Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Castles’

Friday, July 27th, 2012


Review of Purity Ring’s Shrines

Photo By Sebastian MlynarskiSebastian MlynarskiI expect there’s a lot of interest in drawing parallels between the success of Purity Ring with that of Grimes what with both being based out of Montreal – although Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick and Megan James originally hail from Edmonton – and releasing albums of electronic pop that seem to be the perfect soundtracks for the zeitgeist circa 2012, and on the same label outside of Canada, no less – the legendary 4AD.

But whereas Claire Boucher’s work is rather defined by its technicolor ADD-ness and her pixie-like vocals, Purity Ring’s debut Shrines is quite content to work within decidedly narrow aesthetic parameters. Beats are slow and with their reverse-decay treatment, seem to exist somewhere between a stutter and a throb, giving the record a very steady if uneasy pace. At the other end of the spectrum and separated by layers of thickly reverbed ’80s-vintage synth tones, you have James’ bright, clear, and girlish vocals – and only occasionally electronically sliced and diced – delivering major-key, singalong melodies and lyrics that are often playfully nonsensical, yet still somehow foreboding.

This contrast essentially sums up Purity Ring – a friendly yet fearful intersection of dreampop and R&B. The consistency of their style reminds me of The xx, who were also able to turn a seemingly limited palette of sounds and ideas into a unique sonic world all their own. They aren’t quite as able to avoid the nagging sense of sameness that’s the downside of such an approach – by the end of Shrines, there’s a distinct sense that you’ve heard these songs already – but the record possesses enough distinctiveness and ideas to largely justify all the attention being given to it.

What attention? Well, consider that the week of the record’s release – that’s this week – has yielded feature pieces in Exclaim, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Interview,, The Edmonton Journal, The Montreal Gazette, and Stereogum. I’d say that counts as people paying attention.

MP3: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”
MP3: Purity Ring – “Fineshrine”
MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”
Video: Purity Ring – “Fineshrine”
Video: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”

Claire Boucher talks to MTV Hive about some creative directions she may want to take in the future, whether as Grimes or as something else. It’s as Grimes that she’ll be at Lee’s Palace on September 21.

Crystal Castles are putting the finishing touches on their third album – still untitled but due out late September, and with the first sample available to download and accompanying North American tour announced. Full dates plus some words from Ethan Kath about the new record are available at Exclaim. The hometown date on the itinerary is November 4 at the Kool Haus; Los Angeles’ HEALTH supports.

MP3: Crystal Castles – “Plague”

Dan Snaith’s multiple personality disorder appears to have reared its head again. After being forced to stop being Manitoba and become Caribou some years ago – occasionally transforming into the Caribou Vibration Ensemble – he’s announced his next release will be under the name Daphni, and be decidedly more electronic/dancey than his past efforts which were decidedly electronic/dancey to begin with. The album JIAOLONG will be out on October 16 – Pitchfork has details, the first video is below.

Video: Daphni – “Ye Ye”

Also at Pitchfork, Dan Bejar reviews some of the musical milestones of his life that turned him into Destroyer. He also talks to The Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times-Colonist about attempting to get Destroyer onto the jazz festival circuit this Summer.

That new Stars tune from North that was made available to stream earlier this week is now downloadable. The album is out on September 4 and they open up for Metric at the Air Canada Centre on November 14.

MP3: Stars – “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It”

Shad talks to CBC Music about the ’90s-era samples and influences that went into his Melancholy & The Infinite Shadness mixtape.

Those who like their Can-rock bearded and retro-styled will like the looks of the lineup rolling into Echo Beach on September 15 – that’ll bring The Sheepdogs, The Sadies, Zeus, and Yukon Blonde to the waterfront stage. Tickets for that are $29.50 general admission and $45 VIP.

MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”
MP3: Zeus – “Anything You Want Dear”>
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”
Video: The Sheepdogs – “I Don’t Know”

The Acorn have taken a moment to update the world on what The Acorn has been up to and to share an unreleased tune. A new record is in the works and they’re playing the Paper Bag Records 10th anniversary show at The Great Hall on September 27.

Stream: The Acorn – “Shoot The Moon”

Daytrotter has a session and The Calgary Herald an interview with Cold Specks. She’s at The Great Hall on August 8.

Beatroute talks to Little Scream.

Exclaim has some details on the deluxe reissue of Sloan’s seminal Twice Removed, which will come as a triple-LP set with the album proper on one slab of vinyl, a demo version of the album on another, and a batch of era-correct outtakes on the third. Street date and complete recital tour dates are still to come – the already announced dates only get them as far as the midwest by late September… they gotta come home sometime.

