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Posts Tagged ‘Centro-Matic’

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Hair

Ty Segall and White Fence to get Hair-y

Photo By Ruth SwansonRuth SwansonSeeing San Francisco’s Ty Segall at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 was one of the most unexpectedly rowdy/violent shows I’ve ever been in the middle of, which was a bit surprising considering that as rough and garage-y as his stuff is, it’s not all that heavy. Certainly not the obvious soundtrack for the bedlam that ensued that evening. Maybe it was just Halifax. Anyways, despite enjoying his music well enough, I’ve made a point of avoiding his shows as the odds of me getting kicked in the head seem to increase exponentially when we’re in the same room.

So you won’t be finding me at The Horseshoe on May 12, as that’s the day that Segall and Tim Presley, who plays in Los Angeles’s Darker My Love but also operates solo as the mellow if trippy ’60s psych-rock act White Fence, roll into town. The show will be in support of their forthcoming California garage rock summit LP Hair, as well as their respective latest releases. Segall put out Goodbye Bread last Summer, White Fence will release the two-volume Family Perfume set in April and Hair is due out in late April.

Spin talks to Segall about the collaborative record. Tickets for the show – which also feature Austin’s Strange Boys on the bill – are $16.50 in advance, and do not cover first aid costs for if you get kicked in the head. Update: Full tour dates now up at Pitchfork.

MP3: Ty Segall – “You Make The Sun Fry”
MP3: White Fence – “It Will Never Be”
MP3: The Strange Boys – “Me And You”

And if the garage rock isn’t your speed, that same evening will find Justin Townes Earle at The Opera House to play songs from his new record Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, out March 27. It’s part of a massive world tour and will cost you $18.50 to get in.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”

Good news! Portland’s Blouse, who were featured in the first post of this year, are coming to town on May 5 as support for Bear In Heaven at The Garrison. Bad news! It’s the same night as Spiritualized at The Phoenix. I will be making catching them at SXSW a priority, but if you’re free that evening I’d highly recommend this bill.

MP3: Blouse – “Into Black”

And speaking of Bear In Heaven, they released a regular-speed preview of their new record I Love You, It’s Cool a few weeks ago. It’s out April 3.

MP3: Bear In Heaven – “The Reflection Of You”

NPR has premiered the first video from The Magnetic Fields’ forthcoming long-player Love At The Bottom Of The Sea, due out March 6. They play The Sound Academy on March 30.

Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Andrew In Drag”

The first taste of M. Ward’s new one A Wasteland Companion comes by way of a video. The record is out April 10.

Video: M. Ward – “The First Time I Ran Away”

NOW, The Boston Globe, Metro, The Montreal Mirror and Washington Examiner interview The Kills, in town at The Kool Haus on February 7. And if you want a preview of it, NPR will have a stream of last night’s show in Washington DC up in the next few hours.

Spin has a video of Death Cab For Cutie playing “You Are A Tourist” on PBS’ Live from the Artists Den, the full episode of which is set to air February 17. Death Cab are at Massey Hall on April 19.

NPR welcomes Centro-Matic over for a World Cafe session. Pegasus News talks to Will Johnson about the Woody Guthrie tribute project with Anders Parker, Jay Farrar and Jim James called New Multitudes which will release an album of the same name on February 28.

NPR is streaming a KCRW session with Ryan Adams.

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Champagne Year

St. Vincent and Cold Specks at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn discussing the latest St. Vincent album Strange Mercy, I mentioned that Annie Clark’s greatest strength as a songwriter was her creative restlessness; a trait which has over the course of her relatively short career already taken her to more interesting places than some artists even conceive of visiting. If we turn our attention to her live show, that title of “most appropriate single adjective” would probably have to be “control”.

Just as she has a very specific idea of how her compositions should sound on record, she hits the road with a very specific idea of how they should be presented on stage, such that each time I’ve seen her its been not only with a different set of musicians, but a different configuration of instruments and sounds. Not that you need much more than Clark, her voice and her guitar to spellbind; that’s all she brought on her first visit back in February 2007 before her debut Marry Me was released and it was far more memorable than Midlake’s headlining set. Her last time through Toronto in August 2009, the more complex orchestration of Actor necessitated a multi-instrumentalist, multi-tasking five-piece St. Vincent. So who and what would they be for the leaner and more snarling Strange Mercy?

