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Posts Tagged ‘Cat Power’

Monday, November 18th, 2013

A Wake For The Minotaur

Shearwater stream, set travels for Fellow Travelers

Photo By James HamiltonJames HamiltonFor some artists, an album of covers would be an afterthought, a stopgap between albums of original work. And that was what Shearwater’s new album Fellow Travelers was supposed to be – a quick and dirty collection of versions of songs by the many bands, big and small, that they’ve toured with over the years.

But as it happens with these things, it became something more – a fully-produced and fascinating expansion of the Shearwater sound, channeled through songs by Folk Implosion, Coldplay, and St. Vincent amongst others, as well as one original composition recorded with Sharon Van Etten, with whom they toured last year; one might wonder why they didn’t cover one of her songs, but let’s be honest – they’re not going to top the Tom Petty cover they collaborated on for The AV Club Undercover last Summer.

Fellow Travelers is out next week, but available to stream now via NPR. Further, they’ve announced that they’ll properly support the record by taking time out from recording their next (original) album for a will be embarking on a North American tour which will bring them to The Horseshoe on March 27 – those tickets are $13.50. And to round out the “we’re taking this one seriously, guys” announcements, they’ve released a video for their Xiu Xiu record from said album.

MP3: Shearwater – “Fucked Up Life”
MP3: Shearwater – “I Luv The Valley Oh!”
Video: Shearwater – “I Luv The Valley OH!”
Stream: Shearwater / Fellow Travelers

PopMatters has a stream of Model Rocket, the new album from Rhode Island’s The Brother Kite which I had an inkling was in the works but had no idea was already out (as of last week). As much as I complain about being carpet-bombed by press releases, I wish someone had told me about this!

Stream: The Brother Kite / Model Rocket

Paste has premiered a new video from Beachwood Sparks’ forthcoming release of their previously unreleased debut album Desert Skies. It’s out November 26 and Los Angeles Magazine finds out how and why their next album is 16 years old.

Video: Beachwood Sparks – “Make It Together”

Rolling Stone reports that The Flaming Lips will be releasing their cover of The Stone Roses’ debut album for Record Store Day: Black Friday edition on November 29.

Spectrum Culture gets Tanya Donelly to reflect on her time in Belly; the next and final (?) instalment in her Swan Song Series should be out in early December.

Pernice-Blake-Belitsky supergroup The New Mendicants – at least a supergroup if you’re a fan of Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub, or The Sadies – will release their debut full-length Into The Lime on January 14.

Manchester Evening News, State, Reuters, and entertainment.ie all interview various Pixies; they’ll be kicking off a new North American tour at Massey Hall in Toronto on January 15.

Rolling Stone reports that Uncle Tupelo’s debut album will be getting a double-disc reissue as No Depression: Legacy Edition on January 28, the bulk of the bonus goods coming in the form of the Not Forever, Just for Now demos bootleg that has been kicking around forever; stream one of the new old tracks below.

Stream: Uncle Tupelo – “I Got Drunk” (demo)

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Rilo Kiley, taken from their attic-clearing compilation RKives.

Video: Rilo Kiley – “Emotional”

Interview talks to Cameron Mesirow of Glasser.

NPR welcomes Okkervil River for a World Cafe session.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Widowspeak.

The Cleveland Plains Dealer talks to Chan Marshall of Cat Power.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Rolling Thunder

Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson team up for shenanigans and misadventures

Photo By John ShearerJohn ShearerThe era of the touring festival has by and large given way to massive destination and regional festivals – it seemingly being easier to bring a bunch of bands and tens of thousands of fans to one place than it is to bring a bunch of bands to hundreds of thousands of fans in a bunch of places – but sometimes a touring bill is so impressive that it warrants a fancy name of its own. And the bill of Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson which will be hitting amphitheatres across North America this Summer is one of those bills; ergo “AmericanaramA”.

