Posts Tagged ‘Cuff The Duke’

Monday, September 14th, 2009


The Caribou Vibration Ensemble and Koushik at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s been almost a year since Caribou’s Dan Snaith walked off the stage, giant cheque in hand, having been crowned the 2008 Polaris Music Prize winner for his stunning record Andorra. But since then, things have been largely silent in camp Caribou since then, as Snaith was presumably hard at work on the follow-up record.

Then in May, word of a live show for the Fall. Not a tour, but the sort of special event that happens when Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips calls up and asks you to come out of hiding and play a show at an old country club in the Catskills, aka ATPNY. And as befits such an occasion, rather than just call up his usual co-conspirators and play a typical Caribou show, Snaith went through his rolodex, gathered together folks from Four Tet, Junior Boys and Enon, amongst many others, and essentially assembled a super-sized Caribou, an uber-Caribou – The Caribou Vibration Ensemble.

So while the ATP performance this past weekend in Monticello, New York was the big event, Thursday night’s show at the Opera House in Toronto was much more than just a dress rehearsal. The opening act for the evening however, Koushik, may have been. Though Koushik is billed as a downbeat electronic/pop/hip-hop artist, on this night he/they were essentially 3/4 of the Caribou Vibration Ensemble – of which Koushik Ghosh was part of – in jamming mode. Not jamming in the sense of everyone on stage trading solos, but more establishing a solid, unshowy groove and building simple melodies over top. They played pretty much straight through, trading instruments and letting things go where they would, then wrapping it after about 30 minutes – right about where hypnotic began to give way to tedious. Wise.

After about a half-hour intermission, Caribou took the stage, less a band than an orchestra with distinct sections (brass over here, massive percussion setup in the middle, strings in back, keys and electronics over here) and at a full fifteen members, dwarfed the nine-piece configuration of the openers. Now at this point, I have to offer context – or lack of. I’d only gotten into Caribou during the Polaris process last year, so I’d never seen them live and further had never really listened to any of the albums previous to Andorra, so frames of reference for the performance and reinvention of the songs is limited at best. But in this instance, I think that’s alright because doing things the way they were was entirely beside the point of the evening.

Across approximately 90 minutes and ranging through the two Caribou records and one Manitoba album, the Ensemble took Snaith’s already widescreen compositions and enhanced by an impressive light show, blew them up into IMAX-scale. Describable at various points thought the set – and sometimes within a song – as electronica, jazz, tribal, psychedelic or noise but never losing sight of the pop roots, the Caribou Vibration Ensemble was a sight to behold and a sound to be heard. The high points would have been the vocal numbers – a choral “Melody Day” and Jeremy Greenspan-sung “She’s The One” – had they been properly audible. Note to sound guy – when six people gather around the mics at the front of the stage, that might be a hint that you should turn them on in the PA. As it was, from up front they were still audible enough to impress but those should have been the show-stoppers.

Those complaints aside, it was still a wholly impressive and memorable evening and I can only imagine how terrific their set was at ATP – surely standouts of an absurdly stacked lineup. And now Snaith returns to crafting the third Caribou record and the rest of us return to waiting patiently, though he’s already on record as saying it will be a departure from the classic pop of Andorra. Holding up this experience as a benchmark for future Caribou live performances is also probably unreasonable, but that’s fine – it works quite well as one of those unique experiences that I feel lucky to have been able to witness. eye and Exclaim have reviews of the show while NOW was on hand to catch some video.

Photos: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble, Koushik @ The Opera House – September 10, 2009
MP3: Caribou – “Melody Day”
MP3: Caribou – “Barnowl”
Video: Caribou – “She’s The One”
Video: Caribou – “Melody Day”
Video: Caribou – “Irene”
Video: Caribou – “Hummingbird”
MySpace: Caribou
MySpace: Koushik

And to anyone who enjoyed – as I did – watching Caribou’s touring drummer Brad Weber beat the tar out of his kit for both the Caribou and Koushik sets, note that he has his own band in Pick A Piper and they will be at the Horseshoe this coming Friday, September 18, as part of the 100th show celebrations for local promoters No Shame. Also playing are Green Go, Ruby Coast and The Skeletones Four. This is something you should attend.

