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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Was The Night’

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Forever Changes

'60s resurrection/reconstitution tours featuring Love and The Zombies come to Toronto

Photo via california66revue.com/MySpacewww.california66revue.com/MySpaceWe always seem to be talking about (relatively) new music hereabouts. Let’s talk about some old. A few acts with legendary names recently announced tours that are coming through town, but as is the case more often than not, the actual product bears some extra scrutiny.

First, you’ve got ’60s British pop giants The Zombies, who have a date at the Mod Club on July 15 – tickets $39.50. Though four of the five original members still survive – guitarist Paul Atkinson died in 2004 – and they’ve reunited for special shows in the UK in recent years, this touring outfit boasts just two original members. Those members are singer Colin Blunstone and pianist Rod Argent, though, so it’s probably reasonable to think that they’ll sound pretty damn good when running through their stone-cold yet still probably underappreciated classic tunes like “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No”, “Care Of Cell 44” and “Time Of The Season”. I think The Zombies have toured through Ontario in the past, but usually well out of town at casino resorts and such – their playing a show in downtown Toronto could well draw a completely different but hopefully appreciative audience.

Slightly more questionable in the credentials department is the California ’66 Revue, which will be at Lee’s Palace a month later on August 14, tickets $25. That bill is topped by psych-rock forebears The Electric Prunes and also features Sky Saxon, who once fronted garage rockers The Seeds, but it’s the middle act that is simultaneously the most intriguing and most probably disappointing – Love.

When I was younger and was far more keen on amassing a more comprehensive musical education, I spent a lot of time with albums that had been acknowledged as “classics” but I think one of the only ones that I really, really grew to love beyond the historical context – and that includes from the Beatles and the Stones – was Love’s Forever Changes. It’s such a unique record, towering with ambition and somehow delivering on every promise – glorious both for its singles and as a single, unified artistic statement. With a number of reissues over the last few years, each with different bonus goodies, as well as a live CD/DVD set, one could argue that it’s no longer the criminally overlooked treasure it once was, but it’s also so good a record that you could also argue that it’s simply not possible for it to get the praise it actually deserves. I hold this record in that high esteem.

And so on one level, it’s exciting that Love is coming to town, but also problematic due to the fact that Love frontman and mastermind, Arthur Lee, died three years ago. The current outfit isn’t without some claim to the name – they boast guitarist Johnny Echols and drummer Michael Stuart-Ware, both of whom played on Forever Changes and are otherwise comprised of Baby Lemonade, who were Lee’s backing band in his later years while performing as Love with Arthur Lee but they also actually fired Lee in 2005, citing his unpredictable and unprofessional behaviour, and continued on as The Love Band. It later turned out that this was due, in part at least, to Lee’s battle with leukemia which he would eventually succumb to the following year.

The point of all this being that though they’re called Love, and have members of Love, and may even sound a helluva lot like Love (I don’t know who’s handling vocals), it’s just not Love. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be good, just not Love. And it makes me wistful about the show that Lee and the band had originally scheduled for Lee’s Palace back in 2002 but had to cancel on account of immigration issues – apparently Canada took exception to Lee’s criminal record for firearms offenses. That would have been something.

Video: The Zombies – “Time Of The Season”
Video: Love – “Alone Again Or” (live)
Video: The Electric Prunes – “”You Never Had It Better/I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)”
Video: The Seeds – “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine”

Blurt reports that in addition to the upcoming reissues of Big Star’s seminal Number One Record and Radio City albums – as a remastered single CD or individual LPs – on June 16, there’ll be a four-disc box set chock full of unreleased goodies due out September 15. Update: Pitchfork has box set details, including the title – Keep An Eye On The Sky.

Magnet plays over/under with Elvis Costello’s oeuvre, hoping to point out that Declan’s post-2000 output is worth your time. I wonder if that’ll apply to his new one, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, when it’s released next week. There’s an interview at The Wall Street Journal as well as a feature piece and The Irish Times also has a chat. Costello plays Massey Hall on August 28.

Jambase talks to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. No, I don’t know when he’s coming back to town, stop asking me.

Exclaim puts Apostle Of Hustle on their cover, eye just gives them an inside story. They play the Music Gallery tonight and tomorrow night.

State, The Journal-Sentinel and Decider interview various Decemberists. They’re at the Kool Haus on August 3.

Aquarium Drunkard is offering a recent Neko Case session from CBC Radio 3 for download. Neko is at Massey Hall on July 14 with Jason Lytle as support. The Georgia Straight and Paste have interviews with the former Grandaddy frontman.

