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Posts Tagged ‘Black Hearted Brother’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Frozen Atmosphere

‘Tis the season for TOY(s), and streams thereof

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickOkay, since it’s now December I can grudgingly accept that it’s the holiday season and, helping that mental shift along are London’s TOY. I had thought it odd that the band, who built up a good bit of attention with last year’s self-titled debut and its mandate of filling deep, Kraut-y grooves with space-psych songcraft, had opted to release their second album Join The Dots on the exceedingly late date of December 9. Most music writers are in full retrospective mode by this point in the year and incapable of processing anything new, and it effectively eliminated them from any year-end list consideration.

But it’s entirely possible the band doesn’t care, and just want to get the record out into the world. Which is great for those who’ve been waiting to hear it, but I do hope it doesn’t end up getting lost in the shuffle because after a few initial listens, it certainly feels a lot better than their first one. The debut had a lot of pieces I liked but didn’t put them together in an engrossing-enough fashion to win me over the way it did many, but this one is bigger, deeper, broader, and just does it.

But don’t take my word for it – The Guardian has an advance stream of the record before it comes out next week, and their North American tour announced last week will bring them to Toronto for a show at The Horseshoe on January 14.

Stream: TOY / Join The Dots

Kate Nash has a new Christmas EP out called Have Faith This Christmas and is streaming one of the tracks from it to get you in the holiday spirit.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Faith”

Rolling Stone talks to Matt Bellamy of Muse about making the Live At Rome Olympic Stadium DVD/CD set coming out this week.

Video: Muse – “Madness” (live at Rome Olympic Stadium)

Spin has premiered a new video from Lanterns On The Lake’s second album Until The Colours Run, which gets a North American release on January 14 and brings them to The Drake Underground on February 1.

Video: Lanterns On The Lake – “Buffalo Days”

Yuck takes Clash through their second album Glow and Behold, track-by-track. They’re in town at The Garrison on January 17.

Noisey have premiered the new video and second sample of Mogwai’s forthcoming Rave Tapes. It’s out January 21 and they’ll be on tour for it at The Danforth Music Hall on May 13.

Video: Mogwai – “The Lord Is Out Of Control”

Paste gets to know Temples, whose debut Sun Structures is out February 11.

NME has details on the new album from Band Of Skulls, entitled Himalayan and due out March 31. They’ve just released a first video from the record.

Video: Band Of Skulls – “Asleep At The Wheel”

Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes are currently working on a new record – which Live4Ever reports will be self-titled and out in March – but have taken the time to stream a new song for their fans via their website.

Stream: Blood Red Shoes – “The Perfect Mess”

The Guardian profiles one of 2013’s new band success stories, London Grammar. They’re at The Phoenix on April 7.

Stereogum have got the new video from Primal Scream’s latest album More Light.

Video: Primal Scream – “Goodbye Johnny”

The Guardian gets to know Charli XCX.

Everything Is Chemical has an interview with Black Hearted Brother, and gets Neil Halstead to pin the chances of a Slowdive reunion at a qualified “improbable”.

TYCI talks to Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin.

And finally, a moment for Andrew Youssef, Los Angeles-based music photographer for Stereogum and OC Weekly, who succumbed to colon cancer this weekend. He documented his fight in the “Last Shot” column at OC Weekly, and it was as inspiring as it was saddening to read as he kept going to shows and shooting, refusing to let the cancer get the better of him until it did. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with Andrew back in 2010 at Matador at 21 in Las Vegas, and chatting with him via Twitter over the past few years and was pleased to learn he’d grown up – for a few years, at least – in Toronto, not far from where I did (though a few years apart). I wish I’d been able to know him better and my condolences to those who did and will miss him. OC Weekly has a fine memoriam for their photographer, as well as a slideshow of his best work. Godspeed, Andrew.

Friday, November 29th, 2013

I Wanna Be Adored

Review of The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone

Photo By Shane MeadowsShane MeadowsI didn’t respond terribly enthusiastically when The Stone Roses announced their equally inevitable and improbable reunion in October 2011, my fixation on their reputation as a patchy live band and general cynicism about its prospects of lasting long enough to come to North America overriding any fanboy enthusiasm about maybe getting to see the creators of one of the greatest albums of the past quarter-century in the flesh. And indeed, though the reunion has lasted long enough to traverse the globe and reported new material earmarked for a third album, they’ve still not come any closer to Toronto than Indio, California so short of getting on a plane to some far-flung destination to see them, the second coming of The Stone Roses has remained something of an abstraction.

