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Posts Tagged ‘Crooked Fingers’

Monday, January 14th, 2013

I'll Be Around

Review of Yo La Tengo’s Fade

Photo By Carlie ArmstronCarlie ArmstrongNot much stays fresh after 30 years, particularly something as fleeting as creativity, and not even a band that’s as stylistically rangy as Yo La Tengo is immune to the of feeling of repeating themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as their last release – 2009’s Popular Songs – was an enjoyable summation of everything Yo La Tengo has done well over the past three decades or so, from concise poppers to sprawling rockers on the x-axis and quiet to loud on the y, but didn’t really offer much as a jumping-off point for where they’d could go next.

As it turned out, the “where” would be Chicago, to work with John McEntire of Tortoise, rather than Nashville and Roger Moutenot, who had been behind the boards for every one of their records since 1993’s Painful – that’s their last seven releases. And while it’s not necessarily clear that a change in producer would have that drastic an effect on a band that’s as assured in what they do and how they do it as Yo La Tengo, if they were looking to come away with something different, it’s reasonable to say that the fruits of those sessions – Fade, out tomorrow – accomplished that.

The songs still follow the familiar Yo La Tengo templates, but the presentation feels compressed. Not in the technical studio sense of being less dynamic, but it’s not hard to imagine bookend tracks “Ohm” and “Before We Run” stretching past the 10-minute mark on other records instead of being constrained to their relatively concise six-and-change running times here. And those are the longest tracks on the album – almost everything else clocks in at under five minutes. Not to get too hung up on matters of time – what’s more remarkable than the fact that the whole thing could be dubbed onto a single side of a 90-minute cassette is that it seems to have been done without compromising any of the band’s trademark atmospheric indulgences or rushing their gentler, languid tempos.

On the quiet side, “Two Trains” exists in a sumptuous, phase-shifted dream-state, and “I’ll Be Around” hums along, carried by whirring organs and Ira Kaplan’s fingerpicked guitarwork, yet maintain enough presence to avoid becoming pretty aural wallpaper, and at the other end of the spectrum, “Well You Better” and “Paddle Forward” are welcome additions to the crunchy pop nugget section of their songbook. Fade may not necessarily break any new ground for the band – that may well be mathematically impossible for them at this point – but it does offer a fresh perspective on much of what they do best.

Spin and DIY have interviews with Ira Kaplan. They’re at The Phoenix on February 9.

MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”
Stream: Yo La Tengo / Fade

It’s not as good as, say, her own tour in support of a new album, but it’s worth noting that Nicole Atkins will be in town on February 25 opening up for Eels at The Phoenix.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”

And if you missed the post addendum last week, Low have announced a local date in support of their new record The Invisible Way. The album is out March 19 but they’ll be here a few days earlier, on March 16, at The Great Hall. Tickets for that are $18.50 and on sale now.

MP3: Low – “Just Make It Stop”

Chelsea Light Moving – aka Thurston Moore’s new post-Sonic Youth band – will be at Lee’s Palace on March 31 in support of their self-titled debut, out March 5. Tickets are $19.50, details on the release available at Matablog and there’s quite a bit of the new record available to preview; spoilers – it sounds like Thurston Moore.

MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Burroughs”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Frank O’Hara Hit”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Empire Of Time”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Groovy & Linda”

Los Angeles electro-pop outfit Fol Chen will be at The Drake Underground on April 7 in support of their new album The False Alarms, due out March 19.

MP3: Fol Chen – “Cable TV”
Stream: Fol Chen – “200 Words”

Good news for those anticipating/dreading the auction later this week for the new Replacements benefit EP, Songs For Slim; while that limited edition of 250 will still be auctioned off to raise money for former ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap’s medical bills, a regular edition of the recordings will be made available for sale to the general public. Details on that at Consequence Of Sound.

NPR interviews Christopher Owens, whose solo debut Lysandre is out tomorrow and who hits The Mod Club this Friday night.

NPR has got the whole of the new Widowspeak album Almanac available to stream ahead of its January 22 release.

MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”
Stream: Widowspeak / Almanac

Hit up Consequence Of Sound to hear a stream of a track from the new Guided By Voices EP Down By The Racetrack, due out January 22. Their next full-length English Little League will follow on April 30.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Copy Zero”

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Caitlin Rose, whose second album The Stand-In is out February 25 and who plays The Garrison on April 5.

Charles Bradley has given his second album Victim Of Love an April 2 release date. Details over at Exclaim.

