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Posts Tagged ‘Damon Albarn’

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Every Weekday

Camera Obscura defeats the slow news day with Desire Lines stream

Photo By Anna Isola CrollaAnna Isola CrollaWith yesterday being both Memorial Day in the US and a Bank Holiday in the UK, the internet was understandably reasonably quiet, at least from a music news perspective. If you covered, say, municipal affairs in Toronto, then it was far from it. But I digress.

If you were to have only one noteworthy item to lead off a post, however, you could do far worse than to announce that Scotland’s Camera Obscura have made their new long-player of elegant indie-pop Desire Lines – the first since 2009’s My Maudlin Career – available to stream in whole via NPR before its formal release date of next Tuesday, June 4. And the perfect accompaniment for that listening session would be these feature pieces on the band in The Scotsman and The List, and the knowledge that in just over a month’s time – July 4 – they’ll be in town opening up for She & Him on the first night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons.

MP3: Camera Obscura – “Fifth In Line To The Throne”
Stream: Camera Obscura / Desire Lines

Consequence Of Sound interviews Laura Marling as her new record Once I Was An Eagle is officially out in North America as of today.

Beady Eye have released a second video from their second album BE, due out in the UK on June 10.

Video: Beady Eye – “Second Bite Of The Apple”

CHVRCHES have rolled out another track that will presumably appear on their forthcoming debut album when it comes out this Fall. Which also means you will recognize one more song they play at The Hoxton on June 12. Counteract has an interview with the band.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Gun”

Iceage explains to aux.tv why they’re not fascists, which really, is exactly what a fascist would say. They’re at The Horseshoe on June 15 for NXNE.

Spin, The Scotsman, and Liverpool Echo talk to Bobby Gillespie about the new Primal Scream album More Light – out now abroad and June 18 in North America – while The Guardian welcomes the band for an acoustic video session.

MTV Hive chats with Palma Violets, who’ve released a new video from their debut 180. They make their third local appearance of the year on August 3 at Garrison Commons as part of The Grove Fest.

Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends”

Thomas Mars of Phoenix – who are headlining The Grove Fest at Garrison Commons on August 3 – recounts the soundtrack of his life for The Guardian.

Consequence Of Sound and The Boston Globe talk to James Blake, who has been announced as one of the featured acts at this year’s Drake-assembled OVO Fest at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4. NPR is also streaming a complete concert in HD from DC recently.

By way of Elizabeth Sankey’s blog, Summer Camp report that their second album is done, with release details still to come.

The Daily Star reports that Manic Street Preachers will break their hiatus which began after 2010’s Postcards From a Young Man with two new albums, being recorded simultaneously – one mostly acoustic, the other mostly not.

Brett Anderson discusses the success of the Suede reunion with Drowned In Sound.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Frightened Rabbit.

MusicOmh interviews Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots.

NOW previewed Charli XCX’s visit last week with an interview, while Stereogum captured a Backstreet Boys cover in a video session. She also just released a new video from her debut True Romance.

Video: Charli XCX – “Take My Hand”

Rolling Stone grabbed a wide-ranging Q&A with Damon Albarn before Blur’s Coachella appearances last month where he reflects on projects past and future, including a new Blur record and his first solo album.

British Sea Power have rolled out a new video from their latest album, Machineries Of Joy.

Video: British Sea Power – “Hail Holy Queen”

Allo Darlin’ unveil a new song via a video session for BalconyTV.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with and The Georgia Straight a feature piece on Daughter.

Daytrotter has a session with Billy Bragg.

CBC Music got to know Iceland’s Of Monsters & Men before they played their festival this past weekend.

The 405 meets The Raveonettes.

The Fly has a feature piece on Denmark’s Vår.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Headin' For The Top Now

Spiritualized and Nikki Lane at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangPeople will probably never stop referencing 1997’s Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space as the iconic Spiritualized album, and justifiably so. It was Jason Pierce’s grand breakup album with a soap opera-calibre backstory, it was the band’s marker in the Britpop era (though stylistically they never really fit), it raised the band’s profile immensely – I once heard “Cool Waves” coming over the PA at a Mongolian Grill restaurant – and was a gorgeous melange of psychedelia, gospel, jazz, and rock besides. It’s the sort of record that a band would be lucky to make once in their careers. And yet with each listen to their latest Sweet Heart Sweet Light, I feel the argument that this could well be the definitive Spiritualized record.

