Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House.

The Quietus profiles The Men, doing up NXNE with shows at The Garrison on June 14 and Wrongbar on June 15.

Blurt talks to Brett Netson of Electronic Anthology Project about synth-ing up the likes of Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr.

Rolling Stone has a video interview with Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs reunion.

Bob Mould takes an in-depth look back at the Sugar years for The Quietus. Their catalog gets reissued in fancy form come July 24.