Posts Tagged ‘Caribou’

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day Two

July Talk, Chains Of Love, The Big Sleep and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDespite only seeing four bands, I like to think that I covered a fair bit of ground – stylistically, geographically, exploratorily (?), what have you – on the first night of Canadian Musicfest. The Friday night stuck slightly closer to home on all fronts but yielded much better and consistent results.

The evening kicked off at Rancho Relaxo with Neufovin in all the way from Finland (I mistakenly called them Norwegian in my festival preview and apologize profusely). Besides having an affinity for anything Scandinavian, the foursome impressed me with the samples posted online – they’ve yet to release a debut album but already sound like a tight and creative unit only somewhat all over the place with respect to what they want to sound like. But based on their set, they were leaning towards a low-level orbit brand of space-rock, propelled by their nimble drummer whose work reminded me of The National’s Bryan Devendorf and that’s basically the highest praise I can give a drummer; I could have just sat and listened to him play all night. The vocals could use a little more expressiveness but hearing their confident transitions from sonic grace to chaos and back again, I would definitely like to hear that debut whenever it’s done.

Photos: Neufvoin @ Rancho Relaxo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Neufvoin – “Drunken Captain”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Villasukka”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Mouse On Mars”
Video: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”

I’m not sure who booked New York’s The Big Sleep into The Painted Lady, but it was a weird venue for them, being better suited to singer-songwriter acts than heavy, lumbering rock acts – to wit, they kept getting asked to turn down their amps through their set. But while the band had a track record, their third album Nature Experiments had just come out in January and was their first in four years; they probably had to work to get back onto peoples’ radars. I for one had lost track of them after seeing them at Pop Montreal 2006 circa their debut Son Of The Tiger, but remembered them well enough to know I wanted to see/hear them again, given the chance. Happily, time hadn’t messed with my memory and they were as good as I recalled, coming across equal parts intense and cool and heavy all around. Sonya Balchandani and Danny Barria have distinct vocal styles but maintain a similarly detached personality, offering a nice balance to their decidedly pummelling guitar-bass-keys instrumental groove. I imagine it’d make great car chase music.

Photos: The Big Sleep @ The Painted Lady – March 23, 2012
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Bad Blood”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Pinkies”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Murder”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “You Can’t Touch The Untouchable”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Valentine”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Murder”

At this point, the best laid plans kind of fell apart as catching a streetcar across College from Ossington to Spadina turned into walking across College from Ossington to Spadina, an exercise that took quite a bit longer than intended (it wasn’t by choice). But being late for an 11PM showcase means you’re early for an 11:30 one, so I managed to slip into the El Mocambo between sets and get in position for one of the festival’s hotter acts, Vancouver’s retro-soul revivalists Chains of Love. They’d been a highlight of last year’s NXNE and their just-released debut Strange Grey Days was a solid one, so I was pretty content with this plan B. This show was somewhat less gleefully chaotic than that Silver Dollar show – the ElMo stage affording enough space that the band weren’t falling over each other up there – but while that was part of the fun last time, its loss was mitigated by the fact that the band were more polished and all-around better sounding than last time, and the extra space allowed for frontwoman Nathalia Pizarro’s dance moves and tambourine workout. They wisely stuck to their uptempo material for the set and while that meant that it was all over extra fast – I don’t think it even clocked in at half an hour – they definitely proved that NXNE show wasn’t any kind of fluke. Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: Chains Of Love @ The El Mocambo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Chains Of Love – “In Between”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “Breaking My Heart”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “You Got It”

And if Chains Of Love were going to pass on their title of “best new discovery at The Silver Dollar during a music festival” – it’s a real thing, look it up – then across the street July Talk were ready to take it. I didn’t know a thing about them ahead of time, but The Silver Dollar is usually a pretty safe bet during either CMF or NXNE – at the very least, whatever you see will be loud and rocking and at the very most, it’ll be amazing. That might be overselling July Talk a bit, but they were definitely one of the most entertaining sets I’d see all week. Fronted by the duo of Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, they offered a sort of rowdy, sleazy blues punkabilly take on June & Johnny/Gram & Emmylou with not a little Sailor & Lula/Mickey & Mallory dynamic thrown into the mix. They two were electric onstage, whether playfully shoving, biting or rubbing up against each other or working the audience – Fay graciously put lipstick on more than a few members of the crowd – all the while leading their band through some foot-stomping, ass-shaking tunes that were almost as tuneful as they were theatrical. Tremendously fun, and I don’t know what is says about me that I assumed they were an out-of-town act from Los Angeles or the like… and not from right here in Toronto. Who knew we had it in us?

