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Posts Tagged ‘Belle & Sebastian’

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action

Franz Ferdinand, Frankie Rose, and Casual Sex at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn a way, I feel sorry for Franz Ferdinand. Almost without fail, general reaction to every album they’ve released since their 2004 self-titled debut has been, “yeah it’s alright but it’s not as good as their first one” – which may be true, but only by degrees. The Scottish quartet should really be commended for pulling off the difficult trick of maintaining their core recipe of rock guitar riffs, post-punk spikiness, new wave danciness, and art school archness without overtly repeating themselves from one record to the next. So the “return to form” talking point that accompanied their fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, released at the end of Summer, was amusing because to my ears they’d never lost their form. Right Thoughts was a bit rawer and peppier than 2009′s Tonight, sure, but again – degrees.

The important thing is that it’s another strong record and gave the band a reason to come back to Toronto with Thursday night’s show at The Kool Haus being both the final night of the North American tour and their first local appearance since V Fest in 2009, having declined to make the trip last Summer even though they were just a few hours away in Montreal playing Osheaga. And for me, it’d be my first time seeing them indoors in a club – albeit large club – setting since they made their local debut nearly a decade ago at The Horseshoe in February 2004. Yes, I’m old. What of it.

You could be forgiven for expecting the worst of opening act Casual Sex, what with a moniker that you would only expect to find on university coffee house flyers billed alongside other such clever names as Free Beer and Hot Chicks. But to dismiss them for that would have been a mistake, as the Glaswegian quartet was quite impressive. Led by confident and cheeky frontman Sam Smith, their stabby/dancey/scratchy art-rock sounds sharing roots with the headliners but evolving without any of the arena aspirations and for that, was interesting without being inaccessible.

I’ve often heard 4AD and/or shoegaze descriptors applied to the works of Brooklyn’s Frankie Rose, but those comparisons have always struck me as being a bit surface – after all, stepping on a chorus pedal doesn’t make you the Cocteau Twins. But perhaps compared to the Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls/Crystal Stilts garage-rock CV that Rose boasted before striking out on her own, both 2012′s Interstellar and this year’s Herein Wild seemed like ornately-produced space-rock epics. What’s key is that both of those records were filled with shimmery, ’80s-friendly guitar pop that showcased Rose’s lovely vocals and gift for melody. On stage, the presentation was a bit too laid back to even attempt to steal the show, still sounded great with extra respect going to lead guitarist Drew Citron, who managed to recreate the bulk of the textures of the album, leaving Rose to concentrate on singing.

While there may be debate amongst fans about the relative merits of each of the Franz albums – save the debut, which is pretty much accepted as the gold standard – there’s little contention that Franz live are about as sure a thing as you can get. Unlike The Strokes or Interpol, whom they were originally framed as the British answer for when they first emerged, any internal Franz drama has been kept behind closed doors and it never seems like they’re ever having anything but the best time, which is what they bring to the stage. With said stage decked out in strobes, smoke machines, and custom “Right Thoughts”, “Right Words”, and “Right Action” amp housings, Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy – proudly sporting a Canadian tuxedo for the occasion – have charisma to spare and channel it through kicks, jumps, and stage moves a-plenty, to say nothing of the always-charming banter. The room may not have been sold out, but the enthusiasm was equivalent to as if it had been double-booked.

And oh yeah, the songs. The set list was suitably Right Thought-heavy, and while they may have left out my favourites “Strawberries” and “The Universe Expanded”, it’s a testament to the solidity of the album that the energy didn’t dip at all throughout. But being a band that’s mastered the art of giving the fans what they want, the rest of the selections were exactly what you’d expect/demand, with a trio of singles from each of Tonight and You Could Have It So Much Better and the debut providing the big moments. It’s impressive that after a decade, those songs still feel fresh and energized and watching the crowd bounce up and down in time with the breakdown of “Take Me Out” is still great fun. There may well be a segment of Franz Ferdinand fans who wish for more deep cuts, more creative left turns, but they’re not being heard – probably because of all the cheering from everyone else.

Exclaim also has a review of the show, while JAM and Rolling Stone have interviews with Franz Ferdinand.

