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Posts Tagged ‘Art Brut’

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Motorway

Little Boots takes scenic route to second album

Photo By Jack Featherstone and Max ParsonsJack Featherstone, Max ParsonsAt long last, Little Boots is finally ready to let the follow-up to 2009’s Hands out of the studio and into the world. I don’t think anyone – not even Victoria Hesketh – expected it to be almost four years between debut and follow-up, but according to Spin, it took her that long to find the sweet spot between being the “proper songs” she wanted to write and the disco dance floor bangers she was expected to.

Still, her fans have been able to accompany her on that journey of discovery as she’s been releasing new songs intermittently since late 2011 as sort of signposts of the journey; two of those three already-previewed tracks will appear on the new record – entitled Nocturnes – when it’s released on May 7. Details on the release can be had at Billboard and the first official single from it is available to hear via free download or watch via video.

Some might argue – and perhaps correctly – that Little Boots didn’t deliver on the massive hype that accompanied her BBC Sound of 2009 win, but there’s no arguing that Hands was a very solid album of catchy electro-pop and if Nocturnes offers more of the same, then we’re all better off.

MP3: Little Boots – “Motorway”
MP3: Little Boots – “Every Night I Say A Prayer”
Stream: Little Boots – “Superstitious Heart”
Stream: Little Boots – “Shake”
Video: Little Boots – “Motorway”

Drowned In Sound, Billboard, MTV Hive, Consequence Of Sound, and NPR talk to Johnny Marr about going solo; The Messenger came out this week and he brings The Healers to The Phoenix on April 27.

CBC Music has an interview and The Alternate Side a session with Palma Violets, whose debut 180 is out this week and streamable at NME. They play Lee’s Palace on May 3.

Stream: Palma Violets / 180

Spin is streaming the whole of Mogwai’s just-released soundtrack for French zombie television series Les Revenants, and keeping on topic, Stuart Braithwaite offers The Guardian his five favourite undead bits of cinema.

Stream: Mogwai / Les Revenants

The Guardian interviews Thom Yorke about Atoms For Peace, whose debut AMOK is out this week.

Spin and CBC Music talk to Kate Nash about her latest Girl Talk, which is also streaming in whole at the CBC and from which a new vide was just released. The album is out March 5 and she brings it to The Horseshoe on March 15.

Video: Kate Nash – “3AM”
Stream: Kate Nash / Girl Talk

The Line Of Best Fit, The Quietus, and Stereogum talk to Robyn Hitchcock about his new record Love From London, out March 5.

Today in David Bowie: The Guardian compiles a profile of the Thin White Duke based on the recollections of those who’ve known him from childhood through today, Mr. Porter offers a guide to Bowie style through the years, NME crows about getting an exclusive cover photo, and Rolling Stone learns more about the Next Day sessions from drummer Zack Alford and guitarist Gerry Leonard. The album arrives March 12 and oh yeah the video for the second single from it is out now.

Video: David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

eMusic solicits a list of favourite sophomore albums from Veronica Falls, who are too modest to include their own Waiting For Something To Happen on the list. They play The Garrison on March 12.

Crack has a feature piece on Daughter, whose debut If You Leave is out March 18 in the UK and April 30 in North America. They play The Great Hall on May 7.

The Telegraph has not one but two interviews and NPR a World Cafe session with Richard Thompson, who opens for Emmylou Harris at Massey Hall on March 22.

eMusic and The Scottish Sun interview Frightened Rabbit, who’ve a new video from Pedestrian Verse to show off. They play The Phoenix on March 31.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Backyard Skulls”

Spinner and The Independent have features and Yours Truly a video session with Jessie Ware, whose Devotion gets a North American release on April 2 and plays The Opera House on April 6.

DIY has the details of Charli XCX’s long-overdue debut album; True Romance is due out on April 15. MTV Hive also has an interview with the artist, who will be in town at the Sound Academy on May 23 opening for Marina & The Diamonds.

Art Brut will sum up their career thus far with the release of a double-disc best-of/rarities compilation entitled – of course – Top Of The Pops. It’s out April 16.