Photos: July Talk @ The Silver Dollar – March 23, 2012
M4A: July Talk – “Paper Girl”
M4A: July Talk – “The Garden”

PS I Love You are gearing up for the May 8 release of Death Dreams with a second MP3 and a set of tour dates that includes a May 15 date at The Garrison.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers”

The AV Club gets to know Army Girls; they’re opening up some of those PS I Love You dates, no word if they’re going to be doing so in Toronto but one can hope. Update: Yup, they’re opening the Garrison show.

And not to give up the title of pre-eminent loud Canadian rock duo, Japandroids will release their new one Celebration Rock on June 5 and have plotted their own Summer tour which brings them to The Horseshoe on June 23. A stream from the new record is available now.

Stream: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

It almost goes without saying that the just-announced Fucked Up show at The Power Plant art gallery space at Harbourfront on May 1 will be something more than just a concert, but they haven’t said what yet. But if you’re looking to get some Fucked Up in you life, keep the date open.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

The Wooden Sky have released the third instalment of their “Grace On A Hill” video session series at Chart. They play The Opera House on April 20.

Exclaim and The Awl talk to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, whose new album New Wild Everywhere is out next week and streaming in full over at They’re at The Music Hall on June 2 and have just announced an in-store at Sonic Boom for April 3 at 6PM.

Stream: Great Lake Swimmers / New Wild Everywhere

Opening up that Great Lake Swimmers show will be Cold Specks, who was profiled by NOW and The Globe & Mail. I Predict A Graceful Explosion will be out May 22.

The Globe & Mail, Willamette Weekly, Edmonton Journal, and NOW talk to John K Samson.

Exclaim and talk to Joel Plaskett about his new record Scrappy Happiness. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

The National Post and Spinner chat with John O’Regan of Diamond Rings about his second album and how it feels to be a Juno nominee.

Also up for a Juno is Dan Mangan; The Vancouver Sun has an interview with the singer-songwriter.

Spin points to a stream if another of Arcade Fire’s contributions to the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Horn Of Plenty”

Pitchfork reports that Caribou’s performance at the 2009 ATP festival as the Caribou Vibration Ensemble is available to watch in its entirety at Vimeo. Caribou opens up for Radiohead at Downsview Park on June 16.

A track from Moonface’s new album With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is now available to download. It’s out April 17.

MP3: Moonface – “Headed For The Door”

DIY interviews Claire Boucher of Grimes.

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Dance To Another Tune

Review of First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar and giveaway

Photo By Neil KrugNeil KrugThe Söderberg sisters of First Aid Kit make no attempt to represent themselves as anything other than what they are – two girls barely on either side of 20 harmonizing on heartfelt songs that conjure the spirit of bygone and world-weary Appalachian folk traditions a world and era away from the from the Stockholm suburbs where they grew up. It’s a contrast and harmony that made their first two releases – 2008’s debut EP Drunken Trees and the 2010 full-length The Big Black & The Blue so interesting; feeling simultaneously young and old, wise yet naive, clearly foreign yet still so authentic.

It’s a tension that’s less pronounced on their second album The Lion’s Roar, but that’s because rather than tip things one way or the other, they’ve managed to not just balance their elements but blend them. Credit must go to veteran producer Mike Mogis, an expert at helping bands bloom creatively while keeping their roots firmly intact – sonically, the album stays close to the sparer arrangements of the debut but when it needs to get big, it does – but you cannot discount the experience the duo have gained in the past couple years on the road; they’ve simply gotten much better, and were pretty good to begin with. The weightiness that’s always existed in their songwriting feels more comfortably borne, and yet Roar also contains some of their most buoyant songs to date – “Emmylou”, a gorgeous paean to two of the great partnerships of country music, is an early frontrunner for one of the songs of the year and “I Found A Way” soars close behind.

I don’t think there was ever a time when First Aid Kit were regarded as any sort of novelty – “oh look, young Swedish girls who think they’re country!” – but if anyone ever took them less seriously for any of that, they’ll be hard-pressed to hold onto those prejudices. The Lion’s Roar is a strong statement and demands to be heard.

MTV UK has an interview with First Aid Kit, who kick off a headlining North American tour at the end of this month and will be at the Great Hall in Toronto on April 4. Tickets for the show are $18 in advance but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want a First Aid Kit” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at Midnight, March 31.