First, opening up were Cold Specks who had to make waves in Europe with her debut 7″ release before getting some attention back home; though Cold Specks is now based in London, Al Spx originally hails from the borough of Etobicoke. Performing seated as a two-piece with an accompanying guitarist/vocalist, Cold Specks tried to win over the packed, talkative room without a lot of success. Her meditative gospel-folk songs and their low-key deliver was designed more to haunt than command, and this wasn’t really the environment for that approach to succeed. Those of us up front were able to appreciate its subtleties and the way the weight of the material built slowly as the set progressed, but even from in close it was very gradual. Getting the opportunity to make her debut on a big stage like this may have been an impressive achievement, but Cold Specks is probably better suited to smaller rooms and more attentive audiences for now.

St. Vincent, on the other hand, has well and properly graduated to rooms of this size. Backed by a drummer manning a kit the size of which seemed physically impossible for an individual to manage and two keyboard/synth players, Annie Clark delivered a set that was configured for and leaned heavily on Strange Mercy – no horns or second effected vocal mic this time – only dipping slightly into Actor and not even acknowledging Marry Me until the finale of the show. The new material was delivered with gusto, Clark shifting from siren to shredder with the shake of her head and unleashing the squalling guitar breaks that so happily punctuate the record, unleashing chaos but in a totally precise manner (though having the strobe lights continually synched with the solos seemed a bit on the nose over the course of the night). The intensity of her performance was an interesting counterpoint to her poise between songs, where she would graciously acknowledge the shouts of, “we love you!” and “you’re so pretty!” from the audience while tuning or offer up some charming anecdote to make everyone fall in love with her just a little bit more.

This isn’t to suggest that it was an operation of military precision; “Dilettante” took three tries to get right, with Clark having to stop herself twice on account of forgetting the lyrics though she made the exercise of soliciting cues from the audience one of the most endearing moments of the night. It was with the late-set cover of The Pop Group’s “She Is Beyond Good & Evil” – rendered far more aggressively than any of her own material – that the show seemed to allow more anarchy to seep in. Shortly thereafter, Clark appeared to break the theremin during its solo on “Northern Lights” and though the encore opened with a lovely keyboard-vocal arrangement of “The Party”, it closed with a riff-heavy, almost metal-derived version of “Your Lips Are Red” which saw Clark turn an edge-of-stage guitar solo into an impromptu crowd surf – while sustaining both the soloing and her perfect posture – before getting back on stage and basically attacking her roadie with her guitar (in what I presume was a playful manner). It was a fantastic finale to an impressive show and showed that maybe the best thing about Annie Clark’s being in control is her ability to lose it.

NOW, The National Post, and The Globe & Mail also have reviews of the show while The Grid has a quick interview. The Toronto Star has a profile of Cold Specks.

Photos: St. Vincent, Cold Specks @ The Phoenix – December 15, 2011
MP3: St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
MP3: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”
MP3: St. Vincent – “The Strangers”
MP3: St. Vincent – “Now Now”
Stream: Cold Specks – “Holland”
Video: St. Vincent – “Cruel”
Video: St. Vincent – “Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood”
Video: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”
Video: St. Vincent – “Jesus Saves I Spend”

NYC Taper has got one of The National’s homecoming High Violet finale shows available to download, including the two new songs – “Rylan” and “I Need My Girl” – that the band has been premiering on this tour.

Also at NYC TaperMy Morning Jacket’s Madison Square Garden show from last week.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore.

Video: Nicole Atkins – “Hotel Plaster”

Exclaim reports that Cat Power will be releasing some new material in the form of a charity single on Christmas Eve. Details are still forthcoming but it’s confirmation that Chan Marshall has been doing stuff. Musical stuff.

That new Guided By Voices album, Let’s Go Eat The Factory? NPR has got that up to stream, two weeks before its January 1 digital release and a full month before its January 17 physical release.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Let’s Go Eat The Factory”

Their visit in the Fall a casualty of the cancelled Vaccines tour, Tennis have made a date at The Horseshoe for February 29, just a couple weeks after their second album Young And Old is released on February 14.

MP3: Tennis – “Civic Halo”
MP3: Tennis – “Self-Seal Mishap”
Video: Tennis – “Deep In The Woods”

Youth Lagoon will bring his much year-ended debut album The Year Of Hibernation to Lee’s Palace on March 31. Blare has an interview.

MP3: Youth Lagoon – “July”

Memphis country-punk stalwarts Lucero are back at Lee’s Palace on April 14. Their new album Women & Work will be out in the Spring, presumably in time to sell at these shows.

Video: Lucero – “What Are You Willing To Lose?”