Still Corners have announced details of their second album, entitled Strange Pleasures, out May 7, and based on the second sample – “Fireflies” was released as a single last Fall – it will not be Creatures On An Hour part two. At all.

MP3: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”

Spin has an interview and The Line Of Best Fit an acoustic session with Foals. They are at The Kool Haus on May 11.

The Wedding Present might be getting attention mostly for their Hit Parade recital tour, but they’ve also just put out a new video from last year’s Valentina. There’s also an interview at The New Zealand Herald.

Video: The Wedding Present – “Mystery Date”

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from Bat For Lashes, taken from The Haunted Man.

Video: Bat For Lashes – “Lillies”

The Line Of Best Fit reports that The Big Pink is now officially a solo project for Robbie Furze, with Milo Cordell opting to leave the band. If you’re not sure which was which, if you’ve ever seen The Big Pink live then Cordell was the one you never noticed.

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Nobody Knows You

Summer Camp set to open in time for Fall

Photo via AltsoundsAltsoundsLondon’s Summer Camp are clearly believers in the long game. Since emerging in the Fall of 2009 with their identities shrouded in mystery – they were originally thought to be a Swedish collective – they’ve gradually revealed more and more about themselves while keeping up a steady stream of ’80s-worshipping, in both sound and theme, infectious electro-pop.

Now, almost two years since first causing a fuss, the duo of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey are ready to release their full-length debut which they’ve christened Welcome To Condale and set for a decidedly un-Summery October 31 release. Financed via Pledgemusic fan support and produced by Pulp’s Steve Mackey, the 12-track long-player only carries over one track from last year’s Young EP and that most likely re-recorded. And that’s probably just as well – as delectable as that release was, they’ve certainly had enough time to write all-new material and goodness we want some new tunes.

Clash has details on the release and you can stream the first single over at long-time band supporter Gorilla Vs Bear; some of the older material is available to hear and watch below. And while it’s probably a bit much to hope for any touring on this side of the Atlantic, it’s worth pointing out that despite their two-piece, heavily programmed configuration not seeming like it’d lend itself to a compelling live show, they were one of the uncontested highlights of SXSW this year.

MP3: Summer Camp – “I Want You”
MP3: Summer Camp – “Ghost Train”
MP3: Summer Camp – “Veronica Sawyer”
Stream: Summer Camp – “Better Off Without You”
Video: Summer Camp – “Ghost Train”
Video: Summer Camp – “Round The Moon”

Also announcing album release details this week was Florence & The Machine. Clearly hoping to find its way under Christmas trees, Ms Welch and company’s second album will be out on November 8, and while it still doesn’t have a title, it does have a video for the first single. Check it out and read an interview with Welch about the new record at Pitchfork.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “What The Water Gave Me”

If you, like me, are thinking about going to see Londonites Male Bonding at The Horseshoe next Friday night – September 2 – but want a head start on hearing their new record Endless Now before it’s officially out on August 30, head over to Punk News as it’s streaming in whole right now, while Spin has a chat and a tune available to download. And if you can’t make the show or it’s not enough, the band are also playing an instore at Kops that evening at 6PM.

MP3: Male Bonding – “Tame The Sun”
Stream: Male Bonding / Endless Now

One of the more hilariously reviled British guitar bands of recent memory – Viva Brother (formerly just Brother) – will put Toronto’s Anglophilia to the test when they bring their debut Famous First Words to the Horseshoe on October 13, tickets $13. There’s interviews at The Belfast Telegraph and BBC.

Video: Viva Brother – “Darling Buds Of May”

You cannot understand how happy I was to hear that Anna Calvi – whose Toronto debut in May I missed due to being in Spain – was coming back for a show at Lee’s Palace on December 8, tickets $15. I was, like, super-happy. Also making me super-happy is this set of videos of Calvi performing on the rooftop at Spin.

MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”

NPR has a World Cafe session with James Blake, who will be at The Phoenix on September 30. And if you’re curious about the Fall Creek Boys Choir project he’s working on with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, The Quietus has a stream of the first taste of the collaboration.

