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Posts Tagged ‘Army Girls’

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Their Helicopters' Sing

Review of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Photo By Yannick GrandmontYannick GrandmontUntil recently, Montréal’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been inexorably associated with a very certain moment in time, specifically the end of the last century and the dawn of this one. In addition to emerging at a time when post-rock was still an amorphous musical concept which was better felt than explained and Canada was only beginning to take steps towards becoming an international presence as home to exciting new music, Godspeed’s trilogy of albums – F# A#, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, and Yanqui U.X.O. rather perfectly captured the millennial tension of the time. By turns anxious, angstful, and angry, sounding simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, their mysteriousness gave Godspeed a sense of universality that spoke to people without the use of words. So while many were disappointed when the band went on hiatus in 2003, it also felt like a logical thing to do; their moment was ending.

One couldn’t help but wonder how they would have soundtracked the 21st century, though, what with society arguably declining further in disarray and injustice on so many fronts – if they were angry about the state of the world then, surely they’d be furious now. When they unexpectedly returned to action with live performances in 2010, it was mostly with old material that gave a generation of fans who’d only grown up with the legend a taste of what the reality was like. And though unfamiliar compositions did appear in their live sets, the band’s steadfast refusal to do interviews or offer any sort of public comment gave no hint if or when they would do anything further with them. Which, of course, was precisely how they liked it – else they wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of watching a portion of the internet blow up when they announced just last week that their fourth album, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, not only existed but was already available for sale at their live shows and would be out worldwide in a fortnight.

As ever, describing Godspeed remains a largely futile task. At least with the live shows, one could attempt to articulate the visceral experience of being assaulted with sound for night on three hours. Discussing the album, and what its intentions are, is much more difficult. Comprised of two 20-minute compositions and two six-minute drones – provided on vinyl via a 12″ and 7″ intended to be played in alternating sides – it’s unquestionably a Godspeed record from the first moment: a sample of what sounds to be a preacher leading into an electric guitar drone with violin lines dancing overtop, all evocative of a gathering storm.

It’s probably only really relevant to discuss Godspeed in terms relative to Godspeed. From that perspective, ‘Allelujah is surprisingly concise and impressively powerful, condensing the sprawl and swirl of Skinny Fists and eschewing the hazy ambiguity of Yanqui into two focused movements that build steadily and determinedly, but also surprisingly melodically. There’s still plenty of their signature unease, but as the main compositions build, they become more anthemic and, one might almost say, optimistic. Only almost, mind you. To Ascend may be the destination, but ‘Allelujah makes it no easy trip – the two drone pieces might seem superfluous, but really do serve a purpose – “Their Helicopters’ Sing” as base camps of a sort, to regroup and recover, and “Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable” as the view from the summit. Unexpected but wholly welcome, with ‘Allelujah, Godspeed You! Black Emperor prove they not only continue to have their fingers on the pulse of our present, but actually offer some hope for the future.

‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is out next Tuesday, October 16, but available to stream in its entirety right now at Exclaim. And, against all expectation, the band have given an insightful interview to The Guardian about the band, their music, their politics, and their return. The full transcript of the email exchange is damn near poetry. Even the part about being “stoked”.

Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor / ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

The impressive demand to see The Weeknd live continues – they’ve added a fourth night at The Sound Academy for November 5, tickets $34.50. The physical release of his three mixtapes – Trilogy – is out November 12, and a new video was recently released.

MP3: The Weeknd – “Life Of The Party”
Video: The Weeknd – “Rolling Stone”

Army Girls have announced a November 14 date at The Garrison, tickets $8. Still no sign of those multiple full-lengths we were promised in the Summer, though.

MP3: Army Girls – “Cold & Alcohol”

Quiet for most of this year, Ohbijou will be at Lee’s Palace on December 1, tickets $15. This is a benefit show; specifics are still forthcoming. And tangentially, Ohbijou spin-off Warm Myth has released a new video.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
Video: Warm Myth – “Working”

Purity Ring have spent most of this year blowing up on the back of their debut Shrines, but really haven’t played a proper Toronto show to capitalize – their last appearances were opening for Dirty Projectors and an undersized NXNE showcase. They’re rectifying that if not soon, but on a large scale, wrapping up a North American tour at The Phoenix on February 1 of next year, tickets $15. The Creator’s Project talks to them about the lightshow that will surely accompany their performance, and they’ve also just released a collaboration of sorts with hip-hop artist Danny Brown.