The talking points on Sweet Heart are that this is Pierce’s “pop” record, and indeed it’s as immediate and melodic as anything he’s ever done, but it hardly dilutes the Spiritualized formula for the sake of mass appeal. If anything, it’s as clear a picture of everything that Pierce has done since leaving Spaceman 3 in one hour’s running time – it rocks, it swoons, it jams, it drones, and it does it all with focus and purpose. While it certainly echoes everything that’s gone before, it’s also an exciting signpost to what’s yet to come – of all of his musical peers that came out of ’90s Britain, Pierce may yet be the most creatively vital among them, and that’s with certainly having had the most near-death experiences. All of which is to say that if the first Spiritualized show in Toronto in almost four years and the first plugged-in, headlining show since 2003 wasn’t enough reason to get excited about their appearance at The Phoenix last Saturday night, then the fact that hearing material their new record was to be highly anticipated rather than simply endured should have sealed the deal.

Support on the tour might have seemed an odd choice in Nashville-based, South Carolina-bred Nikki Lane though there were some stylistic threads between her dusty country sound and Spiritualized’s cosmic rock if you dug down to their shared gospel roots, but the fact was that she had been invited by the band to support so questions of appropriateness were really rather moot. And armed just with an acoustic guitar and a sweet, breathy twang of a voice and despite implying that she didn’t usually play band-less, she did just fine – having been gifted with a rowdy yet friendly crowd, she was able to get comfortable and sass back and needed. Having forgetten her set list, she ad libbed a set drawn from her debut album Walk Of Shame, the off-the-cuff-ness of it adding to her charm. Spiritualized followers might not make up her normal demographic, but it was pretty safe to say that she was winning over fans on every stop of the tour.

It’s hard to believe, but excepting their afternoon set at Virgin Festival 2008 and the “Acoustic Mainlines” tour in Fall 2007, the last time Toronto hosted a full and proper Spiritualized show was at the Opera House back in late 2003. That’s a long time, people. And yet thanks to their distinctive semi-circle stage setup with Jason Pierce positioned at far house right, it all felt immediately familiar – doubly so since the core of the lineup had remained intact since their V Fest appearance circa Songs In A+E (the two backing singers were new faces).

Their epic set – and that’s not an adjective I use lightly – pulled from all points in their discography but were still very specific about which records were represented. Sweet Heart was naturally prominently featured, but 2003’s Amazing Grace was also given a lot of attention – surprising because it wasn’t a record that was particularly well-received but perhaps not so surprising since its no-frills aesthetic matches Sweet Heart fairly well. And being forced to reevaluate the material, I must admit that it sounded great in this context – the guitar duel between Pierce and Doggen on “She Kissed Me”, in particular, was jaw-dropping.

While Sweet Heart is not short on the extra-long compositions – opener “Hey Jane” and second-last main set selection “So Long You Pretty Thing” did as much to affirm the new material as as good as the old – you couldn’t not feel a certain rush when the ascending riff to “Electric Mainline” from Pure Phase and a crackle of electricity up the spine when it the ensuing jam coalesced into the title track of Ladies & Gentleemen. It was curious to see Lazer Guided Melodies, Let It Come Down, and Songs In A+E get overlooked completely, but there really was no arguing with the resultant show.

Pierce didn’t say a word to the audience – or even the rest of his band – through the entire show until the final notes of “Come Together” faded out to close the main set, and then it was just a couple of quiet, “thank you’s” before leaving the stage. Following a serenely cacophonous “Cop Shoot Cop” for the encore, he said “thank you” twice more and was gone. Some might have wished that he’d interacted with the audience more, but he and his band had just given everything for two hours – what more was there to say?