Stereogum checks in with Ladytron on the status of their new record Gravity The Seducer, due out September 13. They play The Phoenix on October 5.

Lucky talks sartorial style with Emmy The Great.

Via a blog post, Billy Bragg responds to the London riots by declaring it high time that people started making political music again.

The Alternate Side has a video session with Art Brut while The San Francisco Examiner talks comics with Eddie Argos.

Sweden’s Little Dragon will bring their acclaimed third album Ritual Union to town for a show at the somewhat less acclaimed Hoxton venue – nee 69 Bathurst – on October 12. Many are hoping that demand for this show forces it into a larger venue… There’s a session with Little Dragon over at NPR.

MP3: Little Dragon – “Feather”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”

Back to the mysterious duo meme for a moment, jj continue to disregard conventions of album cycles, getting paid for their work or song title length by posting a new MP3 on their blog this week for free download.

MP3: jj – “You Don’t Know How Much It Would Hurt Me If You Said That You Were In Love With Me”

NPR have posted a KEXP session with Peter Bjorn & John, in town at Lee’s Palace on September 2 and 3. Cleveland.com also has an interview.

France’s Revolver appear set to make a return to Toronto, having scheduled a show at The Horseshoe for October 16.

MP3: Revolver – “Get Around Town”

Jane Birkin will be performing the songs of Serge Gainsbourg at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 7, tickets $34.50 in advance.

Video: Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – “Je t’aime”

And coincidentally – or maybe not so – their daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg has released a new video for the title track of her forthcoming Terrible Angels EP, out September 6 – details on the release at Pitchfork. A new double-album, Stage Whisper, will follow on November 8.

Video: Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Terrible Angels”

And once more with the Euro duos. Disco-pop outfit Keep Shelly In Athens, who actually hail from the Athens in Greece and not Georgia – usually a no-brainer except when you’re talking indie-centric music – will be embarking on their first North American tour this Fall, including a November 16 date at Wrongbar in Toronto. Tickets are $15 in advance but you can win some by posting when and where you’d like to see them on their Facebook.

MP3: Keep Shelly In Athens – “Running Out On You”
MP3: Keep Shelly In Athens – “Fokionos Negri Street”

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Rolled Together

The Antlers and Little Scream at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA week straight of show-going is a pretty foreboding thing when you’re generally more inclined to stay home and watch television, but if the first night of said run – which began Tuesday at The Mod Club with The Antlers and Little Scream – is a bellwether of the next seven (or ten) nights out, then I say bring it on.

Though both acts were familiar, their performances were still new to me in crucial ways, in particular with Little Scream whom I’d last seen two years ago in a pair of solo performances that were both enigmatic and intriguing. Contrast that with this evening, where Laurel Sprengelmeyer was fronting a six-piece band and promoting her debut album The Golden Record; an album that’s been well-received but interestingly not done much to clarify the mystery of who Little Scream is, offering highlights in the individual songs but not really feeling particularly cohesive as it ranges from style to style, held together only by Sprengelmeyer’s impressive vocals. The live incarnation remedied this somewhat, unifying things by being both heavier and proggier throughout and offering itself up as a variant of rock built on folk instead of blues. Sprengelmeyer jokingly compared them to Iron Maiden, on account of the three-guitar configuration but just as she did a couple years ago, I was most reminded of The Who, despite the lack of any obvious nods. Why, I can’t explain, just as I still can’t fully put my finger on what makes Little Scream what they are – but I’ll keep trying.

The Antlers broke out via the unlikeliest of records in Hospice, a beautifully grim and harrowing meditation on mortality. I saw them three times in the cycle for that record, twice as openers and once at an in-store, and each time their performances seemed to be exercises in exorcising the darkness of that material by taking the songs and stretching them out into something new. The catharsis would appear complete with the band’s new record Burst Apart, which feels like fresh growth on a former blast site; sensual and sinewy, it practically glistens with life.

