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Posts Tagged ‘Dean & Britta’

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

You're The Gold

Ken Stringfellow at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt seems ages ago, but early 2002 was still an era where the magazine was still a vital medium for music reviews and general discovery; I still clearly recall a live writeup in issue 49 of The Big Takeover wherein editor Jack Rabid gave Ken Stringfellow a glowing review for a show at New York’s Mercury Lounge on September 20, 2001, and how it served as a powerful musical anodyne for those in need of some healing just a week after the World Trade Center attacks. It was just a few paragraphs long but still stuck with me a good long time, and also led me to pick up Stringfellow’s second solo record Touched – an album that, had I been in the habit of publishing year-end lists at the time, almost certainly would have secured a spot.

Since then, I’d been waiting for a chance to experience the live show that had been described so vividly, but while Stringfellow has been through town a number of times over the past decade – either with R.E.M., The Posies, or The Disciplines – he never toured here behind either Touched or 2004’s Soft Commands. It was only with last year’s Danzig In The Moonlight did he plot out a comprehensive enough North American tour to make it to Toronto for his first ever solo show in the city, stopping in at The Drake Underground this past Tuesday evening.

The long wait didn’t translate into a lot of pent-up demand, unfortunately, with only a few dozen people making it out on a cold and snowy night to see a man with arguably one the most impressive indie-rock resumes of the past quarter-century. The small turnout turned out to be something of a benefit, however, as Stringfellow took advantage of the intimacy to create a genuine rapport with the audience and craft a truly memorable show. Had it been a fuller show, he might not have opened with anecdotes instead of songs, starting off by entertainingly describing his morning in Montreal and his weather-delayed trip down the 401, but turning more personal in mentioning that his son had just that morning been released from prison; indeed, as friendly and genial as Stringfellow was, he was clearly having a rare and intense day and was going to be working through some stuff with song.

He opened the musical portion of the show by stepping off the stage and playing un-miked in the round, his loud and clear tenor filling the room unaided, before eventually setting down the guitar and getting back on stage behind the keyboard, though still eschewing vocal amplification. He wasn’t above asking for a little company, though, moving some benches from the floor up onto the stage and inviting audience members to flank him whilst he performed. And oh yes, the performance.

While I’m sure many would have liked to have had a Posies song or two in the mix, the set was surprisingly satisfying for sticking to his solo material and Danzig in particular – as richly-produced and arranged as that album is, it was still somehow done justice by just Stringfellow alone (although he did locally-source a duet partner for “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”. “Superwise” was riveting, “Shittalkers!” searing, and an audience request for “History Buffs” fulfilled in jaw-droppingly gorgeous fashion. While the word usually connotes violence and/or screaming, Stringfellow was instead experiencing a catharsis through melody – culminating with Touched‘s “Lover’s Hymn”, and it was truly something to behold. A show I’d waited nigh on ten years for, and still worth it.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Stringfellow and American Songwriter has the new record available to stream.

Photos: Ken Stringfellow @ The Drake Underground – February 19, 2013
MP3: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”
Video: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”
Video: Ken Stringfellow – “Superwise”
Stream: Ken Stringfellow / Danzig In The Moonlight

NOW gears up for tomorrow night’s Solange show at the Danforth Music Hall by putting Ms Knowles on this week’s cover.

Chelsea Light Moving – aka Thurston Moore’s new band – is streaming their self-titled debut at NPR ahead of its March 5 release. They play Lee’s Palace on March 31.

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”
Stream: Chelsea Light Moving / Chelsea Light Moving

Nashville’s Caitlin Rose is streaming her new record The Stand-In at The Independent ahead of its March 5 release date. The Telegraph also has an interview with the country singer-songwriter, who plays The Garrison on April 5.

Stream: Caitlin Rose / The Stand-In

Entertainment Weekly have premiered another new song from New Moon, the new record from The Men. It’s out March 5.

Stream: The Men – “I Saw Her Face”

Pitchfork solicits a video session from Local Natives. They play The Phoenix on March 28.

Spin has a stream of the first sample from the forthcoming Rilo Kiley rarities compilation RKives, targeted for an April 2 release.

