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Posts Tagged ‘Beach House’

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Dancing Barefoot

Patti Smith at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangHowever you choose to bracket the timeline – the three weeks since Saturday night’s show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was announced, the two months since her First Thursday performances at the Art Gallery Of Ontario were announced, or the 37 years since her first album Horses was released – I’ve been remiss in my Patti Smith education. To be clear: as long as I’ve been a remotely informed music fan, I’ve known who she was and her importance – you couldn’t be an R.E.M. obsessive and not know about how Horses changed Michael Stipe’s life – and over the years I’ve gotten to know her “hits” (quotes only because she’s only had one song that could be called a hit in the record sales sense of the word), but learning more about her life beyond the broad strokes, about the other facets of her art – all of which are as important as her music to understanding who Patti Smith is – just hadn’t really happened.

Which mad this past week was as good a time as any to make up for lost time. On the back of Smith’s “Camera Solo” photo exhibit at the AGO which opened in February and will run through May, she was in town for a series of events including the First Thursday shows, a book signing, and a screening and Q&A of her documentary film Dream Of Life, in addition to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre show. A lot of Smith, certainly, but long overdue considering that I cannot remember the last time she was in Toronto for a show (The Patti Smith Setlists says aside from a short, four-song set at a TIFF event in 2008, it was Convocation Hall in 2000). I’d caught her briefly at Lollapalooza 2006 when she turned up to play an unannounced solo set at the kids’ stage, but for the most part, these events and their build-up were my crash course in just how much people loved Patti Smith and why.

The timing of the QET show may have been practical, coming at the end of the aforementioned multi-day promotional visit, but it was also a meaningful one for Smith, coming on the 24th anniversary of the death of Smith’s former partner and muse – Robert Mapplethorpe – as well as, as she’d tell us, the 37th anniversary of her meeting her future husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. Given the occasion, the evening was billed as “An Evening af Words and Song in Memory of Robert Mapplethorpe” and as well as performing songs from throughout her career, she offered readings from her 2010 book Just Kids, a memoir of her time with Mapplethorpe.

Performing acoustically with her children Jesse Smith and Jackson Smith on piano and guitar respectively and Tony Shanahan on bass – when asked where long-time guitarist Lenny Kaye was, she replied “Pennsylvania” – the performance had a casual and intimate vibe; Smith was friendly and chatty – though her charisma and presence was such that you never forgot that you were in the presence of rock’n’roll royalty – and the sold-out audience hung on her every word, interrupting only to shout out declarations of love and asking permission to dance. With a set list containing songs both classic and new – last year’s Banga was respectably represented – the laid-back presentation didn’t recreate the overt energy that electrified the original recordings, but they remained unquestionably potent.

The punk rock edge was still there – a bit time-worn, perhaps, and sheathed but still tangibly razor-sharp. “Dancing Barefoot” was a jaw-dropper and the screams of “Holy shit!” that rang out as the last note of a scorching “Pissing In A River” faded aptly reflected the thoughts of the 1200 or so who’d just borne witness. And I couldn’t help but feel for those who’d seen Smith in a more conventional concert format where presumably she’d be less free to speak and offer anecdotes like the wonderful backstory to “Because The Night”; as brilliant as the music was, those stories were as much a part of the magic of the show.

Over the course of the almost two-hour show, it became clear this wasn’t a regular concert and not just because it was a musical legend on stage. Whereas others might perform their songs, Smith was sharing facets of her own life set to music, exemplifying the difference between a life in art and a life as art. Ghosts may have pervaded the show, but they did not haunt; rather, they hovered and were honoured, the overwhelming emotion being joyous. I might not have known that much about Smith going into the show, but coming out I now felt I knew her intimately. An utterly unforgettable evening.

Exclaim also has a review of Saturday’s show, while The Globe & Mail, Rolling Stone, and The Toronto Star were in attendance at the First Thursday shows. NOW has an interview with Smith, while The Victoria Times Colonist, CBC, Spinner, The Toronto Star, and Exclaim report from a Q&A session about her photo exhibit. And The Grid offers some thoughts on why Smith remains so important a figure to people of her children’s generation.