MP3: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”
Stream: Purity Ring – “Belispeak” (with Danny Brown)

The Dumbing Of America, The Grid, The Line Of Best Fit, NOW, The Globe & Mail, and Pitchfork all talk to Toronto’s METZ about their self-titled debut, which has spawned a new video and gets a hometown release show at The Horseshoe on Friday night, October 12.

Video: METZ – “Wet Blanket”

Spin and The Winnipeg Free Press talk to Caribou’s Dan Snaith about his Daphni alter-ego and its debut album Jiaolong, out October 16.

Exclaim talk to A.C. Newman, who kicks off the tour for his new record Shut Down The Streets at Lee’s Palace on October 21.

The Guardian has an interview with Neil Young, who has released an epic-length video from Psychedelic Pill, out October 30. He and Crazy Horse play The Air Canada Centre on November 19.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Ramada Inn”

Jenn Grant lists of five of her favourite songs of the last 20 years for CBC Music and also talks to The Edmonton Journal. She’s at The Winter Garden Theatre on November 24.

The Wooden Sky goes over Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun track by track with The Line Of Best Fit. They’re at The Phoenix on December 1.

Snowblink have put out a new video from Inner Classics. Daniela Gesundheit lists off her five favourite albums for The 405 and also chats with The Cornell Daily Sun.

Video: Snowblink – “Goodbye Eyes”

Maisonneuve talks to Alaska B of Yamantaka/Sonic Titan.

The Austin Chronicle profiles Grimes.

Exclaim has details on a new compilation of rarities and being released as a soundtrack of sorts for Have Not Been The Same, the definitive tome of Can-rock in the ’90s. It’s out November 13 and features tracks from Sloan, Doughboys, Skydiggers, and other bands of that vintage, and all proceeds will go to Kids Help Phone.

Monday, June 18th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day One

Porcelain Raft, Army Girls, Eternal Summers, and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangLast week turned out to be a pretty spectacular week – weather-wise – for a festival. Good thing that Toronto had one. Or four. At least three. In any case, I was focused on NXNE; anything else going on in the city were just obstacles to be navigated around – literally. The relatively lighter Wednesday night of the programme meant that there’d be less need for club-hopping, though, and one could ease themselves into the festival grind gently.

“I’m 23 and I’m scared shitless”. That’s how Carmen Elle, the guitar-slinging/lyric-singing half of Army Girls introduced their set at Supermarket, and you were just going to have to take her word for it because if you were looking for some evidence of those frayed nerves in their performance, they were nowhere to be found. As much as I go on about this band, I actually hadn’t seen them live since last October, and as good as I thought they were then the heavy playing and touring they’ve done since then – they just finished up a North American tour with PS I Love You – has made them even better. Exceptionally tight with a side of jam, Elle performed with poise and verve, the only thing better than seeing them live again was hearing all the new material in the set. Only two songs from their Close To The Bone EP made it into the set – and were highlights, sure – but the new material arguably demonstrated more songwriting range without sacrificing any of the punch. But the best takeaway on the night was Elle’s declaration that they were planning to release not one but two albums this year; I’ve heard such ambitions from other artists before and will believe it when I see it, but for as long as I’ve been saying that Army Girls have what it takes to be as big as they want to be, it seems like they finally want it. Look out.

Photos: Army Girls @ Supermarket – June 13, 2012
MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”
Stream: Army Girls / Close To The Bone

The next and last stop of the night was The Drake Underground where the lineup guaranteed plenty of buzz, if not quality. First up was Virginia’s Eternal Summers whom you could be forgiven for assuming was a hazy post-chillwave outfit, but who in fact were a decidedly loud, faintly angry, garage-bred power trio specializing in what you might reference as surf-gazey, sonically youthful noise. And while I hate myself a little for writing the previous sentence, I’m sticking with it. They weren’t necessarily the most charismatic performers, but it certainly sounded good. Their new record Correct Behavior isn’t out until July 24, but that still leaves plenty of Summer – if not an eternal amount – for it to enjoyably soundtrack.

The Singing Lamb and We Love DC have interviews with the band.

