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Posts Tagged ‘Asobi Seksu’

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Blackt Out

Stream of new Lee Ranaldo album declared essential service; continues despite US shutdown

Photo By John Von PamerJohn Von PamerThe United States government may be in shutdown mode over political wranglings, but it’s good to know that both sides of the aisle can agree that the people should be able to hear Last Night On Earth, the new album from once and hopefully future Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and his new outfit The Dust, which also includes Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley.

Like bandmate Thurston Moore’s extra-cirricular activities in Chelsea Light Moving, Ranaldo’s vocals and guitar style are instantly recognizable and not far off from what he put on display with Sonic Youth, but whereas Moore took the opportunity of shedding expectations to go punker and heavier, Ranaldo goes in the poppier direction, with Night always melodic and downright pretty. But don’t think for a moment that means he’s gone soft – or get within range of his guitar and say so; they’ll set you straight.

Last Night On Earth is streaming now at Clash – you see they went with a UK-based website, just to be sure it was safe – and it’s out officially on October 8. His North American tour gets underway the same day and rolls into The Horseshoe not long after on October 11.

Stream: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust / Last Night On Earth

Clash has an interview with Sleigh Bells while Rolling Stone has an advance stream of Bitter Rivals before its official release next week on October 8. They play The Phoenix on November 13.

Stream: Sleigh Bells / Bitter Rivals

Pitchfork has the advance stream of the new of Montreal record lousy with sylvianbriar, out next week. The Fly talks to frontman Kevin Barnes about the new album.

Stream: of Montreal / Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Aquarium Drunkard talks to The Men about their Campfire Songs EP which comes out October 15. They also play The Horseshoe on October 20.

Buzzfeed has an interview with The Head & The Heart as well as a stream of a new track from Let’s Be Still, out October 15. They’re at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

Stream: The Head & The Heart – “Another Story”

Esquire has a video session with The Dismemberment Plan, whose first album in forever – Uncanney Valley – comes out October 15. Billboard and Denver Westword also have interviews with the band.

Frankie Rose, who made her name as drummer for Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls before stepping up as frontwoman and dreampop-leaning solo artist, has been announced as support for Franz Ferdinand at the Kool Haus on October 24. She just released her second album Herein Wild, which she talks to Stereogum and The Village Voice about.

Stream: Frankie Rose – “Street Of Dreams”
Stream: Frankie Rose – “Sorrow”

Widowspeak are streaming a new song that will appear on their The Swamps EP when it comes out October 29. Expect them to have copies for sale when they roll into The Silver Dollar on November 2.

Stream: Widowspeak – “Calico”

Albert Hammond Jr – aka the only Stroke who actually seems to still enjoy being a rock band – will be releasing a new solo EP in AHJ on October 8 and will be in town at The Phoenix on November 10 to play some songs from it, and hopefully some others since there’s only five of them. Tickets $20 in advance.

Stream: Albert Hammond Jr. – “Rude Customer”

Under The Radar has details on a new EP and tour from Denver duo Tennis; their Small Sound extended play will be available November 5 – stream a new song below – and they’ll be at The Garrison on November 10, tickets $16.

MP3: Tennis – “Take Me Somewhere”
Stream: Tennis – “Mean Streets”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Lou Barlow of Sebadoh, coming to town for a November 8 show at The Horseshoe.

Crocodiles have premiered a new video from their latest album < em>Crimes Of Passion via Stereogum. They play Lee’s Palace on November 19.

Video: Crocodiles – “Teardrop Guitar”

Los Angeles’ Lord Huron has announced an extensive tour for next Winter that stops in at The Danforth Music Hall on February 1, tickets $22.50. Their last release was 2012’s Lonesome Dreams but they might well have a new release out in time for these shows.

MP3: Lord Huron – “The Stranger”

Bob Pollard offers The Utne Reader some life lessons; the next Guided By Voices album Motivational Jumpsuit will be out in late February.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Will Sheff of Okkervil River.

Stereogum has premiered the new Mary Timony-starring video from Mikal Cronin’s MCII.

Video: Mikal Cronin – “Peace Of Mine”

NYC Taper has posted recordings of Superchunk’s shows at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan last week.

