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Posts Tagged ‘Blind Pilot’

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

CONTEST – Blind Pilot @ The Opera House – July 25, 2012

Photo by Ben MoonBen MoonWho: Blind Pilot
What: Folk-pop collective who are hoping last night’s Portlandia between-season brunch special got you in the mood for some Portland lovin’ cause baby, that’s what they got.
Why: This will be their second time through town in less than a year, but last time their second album We Are The Tide was but a couple months old. This time you’ll know the songs, yeah?
When: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Where: Lee’s Palace in Toronto (19+)
Who else: River City Extension and John Heart Jackie are opening this up. If they’re any good, let me know.
How: Tickets for the show are $17.50 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Blind Pilot” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 23.
What else: The Baltimore Post-Examiner and Austin 360 have features on the band.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Keep You Right”

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Put Your Back N 2 It

Perfume Genius and Parenthetical Girls at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you thought that any combination of it being a Sunday night and Easter would result in a lightly-attended Perfume Genius show at The Drake on Sunday night, you’d have been wrong. Which is to say that I was wrong; the handful of tickets remaining were snatched up when doors opened and by the time I got there, it was officially sold out. And with good cause – Mike Hadreas’ second album under as Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It – is a stunning record, giving his emotionally stark songwriting with just enough sonic adornment to make it not just palatable, but delicious.

Perfume Genius weren’t the only draw; supporting them on this tour were fellow Pacific northwesterners Parenthetical Girls from Portland, who’ve garnered their own loyal fanbase over the past decade and added to it locally having been here for two nights in January supporting Los Campesinos. While there were enough similarities that this bill made sense in some ways, in others you couldn’t imagine a more disparate pairing. Fronted by the magnetic Zac Pennington, their set was more musical theatre than conventional concert with his flamboyant yet dry delivery leading the band through what felt like selections from a synth-rock opera, enhanced by some great audience repartee and a few forays into the crowd. Importantly though, for all the theatrics, they still had immediate and hummable tunes underneath it all and their sincerity was never obscured by camp or irony. Even if it had, it’d still have been fun but that it wasn’t was even better.

Irony wasn’t any kind of risk with Perfume Genius; Hadreas is all about raw, unvarnished honesty. Seeing him at Matador 21 in 2010, circa his debut Learning, it was impossible to not be impressed how he silenced the theatre with just two keyboards and his voice. This time, he was again accompanied by Alan Wyffels on synths but also a third player alternating on guitar and drums, and while the extra instrumentation went a long way to filling things out and pushing them forward, the live readings of the Back material still felt more immediate and stripped down than the record, yet still dramatic in their content and often abrupt in their finish – when the songs were done, they were just done.

He played for barely 45 minutes, drawing mainly from Put Your Back N 2 It, including a faux encore that Hadreas distinguished from the main set by ducking under his piano for a few seconds before re-emerging. He commented that the last time he played this room, back in the Fall of 2010, there was maybe a tenth of the people who were here this time but even so, the packed house remained dead silent and respectful throughout the set. Considering how personal and intimate Hadreas’ music is, it’s hard to imagine him having to establish the sort of connection with the audience that was so evident here on a larger scale, but considering how powerful that connection is it’s hard to imagine it not reaching and resonating with more people. What happens next is for the future to tell, I suppose, but this night was near perfect.

The Republican and NOW have interviews with Mike Hadreas while The Montreal Mirror profiles Parenthetical Girls.

Photos: Perfume Genius, Parenthetical Girls @ The Drake Underground – April 8, 2012
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Hood”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Dark Parts”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “All Waters”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Learning”
MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”
MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “A Note To Self”
Video: Perfume Genius – “Hood”
Video: Perfume Genius – “Lookout, Lookout”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Privilege”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Careful Who You Dance With”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Common Touch”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Young Throats”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Evelyn McHale”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “A Song For Ellie Greenwich”

I suppose credit where credit is due; The Dandy Warhols have somehow maintained a fanbase that allows them to continue to play a room the size of The Phoenix and collect $30 for the privilege of hearing “Bohemian Like You”; they’re there on June 3 in support of their new record This Machine, which comes out April 24.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Country Leaver”
MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Sad Vacation”

Also straight out of Portland – Blind Pilot are going to be at The Opera House on July 25, continuing to tour last Fall’s We Are The Tide. Tickets for that are $17.50 in advance.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Keep You Right”

Straight off of announcing a July 10 release for their new record Swing Lo Magellan, Dirty Projectors have slated an extensive tour that brings them to the Music Hall on July 6 with recent 4AD-signees Purity Ring as support; their own debut album will be out on July 24.

Stream: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Stream: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”

The Head & The Heart stops in at The AV Club to participate in their Undercover series with a Fleetwood Mac cover.