Photos: Franz Ferdinand, Frankie Rose, Casual Sex @ The Kool Haus – October 24, 2013
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Evil Eye”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Love Illumination”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Eleanor Put Your Boots On”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Jeremy Fraser”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Wine In The Afternoon”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “L. Wells”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Fallen”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Walk Away”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Do You Want To”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “This Fire”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Michael”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “The Dark Of The Matinee”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Darts Of Pleasure”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Night Swim”
Video: Frankie Rose – “Gospel/Grace”
Video: Casual Sex – “Nothing On Earth”
Video: Casual Sex – “Stroh 80″
MP3: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
MP3: Frankie Rose – “Thee Only One”

Los Campesinos! are streaming their new record No Blues over at Pitchfork ahead of its release tomorrow, at which point it’ll probably be taken down.

Stream: Los Campesinos! / No Blues

Las Vegas Weekly has an interview with Charli XCX, in town at Wrongbar on November 9.

The Guardian profiles Arctic Monkeys, who have released a new video from AM.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “One For The Road”

The Guardian talks to Bernard Butler about the decision to get back in a band with Trans.

Clash offers their complete guide to Suede while The Fly, The Telegraph, and Burton Mail have chats with Brett Anderson.

Interview talks to the three principals of Black Hearted Brother.

Still Corners have made a random b-side available to stream.

Stream: Still Corners – “We Have The Future On Tape”

Under The Radar has an interview with Laura Marling

CBC Music talks to Travis.

Exclaim reports that Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl film has been completed and will be premiering in early 2014 on the festival circuit and should get some kind of limited release in the Summer before arriving on DVD in the Fall.

Clash talks to Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne about his new book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.

And a farewell to Lou Reed, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Tributes abound, many worth reading, but Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece at The New Yorker, Robert Christgau’s at Spin, and Michael Barclay’s at Radio Free Canuckistan are good places to start.

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

The Universe Expanded

While I was out… featuring Franz Ferdinand and things of a British nature

Photo By Andrew KnowlesAndrew KnowlesThe biggest releases of last week both happened to be Scottish in nationality. There was Franz Ferdinand’s fourth long-player Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, which was the topic of conversation with Alex Kaparnos at NPR, Billboard, Canada.com, and DIY, while Kapranos and Bob Hardy both chat with Stereogum and Paul Thomson answers the phone when CBC calls. Further, Pitchfork has video of that acoustic Grimes cover the band played for French radio that everyone was linking to last week. They play The Kool Haus come October 24.

Meanwhile, with their new b-sides comp The Third Eye Centre finally out, Belle & Sebastian have released a new video featuring Hannah Murray from Skins and Game Of Thrones. Under The Radar has compiled their multi-part interview with the band into a single piece, PopMatters has a chat with Richard Colburn, and over at The Quietus, Stuart Murdoch opts to talk about other peoples’ records rather than his own.

Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown” (Miaoux Miaoux remix)

James Allan talks to The Quietus, MusicRadar, and Yahoo! about Glasvegas’ new album Later… When The TV Turns To Static. It wasn’t alluded to in the lede, despite being Scottish, because a) it came out this week and not last week, and b) not many people care anymore.

Arctic Monkeys are streaming a new b-side which doesn’t appear on AM, due out September 10. And if you only care about the songs which do appear on the album, you’re in luck – the whole thing is now streaming at iTunes. Arctic Monkeys are at The Kool Haus on September 15.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys – “Stop The World I Want To Get Off With You”
Stream: Arctic Monkeys / AM

Drowned In Sound talks to London Grammar, who are offering a full stream of their debut album If You Wait via their own website with just a few hoops to jump through. The record is out September 10 and they play The Great Hall on October 4.

Stream: London Grammar / If You Wait

In a video session for Gigwise, Frightened Rabbit offer up a cover of Jessie Ware’s “Wildest Moments” and another track from the Late March, Death March EP, out September 10, is available to stream via Stereogum. They play The Kool Haus on October 17.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit – “Candlelit”

Savages have premiered a new performance video from Silence Yourself at Pitchfork; they play The Opera House on September 12.

Video: Savages – “I Am Here”

Gigwise and MusicRadar check in with CHVRCHES, whose debut The Bones Of What You Believe is almost finally out on September 24 but not before they headline the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers talks to Wales Online about their new album Rewind The Film, while Nicky Wire takes The Quietus through the new record track by track. And NME has posted the whole of their recent Wire-led Twitter Q&A. Rewind The Film is out September 16.

The Quietus looks at the many, many collaborations Elvis Costello has undertaken in his career, the latest of which is Wise Up Ghost with The Roots, due out September 17. Costello talks to The Brisbane Times about the new record.