Exclaim reports that New York’s premier Anglo-Japanese shoegaze outfit Asobi Seksu have gone on indefinite hiatus. Thanks for the blown eardrums, guys.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Smother

Wild Beasts at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s right here, in these very pages, the fact that I didn’t dig on Wild Beasts’ last record Two Dancers and only after some persistence was able to reach a point of understanding it if not appreciating it. But mayhap that exercise softened me up enough that even though it wasn’t as acclaimed as its predecessor, I took to this year’s Smother almost immediately and also put Two Dancers back into rotation. All of which is to say that while I had no problem skipping the band’s visit to the Mod Club last Summer, I was not going to be missing this year’s go-around last Thursday.

The quartet intended to make a dramatic entrance onto the stage but a technical hiccup a few bars into “Lion’s Share” sabotaged that, forcing them to sheepishly say, “hello” rather than just get into it but the net effect was endearing rather than embarrassing and it would basically be the only misstep the entire evening. Why did no one tell me how good of a live band they were? And while we’re at it, why did no one tell me that the swooping and swooning vocals on their recordings were not just courtesy of Hayden Thorpe, but also of Tom Fleming? Here I was thinking that it was Thorpe alone with the inhumanly multi-octave range, when in fact it’s both of them. Which is ridiculous. That they should both be equally adept at playing guitar, bass and keyboards whilst utilizing those voices is even more ridiculous. And that Katie Harkness of Sky Larkin was on board as touring keyboardist was just a nice surprise.

Trying to describe Wild Beasts live requires a lot of adjectives that are typically more suited to blue movies than live music, but that’s just how it is – it’s the sound of sex, however you like it, and quite the contrast from the sentiments of love that Elbow brought to town the night before.. Seductive and dangerous, romantic and rough, primal and sophisticated, they build off a deep, swaying groove heavy on toms and accented with exotic percussion and alternately powered by keys or guitars, their songs are lifted by the intertwined vocals of Thorpe and Fleming in a way that just induces shivers. They split the set about evenly between Two Dancers and Smother and threw long-time fans a bone with “The Devli’s Crayon” from their debut Limbo, Panto and apologizing for never touring their that album. So rhythmically hypnotic was their hour-long main set that when it ended with “Hooting & Howling”, you didn’t even notice the finale coming until it was done – you might say the “End Come Too Soon” but the band saved that one to wrap the encoure, which thankfully ran a good three songs and allowed you the time to mentally prepare to extricate yourself from the music’s embrace and ready yourself to go back out into the cold world.

Prefix, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal and The Daily Texan have interviews with members of Wild Beasts.

Photos: Wild Beasts @ The Mod Club – September 29, 2011
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Thankless Thing”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Loop The Loop”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “All The King’s Men”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Bed Of Nails”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
Video: Wild Beasts – “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Hooting & Howling”
Video: Wild Beasts – “All The King’s Men”
Video: Wild Beasts – “The Devil’s Crayon”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Treacle Tin”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants”

Billboard has posted their upcoming cover story on Florence & The Machine, whose much-anticipated Ceremonials is out on November 1.

Wears The Trousers points to a video session by EMA in Vienna wherein they reinvent “Butterfly Knife”; worth watching.

Exclaim and The Chicago Tribune have interviews and NPR a World Cafe session with St. Vincent.

Spinner, The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and Paste talk to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 16.

Asobi Seksu recorded a session for Daytrotter, gave interviews to OC Music Magazine and The Vindicator and also posted up a Walkmen cover, well, just because. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 23 opening for Boris.

The Von Pop Musical Express interviews Juanita Stein of Howling Bells.

NPR welcomes Ryan Adams for a World Cafe session. Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre welcomes him for a show on December 10.

Gary Louris and Karen Grotberg take The Boston Globe down the long and winding road to the Jayhawks reunion.

The Illinois Entertainer talks to Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.

Men’s Health and The Sydney Morning Herald< talk with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The National Post gets some of Pat Sansone and John Stirratt’s time.

The Decemberists are still promising to take an extended break after they’re done working The King Is Dead, but that won’t be until after they’ve released the Long Live The King EP on November 1 – Exclaim has specifics.