Photos: Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Wonder”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Safe At Home”

The first thing I noticed about Montreal’s Mac DeMarco was that they exceeded the Surgeon General’s recommended allowance of baseball caps in a band; three of four is just unacceptable. Musically they were fine; their smooth, yacht/lounge rock was hard to actively dislike and with a SXSW-calibre schedule for the week ahead – this was the first of something like 10 shows – and claiming fatigue from the trip into town, some laying back and clearly uncharacteristic sloppiness was allowable, but it was certainly easy to not dig the overt bro-ness of the band. Belching into the mic? Yeah, no.

Toro has an interview with DeMarco.

Photos: Mac DeMarco @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans”
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “I’m A Man”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Only You”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Exercising With My Demons”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “European Vegas”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “She’s All I Really Need”

Given the number of influences and styles name-dropped in reference to Italian-in-New York Mauro Remiddi’s Porcelain Raft and his debut Strange Weekend, I would have expected something decidedly more experimental but the live two-piece – Remmidi and a drummer/multi-instrumentalist – were much more about big, crescendo-friendly dance pop with a distinct European accent, which was also cool. Their songs may have been built on a base of samples and loops but they were defined by the guitars, drums, keys and vox – all pretty conventional and also pretty pretty. Engaging at first, the set seemed to lose form somewhat as it progressed, but that may have just been me taking their song “Put Me To Sleep” a little too close to heart. After their set, I checked out. It was going to be a long weekend.

Photos: Porcelain Raft @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Tip Of Your Tongue”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Drifting In And Out”

Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, whose Cyrk garnered glowing reviews on its release earlier this year, will be releasing a second album from those same session entitled Cyrk II on August 20 and accompany it with a North American tour – she’ll be at The Rivoli on September 18.

MP3: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”
Video: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”

The long-rumoured David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration is not only real, it has a name – Love This Giant; a website – LoveThisGiant.com; a first MP3 – “Who”; and a tour – look for them at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 20.

MP3: David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Who”

Morrissey may be sticking to his guns on not playing Canada until we stop eating any meat and wearing leather, but you have to see his just-announced US tour as throwing southern Ontario a bit of a – if you excuse the metaphor – bone. He’ll wave to us from the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls on October 19; you might say that as he continues to ignore us, this is as close as he’ll get. Maybe make a road trip of it, hit the Anchor Bar for some wings.

Video: Morrissey – “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”

A track from Metric’s new album Synthetica is available to download.

MP3: Metric – “Artificial Nocturne”

Also now yours to take home – the first single from Grizzly Bear’s still-untitled forthcoming album. It’s out September 18 and they’re at Massey Hall on September 26.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

Sympathies to the friends and family of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, who died in the stage collapse on Saturday and best wishes to those injured.

And further sympathies to the friends and family of former American Music Club/Sun Kil Moon drummer Tim Mooney, who passed away on the weekend. There’s remembrances from his bandleaders Mark Eitzel and Mark Kozelek, and donations to his family can be made via PayPal.

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Ram Ram

Let The Deer Tracks guide you around NXNE this year

Photo By Sofia StolpeSofia StolpeNXNE-spotting happens on two levels: there’s the micro, where you pore over the year’s lineup and try to figure out how you’ll spend the four hopefully-warm nights in June club-hopping and seeing bands new and familiar; and there’s the macro, where you see how this year’s festival as a whole experience measures up against past years and assess how the event is trending as Toronto’s flagbearer in a world where cities are increasingly judged by the quality of their music festivals. Or at least, that’s how I look at things. I may well be a freak.

First, the bands my strongest recommendation for the fest because it’d have be strong enough to convince you to a) miss a whole hell of a lot of great stuff including part of that free Flaming Lips show and b) brave the shitshow that will be a closed-off Queen St. W as MuchMusic tools up for the Bieber-fied MMVAs the following night. But that said, I still think that seeing Sweden’s Deer Tracks would be worth it. The duo of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors craft the sort of eclectically airy, hybrid electronic-orchestral pop that might have you looking for the Morr logo on the spine (they’re actually on The Control Group, if it matters), but tied together and given both weight and lift by their buoyant melodies and harmonies. If I can be allowed to invoke some Scandinavian stereotypes, they marry the otherworldliness one would expect of Icelandic acts with the impeccable pop sense of the best the Swedes have to offer.