The sense of rebirth also carried over live, where the three-piece had added a fourth player on bass and guitar and frontman Peter Silberman, formerly content to set up off the side and hide somewhat behind keyboards, was up front and centre. As mentioned, this was my first time seeing The Antlers headlining their own show, but considering that even in a support setting they weren’t given to brevity – when opening for Editors, they stretched out five songs over 40 minutes – I expected epic-scale things from the Brooklynites and was not disappointed. With the extra four- or six-strings on hand, The Antlers were able to jam out the Burst-heavy set and allow Silberman to roam and even dance around the stage when not stealing the spotlight with his haunting falsetto. The few Hospice songs that did make an appearance were recognizable but decidedly incongruous from their original versions, the transformations applied over the two years of touring having taken hold permanently without diminishing their emotional power or beauty.

For many in the sold-out house, I’m sure the Hospice tracks were the highlights but given my difficult personal relationship with the record (it may have been written as a metaphor but for me was all too literal) it was the Burst Apart material that really shone. Free of the thematic and narrative constraints of its predecessor, the new record isn’t necessarily happy but it does have an optimism threaded throughout that’s genuinely uplifting, rather than simply trying to overcome its own weight. That the band were able to not only recreate this feeling live but amplify it was nothing short of remarkable.

DIY and The New Haven Advocate have features on The Antlers while Pitchfork solicits a list of Silberman’s formative musical influences. The National Post and BlogTO also have reviews of the show.

Photos: The Antlers, Little Scream @ The Mod Club – June 14, 2011
MP3: The Antlers – “Parentheses”
MP3: The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love”
MP3: The Antlers – “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Sylvia”
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”
MP3: Little Scream – “The Heron & The Fox”
Video: The Antlers – “Bear”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
Video: Little Scream – “Red Hunting Jacket”
Video: Little Scream – “The Lamb”

Her show at The Rivoli safely behind us, Alela Diane has been announced as support for Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall on July 14. Spin declares her to be an artist “breaking out”.

MP3: Alela Diane – “To Begin”

Following in her brother’s footsteps and getting to work outside the context of The Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger has set a July 12 release date for her solo debut Last Summer, and scheduled a Summer tour that includes a free show at The Horseshoe on July 19. The first single from the album is available to hear and watch.

MP3: Eleanor Friedberger – “My Mistakes”
Video: Eleanor Friedberger – “My Mistakes”

You get exactly zero points if you can guess what Portland synth-poppers STRFKR used to be called. Or maybe are still called, depending on who you ask and what company you’re in. You can be in their company at Lee’s Palace on September 20, where they’ll be showing off their new record Reptilians. Full dates at Exclaim.

MP3: STRFKR – “Bury Us Alive”

Stephen Malkmus has put together a Fall tour in support of his new album Mirror Traffic, due out on August 23. He’ll be at The Phoenix with The Jicks on September 21, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Senator”

The National Post, Spinner and NOW preview Art Brut’s show at The Mod Club tomorrow night.

The Daily Swarm has gone through Bob Mould’s just-released new memoirs See A Little Light and posted their picks for some of the more intriguing passages contained therein and NPR have excerpted the first chapter. The Pioneer Press and The Bellingham Herald talk to Mould about looking back on his life for the book.

The Mountain Goats are giving away a new MP3 from their latest All Eternals Deck. Just because.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “High Hawk Season”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with The Kills. The band have also released a set of acoustic performance videos over on their YouTube.

Spinner has a pre-NXNE interview with Dum Dum Girls; their showcase is Friday night at Lee’s Palace, 11PM.

Writers On Process talks to The Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard about his writing process. The Rosebuds are at The Sound Academy on August 9 opening up for Bon Iver.

That’s the same Bon Iver whose Justin Vernon is all dapper and shit as the cover story of the new Spin. There’s also interviews at Exclaim and The Vancouver Sun and the first video from Bon Iver, Bon Iver is now out – presumably not financed by the Alberta Tourism board.

Video: Bon Iver – “Calgary”

Aquarium Drunkard interviews Will Johnson of Centro-Matic about their new record Candidate Waltz, out next week.

Buffalo Tom have released a first video from their latest record Skins.

Video: Buffalo Tom – “Guilty Girls”

JAM and Echo interview Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.