The Flaming Lips have announced plans to release their 1997 mind-fuck opus Zaireeka as a vinyl reissue for Record Store Day this year, which is to say April 20. Which sounds great but when you factor in the fact that you’d not only need four turntables instead of the original issue’s quad-CD player setup, but you’d need to swap sides and records for each disc… yeah. No.

Memory Tapes have released a new video from last year’s Grace/Confusion.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Sheila”

The Alternate Side has a studio session with Dinosaur Jr.

Glasswerk have a video session with Crooked Fingers.

Elle Canada has an interview with Janelle Monáe.

Popmatters talks to Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum.

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Zumm Zumm

Django Django are are coming coming to to town town

Photo By Pavla KopecnaPavla KopecnaIn mentioning yesterday that winning the Mercury Prize allowed Alt-J to graduate from playing Wrongbar in September to playing The Phoenix in March, we can also scientifically see what only getting nominated to the shortlist gets you. Django Django, who were shortlisted on the strength of their self-titled debut, also played Wrongbar in late September and have also just scheduled a Spring tour that brings them back to town in March – March 12, specifically, and at The Opera House. So based on the capacities of these two rooms, what can we discern? Winning the Mercury lets you play to about 200 more people. QED. Tickets are $17.50.

DIY has an interview with Django Django, who’ve just released a new video from the aforementioned Mercury-nominated album. There’s also a World Cafe session up at NPR.

MP3: Django Django – “Default”
Video: Django Django – “Life’s A Beach”

Also just announced – Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, R.E.M., and Big Star will be in town as just Ken Stringfellow – solo artist who released Danzig In The Moonlight in October – for a date at The Drake Underground on February 19. Tickets for that are $15, and God Is In The TV has an interview.

MP3: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”

Chapel Hill’s rootsy Mount Moriah – recently signed to Merge and getting a lot of good press – will release their second album Miracle Temple on February 26 and be in town at The Drake on March 20 to celebrate; that’ll be part of Canadian Music Week, if you were wondering.

Stream: Mount Moriah – “Lament”

The Get Down Stay Down are at Lee’s Palace on March 27 in support of their new album We The Common, due out February 5. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside support, tickets are $17.50 in advance. Full tour dates at Exclaim.

MP3: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”

And if you hadn’t heard and were interested, the reunited but still Christine McVie-less Fleetwod Mac will be at the Air Canada Centre on April 16. Stevie Nicks talks to The Los Angeles Times about the upcoming tour, while Rolling Stone also loops in Lindsey Buckingham for a Q&A.

Video: Fleetwood Mac – “Go Your Own Way”

Pitchfork and Rolling Stone talk to ex-Girls frontman Christopher Owens about his solo debut Lysandre, out January 15. He plays The Mod Club on January 18.

DIY has an interview and The Alternate Side a session with The Antlers.

The AV Club have premiered a new video from Crooked Fingers’ 2011 effort Breaks In The Armor and The Line Of Best Fit also has a video session on offer.

Video: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood”

DIY talks to Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius.

Stereogum has an interview with Dayve Hawk of Memory Tapes.

DIY talks to Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum.

The Austin Chronicle, Phoenix New Times, and Dallas Observer interview John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Stars.

Spin, ABC News, The New Zealand Herald, DIY, and The Daily Swarm talk to Claire Boucher of Grimes.

The Grid and NOW preview Joel Plaskett’s upcoming five-night stand at The Horseshoe next week. That’s December 12 to 16.

Spinner finds out why a Raveonettes-mixed new No Joy album won’t be winding its way to you anytime soon. Or ever.

Modern Superstitions talk to aux.tv about their self-titled debut.

DIY has a quick chat with Wild Beasts.

The Fly has a video session with 2:54.

TOY are interviewed as part of DIY‘s year-end wrap.

Pitchfork reports that Phoenix are planning to rise again with a new album in or around April. That there’s the sound of Two Door Cinema Club’s business model collapsing.

M83 have released the fourth video from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

Video: M83 – “Wait”

DIY interviews Tame Impala, in town at The Kool Haus on March 9.

Sigur Rós have released the final installment of their Valtari Mystery Film Experiment – just in time for the screenings happening worldwide and at The Bloor Cinema on Saturday. This one’s another short film rather than conventional video, and is directed by Floria Sigismondi and stars Elle Fanning and John Hawkes. Save the best – or at least biggest-named – for last, yeah? Sigur Rós are at The Air Canada Centre on March 30.

Video: Sigur Rós – “Leaning Towards Solace”

And with that, everything I’ve had in my blog drafts hopper is gone. It’s empty! There’s nothing left! You know what that means? Me neither. I’m scared.