Crystal Stilts are in town for a show at the Horseshoe on December 1.

MP3: Crystal Stilts – “Through The Floor”
Video: Crystal Stilts – “Through The Floor”

Okkervil River have released a new video from I Am Very Far, starring a very young Will Sheff.

Video: Okkervil River – “Your Past Life As A Blast”

Pitchfork takes Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks onto a New York City rooftop to play some songs. Or else.

The Quietus talks to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

NPR has a KCRW session with Fleet Foxes.

Salon investigates why, in a time when record labels are supposed to be dying, Merge Records are thriving.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Art Of Almost

Wilco and Nick Lowe at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBands are always compared to other bands. For new acts, it can be helpful for targeting a sympathetic audience but can also be a hinderance, providing an excuse to be ignored should someone not care for some arbitrary reference point. And should they be so fortunate to endure long enough to define their own identity, a new risk arises – being compared to yourself. That comes in a few flavours – there’s “it sounds like all their other stuff” or “it doesn’t sound as good as their older stuff”, and I’d go so far as to say the former is the more damning as it comes with the distinct whiff of indifference.

This, arguably, is the territory that Wilco have been treading towards over their last couple records. Both Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album) were perfectly fine albums but were more pretty and pleasant than exciting – I argued their merits with those who dismissed the band as “dad-rock” but didn’t explicitly disagree with them. And to be fair, Jeff Tweedy’s had a long career that’s covered a lot of bases and volume levels, and if his muse just wants to sit back and strum the guitar then that’s his prerogative. But one of the downsides of being a successful band, I suppose, is the fact that instead of being able to just bang out a record to document where your head’s at and move on, you have to spend a couple of years touring it around the world before you can try something else.

Trying something new isn’t quite accurate with respect to their new record The Whole Love, out next Tuesday but streaming now at NPR, but that its closest reference point in their catalog is Summerteeth should be enough to get the attention of anyone who’d assumed they were set on cruise control down the middle of the road. It’s certainly their most sonically interesting record in some time, and not in the found-sound Jim O’Rourke sense, as well as containing some of their most pop and experimental efforts in a while. With only a handful of listens from advance streams it’s clearly too early to say where it will eventually settle in the hierarchy of Wilco discography greatness, but it certainly has a good start right out of the blocks.

The band also got a head start on their touring cycle, hitting the road over a week before the new album was released and settling into their now-customary two-night stand at Massey Hall in Toronto last weekend for the second stop of the tour. It’d been almost two years since the last visit but Jeff Tweedy stopped by for a couple solo nights back in March so fans had at least had a fix of hearing their favourite songs live recently, not that that stopped them from packing the theatre again, and twice.

And early. Wilco has toured with a number of acts over the years, both established and not, but I’d never seen so many people in their seats for the opener before… but they’ve never had an opener as legendary as Nick Lowe. Performing solo and acoustic in support of his just-released new album The Old Magic, the former power-pop architect turned professor of sophisticated pop had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he charmed with both his banter and songs. His newer material showed his talent for turning a memorable phrase and melody hasn’t dimmed a bit with age, in fact his wit may be even more incisive now with the benefit of wisdom of his years to back it up. But even so, it was his classic material that everyone wanted to hear and he graciously obliged, offering up a run of hits from “All Men Are Liars” and its still somehow timely Rick Astley dig through the irresistible “Cruel To Be Kind” and then an unexpected and gorgeous cover of Elvis Costello’s “Alison”, sounding more poignant with Lowe’s middle-aged vocals than Costello has maybe ever managed. From that highlight he ended even stronger with “When I Write The Book” and finally a plaintive “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding” that had the audience on their feet, allowing him to depart with a standing ovation, each and every clap deserved.

Being on hand for the first three songs of Friday night (photos are from the first show but writeup from the second), I got to witness the mind-bending greatness of their opening with The Whole Love‘s lead track “Art Of Almost”. It’s a song that, had it set the template for the entire album, might well have forced a complete redefinition of what Wilco are about. Whereas in recent records they seemed content to let Nels Cline’s guitar leads contribute any and all weirdness to their songs, “Almost” finds all six members pushing boundaries in different directions, simultaneously and reminding me of early ’00s Radiohead – remember when Wilco were “America’s Radiohead”? – in the best way. Even from the very first listen, it’s a stunning declaration of what Wilco can do, and live it’s exponentially heavier than on album. It’s a hell of a thing. And for Saturday night, we had to wait until song two.