Stream: First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”
Stream: First Aid Kit – “The Lion’s Roar”
Video: First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”
Video: First Aid Kit – “The Lion’s Roar”

In talking about another young female Swedish artist worth watching – Amanda Mair – I’ve been saying that her self-titled debut was supposed to come on back on February 15; that it did, but only in Sweden, apparently. has a June 5 North American release date written down and DIY reports that it will be out officially in the UK on June 11. To tide us over, another single is now available to download to go with the previously released video. It’s good.

MP3: Amanda Mair – “Sense”
Video: Amanda Mair – “Sense”

Under The Radar brings word of a collaboration between the wonderful I Break Horses and the I-hadn’t-heard-of-them-before-now Philadelphia-based electronic outfit CSLSX, the first fruits of have both a downloadable and video. I Break Horses are at The Sound Academy on May 5 opening for M83.

MP3: CSLSX & I Break Horses – “Violent Sea”
Video: CSLSX & I Break Horses – “Violent Sea”

DIY chats with Norwegian pop collective Team Me, who are on my to-see list at SXSW next week (NEXT WEEK). If all goes well, you’ll be hearing more about them hereabouts. Their debut To The Treetops is out next week.

MP3: Team Me – “With My Hands Covering Both of My Eyes I Am Too Scared To Have a Look At You Now”

The Line Of Best Fit introduces Kiasmos, the new electronic project from Ólafur Arnalds.

Stream: Kiasmos – “Thrown”

New York Magazine has an in-depth profile piece on Bjork and NYC Taper has posted recordings of another of her NYC residency shows from last week.

DIY and The Sun get to know Dry The River, the next great folk-rock hope out of the UK. Their debut Shallow Bed is out April 17 in North America, and they’re streaming the excerpts of the whole thing with commentary over here. The intrigued can see them March 27 at The Garrison opening for Bowerbirds.

Video: Dry The River – “Chambers & The Valves”

Those scamps in Radiohead have announced another block of North American dates and Toronto is in the mix. They’ll be at Downsview Park on June 16 with Caribou, and I’ll save you from double-checking the calendar – that is indeed the Saturday of NXNE. The festival has managed to hold its own agains interloping major shows in the past, but if it takes a free Iggy & The Stooges show to counter Pavement/Broken Social Scene, they’re gonna need something pretty major to keep the kids in the city this time around. But whatever you end up doing that day, let’s not overlook the fact that this means the Caribou machine is back in action, and that’s good news for everyone. Tickets for Radiohead go on sale at noon on Friday.

MP3: Caribou – “Odessa”
Video: Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”

Daytrotter welcomes The Naked & Famous to their studios for a session. They play The Sound Academy on April 5

Digital Spy and DIY talk to Pip Brown of Ladyhawke, whose second album Anxiety has been pushed back from its March 27 release date all the way to May 25.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Primavera Sound 2011 Day One

Echo & The Bunnymen and Caribou at Primavera Sound

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOkay, so that’s the touristy stuff out of the way. Let’s get down to business, which is to say the music. As in festival. Music festival.

While Primavera Sound’s main, three-day event would be cramming Barcelona’s Parc del Forum waterfront park to the gills with music until the wee hours of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the festival was also bookended by shows at a hillside venue on the other side of the city. El Poble Espanyol is a traditionally-styled Spanish village/museum that also happens to make a fantastic live music venue, offering great sightlines and a picturesque setting.

Getting through registration made me miss most of Englanders Comet Gain’s set, not that I knew their stuff at all, but their classically-appointed indie pop offered an enjoyable aural backdrop to exploring the environs and as a general kick-off to the festival and warm-up for Echo & The Bunnymen’s headlining set.

This show was one of their Crocodiles/Heaven Up Here recitals, following up the Ocean Rain recreation which they brought through Toronto in October 2009. While that show made perfect sense, boasting both some of the band’s most famous songs and lending itself to orchestral enhancements, offering the first two records the same treatment – sans strings – was a less obvious move. Both were considerably less populist and accessible affairs, very much attached to the band’s post-punk roots and existing in a darker sort of atmosphere. The “fans only”-ness of the set list didn’t keep them from packing the courtyard, though, nor from putting on a show that reinforced past impressions that the band rises – or falls – to the occasion when playing live. This was mostly the former, with Ian McCulloch much more animated onstage than in the past. A relative statement, certainly, but it may have explained him making more effort to hit those high notes which are audibly a strain for him these days. After the main set, they returned with a short set of “hits” as an encore – yes to “Bring On The Dancing Horses”, no to “Killing Moon” – and were done.