They’re in the midst of a three-part album cycle entitled The Archer Trilogy, Part 2 with the third part coming later this year. It’s kind of a shame that their tour is hitting during NXNE because had it been any other time of year, or even any other night or time slot of the fest, they’d be getting a lot more attention. But as it is, if you find your way to The Rivoli at 10PM on Saturday, June 16, I suspect it’ll be worth your time and effort. The Georgia Straight had an interview with them ahead of their Vancouver show earlier this week.

MP3: The Deer Tracks – “W”
MP3: The Deer Tracks – “Dark Passenger”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Meant To Be”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Tiger”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Fall With Me”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Fra Ro Raa / Ro Ra Fraa”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Ram Ram”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Slow Collision”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “12sxfrya”

And the official though surely incomplete day-by-day, hour-by-hour, “hey you should maybe go to some of these” is as follows:

Tuesday, June 12
The Weather Station @ Kops/Lavish & Squalor, 4PM – Another highlight of this year’s CMF, Tamara Lindeman will play selections from her excellent All Of It Was Mine at this in-store before her official show at The Great Hall Lower Theatre at 10PM Wednesday night.
MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”

Wednesday, June 13
Army Girls @ Supermarket, 9PM – I can’t foresee a day when I won’t recommend you go see this Toronto duo, though hopefully soon enough my recommendation won’t be necessary – everyone will just know. They’re also at Jang Bang the afternoon of the 14th for a day show, The El Mocamobo at 10PM that night, and a day show in Trinity Bellwoods on Sunday afternoon at 3:45PM. And don’t be surprised if they add a few more appearances before the week is done – the benefits of traveling light and rocking hard.
MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”

Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground, 10PM – Virginia-based trio who make hazy, lo-fi pop that doesn’t care that Altered Zones doesn’t exist anymore. Their second album Correct Behavior will be out July 24.
Video: Eternal Summers – “Millions”

July Talk @ The Horseshoe, 10PM – Toronto punkabilly outfit who flat-out stole the show/fest at this year’s Canadian Musicfest; can they do it again? Don’t bet against them. They’re also at Lee’s Palace on Saturday night at 9:30PM.
M4A: July Talk – “Paper Girl”

Porcelain Raft @ The Drake Underground, 12AM – Pseudonym of New York-based Mauro Remiddi who crafted his debut Strange Weekend from a lifetime of globetrotting, sound-collecting and genre-defying. So what does he do for a follow-up?
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From The Heart”

Thursday, June 14
The Men @ Grasshopper Records, 3PM – New York band whose latest effort Open Your Heart sounds like the best of Sonic Youth and Mission Of Burma being mashed into your eardrums with extreme prejudice. A can’t-miss for the fest, and besides this in-store – if you haven’t heard of the store, consult The Grid – they also have official showcases Thursday night at The Garrison at 1AM and Friday night at Wrongbar at 12AM, and will also be appearing at the NXNEXPERIMENT BBQ on Friday afternoon.
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”

Smith Westerns @ Gibralter Point, 5:30PM – We don’t see many acts being shipped in for one-off, non-festival parties but that’s what’s happening with this Noisey/Jansport to-do on the Toronto Islands where Chicago’s glam-garage punks will do their thing amongst what is sure to be tastefully-executed branding.
MP3: Smith Westerns – “Still New”

Boxer The Horse @ The El Mocambo Upstairs, 8PM – Scrappy guitar pop from Prince Edward Island that’s a happy blend of Plaskett and Malkmus; their second full-length French Residency was released back in March.
MP3: Boxer The Horse – “Rattle Your Cage”

The Seedy Seeds @ The Painted Lady, 10PM – Trio proves that smart pop can be fun and fun pop can be smart and good bands have come from Cincinnati since The Afghan Whigs. Their last record Verb Noun came out in early 2011 and it’s still turning out videos.
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Telephone The Constrictor”

Exitmusic @ Wrongbar, 10PM – Darkly cinematic electro-pop from a husband-and-wife duo based out of New York (but half-Canadian!). They were just here in May but have since released their debut full-length Passage, so hey – welcome back.
MP3: Exitmusic – “The Sea”

Cousins @ The Velvet Underground, 11PM – Halifax lo-fi garage-pop duo whose The Palm At The End Of The Mind is making friends and annoying neighbours everywhere. They’re doing a double-header Thursday night, with a 2AM show at The Annex Live.
Stream: Cousins / The Palm At The End Of The Mind