Reports from Friday night were that the band had to cut The Whole Love‘s closing song, the meditative “One Sunday Morning”, on account of curfew restrictions and so it seems they simply decided to roll it over to open the following night’s set. And it’s a beautiful song – one of the album’s highlights even though it dwells at the completely opposite end of the world of music from “Almost”, but certainly doesn’t pack the same visceral impact. But as said, that only had to wait until song two and then it was off to the races. Past Wilco setlists have been relatively predictable things; always entertainingly performed but I have to admit that recently, the notion of maybe not needing to see them every time through town had entered my mind. Perhaps anticipating this, they served up an unexpected set list that in addition to the new material, leaned more to the turn of the century material – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth – than any in recent memory with Sky Blue Sky only contributed one song, albeit a jaw-dropping even by Nels’ standards “Impossible Germany”, and Wilco (The Album) was ignored completely.

But it was the first encore that really truly sealed this as one of the great Toronto Wilco shows; opening up with a epically crashing “Misunderstood” – anyone count the “NOTHINGS!”? – and followed with a “Jesus Etc” that Tweedy allowed the audience to sing most of and then a “California Stars” that everyone sang along to. And then. THEN. A one-two Being There punch of “Monday” and “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” which basically laid me out flat. This lineup, those songs, holy shit. It wasn’t quite the songbook romp that they pulled out the second night opening for Neil Young back in 2008, but that show was also without – and thanks to – Glenn Kotche (their rotation of substitute drummers got to pick the set list for that show). The one-song, second encore of “I’m A Wheel” was almost pointless – there was no topping what had just happened – but at least Pat Sansone got to do his windmills.

In the fifteen or sixteen times I’ve seen them, over all the different lineups, Wilco have never been anything less than consummate professionals on stage. But there was definitely an extra bit of something in this show, even beyond the song selection, that seemed special. The band were extra energized and invigorated – whether because it was early on in the tour or the excitement of playing new material, I don’t know – but if you thought that the band’s best days were behind them or they were getting too settled in, do yourself a favour and see them on this tour and stay at least as long as “Art Of Almost”. Then tell me they’re done.

The Toronto Sun and National Post were on hand for Friday night’s show while Buffalo News, Spin and NOW were also on hand for Saturday’s show. The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Jeff Tweedy, Drowned In Sound with Mikael Jorgensen and The Los Angeles Times with Pat Sansone while Spinner has a chat and NPR a World Cafe session with Nick Lowe. And Wilcoworld has a talk with Bob Ludwig, the mastering engineer who worked on The Whole Love.

Photos: Wilco @ Massey Hall – September 16, 2011
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Born Alone”
Video: Wilco – “I Love My Label”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Nick Lowe – “All Men Are Liars”
Video: Nick Lowe – “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll)”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Half A Boy And Half A Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Cruel To Be Kind”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Crackin’ Up”
Stream: Wilco / The Whole Love

Mojo reports that the classic Guided By Voices lineup has found time to record a new album amidst the past year of touring and will release Let’s Go Eat The Factory on January 1 (which is a Sunday?). Good thing Bob had some songs lying around!

Paste puts The Jayhawks on their electronic edition cover in honour of their new album Mockingbird Time; they’ve also just released a video from it.

Video: The Jayhawks – “She Walks In So Many Ways”

NYC Taper has a set from The Hold Steady in New York last weekend available to download.

Just this weekend, some friends and I were wondering what the usually prolific Magnolia Electric Co were up to; Secretly Canadian has the answer, and it’s not a great one – if you’re a fan of Jason Molina and his work, do help him out with a donation.

Interview talks to Christopher Owens of Girls, who have a new video from Father Son Holy Ghost and will be at The Mod Club on September 27.

Video: Girls – “Honey Bunny”

Paste has a feature piece on Mates Of State while NPR has premiered the latest video from Mountaintops. They’re at The Phoenix on September 28.