Those of you who like free shows – I see you enter my contests, I know that’s pretty much all of you – should take note of a couple things going down next week courtesy of Scion Sessions. They’ve got their fingers in a few things including the Mad Decent Block Party taking over Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday, but there’s also a couple of shows – one headlined by Nosaj Thing at The Hoxton on August 2 and one led by Young Widows at Parts & Labour on August 3 that you can be at for just the cost of an RSVP. Follow the links above for details.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

CONTEST – Crystal Castles @ The Sound Academy – April 2, 2011

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Crystal Castles
What: Infamous electro/8-bit/glitch-pop/shit-disturbing Toronto duo who put out a second self-titled record last year that even haters had to admit was pretty good.
Why: Write-ups of their notoriously volatile live shows are just as likely to show up in the police blotter as the entertainment pages, so factor in their biggest hometown headlining show yet and you’ve got, well, something that’s sure to be anecdote-worthy if nothing else.
When: Saturday, April 2, 2011
Where: The Sound Academy in Toronto
Who else: Opening up will be DD/MM/YYYY and Trust
How: Tickets for the show are $29.50 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 to see Crystal Castles” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have to to me before midnight, March 30.

Video: Crystal Castles – “Baptism”

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 Day One

Ty Segall, Styrofoam Ones and The Modern Men at Halifax Pop Explosion

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne of the perks of being my own boss, as it were, is that no one can tell me what I have to cover when I’m out and about, particularly at a festival like Halifax Pop Explosion. And since I’ve already had and taken the opportunity to see many of the big names playing the festival, I went into this week with the mandate of seeing stuff I hadn’t seen before, be it on recommendations from others, positive MySpace first impressions or just because it’s located nearby and I’m lazy.

The Wednesday night festival programme was bit lighter than the rest of the week, basically offering one show per genre of interest. There was the pop show, the metal show, the electro-dance show, the punk show, the GWAR show. Having seen The New Pornographers not three weeks ago, I skipped the pop-friendly bill at The Forum and headed to the Paragon Theatre – conveniently located around the corner from the hotel – for some synth-driven action, kicked off by Halifax’s The Modern Men. Their online samples implied an ’80s-indebted New Wave/New Romantic-ish outfit, and that’s pretty much what was delivered, though more organic and meaty-sounding than expected. Propelled by two drummers with nary an electronic kit or laptop in sight, they had songs that weren’t especially deep – like their influences – but heavy on hooks and groove. The quality of the tunes made up for the general lack of stage presence and mood-killing stage banter – there’s really no need to introduce each song with the title and the style it’s in.

Photos: The Modern Men @ The Paragon Theatre – October 20, 2010
MySpace: The Modern Men

I’d intended to see the next act, Styrofoam Ones, a number of times back in Toronto but apparently we both had to travel to the east coast for that to happen. And interestingly, their set was the inverse of Modern Men’s, in both the positive and negative sense. Delayed by some technical issues, when the trio finally got underway they seemed a bit out of sorts, audibly out of time with one another and when your MO is tightness, that’s a problem. This, however, was offset to a degree by the fact that they didn’t seem to notice or care and kept playing with enough on-stage attitude and swagger that you almost believed that this was how they meant to sound. Within a few songs they did get it together, though, and from then on their showmanship was working with and not in spite of their tunes – good-time synth-rock that favoured vintage combo organ sounds rather than ’80s square waves and reliant more on punkish energy than sophistication.

Photos: Styrofoam Ones @ The Paragon Theatre – October 20, 2010
MP3: Styrofoam Ones – “Blue Lines”
Video: Styrofoam Ones – “Blue Lines”
MySpace: Styrofoam Ones

I had been advised to check out San Francisco’s Ty Segall – whom I’d never heard a note of – on the basis that his shows in Toronto not long ago were “intense”. After being in the front line (or kill zone) of his show at the Seahorse Tavern last night, I’d say that yeah, that’s pretty accurate. And it’s not because his stuff – garage rock with a goodly amount of pop melodicism injected – is especially aggressive or even his performance. It’s because his fans – jammed into the small underground space – were intent on creating bedlam and he was perfectly happy to soundtrack it, and woe to anyone who was so unfortunate as to be up front innocently trying to take some pictures. But besides being kicked in the head by a crowdsurfer and mashed into the stage ad nauseum, it wasn’t really that bad – I’ve been in worse – and for the most part it was just people having fun. Amidst material that I presume was from his latest record Melted, we got a cover of Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and the kids going nuts somehow managed to find another gear. Fun times, nothing broken, night one finis.