Peter Hook talks about matters past, present, future, and legal with Billboard, Pitchfork, The Huffington Post, Exclaim, and The Dumbing Of America. He leads his new band The Light through old material at The Hoxton on September 18.

Daughter are streaming a new b-side; they play The Phoenix on September 29.

Stream: Daughter – “Smoke”

Yuck talks to Rolling Stone about carrying on without their original frontman, as documented on their new album Glow & Behold, out September 30.

Two Door Cinema Club have released a video for the title track of their new Changing Of The Seasons EP, due out September 30; NME has details. They play The Danforth Music Hall on October 15.

Video: Two Door Cinema Club – “Changing Of The Seasons”

Anna Calvi has released the first video from her forthcoming One Breath, out October 7.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Eliza”

Lanterns On The Lake have released a video for the title track of their new album Until The Colours Run, which is due out on October 7 in the UK and will get a North American release early next year on January 14.

Video: Lanterns On The Lake – “Until The Colours Run”

The Line Of Best Fit reports Suede will finally reissue their entire catalog on vinyl on October 21, but the catch is you have to buy them all in one super-expensive box set, it’s only available in the UK, and you have to take A New Morning with the rest. And oh, they released a new video from Bloodsports.

Video: Suede – “For The Strangers”

Los Campesinos! have confirmed an October 29 release date for their new record No Blues, and have made the first track from it available to stream.

Stream: Los Campesinos! – “What Death Leaves Behind”

M.I.A. is streaming another new track from her forthcoming Matangi, out November 5.

Stream: M.I.A. – “Come Walk With Me”

The Charli XCX show originally scheduled for September 16 at The Hoxton has been rescheduled to Saturday, November 9, and will now take place at Wrongbar. All previous tickets will be honoured and all the new dates can be seen at Exclaim.

MP3: Charli XCX – “Valentine”

Drowned In Sound checks in with Josh Hayward of The Horrors on the status of their next album, due out in early 2014.

Drowned In Sound chats with David Gedge of The Wedding Present, who will be undertaking an exhaustive reissue series of their back catalog in the near future; FACT has details on that.

Tessa Murray talks to Vogue about the new Still Corners video from Strange Pleasures.

Video: Still Corners – “Fireflies”

Under The Radar and Pitchfork talk to Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream.

With the assistance of Hefner’s Darren Hayman, Allo Darlin’ frontwoman Elizabeth Morris has put together a solo EP entitled Optimism, available for digital purchase now.

eMusic has an interview with Billy Bragg.

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Autobahn

“Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn”, or, “I’m going to Germany, bye bye.”

Art by Emil SchultEmil SchultWhy yes, it is another deck-clearing, pre-vacation post. Bit of a Euro theme to this one because I am headed over to the Old World tonight, spending the next week and a bit in Berlin and Stockholm – so no, I won’t be anywhere near the autobahn, but I may fly over them en route and anyways as part of my cultural preparation for the trip, I’ve discovered the wonder of Kraftwerk. Anyways, let’s get to it – I still have to pack.

Video: Kraftwerk – “Autobahn” (live)

The Guardian are advance streaming the Belle & Sebastian b-sides compilation The Third Eye Centre ahead of its release next week, and to go along with the listening Under The Radar has a track-by-track commentary from the band.

Stream: Belle & Sebastian / The Third Eye Centre

Spin talks to Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. Their new record Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is out next week and they’re at The Kool Haus on October 24.

Stereogum sets up a Turntable Interview with Empire Of The Sun. They play The Danforth Music Hall on September 9.

Drowned In Sound talks to Emiliana Torrini about her new record Tookah, due out September 10.

Gorilla Vs Bear is streaming a new track from London Grammar’s debut album If You Wait. It’s out September 10 and their October 4 show at BLK BOX has been moved upstairs to The Great Hall.

Stream: London Grammar – “Interlude”

Frightened Rabbit will release a different, North American version of their Late March, Death March EP on September 10 with a different track listing from the European version which came out back in June; Stereogum has a stream of one of the new songs and Paste an acoustic performance video of the same tune. Frightened Rabbit play The Kool Haus on October 17.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit – “Radio Silence”

Savages have announced their third local show in six months, coming back to town for a date at The Opera House on September 12 – tickets for that are $20.

