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Posts Tagged ‘Beirut’

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Yours, Mine and Ours

Joe Pernice & Norman Blake at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t think Toronto necessarily has an international reputation as a destination for expatriate pop geniuses, but apparently Canadian women hold a certain appeal for them. Joe Pernice of Pernice Brothers has been up here for the better part of eight years while Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub moved to Kitchener a couple years ago – both on account of their Canadian wives – and on Friday night, they were on stage together at The Dakota Tavern for a low-key show together. It had been advertised as a Joe Pernice show with the promise of a “special guest”, and while a show from Joe alone would be worth pencilling into the calendar, once the faintly-veiled clues as to who said guest would be got out, it turned into a must-see.

Anyone expecting a high-falutin’ musical summit between two of the finest pop songwriters around would have done well to dial down their expectations, though. The show was much more of a back porch strumalong between two old friends who just happened to have one hell of a songbook to draw from and though it had its share of sloppy moments, that arguably made it even more special and memorable than if it had been meticulously rehearsed. Pernice started out with a short solo set that drew from his many projects – Pernice Brothers, Joe solo, Scud Mountain Boys – and included a new song entitled “Surf’s Up” that he revealed was from a new, just-completed Scuds record. Scoop!

Blake was then invited onstage and the two spent the rest of the show playing each other’s songs – Pernice on a standard acoustic, Blake on a Nashville-strung parlour-body – and reminding the gathered that they were two of the funniest stage banterers in the business with some great repartee. There was plenty of time for banter as Blake’s guitar required plenty of tuning and retuning – their first run through of “Baby Lee” went further out of tune with each strum and forced a do-over – but when they were able to get onto a song, it was grand if clearly not overly rehearsed. Even with a music stand overflowing with notes onto the floor between them, they were happy to do things off the cuff – Blake had to teach Pernice the chords to “You Was Me” from his Jonny side-project with Euros Childs on the fly (it turned out fine) and even though their take on Fanclub’s “I Don’t Want Control Of You” was a bit of a comedy of errors, they still made it tremendously entertaining.

The stuff that was more properly arranged, however, was nothing sort of sublime. Hearing them trade verses on “Everything Flows” was easily the highlight of the night and their finale of “Alcoholiday” not far behind. You obviously didn’t have the wall of harmonies that Teenage Fanclub proper can offer, but Pernice’s falsetto was a pretty good stand-in. It wasn’t just about the Fanclub material, mind, as their work on “Loving Kind” off the last Pernice Brothers album Goodbye Killer was stirring and their cover of The Zombies’ “The Butcher’s Tale” darkly affecting. Though they obviously could have kept going all night, a hard curfew forced them to cap things at 90 minutes though they were permitted an encore of Fanclub’s “Start Again” that was a divine finale.

It’s not clear if this tweet is a joke or a promise, but an actual collaboration between the two – or even some more of these casual-vibe shows – would be a great treat and a far better way to enjoy having these talents as locals than going through their trash.

The Calgary Herald has an interview with Joe Pernice about his plans to release two albums this year – the aforementioned new Scuds record and the long-promised new Pernice Brothers album.

Photos: Joe Pernice & Norman Blake @ The Dakota Tavern – June 22, 2012
MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
MP3: Scud Mountain Boys – “Grudge Fuck”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “It’s All In My Mind”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Everything Flows”
MP3: Jonny – “Candyfloss”
MP3: Jonny – “Gloria”

Dirty Projectors are giving away a couple tracks from their forthcoming Swing Lo Magellan, out July 10. They play The Music Hall on July 6.

MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Dance For You”
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Video: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”

The Alternate Side has a session and Clash, Houston Press, and Indy Week have interviews with Lower Dens. They play Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Beirut has released a video for the title track of last year’s The Rip Tide. They are at The Sound Academy on July 19.

Video: Beirut – “The Rip Tide”

The Antlers are streaming a track from their forthcoming EP Undersea, due out July 24.

Stream: The Antlers – “Drift Dive”

The Shins have rolled out a new video from Port Of Morrow; they’re in town August 4 opening up for The Black Keys at The Molson Amphitheatre.

Video: The Shins – “No Way Down”

Pitchfork talks to Cat Power about her new record Sun, due for release on September 4.

Aimee Mann has given Rolling Stone the title track of her new record Charmer to stream. It’s out September 18.