The Hundred In The Hands @ Wrongbar, 12AM – Los Angeles synth-rock duo whose new record Red Night arrives this Tuesday, just in time for the festival. Clash has a feature on the band and Hype Machine is streaming the album, though that metaphorical baton may get passed to another site once the album is officially out tomorrow.
MP3: The Hundred In The Hands – “Keep It Low”
Stream: The Hundred In The Hands / Red Night

A Place To Bury Strangers @ The El Mocambo, 1AM – Legendarily loud and strobe-happy New York industri-rock outfit who will be previewing their new record Worship, due out on June 26 and from which they’ve begun streaming another new song. Pity the band who’re supposed to be playing upstairs from them at the same time slot (that’d be Revolvers, who deserve better).
MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”
Stream: A Place To Bury Strangers – “And I’m Up”

Friday, June 15
2:54 @ Lee’s Palace, 9PM – British sister act bringing the spirit of dark, goth-gaze guitar-pop from the ’80s and ’90s back on their just-released self-titled debut. There’s interviews at Loud & Quiet and NOW and Daytrotter just posted a session.
MP3: 2:54 – “The March”

The Danks @ The Dakota Tavern, 10PM – Garage-y pop from the Two Hours Traffic family who’re getting an awful lot of mileage out of their 2009 debut Are You Afraid Of The Danks?, though apparently it’s just come out in the US so I guess they’re excused.
MP3: The Danks – “Die Young”

Hooded Fang @ The Silver Dollar, 10PM – One of Toronto’s premiere retro-pop fun factories in band form, their second album Tosta Mista is nearly a year old so they’ve surely got five or six more albums ready to go. They’re also playing The Horseshoe on Thursday night at 10PM.
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”

Útidúr @ The Gladstone, 11PM – Even if I didn’t simply like upping Icelandic acts (and writing out their wonderful accents), I’d be endorsing this Reykjavik collective because the big, Beirut-y/Fanfarlo-y orch-folk sounds of their debut This Mess We’ve Made is all kinds of charming.
Stream: Útidúr / This Mess We’ve Made

Friends @ Lee’s Palace, 11PM – Brooklyn outfit specializing in buzz of both the synth and hype varieties have just dropped their debut album Manifest! and will be looking to make Lee’s look like Bedford Station on a Saturday night. Vulture has an interview with singer Samantha Urbani and The Guardian has a stream of the album.
Video: Friends – “Mind Control”
Stream: Friends / Manifest!

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ The Garrison, 12AM – Audaciously arty and yet visceral Montreal collective whose debut YT//ST will probably be celebrating a Polaris long list nomination by the time they take the stage. And odds are that’ll only be the beginning. They’ve also got an in-store at Sonic Boom confirmed though dates and times for those have still to be confirmed.
Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST

Widowspeak @ The Garrison, 1AM – Brooklyn quartet whose self-titled debut ahs made my long-term dreams of forming a country/shoegaze band and creating a genre called “bootgaze” utterly redundant. Thanks a lot, Widowspeak.
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”

John Maus @ Lee’s Palace, 1AM – Unintentionally controversial university professor and electro-classical composer whose last album We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves came out in the Fall.
MP3: John Maus – “Head For The Country”

Saturday, June 16
Brasstronaut @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 1PM – Vancouver prog-pop outfit whose second album Mean Sun came out just last month. They’re also at The Gladstone on Friday night at midnight and The Vancouver Sun, Spinner, NOW have interviews.
MP3: Brasstronaut – “Hollow Trees”

Zulu Winter @ Urban Outfitters, 2PM – A rare UK signing to Arts & Crafts, this Oxfordshire-bred band’s peppy, guitar-and-synth-laden debut Language – out June 19 – files nicely alongside the likes of Phoenix and Bombay Bicycle Club. In other words, “stuff the kids like”. They’ve also got evening showcases at The Rivoli on June 14 at 12AM and Lee’s Palace on June 15 at 2AM.
Video: Zulu Winter – “Silver Tongue”

Of Montreal @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 7PM – Veteran Athens, GA, Elephant 6 survivor psych-freaks who’d have made a mind-bending one-two punch with The Flaming Lips if someone hadn’t gone and booked Portugal. The Man between them. Pssh. Their latest Paralytic Stalks came out earlier this year.
MP3: Of Montreal – “Wintered Debts”