Video: Savages – “Shut Up”

The Darcys list off five of the albums that influenced their studio time in making their new record Warring for CBC Music. It’s out September 17.

The resuscitated The Dismemberment Plan are streaming another tune from their new record Uncanney Valley, due out October 15.

Stream: The Dismemberment Plan – “Invisible”

Emotive Irish newcomers Kodaline – one of the longlisted bands for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list way back in January – are staging a North American tour around a CMJ appearance and behind their debut album In A Perfect World; they’ll be at The Garrison on October 20.

Video: Kodaline – “All I Want”

Los Angeles synth-rock trio Sir Sly have made a date at The Horseshoe for October 21.

MP3: Sir Sly – “Ghost”

The Dumbing Of America talks to Mark Van Hoen, one of Neil Halstead’s collaborators in Black Hearted Brother. Their debut Stars Are Our Home is out October 22.

The National Post interviews Raphaelle Standell-Preston of Braids. They play The Great Hall on November 10.

Spin has got the latest video from English psych-rock newcomers Temples as well as confirmation that their debut album won’t be out until 2014, not that that’s stopping them from being here to play The Horseshoe on November 20.

Video: Temples – “Keep It In The Dark”

Under The Radar talks to former Ride frontman Mark Gardener about a new collaborative project he’s working on with former Cocteau Twin guitarist Robin Guthrie. The swirly swirly fruits of that project could see the light of day before the year is out.

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans remembers their late drummer Jon Brookes in a blog post at NME.

Montreal’s Valleys have released a new video from their debut Are You Going To Stand There And Talk Weird All Night?.

Video: Valleys – “Absolutely Everything All The Time”

Toronto’s shoegazing Breeze, whose live show helped kick off this week, have a new video.

Video: Breeze – “Dolls”

Phoenix drop in on NPR to record a World Cafe session, while Pitchfork talks to both Thomas Mars and R. Kelly about their unlikely collaborations.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Shout Out Louds.

Beatroute talks to Icona Pop.

Billboard examines Annie’s impact on Norwegian pop.

Okay, bye for now.

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Fresh

Summer Camp “Fresh”-en up for second album

Photo By Eleanor McDowallEleanor McDowallHaving gone high concept with their ’80s teen movie-evoking, fictional California community-set debut album Welcome To Condale, English retro-lectro-pop duo Summer Camp have been keeping relatively mum about what to expect from their forthcoming second album. It’s self-titled, so there’s not much to be gleaned there, and the trailer unveiled last month also didn’t do much besides offer a look around Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey’s flat, set to a surprisingly funky soundtrack.

That song has just been released as the first official sample of the new record by way of an uncommonly fun lyric video premiered at Gorilla Vs Bear. It’s a sweet disco-flavoured tune that happily and hopefully allays the reservations I had about Condale, specifically that all the ’80s-referencing would become more distraction than inspiration – they’ve got some ’70s in there now as well! I’ll happily take an album of great pop songs that aren’t necessarily about anything in particular; here’s hoping. Summer Camp is out on September 9.

Lyric Video: Summer Camp – “Fresh”

NME reports that The Vaccines will put out a new EP around the recently-released non-album single “Melody Calling”; it’s out August 12 and they play The Molson Amphitheatre supporting Mumford & Sons on August 26.

DIY and The Guardian talk to Kele Okereke about life in Bloc Party, with the former finding him dismissing the severity of the indefinite hiatus talk surrounding the release of their Nextwave Sessions EP on August 13.

Le Blogotheque has an Empty Spaces session and The Guardian a studio session with Franz Ferdinand, wherein they perform two of the songs from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. The album comes out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Under The Radar talks to Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian about their forthcoming rarities compilation The Third Eye Centre, out August 27.

Good news and bad news for those hoping Bat For Lashes would schedule some of her own headlining shows amongst the support dates for Depeche Mode this Summer; the good news is that yes she is, the bad news is that Toronto doesn’t get one – but Buffalo does, if you’re up for a road trip. She’s at the Town Ballroom on August 31 before opening up for Depeche Mode at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 1. And yeah, there is still an off day between Toronto and Montreal, so if you’re the finger-crossing type, commence or continue crossing fingers.

Despite having a new album in AM coming on September 10 that their fans would surely love to hear more from, Arctic Monkeys are doing a bit of trolling by streaming a new track that will not appear on the record. They play The Kool Haus on September 15.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys – “2013″

Under The Radar and Sticky talk to Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, whose debut album The Bones of What You Believe is out September 24 and who are at the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

Elvis Costello talks a bit about Wise Up Ghost, his collaboration with The Roots coming out September 17, with Mojo.