Spin has got the new Sleigh Bells single available to stream. Reign Of Terror is out February 14.

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “Born To Lose”

Paste has posted a video session with Centro-Matic.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Shadow, Follow Me

Review of Centro-Matic’s Candidate Waltz

Photo by Matt PenceMatt PenceConsistency is a fine trait for an artist to possess; so is prolificity. And yet possessing both in great measure isn’t always a formula for greatness as there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Consider Denton, Texas’ Centro-Matic – I discovered them circa 2004′s Love You Just The Same and instantly fell for its ragged and anthemic rock, proceeding pretty much immediately to search out most of their back catalog as one did back in the day when instantly downloading everything wasn’t quite as easy as it is now. There was a good long while that Will Johnson’s rasp was a fixture in my ears.

But keeping up with Johnson’s post Love You releases in his various guises – there was Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel for his gentler songs and his own name for compositions that somehow didn’t fit either – for whatever reason didn’t yield the same rewards and by the time the project-crossing Centro/San Gabriel double set Dual Hawks was released in 2008, my ability to distinguish one record from the last had gotten rather blurry. Each was sure to contain a solid batch of songs but when you’re staring at a dozen CD spines trying to decide which one to listen to, the level playing field can be a bit maddening (and for the record, Love You Just The Same would usually get the nod).

All that said, the latest Centro-Matic album Candidate Waltz sets itself apart from its peers from note one by opening not with a thickly distorted guitar chord or dry, declarative drum hit but an insistent motorik pulse the likes of which I certainly never thought I’d hear on a Centro-Matic record. Granted, the guitar riff and Johnson’s distinctive vocals follow close behind, but already the tenth Centro-Matic album has already made a statement that it’s not going to be business as usual. They’re still in the same business, make no mistake, but there’s a leanness and hunger in Candidate Waltz that I certainly haven’t heard in the last few records. Though uncharacteristically brief with its 32-minute running time, each of Waltz‘s nine songs are standouts in their own way, possessing a distinct personality that makes it the most engaging and satisfying release from any of Johnson’s projects in some time. And the best part is, having had Candidate Waltz on repeat for the last few weeks has made me hungry to re-explore their other records… and it turns out I’ve got a tonne of them.

Quick DFW, The Dallas Observer, NBC and Illinois Entertainer all have feature pieces on Centro-Matic.

MP3: Centro-Matic – “Only In My Double Mind”
Video: Centro-Matic – “Iso-Residue”

Pitchfork reports that Drive-By Truckers will have their eleven-year, nine-album legacy condensed down into 16 tracks on the forthcoming compilation Ugly Buildings, Whores & Politicians: Greatest Hits 1998-2009, due out August 2.

MP3: Drive-By Truckers – “Zip City”

4AD Sessions offers a set of performances from Iron & Wine. They play The Sound Academy on October 15.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Okkervil River.

Jonathan Richman will be in town for a couple nights as part of a Fall tour, camping out at Revival on the evenings of October 5 and 6.

Video: Jonathan Richman – “New England” (live on Top Of The Pops)

Prefix, The Chicago Tribune, Madison Square and The Phoenix interview Erika Anderson of EMA, in town at The Garrison this Saturday night, July 23.

Stereogum talks influences with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, because the contents of their record collections is so inscrutable based on the music they make. They play an in-store at Sonic Boom on August 1 and a show at The Opera House on August 2.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Sway

Mates Of State proclaim cuteness from Mountaintops

Photo via FacebookFacebookSometimes I wonder if Mates Of State get tired of being described with various synonyms for “adorable”, but if so they’ve no one to blame but themselves. Rather than release the black metal opus we all know they have in them, the husband-and-wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel continue releasing records of irresistibly sweet and catchy drum-and-organ power pop, a trend that seems set to continue with the September 13 release of Mountaintops, their first album of original material since 2008′s Re-Arrange Us; last year’s Crushes was a more than satisfying stopgap of cover versions.

The band have just released a video for the first single from Mountaintops and surprise surprise, both the tune and the clip are totes adorbs, and they’ve also announced a North American tour that rather ably covers the eastern half of the continent. The Toronto date, their first visit since kicking off the final V Fest in 2009, comes September 28 at The Phoenix with Suckers and Yawn as support – tickets $15 in advance.