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

"Tractor Rape Chain"

Crooked Fingers cover Guided By Voices

Photo via NMFLNo More Fake LabelsOkay, this one would have been a lot more fitting last week, what with Eric Bachmann leading the reunited Archers Of Loaf into town last Saturday and the release of Guided By Voices’ second album of the reunion/year in Class Clown Spots A UFO last Tuesday, but that’s schedules for you, and I kind of think this one’s worth waiting for. It comes from Sing For Your Meat, a tribute to Dayton, Ohio’s finest released in Spring of last year and featuring a pretty solid lineup of GBV contemporaries (Elf Power, Kim Deal, The Flaming Lips) in addition to their followers (La Sera, Blitzen Trapper).

Having been fighting the good fight since 1991, Eric Bachmann should be counted firmly in the former group, even though the Crooked Fingers guise that he uses for his take on the Bee Thousand classic only came into use in 2000, when the classic/current GBV lineup was already a thing of the past. And while he’s not someone I’d ever thought, “man it’d be great to hear him do some Guided By Voices”, I think it sounds pretty great.

Crooked Fingers is largely taking a back seat to Archers right now, but an acoustic demos version of last year’s Breaks In The Armor was just released. Guided By Voices have a third album entitled Bears For Lunch ready to go for late Fall, probably seeing the light of day in November.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Tractor Rape Chain”
Video: Guided By Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain” (live 2001)

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Vs The Greatest Of All Time

Archers Of Loaf at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen we left off yesterday, I was biking furiously across town to get from The Rivoli to The Phoenix for Archers Of Loaf. So why not roll this show into the festival coverage? Well, although some wristbands were granted admission and the premiere of the What Did You Expect? live Archers doc was one of the big gets of the NXNE film festival, this show wasn’t technically part of the festival and I am, if nothing else, a stickler for these sorts of things. And having waited this long for the show, delaying it just that much longer seemed appropriate.

Since the Archers reunited in early 2011 and were willing to make it a long-term thing, I’ve been waiting for a local date – a wait exacerbated by the fact that real life commitments for most of the band kept touring restricted to weekends. Hell, Eric Bachmann brought Crooked Fingers through town twice in 2012 without an Archers sighting; certainly not a complaint as I love me some Crooked Fingers, but one couldn’t help wondering if we were being slighted. And of course we weren’t, it just took this long to get the proverbial ducks in a row, and on this night – the busiest night of music in the city in recent memory – it was happening.

And happening early, as it turned out. If they’d stuck to the posted set times there’d have been no problem but as I got into the venue, I could already hear the rumble of “Audiowhore” through the doors. Early? Who goes on early on a Saturday night? Well Archers did, clearly, though only just. The Vs The Greatest Of All Time selection was an unlikely opener, but it segued straight into arguably one of the best songs of the ’90s – “Harnessed In Slums” and we were off. A benefit of still being a sort of cult band was that most everyone in attendance was surely some degree of die hard fan and singles and deep cuts alike would be greeted with roaring enthusiasm, though obviously the likes of college rock classics as “Slums” and “Web In Front” got the mostly middle-aged crowd most rowdy.

After years of seeing Eric Bachmann fronting Crooked Fingers and only offering Archers material via stripped down, Finger-y arrangements, it was astonishing to see him cut loose in full rock fury; he’s a big guy who plays at a sort of gentle giant figure with Crooked Fingers but here, he came out swinging. Despite wanting to distance himself from his old band in the years that it was in mothballs and concentrate on what he was actively working on, it was obvious he was having a blast playing these songs the way they were meant to be played and with the guys he’d written them with. It was great to see, and his bandmates were still having a great time of it as well, even almost a year and a half into their second act. Matt Gentling in particular – who’d incidentally come through town in the Dignity & Shame incarnation of Crooked Fingers in 2005 – was a maniac onstage, striking poses while attacking his bass, contributing vocals, or just bantering with the crowd. Though I’m not sure what his “Sixteen Sixty Four” Maple Leafs-esque shirt was about…

The Archers were loud, tight, and relentless, inciting the audience to behaviour most probably hadn’t engaged in in oh, fifteen years or so, like moshing, stage diving, and crowd surfing though I have to question if it’s really crowd surfing if it’s just the same group of people carrying the guy around? Bachmann applauded the effort, anyways. And after the band closed out their encore with “Plumbline”, the audience did their best to coax them back out for a second encore – I’ve not seen a crowd so insistent that a show not end in forever – but alas, that would be it this time and possibly for all time.