Photos: Patti Smith @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – March 9, 2013
MP3: Patti Smith – “Wing”
Video: Patti Smith – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Video: Patti Smith – “People Have The Power”
Video: Patti Smith – “Summer Cannibals”
Video: Patti Smith – “Rock’N’Roll Nigger”

Low is streaming their new record The Invisible Way at NPR. It’s out March 18 and they play The Great Hall on March 16.

MP3: Low – “Just Make It Stop”
MP3: Low – “So Blue”
Stream: Low / The Invisible Way

NYC Taper is sharing a show by The Thermals in New York last week. Their new record Desperate Ground is out April 16.

She & Him are streaming the first new track from Volume 3, due out May 7. They play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 4.

Stream: She & Him – “Never Wanted Your Love”

The Concordian talks to Ra Ra Riot, who were just here last week but return on June 8 for Field Trip at Fort York’s Garrison Commons.

Stereogum have offered up a track from John Vanderslice’s whole-album cover of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, which is available to those who support his Kickstarter to fund his next album Dagger Beach, out this Summer.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Big Brother”

Beach House have released a new video from last year’s Bloom.

Video: Beach House – “Wishes”

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from The Men.

The Guardian talks to Alison Mosshart of The Kills.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Think You Can Wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

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

Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”

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

MP3: Stars – “The Theory Of Relativity”

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

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

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

MP3: Alt-J – “Matilda”

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

MP3: Low – “So Blue”

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

Stream: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”

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

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

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

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

You're A Sign

Review of Ken Stringfellow’s Danzig In The Moonlight and giveaway

Photo By Cecil MathieuCecil MathieuThere are few musicians out there with a more impressive alt.rock resume than Ken Stringfellow. Starting out as co-frontman of the criminally under-appreciated Bellingham power-pop outfit The Posies, he was part of the final incarnation of the legendary Big Star, he was an unofficial member of R.E.M. both on stage and in the studio for a number of years in the post-Berry era, is part of the massive rotating cast of The Minus 5, he fronts a Norwegian garage rock band called The Disciplines, and oh yeah when he’s not doing all of that, he puts out gorgeous solo records.

Danzig In The Moonlight, out last Fall, is the latest of which and the first since 2004’s Soft Commands. And while that record was commendable for its stylistic ranginess, it lacked the coherence of the gorgeous, country-tinged Touched, which when all is said and done with Stringfellow’s impressive career may well stand as his masterpiece. Danzig does not even attempt to recapture that degree of aesthetic focus, but its forays into jangle-rock, prog, country, and R&B – to name but a few of the flavours that surface – don’t so much strive for authenticity than a reasonably convincing, “in the style of”. This allows Stringfellow’s sweet tenor and melodic gifts to tie it all together, which combined with the rich arrangements let Danzig sometimes feel more like the score to some ambitious musical production than a conventional album. In less deft hands, juggling this many ideas may have resulted in a grandly ambitious failure, but Stringfellow not only knows what he’s doing, he makes it look easy.

MyNorthwest.com and The Santa Barbara Independent have interviews with Stringfellow, who makes a rare Toronto appearance at The Drake Underground on February 19. Tickets are $15 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests@chromewaves.net with “I want to see Ken Stringfellow” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that to me by midnight, February 14.

MP3: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”
Video: Ken Stringfellow – “Superwise”

Because the ’90s are back and you know you love it, The Breeders have expanded their reunion tour in support of the 20th anniversary of Last Splash and will be playing the whole of the album at the Danforth Music Hall on May 11, tickets $22.50 for balconies and $25 for floors.

Video: The Breeders – “Divine Hammer”

Bon Appetit has an interview with Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, which is fitting considering the culinary theme of the new video from Fade. They’re at The Phoenix this Saturday, February 9.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “I’ll Be Around”

Ra Ra Riot have released a video for the title track of Beta Love and Jambands has an interview with violinist Rebecca Zeller. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 6 and are back again for the Arts & Crafts Field Trip fest at Fort York on June 8.

Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Beta Love”

The Strokes have confirmed a March 26 release date for their fifth album, Comedown Machine. Advance word is that despite everyone complaining it sounds nothing like The Strokes, it will indeed sound like The Strokes.