Video: Mates Of State – “Palomino”

Daytrotter have posted a session with Low.

EMA has also had their Daytrotter session posted, and up the ante with a new video as well.

Video: EMA – “Marked”

The AV Club has got a stream of the new Dum Dum Girls record Only In Dreams ahead of its September 27 release. They are at Lee’s Palace on October 16.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
Stream: Dum Dum Girls – “Only In Dreams”

The Financial Times have a feature piece on Warpaint, whose beautifully-shot and performed Rough Trade Sessions is available to watch over at The Fader.

Wears The Trousers interviews Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

The whole of Ivy’s new record All Hours is available to stream.

MP3: Ivy – “Distant Lights”
Stream: Ivy / All Hours

Asobi Seksu have a new video from Fluorescence; they’re at Lee’s Palace opening up for Boris on October 23.

Video: Asobi Seksu – “Perfectly Crystal”

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

All Mine

Portishead are coming. Yes, that Portishead

Photo By Adam FaradayAdam FaradayTo be clear, Portishead simply like to take their time. The eleven-year gap between their self-titled sophomore effort and 2008’s Third? They weren’t broken up, just writing. And considering how scary good/just plain scary said record was, transcending the trip-hop genre they pioneered almost a decade and a half earlier, you couldn’t say it wasn’t time well spent. Similarly, just because they’ve only played one North American show this century – 2008’s Coachella – after returning to the stage in 2005 following a seven-year absence didn’t mean they don’t like us over here; they were just figuring out what to pack.

Baggage issues seem to have been all sorted out, however, as the band have announced their first North American tour in who knows how long – 14 years at minimum – with Thought Forms supporting and it includes not one but two Toronto dates, October 9 and 10 at The Sound Academy. Ticket presales are already live with ducats running $61.50 plus 10% service fees, charged in US dollars. Remember when that was a bad thing? At current exchange rates, that’ll bring your price of admission to like $20 and change. Approximately.

Portishead, people. Yes they spawned a million soundalike bands but go back and listen to those records – they’re still as unique and creepy as they ever were.

Video: Portishead – “Chase The Tear”
Video: Portishead – “Magic Doors”
Video: Portishead – “The Rip”
Video: Portishead – “Machine Gun”
Video: Portishead – “Glory Box”
Video: Portishead – “All Mine”
Video: Portishead – “Humming”

The other great British “head” band – Radiohead – remain oddly shy about hitting the road in any extended capacity but they’re still perfectly keen to play. The long-promised King Of Limbs recital for television programme From The Basement went down this weekend and the whole thing is available to stream at YouTube, at least for the moment – the BBC seems to have some objection to people posting their programming on the internets and are taking action, so hop to it.

DIY reports that Mogwai will release a new EP entitled Earth Division on September 13.

Arctic Monkeys have rolled out a new video from Suck It And See, though you do not have to suck anything to watch it. Unless you want to. Your call.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”

BBC and Clash interview The Horrors. Their latest Skying is out August 9 in North America and they play The Mod Club on September 27.

The Fly checks in with Mystery Jets, hard at work in the studio on their next album, targeted for an early 2012 release.

London’s Male Bonding will be at The Horseshoe on September 2 in support of album number two, Endless Now, due out August 30. Tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: Male Bonding – “Bones”
MP3: Male Bonding – “Franklin”

Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks have announced an October 3 release of their second album In The Pit Of The Stomach, and you can hear the first track from it on their website. There’s also a passel of US live dates but nothing north of the border.

Band of Skulls are taking some time off from working on album number two to play some North American dates, including September 28 at The Garrison.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Blood”

What did you expect from The Vaccines? Maybe a new video from What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?? Well there you go. They’re at The Phoenix on September 27.

Video: The Vaccines – “Norgaard”

The Quietus has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Anna Calvi.

Throwback London pop quartet Veronica Falls, who charmed at SXSW, are giving away a track from their debut album due out October 17.

MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”

NME chats with Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp, who continue to raise funds for their debut album via Pledge Music.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Lykke Li, who has also released a new “live on the moon” video wherein she makes like she is performing live on the moon.