Stream: Aimee Mann – “Charmer”

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has taken their reunion from the stage into the studio and are set to release their first new album since 2004’s Damage in Meat & Bone, out September 18. Then they’ll take in back to the stage with a series of live dates that includes an October 18 appearance at The Horseshoe in Toronto. Stream one of the new songs below.

Stream: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Black Mold”

San Fransciso goth-gazers The Soft Moon will be at The Drake Underground on September 22, tickets $11.50 in advance.

MP3: The Soft Moon – “Tiny Spiders”
MP3: The Soft Moon – “Breathe The Fire”

Michael Gira’s Swans will make an appearance at Lee’s Palace on October 25 in support of their new double-record We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head, tickets for that $26.50 in advance.

MP3: Swans – “Sex God Sex”

Matt & Kim are preparing for the Fall release of their new record Let’s Go with a video for the title track.

Video: Matt & Kim – “Let’s Go”

Boulder Weekly has a tete-a-tete with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The Daily Herald and Missoulian chat with Nels Cline.

Interview talks to Munaf Rayani of Explosions In The Sky.

Spinner documents a typical day in the life of The Flaming Lips, assuming that playing a free show in downtown Toronto as part of NXNE counts as typical for these guys. Maybe it does. You don’t know.

Okay, gotta go. San Francisco beckons.

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Dance the Night Away

Scud Mountain Boys at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEven in this age of band reunions run amuck, the returns of some outfits to active duty seem highly unlikely. Maybe the animosity between the principals is too deep for even the biggest prospective paydays to put aside, or the prospect of being regarded as a nostalgia act rather than active, vital artist is too unpalatable, or maybe the band’s audience wasn’t all that big the first time around and their legend hasn’t necessarily grown enough in the interim to make it seem worthwhile.

Any and all of these could reasonably have applied to early ’90s alt.country outfit Scud Mountain Boys. A falling out, the specifics of which have grown vague, left it so that singer-guitarist Joe Pernice hadn’t spoken to the other three in some fourteen years, Pernice had since established himself as a successful bandleader via Pernice Brothers and solo artist, and though the Scuds certainly had their devotees, their name wasn’t exactly topping anyone’s list of dream Coachella headliner reunions. And yet last Summer, following the death of a close mutual friend, Pernice decided to reach out to his former bandmates and revisit the old material – net result, a string of live dates along the east coast in early 2012 that wrapped up, for the moment, this past Saturday night at Lee’s Palace in Pernice’s adopted hometown of Toronto.

Any question about the vibe of the night was answered with the band’s stage setup, carried over from their original incarnation – a kitchen table set up in the middle of the stage, adorned with a small lamp and surrounded with comfortable chairs. It was both symbolic, hearkening to the band’s beginnings sitting around a kitchen table playing music together, and practical, giving them a place to put their drinks. And with regards to my earlier comments that no one was waiting for this reunion – that’s not to say that it wasn’t welcome; a few hundred locals were out for the occasion, and some were louder and rowdier than the band themselves.

Being more a fan of the Pernice Brothers’ ornate pop than the Scuds’ country leanings – relatively speaking, just to be clear – I’ve always preferred the more produced third album Massachusetts to their sparser, earlier records Pine Box and Dance The Night Away (collected and rereleased as The Early Year) but hearing the earlier material was a great reminder that those simpler recordings still contained some great, great songs. And also that as much as history has framed the Scuds as Pernice’s old band – and he was great, having shaved for the occasion and looking a lot like Elvis Costello, and still a hilarious onstage personality who despite planning to become a Canadian citizen this year, hadn’t forgotten his Boston roots (“Pogge or Rask?”) – the others were far more than just a supporting cast. Drummer Tom Shea was deft on mandolin for the front half of the show before taking up behind the drum kit, bassist Stephen Desaulniers’ voice has more of an innate twang than Pernice’s honeyed vocals and guitarist Bruce Tull’s leads offered a great balance of emotion and melody.

The 90-minute set was actually more dynamic than a show anchored around a kitchen table might have implied, the Massachusetts material almost rocking out (thought still seated) and main set closer “Cigarette Sandwich” coming across particularly rollicking. But perhaps most importantly, given the history of the band, everyone onstage seemed to be having a grand time of it and that spirit carried over into the audience, including former Pernice Brothers and current Sadies drummer Mike Belitsky. He was texting taunts at Pernice during the encore, causing him to crack up whilst trying to sing the somber Cher cover of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” (the table was also good for holding mobile phones). A hilarious end to a wholly entertaining show, and if that ends up being it for the Scuds reunion – there are no more dates on the sched and Joe will be turning his attention to the new Pernice Brothers record due out this year – then it went out on a high note.