DIY and Interview talk to Thao Nguyen, who leads The Get Down Stay Down into Lee’s Palace on March 27.

Rilo Kiley have come clean on their forthcoming rarities compilation, cleverly entitled RKives and due out on April 2. Further information on that release can be found at TwentyFourBit.

Pitchfork talks to Steve Drozdt about The Flaming Lips’ forthcoming full-length The Terror – out April 2 – while Exclaim uncovers evidence that the real terror may be the fact that the band are endeavouring to record their own version of The Stone Roses’ first album, which it goes without saying would be a TERRIBLE IDEA.

Steve Earle has announced a new album entitled The Low Highway for release on April 16, and it’ll be the first one since 1990’s The Hard Way to be credited to him and The Dukes, though this one also credits The Duchesses, albeit in parentheses. All of which is to say this ain’t no solo record.

Pitchfork has details on the new record from Iron & Wine, entitled Ghost On Ghost and out April 16. You can stream a new song from it below.

Stream: Iron & Wine – “Lovers Revolution”

The Thermals have also settled on April 16 as the release date for their first record for Saddle Creek, Desperate Ground. Pitchfork has specifics.

Consequence Of Sound, Pitchfork, The Fader, and The Quietus all talk to Jim James about going solo. He’s in town at The Phoenix on April 24.

Spinner talks about hair with Widowspeak, who’ve made another track from their latest Almanac available to download.

MP3: Widowspeak – “Sore Eyes”

Beach House have released their long-promised short film Forever Still, featuring a number of live performances of tracks off Bloom.

Video: Beach House: Forever Still

Trespassers William have released a video from one of the songs off their farewell rarities compilation, Cast.

Video: Trespassers William – “Believe Me”

Interview talks to School Of Seven Bells.

The Alternate Side has posted a video session with Wild Nothing.

Le Blogotheque has posted a Take-Away Show with Titus Andronicus, and PopMatters an interview.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

This Time

New Mendicants welcome the new year new the welcome Mendicants New

Photo via Time OutTime OutHappy New Year, everyone; hope 2013 has been good to you so far and if not, geez. It’s only been 36 hours or so. What the hell.

We’ll kick off the new year with some old faces under a new name; The New Mendicants. So new they don’t even have a website or Facebook page, but if you need some background maybe look up Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub, and The Sadies, and cross-reference with my writeup of last June’s wonderful Joe Pernice/Norman Blake show at the Dakota Tavern. Because what began that night as a possibly one-off pop summit has become a proper international supergroup with the addition of current Sadies and former Pernice Brothers drummer Mike Belitsky to the fold, providing some genuine Toronto content to American Pernice and Scot Blake, both immigrants to the southern Ontario region.

This year will see the first formal activity from the band, starting with a brace of Australian tour dates later this month featuring just Blake and Pernice and the release of their first EP. It’s a six-songer featuring three new songs, one of each of Pernice and Blake’s compositions from their other bands, and an INXS cover – stream it below – and while it’s a limited edition intended for sale down under, it’s available to preorder for North American fans for an approximate February 1 release.

A full-length with the working title of The Book Of Norman is also in the works, and while there’s no extensive touring in the cards, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t play at least an (adopted) hometown show whenever that happens. And presumably the new Pernice Brothers album will come out eventually and we’re about due a new Fanclub record, but until those become somewhat less than myth, we have this to look forward to.

Stream: The New Mendicants – “This Time”

And in a nice little bit of synchronicity, NYC Taper just posted a recording of Norman Blake’s set opening up the final Yo La Tengo Hannukah show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken last month.

DIY gets to know Palma Violets, one of the presumed “next big things” of 2013. Their debut 180 is out February 25 and they play The Horseshoe on January 24.

Stereogum interviews Johnny Marr; his solo debut The Messenger is out February 26.

PopMatters profiles Django Django, back in town at the Opera House on March 12.

A Music Blog, Yea? chats with Rose Elinor Dougall, whose second album has been a while in coming but should be out this year.

Black Book talks to Dev Hynes of Blood Orange about everything he got up to in 2012 and what might be yet to come.

Pop Justice talks to Jessie Ware about what’s transpired since her debut was released back in June.