Spin has got the backstory on a new Kate Nash song that’s been made available to stream; listen, read, help if you can. Nash plays The Phoenix on November 5.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Pink Limo Ride”

While they’ve not offered any specifics besides the fact that it’s done, Fanfarlo have made a track from their forthcoming third album available to download. DIY has the statement from the band about it.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Myth Of Myself (A Ruse To Exploit Our Weaknesses)”

Daytrotter has a session with Sky Larkin, who’ve got a new record ready to go sometime this Summer, or so they claim.

Despite having lost frontman Daniel Blumberg to a solo career as Hebronix, Yuck have offered a track from their second album which will be out later this Fall, and you know what? It’s pretty good.

MP3: Yuck – “Rebirth”

DIY talks to The Maccabees, who’re working on album number for with an eye towards an early 2014 release date.

David Bowie gets simple and a bit scary for the next video from The Next Day, and if you like your Bowie a little more vintage, Aquarium Drunkard points to a BBC documentary about the inception of Ziggy Stardust.

Video: David Bowie – “Valentine’s Day”

Johnny Marr has put out another video from The Messenger and is streaming a new, non-album track at Pitchfork for good measure.

Video: Johnny Marr – “New Town Velocity”
Stream: Johnny Marr – “The It-Switch”

Rolling Stone has premiered the newest video from The Joy Formidable’s latest Wolf’s Law.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Silent Treatment”

Little Boots is giving away a track from Nocturnes in exchange for an email and offering a live acoustic video of that same tune.

Video: Little Boots – “All For You” (acoustic)

Rolling Stone welcomes Editors to their studios for an unplugged video session. There’s also interviews with the band at The Sun, Digital Spy, Burton Mail, Londonist, and The Scotsman.

Fractured Air and Elle talk to Tracyanne Campbell and The News Observer to Gavin Dunbar, both of Camera Obscura.

Daytrotter welcomes Stornoway to their studios for a session.

In an interview with Under The Radar, Brett Anderson reveals why Suede are so reluctant to do any touring in North America and to which I say there’s no “London” here in Canada so get your skinny ass over here.

Interview sends Daniel Craig – yes, that Daniel Craig – to interview about Atoms For Peace and Radiohead.

The Independent talks to Noel Gallagher about his one-time sneaker addiction. Which apparently was a real thing.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Toronto Urban Roots Fest Day Four

Belle & Sebastian, Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, and more at TURF 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith the first three days of the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest having gone swimmingly, certainly the fourth and final day – boasting inarguably the strongest lineup of them all – would be the best? Well it turns out “swimmingly” would be kind of the wrong word to use, but everything started out enough.

Though as per usual I missed the first few acts of the day, I was there in time to see Kurt Vile make his first local appearance in support of his new record Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, which has garnered pretty much universal acclaim, though I only go as far as saying I like it more than his last one. I’ve always found Vile’s stuff to be pretty same-y in that lightly psychedelic laid-back drone-pop way – an impression confirmed and amplified when I saw him at Pitchfork 2010 – but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s pretty pleasantly trippy. As with that show, this performance mainly had Vile in two modes – huge rug of hair draped over the mic stand while he sang, or huge rug of hair draped over his guitar while he soloed. His bandmates in the Violators did mix things up somewhat by adding mandolins and 6-string basses into the mix, and Vile was equally comfortable ripping leads on electric or acoustic, but a few noisey bursts aside, Vile was pretty content to just let the set mosey along at its pace and his fans were content to mosey right alongside him.

Photos: Kurt Vile @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Wakin’ On A Pretty Day”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “In My Time”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “The Creature”
Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Runner Ups”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Freak Train”

It was with some regret that I skipped Yo La Tengo’s stop at The Phoenix back in February in support of their latest Fade, but the confidence they’d put on a solid show couldn’t win out over the fact that I’d seen them play said solid show many times before – most recently in 2010 in Vegas at Matador at 21 – that I gave it a pass. Happily, their return for this festival meant that I’d still get to hear the new tunes, and not have to make any special effort to do so. Win! And as nice as it can be to hear Yo La Tengo stretch out live, there’s really something to be said for imposing strict time constraints on them; though they sounded quite the opposite of rushed, the blend of new songs – which sounded really terrific live, perfectly suited to the hazy afternoon – and old favourites done perfectly and without the excesses the band sometimes fall prey to, in some cases twice as “Autumn Sweater” came unravelled early on in the set with a blown amp fuse and had to be returned to later on.