Video: Lykke Li – “Sadness Is A Blessing” (live on The Moon)

Spin talks to Bjork about her Biophilia project, the album part of which will be out September 27.

Japanese heavy rockers Boris will bring Japanese-fronted dream poppers Asobi Seksu with them to Lee’s Palace on October 23, part of a North American tour in support of their two simultaneous releases earlier this year, Heavy Rocks and Attention Please.

MP3: Boris – “Farewell”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Trails”
Video: Boris – “Hope/Riot Sugar”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sunken Treasure

Jeff Tweedy and Snowblink at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis show was a week ago; I think this may actually be my longest delay between witness and writeup ever and, in fact, Jeff Tweedy’s solo tour is just about over. So if you were waiting on some kind of report from opening night at Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre to decide if it was worth picking up one of the few remaining tickets for a later date… I’m sorry. Sorry that you would allow anything I say or do to influence your decision-making – you know I’m drunk most of the time, right?

But if I had gotten this review up sooner, I could have exhorted everyone going to any of the shows to arrive early enough to catch Snowblink, as local duo had been tapped to open up every show on the tour – maybe those at Wilco HQ had seen my glowing review of their debut Long Live? Either way, even though it was a tremendous opportunity for them, as soon as the lights dimmed it was clear they weren’t just happy to be there. The pair of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman took the stage carrying lanterns and eventually set up in their own, white cloth-strewn side of the stage – they were going to put on their show. And what a show it was – Gesundheit’s voice was strong and clear and sounded divine in the theatre’s acoustics, and their simple two-guitar arrangements – including an oustanding cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper” – were subtly embellished with loops, percussion and electronic flourishes. Gesundheit might be a California native, but Toronto now proudly claims her as our own.

Wilco might have last been here as recently as October 2009, but it’s been much, much longer since Jeff Tweedy has come to town with just his acoustic guitars and songbook – so long that Tweedy himself didn’t remember ever having done so. In fact, it had been almost a decade exactly since he played Trinity-St. Paul’s on March 1, 2001, and when reminded of that by the audience he wryly referred to those as “the bad old days”. And while that may have been true for him from both a personal and professional sense, it’s impossible to deny that those were also some of Wilco’s most creatively fertile years, but also an era not often revisited with the full band.

And for about 90 minutes, alone on stage save for a circle of five acoustics and occasional visits from his guitar tech Steve (who was celebrating a birthday), Tweedy would revisit all eras of his career as well as some of his side-projects to air out some songs which would likely never otherwise be heard in these parts. Such as the original, non-Krautrock arrangement of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot b-side “Magazine Called Sunset” or Loose Fur selections “The Ruling Class” and “Chinese Apple”. And of course there were the couple of rare forays into the Uncle Tupelo canon – I know “Gun” would have been too much to hope for, but “Wait Up” was a most certainly welcome and the encore-closing, unamplified “Acuff-Rose” was for the ages. And from Wilco proper, there was a “Poor Places” which I thought turned out better than he seemed to, a rousing “Shot In The Arm” and a new song which has been unofficially dubbed “Open Up Your Mind”.

Considering who the Wilco dynamic has changed with the addition of virtuoso players like Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche, it was good to be reminded that without Tweedy’s songs at the core, beautiful and resonant even stripped down to their essences, it’d all be for naught. Tweedy on his own was also a different sort of performer, more inclined to engage and banter with the audience (and not berate us for not standing up this time), debate grammar, vocabulary and requests and crack more than few jokes, his best being that which accompanied the photographic evidence of his visit to local Wilco-themed sandwich shop Sky Blue Sky, and to which he added they “seemed a little safe – why not try some mulch, tinsel or fibreglass?”.

With a new Wilco album likely due out in the Summer, it’s a pretty safe bet that Tweedy will be back with his cohorts in tow for another couple nights at Massey Hall. And it’ll be expansive and filled with amazing musicianship, no doubt, but that just makes simple shows like this one all the more special.

The Toronto Sun, The National Post, The Globe & Mail and Chart were all in attendance; three out of four dentists agreed it was a great show.