NOW also has a review of the show and The National Post, The Music, and Toronto Star talked to Jason Pierce.

Photos: Spiritualized, Nikki Lane @ The Phoenix – May 5, 2012
MP3: Nikki Lane – “Gone, Gone, Gone”
MP3: Nikki Lane – “Sleep For You”
Video: Spiritualized – “Hey Jane”
Video: Spiritualized – “Soul On Fire”
Video: Spiritualized – “Cheapster”
Video: Spiritualized – “You Lie You Cheat”
Video: Spiritualized – “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)”
Video: Spiritualized – “Do It All Over Again”
Video: Spiritualized – “Out Of Sight”
Video: Spiritualized – “Stop Your Crying”
Video: Spiritualized – “Come Together”
Video: Spiritualized – “Electricity”
Video: Spiritualized – “Let It Flow”
Video: Spiritualized – “Run”
Video: Spiritualized – “Any Way That You Want Me”
Video: Nikki Lane – “Lies”
Video: Nikki Lane – “Gone, Gone, Gone”
Video: Nikki Lane – “Sleep For You”

Richard Hawley talks to The Sheffield Telegraph about getting angry and politicized on his new record, Standing At The Sky’s Edge.

The Line Of Best Fit is streaming the whole of In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, the new album from The Cribs. It’s out this week.

MP3: The Cribs – “Chi-Town”
Stream: The Cribs / In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull

The Guardian checks in with former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes about going solo. His debut Here Come The Bombs is out May 21.

Paste catches up with 2:54. Their self-titled debut is out May 28 and they play Lee’s Palace for NXNE on June 15.

The Guardian talks to Faris Badwan of The Horrors.

The Fly has a chat with Clock Opera frontman Guy Connelly.

Damon Albarn sounds of to the BBC about his solo projects and the London Olympics.

Spin checks in on The Joy Formidable, who are in the studio working on their second album.

The Line Of Best Fit marks the release of the My Bloody Valentine reissues with an intensive look at the band’s history.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

To The End

Blur turn 21, clearly believe adage about leaving a beautiful corpse. In a box.

Photo via FacebookFacebookIf you accept that Damon Albarn is speaking truth and that these are the end times for Blur, you have to admit they’re doing it right. They’ve got their August 12 date at Hyde Park in London earmarked as the swan song, a lovely new (final) single in “Under The Westway” in the can and ready to surely top the charts one last time, and before they go, they’re clearing out the archival cupboards well and proper.

On July 31, to mark the 21st anniversary of their debut album Leisure and presumably the end of their career, they’ll release Blur 21 – a massive, career-spanning box set that will be made available in two formats. The digital box will contain all seven studio albums in remastered and expanded double-CD format, four discs of rarities not redundant to the material on each album’s bonus disc, three DVDs of live performances and videos, a 7″ of a Seymour-era single, and a fancy hardbound book about the band. The vinyl box will contain all seven albums on vinyl. And for the fans who aren’t insane collectors, each gussied-up album will be available individually in both CD and LP formats.

Yes that is a lot of Blur, but if you’re any degree of fan, try watching the trailer for the set and not thinking, “man I want that set”. If you’re curious, the pricing in Canada comes in at around $320 for either the vinyl box or the digital.

Trailer: Blur 21

If you’re interested in what Albarn will do with himself since he’s bringing the curtain down on both Blur and Gorillaz, then this stream at NPR of his Dr. Dee solo album/opera might offer some idea of his direction.

Stream: Damon Albarn / Dr. Dee

And while on the topic of reissues from seminal British bands from the ’90s, Exclaim points out that Ride are marking the 20th anniversary of Going Blank Again with a deluxe reissue consisting of a remaster of the album and a DVD of their 1992 show at the Brixton Academy (though probably in Region 1 and PAL format). It was also just pointed out to me that Going Blank Again got a vinyl reissue in February of this year thanks to Japanese archival label Obscure Alternatives.