Even though he’s the headliner and by far the biggest act – though if there was justice in the world, Thompson wouldn’t be far behind – Dylan is also the biggest question mark on the lineup. As I mentioned last Summer when the Fall tour in support of his latest album Tempest, Dylan is not someone who suffers nostalgiasts lightly and based on the tweets I saw the night of that Air Canada Show about people walking out after just a few songs, his penchant for rendering his songs nigh unrecognizable live remains undiminished. So caveat emptor, but also know that each of Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson are also absolute known quantities at the other end of the spectrum – they’re incapable of putting on a bad show, even if they’ll most likely be allotted much less than their usual marathon set times.

So whether that math is persuasive enough to convince you to shell out the $49.50, $69.50, or $89.50 for reserved seats or $35.50 for lawns to see them at The Molson Amphitheatre on July 15 is between you and your accountant. But don’t forget to factor in the cost of an “AmericanaramA” t-shirt. The presale goes Saturday, April 27 Tuesday, April 30, at 10AM, with the regular onsale following on Friday, May 3, at 10AM.

MP3: Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are A-Changin'”
MP3: Wilco – “Whole Love”
MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Heartbreakin’ Man”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “The Sights & Sounds Of London Town”

Austin shoegaze aficionados Ringo Deathstarr have made a date at The Shop Under Parts & Labour for June 3 in support of their second album, last year’s Mauve. Tickets for the show are $7 in advance.

MP3: Ringo Deathstarr – “Imagine Hearts”

Aussie-fronted Swedish electro-pop up-and-comers Kate Boy have slated a short North American tour that includes a Toronto stop at Wrongbar on June 9. Tickets are $12.50 and if you need to catch up on some of the buzz behind them, there are these features at Pitchfork and Billboard.

MP3: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”
Video: Kate Boy – “In Your Eyes”
Video: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”

There was both curiosity and concern when London’s Still Corners canceled their North American tour in support of the forthcoming Strange Pleasures, out May 7, and the reasons for the itinerary change was made clear yesterday – instead of headlining their own Summer tour, they will supporting CHVRCHES on theirs. Exclaim has the new dates, which still include a Toronto date – June 12 at The Hoxton – but raises questions about their participation in NXNE. On one hand, even though that CHVRCHES date falls on the first night of the festival, there’s no sign that it will be associated with it at all – get your $16 ticket while you can – but on the other hand, they’ve got two off days before they need to be in Montreal so there’s technically no reason that their previously-announced June 14 NXNE showcase can’t still happen. Anyways.

MP3: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”

With a new album out in Change Becomes Us, British post-punk legends Wire will be at Lee’s Palace on July 10, tickets $25. There’s interviews with the band at Rolling Stone, PopMatters, and Rock Cellar.

MP3: Wire – “Dot Dash” (live)

Born Ruffians will be playing a presumably free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 13 as part of their Sound Clash festival thing.

MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”

Guelph’s Hillside Festival announced their 2013 lineup this year, and if you were interested in seeing the likes of Fucked Up, Colin Stetson, Diamond Rings, Hayden, Jim Guthrie, Lee Ranaldo, METZ, The Sadies, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, or World Party (!) with easy access to swimming, camping, and drum circles, then Guelph Lake the weekend of July 26 to 28 is probably where you want to be. If you hate hippies, you may want to reconsider.

Further cementing the possibility that he might just be homeless, Josh Tillman will bring Father John Misty back to town for his fifth show in 15 months, this time headlining the Danforth Music Hall on August 3 with Minneapolis’ Night Moves as support. Tickets will run from $15.50 to $19.50, depending on floors or balcony.

MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Night Moves – “Headlights”

With the new Guided By Voices album English Little League out next week, April 30, the five lead-up 7″ singles have been conveniently collected into a single Soundcloud playlist, and while The Quietus has collected all of the b-sides, as well.

Stream: Guided By Voices / English Little League sampler
Stream: Guided By Voices / English Little League b-sides

Deerhunter have put their new album Monomania up on NPR to stream before it comes out May 7.

Stream: Deerhunter / Monomania

MTV Hive talks to Robert Levon Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club about his relationship with his late father. BRMC are at The Kool Haus on May 9.