Robyn Dell’Unto @ The Cameron House, 8PM – Mississauga-based pop singer who impressed when guesting with Rose Cousins at The Rivoli last monthI’m Here Every Night came out in 2010 – I did, it’s fun. You should too.
Video: Robyn Dell’Unto – “Just A Bird”

The Flaming Lips @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9PM – If you need an introduction to The Flaming Lips then clearly you’ve gotten to this website by accident. Note that the allotted 20 minute set up time between the preceding act and theirs is ridiculous and I wouldn’t expect Wayne Coyne’s bubble walk to begin any earlier than 9:15. There’s Lips interviews at NOW, Spinner, and The Toronto Star, Coyne writes a piece about creativity for NPR, and while their Record Store Day-exclusive collaborative album Heady Fwends – amongst whom Erykah Badu no longer counts herself – will be getting a wide release June 26, The Lips are also planning a proper (?) studio album for release later this year.
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Fight Test”

Revolver @ The Gladstone, 10PM – A relatively late addition to the fest, the French pop outfit known for multi-part harmonies and cellos will be showing off their latest album Let Go, released back in March. The schedule also has them on at 1AM at The Painted Lady that same night, though it’s in conflict with another band’s set so…
MP3: Revolver – “Get Around Town”

The Lumineers @ The Horseshoe, 11PM – Denver-based trio whose self-titled debut has made them one of the alt.country/folk/roots stories of the year. The Horseshoe is kind of the perfect place for them.
Video: The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”

Limblifter @ The El Mocambo, 12AM – It’s not a festival without some kind of ’90s reunion; this year it’s Limblifter, which is several steps up from last year’s Rusty. Yes it is. Spinner talks to Ryan Dahle about getting the old band out of mothballs.
Video: Limblifter – “Tinfoil”

Bleached @ The Silver Dollar, 1AM – The three-night, garage-rock Silver Dollar residency is kind of a NXNE/CMF fixture now, and this year that honour goes to California’s Clavin sisters in Bleached. In addition to the Silver Dollar dates – the Thursday and Friday shows are at midnight, as opposed the 1AM slot on Saturday – they’re playing the Bruise Cruise the afternoon of the 16th, bringing the rock to the Toronto harbour.
Video: Bleached – “Think Of You”

Sunday, June 17
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9PM – Things are mostly wound down on Sunday but the traditional hip-hopping of the Yonge-Dundas mainstage continues with a little Wu-Tang flavour; Raekwon the Chef recently relocated to Toronto so there’s a hometown angle to this one as well.
Video: Raekwon featuring Ghostface Killah – “New Wu”

That’s just a handful – okay, a couple handfuls – of recommendations for the week; there’s certainly more to see and for more tips, check out these festival minisites at Spinner and NOW and the feature pieces at The Grid, The AV Club, BlogTO, and Hype Machine.

As for what I was saying earlier about how NXNE is faring as a festival, the fact that there’s many more day shows than even last year, which had more than the year before that, is an encouraging trend. We’re not yet seeing conventional venues opening up during the day, but the number of in-stores, parties in unconventional spaces, and just more stuff going on during the day before the official programme starts up – it’s all very encouraging and while those who seek to compare NXNE to its similarly-acronymed Texan cousin will still find it pales in comparison, it’s getting pretty damn good up here; all we need is a better infrastructure for tracking and disseminating information about them. There’s a list of officially-endorsed/recognized day shows at NXNE.com and BlogTO has rounded up some more events. And Unofficial NXNE is also good.

And if I’m allowed a bit of self-promotion, I’m one of the photographers with some work on display at the #Hashtag Gallery this week for Live @ NXNE, a photographic exhibition of NXNE artists, past and present. The exhibition runs till June 27 but the opening party thing is Tuesday night at 7PM. Drop by, have a look. If you like.