Photos: Jeff Tweedy, Snowblink @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – March 22, 2011
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
MP3: Wilco – “Spiders” (live)
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
Video: Snowblink – “The Haunt”

From the ashes of The Broken West and to The Drake Underground comes Pasadena’s Apex Manor; Ross Flournoy’s new band will be opening up for Jonny on June 3 and 4. Their debut The Year Of Magical Drinking is out now.

MP3: Apex Manor – “Under The Gun”

With the May 10 release date of their new record Burst Apart not really all that far off, The Antlers have put together a North American tour that includes a June 14 stop at The Mod Club with Little Scream supporting. She had to bail on the last few dates of her tour with Sharon Van Etten, including the April 12 date at The Drake, to go to Europe with Junip so this will be her next local date. Not that you needed the extra incentive to go see The Antlers, of course. The band performed the whole of the new record live at SxSW and NPR has the stream.

MP3: The Antlers – “Two”

There were here no less than four times last year, and they’re totally coming back for more – that’s Phantogram, and they’ll be at 69 Bathurst on July 28 in the company of The Glitch Mob.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Village Voice talks to Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus, who are in town for a show at The Horseshoe on April 1 and again on June 10 at The Phoenix supporting Okkervil River.

Exclaim, Billboard, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Mother Jones all have features on The Mountain Goats. Their new record All Eternals Deck is out now and they’re at The Opera House on April 3.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “The Age Of Kings”

Blurt, The Huffington Post, Fogged Clarity, Los Angeles Times and The Von Pip Musical Express have profiles of Wye Oak, in town at The El Mocambo on April 9.

Sharon Van Etten is featured in The Phoenix New Times, Spin and Georgia Straight while NPR is streaming one of her SxSW performances. She’s at The Drake Underground on April 12, and yes that’s her doing backing vocals on The National’s contribution to the soundtrack for the film Win Win, which is now available to download.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”

Spinner, Pedestrian TV and Vanity Fair have interviews with The Kills, whose new record Blood Pressures is out next week. NPR is streaming one of their SxSW performances so you know what to expect when they hit The Sound Academy on May 1. The new album is also streaming in whole at their website.

Stream: The Kills / Blood Pressures

Low have made available a new MP3 from their forthcoming C’Mon, which is out April 12. They’re at The Mod Club on May 2 with Memoryhouse supporting.

MP3: Low – “Especially Me”

CNN has an interview with Shonna Tucker of Drive-By Truckers, who have a date at The Phoenix on June 15.

PopMatters and Blurt have interviews with The Dodos, who’ve put out a new video from No Color. They’re at The Phoenix on June 16 for NXNE.

Video: The Dodos – “Black Night”

Exclaim reports that My Morning Jacket have assigned a May 31 release date for their new record Circuital. They will be at The Kool Haus on July 11 to support.

Metro Pulse talks high fidelity with Asobi Seksu.

Paste and Blurt have interviews with J Masics, who has released a new Chad Van Gaalen-directied video from Several Shades Of Why

Video: J Mascis – “Not Enough”

MTV Hive has an interview with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes while NPR is streaming their show from Auditorium Shores at SxSW.

NOW interviewed those involved with the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour that rolled through town a few weeks back, while NYC Taper has a recording of one of the New York shows.

eye and The Georgia Straight check in with Warpaint.

The Los Angeles Times, Spinner, The Boot, The Telegraph and Publishers Weekly all talk to Steve Earle about I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, which is both the name of his new record, out April 26, and first novel, out May 12.

Rolling Stone chats with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who has set a June target for their second record.

Spinner, The Phoenix and The Fly have interviews with Buffalo Tom.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart discuss their new record Belong with The Line Of Best Fit, The University Observer, Jambands and Exclaim. And oh hey new video.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”

Pitchfork pays tribute to the hanging-it-up LCD Soundsystem with an exhaustive analysis of the band’s catalog. Seriously, it’s exhausting.

Austinist and The Huffington Post interview Liz Phair.

NYC Taper has posted a recording of Yo La Tengo’s show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey last week.

NPR doubles up on The Head & The Heart, streaming both one of their SxSW sets and a World Cafe session. The Big Takeover has an interview with the band, whose self-titled debut gets a reissue on April 16.