Land Of Talk have released a new MP3 from their forthcoming Fun & Laughter EP, out October 13. It dost scorch.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “May You Never”

The Hidden Cameras have finally added the hometown finale to their massive Fall tour in support of new album Origin:Orphan, out September 22, by scheduling what’s sure to be an over-the-top show at the Opera House on December 5.

Video: The Hidden Cameras – “In The NA”

And if you don’t want to wait till Winter for a little Hidden Cameras fix, consider heading out to James St in Hamilton come October 9 for Supercrawl, a combination street fair, art show and music festival that will be headlined by the aforementioned Hidden Cameras and also feature performances from Ohbijou and many more. And it’s an excuse to go to Hamilton. Who doesn’t want to go to Hamilton?

A whole mess of new videos meeting Can-con requirements hit the web last week. Great Lake Swimmers released a new one from Lost Channels. There’s features on the band at The Courier-Journal and Nashville Scene.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Still”

ChartAttack talks to Amy Millan about her new solo record Masters Of The Burial, out next week, as well as what’s going on with her bands Stars and Broken Social Scene. She plays the Mod Club on October 14 and has a new video from her new album.

Video: Amy Millan – “Bury This”

Also with a new vid are Cuff The Duke, who’ve got a two-night stand at the Horseshoe on October 16 and 17. There’s interviews with the band at Metro and The Corrie Tandem.

Video: Cuff The Duke – “Promises”

Oh No Forest Fires went wandering in a Newfoundland forest and refrained from setting any fires, instead they shot a live video. They’re part of a stacked bill at Lee’s Palace next Friday night, September 25, with The Balconies, Fox Jaws and Whale Tooth.

Video: Oh No Forest Fires – “New Cove Road Back Home” (Live in a Forest)

ChartAttack spends some time with Two Hours Traffic. They’ve got a gig at Lee’s Palace on October 16.

Threadless has a video interview with t-shirt models The Rural Alberta Advantage, and they’re also asking for help to name a new song.

The Line Of Best Fit declared last week Bella Union week, in honour of the UK label who brings the likes of Ohbijou and The Acorn to adoring British masses, and in an apparent show of solidarity with the label’s website, which went AWOL, TLOBF too went offline. But they’re back now and I can point you at a few of the features they offered including a guide to west Scotland from My Latest Novel, an interview between label boss Simon Raymonde and Midlake (new album forthcoming entitled The Courage of Others) and Ohbijou have put together a “get to know Canada” crossword puzzle. Of course, Line Of Best Fit readers are already well-acquainted with the Great White North thanks to their series of Oh! Canada posts and mixes, the fourth volume of which is now available to download.

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Fun And Laughter

Land Of Talk breaks silence with tour, new EP

Photo via saddle-creek.comsaddle-creek.comLand Of Talk was supposed to spend this year promoting the hell out of their excellent 2008 full-length debut Some Are Lakes but following a short bit of local touring around the end of January, including an excellent long-awaited show at the Horseshoe, the band had to go on an extended break while frontwoman Liz Powell underwent and recovered from vocal cord surgery.

They returned to live duty with some shows over the course of the Summer, but have now put together a proper if shortish tour for the Fall, taking them from south to north along the Pacific coast, though east coast dates are also promised. And while the current live itinerary will only benefit westerners, they’re also releasing a new EP on October 27 that people can enjoy irrespective of their personal geography. Fun And Laughter will contain four new songs and three videos from Some Are Lakes. The clip for the title track emerged a few months ago, the one for “The Man Who Breaks Things” has just hit the interwebs and the last one for “Troubled” will probably surface closer to the actual release date.

The news of new music from Land Of Talk is certainly welcome, but not as much as the fact that they’re back, presumably in good health and raring to go. Good to have you back.

Video: Land Of Talk – “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”

The Wooden Sky, whose acquaintance you may have made last month, will be playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on Monday night, August 24, at 7PM, to mark the release of their new album If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone, which will be officially out the next day. Of course you’ll be able to buy it early at this show, but don’t tell anyone.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”

Cuff The Duke are also celebrating the release of their new album Way Down Here with an in-store at Criminal Records on September 8, the date of release. They’re also doing two nights at the Horseshoe on October 16 and 17. Exclaim talks to the band about their Fall plans.