Pitchfork talks to Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co about their new album Josephine, due out July 21. The title track from said record is now available to download.

MP3: The Magnolia Electric Co – “Josephine”

See, Canada.com and The Calgary Sun interview The Dears.

The whole of the star-studded Dark Was The Night benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall earlier this month is now available to stream at NPR.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

This Love Is Fucking Right

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and the Depreciation Guild at Lee's Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen last week’s The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart show was announced way back in December, I figured it would be a nice little underground thing (literally and figuratively) with myself and the small but loyal posse of Toronto shoegaze devotees in the subterranean environs of Neutral. Sure, their unabashedly retro but still nearly perfect fuzz-pop in theory had mass appeal, but the same could be said for most stuff I like but never manages to catch on – it’s pop music. It’s not difficult.

But as the early February release date of their self-titled debut drew near, a buzz that couldn’t be credited just to the shoegaze loyalists was quickly growing around the band, culminating in a “Best New Music” review from the old Pitchfork and just like that, you knew it wasn’t just going to be a handful of people staring at each others’ sneakers. The fact that the show had already been moved from Neutral to the much larger Lee’s Palace was just a coincidence due to work permit issues rather than demand, but it proved to be a most necessary move – by the time the much-feted band took the stage, Lee’s was nearly packed.

Leading up to that point were a couple of support acts, one local and one tourmate. The former, an outfit called Don Mills, were hopelessly miscast for the audience with their decidedly anonymous-sounding rock. The only remarkable thing about them was their singer’s utter commitment to his performance, with stage moves that seemed laughably ironic until you realized they were totally genuine – and then they were oddly commendable.

The Depreciation Guild were a far more compelling warm-up. I commented favourably on their free-to-download debut In Her Gentle Jaws, with its M83-gone-8-bit charms, but wasn’t fully prepared for the transformation their sound would take in a live setting. Their secret weapon – an old Japanese Famicom game console – was very much on display beside frontman Kurt Feldman and set the table, musically speaking, for their songs but its bleeps and bloops were soon drowned out by the live band’s dual guitars and thundering drums, the synthetic wall of sound ever-present on the record replaced by a decidedly organic one. On one hand, it’s sort of unfortunate that their most distinctive element was lost in the din but the intensity of the attack – while somehow maintaining the dreampop delicacy of the songs – more than made up for it.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, on the other hand, delivered exactly what was expected – twee-pop confections dressed up in big outfits of noise – but they fared less well in the live setting. The band’s inherent feyness wasn’t quite able to overcome their own sonic attack and as a result, some of the little touches that give the album enough variety to transcend its admittedly limited aesthetic, in particular the boy-girl harmonies of Kip Berman and Peggy Wang, were simply buried and the net result was a cheerful but rather monochromatic show. Though they’re not an overly charismatic bunch, it was fun watching them obviously have a blast and in particular Berman’s incredulousness at the sheer number of people in attendance – at one point he said that it was the biggest show they’d ever played. With a barely 45-minute set including encore, it’s impossible to say that they overstayed their welcome but what would have seemed like a too-short show from most bands felt just right for the Pains. I don’t want to use the word “disappointment” as that simply wasn’t the case, but they didn’t manage to make me feel any greater love for the band or the record. But I still love the record a fair bit so that’s okay.

eye also has a review of the show and Express Night Out, Tripwire and The New Gay have interviews with the band.

Photos: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Depreciation Guild, Don Mills @ Lee’s Palace – February 12, 2009
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Everything With You”
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Come Saturday”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Darklooming”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Butterfly Kisses”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Everything With You”
Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Nautilus”
MySpace: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
MySpace: The Depreciation Guild

Clash interviews Asobi Seksu. Hush is out today and they play the El Mocambo on March 3.

Clash talks to Ben Curtis of School Of Seven Bells.

eye, Metro and JAM talk to Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons, who are playing the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight.

Details have finally emerged about the new record from Grizzly Bear. It’s called Veckatimest and it’s out May 26 – for more, head over to Pitchfork.

Spinner is featuring Black Kids in an Interface session. They’re at the Phoenix on April 10.

The New York Times, Hartford Courant and The Los Angeles Times talk to M Ward about his new record Hold Time, out today.

San Diego one-man act Wavves – who’s apparently all the buzz with blogs which are not this one – is coming to town for a show at Sneaky Dee’s on March 31.

MP3: Wavves – “So Bored”

TV On The Radio have a date at the Sound Academy on June 2.

Virgin Music interviews Aaron Dessner of The National about his role as curator for the Dark Was The Night AIDS benefit compilation, out today.