Acoustic Guitar and JAM chat with Steve Earle, in at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

What Do You Wanna Do?

Louise Burns and other gentle suggestions for NXNE 2011

Photo By Michelle FordMichelle FordAnother year, another NXNE, another NXNE preview post. I’ll apologize in advance if this one’s a little less thorough or exploratory than previews past, as travels and general business has taken up time that would usually be spent cruising band websites and Myspaces Facebooks, Bandcamps and Soundclouds.

But I can offer one unconditional endorsement for the coming week, and I’d like to think it’s not a wholly obvious one: Vancouver’s Louise Burns. Her debut Mellow Drama came out a couple months ago and sat in my CD stacks until some recommendations both personal and professional prompted me to dig it out and give it a spin and wow. Gifted with a crystalline voice possessing just the right amount of twang at the corners, Burns puts it to work on a remarkably strong set of songs born of a love of classic ’50s and ’60s rock’n’roll but grown to feel timeless rather than throwback. While not the most universal reference point, readers of this here site will appreciate how high praise it is when I compare her to Nicole Atkins in influence and aesthetic, though with less torchiness and more jangle in the mix. Dig those Pretenders guitar tones.

I’m quite taken with this record and so was pretty happy when Burns was a late addition to the NXNE lineup; her showcase goes 9PM on Saturday night, June 18, at Supermarket. Southern Souls has a video session with downloadable MP3s to check out.

MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

And here’s the day-by-day of stuff that, should you find yourself looking for something to check out, I think may be worth your while. I’ve left out some perennial recommendations because, well, that’d be kind of redundant, but they still have my implicit endorsement.

Wednesday, June 15
Young Contrarians @ Rancho Relaxo, 8PM – advertised to me as a fun sort-of side-project of local musicians who rarely play, the samples of their lightly synth-y, New Wave pop is better than lots of what I’ve heard from deadly serious, full-time bands. Check out the tune on their NXNE profile and tell me I’m wrong.

Lower Dens @ The Garrison, 10PM – hypnotically atmospheric Baltimore outfit finally returning to Toronto for a couple of NXNE shows, this one and another at 1AM on Thursday, June 16, at Lee’s Palace. One of the bands I really hope to catch but won’t be surprised if I miss completely.
MP3: Lower Dens – “Hospice Gates”

Ume @ The Drake Underground, 11PM – the Austin-based power trio who’re personal favourites will be previewing their new album Phantoms, due out on August 30. They always put on an absolutely scorching live show courtesy the guitar heroics of frontwoman Lauren Larson.
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”

The Postelles @ The Garrison, 11PM – New York guitar-pop band that sounds like a New York guitar-pop band, which is to say kind of throwback garage-y and a lot catchy. Billboard and The Washington Examiner have features.
MP3: The Postelles – “Hold On”

Library Voices @ The Rivoli, 12AM – unflappable Saskatchewan collective who’ve endured theft, floods and living in Saskatchewan to keep putting out upbeat, catchy pop will release their second album Summer Of Lust on August 23. NOW, The National Post and The Leader-Post have interviews.
Video: Library Voices – “Drinking Games”

Thursday, June 16
Evening Hymns @ The Music Gallery, 8PM – Toronto duo built around the duo of Jonas Bonetta and Sylvie Smith will be previewing their second album, as yet untitled but due out in the Fall, in pretty much the most perfect setting short of a mist-covered mountaintop. Spill has an interview with Bonetta.
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”

Fucked Up @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 8PM – the chance to see the 2009 Polaris Prize winners do their crowd-invading, half-naked thing in a public square is not to be missed, nor is the opportunity to hear their latest opus David Comes To Life live. They’ll also play Wrongbar at 1AM the same evening. The National Post has a feature.
MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

Modern Superstitions @ The Garrison, 9PM – constantly on my festival “you ought to see” lists because, well, you ought to see them. Their catchy garage-pop get better every time out.
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

The Two Koreas @ The Velvet Underground, 10PM – in brief: local rock scribes form rock band, make surprisingly good guitar-rock record, get other local rock scribes to recommend seeing them and regret no longer being in bands.
MP3: The Two Koreas – “Midnight Brown”