Not surprisingly, the crowd thinned somewhat before Caribou took the stage – after all, the demographics for ’80s British New Wave/post-punk and ’00s Canadian cosmic disco don’t entirely overlap – but the audience maintained the crucial density necessary to achieve dance party critical mass. Okay, dance party may have been an overstatement for the start of the set as it was only the handful of die-hards up front who began flailing when the music started, but as the set went on and the grooves got deeper, the dancing seemed to spread virally throughout the audience. I’d not seen the four-piece Caribou live show before – only the baker’s dozen-strong Vibration Ensemble – and their tightness and intensity totally impressed. There were no hat tips as to where they might be going on the in-progress follow-up to Swim, but wherever they go with it I can pretty much guarantee you that it will groove. Hard.

Note that since I didn’t have a photo pass, there’ll be no regular galleries from the fest but live and atmosphere shots that I got from the crowd can be seen at Flickr.

And in other animal-related band news:

Drowned In Sound gets Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison to annotate their debut album Sings The Greys. The Selkirk Weekend Advertiser also has an interview. They play The Molson Amphitheatre on July 27.

Black Book talks to Alex Turner and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and The Guardian to Turner alone. Their new album Suck It And See is streaming over at Soundcloud; it’s out next week.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys / Suck It And See

Under The Radar profiles Wild Beasts.

Today, in Antlers links: NYCTaper is sharing a couple of live recordings, The Alternate Side has an interview and session, The Line Of Best Fit and Drowned In Sound have interviews and a new MP3 from Burst Apart is available to download. They’re at The Mod Club on June 14.

MP3: The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love”

The AV Club talks to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011


More Sloan than you can shake a stick at

Photo via Yep RocYep RocThis is not a review of the new Sloan record, the twentieth-anniversary saluting The Double Cross, even though it is out next Tuesday and the time would be about right to do a review. I will say that it’s probably their best record in over a decade, though, and one that I didn’t think they had in them anymore. Quite pleased to be wrong about that.

I’ll offer more complete thoughts on it at a later date, but for now it warrants pointing out that Exclaim is streaming the whole of the new record until Monday and CBC Radio 3 has got the band’s complete discography – including the new album and non-album tracks collected on their B-Sides Win digital comp – available to stream on their Radio 3 page. Randomly clicking through the enormous list of tunes is the perfect way to remind yourself of why they were and are still, on occasion, one of Canada’s greatest pop bands.

The band plays an album release in-store set at Sonic Boom next Saturday, May 14 at 4PM and have scheduled a full gig – their first regular Toronto show in recent memory – at The Mod Club on June 22. Tickets for that are $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Sloan – “Follow The Leader”
MP3: Sloan – “The Answer Was You”
Stream: Sloan / The Double Cross

Fucked Up have made good on their promise to release four preview MP3s in advance of the June 7 release of David Comes To Life. Grab them all below while reading through the website they’ve set up for it.

MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Ship Of Fools”
MP3: Fucked Up – “A Little Death”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

NPR has posted a studio session with Caribou, recorded at Los Angeles’ KCRW.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Timber Timbre.

Southern Souls have collected all of the Rural Alberta Advantage church-set videos that have been surfacing – three so far – in one place while VBS visits the band’s rehearsal space.

PJ Harvey has completed the video series for her latest album Let England Shake, premiering the final clip at Vanity Fair, along with a chat with director Seamus Murphy about the clip, while NME have helpfully gathered all the other clips together in one place.

Video: PJ Harvey – “All And Everyone”

Exclaim reports that Radiohead will perform The King Of Limbs in its entirety for BBC broadcast on July 1.

Elbow have released a little mini-doc to go along with their new album build a rocket boys!

Video: Elbow: Rocket Science

BrooklynVegan talks to Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira of Cat’s Eyes., The Boston Globe and The Chicago Sun-Times interview Peter Bjorn & John, in town for both an in-store at Sonic Boom and full show at Lee’s Palace on Friday.

