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Posts Tagged ‘Bowerbirds’

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

This Summer

Summer is here; so says Superchunk

Photo By Jason ArthursJason ArthursWe’re still over a week out from the official Summer solstice, but Superchunk don’t need no druidic approval to declare the season of sun and fun officially here. After following up 2010’s Majesty Shredding with a series of reissues, they’ve just released a new 7″ single for the song “This Summer” and if that wasn’t enough seasonal thematicness for one release, the b-side is a cover of Bananarama’s 1983 Summer anthem.

The single is limited to an edition of 1300 pieces worldwide, pressed on white vinyl, and comes with a download code for an acoustic version of the a-side. And as a little bonus, they’ve released a video of the band recording the handclaps that appear on the tune.

“This Summer” is available to stream now. Update: Stereogum has the Bananarama cover up to stream now, as well.

Stream: Superchunk – “This Summer”

Some noteworthy concert announcements came down the pipe yesterday. Chicago’s heavy post-rock trio Russian Circles have made a date at Lee’s Palace on August 21 in support of last year’s Empros. Tickets are $14.50 in advance.

MP3: Russian Circles – “Mladek”

Chicago’s Riotfest has made a name for itself over the past few years as a festival catering to those with louder/punkier tastes, and they’ll be expanding beyond the Windy City this year, touching down at Toronto’s Garrison Commons at Fort York on September 9 with a lineup featuring The Descendents, NOFX, Fucked Up, and more. Tickets are $39.50 and go on sale Friday.

MP3: Fucked Up – “I Hate Summer”
Video: The Descendents – “I’m The One”
Video: NOFX – “Cokie The Clown”

Dinosaur Jr have announced a September 18 release for their next album I Bet On Sky; details and album art at Pitchfork. They’ll celebrate its release with a three-night stand at Lee’s Palace from September 24 to 26.

MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Almost Ready”

Ty Segall never seems to wear out his welcome in these parts, but just to make sure you stay interested he’s teaming up with Thee Oh Sees for a Fall tour that hits The Hoxton on September 26, tickets $18.50. Segall’s follow-up to last year’s Goodbye Bread should be out by then; Thee Oh Sees’ new one Putrifiers II definitely will – it has a release date of September 11 already set.

MP3: Ty Segall – “You Make The Sun Fry”
Video: Thee Oh Sees – “I Need Seed”

Dr. Dog will be at The Opera House on October 13 in support of their latest, Be The Void. Tickets are $20 in advance.

Video: Dr. Dog – “That Old Black Hole”

Portland’s Menomena have made a date at The Horseshoe on October 17, which kind of implies they’ll have a new record out by then. Tickets to that are $15 in advance. Update: Said new record will be called Moms and be out September 18.

MP3: Menomena – “Taos”

Apparently not a man to hold a grudge, Dan Deacon has made plans to return to Toronto for a show at Lee’s Palace on November 9 – tickets $13.50 – but please, leave his skull alone. His new record America is out August 27.

MP3: Dan Deacon – “Lots”

If you were planning on seeing A Place To Bury Strangers at The El Mocambo tomorrow night for NXNE but were worried about not knowing any of the new songs from Worship, what with it not being out for another couple weeks (June 26), fear not – The Quietus has an advance stream of the album for you. But let’s be honest, it’s all going to sound like “KKKKKKCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” anyways.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”
Stream: A Place To Bury Strangers / Worship

Joe Pernice has offered a clue as to who will be opening up for him at The Dakota Tavern on June 22, and if you still don’t get it – and understand why you should be in line well before doors open at 6PM (there are no advance tickets) – then clearly you are on the wrong website. Good day to you.

Fang Island have made another track from their forthcoming Major available to download; the album is out July 12.

MP3: Fang Island – “Sisterly”

Cat Power talks to The Stool Pigeon about her new album The Sun, due out on September 11.

The lead single from Calexico’s new record Algiers – due out September 11 – is now available to download.

MP3: Calexico – “Para”

Pitchfork and The Fly have features on Grizzly Bear, currently trying to come up with a title for their new album before it’s released on September 18. They’re at Massey Hall on September 26.

In a Facebook post, Anna-Lynne Williams updates fans and friends about her various musical projects and notes that the Trespassers William forthcoming career-wrapping compilation has a name – Cast – and should be out in September.