Video: Mates Of State – “Maracas”

Ra Ra Riot will make their pretty much annual Fall visit to Toronto on October 6 with a show at Lee’s Palace, tickets $17.50 in advance. They’re also featured in a Bandstand Busking session doing their thing on London’s South Bank.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”

The Wooden Birds have released a new video for the title track of their second album Two Matchsticks. Revue and College Times talk to frontman Andrew Kenny, who leads the band into the Drake Underground on July 10.

Video: The Wooden Birds – “Two Matchsticks”

Also with a new video is Justin Townes Earle, taken from Harlem River Blues. Interview, The Calgary Herald and Reno Gazette-Journal have interviews with Earle, who will be at The Horseshoe on August 26.

Video: Justin Townes Earle – “Slippin’ & Slidin’”

The Kills have a new clip from Blood Pressures.

Video: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow”

NPR has premiered the new video taken from DeVotchKa’s latest 100 Lovers.

Video: DeVotchKa – “The Man From San Sebastian”

Explosions In The Sky have released their first-ever video, taken from this year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. They play the Sound Academy on October 7.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Last Known Surroundings”

Wye Oak, who are opening up that EITS show, are featured in an acoustic video session at The Fly. There’s also interviews over at Glasswerk and Spoonfed.

The Santa Barbara Independent talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

NPR, Exclaim and JAM have feature pieces on Bon Iver, in town at The Sound Academy on August 8.

In the wake of their second Solid Sound Festival, Wilco have given their next album a name – The Whole Love – and both sides of their new 7″ comprising a new tune and a Nick Lowe cover are streaming around the internet, like at Exclaim. No release date more specific than this Fall has been announced yet. Update: And now it has – album out September 27, North American tour starts a couple weeks earlier with two nights at Massey Hall September 16 and 17. Details and album art at Exclaim.

Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus interviews tourmate Lauren Gurgiolo of Okkervil River for her own blog. The Georgia Straight and San Jose Mercury News chat with Okkervil frontman Will Sheff.

Examiner.com catches up with Lauren Larseon of Ume, who release their new album Phantoms, due out August 30.

Blurt and NPR have interviews with Will Johnson of Centro-Matic about their new record Candidate Waltz. You can hear one of the new songs below and head over to IFC for an interview and the premiere of their new video.

MP3: Centro-Matic – “Only In My Double Mind”
Video: Centro-Matic – “Iso-Residue”

The Quietus has a stream and track-by-track annotation of Memory Tapes’ new record Player Piano, due out July 5. They play Wrongbar on August 13.

Writers On Process gets into the songwriting head of Interpol frontman Paul Banks.

Wayne Coyne discusses the many ongoing projects in Flaming Lips-land with The Quietus.

The Phoenix and Spinner talk Bug with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. PhillyBurbs gets a word with Lou Barlow.

The AV Club and New York Magazine interview Bob Mould. Which makes this as good a time to mention that Sugar’s Copper Blue was just reissued on 180g vinyl. This record is essential, people.

NYC Taper is getting their old-school indie rock on, offering recordings of recent New York shows from Guided By Voices and Archers Of Loaf.

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Rolled Together

The Antlers and Little Scream at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA week straight of show-going is a pretty foreboding thing when you’re generally more inclined to stay home and watch television, but if the first night of said run – which began Tuesday at The Mod Club with The Antlers and Little Scream – is a bellwether of the next seven (or ten) nights out, then I say bring it on.

Though both acts were familiar, their performances were still new to me in crucial ways, in particular with Little Scream whom I’d last seen two years ago in a pair of solo performances that were both enigmatic and intriguing. Contrast that with this evening, where Laurel Sprengelmeyer was fronting a six-piece band and promoting her debut album The Golden Record; an album that’s been well-received but interestingly not done much to clarify the mystery of who Little Scream is, offering highlights in the individual songs but not really feeling particularly cohesive as it ranges from style to style, held together only by Sprengelmeyer’s impressive vocals. The live incarnation remedied this somewhat, unifying things by being both heavier and proggier throughout and offering itself up as a variant of rock built on folk instead of blues. Sprengelmeyer jokingly compared them to Iron Maiden, on account of the three-guitar configuration but just as she did a couple years ago, I was most reminded of The Who, despite the lack of any obvious nods. Why, I can’t explain, just as I still can’t fully put my finger on what makes Little Scream what they are – but I’ll keep trying.

The Antlers broke out via the unlikeliest of records in Hospice, a beautifully grim and harrowing meditation on mortality. I saw them three times in the cycle for that record, twice as openers and once at an in-store, and each time their performances seemed to be exercises in exorcising the darkness of that material by taking the songs and stretching them out into something new. The catharsis would appear complete with the band’s new record Burst Apart, which feels like fresh growth on a former blast site; sensual and sinewy, it practically glistens with life.