Efterklang have released a new video from Piramida. They’re at The Mod Club on March 21 as part of Canadian MusicFest.

Video: Efterklang – “Sedna”

Pitchfork rounds up what’s known about a new release from Rilo Kiley, almost certainly an already-promised b-sides and rarities collection.

Beach House have a new video from Bloom, the timing of which is kind of obvious.

Video: Beach House – “New Year”

Murray Lightburn talks to Spinner about what The Dears have planned for 2013, recording a new record being one of those things.

Put That Shit On The List interviews Alaska B of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. They play The Garrison on January 18.

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

"Kill The Turkey"

The National watches TV. They’re just like us!

Photo via FoxFoxSunday night’s television lineup got a healthy injection of The National this week, both directly and indirectly. In the Thanksgiving episode of Bob’s Burgers, viewers were treated to a holiday-themed song by Linda in abbreviated form and in full over the closing credits, and shortly thereafter The Vulture surfaced with a version of the song rendered in Matt Berninger’s distinctive baritone over appropriately tasteful backing. They had to take it down, unfortunately, but this is the internet – nothing ever dies.

Boardwalk Empire viewers didn’t have to do nearly as much legwork to hear the band’s contribution to this week’s episode – they just had to sit through the credits. As has been the custom for the Steve Buscemi vehicle, the band – assisted by Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks – covered a period-correct song to play while the best boys and gaffers got their due; this one was a 1924 song originally recorded by Isham Jones and The Ray Miller Orchestra. I didn’t know that – full credit goes to Fuck Yeah The National for pulling the background together on that one.

Stream: The National – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”
Stream: The National – “Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving Song”

Freelance Whales, who just released their second album in Diluvia, and Hundred Waters, whose self-titled debut came out in September, will be at The Mod Club on January 17, tickets $16. Spinner and The Daily Tar Heel have Freelance Whales features.

Video: Freelance Whales – “Spitting Image”
Video: Hundred Waters – “Thistle”

Christopher Owens – aka the guy from Girls who was basically the entirety of Girls and who recently left Girls – will be at The Mod Club on January 18 as part of a North American tour in support of his solo debut Lysandre, out January 14.

Stream: Christopher Owens – “Lysandre’s Theme / Here We Go”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Titus Andronicus, and The Chicago Tribune, Denver Westword, and 77 Square have features. They’re at Lee’s Palace next Tuesday, November 27.

A new track from Memory Tapes’ forthcoming Grace/Confusion is now available to stream, as is a mish-mash of b-sides, unreleased material, and whatnot in mixtape form. The album is out December 4.

Stream: Memory Tapes – “Neighbourhood Watch”
Stream: Memory Tapes – “Displaced Mix”

Spinner talks to Paul Banks about Interpol turning ten. The decade-anniversary edition of Turn On The Bright Lights is out December 4 and one of the bonus tracks is now available to download. Las Vegas Weekly and Denver Post also talk to Paul Banks about his solo thing.

MP3: Interpol – “Roland” (first demo)

Yo La Tengo have released a video from their next record Fade, due out January 15. They play The Phoenix on February 9.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”

NPR welcomes Father John Misty to the World Cafe; MTV Hive also has an interview. He’s at The Danforth Music Hall supporting The Walkmen on January 16.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a Widowspeak show from earlier this month. There’s some new Almanac material to hear before the album is released on January 22.

Rolling Stone talks to Jim James about his forthcoming solo debut, Regions of Light and Sound of God. It’s out February 5.

Beach House have released a new video from Bloom.

Video: Beach House – “Wild”

R.E.M. may be gone, but they’re still able to remind you they’ve got some Hollywood-type friends, such as with this video for the final song from their final album, Collapse Into Now, directed by James Franco and starring Lindsay Lohan.

Video: R.E.M. – “Blue”

American Songwriter talks to Britt Daniel of Divine Fits.

The Fly and MusicOmh have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.

Stereogum talks to Steve Drozd of The Flaming Lips about how work is coming on their new album, at last check entitled The Terror and earmarked for release this Fall though that’s probably not happening. They could have asked Wayne Coyne, but he was otherwise occupied being detained by the TSA.

Happy Thanksgiving, America. Happy Thursday, rest of the world.