But a viewing of Made Of Stone, the film by Shane Meadows about the first days of their reunion, make me rather regret that. It’s not really accurate to call it either a documentary or a concert film, because there’s little to no talking head footage or insights into the hows or whys of the reunion – and if there was, it’d probably be incomprehensible without subtitles – and there’s not enough complete live performances to qualify it as the latter.

Instead, it captures Meadows’ perspective as a mega-fan with a video camera invited into follow the band around from their initial press conference confirming the reunion, through their secret rehearsal sessions and their first secret show at Parr Hall in Warrington, England, their European tour, and culminating in their homecoming shows at Heaton Park in Manchester, along with some historical footage. And while frustrating for those looking for inside dirt – though you do get the skinny on Reni’s walking out on the Amsterdam show that many feared was the derailing of the reunion before it’d barely begun – it more than captures the excitement of it all, both within the band and amongst their fans. The scenes of those to get tickets for that first secret show after it was announced that morning are genuinely heart-warming.

And while I’m sure the business end of things was key to getting the band back together, the excitement within The Stone Roses about playing together again is tangible. Okay, John Squire is as stoic as he probably ever was, but Mani and Reni and Ian Brown all seem positively giddy about it. And if there was any question if they still clicked musically, the rehearsal run through of “Waterfall” answers it definitively and unequivocally. Reni’s backing vocals are divine and even Brown stays remarkably in key; he’s not quite as good in the actual live performances where he resorts to shouting, but given the right circumstances – or maybe just some really good monitors – he’s still got it.

For all the things that Made Of Stone isn’t, what matters most is what it is and that’s a love letter to the band from a fan that gets as much love in return. A must-see for fans of the Roses, even those skeptical about the reunion. I’m hoping that 2014 is the year that the Roses finally makes proper landfall in North America, but if not… maybe I’ll get on a plane.

The DVD got a North American release this week. Shane Meadows penned a piece at The Huffington Post about what it meant to be able to make this film.

Trailer: The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone
Video: The Stone Roses – “Waterfall” (from Made Of Stone)

Following in the well-received footsteps of their UK labelmates Temples, London psych-kraut outfit TOY will be undertaking a North American tour behind their second album Join The Dots, due out December 9. They’ll be at The Horseshoe on January 14, tickets a most post-holiday friendly $11.50.

Video: TOY – “Join The Dots”

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Lanterns On The Lake, whose Until The Colours Run gets a North American release on January 14. They’re at The Drake Underground on February 1.

Peggy Sue have released a new video from their forthcoming album Choir Of Echoes, due out January 28.

Video: Peggy Sue – “Idle”

Maxïmo Park have announced details of the deluxe version of their new album Too Much Information, due out February 3. It will include a bonus disc including a handful of cover versions, including a Leonard Cohen song they’ve made available to stream. DIY has a quick chat with the band about making the new record.

Stream: Maxïmo Park – “Lover Lover Lover”

The Bernard Butler-powered Trans have released a new video from their debut Red EP – making that a 1:1 clip-to-song ratio – and have targeted a February release for their second volume.

Video: Trans – “Dancing Shoes”

London Grammar have released a new video from their debut, If You Wait for their cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall”. They’re at The Phoenix on April 7.

Video: London Grammar – “Nightcall”

Tim Burgess of Charlatans tells BBC that their new album will feature contributions from their late drummer Jon Brookes, who passed away back in August. The record is due out in the new year.
Camera Obscura are featured in the latest 4AD Session videos set.

eMusic gets some recommended listening suggestions from Black Hearted Brother.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Wonder 2

My Bloody Valentine at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy Bloody Valentine’s last visit to Toronto in September 2008 was a singular event on a few levels. Besides being their first visit in over a decade and a half, it was in-the-flesh proof that one of the most improbable returns to active duty in recent years was actually happening; considering that the seemingly simple task of reissuing Isn’t Anything and Loveless was already months overdue at the time and would actually take another three and half years to come out, only the most optimistic would have expected them to get their act together enough to pull off a North American tour. But they did, and it was glorious.