Video: Ride – “Twisterella”

The Guardian and The Independent talk to Tim Burgess of The Charlatans about his forthcoming memoirs Tellin’ Stories, due out May 29. Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that their 1997 album of the same name will get its own 15th anniversary reissue on May 28 in double-disc format.

Video: The Charlatans – “North Country Boy”

Exclaim talks to Jason Pierce of Spiritualized. They’re at The Phoenix on May 5.

Austin City Limits is offering a tease of their recent Radiohead performance which was recorded in March but won’t air until the Fall. They’re at Downsview Park on June 16.

Video: Radiohead – “Lotus Flower” (live on Austin City Limits)

Pitchfork gets Jonny Marr to recount his musical influences through the years.

Clash talks literary influences with Gerard Love of Lightships.

Pitchfork talks to Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne about their new album Words And Music By Saint Etienne, due out on May 21; they’ve also got a stream of a new song from the album.

Stream: Saint Etienne – “Answer Song”

Pitchfork reports that Field Music will be collecting all the covers they’ve recorded over the years and releasing them in album form this Fall. I like Field Music covers. This pleases me.

State and Metro talk to Mystery Jets about their new record Radlands, out May 1, while NME has a stream of the whole thing. They’re at The Sound Academy on June 19 opening up for Keane.

Stream: Mystery Jets / Radlands

The Big Pink have released a new video from Future This.

Video: The Big Pink – “Lose Your Mind”

DIY has both a stream of Europe, the lovely new record from Allo Darlin’, and song-by-song commentary by the band. It’s out on May 1 over here but if you were to get it in the UK via Rough Trade, you could get it with a limited edition bonus CD containing six cover songs including this Go-Betweens tune, which they’re also offering as a stream.

Stream: Allo Darlin’ – “Dive For Your Memory”
Stream: Allo Darlin’ / Europe

We don’t have details on her second album yet, but Little Boots has released a second MP3 from it (“Shake” was offered up as a stream last November).

MP3: Little Boots – “Every Night I Say A Prayer”

Emmy The Great has released the second of her “God Of Loneliess” comics at Drowned In Sound along with another remix; that’s the third, another came out late last week. The Virtue deluxe edition and “God Of Loneliness” single are both out May 7.

MP3: Emmy The Great – “God Of Loneliness” (Dems remix)

Glide has a chat with Dry The River, who’ve released a new video from their debut Shallow Bed.

Video: Dry The River – “No Rest”

Daytrotter has posted a session with Johnny Flynn and The Guardian has an interview.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Night Four

Django Django, Michael Kiwanuke, And So I Watch Your From Afar and more at SXSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTaking into account how incredibly efficient I was at catching my must-see bands of SXSW on the first day of the festival, I knew that it was a very real possibility that come Saturday night, I’d have nothing left that I wanted to see… and that was almost the case. Thankfully I’d kept a few things in my back pocket and either skipped earlier in the week for just such a scenario or had been putting off for Canadian Musicfest the following week. It’s called planning, folks. And if those contingencies didn’t work out, well I could just sit back and survey the chaos brought on by the final night of the festival, the return of the University of Texas students after spring break and St. Patrick’s day all converging on 6th St.

London’s Michael Kiwanuka might well have found his way into the spotlight in his own time, but getting named as BBC’s Sound Of 2012 certainly expedited the process. So rather than play one of the festival’s smaller, more intimate clubs for his SXSW debut, he was here on one of the biggest stages at Stubb’s amphitheatre and while it’s possible or probable that something cozier would have better suited him, the way he was able to fill the night sky with just his voice, acoustic guitar and accompanying bassist was remarkable. It’s a simple, time-tested recipe and perfectly suited for Kiwanuka’s romantic, folk-soul songwriting; I admit to being a bit surprised that the BBC went with something so traditional for their usually musically forward-looking honour, but kicking back and just luxuriating in Kiwanuka’s warm vocals, it’s tough to form a good argument against it.