Cowboy And Indian @ The Comfort Zone, 10PM – CRUCIFICTORIOUS!
MP3: Cowboy And Indian – “Ledbellies”

Slow Down, Molasses @ The Dakota Tavern, 11PM – sprawling Prairie collective who’ve found an extra dose of cohesion and rock on their second album Walk Into The Sea
MP3: Slow Down, Molasses – “Late Night Radio”

Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM – one of Alternative Nation’s original power couples, now back together and doing… I’m not exactly sure. But expecting to slapped upside the head with ’90s nostalgia probably isn’t unreasonable.
Video: The Lemonheads – “It’s A Shame About Ray”
Video: The Juliana Hatfield Three – “Spin The Bottle”

Bruce Peninsula @ The Rivoli, 1AM – local gospel-blues-folk choir continues their gradual return to active duty with their first live show in what seems like forever. Their second album Open Flames is out this Fall
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”

Friday, June 17
Art Brut @ The Mod Club, 9PM – hilarious and whip-smart Brits will showcase their new record Brilliant! Tragic. Paste has a profile.
MP3: Art Brut – “Lost Weekend”

Volcano Playground @ Rancho Relaxo, 11PM – Atmospheric synth-pop made right here in Toronto that pulls together all manner of influence into something impressively unique. A local act to keep an eye on, whether at NXNE or not.
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Waiting”

Julianna Barwick @ Wrongbar, 11PM – Haunting, ambient soundscapes built on layers of vocals and imagination.
MP3: Julianna Barwick – “The Magic Place”

Swervedriver @ The Great Hall, 12AM – British shoegaze legends making a rare appearance in these parts… even if their last appearance in 2008 was at this very same festival.
MP3: Swervedriver – “Last Train To Satansville” (live)

Dum Dum Girls @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM – sun-kissed Californian garage-pop from the guaranteed best-dressed band at the fest. Including Devo. Spinner and NOW have interviews.
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”

Olenka & The Autumn Lovers @ The Gladstone Hotel, 12AM – London orchestral-folk faves finally return with a new, full lineup that should allow them to recreate more of if not all of their gorgeous And Now We Sing album
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”

Rouge @ Sneaky Dee’s, 3AM – if for some reason you’re still awake and looking for something to do, their electro-pop will make a compelling argument for dancing, dancing, dancing.

Saturday, June 18
Cults @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 7PM – possibly the buzziest of all the buzz bands playing the festival, thanks to the love for the retro-pop that adorns their self-titled debut. They also playing at midnight at Lee’s Palace on June 17. Filter and Boston Globe have features.
MP3: Cults- “Go Outside”

Bellewoods @ The Dakota Tavern, 9PM – raggedly lovely and rockingly downcast alt.country outfit preparing for the upcoming release of their debut Don’t Rely On Me
MP3: Bellewoods – “Take Me Out”

Devo @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9:30PM – They’re legends, they’re the headliners, they’re free. Are they not men? They are DEVO.
Video: Devo – “Girl U Want”

Smoke Fairies @ The Dakota Tavern, 10PM – English folk-blues duo specializing in tight harmonies and creepy atmosphere. Tour Dates has an interview.
MP3: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”

Peelander-Z @ The Comfort Zone, 12AM – A single look should be all you need to know if you want to see the planet’s premiere Japanese action comic punk band. They also play an all-ages show at Sneaky Dee’s at 5PM that afternoon. Spinner has an interview.
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Tacos Tacos Tacos”

Chad VanGaalen @ The Great Hall, 12AM – The release of Diaper Island brings Canada’s premier weirdo-pop auteur back to town. The Take and National Post have interviews.
MP3: Chad Vangaalen – “Sara”

Secret Cities @ The Dakota Tavern, 12AM – Classic, lightly psychedelic pop low on fidelity but high on songs, hailing from the music hotbed of Fargo, North Dakota. They’re also playing 9PM Friday at Wrongbar and 5PM Saturday at The Rivoli
MP3: Secret Cities – “The Park”