The Washington Post has an interview with Pernice about getting the band back together.

Photos: Scud Mountain Boys @ Lee’s Palace – February 25, 2012
MP3: Scud Mountain Boys – “Grudge Fuck”
Stream: Scud Mountain Boys – “In A Ditch”
Stream: Scud Mountain Boys – “Sangre de Cristo”

Both The Line Of Best Fit and DIY crash Stephin Merritt’s hotel room to record Magnetic Fields video sessions, while NPR has new album Love At The Bottom Of The Sea streaming in full before it emerges next Tuesday. They’re at the Sound Academy on March 30.

Stream: The Magnetic Fields / Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

Spin solicits a list of Sharon Van Etten’s favourite things; The Ottawa Citizen also has a chat.

Frankie Rose – whose CV takes her through such acts as Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and The Outs – has released her acclaimed debut under her own name alone in Interstellar and will bring it to The Shop Under Parts & Labour on May 2.

MP3: Frankie Rose – “Little Brown Haired Girls”

Beirut has released a new video from last year’s delicious The Rip Tide. Hear it, and others like it, when the band are at The Sound Academy on July 19.

Video: Beirut – “Vagabond”

Baeble Music has premiered a new video from The Wooden Birds, taken from Two Matchsticks.

Video: The Wooden Birds – “Long Time To Lose It”

Drowned In Sound chats with Andrew Bird, whose new album Break It Yourself is out March 6 and now streaming in full at NPR.

Stream: Andrew Bird / Break It Yourself

NPR welcomes Nada Surf for a World Cafe session. They play The Opera House on April 4.

Spin interviews James Mercer of The Shins. Their new album Port Of Morrow comes out March 20.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When No One's Watching

Craig Finn lets Full Eyes stream

Photo By Jeremy BaldersonJeremy BaldersonAt first, it’s hard to imagine what need there is for a Craig Finn solo album. After all, he gets to run roughshod over The Hold Steady records with as many words as he can manage to pair with their classic rock attack – has he really got a backlog of ideas that don’t fit that broad and welcoming template? As Clear Heart, Full Eyes, out next Tuesday but now available to stream in whole at NPR demonstrates, yeah he does.

It’s not as though any of these songs couldn’t have easily been made into Hold Steady numbers; Finn’s character-driven songwriting style is still immediately recognizable. But the mood is more thoughtful and the musical accompaniments chosen are simpler and slower – though not acoustic and strummy, it should be made clear – and allow Finn to occupy enough of a different timbre and cadence to clearly distinguish him from the manic character who fronts The Hold Steady. It’s the sort of record that fans will enjoy for its own merits but also make them appreciate the next Hold Steady record even more.

Clash gets into the literary inspiration that goes into his work while Pitchfork and Hitfix talk to him about going solo and what’s next for The Hold Steady.

MP3: Craig Finn – “Honolulu Blues”
Stream: Craig Finn / Clear Heart Full Eyes

School Of Seven Bells have revealed details of a Spring tour in support of Ghostory, out February 28. The Toronto date is May 2 at The Hoxton.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”

Hospitality were just here last week but they’ve already scheduled a return date for February 29 when they’ll be supporting Tennis at The Horseshoe. Their self-titled debut is out January 31.

MP3: Hospitality – “Friends Of Friends”

Beirut have announced a July 19 date at The Sound Academy, part of a Canadian tour in support of last year’s The Rip Tide. Tickets are $35 general admission, $50 VIP.

Video: Beirut – “Santa Fe”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Real Estate, who play a sold-out show at Lee’s Palace this Friday. The Boston Globe and Montreal Mirror have interviews.

Nada Surf has made their new record The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy available to stream ahead of its release next week over at NPR. They play the Opera House on April 4.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
Stream: Nada Surf / The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

Stuff like iTunes sessions don’t typically get my attention, but one coming out on January 24 does – because a) it’s by Wilco and b) it’s all of eight songs long, picked from all throughout their existence and featuring a cover of “Cruel To Be Kind” with Nick Lowe. So yeah, maybe I’ll buy that. Details on the release at Consequence Of Sound, and there’s interviews with Jeff Tweedy at The Denver Post and Glenn Kotche at The Los Angeles Times.