The Music has two separate interviews with Mark Kozelek while Filter only has one. His October 3 date at The Great Hall still hasn’t been canceled.

Daytrotter has a session with Nada Surf, who’ve just released a new video from their latest The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.

Video: Nada Surf – “Waiting For Something”

With the release yesterday of Class Clown Spots A UFO, Consequence Of Sound decides now is the perfect time to take an album-by-album look at the discography of Guided By Voices, though they’ll have to expand it in November when Bears For Lunch, the band’s third album of the year, is released.

School Of Seven Bells have selected a winner in their competition to make a video for their song “The Night” off of Ghostory.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”

Bowerbirds have new video out from The Clearing.

Video: Bowerbirds – “Overcome By Light”

Rolling Stone has an excerpt from Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and The Rise of Indie Rock – the just-released book about Yo La Tengo and the rise of indie rock – and The Washington Post has an interview with author Jesse Jarnow about the volume.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Jesus Of Cool

Nick Lowe at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMaybe listening to Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust weren’t the best warm-ups for Nick Lowe’s show at The Phoenix on Monday night. After all, he was many many years removed from being the young pub-rock firebrand who recorded those first two records, having settled comfortably into the role of professorial pop singer-songwriter – a guise that’s suited his still-potent pen quite nicely, as last year’s The Old Magic proved. But if you assumed this meant that his shows would be sedate, sit-down affairs, then you were mistaken. Somewhat.

Though the show was billed as Lowe with band, the man took the stage solo to open things up with something old and something new – “Stoplight Roses” from Magic and “Heart” from 1982’s Nick The Knife – before he took some time to chat up the crowd. He apologized if anyone was confused about the venue, since his recent shows had typically been at The Mod Club but with the positive reception that Magic has gotten and the increase in profile he got opening up for Wilco back in September, an upgrade in venue was not overreaching although what with the Phoenix floor being set up with chairs, the increase in capacity was probably only a couple hundred more at best.

Also in his opening monologue, Lowe mentioned that despite the new record being received quite favourably, it wouldn’t be one of “those” shows and that the set list had been optimized for “quality entertainment,” and the man wasn’t lying. After bringing his band out, he led them through a set that went from jazzy on the slower end of things to rollicking rockabilly at the other and both established the strength of his career’s body of work and affirmed that his recent records were as good as his old ones, in their way. After all, Lowe’s talents have always been his way with words and melodies, not in the fashions they were dressed in. I was a bit surprised how that Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust didn’t get a bit more attention – besides being arguably his most famous records, they were also the ones recently reissued – but Lust was only represented by “Without Love” and “Cruel To Be Kind” and Jesus ignored completely.

No one was complaining, though. The audience was dead silent when they needed to be and whooped it up when appropriate, to say nothing of the sounds of female swooning that periodically punctuated the show; indeed, Lowe was a study in songwriting, charm and aging well. It wasn’t until the finale of the main set – “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – that they finally got up out of their seats – well, five of them at least – to turn the space at the front of the stage into a dance floor. They were joined by many more for the encores, the first of which was highlighted by a hymnal version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and the second which found Lowe, again alone onstage, performing a song by the other iconic British artist to whom he’ll be forever tied – Elvis Costello and “Alison”, and that he missed a chord change while singing “My aim is true” only made the whole thing that much more perfect.

The Toronto Sun and NOW also have reviews of the show; Interview has an interview.

Photos: Nick Lowe @ The Phoenix – April 23, 2012
Video: Nick Lowe – “Sensitive Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “All Men Are Liars”
Video: Nick Lowe – “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll)”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Half A Boy And Half A Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Cruel To Be Kind”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Crackin’ Up”

The Line Of Best Fit revisits Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie-saluting Mermaid Avenue releases; Mermaid Avenue: Volume III would appear to only be available in physical form in the Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Alas. Maybe take it up with Billy when his North American tour brings him through the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia on July 8? It looks like that’s as close as he’s getting to Hogtown this time out.

Tiny Mix Tapes interviews Sleigh Bells, back in Toronto next week on April 27 and 28 at the Air Canada Centre opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

With Lower Dens’ new album Nootropics due out next week – May 1 – DIY has both a stream of the whole thing and song-by-song annotations from the band.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”
MP3: Lower Dens – “Propagation”
Stream: Lower Dens / Nootropics

La Sera – aka Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls – brings her new record Sees The Light to The Shop Under Parts & Labour on May 13, part of a North American tour.