From there it was a necessary to try and navigate the bedlam of 6th – oh, the sea of wobbling people dressed in green – and back to Latitude 30 where odds were I was just going to park myself for the next few hours. First up were Clock Opera, whom I’d seen way back on Wednesday and would be the only repeat act of the week. And it’s just as well because though this was probably the exact same set that I’d seen at The Mohawk, this performance was better in every sense. The crowd was more enthusiastic, the sound was bigger and cleaner, the setting much more atmospheric and the band much tighter. It’s probably no surprise that their last show of the fest was better than the first – there’s a sweet spot for bands at SXSW playing multiple showcases where they’ve settled into the rapid-fire showcase groove before beginning to fall apart from fatigue; Clock Opera hit it just right. Anticipation for their debut Ways To Forget, out April 23, remains high.

Sometimes the drive-by showcase dynamic of club festivals isn’t suited to appreciating certain bands, and they’re unfairly dismissed in favour of something more immediate. Fortunately for Django Django – who formed in Edinburgh but now reside in London – they manage to impress and intrigue while remaining inscrutable such that you may not fully understand why you want to hear more of them, but you do. I did, at least. The built an unfussy kind of art rock – conveniently collected on their self-titled debut – on a deep, inescapable groove full of odd turns and angles and littered with all manner of synths and percussion. As said, it’s not immediately pop but the treasures that lay just beneath the surface are evident; it’s music you may be surprised to find yourself intensely dancing to, but dance to it you will.

Next up was supposed to be someone called Maverick Sabre – a very superficial investigation didn’t make it seem the sort of thing I’d be particularly interested in, but someone had just bought be a whiskey so I opted to hang out for a bit. However, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be what I expected when, instead of a band setup, they wheeled a DJ table onto the stage and at the top of the hour, rather than some hip-hop/r&b the room filled with some heavy electronic beats. It turned out that Sabre (Maverick?) had to cancel and was replaced at the last minute by London-born/Manchester-raised Callum Wright, who operates as D/R/U/G/S. It’s a bit of a shame that I spent about half his set trying to figure out just what was going on and who this was, because he was pretty damn good.

I was actually a bit torn as to whether to stick around for Slow Club, since I’d just seen them in Toronto less than a month prior. That’s one of the peculiar things about SXSW – you’ll find yourself actively avoiding the bands you know and love because it means not discovering something new. But given that there was nothing else on offer that hour calling my name and I was already sitting right there, I let inertia win the day. The early part of their set was mildly calamitous with falling mic stands, failing guitar straps and broken microphones but they took it all in stride and it all became part of the fun; the band was simply too good to be deterred. It was something of a condensed version of the Toronto show with the older material scrapped in favour of focusing on Paradise and the new material earmarked for a forthcoming EP, but all delivered with gusto and enthusiasm by Charles and Rebecca. Such a lovely band.

Avoiding the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day seems like pretty obvious advice but for whatever reason, I did the opposite to close out the festival and hit up Friends Bar, which was hosting a lineup of all-Irish acts in order to see Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar. That’s right – even though I probably could have just given a hobo $5 to punch me in the face for the same net effect, I instead went to an Irish bar at 1AM on St. Patrick’s Day on the final night of SXSW to see a really loud, aggressive rock band. But at least I saved the $5. Now I’d listened to their 2009 self-titled debut and like to think I had an idea of what to expect, but rather than some variant of post-rock, it was more a kind of instrumental metal with some hardcore punk and even a touch of traditional Irish folk sprinkled on top – to wit, lots of insane riffing, pogoing around the stage, dueling guitar leads and at least one broken bass string. Then factor in the falling-down drunk crowd moshing, lurching and jigging and you’ve got something akin to mayhem. It was actually fun for a little while to be in the middle of – it certainly wakes you up – but eventually I fled to the fringes of the crowd and then out onto 6th to watch the rest from the street.

And then I left. Seeya, SXSW. Seeya, Austin. And thank goodness I’m done with festival coverage for a while. OH WAIT.

The Guardian talks to Graham Coxon about his new solo record A+E and are also streaming the whole thing ahead of its April 2 release date. And not to be outdone, The Quietus chats with Damon Albarn. No Blur insights are offered on either side.