NYC Taper has got the Yo La Tengo’s set from the Wilco-run Solid Sound fest a few weekends ago available to download. The Boston Globe, Metro, and Cincinnati CityBeat have interviews.

Photos: Yo La Tengo @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Nuclear War”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Don’t Have To Be So Sad”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm” (tree)
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Nothing To Hide”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Tom Courtenay”

I’d never given either Luke Doucet or Melissa McClelland much concern with their solo careers, so when they came together as Whitehorse I still didn’t pay any attention, at least until their second album The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss made it onto this year’s Polaris Prize long list. And while the adult contemporary-skewing roots-rock that’s the foundation of their sound isn’t normally what I’d be into (even if, phrased like that, you think it might) I found the record pretty enjoyable in a Steve Earle “chick song” sort of way, though rather slicker in execution; that’s why I expected that their live setup would involve a polished band comprised of session player types, not just the two of them and a garage sale’s worth of instruments and microphones. Okay, so the setup was meticulously arranged for exactly that DIY effect with telephone handsets and old-school shockmounted mics installed just so, but there was no faking the way the two built up the structures of each song by sampling acoustic instruments and looking stylish while doing it. They spent the first part of their set entrenched in their fortress of gear, but eventually strutted out to the front of the stage and sang together into a single mic armed just with guitar and bass. Straight, simple, and to their strengths.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald has a feature piece on the band.

Photos: Whitehorse @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

If you’re looking for writeups of either The Cat Empire or Xavier Rudd, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I spent their sets huddled under a leaky ATM tent hiding from the deluge that resulted when the skies opened up right around dinnertime. The rain eventually eased up, but not before turning the whole of the festival grounds into some manner of swamp. Not really an ideal setting for anything, let alone enjoying Neko Case’s set, but looked at another way, if there’s anything out there worth enduring this sort of weather for – after a short dry spell, the skies opened up even harder a couple songs in – it’s Neko Case.

When she was here last in December 2011 opening up for The National at the Air Canada Centre, the assumption seemed to be that if she was back on the road, then her new record – the long-awaited follow-up to 2009′s Middle Cyclone – must be close to being done. Not, as it turned out, so much. But nineteen months later, she was back and this time the new record – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – was done, locked, and loaded for a September 3 release. The set contained a few of those new songs, all of which sounded of the same high calibre of lead sample “Man”, and a solid tour of her repertoire – “Red Tide”, with its “I hate the rain” lyrics, was especially topical – and always-entertaining banter with backing singer Kelly Hogan. With the time she takes between records, it can be easy to forget just how amazing a talent Neko is; call her alt.country or folk-rock or jangle-pop or whatever you like, her voice and songwriting transcends all labels. And the only thing better than being reminded how good she is was the promise to return for another show sometime in the next six months. Ideally indoors.

Photos: Neko Case @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “Maybe Sparrow”
Video: Neko Case – “Furnace Room Lullabye”

Finally, with the rain seemingly past though the resultant mud pits remained, it was time for Belle & Sebastian. It’s remarkable how the mysterious mystique the band cultivated in their early years still persists to some degree, and even though they’ve toured North America behind pretty much every album this century, their live shows are breathlessly anticipated like once-in-a-lifetime unicorn herd migrations. Of course, those studio albums are fewer and further between than most would like – their last visit was October 2010 behind Write About Love – so with no new record on the horizon, the fact that they were still coming to town to play a show apart from the usual promotional cycle was actually unicorn-rare, and as is often the case when the artist doesn’t have anything specific they need to push, offered the promise of being a much more unique show.

That this wouldn’t be a typical show was confirmed from the opening number, as instead of one of their obvious (but still beloved) songs, it was the electronic instrumental b-side “Judy Is A Dick Slap”. Anyone who says they had that in the “what’ll be the first song?” pool without consulting previous set lists is lying. “I’m A Cuckoo” then let Stuart Murdoch properly take centre stage and show off his dance moves, slippery stage be damned, “Another Sunny Day” was rolled out as a musical anodyne to the weather, and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win earlier in the day saluted with “Stars Of Track And Field”. The catalog-hopping trajectory of that first salvo of selections delightfully carried on through the show, and while hardcore fans might suggest they could have gone for deeper cuts, I was more than happy to hear “The Model” and “Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner” dug out of the archives.