MP3: La Sera – “Please Be My Third Eye”

The AV Club has got a stream of Fear Fun – the debut album from Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman ex of Fleet Foxes – ahead of its May 1 release date as well as an interview with the man. He plays The Horseshoe on May 14.

MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
Stream: Father John Misty / Fear Fun

Billboard has a feature piece on Beach House, whose new album Bloom is out May 15.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips talks to Forbes about why the band has been so dedicated to making weird records/releases over the last couple of years; basically, just to see if they could. Another of the tracks from their Record Store Day Heady Fwends has just been made into a video. The Flaming Lips play a free show for NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 16.

Video: The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73 – “The Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee”

And going on before the Lips and doubling the insane live show quotient will be Of Montreal. They’ve just released a new video from this year’s Paralytic Stalks and NPR is streaming last night’s show in Washington DC. And if you’re curious about some of the other NXNE scheduling that I’ve sussed out, last week’s post is in a constant state of update.

Video: Of Montreal – “Spiteful Intervention”

These United States – whose last attempted visit was derailed, I believe, by something we Torontonians like to call the G20 riots, will give it another go with a show at The Horseshoe on June 22. Update: okay, so they were actually here just a couple weeks ago opening for Trampled By Turtles. Fine.

MP3: These United States – “The Great Rivers”
MP3: These United States – “Water & Wheat”

Their fourth album Magic Hour due out on May 28, New York’s Scissor Sisters have set a date at the Sound Academy for June 28 – tickets are $32.50 for general admission and $42.50 for VIP.

Video: Scissor Sisters – “Only The Horses”

Andrew Bird has extended his Summer tour in support of Break It Yourself to include a July 19 date at Echo Beach in Toronto. Tickets are $35 in advance, full itinerary at Under The Radar.

MP3: Andrew Bird – “Eyeoneye”
MP3: Andrew Bird – “Give It Away”

Rolling Stone talks to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. She’s at The Phoenix on August 1.

To everyone reporting that Cat Power had named her new record, Sun – it’s not really news. She named announced it as the name of her next studio album following The Greatest as early as 2007, reported that the album was done in 2008 and then said that she’d shelved it in 2009. The more pertinent question is did she change her mind about those sessions and is releasing five-year old recordings or was she so attached to the album title that she’s using it for a whole new set of songs. In any case, it is news – assuming it’s true – that the record will be out on September 11. I’ll wait for Matador to chime in.

Exclaim solicits an acoustic video session with Nada Surf.

The Blue Indian chats with Bowerbirds.

The Mountain Goats play a video session for Paste and bassist Peter Hughes chats with Tone Deaf.

The Village Voice talks to Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, and if you missed last week’s guest editor run at Magnet, check it out – they discuss the origins of each song on Mr. M.

State talks to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Clash sends Crispin Glover to interview J. Mascis. Stranger things have happened, but not much.

Proxart talks to Anna-Lynne Williams of Trespassers William; on Facebook this week, she reported that the final Trespassers release – a double-disc cupboard clearing compilation – had gone off for mastering. Details on that release soon, one hopes.

The AV Club has posted their third instalment documenting the history of R.E.M..

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..

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day One

Aerials Up, Old World Vulture, Squarehead and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBack to back festivals! What a great idea. Just prior to heading out to engage with Canadian Musicfest’s 2012 edition, I took a look back at years past and noticed a couple trends – one, that I usually complain about the lineup (check!) and that as a result of not wanting to see the same old same old, I try to branch out and see new and unknown acts, usually from foreign climes, with little background and no guarantee of quality… with consistently mixed results. Would the class of ’12 fare any better? Let’s find out.