The band have not made any commitment to carrying on after the final two albums in their reissue series – All The Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes – come out on August 7. It’s interesting that though their stature in the annals of ’90s indie rock is enormous, their influence is not so easily traced. Not many bands have managed to or even tried to replicate their particular balance of heavy and abstract yet visceral rock, so if they were to put out something new, it’d probably still sound singular and distinct. But that’s getting ahead of things – for now, I was just thankful that Archers were here, that they were great, and that Bachmann had deigned to play “Chumming The Ocean” in the encore of the last Crooked Fingers show since it wasn’t being heard on this night.

BlogTO, Radio Free Canuckistan, and NOW also have reviews of the show, while CBC Music, Beatroute, and Torontoist welcome the band back to Canada for the first time this century.

Photos: Archers Of Loaf @ The Phoenix – June 16, 2012
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Dead Red Eyes”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Underachievers March & Fight Song”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Lowest Part Is Free!”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Might”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Web In Front”

Paste has video of a Crooked Fingers set from SXSW back in March.

Mission Of Burma have made a second MP3 from their forthcoming album Unsound, out July 10.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Second Television”

Spin talks to Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs which makes its only Canadian stop on October 3 at The Phoenix. Stereogum has also taken it on themselves to enumerate the bands 13 “most vicious” songs.

DIY talks to Tobin Sprout about the already so-prolific Guided By Voices reunion, which yields its third album Bears For Lunch around November.

Consequence Of Sound, Philly Burbs, and Metro talk to Doug Martsch of Built To Spill.

Sun Kil Moon has released a new video from Among The Leaves; Mark Kozelek plays these songs and more at The Great Hall on October 3. Boxing Scene also has an interview with the man about the pugilist themes of his songwriting.

Video: Sun Kil Moon – “Black Kite”

Wayne Coyne talks about the new Flaming Lips record to Paste and Rolling Stone. It’s due out later this year.

Paste checks in with Ira Elliot of Nada Surf.

Pitchfork talks to author Jesse Jarnow about his book Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and The Rise of Indie Rock, the new book about Yo La TengoYo La Tengo and the rise of indie rock.

Stereogum gets into a turntable.fm session with Ted Leo and talks tunes.

JAM and Beatroute get a moment of Craig Finn of The Hold Steady’s time for some questions.

Stereogum and The Los Angeles Times check in to see what Liz Phair is up to.

Paste has premiered a new video from Mates Of State; it’s a Guided By Voices cover taken from the Science Fair charity compilation coming out July 3.

Video: Mates Of State – “I Am A Scientist”

Interview has premiered the new video from Savoir Adore, whose new album Our Nature will be out this Fall.

Video: Savoir Adore – “Dreamers”

Bowerbirds have released another new video from The Clearing.

Video: Bowerbirds – “Sweet Moment”

Spin have premiered a new video from and Interview has a chat with Best Coast. They’re at The Phoenix on July 21.

Video: Best Coast – “The Only Place”

Consequence Of Sound talks to Munaf Rayani and Nashville Scene and Red And Black to Michael James of Explosions In The Sky.

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Myth

Review of Beach House’s Bloom

Photo By Liz FlyntzLiz FlyntzIf we can regard Beach House literally as their namesake, which is to say as a holiday getaway, a reliably stolid place to escape from the real world, then the amount of adoration they’ve gotten for largely sticking to their skeletal formula through four albums now is understandable. Their fans don’t want them to reinvent themselves with each outing; they want that comforting blanket of Victoria Legrand’s narcoleptic vocals and whirring keyboard interwoven with Alex Scally’s languid slide guitar, and across their first two records – their 2006 self-titled debut and 2007’s Devotion – that’s almost exactly what they got, seasoned with some rudimentary percussion both electronic and organic.

The closest thing they’re ever likely to come to a revolution was with 2010’s Teen Dream, which managed to take a relatively huge leap forward with the production and songwriting, making interesting rhythms and pop hooks a front burner concern without compromising their core sound. A risk, perhaps, but one that paid off immensely in the form of their strongest and most critically and commercially successful work. So with that in mind, it’s not surprising that Bloom – out next Tuesday – opts to stay the course laid out by its predecessor. Surprises simply aren’t Beach House’s style.

Gorgeousness is, however. It took the aforementioned embrace of bigger sounds on Teen Dream to really make me appreciate Beach House – prior to that, I had to be in a very particular mood to listen to them for any period of time – and now they’re a band for all occasions. Having touring drummer Daniel Franz play on the whole of the record, a third member of the band even if he’s not formerly acknowledged as such, helps both ground and propel Bloom while Legrand and Scally do their thing in crafting the haunting textures and melodies that are the foundation of Beach House. And while we’re being literal about things, Bloom is an exceptionally appropriate name for this collection as there’s moments that simply burst outwards. To even suggest that the band be capable of this sort of dynamicism circa their debut would have seemed absurd, and yet just six years later, here we are – and without compromising their identity, no less.