And remember – particularly if you’re planning on getting around via transit or taxi or otherwise street-bound vehicle, College St. is closed Friday and Saturday nights from Bathurst to Shaw for Taste Of Little Italy and Queen St. W is closed between Beverley and McCaul on Friday and Saturday nights to set up for the MMVAs.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Sentimental Dishes

Review of PS I Love You’s Death Dreams and giveaway

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsKingston duo PS I Love You have a pretty well-established aesthetic. Over there, you’ve got Benjamin Nelson manning the kit with an impressively nimble brutality while looking bored to a degree that would impress Charlie Watts, and then there’s Paul Saulnier shredding every neck on his guitar while simultaneously howling and yelping into the mic. It’s a recipe best served loud and live and that’s where I preferred to experience them, where it was easier to focus on Saulnier’s fantastic fretwork than his acquired-taste vocals which I had trouble acquiring. Still, enough people enjoyed the recorded version that their 2010 debut Meet Me At The Muster Station made the 2011 Polaris Prize long list and allowed them to tour the world, seemingly incessantly.

Somewhere in all that time on the road, however, they found the time to write and record a second album and that album – Death Dreams – is out next week. And while the aforementioned aesthetic still technically hasn’t changed, there’s still been a remarkable degree of growth between albums one and two. Saulnier’s delivery is still what it was – I guess I’m mostly used to it by now – but the melodies it carries are more tuneful and memorable. Along the same lines, the guitarwork is denser more textured and puts Saulnier’s ’70s prog rock influences ahead of the the ’90s college rock-ness that defined Muster Station, but the tunes as a whole are more pop than before, with more shiny highs to go with the heavy lows. And Nelson? Still doing what he does, probably without having cracked a single smile since the first record came out. When Muster Station first came out and people were singing its praises, I was skeptical. Yeah, it was alright for what it was, but just how far can they take this? Death Dreams answers that with a resounding, “this far and probably a lot further”.

And also as far as the cover of this month’s Exclaim, which goes nicely with their advance stream of the new album and this additional online featurette. Clash is also hosting the third of their Paper Bag Sessions live videos.

Exclaim loves them some PS I Love You and so can you – the band kicks off their Spring tour at The Garrison in Toronto on May 15 and courtesy of Embrace, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show – to enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see PS I Love You” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, May 10.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes”
Video: PS I Love You – “How Do You” (Paper Bag Sessions)
Stream: PS I Love You / Death Dreams

Opening up that PS I Love You show and the whole tour are another excellent twosome, Toronto’s Army Girls. Their new single “T W I C E” which was streaming last week is now available to download, so you should totally do that.

MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”

Toronto’s Modern Superstitions are well overdue for their debut album, but they continue to release music in drips and drabs. The Sunbleached EP that was to follow 2010’s debut All The Things We’ve Been Told EP was finished last Summer but hasn’t seen the light of day and now a couple of new songs – presumably from those sessions – will be released as a 7″ on May 29, though it’s available to buy digitally right now. One of the tracks is up to stream and they have a couple live dates ready to go – May 31 at The Garrison May 31 and a NXNE showcase on June 16. Tickets for the Garrison show are $8 and include a copy of the 7″.

Stream: Modern Superstitions – “School Days”

NME has two pieces from an interview with Metric’s Emily Haines about their new album Synthetica, due out June 12. The first single from the record was just made available to stream and… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what it augurs for the record.

Stream: Metric – “Youth Without Youth”

The Guardian and The Fly have feature pieces on Grimes.

The Broken Speaker has an interview with Joel Plaskett, headlining two nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Exclaim and Interview talk to Patrick Watson; they’re at The Music Hall on May 29.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse have released a video from their forthcoming album of American folk standards, Americana, out June 5.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Oh Susannah”

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

The Darkness

Review of Rose Cousins’ We Have Made A Spark

Photo By Shervin IainezShervin IainezRose Cousins is not a new artist. The Charlottetown by way of Halifax artist has been releasing music for the better part of a decade and I’ve technically heard her before as she’s guested on any number of Maritime-born records including Joel Plaskett’s, but I’d not heard any of her own material until her third full-length album We Have Made A Spark, released at the end of February. And clearly that’s been my loss.

It’s not a record that stops you in your tracks – describe it as singer-songwriter that’d be comfortable at an adult contemporary party and lists towards the rootsy end of things and you wouldn’t be wrong – but that wouldn’t give credit to the emotional richness that Cousins infuses her work with. Her voice has that special blend of wistfulness and resignation that’s put to good use throughout Spark and ably supported by the lean and tasteful arrangements. But the sense of something ineffably special about this record really emerges on the record’s back half, with “For The Best” and “This Light” acting as a particularly powerful one-two punch and the cover of Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” finishing the listener off. Predominantly slow and sad, yet still standing tall, Spark articulates the sorts of feelings and experiences that everyone has either known or will know soon enough.