If it wasn’t quite a greatest hits set song-wise, it certainly was with their audience participation exercises. There was the girl brought onstage to read Isobel Campbell’s spoken word outro overtop “Dirty Dream Number Two” (she sang it, but whatever), the other girl who managed to fit a dance routine amidst playing Scrabble against the band onstage during “The Model”, the girl (sensing a trend? Oh, Stuart) who applied makeup to his face during “Lord Anthony”, the bevy of dancers brought onstage for “The Boy With The Arab Strap”… there was no lobbing of autographed footballs into the audience this time, but the rain probably would have washed the signatures off anyways. The between-song shenanigans might have taken up time that could have gone to another song or two, but you’d have had to be a serious grump to complain about the love-in vibe that they generated. And we should all count ourselves lucky that no one brought onstage insisted on singing one of her own songs. No, what we got was a joyous show that felt like a gift, wrapped a terrific inaugural TURF, and just about made you forget that you probably had trench foot. No mean feat.

The Huffington Post and Pittsburgh CityPaper have interviews with keyboardist Chris Geddes about the current tour and their plans to write their next record when it’s wrapped. The band’s new collection of b-sides and rarities, The Third Eye Centre, comes out August 27.

Photos: Belle & Sebastian @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Write About Love”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “White Collar Boy”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Blues Are Still Blue”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Wrapped Up In Books”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I’m A Cuckoo”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Step Into My Office Baby”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David” (70s version)
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Wrong Girl”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Legal Man”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “A Century Of Fakers”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dirty Dream #2″
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Lazy Line Painter Jane”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dog On Wheels”

CBC Music have got the Canada-only stream of the new Pet Shop Boys album Electric, out July 16. Americans can hit Pandora and Brits can use Rdio via The Guardian. They play The Sony Centre on September 25, and Spin, Huffington Post, and Metro have interviews with Neil Tennant about going indie on their latest record.

Stream: Pet Shop Boys / Electric

Fashion retailer Mr. Porter has an interview and fashion shoot with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party; their Nextwave Sessions EP is due out August 13.

Mumford & Sons have released a video for the title track of last year’s Babel. They’re at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 24.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Babel”

Hot on the heels of those advance streams, Franz Ferdinand have released the video for the sort-of title track of their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”

Exclaim and The Daily Beast interview CHVRCHES about their forthcoming debut album The Bones of What You Believe, out September 24. They play The Danforth Music Hall on September 15, and if you need something new and CHVRCH-y to listen to before then, there’s this Haim cover they recorded for BBC.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Falling” (Haim cover)

Manic Street Preachers have announced details of one of the two new records they’ve got in the can. Based on the title track, largely sung by the inimitable Richard Hawley, Rewind The Film is the largely acoustic album that had been previously mentioned; it’s out September 16 and more specifics on it can be had at DIY. James Dean Bradfield also talks to NME about the other album that’s been recorded alongside it, due out in Spring of next year.

Video: Manic Street Preachers w Richard Hawley – “Rewind The Film”

Veteran British folk-rock outfit The Waterboys are making their first return to town in some years to kick off a major North American tour; they’ll be here on September 17 at a venue to be announced, but last time through in 2007 it was at The Danforth, so presumably it’ll be somewhere similar.

Video: The Waterboys – “The Whole Of The Moon”

With their self-titled debut due out in September, up-and-coming UK outfit The 1975 will be at The Mod Club on October 13 as part of their first major North American tour.

Video: The 1975 – “Sex”

Belfast post-rock firebrands And So I Watch You From Afar and Oxford math-rock trio TTNG – formerly This Town Needs Guns before they thought better of it – are teaming up for a co-headlining tour that hits The Horseshoe on November 9, tickets $15.50. ASIWYFA released their third album All Hail Bright Futures this past Spring, TTNG’s second long-player 13.0.0.0.0 came out in January.

Stream: And So I Watch You From Afar / All Hail Bright Futures
Stream: TTNG / 13.0.0.0.0

The Skinny talks to Yannis Philipakkis of Foals.

Tone Deaf and Clash have interviews with Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

DIY wonders aloud something I’ve periodically wondered to myself – whither The Rumble Strips?