The Bravery are at the Opera House on October 6, previewing their new as-yet-untitled album due out November 10.

Boston’s Hallelujah The Hills have made a date at Sneaky Dee’s for October 17 to support their new album Colonial Drones, out September 22.

MP3: Hallelujah The Hills – “Blank Passports”

White Denim will make an appearance at the Horseshoe on November 9 as part of an extensive tour in support of their new album Fits, out October 20. Grab a track at RCRDLBL.

MP3: White Denim – “You” (live at KVRX)

Camera Obscura’s last show here in June was super-sold out on account of being at Lee’s Palace, several degrees smaller than their usual accommodations when the Scots visit. Well those shut out of that performance will be pleased to know that the band is staging a Fall tour that will bring them back to the more appropriately-sized Phoenix on November 26 with Papercuts as support. Camera Obscura recorded a session for NPR which is available to stream.

MP3: Camera Obscura – “French Navy”
MP3: Papercuts – “You Can Have What You Want”

And shocker – The Charlatans won’t be crossing our path after all. They’ve canceled their Fall North American tour on account of drummer Jon Brookes requiring shoulder surgery. This, of course, includes their September 23 date at the Mod Club – the second time in the past year and a bit they made and then broken a date in Toronto.

MP3: The Charlatans – “You Cross My Path”

Luxury Wafers is sharing the audio and video fruits of a session with The Rural Alberta Advantage. They’re playing day one of V Fest at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 29.

Also on day one of V next week will be Franz Ferdinand, whose 2005 mini-doc Tour de Franz is the movie of the week at PitchforkTV.

Video: Franz Ferdinand: Tour de Franz

And appearing on day two of said festival are Mew, who are streaming their new album No More Stories on their MySpace leading up to the album’s release next Tuesday. SF Station has an interview with singer Jonas Bjerre.

Stream: Mew / No More Stories

Spinner talks to Victoria Bergsman of Taken By Trees, whose new album East Of Eden is out September 8.

NPR is streaming a radio session with A Camp.

The Galway Advertiser talks to Okkervil River’s Will Sheff on the Irish influences on his writing and songwriting inspiration in general.

Joe Pernice talks to The Portland Mercury and Oregon Live. He’s at the Dakota Tavern on September 24.

Nick Cave is coming to town, but not for a concert – Exclaim reports that Cave will be in town on September 16 for a live interview and signing at the Indigo at the Eaton Centre to promote his new novel The Death Of Bunny Munro, which will be released on September 4.

And if you can’t get enough rocker/lit convergence, be sure to check out Word On The Street in Queen’s Park on September 27, where in addition to the infinite kiosks of booksellers and publishers, there will be a music stage where the songwriters of Bruce Peninsula, Ghost Bees and Sandro Perri will be discussing their creative process.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

My Old Ghosts

An introduction to The Wooden Sky

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceIt seems a bit odd to be offering an “introduction” to a band that I, at least, have known for well over half a decade but aside from a live review in 2007 and come offhand mentions, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked at length about Toronto outfit The Wooden Sky, and that’s really a shame. I first caught them back in the Summer of 2003 in a random east end bar in their previous guise as Friday Morning’s Regret and my old band also played a show with them in the Spring of 2004 and both times they impressed with their polished yet rough-hewn roots rock.

It was with their 2007 record When Lost At Sea that they really seemed to step up their game, moving from a band seemingly content to operate proficiently within a musical idiom into one more interested in colouring outside those lines, offering up a record with much greater sonic and emotional depth than I’d expected, spreading out the high points equally between the rockers and weepers. It wasn’t a dramatic reinvention, but apparently a significant enough transformation that the band saw fit to shed the name that had served them well for so long and adopt a new one, The Wooden Sky, taken from one of the tracks on the new record. And though copies of When Lost At Sea had already been released under the Friday Morning’s Regret marque, subsequent copies came out as the first Wooden Sky record.

And now they’ve completed their next album and first wholly recorded as The Wooden Sky in If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone, due out on August 25. It’s a touch less raucous than its predecessor but more than makes that up with greater beauty and elegance – “Oslo”, in particular, is a stunner. It doesn’t immediately come across as a record that will vault the band to the forefront of the national musical consciousness, but it is another confident step forward and if by some confluence of events The Wooden Sky do find themselves in the spotlight, Gone will find them ready for it.