The Stool Pigeon talks to Chairlift about their new record Something, out January 24 and followed by a show at The Horseshoe on March 28.

Stereogum checks in with Sharon Van Etten about the state of her new album Tramp, out February 7. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 21.

Opening up that show are Shearwater, who’ve offered up another track from their new one Animal Joy. It’s out February 14.

MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”

The first official preview of Sleigh Bells’ forthcoming Reign Of Terror is now available to hear. It’s out February 21 and they play The Phoenix February 18.

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

Another tune from the new Lambchop record Mr. M is available to download ahead of its February 21 release date.

MP3: Lambchop – “Gone Tomorrow”

The Boston Herald, Boston Phoenix, and Metro talk to Joe Pernice about the Scud Mountain Boys reunion tour, which kicked off this week in Boston and hits Lee’s Palace on February 25.

The Decemberists will be entering their hiatus in grand fashion, with the released of their first live album, the double-disc We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11). It will be out on March 13; Rolling Stone has specifics.

Rolling Stone has an MP3 from Threads, the new record for Minneapolis’ Now, Now. It’s out March 16 and they may or may not be opening for The Naked & Famous at The Sound Academy on April 5 – I’ve seen both that they are and aren’t.

MP3: Now, Now – “School Friends”

Rolling Stone has got an MP3 from the new Justin Townes Earle album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now available to download. The record is out March 27.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”

DIY profiles Howler, who are at The Drake Underground on April 5. They’ve also released a live session video recorded at the Rough Trade store in London.

Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck” (live at Rough Trade)

Wayne Coyne talks to Rolling Stone about a new The Flaming Lips record that will be made up of collaborations with other artists such as Bon Iver (who, let’s be honest, would probably agree to collaborate with anyone who asked) and which may be out as soon as April.

Lower Dens have announced a new record – look for Nootropics on May 1 – and also released the first MP3 from it, which is kind of great.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”

DIY has a feature piece on Guided By Voices, who aim to release their second reunion album Class Clown Spots A UFO in or around May.

Ryan Adams has released a new video from Ashes & Fire.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Chains Of Love”

There’s also a new video from Death Cab For Cutie’s Codes & Keys.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Underneath The Sycamore”

aux.tv talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Dean Wareham gives an interview to Music Times Two and offers some thoughts on a Luna reunion (not likely, but not impossible).

Filter has a two-part feature piece on Tom Waits.

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I’d Go Anywhere With Hugh

The Magnetic Fields will pull you to The Bottom Of The Sea, hope to pull you to the edge of Lake Ontario

Photo By Marcelo KrasilcicMarcelo KrasilcicThe Magnetic Fields are back. But wait, you might argue, they never really went away. Sure, three albums in the past decade doesn’t really match the rate of output that Stephin Merritt was maintaining in the ’90s – particularly when you take into account his other projects – but it ain’t nothing. And yet it’s accurate on many levels that The Magnetic Fields are back: they’re back on Merge, the label that released their greatest records including the risky and magnificent 69 Love Songs, after a decade on Nonesuch; they’re back to their signature mix of synths and acoustic instruments after largely abandoning keys and the like on those last few albums in favour of strictly electric and acoustic arrangements; and they’re back with a new record that makes both these points salient on March 6 with Love At The Bottom Of The Sea. Their last few records got mixed reviews, but with the number of resets that seem to accompany this one, it’s hard not to be a little optimistic.

And the band will also be back on the road immediately following the album’s release with an extensive itinerary that brings them to Toronto’s Sound Academy on March 30. It’s an interesting choice of venue considering their last couple visits have been at the acoustically sterling Queen Elizabeth Theatre in February 2010 and Trinity-St. Paul’s in July 2004, and the last thing that the everyone’s favourite lakeside shoebox can be accused of is being a sympathetic venue. But hey, maybe they’re going for the big rock show this time and they need somewhere they can set off pyrotechnics. In any case, tickets are $30 for floors and $37.50 for balconies, and while the fan pre-sale is on now, the Live Nation mobile app presale is Friday at 10 and the regular on-sale is Saturday.

There’s no preview track from the album available yet, but here’s a seasonal one from the last record and a classic one from 69 Love Songs.

MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “Everything Is One Big Christmas”
MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “The Book Of Love”

In other, “guess who’s coming to town” news, earnest folk-poppers The Head & The Heart will be in town on March 13 at The Opera House, tickets $18.50 in advance. Their last visit was back in February and considering how much their star has risen since then, I’m surprised it will have taken them over a year to make it back here. In any case, here’s a World Cafe session at NPR to hold you over until then.

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”
MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Lost In My Mind”

Also making a return engagement is EMA, last sighted hereabouts in July. No venue upgrade this time out – she’s at The Garrison again on March 13 – but considering that Past Life Martyred Saints will be showing up on at least a few year-end lists, expect this show to have a little less elbow room than that one. Tickets are $13.50 in advance and Rolling Stone has an interview.

MP3: EMA – “Milkman”
MP3: EMA – “The Grey Ship”

Texas family act Eisley will be in town to help kick of Canadian Musicfest, playing The Drake Underground on the Wednesday night, March 21. They’ll be touring both this year’s The Valley as well as a new EP entitled Deep Space, due out on February 14. Examiner.com has some info on the EP and their tour itinerary.

MP3: Eisley – “Smarter”
Video: Eisley – “The Valley”

Howler may hail from Minnesota, but their rough and retro garage rock is making them all kinds of fans in the UK. Their debut America Give Up is out January 17 and they’ve got a date at The Drake on April 5.

Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck”

Oh hey Cults are coming back. Look for them at The Phoenix on April 25, tickets $20 in advance.

MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

Bear In Heaven’s new album I Love You, It’s Cool isn’t out until April 3 but the band already has the whole thing up for stream on their website – it’s just slowed down by 400,000%. Pitchfork has the what and why, as well as tour dates which include a May 5 date at The Garrison, tickets $11.50 in advance. Here’s a track from 2007’s Red Bloom Of The Boom, played at regular speed.

MP3: Bear In Heaven – “Bag Of Bags”

NOW and hour.ca talk to St. Vincent’s Annie Clark in advance of tonight’s show at The Phoenix.

The Shins have announced details of their long-awaited new record. Port Of Morrow will be out in March – Pitchfork has some specifics.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Wilco, recorded at the band’s Chicago loft.

NPR has Beirut’s final show of the year from last night available to stream, or will shortly. Check back.

Steve Earle offers his thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement to Knoxville.com.

Spin talks to Sleigh Bells about their forthcoming Reign Of Terror, which begins February 14.

The Atlantic talks to the director of Okkervil River’s video for “Your Past Life As A Blast”.

The AV Club gets Bob Mould to go One-Track Mind interview/performance sessions with Sugar’s “Hoover Dam”.

Another new Guided By Voices track is available to stream; it’s a super-short b-side from “Donut For A Snowman” written by Tobin Sprout. Let’s Go Eat The Factory is out January 1.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “One Two Three Four”

Bill Janovitz, he of Buffalo Tom and many covers, has posted something special: a Tom Waits cover which is credited as, “featuring Tanya Donelly but in fact features he on lead vox throughout. Usually Bill gives his covers away, but this one is being made available via The Right Track for a minimum donation of $0.99 to TargetCancer. Do it, the cause is good, the track is beautiful and we don’t get to hear Tanya’s voice nearly enough these days. And speaking of Buffalo Tom, The Boston Globe and The Phoenix talk to them about marking their 25th anniversary as a band.

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

2011

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2011

2011Image by Frank YangFrank Yang

Okay, let’s get this over with. More than any year in recent memory, 2011 was tough to distill down to a top ten – not because there was a dearth of notable releases, but because there was a glut of them. Plenty of records this year were good to great – from those you’d expect as much from, those who surprised by upping their game and/or those who you’d simply never heard of before – but head-and-shoulders standouts? More of a chore than I expected.

But here are ten records which, as of this midway point of the final month of 2011, do a pretty good job of representing what I listened to and enjoyed the most in the past twelve. I like the mix of geography, genres, and genders and also of veterans and up-and-comers – I think most who’d know would agree this is a pretty, “me” list and consistent with past years. And if you can be bothered to read the past prefaces, you’ll see that those, too, are pretty consistent. Which is to say repetitive. So no more talking, yeah?

Yeah. And you like the philatelic angle for this year’s art? I do.

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