Exclaim, Creative Loafing, The Island Packet, and Charleston City Paper interview Charles Bradley, in town at The Phoenix on May 11.

Mudkiss checks in with Nicole Atkins, who continues work on her third album Slow Phaser, due out later this year.

Janelle Monáe has made the first track from her new album The Electric Lady available to stream, and Erykah Badu has helped her do it. The record is due out later this year.

Stream: Janelle Monáe (featuring Erykah Badu) – “Q.U.E.E.N.”

CBC Music and Exclaim have interviews with Steve Earle about his new album, The Low Highway.

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine discusses his new album Ghost On Ghost with Clash.

Elle profiles Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, covering topics including her brush with breast cancer, the end of her marriage to Thurston Moore, and what’s next.

Chan Marshall of Cat Power discusses her personal style with MTV Style.

As much as I love Galaxie 500, they’ve never struck me as a band that required multiple books to be written about them. Of course, Dean Wareham’s Black Postcards obviously had its bias, so maybe Temperature’s Rising – Galaxie 500: an oral and visual history – released last week and featuring input from all three members – will be more balanced and accurate. And if not, it will at least be larger and offer more pictures.

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The Stand-In

Caitlin Rose and Andrew Combs at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough I’m probably a bit late to the Caitlin Rose party, her 2010 full-length debut Own Side Now having completely flown under my radar, I’m thankful that I was able to get it into my ears earlier this year before her follow-up The Stand-In came out because it gave me a reference point to appreciate just how good The Stand-In is. Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with Own Side Now at all – it’s a charming slice of old school country that frames Rose as something of a wide-eyed ingenue, a character well-suited to her sweet, clear vocals – it just felt a touch more demure than it necessarily needed to be.

The Stand-In doesn’t trade in the back porch for a roadhouse, mind you, but it’s more electrified, dynamic, and bristling with bona fide pop hooks that don’t compromise Rose’s natural rootsiness, just gives it a swagger that looks and sounds great on her. Where Own Side politely asked to come in and sat genteelly, The Stand-In barges in and demanded attention – which I was happy to give it, as it currently stands as one of my favourite records of the year. So obviously I was going to be at The Garrison on Friday night to see her tour new record through town.

And an efficient tour it was, with Andrew Combs doing double-duty as both Rose’s rhythm guitarist and opening act. Also hailing from Nashville – if the cowboy hat, denim shirt, and boots didn’t make that clear – Combs started out solo and then slowly enlisted the rest of Rose’s band to back up his voice, possessing the right balance of twang and rasp without sounding affected, and fill out a set of satisfying country-rock drawing from his debut Worried Man. If Combs can make the sort of leap that Rose did between his this album and his next, he could be one to watch.

Warmed up from their opening set, all the band needed to kick off the main set was for Caitlin Rose step out from behind the merch table and take centre stage. A six-piece band might have seemed like a lot of musical overhead for a still-emerging artist playing small rooms, but there was no arguing with the results. Even though the songs on The Stand-In are strong enough to have been able to impress with a simpler presentation, it was wonderful to be able to hear all the lines and textures of the recordings rendered live and enhanced in parts – the four-part backing harmonies on “I Was Cruel” were unexpected and beautiful.

And with such a high performance bar set by her band, Rose actually had trouble keeping up for the first portion of the show. Not in voice – she sounded great – but despite some warm and friendly banter she seemed somewhat detached onstage, often staring up at the ceiling when she stepped back from the mic; less leading her band than fading back into it. It didn’t feel like disinterest as much as a sort of shyness, which was surprising considering how brassily she comes across on record.

Happily, this improved as the set progressed – helped out with a few drinks – and while she charming throughout the show, she was visibly more at ease by the end of the main set, comprised of a lot of The Stand-In, a healthy dollop of Own Side, and ceding the spotlight back to Andrew Combs for one of his own songs on which they duetted. “Everywhere I Go” would have been wonderful to hear, but probably didn’t fit the flow of the show. Following a solo reading of “Sinful Wishing Well”, she called the band back out for a raucous interpretation of Buck Owens’ “Tiger By The Tail” and Own Side highlight “Shanghai Cigarettes”. According to the set list, this should have been the end of the encore but Rose was called back by the audience and obliged with a real encore of an a capella ode to a Dave Edmunds t-shirt. A winning finale to a show that didn’t necessarily start slow, but certainly ended on all cylinders.