The band are setting out on a cross-Canada tour in late July to lead up to the record’s release though the jaunt. Dubbed the “Bedrooms and Backstreets Tour”, it will find them playing cities big and small and some rooms that probably aren’t even proper rooms – I don’t think the July 23 listing for “Rooftop Affair” in Toronto is so much a location as a description. Expect more details on that and other shows to come out as the dates draw near. And in the meantime, enjoy a track from the new record and a couple plus video from When Lost At Sea.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “North Dakota”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “The Wooden Sky”
Video: The Wooden Sky – “When Lost At Sea”

Another of Canada’s greatly underappreciated roots-rock bands – Cuff The Duke – are gearing up for the release of their new record Way Down Here on September 8 and have also slated a slew of dates to promote. Locally, they’ll play the Festival Of Beer at the CNE Bandshell on August 9, then set out on a cross-country tour in September and October, including two nights – October 16 and 17 – at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

Julie Doiron has a new MP3 and video available from her latest record I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “When Brakes Get Wet”
Video: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”

Jenn Grant has a new video from Echoes and VUE has an interview. She’s playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 24.

Video: Jenn Grant – “Heartbreaker”

Joe Pernice’s concert/book reading at the Dakota Tavern in support of his new book/album It Feels So Good When I Stop has been moved from September 15 to the 24th. The record is still out August 4 and the book is out August 6.

Decider talks to Mark Olson of The Jayhawks about the band’s reunion and just-released anthology, Music From The North Country.

Spinner has an acoustic Interface session with Phoenix.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Pulling On A Line

Review of Great Lake Swimmers' Lost Channels and Hillside Festival giveaway

Photo By Ilia HorsburghIlia HorsburghThe discography of Great Lake Swimmers is not unlike those “one self-portrait a day for 10 years” photography projects. From one record to the next, the differences might seem superficial or even non-existent, but jump from their 2003 self-titled debut to their latest, Lost Channels, and the growth is dramatic. You could be forgiven for not noticing, as the common threads running through each record – specifically Tony Dekker’s gently haunting vocals and the slow-motion beauty of his songwriting, steeped in history and geography – haven’t changed much, but the adornment and production around them certainly has.

In addition to the gorgeously stark songcraft, the most distinctive feature of the debut were the acoustics, recorded as the record was in an abandoned grain silo. The rustic aesthetic was less outwardly pronounced on subsequent records but the spirit of it remained, seemingly infused in Dekker’s voice itself – you could put the man in an anechoic chamber and have him sing, and it’d still sound like it was coming from another world. What also changed was the musical adornments – with each album, things grew more expansive and textured. It felt like the sepia-tones were slowly bleeding away and leaving a greater palette of colours – not blindingly vibrant by any means, but certainly richer in hue. This was most evident on 2007’s Ongiara, which saw Great Lake Swimmers sound more like a band than a solo project and the pop sensibilities that had always remained as more undercurrents to the folk bubble up to the surface – these weren’t tunes for driving around town with the top down, but there was an immediacy to some of the songs that hadn’t been there before.

That trend continues on Lost Channels, which takes even bolder steps into the pop realm without giving up any of the homespun intimacy that sets Great Lake Swimmers apart. There’s a newfound sprightliness and shimmer in the record’s more upbeat moments that provide a greater sense of dynamic alongside the quiet. It’s hard to imagine “Palmistry” having a place on the first record, but on this one, following Ongiara, it makes perfect sense as an opener and sets the table for what’s probably their finest collection of songs yet, at least until the next one. The understated nature of the band and their music probably hasn’t garnered them the amount of praise or attention they deserve and many are probably guilty of taking their unwavering consistency for granted – myself included. But stopping and taking a step back, it’s hard to argue they’ve quietly become one of Canada’s finest bands and Lost Channels is one more compelling reason why.