Uptown and The Edmonton Journal have feature pieces on Cousins and Southern Souls recently posted a video session with her. She plays The Rivoli on May 3.

MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”

The Elwins are helping celebrate Record Store Day with an in-store at Soundscapes on the evening of April 21 at 7PM; details over at Facebook. They’ve also been added to the support bill for Zeus at The Phoenix on June 9.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”

Sonic Boom is also once again celebrating Record Store Day with their own in-store mini-festival; this year they’ll have Army Girls, The Darcys, Born Ruffians, Plants & Animals, Bloodshot Bill, Fresh Snow, Lioness, Eight And A Half, and Diemonds. Now that’s a lineup and the schedule for the day looks like this.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: The Darcys – “Shaking Down The Old Bones”
Video: Diemonds – “Take On The Night”
Video: Eight And A Half – “Scissors”
Video: Lioness – “You’re My Heart”

Though she figures to be around six months pregnant by that time, Coeur de Pirate has made a date at The Opera House for June 1, tickets $22.50 in advance. Rock!

Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Golden Baby”

The 2012 LuminaTO arts festival schedule is out, and from the music end of things, it’s got quite a bit to offer, mostly for free. Highlights include a Rufus Wainwright show on June 10, a Dan Mangan/Kathleen Edwards double-bill on the afternoon of June 16 (hopefully Ms. Edwards’ voice will be back) and an Ohbijou show on the afternoon of June 17; all of these are at David Pecault Square and are free. And yes, that second weekend is the same time as NXNE. So much culture you’re going to choke. The Line Of Best Fit has a video session and interview and Black Cab Sessions do their thing with Wainwright and NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert and Beatroute and The Calgary Herald have feature stories on Kathleen Edwards.

MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
Video: Rufus Wainwright – “Out Of The Game”

The Great Hall gets dark and synthy on July 13 when it hosts a show featuring Toronto’s Trust and New York’s Light Asylum; tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Light Asylum – “A Certain Person”
Video: Trust – “Bulbform”

I don’t remember the last time Little Scream played her own headlining show hereabouts – has she ever? – but she has great luck with opening gigs, having been added as warm-up for Beirut at The Sound Academy on July 19.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

Kind of an mish-mash of a bill, both in terms of genre and geography, but you’ve got The Sam Roberts Band, Bombay Bicycle Club, and The Jezabels at Echo Beach on July 26 – tickets $39.50 for general admission and $55.00 for VIP.

MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
Video: Sam Roberts – “I Feel You”
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Shuffle”

Beatroute, The Georgia Straight, and here profile Chains Of Love, who’re in town at The Great Hall opening up for Said The Whale on April 14.

With the release of the new Moonface record With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery nigh – it’s out April 17 – it’s time for some premieres; a new video over at Spin and a stream of the whole record at The AV Club.

MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Video: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Stream: Moonface / With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery

The fourth part of The Wooden Sky’s Grace On A Hill video series has premiered at IFC. They’re at The Opera House on April 20.

Still no specifics on the “why”, if there are any, surrounding the Fucked Up show at The Power Plant on May 1, but the band have announced that it’ll be free. So the “why” now matters that much less than “when do we line up”, yes?

CBC Music has got a video session with PS I Love You wherein they preview material from Death Dreams ahead of its May 8 release. They’re at The Garrison on May 15.

JAM, The Victoria Times-Colonist, Banff Cragg & Canyon, and Beatroute talk to Joel Plaskett. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Spinner and The Globe & Mail chat with Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, who’ve made a track from New Wild Everywhere available to download and also released a new video. There’s also clips from their performance at the Glenn Gould Studio last month at CBC Music. They play The Music Hall on June 2.

MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “The Great Exhale”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “New Wild Everywhere”

Guelph disco-pop ensemble The Magic are streaming the first single from their debut Ragged Gold, due out June 25.

Stream: The Magic – “Mr. Hollywood”

Feist has released a new video from Metals.

Video: Feist – “Bittersweet Melodies”

NPR serves up a World Cafe session and Planet S an interview with John K Samson.

Daytrotter has posted a new session with Timber Timbre.