Photos: Ty Segall @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 20, 2010
MP3: Ty Segall – “It #1”
Video: Ty Segall – “Finger”
Video: Ty Segall – “Lovely One”
Video: Ty Segall – “Cents”

Spinner has a profile on the Halifax Pop Explosion.

For Folk’s Sake and Blast interview Dan Mangan. He plays Trinity-St. Paul’s on October 28.

NOW talks to both halves of the Diamond Rings/PS I Love You bill playing the Garrison on Tuesday, while eye features just PS I Love You.

Crystal Castles have a date at the Sound Academy on April 2.

Video: Crystal Castles – “Baptism”

The National have released a video for the version of “Terrible Love” that appears on the deluxe edition of High Violet which is coming November 22.

Video: The National – “Terrible Love” (alternate version)

The Line Of Best Fit talks to The Joy Formidable; their forthcoming debut The Big Roar is out in early 2011 and they kick off a North American tour on November 3 at the Horseshoe.

Laura Marling tells NME that she no longer intends to release a second album in 2010 but will instead finish off new material early next year and release that instead. Which is fine, but one hopes that at least some of the material that was recorded alongside I Speak Because I Can will eventually see the light of day in some form.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Found Out

Review of Caribou’s Swim

Photo via City SlangCity SlangOkay, I get it – Andorra was a gateway drug, a bit of bait and switch. After failing to really connect with either his Manitoba output or The Milk Of Human Kindness, his first record as Caribou, Dan Snaith managed to draw me in with his 2008 foray into classic pop structures and songcraft and then, once I was hooked, he turned right around and dove back into parts unknown and pulled me right along with him.

The world of Swim, at least initially, feels wholly alien compared to the more familiar touchstones of the Polaris-winning Andorra or the more overtly electronic aesthetic of his other works. Though plenty of real instrumentation weaves in and out of the mix, there’s a decidedly synthetic texture across the record that combined with it’s dense, intimate sonic architecture makes it simultaneously disorienting and entrancing – you can’t help but want to touch it, and don’t really have a choice in the matter. Also insistent is the rhythmic backbone of the record – a throbbing, undulating, liquidous thing that you’re tempted to call disco or dance, but while you can, should and probably must move to it, Swim doesn’t sound like it was intended just for dancing or good times; It feels darker and more desperate than that, as though the publicly romantic sentiments of Andorra have led behind closed doors and now given way to something slinkier, sexier and seedier.

With further listens, Swim becomes more familiar as a Caribou record and for someone more familiar with the full breadth of Snaith’s career, perhaps it’s a much more logical next step than Andorra was a previous one, but what does seem clear to me now is that even when Caribou sounds little like what you think or thought Caribou sounded like, it still sounds like Caribou. And though blending electronic sensibilities with pop ones isn’t especially unusual or groundbreaking in this day and age, the way Snaith goes about it – and the results he gets – are wholly unique, thanks to the slightly warped lens that his musical vision is projected out of.

Caribou set out on a North American tour starting on April 3 at the Phoenix in Toronto, with a full-band Toro Y Moi opening up most dates. Clash, The Times, Spoonfed, The National Post, Exclaim and Spinner have features on Snaith and his newest work.

MP3: Caribou – “Odessa”
MP3: Caribou – “Odessa” (David Wrench’s Drumapella remix)
Video: Caribou – “Odessa”
MySpace: Caribou

Shad will follow-up to his own Polaris nominated album The Old Prince with TSOL, out May 25. The first video and MP3 are out now and do they make a good first impression? Yes they do. Shad plays the Opera House on June 12.

MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
Video: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”

Bostonist interviews Owen Pallett.

JAM, The Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen profile Plants & Animals, whose La La Land was released yesterday.

So you love Metric’s? How much? Can you put a price on it? How about $60? Yeah? Great – because that’s how much floors for their just-announced July 9 show at the Molson Amphitheatre will run you. Too much? Luckily, 200-level seats are only $52, and lawns a bargain at $44 before fees. That Passion Pit and Holy Fuck are support for the show helps the overall value marginally, but those are still jaw-droppingly high prices. It makes the “we’re independent!” angle of this Chart piece on the band’s two Juno award wins kind of ironic, considering they’re now charging their fans many times over what many major label bands do for tickets – it’s almost Bieber/Buble-expensive. Yeah, congratulations. Oh yeah, Metric has a new video too.

Video: Metric – “Gold Gun Girls”

Pitchfork reports that Broken Social Scene’s new album Forgiveness Rock Record will be released with a 10-track bonus EP entitled Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights, available with all pre-orders and at selected retail outlets (HMV and indies) in Canada and indies only in the US.

Crystal Castles had intended to release their second album on June 8, but online leakage have prompted them to move that timetable up a bit – or a lot. NME reports that the self-titled effort will now be made available digitally starting this Friday, April 23, with the physical release to follow on May 24. The play the Kool Haus on August 14.