The Singing Lamb and Panic Manual also have reviews of the show, and The Washington Examiner and Red Eye have interviews with Rose.

Photos: Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs @ The Garrison – April 5, 2013
MP3: Caitlin Rose – “I Was Cruel”
Video: Caitlin Rose – “Only A Clown”
Video: Caitlin Rose – “Piledriver Waltz”
Video: Caitlin Rose – “Own Side”
Video: Caitlin Rose – “Shanghai Cigarettes”

With the 10th anniversary edition of Give Up out this week, Jimmy Tamborello of The Postal Service gives CBC Music the inside story on some of their most beloved songs and confesses to Exclaim that the new songs on the anniversary edition of the album aren’t Give Up outtakes but remnants of an aborted second album; he also talks about the record with The Irish Independent. The Postal Service are at The Air Canada Centre on June 11.

Iron & Wine’s new album Ghost On Ghost is out next week and doing the advance stream thing at NPR. Sam Beam talks about the new album with The Hollywood Reporter.

Stream: Iron & Wine / Ghost On Ghost

Noisey has got last week’s listening party/Q&A of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record Mosquito archived on their site; it’s presently the only place to hear the whole of the new record before its out April 16.

The Sun and Spinner asked questions of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, who also hosted a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” last week. Their new album The Terror is out next week on April 16 and streaming in whole at NPR.

Stream: The Flaming Lips / The Terror

NPR has a World Cafe session and MTV Hive an interview with Jim James, who hits The Phoenix on April 24.

Buzzfeed elicits some serious Morrissey hate from Bradford Cox by way of a Deerhunter interview. Their new album Monomania is out May 7.

Drowned In Sound interviews Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, in town at The Kool Haus on May 9.

Finally, the first official taste of the new National album Trouble Will Fine Me, out May 21. They headline Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 14.

Video: The National – “Demons”

Spin has premiered another track from the new Saturday Looks Good To Me album One Kiss Ends It All, out May 21.

Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Break In”

Though the existence of Centro-Matic/New Year/Pedro The Lion supergroup Overseas was announced way back last Spring, the fruits of the Will Johnson-David Bazan-Kadane Brothers alchemy will finally be available to hear via their self-titled debut on June 13. Two songs are available to stream on their site, and it sounds exactly as you’d think a combination of those talents would – wonderful.

The Skinny talks to Kurt Vile, who brings Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze to the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.

Also playing TURF that day are Yo La Tengo, whose James McNew is interviewed at Loud & Quiet.

Cat Power has released a new video from Sun.

Video: Cat Power – “Manhattan”

The Current has got a video session with Low.

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Keep Believing

Bob Mould leaves the Blue, brings the Silver

Photo By Peter EllenbyPeter EllenbyWhen Bob Mould looks back on his 2012, he should be able to reflect on a very busy and productive year. First, he released his memoirs See A Little Light – a very direct and enlightening, if somewhat dryly written, accounting of his professional and personal life over the past half-century, back in June. Shortly thereafter came the release of the complete output of his second most-important power trio in Sugar, which he’d also marked by playing the entirety of the seminal Copper Blue on tour throughout the year. And oh yeah, on top of all that, he released his first album of new material since 2009’s Life & Times in The Silver Age, rightly heralded as his strongest – and most all-out rocking – work in some time.