It’s too early to say if Bloom is better than Teen Dream, but by the quantitative measure of how many times I’ve felt compelled to listen to it, it’s already well ahead. At worst, it’s as good as its predecessor and at best, its even better. In either case, it’s hard to imagine liking one and not the other and regardless of where you rank it relative to Beach House’s earlier output, despite really just being more of the same – or perhaps because of it – it’s excellent.

NPR has an advance stream of the new record and DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, The Orlando Sentinel, and Pitchfork have interviews with the band.

MP3: Beach House – “Myth”
Stream: Beach House / Bloom

Also streaming at NPR but two weeks ahead of release are The Only Place, the second album from Best Coast, and Passage, the debut from Exitmusic. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21 and Exitmusic have a NXNE showcase at Wrongbar on June 14.

Stream: Best Coast / The Only Place
Stream: Exitmusic / Passage

S. Carey’s new EP Hoyas came out this week – stream it at Stereogum and read interviews with Sean Carey about the record at The Leader Telegram and Volume One.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”
Stream: S. Carey / Hoyas

In concert announcements, Joe Pernice will stretch his legs and take a mosey to The Dakota Tavern on June 22, maybe play some songs.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”

Having sold out Lee’s Palace their last time through, Youth Lagoon will be at The Opera House on July 12 with Father John Misty, who still has to get through Monday night’s show at the Horseshoe before he can make a return engagement. Tickets are $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Youth Lagoon – “July”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

If part of Liars’ to-do list in preparation for the June 5 release of WIXIW was slate a North American tour, they can cross it off – they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on July 21, tickets $15. They can also check off releasing the first video from the new album.

MP3: Liars – “Scissor”
Video: Liars – “No. 1 Against The Rush”

Twin Shadow is also hitting the road in support of a new record – with Confess due out July 9, George Lewis Jr will be at Lee’s Palace on July 30 and 31, tickets $20.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Slow”

Merge has released a companion album to Crooked Fingers’ 2011 album Breaks In The Armor comprised of acoustic demos of the album. It’s out now and you can stream one of the tracks at Donewaiting.

Stream: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood” (acoustic)

Exclaim reports that some of The Mountain Goats’ early cassette releases from the early ’90s – The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, specifically – will be released on a single CD on June 26.

Fang Island have announced that their second album Major will be out on July 12; details at Spin.

Pop Etc have released a video from their self-titled debut, out June 12.

Video: Pop Etc – “Live It Up”

Explosions In The Sky have released a second video from last year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Postcard From 1952″

America Give Up has yielded another video from Minneapolis’ Howler.

Video: Howler – “This One’s Different”

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Mates Of State, off of last year’s Mountaintops.

Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”

The Magnetic Fields have released a second video from Love At The Bottom Of The Sea.

Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Quick!”

Interview talks to Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak, in town at The Garrison on June 15 for NXNE.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Of Montreal, in town for NXNE on June 16 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Artrocker and Drowned In Sound talk to A Place To Bury Strangers about their forthcoming album Worship, out June 26.

Red Eye and The Detroit Free Press talk to Andrew Bird, in town at Echo Beach on July 19.

Sharon Van Etten plays a video session for WBEZ; she’s at The Phoenix on July 31.

Pitchfork talks to Merrill Garbus and the director of the recent tUnE-yArDs video for “My Country”. She plays The Phoenix on August 1.

SF Weekly chats with John Vanderslice.

Reverb interviews Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

NPR is streaming a KCRW radio session with M. Ward.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Savoir Adore.

Ra Ra Riot talks to Spin about what they’ve got planned for album number three and to Grantland about their appreciation for hockey.

NPR has a WFUV session with Shearwater.

Spin gets a progress report on the next Dinosaur Jr album, due out later this Summer.

Greg Dulli takes The Skinny on a guided tour of The Afghan Whigs’ catalog.

Spin talks to Bob Mould about the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s Copper Blue and the single, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” in particular. Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that two of Mould’s ’90s albums – Bob Mould and The Last Dog & Pony Show – will be getting released as a three-disc set in the UK on June 18 with the third disc consisting of a live 1998 show.

The Atlantic reflects on the significance of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The AV Club has posted the fourth part of their look at the history of R.E.M..