Guelph Lake isn’t technically one of the Great Lakes, but it’s a pretty terrific little body of water and unlike the big ones, you can actually swim there without fear. It also hosts one of the finest music festivals in southern Ontario every Summer in Hillside, and this year Great Lake Swimmers will be performing on the Sunday bill on July 26 and courtesy of Nettwerk, I’ve got two day passes (one pair, essentially) for that final day of the fest to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be a Guelph Lake Swimmer” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. They also ask that if you’re Facebook-indoctrinated, that you join up with the Great Lake Swimmers Facebook page – honour system, I can’t follow up on ya. Contest will run until midnight, July 19.

There’s an interview with the Dekker at

MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line” (zip)
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MySpace: Great Lake Swimmers

Exclaim examines the whirlwind last few months for The Rural Alberta Advantage, leading up to next Tuesday’s official release of Hometowns and their July 30 record release show at the Horseshoe.

I Heart Music has taken the time to MP3-ify Woodpigeon’s set from NXNE a couple weeks back.

The self-titled debut from Reverie Sound Revue was released last week but is available to stream this week over at Spinner. Still waiting on the second stop of their blog tour, which kicked off here last week.

Stream: Reverie Sound Revue / Reverie Sound Revue

SoundProof talks to Joel Plaskett.

Exclaim has details on Cuff The Duke’s new album Way Down Here, due out September 8. Their next local show is August 9 at the CNE Bandshell for Toronto’s Festival Of Beer. Yeah. You’re going to go to see Cuff The Duke, and that’s all. Sure.

Spiral Beach have readied their second full-length album The Only Really Thing for a September 22 release and are giving away a first MP3 from it.

MP3: Spiral Beach – “Domino”

Gentleman Reg has released a couple new videos from Jet Black and talks a bit about the one for “Rewind” on his MySpace blog. Reg is playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 25.

Video: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Rewind”

Murray Lightburn of The Dears doesn’t necessarily give JAM good odds on the prospects of the most recent lineup of the band sticking together. Hopefully long enough to make their free June 26 show at Harbourfront Centre.

So the fourth of the five Canadian Virgin Festivals was unveiled yesterday for August 8 and 9 in Calgary, Alberta, and like all the others so far, you certainly can’t say it’s a predictable lineup. On the plus side, it has arguably the biggest single headliner of them all so far in Pearl Jam but thing drop off a fair bit from there, filling itself out with mid-level Canadian acts like k-os and Tokyo Police Club. I supposed Metric and Billy Talent are reasonably big draws, but it’s pretty obvious they broke the bank securing Pearl Jam. Of course, this leaves just Ontario/Toronto/Orillia to be announced, and I’ve been told to expect something within the next week or so on that front. I’m not going to spill anything but I know some of what’s been booked, have strong hints/rumours about others and all I’ll say is that it’s not what you might be expecting. Though with pretty much every band you might expect already booked elsewhere that weekend, it really couldn’t possibly be.

Oh yeah, happy Canada Day. Celebrate with a cold one, and Radio Free Canuckistan’s list of 30 Canuck singles he couldn’t live without, The National Post’s list of 10 Canadian bands you should be listening to (not all the usual suspects, thankfully), The Line Of Best Fit’s second downloadable Canadian mix and Quick Before It Melts’ coast-to-coast salute to Canadian blogs (disclosure: I’m flattered to be on the list).

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

CONTEST – Billions CMF Showcase @ Lee's Palace – March 14, 2009

Photo via elliottbrood.caelliottbrood.caSo it’s Canadian Musicfest week! You all set for three days of club-hopping around a still sorta wintry Toronto? Got your wristband? No? Well. That could be a problem if you intended on hitting up Lee’s Palace on Saturday night for the rather splendid Billions showcase featuring Cuff The Duke, Elliott Brood, Basia Bulat, Herman Dune and Jon-Rae Fletcher since that show is wristband-only.

Or is it? Maybe not! Because courtesy of Billions, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away to the show which is quite possibly the first bill in history to feature two bands with proper names for moniker but who aren’t actually individuals. Wrap your head around THAT. Anyways, if this dost tickle thy fancy, drop me an email at contests AT with “I want a Canadian Music Week-end” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Get that in to me before midnight, Friday night (March 13).

MP3: Cuff The Duke – “Ballad Of A Lonely Construction Worker”
MP3: Elliott Brood – “Write It All Down For You”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “In The Night”