The sense of rebirth also carried over live, where the three-piece had added a fourth player on bass and guitar and frontman Peter Silberman, formerly content to set up off the side and hide somewhat behind keyboards, was up front and centre. As mentioned, this was my first time seeing The Antlers headlining their own show, but considering that even in a support setting they weren’t given to brevity – when opening for Editors, they stretched out five songs over 40 minutes – I expected epic-scale things from the Brooklynites and was not disappointed. With the extra four- or six-strings on hand, The Antlers were able to jam out the Burst-heavy set and allow Silberman to roam and even dance around the stage when not stealing the spotlight with his haunting falsetto. The few Hospice songs that did make an appearance were recognizable but decidedly incongruous from their original versions, the transformations applied over the two years of touring having taken hold permanently without diminishing their emotional power or beauty.

For many in the sold-out house, I’m sure the Hospice tracks were the highlights but given my difficult personal relationship with the record (it may have been written as a metaphor but for me was all too literal) it was the Burst Apart material that really shone. Free of the thematic and narrative constraints of its predecessor, the new record isn’t necessarily happy but it does have an optimism threaded throughout that’s genuinely uplifting, rather than simply trying to overcome its own weight. That the band were able to not only recreate this feeling live but amplify it was nothing short of remarkable.

DIY and The New Haven Advocate have features on The Antlers while Pitchfork solicits a list of Silberman’s formative musical influences. The National Post and BlogTO also have reviews of the show.

Photos: The Antlers, Little Scream @ The Mod Club – June 14, 2011
MP3: The Antlers – “Parentheses”
MP3: The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love”
MP3: The Antlers – “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Sylvia”
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”
MP3: Little Scream – “The Heron & The Fox”
Video: The Antlers – “Bear”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
Video: Little Scream – “Red Hunting Jacket”
Video: Little Scream – “The Lamb”

Her show at The Rivoli safely behind us, Alela Diane has been announced as support for Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall on July 14. Spin declares her to be an artist “breaking out”.

MP3: Alela Diane – “To Begin”

Following in her brother’s footsteps and getting to work outside the context of The Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger has set a July 12 release date for her solo debut Last Summer, and scheduled a Summer tour that includes a free show at The Horseshoe on July 19. The first single from the album is available to hear and watch.

MP3: Eleanor Friedberger – “My Mistakes”
Video: Eleanor Friedberger – “My Mistakes”

You get exactly zero points if you can guess what Portland synth-poppers STRFKR used to be called. Or maybe are still called, depending on who you ask and what company you’re in. You can be in their company at Lee’s Palace on September 20, where they’ll be showing off their new record Reptilians. Full dates at Exclaim.

MP3: STRFKR – “Bury Us Alive”

Stephen Malkmus has put together a Fall tour in support of his new album Mirror Traffic, due out on August 23. He’ll be at The Phoenix with The Jicks on September 21, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Senator”

The National Post, Spinner and NOW preview Art Brut’s show at The Mod Club tomorrow night.

The Daily Swarm has gone through Bob Mould’s just-released new memoirs See A Little Light and posted their picks for some of the more intriguing passages contained therein and NPR have excerpted the first chapter. The Pioneer Press and The Bellingham Herald talk to Mould about looking back on his life for the book.

The Mountain Goats are giving away a new MP3 from their latest All Eternals Deck. Just because.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “High Hawk Season”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with The Kills. The band have also released a set of acoustic performance videos over on their YouTube.

Spinner has a pre-NXNE interview with Dum Dum Girls; their showcase is Friday night at Lee’s Palace, 11PM.

Writers On Process talks to The Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard about his writing process. The Rosebuds are at The Sound Academy on August 9 opening up for Bon Iver.

That’s the same Bon Iver whose Justin Vernon is all dapper and shit as the cover story of the new Spin. There’s also interviews at Exclaim and The Vancouver Sun and the first video from Bon Iver, Bon Iver is now out – presumably not financed by the Alberta Tourism board.

Video: Bon Iver – “Calgary”

Aquarium Drunkard interviews Will Johnson of Centro-Matic about their new record Candidate Waltz, out next week.

Buffalo Tom have released a first video from their latest record Skins.

Video: Buffalo Tom – “Guilty Girls”

JAM and Echo interview Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.

Acoustic Guitar and JAM chat with Steve Earle, in at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.