Toronto/St. Catharine’s quartet Old World Vulture didn’t really fit into the “unknown to me” category as I’ve been writing them up and recommending them since 2009 but this would actually be the first time I’d ever gotten around to seeing them live, so in that sense it was new. They were playing the upstairs of The El Mocambo, where I don’t think I’d set foot in nearly a decade – since the Blow-Up Britpop nights moved to other venues – and having undergone some renovations since then, it felt both unfamiliar and nostalgic. Not that that was either here nor there – Old World Vulture’s loud and heavy sound was about as far removed from The Wannadies as you were going to get and they were going to keep my attention firmly in the present. In a sense, it’s good that the post-rock genre is rather formulaic as it forces purveyors of it to find a unique angle; Old World Vulture set them apart with their synth leads, which were most interesting when evoking a ’70s sci-fi film vibe. Elsewhere, they were more reminiscent of mid-era Mogwai with less reliance on the loud-quiet thing and more on maintaining a steady, lumbering menace. I was glad to finally be able to tick “see Old World Vulture” off my to-do list.

Photos: Old World Vulture @ The El Mocambo – March 22, 2012
MP3: Old World Vulture – “J.R. Flood”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Trophy Lovers”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Bastard Engine”

It’s no short hop from the El Mo to The Drake, but I made pretty good time in hoofing it from A to B in order to catch Scottish collective Aerials Up make their Toronto debut. Looking at the band – a co-ed collective of happy young people brandishing an assortment of rock and orchestral instruments, you might think you know exactly what to expect: big, exuberant pop with multi-part harmonies and swells of strings bouncing off crunchy electric guitar… and you’d be about right. But even though they don’t add anything new to the style, they don’t make it feel any more played out thanks to their enthusiasm, charm, and likeable tunes. The turnout was decent enough for the gig though it was a bit hard to say how many were genuinely paying attention – even when exhorted by the band to stand up, some wouldn’t give up their seats. The Daily Record reports on some of the fundraising efforts the band undertook to afford to come over to Canada.

Photos: Aerials Up @ The Drake Underground – March 22, 2012
Video: Aerials Up – “I Am”
Video: Aerials Up – “Superglue”

It was then a streetcar ride down Queen to get to The Rivoli where the Irish showcase had been chugging along all night. I arrived in time to see Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake get started, I thought their moody, ambient approach promising – vocalist Daniel McAuley certainly had a falsetto that you could build impressive things around. But within a few numbers it became clear that their songs were not going to coalesce into more coherent songs, and instead would remain sketches more interested in allowing the vocals to roam than offer a memorable listening experience, the extended breaks between songs fiddling with the laptop not helping matters either. A few pieces did possess enough structure to offer optimism about the future and there’s no question they’re in possession of some impressive instruments to work with, but they really need some melodies.

Photos: Cloud Castle Lake @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
Stream: Cloud Castle Lake – “A Wolf Howling”

On the other hand, Dublin’s Squarehead were pretty much as advertised: a scrappy power pop trio with garage-y and punkish tendencies It did take a few songs for the expected raucousness to kick in – they seemed to need a little time to warm up – but their acceleration was steady and by the end of their set, they were getting pretty punchy up there. A fun and tuneful set that made up somewhat for the fact that I didn’t get home till 2:30AM and all the SXSW recovery that I’d been stockpiling through the week was basically all squandered.

Photos: Squarehead @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
MP3: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Video: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Stream: Squarehead / Yeah Nothing

Nada Surf will warm up for their show at The Opera House that evening with an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 4 at 6PM. The Seattle Times has a chat with frontman Matthew Caws.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”

Nebulously-named buzz band the praise for their new record Open Your Heart into town for two shows – June 14 at The Garrison and June 15 at Wrongbar. And if you intuit from the timing and frequency that this’ll be for NXNE, you get a cookie.

MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”

Pitchfork reports that Mission Of Burma will release a new album entitled Unsound on July 9; the first single is available to stream now.

Stream: Mission Of Burma – “Dust Devil”

If you didn’t download that mixtape they offered last week or just want to hear the one new song, Titus Andronicus’ contribution to a split 7″ with Diarrhea Planet is now available to stream.

Stream: Titus Andronicus – “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus”

Retribution Gospel Choir have release a video from their new EP The Revolution/.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “The Stone (Revolution)”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a Bowerbirds show in New York last week and Gapers Block an interview.

Prefix interviews M. Ward.

Paper talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent/. She has a couple of collector-interest releases coming up – a 7″ with two new tracks for Record Store Day on April 21 and a deluxe edition of Strange Mercy called – wait for it – Stranger Mercy that comes with a DVD of her 4AD Sessions and attendant promo videos on May 8.