Exclaim, The Georgia Straight, and The National Post talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, who are back in town on April 27 and 28 at the Air Canada Centre warming up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Pitchfork talks to the boys of POP ETC – née The Morning Benders – who inaugurate their new identity on June 12 with a self-titled album. I guess the all caps is mandatory, eh? Feh.

Spin and The Daily Texan chat with Bowerbirds.

Kurt Wagner of Lambchop reviews his musical upbringing with Pitchfork.

NPR, The Line Of Best Fit, and The National Post all talk to M. Ward on the occasion of the release of his new record A Wasteland Companion.

The AV Club has posted the second part of their extensive history/salute to R.E.M..

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

CONTEST – Blind Pilot @ Lee’s Palace – November 10, 2011

Photo via FacebookFacebookWho: Blind Pilot
What: Acoustic-strumming, bike-riding ambassadors of Portlandia who sometimes number two, sometimes number legion.
Why: They released their second album We Are The Tide in September and they’re hitting the road to support. A bit cold for bikes, though.
When: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Where: Lee’s Palace in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Gregory Alan Isakov opens. No not that Gregory Alan Isakov, the other one.
How: Tickets for the show are $15.50 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Blind Pilot” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, November 7.
What else: The Birmingham Times has an interview and Reverb a downloadable session.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Keep You Right”

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Ghost

Jeff Mangum and Andrew, Scott & Laura at Trinity-St. Paul’s in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf we’re being completely honest, there’s a not-insubstantial part of me that wishes that this past weekend’s shows by Neutral Milk Hotel bandleader Jeff Mangum at Trinity-St. Paul’s had never happened. There was just something poetic about the disappearing act he pulled following In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, as though the album-closing sounds of the guitar being set down, chair being pushed back and footsteps into the distance was of him leaving this plane and taking his rightful place in some cosmic musical pantheon, having created one of the more perfect records of recent memory.

Of course, I suspect it’s over-romanticized shit like that that’s exactly why Mangum has finally emerged from seclusion. In the thirteen years since he disbanded Neutral Milk Hotel, his story has taken on mythic proportions as a new generation of the indie-inclined discover his masterpiece but can find no trace of its auteur – just field recordings of Bulgarian folk music, sound collages, very occasional guest appearances on the records of his Elephant 6 compatriots and rumours. So many rumours. Even if Mangum wanted to make a return to recording, releasing and performing music, surely the weight of expectation that would surround whatever came next would be unbearable.

So may as well just get it over with. Mangum sightings haven’t been unheard of in recent years, but a surprise Brooklyn loft show last December had the scent of something more than just a one-off; it felt more like carefully laying the groundwork for something bigger and within months, a relatively full-scale comeback was in place – both playing and curating some ATP Festival shows in the UK and US and headlining a number of east coast dates from the late Summer through the Fall. When the Toronto shows were announced, I theorized that this was Mangum’s effort to deconstruct the mythology around himself, to remind people that he was just a guy with a guitar and some songs and maybe, just maybe, not all that big a deal.

If that was the intent, mind you, maybe booking two nights in a church wasn’t the best way to make the point. For the Friday night show, the lineups began just after noon and by the time doors opened, stretched around more than a couple city blocks. And after all were admitted and dutifully took their places in the pews, it would still be an extended wait in the sweltering chapel before the show got underway. For support, Mangum brought along some old friends performing as Scott, Andrew & Laura – as in Scott Spillane of The Gerbils and Andrew Reiger and Laura Carter of Elf Power; certainly not household names but well-appreciated by those who knew them. Their set saw them trading off instruments and playing selections from their respective repertoires, striking a typically Elephant 6 balance of musical proficiency and primitivism but it was impossible to not be impressed by their final song, a Gerbils composition which had Spillane bellowing mournfully while Carter played trumpet unamplified into the church ceiling.

Just how reclusive has Jeff Mangum been? So much so that between sets, when a lanky figure in a light checked shirt and long brown hair tucked under a pageboy cap strode out on stage to check the four guitars set up around a chair, hardly anyone noticed that this was the man that they’d been waiting for months to years to forever in breathless anticipation to see live. They noticed when he came out the second time though – the dimmed lights must have helped – and he was welcomed back to Toronto, to the stage, with huge applause. And with the first strummed chords of “Oh Comely”, it began.

Jeff Mangum is often held up as the archetype for nasally-voiced indie-folk singers, but my first impression of hearing him in person was just how refined and powerful that voice was; Neutral Milk may have favoured a lo-fi, ramshackle aesthetic for their recordings but it certainly wasn’t to cover up the vocals. Of course, with this being a Mangum solo show and not a Neutral Milk reunion, that aesthetic was shelved anyways as the only flourishes on the voice and acoustic guitar configuration came courtesy of Spillane and Carter, who stepped up to add some crucial horn and clarinet parts to songs like “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” and “Ghost”. But for the most part, it was just Mangum and the rapt silence of his audience – a silence that burst into huge ovations when each and every song ended, as though they’d just witnessed the greatest thing ever and really, who’s to say they hadn’t?