And so Tuesday night’s show – again at the Kool Haus – in support of their long-promised third album mbv came without some of that weight of expectation that surrounded their previous visit, but was still cause for excitement – these were still legends, after all… But even legends are still human. Unexpected for a band as epically amplified as they, both Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig started off with acoustic guitars and Belinda Butcher on keyboards for a reading of “Sometimes” that kept drifting out of synch with itself, the basic click track underpinning it not quite up to the job of keeping everyone in time. Shields would comment, “We really fucked that up” when it was over and he wasn’t wrong.

But a few more missteps aside – most notably “Thorn” getting two false starts before being abandoned midway through a third shot, Shields blaming a guitar “in the wrong key” – it was another immensely satisfying show. For being expectedly and incredibly loud, the mix was surprisingly clear with drums, keys, and most importantly vocals being sufficiently audible over the six-string din (a third guitarist beefed things up even further when not covering on keys). That they achieved this in a room that can be unforgiving to less proficient sound techs was remarkable, and it allowed the beauty of their softer moments – like mbv‘s “New You” – to come through and allowed the more violent numbers to do their work with surgical elegance rather than just as blunt instruments.

The set list drew fairly evenly from their three albums and b-sides, showcasing both their elegant and aggressive sides, with highlights including a deliciously bent “Only Shallow”, an impressive “Wonder 2” that again brought Ó Cíosóig from behind the kit to add a guitar while a drum track kept time, and the still-irresistibly dancey “Soon”, to say nothing of the endless parade of offset-body Fender guitars. The usually silent Shields was a bit chattier than normal, if just to explain and apologize for their technical hiccups, with Butcher adding a polite “thank you” before their closing salvo of “Feed Me With Your Kiss” and the scorched-earth “You Made Me Realize”, though rather than try to top the 23-minute ‘holocaust’ section from 2008, they capped it at a reasonable nine. There’s not many bands that you’d actually feel some disappointment that they didn’t apply the aural equivalent of a dental cleaning with a space shuttle booster rocket for the length of a network sitcom, but there’s not many bands like My Bloody Valentine. Or any.

The Toronto Star, National Post, NOW, and Exclaim also have reviews of the show. The attached photo is from the 2008 photoset; no photography was permitted this time around.

Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”
Video: My Bloody Valentine- “Soon”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “To Here Knows When”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Swallow”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “You Made Me Realise”
Video: My Bloody Valentine – “Feed Me With Your Kiss”
Stream: My Bloody Valentine / mbv

DIY, Consequence Of Sound, Paper, and FasterLouder talk to Cut Copy about their just-released new album, Free Your Mind. They’re in town November 15 at The Danforth Music Hall.

Blood Orange is streaming the whole of his new album Cupid Deluxe, which will be available digitally next week on November 12 before coming out in physical formats on November 19.

Stream: Blood Orange / Cupid Deluxe

Artist Direct, The Telegraph, and Yahoo talk to Shane Meadows about directing the Made Of Stone documentary on The Stone Roses. It gets a Toronto premiere at both The Bloor and Cineplex Yonge-Dundas on November 22, and continues screening at YDS from November 24 to 28.

Drowned In Sound talks to Cate Le Bon about her new record Mug Museum, out November 12. She’ll be at The Drake Underground on January 21.

When it was announced that Until The Colours Run – the new record from Lanterns On The Lake – wasn’t getting a North American release until January 14 despite coming out in the UK in October, I hoped it meant that the record would get a much-deserved proper promotional push over here. And indeed, they’ve announced a North American tour for next year that brings them to the Drake Underground on February 1. Under The Radar has the full itinerary as well as a stream of a new song, but you can hear the whole thing via a link in my review of the record last month.

Stream: Lanterns On The Lake – “The Buffalo Days”

Johnny Flynn has released a new video from Country Mile as well as some North American tour dates in the first part of next year. Interestingly, there’s no Toronto date but there is a Montreal one on January 21 and several days off around it, so I’m guessing it will be announced sooner or later.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Gypsy Hymn”

Drowned In Sound, The Jakarta Post, and The Star find out what Danish prog-rockers Mew are up to, besides working on a new album.