Magnet and The AV Club talk to James Mercer of The Shins, who will be paying a visit at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

The National Post and Chart talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. Their show at The Phoenix now in the books, their next visit will come April 27 and 28 at The Air Canada Centre opening up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Four Hours (Away)

Young Prisms at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA little time off can be nice, but as much as I was enjoying the very unusual but welcome two-week break from show leading up to SXSW this week, it was also making me a bit antsy. Thank goodness for the Young Prisms in-store at the new Kensington Market location of Sonic Boom, in advance of their show that evening at The Drake. It would give me a quick, convenient way of scratching the live music itch and also let me pick up some LP sleeves. Everybody wins.

I saw the San Francisco outfit last February opening up for The Radio Dept., and while their dream-pop tended more to the murkier side than I’d like, they were a charming crew and so young that they could have grown plenty in the elapsed time. After all, In Between – the follow-up to their 2011 debut Friends For Now – was already done and coming out in a few weeks; it seemed highly unlikely that they would still be the same band as they were a year ago.

Turns out that was true in the literal sense – they were now a five-piece with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Ashley Thomas to the mix, and while her presence didn’t totally invert their sound, it made a difference. They still sounded very much like My Blood Valentine mixed with morphine – the opiate, not the band – being loud and fuzzy yet not especially aggressive, but the tunefulness that they previously seemed to prefer buried was now being allowed to surface. The second guitar was able to pick out melodies overtop of the churning bed of glider guitar and pounding rhythm section and when Thomas and lead vocalist Steph Hodapp harmonized as they did on new song, “Four Hours (Away)”, well it was clear that Young Prisms had a potent new instrument at their disposal.

Based on a few songs, it’s hard to say too definitively how far Young Prisms have come – the new record isn’t out until March 27 – but it sounds as though they’re mixing some Slowdive romanticism into their MBV sonic stew, and that can only be a good thing. And if these reference points have no meaning or interest to you, then you’d best just move along.

NYCTaper is sharing a recording of the band’s show in New York last week.

Photos: Young Prisms @ Sonic Boom (Kensington) – March 10, 2012
MP3: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”
MP3: Young Prisms – “Sugar”
MP3: Young Prisms – “Weekends And Treehouses”
Video: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”
Video: Young Prisms – “These Daze”
Video: Young Prisms – “Breathless”
Video: Young Prisms – “Sugar”

Rot Gut, Domestic – the new album from Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s – is out March 20 and a new MP3 is available to download. They play The Garrison on April 5.

MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Shannon”

NPR is streaming a complete Shins concert in New York last week while JAM and The Line Of Best Fit share interviews with James Mercer; their new record Port Of Morrow is out March 20 and they’re at The Molson Amphitheatre August 4.

eMusic talks to Bowerbirds. They play The Garrison on March 27.

Le Blogotheque has posted a Take-Away Show with Perfume Genius; he plays The Drake Underground on April 8.

Billboard and Rolling Stone talk to M. Ward about his new record A Wasteland Companion, due out April 10.

J Tillman has released a new video from Fear Fun, his debut under the Father John Misty marque. It’s out May 1 and he is at The Horseshoe on May 14.

Video: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

Ramona Falls, aka the side-project of Menomena’s Brent Knopf, will release their second album Prophet on May 1 and follow it with a show at The Drake Underground on June 8.

MP3: Ramona Falls – “Spore”

Hey, remember Garbage? They certainly hope so. They’ve got a new album called Not Your Kind Of People coming out May 15 and will be embarking on a short tour that ends at The Phoenix in Toronto on May 28.

Video: Garbage – “Vow”

Class Clown Spots A UFO – the second album of the reunited Guided By Voices era is coming in June and the first sample is available to stream. It’s gorgeous. Details on the release and Bob Pollards new solo record – of course there’s another new Bob record – are available at Pitchfork.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Keep It In Motion”

Pitchfork reports that Bob Mould has signed to Merge records for his next solo record, due out this Fall.

Greg Dulli talks to Rolling Stone about rediscovering The Afghan Whigs – just in time for their reunion this year.

Interview has an interview and NPR a World Cafe session with Sharon Van Etten.

Billboard and Spinner talk to Jay Farrar about the New Multitudes Woody Guthrie project; the project also stopped in at Daytrotter for a session.

Patterson Hood reflects on the making of Drive-By Truckers’ 2001 masterpiece Southern Rock Opera to Boulder Weekly.