Stream: Graham Coxon / A+E

Belle & Sebastian have released a video for their Primitives cover, taken from the Late Night Tales, Vol 2 compilation that’s just out today.

Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Crash”

DIY has a feature on and video session with Blood Red Shoes. Clash also has a feature.

Richard Hawley has offered up a stream of the first taste of his new record Standing At The Sky’s Edge, out May 7. And dare I say someone is getting their rock on? Yes, I do believe I do.

Stream: Richard Hawley – “Leave Your Body Behind You”

Keane are coming to town to promote their new album Strangeland, out May 7, and they’re bringing Mystery Jets, who’re putting out their own new album Radlands on April 30. Hm, that’s a whole lot of “-land” titles. Anyways, the Toronto date is June 19 and tickets are $45 in advance.

Stream: Keane – “Silenced By The Night”
Stream: Mystery Jets – “Someone Purer”

The big/best news of yesterday was that Sigur Ros would be releasing their sixth solo album on May 29, entitled Valtari, and if that wasn’t enough, they also released the first video from it. Now all we need is a Toronto live date to go with the Montreal Osheaga appearance in August, yeah? Word is that this is a more ambient kind of record than 2008’s Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust; the first preview certainly seems to bear that out.

Video: Sigur Ros – “Ekki Mukk”

Paste examines how Of Monsters & Men became Iceland’s biggest musical export since, well, Sigur Ros. The Georgia Straight also has an interview and Rolling Stone has a video session recorded at SXSW. Their debut My Head Is An Animal is streaming in whole at NPR ahead of its release next week and they play The Phoenix on April 12.

MP3: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”
Stream: Of Monsters & Men / My Head Is An Animal

Exclaim reports that The Raveonettes will release a new, four-song EP entitled Into The Night on April 24 – they’re also hosting the widget that lets you trade your email for an MP3 of the title track. A new album should be out later this year.

The Jezabels have released a new video from Prisoner; they’re at The Mod Club on April 18.

Video: The Jezabels – “Rosebud”

The Stool Pigeon, Vogue Australia, and Stuff interview Pip Browne of Ladyhawke. The new album Anxiety is out May 28.

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Open Arms

Elbow at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure it’s more coincidence than any kind of conspiracy, but for some reason the last few years have seen late September/early October become the season when a deluge of Mercury Prize rolls through town. Over the past little while, Toronto has hosted performances by Laura Marling, Coldplay, The Horrors, and Wild Beasts with James Blake here tonight and Portishead in just over a week, and Wednesday night saw 2008’s winners Elbow return for their first headline show in over five years.

It wasn’t supposed to have been so long; they were technically here in August 2009 as reigning Mercury champs opening for Coldplay and had a headlining show at The Phoenix all lined up alongside it, but an offer to play Letterman forced them to pull the plug on it and fly to New York – the salt in the wound being that they never got to perform on account of a segment with another guest running long. And personally, though I’d seen them back in November of 2005, I only became any kind of a fan in the intervening years – all of which is to say that the show at The Sound Academy in support of this year’s Build A Rocket Boys was one I’d been waiting for for a long while.

I certainly wasn’t the only one, but with the venue only half full – approximately 1500 punters – and folded into its more intimate configuration, there clearly weren’t as many as some may have hoped. Still enough to offer a roar of welcome to the Manchester quintet and their two backing violinists/vocalists, though. Whereas at the 2005 show I saw, Garvey was hobbled by a bum leg and forced to perform seated for most of the show, he spent this entire evening roaming the stage like the man of the people he is, shaking hands with the front row and pointing and waving to pretty much everyone; I wager that by show’s end, there wasn’t a person in the crowd who hadn’t been personally acknowledged by Garvey. The sort of skills one gains from playing to arena- and stadium-sized crowds, as Elbow do back in the UK, served him well in connecting with the audience whether is was a running theme of getting everyone to wave their hands in the air whenever he did so – perhaps a nod to their latest album’s artwork – or cheekily chastising overeager fans for randomly shouting out the names of English towns or trying to start football singalongs and a offering elocution lessons to those shouting requests inarticulately. All in good fun, of course.