Stream: Rilo Kiley – “Let Me Back In”

How To Destroy Angels – aka Trent Reznor’s new post-Nine Inch Nails project – will release their debut Welcome Oblivion on March 5, but are streaming it right now at Pitchfork and have announced their Spring tour itinerary; the venue is still TBA but they’ll be in Toronto on April 25. Update: Spin says Sound Academy.

Stream: How To Destroy Angels / Welcome Oblivion

Exclaim has details on what’s next from John Vanderslice – a Kickstarter-ed new album called Dagger Beach which should be out this Summer, and a complete album cover of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs for those who help fund it.

Backstage Rider finds out what Dean & Britta have been up to, and that’s solo records. Dean has two coming out, one produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket and the other by Jason Quever of Papercuts, and Britta has one of her own in the works. So there’s no Dean & Britta on the horizon, but lots of Dean and Britta.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Retribution Gospel Choir’s Nels Cline-assisted show in New York last week.

Spinner and The Quietus get James McNew of Yo La Tengo on the horn to talk about their latest, Fade.

State engages in some straight talk with Mark Eitzel.

The 405 talks to Paul Banks.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

New Ceremony

Dry The River at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTwo points. One, I am rather smitten with Dry The River’s debut album Shallow Bed, out now in the UK and coming out in North America on April 17. Two, I am somewhat suspicious of how smitten I am with said record as history shows that my infatuation with British bands who trade in big, emotive rock can be short-lived, either for overexposure or for having a shelf life that’s shorter than one would hope. As such, I went into seeing them at SXSW something of a skeptic and came out a believer – their performance was one of the most stirring I saw all week by a band not hailing from E Street – and as much as seeing them make their Toronto debut less than a fortnight later might have seemed redundant, it was also not to be missed. After all, if things played out for the band as they certainly seemed like they might, the next time they visited would be in a much bigger room.

I wasn’t the only one with that idea, evidently, as The Garrison was decidedly full before they took the stage. With all respect to Bowerbirds and their fanbase, I suspect the support was as much of a draw on this tour as the headliners if not moreso. Still, the five-piece took the stage humbly and a bit taken aback by the turnout – reasonable, as apparently their show the night before in Montreal had been downgraded to an impromptu coffee shop show after Bowerbirds’ van broke down and the main show had to be cancelled – and opened with “No Rest”, whose soaring chorus couldn’t help but win over everyone and anyone within earshot. The band’s ability to build from quiet to crescendo was a potent weapon, but one they used judiciously – if anything, they played things quieter than on record, emphasizing the folkier aspects of their sound and keeping the big guns in reserve for when they’d be most effective, like the crashing intro to “Bible Belt” and the grand, heart-stopping finale of “Lion’s Den”.

As I mentioned in that SXSW writeup, from a strictly musical point of view, there’s no reason that Dry The River can’t follow the trail laid by the likes of Mumford & Sons to mass success. If anything holds them back, it’s their lack of pre-packaged marketability, Dry The River being decidedly scruffier and less ready for the cover of Non-Threatening Boys than their tweed-clad countrymen. But if that keeps their star from ascending quite so quickly and we early adopters can keep them to ourselves a bit longer, I’m all for that.

Alas, something came up and I couldn’t stick around to see Bowerbirds’ set, but I’m sure they were lovely. Next time.

Panic Manual and Syncopated Sound also have reviews of the show. NPR and Toro have interviews with the band, Clash asks guitarist Matthew Taylor to curate his dream festival lineup and The Alternate Side and Daytrotter have posted sessions with the band.

Photos: Dry The River @ The Garrison – March 27, 2012
MP3: Dry The River – “New Ceremony”
Video: Dry The River – “No Rest”
Video: Dry The River – “Chambers & The Valves”
Video: Dry The River – “Weights & Measures”

Ascendent British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka will make his proper Toronto debut – he played an invite-only thing during CMW – at The Great Hall on June 19, tickets $15 in advance. Rolling Stone has all the North American dates and a chat with the singer while Chart antes up with a video session.