Jonsi talks to Interview and tells Spinner that reports of Sigur Ros’ hiatus have been exagerrated; they’ll be working on new material in between his solo tours. He has two dates at the Sound Academy on April 30 and May 1.

PopMatters interview Shout Out Louds; they play the Mod Club on May 8.

Spinner talks to Mac McCaughan about the past and future of Merge Records, and no – he doesn’t know when the new Arcade Fire record will be done, or more accurately, he’s not telling. But with their addition to this year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest, they’ll now be back in live action by July 13 – surely they’ll have something out for the kids to shout along with by then? And what might the lineup of talent who’ll be up the 401 the weekend of July 10 and 11 imply about the perplexing Imagine Concert at Downsview – an event which, despite fake tweets to the contrary, is apparently still all systems go.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

It Will Sail

Sarah Harmer returns to set Little Fire

Photo via FacebookFacebookThere was welcome and unexpected news in the inbox yesterday morning with the announcement that Sarah Harmer was back. It didn’t seem like she’d been away that long, but now that I think about it, the last time I saw her in any context was at Wolfe Island in 2007 with the reunited Weeping Tile, and it’s been almost five years since the release of her last album I’m A Mountain. So June 22, when her latest effort Oh Little Fire arrives, can’t come soon enough.

Harmer has been a musical constant in my life for what seems like ever, right back to 1995’s Weeping Tile debut Eepee – her voice and songwriting are like the ultimate comfort food or like a warm blanket under a clear, starry Canadian night sky though, to my knowledge, I have never lain in a warm blanket under a clear, starry Canadian night. Advance word has it that this record is more aggressive and direct than the bluegrass-y I’m A Mountain, and the first single “Captive”, streaming on her homepage, certainly seems to bear this out – clearly she’s not forgotten how to plug in and (folk-)rock.

Live dates for the Summer are forthcoming, but she’s already been announced as one of the performers at this year’s Osheaga festival in Montreal, which I suppose should have tipped me off that she had something new in the works. There’s an audio interview with Harmer available over at Canadian Living.

MySpace: Sarah Harmer

Another former Polaris shortlister who’s been out of sight a little while but is planning a big 2010 is Kathleen Edwards. Though not away for as long as Harmer, it has been a while – Edwards’ last record Asking For Flowers came out over two years ago. A recent blog post proves she’s not been idle, though – amongst other things, she’s been working with John Roderick of The Long Winters on a project (detailed by Roderick last December in Paste) and is also gearing up to record album number four. To that end, she’s setting up residence at the Drake Underground in Toronto for three weeks to (sort of) road test the new material; she’ll be there for three nights over three weeks – April 20, April 27 and May 4 – and tickets for the intimate shows are $20 and available for sale at Maple Music.

MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”

Pitchfork talks to Wolf Parade about their third album, now entitled Expo 86 and out June 29. Here and The Coast also talk to the band, who are at the Phoenix tonight, April 7.

Yours Truly has got a terrific video session with Land Of Talk, recorded last Fall on their US tour. They’re at Lee’s Palace on Thursday night.

Filter Q&As Plants & Animals. Their new record La La Land is out April 20 and they play a free show at the Horseshoe that evening.

Caribou’s new record Swim is now streaming in its entiretly at, two weeks in advance of its April 20 release date. Caribou play the Phoenix on May 3.

Stream: Caribou / Swim

Head over to Stereogum to download the first MP3 from Stars’ forthcoming The Five Ghosts, due out June 22. They play The Mod Club on May 5, to which I still have passes to give away. And yes, your odds are pretty bad right now (relative to my usual contests), but someone’s gotta win!

Spinner and Chart chat with Weakerthans guitarist Stephen Carroll. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 26.

Aquarium Drunkard catches up with Born Ruffians at SxSW. Their new record Say It is out June 1; they play the Horseshoe on May 28.

Crystal Castles are headlining something called the HARD Summer Tour, and will be causing mayhem at the Kool Haus on August 14. Their second album should be out this Summer.

MP3: Crystal Castles – “Untrust Us”

NME gets on board the Diamond Rings bandwagon, offering up an MP3 of his second single for download.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “Wait And See”

FFWD and JAM get to know Think About Life.

Q-Town talks to Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba have announced some details of their debut full-length album – it’s entitled When You Left the Fire and should be out this Summer.

The New Yorker puts Neil Young and Jonathan Demme together in a room to discuss the Neil Young Trunk Show live film.

The Line Of Best Fit has posted up their ninth “Oh! Canada” downloadable mix.