Between songs, Mangum certainly didn’t come off like a recluse or eccentric, coming off chatty and friendly; at one point he asked, “Are you guys happy?” to an overwhelmingly positive response before having that question returned to him (he said he was). Also in the far-from-precious department, his requests – nay, demands – that the house sing along with him – further proof that he didn’t want our reverence, he wanted us to celebrate with him. There may not have been as much sincerity behind a full house singing “I love you Jesus Christ” as there would be when Trinity was actually serving as a conventional house of worship, but there was no denying that there was some genuine transfiguration occurring – or more accurately, a reverse-transfiguration with a musical demigod happily becoming just a man.

Though he apparently confirmed on Saturday night that he had been writing, no new songs were introduced. The hour-long set including one-song “Engine” encore encompassed selections from both Neutral Milk albums – though curiously no “Two-Headed Boy, Part One” on either night – and a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End” wrought so lovely that I almost believed it could be true. But considering I’d just see Jeff Mangum perform live, I think one wish fulfilled on the evening was plenty.

NOW, Spin and The National Post was also on hand Friday while The Grid, The Globe & Mail and Exclaim have writeups of the very-similar Saturday night show; Southern Souls has also some audio from Saturday. And oh, there was no photography permitted at the show hence my sketch of the artist gracing the top of this post; it’s been a long time since I’ve drawn, and in that time I clearly forgot that a) I need light to draw, b) an eraser can be a handy tool and c) I was never very good at drawing. But anyways.

MP3: Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland 1945″

Paste is streaming the Stephin Merritt rarities collection Obscurities a week before its August 23 release. This release marks the return of Merritt to Merge Records and the next Magnetic Fields record will be out on the same label next year.

MP3: Stephin Merritt – “Forever And A Day”
Stream: Stephin Merritt / Obscurities

DIY has a feature interview with Stephen Malkmus on the occasion of the release of Mirror Traffic next week. The album is up to stream in its entirety over at NPR; Malkmus and The Jicks play The Phoenix on September 23.

MP3: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Tigers”
MP3: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Senator”
Stream: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks / Mirror Traffic

Tuscaloosa News and Birmingham Box talk to Justin Townes Earle, in town at The Horseshoe on August 26.

KDHX talks to Laruen Larson of Ume; their new record Phantoms is out August 30.

Spin has posted online their cover story on St. Vincent for next month’s “Style Issue” – and if you think that means lots of snazzy pictures of Annie Clark to go with the interview, you’d be right. Her new record Strange Mercy arrives September 13.

Wilco have released a video teaser for the song “Almost” off their new album The Whole Love, which shows if nothing else that this album proves they’ve found the “Beautifully ugly” setting on Nels Cline. The album is out September 27 and they play Massey Hall on September 16 and 17.

Rolling Stone talks to Matthew Sweet about his new album Modern Art, due out September 27.

MP3: Matthew Sweet – “She Walks The Night”

Making good on his promise in July to return when the new record was out, Eric Bachmann will bring Crooked Fingers back to town for a show at the Drake Underground on November 8 in support of Breaks In The Armor, out October 11. Merge has the full tour itinerary, for which Strand Of Oaks will be supporting.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Phony Revolutions”
MP3: Strand Of Oaks – “Bonfire”

Portland’s Blind Pilot will follow up the September 13 release of We Are The Tide with a tour that brings them to Lee’s Palace on November 10, tickets $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Keep You Right”

Warpaint dish to NME about their plans for album number two.

NPR has got a World Cafe session with TV On The Radio.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

CONTEST – Blind Pilot and Local Natives @ The El Mocambo – June 12, 2009

Photo via Blind PilotBlind PilotWhen you find out that Blind Pilot are from Portland, it doesn’t seem quite so strange that the duo-turned-quintet used to conduct their tours on bicycle. It also puts into context their genial, acoustically-based, orchestrally-flavoured brand of pop which goes down smooth and easy. It also gives a notion of what you can expect from their tourmates on their current east coast tour, southern California’s Local Natives. Their sound is somewhat fuller, but just as rooted in rich melodicism and unlikely to upset any apple carts. Expect a lot of head-nodding and not a lot of moshing when the two acts play the El Mocambo in Toronto this Friday night, June 12.

And courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Blind Pilot” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, June 10.

Richmond.com, 77 Square and Express Night Out all have interviews with Blind Pilot.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Go On, Say It”
MP3: Local Natives – “Airplanes”
MP3: Local Natives – “Cards & Quarters” (live)
MP3: Local Natives – “Sun Hands”
Video: Blind Pilot – “Go On, Say It”
MySpace: Blind Pilot
MySpace: Local Natives