One thing Mould didn’t get time to do this year, though, was come north of the border to play some shows. It would have been great to have one of the Copper Blue shows up here, but it didn’t happen – which makes me feel extra-fortunate that I was able to catch on at SXSW, not that that does the rest of his Toronto fanbase much good. But while it seems improbably that 2013 will be as busy for Bob as 2012, he’s added a few more dates including his first local show since Fall 2009, on March 1 at The Horseshoe. Yes he could easily play a bigger room – which is why this will be extra-great. It won’t be a Copper Blue recital – he officially retired that in November – but one of the perks of having thirty years worth of material to draw from is that he can assemble a near-infinite number of different set lists and they’ll all be fantastic. Bob will bring the tunes, you bring the earplugs. Tickets for the show are $24.50, on sale tomorrow.

Another thing Mould has been doing this year? Turning to Kickstarter to fund a release of the See A Little Light: A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould concert film recorded in Los Angeles last November, wherein a collection of musicians including Dave Grohl, Britt Daniel, Craig Finn, and Britt Daniel came together to perform works from Mould’s entire career. Sound like something you’d want to see? Me too – so chip in if you can.

And finally – last thing – Mould is doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Monday, December 17, starting at 1PM. So if there’s something you’ve been wanting to ask him – that’s your chance.

Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Also hellaciously busy this year were Guided By Voices, with the reunited indie rock icons releasing fully three new albums in barely 11 months. So what do you do for an encore? As Tobin Sprout tells Ghettoblaster, one more album and an EP in January for sure, and maybe another album after that.

The Afghan Whigs, who set stages on fire (figuratively) with their reunion tour through much of this year, play a video session for NPR.

It would be reasonable to assume that Alan Sparhawk would be focusing on Low next year, what with a new album in The Invisible Way coming out March 19, but no – his Retribution Gospel Choir will release a two-track, Nels Cline-starring third album entitled 3 on January 22, with some touring scheduled for the early part of the year. A warm-up for Low, I guess. Details on the release over here. And back to Low, there’s a mini-documentary film at BYUtv about the band’s 20-year history together.

NYCTaper has recordings of the first two nights of Yo La Tengo’s Hannukah shows at Maxwell’s this week. New album Fade is out January 15 and they’re at The Phoenix on February 9.

Funny Or Die has got a pretty damn funny video short featuring Cat Power singing to a class of second-graders while being Cat Power.

Josh Ritter has announced the return of Josh Ritter in both recorded and live formats. To the former, his new record The Beast In In Tracks will be out March 5 – stream a new song below – and to the latter, he’s announced a Spring tour that brings him to the Danforth Music Hall on April 16.

Stream: Josh Ritter – “Joy To You Baby”

Widowspeak have premiered a stream of another new song from Almanac over at Paste. The album is out January 22.

Stream: Widowspeak – “The Dark Age”

Also doing the preview stream thing is Ra Ra Riot; Entertainment Weekly brings you the second taste of Beta Love, out January 22. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 6 and there’s an interview with the band at The Shreveport Times.

Stream: Ra Ra Riot – “When I Dream”

Spinner chats with Christopher Owens about his solo debut Lysandre. It’s out January 15 and he plays The Mod Club on January 18.

PopMatters interviews Savoir Adore.

Chairlift are giving away an EP’s worth of demos for Something via Soundcloud.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Sun

Cat Power, Willis Earl Beal, and Xray Eyeballs at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEvery good thing you’ve heard about Cat Power live is true, and also a lie; the same goes for every bad thing. The reputation that Chan Marshall gained as a fragile, erratic performer over the first decade or so of her career may have seemed overstated to mythic proportions, but few have made great efforts to dispute it. I can’t speak from experience – though a modest fan since Moon Pix, I’d avoided seeing her in concert because of that reputation and reports from the Toronto shows I’d missed in that time seemed to bear out that I hadn’t missed much.

So it was with great surprise and pleasure that my first two Cat Power shows in Fall 2006 – an intimate solo show at Lee’s Palace and a full band performance at The Phoenix, both in support of The Greatest, were sublime experiences. The former had a few awkward moments though they were far outnumbered by the great ones, but the latter, powered by the Memphis Rhythm Band, was about as perfect as you could get. A subsequent show at the 2007 Rogers Picnic was far less assured – though she got the benefit of the doubt as that whole day was just weird – and the last time I saw her at Matador at 21, she again sounded great; any reservations were more about the continued absence of new material than the performance itself. So I was optimistic for her first Toronto show since early 2008 this past Saturday night, since it was coming in support of her game-changing and excellent new album Sun; surely the sass and confidence that went into crafting that record would translate live? It’d be a couple of support acts before we’d find out.