And while I’m sure plenty would have been happy to attend a Guy Garvey speaking tour, this was still a rock concert. At least technically. One of the key realizations in my becoming a fan was that Elbow weren’t actually a conventional rock band, and expecting them to ever “rock out”, as the kids say, was an exercise in frustration. They can pack a wallop when need be, as “Neat Little Rows” and “Grounds For Divorce” – which followed an extended nonsensical ad-libbed audience singalong – aptly demonstrated, but most of the set showcased what has become the band’s forte: the big, open-hearted, sentimental and stately anthems. Opening with “The Birds” and running through the likes of “Mirrorball” and “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver”, all rendered gorgeously and meticulously, it was almost a case of too much beauty to take in.

The heartstring-tugging peaked mid-set when the rest of the band left just Garvey and keyboardist Craig Potter onstage for “The Night Will Always Win” and “Puncture Repair” rendered as piano ballads. Upon their return, the band went big for the final third of the show with grandiose performances of “Weather To Fly”, begun as an acoustic campfire number with all five gathered in a circle before being completed in proper cinematic fashion and set-closing “Open Arms” that was as soaring as one would expect. The encore led off with “Starlings” – Garvey, Mark Potter and Pete Turner handling horn duties – and following “Station Approach” ended with “One Day Like this”, the song that will likely close Elbow shows until the end of time or until they write something even more celebratory.

For all the preceding praise, it could have been better. Hearing something – anything – from Cast Of Thousands would have been glorious and made me feel a little bit less like I was being punished for taking so long to come around on this band. It would also have been nice if they’d worked some of their darker-tinged songs, such as “Audience With The Pope”, into the set if just to break up the sepia-ness of the performance and show off that heavier side just a bit more. A little more variety in the tenor of the set wouldn’t have been a bad thing – after all, when every song is done up big like a set-closer, it can take away from the actual arc of the show and almost make it feel anticlimactic. But these are relatively minor complaints; any time you get to spend almost two hours with one of Britain’s best bands where the prevailing emotion is love in all its permutations, it’s going to be a good time. Check that; great time.

The National Post also has a review of the show and The Globe & Mail, DIY and San Diego City Beat have band interviews.

Photos: Elbow @ The Sound Academy – September 28, 2011
MP3: Elbow – “Open Arms”
MP3: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Open Arms”
Video: Elbow – “Neat Little Rows”
Video: Elbow – “The Bones Of You”
Video: Elbow – “One Day Like This”
Video: Elbow – “Grounds For Divorce”
Video: Elbow – “Leaders Of The Free World”
Video: Elbow – “Forget Myself”
Video: Elbow – “Grace Under Pressure”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job”
Video: Elbow – “Fugitive Motel”
Video: Elbow – “Fallen Angel”
Video: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Powder Blue”
Video: Elbow – “Red”
Video: Elbow – “Any Day Now”

Blurt has details on exactly what is going to be in that ridiculously comprehensive (and expensive) Smiths box set entitled Complete due out October 18.

Adele has released a video for the song you’ve been hearing all Summer and which will haunt you through music stores, shopping malls and karaoke bars until the end of time.

Video: Adele – “Someone Like You”

Contact Music reports that after all his various projects, Damon Albarn is finally planning a proper solo record. Which I’m hoping is code for a Blur North American tour, but I suspect is not.

The Line Of Best Fit serves up a video session with Summer Camp, whose Welcome To Condale is out November 8.

Also sessioning up at The Line Of Best Fit is I Break Horses with the second of three performances recorded in Stockholm.

NPR interviews Feist. Metals is out Tuesday and she’s at Massey Hall on December 1.

Exclaim talks to Kathryn Calder about her new album Bright & Vivid. It’s not out until October 25 but the first video is now available.

Video: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”

The Toronto Star and NOW talk to Ohbijou in advance of tonight’s release show in support of Metal Meets at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Exclaim hosts a video session with The Elwins, who have a single release show at The El Mocambo tonight.