And apologies if you’ve been experiencing site slowness the last few days; been trying to figure out what’s going on, whether it’s WordPress install, my PHP server, database, hosting, whatever. None of the evidence points to a single cause but it has definitely been grindy lately. And if you’re someone who’s good at troubleshooting stuff like this and feel like helping out, please get in touch.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011


Review of Malajube’s La caverne and giveaway

Photo By Joseph YarmushJoseph YarmushIt’s almost certainly too much to read an excess of meaning into the title of Malajube’s last albums, but when you’ve only got a (very) rudimentary working knowledge of the French language, you do what you can do. That said, there’s something to the fact that 2009’s Labyrinthes was as dark and dense as the title implied – at least relative to the almost giddily carefree nature of 2006’s Trompe L’Oeil (“deceive the eye” in English, if you were wondering) – and a far less immediate listen. Still, it rated highly enough to score the band its second Polaris Prize shortlist placement in as many records and basically confirm the band as the ambassadors of Francophone rock to the rest of Canada, even if it would be Karkwa who would score the first win for French Canada last year.

Those seeking to find similar meaning in the name of their new record, the just-released La caverne, may be disappointed to learn that it comes not from the dark, subterranean underworld of their collective psyches mined for inspiration but more likely the fact that the album was recorded in a house shaped like a geodesic dome. But listening to the new record you wouldn’t have to go very far to imagine that they decked the studio out with lasers and mirror balls, given it’s surprisingly sleek and dance-friendly vibe. Lead track and single “Synesthésie” gives immediate notice that things are different for the band this time out, applying a fresh shimmer to both guitars and synths and mating them with an irresistible rhythm.

While signature elements like Julien Mineau’s smooth/raspy vocals keep things familiar, La caverne is leaner and more focused than either Trompe-l’oeil or Labyrinthes and also possibly their most immediate. So what happens when a band that’s already twice been acclaimed as having made one of the ten best Canadian records in a year makes their big pop move? Three guesses.

Malajube are currently on tour in Quebec and southern Ontario, with a few US dates thrown in, and will be at The Horseshoe Tavern on May 30. JAM, The Montreal Gazette,, Montreal Mirror and The National Post have interviews with the band.

And courtesy of the label, I’ve also got three copies of La caverne on vinyl to give away – to enter, email me at contests AT with “Je veux la caverne” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest is open to residents of Canada and closes at midnight, April 28.

MP3: Malajube – “Synesthésie”
Video: Malajube – “Synesthésie”

With the April 26 release – in Canada, anyways – of sophomore album Was I The Wave? nigh, check out one the new Miracle Fortress songs. Americans

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Sometime Miracle Fortress-er Adam Waito’s own project Adam & The Amethysts have put out a video from their still-forthcoming second album Flickering Flashlight, due out sometime.

Video: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”

Pitchfork reports that Arcade Fire are going to let their Suburbs sprawl a little more this Summer, by way of a deluxe CD/DVD package due out on June 27. The DVD component will be the Spike Jonze-helmed mini-feature Scenes From The Suburbs and the CD will be their super-hit album with a couple of new songs added on for extra value.

Fucked Up have released the second of four MP3s leading up to the release of David Comes To Life on June 7 via Matablog, who also have details of a “Buy Early Get Now” presale promotion for the record in which you buy early…

MP3: Fucked Up – “A Little Death”

Caribou has elected to give away the complete recordings of the live Vibration Ensemble set from All Tomorrow’s Parties in upstate New York circa September 2009 – just hit their Soundcloud and make with the downloading. And while you wait, maybe refresh your memory as to what the Vibration Ensemble was with the writeup of their performance in Toronto the week prior.

MP3: Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Every Time She Turns Round It’s Her Birthday”

Planet Notion interviews Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy.

Crawdaddy has got a nice live performance video of The Rural Alberta Advantage in a Toronto church. I don’t think it’s an official video, but it’s nice; it could be. They’re playing the Phoenix on April 29.

Spinner, The Vancouver Sun, and The Leader-Post, See check in with Tokyo Police Club as they tour across Canada. Their next local gig is Edgefest at Downsview Park on July 9.

And though it’s their eighth birthday, Toronto label Paper Bag Records are the ones offering the gifts – in the form of True Blue, a free compilation of Madonna covers by their artists, including the aforementioned Young Galaxy and Rural Alberta Advantage, PS I Love You and more, but my favourite would be the title track by Montreal’s Winter Gloves and guest vocalist Hannah Georgas. And as a sidenote, I apparently don’t know nearly as much of Madonna’s oeuvre as I thought I did. And am okay with that.

MP3: Winter Gloves w Hannah Georgas – “True Blue”