Leadoff hitters Xray Eyeballs may have hailed from Brooklyn, but their psychedelic garage rock sound was decidedly west coast in lineage. With guitarist O.J. San Felipe and bassist Carly Rabalais trading off lead vocals while laying down beds of fuzzy guitars, simple percussion, and whirring synths, their set wasn’t sophisticated but not amateurish, either. It wasn’t a new sound by any stretch nor was their take on it overly memorable, but decent enough for passing a half hour. Though a note to San Felipe – they’re called Straploks and you should look into them.

I’d heard many good things about Chicago’s Willis Earl Beal prior to his being a late but welcome addition as support for this tour – that he was a poet, a soul-singer, a visual artist, an eccentric, a philosopher, and a hell of a performer – but despite him having come through town twice already in support of his lauded debut Acousmatic Sorcery, I hadn’t had a chance to explore further and his being a late addition as support for this leg of the tour was welcome news. He took the stage not with a band but a couple of mannequins, and instead literally played to backing tapes – he had a reel-to-reel tape machine set up behind him, providing the musical backing for him to sing over.

And really, even if he’d brought a full orchestra with him, it’s unlikely anyone would have noticed as it was nigh impossible to take your eyes off of him once he got going. With a huge voice that could go from a soulfully supple to hitting like a sack of gravel, he sang like an avatar of manic desperation while pacing the stage and turning everything around him – the mic stand, the flag that had covered his tape machine, a folding chair, his clothes – into a performance prop and closing out with mic twirls whilst doing The Running Man. Using an artist as singular as Tom Waits as a reference point for any other performer is usually unwise as it’s far too high a bar for mortals to measure against, but for Willis Earl Beal? It’s both stylistically accurate and speaks to the man’s potential. Pretty much amazing.

That the intro music for Cat Power’s set was Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From The Storm” – it played twice, once when they band was scheduled to take the stage and again fifteen minutes later when they actually did – was telling. Just as Dylan has earled a reputation as a difficult live act, frequently inverting and rearranging his classic songs to the point of being unrecognizable, so to has Marshall taken to treating her songbook as raw material for crafting something new rather than as canon to be performed respectfully. Also unrecognizable was Marshall herself, following her band onstage in leather jacket and the short, spiky, blonde hairdo debuted in her video for “Cherokee” further punkified with shaved sides. That song opened the show, but rather than stay in character from the video and battle zombies, she instead did battle with the incense burning on stage, constantly fussing with it while singing and then turning her attention to the two mics set up for her – indistinguishable to the eye and ear – through “Sun”, and then the mic stands on “3, 6, 9”. To her credit, she mostly sounded alright while this was going on, if not as in key or articulate as one would like, but it was distracting to watch.

As has been typical for the past few years, Marshall eschewed guitar duties to concentrate on singing – and fussing – leaving her four-piece backing band to the music, and theirs was not an easy task. They had to give the songs enough structure so as to stay intact and relatively recognizable, yet allow Marshall the space to roam and improvise as she was wont to do. And this was where I saw where the crucial difference between this show and the Greatest show would be – in that setting, Marshall had to rein herself in to meet the supremely tight and professional standards of that veteran outfit, but here she was in charge and it was her players’ job to follow her, wherever she felt like going. While they stuck to the Sun material, things stayed fairly steady and onstage eccentrics aside – the incense/mic/stand fiddling and rambling banter persisted – the audience remained onside.

The middle portion of the set was probably more trying. A reading of the unreleased “Bully” found Marshall in her best voice of the evening to that point as being accompanied only by piano, being distracted wasn’t really an option, and from that she went into an almost operatic, dramatically backlit performance of Mexican icon Pedro Infante’s “Angelitos Negros” (a Jukebox bonus track), and then a half-speed, Moon Pix-skeletal version of “The Greatest” that traded almost all melody for a steadily building, almost ominous dynamic – an interesting interpretation, but perhaps not what an audience who’d been waiting over 10 minutes for something remotely familiar wanted.