The Line Of Best Fit checks in with The Raveonettes, who will begin recording a new record in the new year.

The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Anna Calvi, who has released a video for the opening track of her new record, One Breath.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Suddenly”

Patrick Wolf has released a new video for the Sundark & Riverlight version of “The Libertine”, premiered at artforfreedom.com in support of LGBT rights at the Sochi Olympics.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Libertine”

Exclaim talks to Neil Halstead about Black Hearted Brother and the band, as a unit, list some of their most influential albums for MusicOmh.

DIY talks to Foals.

PopMatters has an interview with Los Campesinos!.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

No Medicine For Regret

Mogwai affirm promise of no more extensive touring by announcing extensive tour

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickI’m sure they meant it at the time, what with keeping up a heavy slate of performances worldwide for as long as anyone can remember and the added complications of drummer Martin Bulloch’s health issues and visa problems forcing cancellations in the past few years, but when Mogwai prefaced their second round of touring in support of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will last year with a promise/warning that it would be “the last extensive touring we do for some time”, some who might have fallen into a habit of taking them for granted were spurred into getting off their asses and having their eardrums blasted by the Scottish post-rock masters (maybe) one last time – myself included.

Well, apparently “for some time” actually means “as long as it takes us to record a new record”, because hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of their eighth studio album Rave Tapes – coming out January 21 – they’ve announced a month-plus long North American tour for next Spring. And perhaps it was the promise of playing a different room that enticed them, because the Toronto date on May 13 will take place at the Danforth Music Hall – tickets $25.50 to $29.50 – instead of The Phoenix where they’ve played (I believe) every local show since a face-melting detour to Lee’s Palace in May 2002. They were supposed to play The Kool Haus in Fall 2008 circa The Hawk Is Howling but that show was one of the casualties of Bulloch’s medical issues, and the make-up show the following May was scheduled for – you got it – The Phoenix.

To be clear, there’s no word of complaint in the band NOT taking a proper hiatus from touring. Their shows may not surprise much, but they never disappoint. And hey, maybe getting to eat somewhere new pre-show will inspire them to even greater heights? It could happen.

MP3: Mogwai – “Remurdered”

With her new album finally out this week, M.I.A. has made Matangi available to stream via Consequence Of Sound; she’s also interviewed by Billboard and NPR about it.

Stream: M.I.A. / Matangi

Noisey chats with Charli XCX, in town November 5 at Wrongbar.

NPR has an advance stream of Cate Le Bon’s forthcoming album Mug Museum, out November 12. She’ll be at The Drake Underground on January 21 in the new year.

Stream: Cate Le Bon / Mug Museum

Rolling Stone are offering one of the tracks off Stornoway’s new EP You Don’t Know Anything for free download. The whole thing comes out on November 12.

MP3: Stornoway – “Tumbling Bay”

Peggy Sue have made a new EP available to download for free via Noisetrade, leading up to the release of their new album Choir of Echoes on January 27

White Lies have announced a return date in support of their latest Big TV – they’ll be at The Mod Club on February 27, tickets $35. Opening up will be Frankie Rose, who released Herein Wild earlier this Fall.

MP3: Frankie Rose – “Know Me”
Video: White Lies – “There Goes Our Love”

NME have premiered a new, self-described David Lynch-inspired video from Fanfarlo’s The Sea EP; a full-length will follow in the new year.

Video: Fanfarlo – “A Distance”

DIY has details on how you can hear Metronomy’s new song, which is a convoluted process involving smartphones, apps, credit cards, and outer space.

CHVRCHES have released a new video from their debug The Bones Of What You Believe.

Video: CHVRCHES – “Lies”

BrooklynVegan has videos from the recent Neil Halstead solo shows where he was joined by Rachel Goswell, sending the hearts of Slowdive and Mojave 3 fans a-flutter. And over at Under The Radar, Halstead and his Black Hearted Brother compadres offer a track-by-track guide to their debut Stars Are Our Home… which they’ve technically already done with MusicOmh but who’s counting?

Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin takes Drowned In Sound on a guided tour of her pedalboard.

NPR has a World Cafe session and The Georgia Straight an interview with Laura Marling.

Under The Radar got some Hallowe’en-themed questions answered by Still Corners.

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.