Obviously, this is just a tiny sample of what’s on offer this week at the clubs around town – to be honest, I haven’t even sorted out what I’m going to be seeing so I can’t very well say with any authority that these are the acts you should be seeing. But hopefully there’s something in the selections above that click with you and at least register as an option for your festival itinerary. And if you need more, check out festival previews at Spin (focusing on worthy Torontonian acts), OTM, BlogTO, Toro (two-parter) and The Line Of Best Fit

And note that these only covered the official evening showcases; while things are still far from Austin-scale, there’s more day shows and whatnot this than I ever recall, which is good news for everyone – particularly underagers and people without the time/money/energy for the club crawl. There’s a number of in-store shows, the Kelp Records/Line Of Best Fit BBQ on Friday, an Rdio-sponsored thing and BrooklynVegan-branded boat cruise on Saturday afternoon and the Live In Bellwoods performances in the park running afternoons from Thursday through Sunday to name the ones that are on my radar. And there’s also a launch party for the just-released Static Zine on the Sunday, which will feature live shows at both Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches and in Christie Pits.

Update: Just posted – Spinner’s as-comprehensive-as-you’ll-find guide to NXNE afterparties, day shows and secret shows.

So yeah, NXNE. Here we go.

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Rolling In The Deep

Adele at The Air Canada Centre

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt happens far too infrequently, but sometimes the good guys win. Sometimes immense talent, great songs and hard work can triumph over image and marketing and when it does, you get improbably wonderful things like Adele becoming and more importantly remaining pretty much the biggest artist in music for 2011 for months on end, on the strength of her sophomore album 21. Granted, her story is hardly one of an out of nowhere dark horse – her debut 19 already made her a star and garnered her two Grammy awards – but the degree to which 21 has catapulted her into the stratosphere is still remarkable.

That the Toronto stop of her North American tour on Wednesday night was originally booked into the Kool Haus – considerably smaller than the posh environs of Massey Hall where she last performed in 2009 – certainly seemed to imply that people were underestimating her draw, and that the show was moved to the many times larger Air Canada Centre after selling out instantly was representative of just how much bigger – and faster – her fanbase was growing. Granted, it was in theatre configuration, accommodating approximately 5200 patrons instead of the 16000 of the full arena, but if you don’t think she could have easily sold a few thousand more tickets then you’re just not paying attention.

I had the privilege of seeing Adele at an MTV Live taping back in March and so had a sense of how she was live – which is to say wonderfully warm and engaging, with no sense of the stage fright she’s supposedly afflicted with – but that was a short set in front of a maybe a couple hundred people. This would be considerably more on every level, and yet Adele Adkins somehow managed to make an arena show in front of thousands feel just as intimate as that studio performance.

Things opened with a touch of theatricality – with Adele starting “Hometown Glory” from behind a curtain before stepping onstage to rafter-shaking shrieks – but for most of the show, it was all about simple, direct and genuine connection between Adele and her fans, which for all of her prodigious artistic gifts may be her greatest strength. Chatty, conversational and more than a little crude between songs, punctuated by a huge and endearing cackle, Adele was able to make a massive room feel as intimate as a small club or even more like a private performance for some friends in the front room. It’s impossible to overstate the intensity of the personal rapport that seemed to exist between she and almost every one of the thousands in the audience – it’s hard to imagine any other artist of her stature taking stage time to talk about the experiences that informed her songs, her affection for her pet dachshund or gush about bands she’s currently listening to (incidentally, she gave big props to Toronto R&B outfit The Weeknd).

As entertaining as it would likely be to just sit and chat for an hour and a half with Adele, there was no forgetting that music was the order of the evening. Improvisation wasn’t on the menu, save for a few subtle shifts in arrangements, with the emphasis on her huge, expressive voice and playing the songs everyone wanted to hear the way they knew them, but with plenty of verve and as singalong-able as possible – something the house happily obliged, at times creating an almost choral effect. Backed by a seven-piece band, Adele delivered exactly the sort of set you’d expect, comprising most of 21 – often introduced as “new songs” as though they were something to be politely endured before she got to the old favourites instead of the material that brought both her and her fans here on this evening – and a decent amount of 19. The show built to a finale that was completely predictable – “Chasing Pavements” and “Make You Feel My Love” to close the main set and “Someone Like You” and “Rolling In The Deep” making up the encore – but also completely rousing. You don’t need to surprise when you’re this good. Adele is like the friend who goes onto great things, but never forgets where she came from – not “is like”, but “is” – and though musically she trades in broken hearts, there was nothing but love at the ACC on this night.