It having been a half-decade since she’d toured an album of original material through town, most were probably hoping to hear more catalog material but given how it was being presented, they were probably thankful whenever the set returned to Sun and more familiar if recent sounds. When Marshall finally strapped on a guitar for “Silent Machine”, it was both invigorating and frustrating – for those four minutes, her Danelectro was like a lightning rod that channeled everything the band could be into that slinky, sexy, slide riff and they were tight and focused like they’d not been the rest of the show. And of course, while that was the only song that Marshall would play an instrument and the indisputable high point of the show, they did raise their game for a powerful “Nothin’ But Time” and “Peace and Love”. Lest the momentum keep going, however, they went back to You Are Free for a sprawling, deconstructed “I Don’t Blame You”, before again pulling it together for a strong “Ruin”. For the show’s close of I think “Rambling (Wo)man” – I can’t be sure – a fan handed Marshall a bouquet of flowers which she spend most of the song distributing amongst her band and then tossing, flower by flower, into the audience. And continuing in a giving theme, gave away a t-shirt and all the lyrics sheets she had on stage before requesting – and receiving – a fan’s Charlie Chaplin t-shirt.

It was a nice moment and close to a show that was, even to die-hard fans and apologists, uneven and oft frustrating. Though Marshall seemed in good spirits throughout and any performance where she doesn’t halt a song midway through to complain about the monitors or just walk right off is a positive one, for as long as she’s been doing this she should be much better. She can be and has been. But perhaps for an artist for whom, “is she alright?” is always a legitimate question – a brace of cancelled promotional appearances before the start of the tour was cause for concern, as was her tweet from the inside of an ambulance the afternoon of the show – perhaps overt fan service by way of her song selections and arrangements is too much to ask. Perhaps it’s enough that she’s again making great records, and that your odds of seeing a good show – while still obviously not even – are much better than they once were. At least she’s trying.

NOW, The National Post, and BlogTO were also on hand for the show.

Photos: Cat Power, Willis Earl Beal, Xray Eyeballs @ The Kool Haus – October 20, 2012
MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”
MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
MP3: Cat Power – “Manhattan”
MP3: Cat Power – “Metal Heart”
MP3: Cat Power – “The Greatest”
MP3: Cat Power – “He-War”
MP3: Cat Power – “Nude As The News”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “Monotony”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “Blue Escape”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “White Noise”
MP3: Xray Eyeballs – “Crystal”
MP3: Xray Eyeballs – “Egyptian Magician”
Video: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
Video: Cat Power – “King Rides By”
Video: Cat Power – “Living Proof”
Video: Cat Power – “Lived In Bars”
Video: Cat Power – “He War”
Video: Cat Power – “Crossbones Style”
Video: Willis Earl Beal – “Monotony”
Video: Xray Eyeballs – “X”
Video: Xray Eyeballs – “Crystal”

Sufjan Stevens has made one of the songs from his upcoming Silver & Gold Christmas song box set available for download. The set’s not out until November 13 so think of it like that one gift that you were allowed to open on Christmas Eve. It’s just like that.

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Ding-A-Ling-A-Ring-A-Ling”

Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus talks to Consequence Of Sound. They’re at Lee’s Palace on November 27.

Clash and The Oklahoman meet Band Of Horses, in town at Massey Hall on December 5.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Grizzly Bear.

NYC Taper is sharing another The Mountain Goats live recording from last week.

Pitchfork talks to Sharon Van Etten about making her recent video for “Magic Chords”; Varsity just talks to her about whatever.

DIY has a feature interview with Savoir Adore.

The San Francisco Chronicle and CBC Music chat with Joey Burns of Calexico while The 405 also ropes John Covertino into their conversation.

NPR talks to Benjamin Gibbard.