The Globe & Mail has a feature piece on Adele and also a review of the show. The Toronto Sun, National Post, Toronto Star and Exclaim also have writeups of the evening.

Photos: Adele @ The Air Canada Centre – May 18, 2011
Video: Adele – “Rolling In The Deep”
Video: Adele – “Make You Feel My Love”
Video: Adele – “Chasing Pavements”
Video: Adele – “Cold Shoulder”

Interview has a brief talk with Anna Calvi, who has a date at The El Mocambo on May 27.

PJ Harvey discusses the visual side of her art with Spinner.

Pitchfork has an extensive interview with Kate Bush, who released her first album in over five years this week with Director’s Cut. The record is streaming in whole over at NPR.

Stream: Kate Bush / Director’s Cut

New York Magazine and The Chicago Tribune talk to Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen while The Aquarian chats with Ian McCulloch.

Johnny Marr talks up his upcoming projects with Billboard.

The Guardian talks to Brett Anderson and Mat Osman about why the reunited Suede are so fashionable again – just in time for Brett Anderson (the solo artist) to announce the September 26 release of his next record, Black Rainbows. Details on the album at NME.

The second single from Patrick Wolf’s forthcoming Lupercalia now has a video and it indeed confirms that, on this record, Wolf is in his happy place. It’s out June 20.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “House”

Foals discuss possible directions of their next record with aux.tv.

The Guardian, Gigwise and Clash have feature pieces on Friendly Fires, whose new record Pala is out next week and are in town at The Phoenix on May 30.

NME gets some information on the next Muse record from rhythm section Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme.

The Aquarian talks to Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner. They’re at The Kool Haus on Saturday and their new album Suck It And See is out June 7.

Also on the bill are The Vaccines, who have a new video from their debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines, due out May 31.

Video: The Vaccines – “All In White”

NPR have posted a WFUV radio session with Noah & The Whale, with whom North Country Times, Oregon Music News, The Telegraph and The Edinburgh Evening News have interviews.

James Blake has a new video from James Blake.

Video: James Blake – “Lindesfarne”

Artrocker has a piece from Clock Opera frontman Guy Connelly about writing their latest single “Belongings”, for which they’ve just released a video and are streaming both sides at Soundcloud. DIY also solicits an alphabetized list of… stuff from the band. These guys were one of the more exciting discoveries at SXSW and the lead-up to their debut album verifies that the excitement is justified.

Video: Clock Opera – “Belongings”

Ladytron are streaming the first single from new album Gravity The Seducer at Soundcloud, well in advance of its September 13 release date.

Art Brut are streaming their new record Brilliant! Tragic! over at Paste. They play The Mod Club on June 17 for NXNE.

Stream: Art Brut / Brilliant! Tragic!

And according to Under The Radar, the Friday night of NXNE – June 17 – will also bring Oxford’s Swervedriver back to town for the first time since, well, NXNE 2008. Venue still to be announced but this should be one of the highlights of the festival.

MP3: Swervedriver – “Duel” (live)

IFC has both an interview with Euros and Norman of Jonny and premiered a new video from the duo. They are at The Drake Underground on June 3 and 4.

Video: Jonny – “You Was Me”

They Shoot Music has a video session with Gruff Ryhs, and he’s also the subject of features at Nashville Scene, The Village Voice and Today Online. He has a date at The Horseshoe for June 11.

NPR has posted a World Cafe session with The Joy Formidable.

And with that, folks, things go into vacation mode over the next couple weeks. There’ll still be updates and whatnot, just maybe fewer, probably leaner and almost certainly at odd hours. And any last-minute suggestions of things to see and do in Barcelona are welcome.