MP3: Michael Kiwanuka – “Tell Me A Tale”

M. Ward is gearing up for the release of his new album A Wasteland Companion next week with a Daytrotter session and New York Times interview; you can also now download the lead single from said record if you like.

MP3: M. Ward – “Primitive Girl”

The Quietus interviews Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low and also get Sparhawk to list off his favourite albums. They’re at Massey Hall in support of Death Cab For Cutie on April 19.

Jana Hunter of Lower Dens talks to Spin about their new record Nootropics, out May 1.

Their tour having wrapped up last night right here in Toronto, A Place To Bury Strangers have announced the June 26 release of their next full-length album Worship, and the first single is now available to download courtesy of Spin. The AV Club and The Phoenix have interviews with guitarist Oliver Ackermann.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”

The Riverfront Times talks to Roger Miller of Mission Of Burma; their new one Unsound is due out on July 9.

NPR serves up a World Cafe session with tUnE-yArDs, in town at The Phoenix on August 1.

Dum Dum Girls has released a new video from last year’s Only In Dreams.

Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”

Interview interviews Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal. The Star-Ledger, LA Weekly, Boise Weekly, and What’s Up also have features.

Aquarium Drunkard grabs an interview with Dean Wareham.

Bryce Dessner of The National talks to You Ain’t No Picasso.

CBC, The Awl, The Toronto Star, and Exclaim all ran features on The Magnetic Fields in advance of last week’s show at The Sound Academy.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Andrew Bird.

NPR is streaming a recording of a collaboration between The Mountain Goats, Owen Pallett, and vocal group Anonymous 4 at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When No One's Watching

Craig Finn lets Full Eyes stream

Photo By Jeremy BaldersonJeremy BaldersonAt first, it’s hard to imagine what need there is for a Craig Finn solo album. After all, he gets to run roughshod over The Hold Steady records with as many words as he can manage to pair with their classic rock attack – has he really got a backlog of ideas that don’t fit that broad and welcoming template? As Clear Heart, Full Eyes, out next Tuesday but now available to stream in whole at NPR demonstrates, yeah he does.

It’s not as though any of these songs couldn’t have easily been made into Hold Steady numbers; Finn’s character-driven songwriting style is still immediately recognizable. But the mood is more thoughtful and the musical accompaniments chosen are simpler and slower – though not acoustic and strummy, it should be made clear – and allow Finn to occupy enough of a different timbre and cadence to clearly distinguish him from the manic character who fronts The Hold Steady. It’s the sort of record that fans will enjoy for its own merits but also make them appreciate the next Hold Steady record even more.

Clash gets into the literary inspiration that goes into his work while Pitchfork and Hitfix talk to him about going solo and what’s next for The Hold Steady.

MP3: Craig Finn – “Honolulu Blues”
Stream: Craig Finn / Clear Heart Full Eyes

School Of Seven Bells have revealed details of a Spring tour in support of Ghostory, out February 28. The Toronto date is May 2 at The Hoxton.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”

Hospitality were just here last week but they’ve already scheduled a return date for February 29 when they’ll be supporting Tennis at The Horseshoe. Their self-titled debut is out January 31.

MP3: Hospitality – “Friends Of Friends”

Beirut have announced a July 19 date at The Sound Academy, part of a Canadian tour in support of last year’s The Rip Tide. Tickets are $35 general admission, $50 VIP.

Video: Beirut – “Santa Fe”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Real Estate, who play a sold-out show at Lee’s Palace this Friday. The Boston Globe and Montreal Mirror have interviews.

Nada Surf has made their new record The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy available to stream ahead of its release next week over at NPR. They play the Opera House on April 4.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
Stream: Nada Surf / The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

Stuff like iTunes sessions don’t typically get my attention, but one coming out on January 24 does – because a) it’s by Wilco and b) it’s all of eight songs long, picked from all throughout their existence and featuring a cover of “Cruel To Be Kind” with Nick Lowe. So yeah, maybe I’ll buy that. Details on the release at Consequence Of Sound, and there’s interviews with Jeff Tweedy at The Denver Post and Glenn Kotche at The Los Angeles Times.

The Stool Pigeon talks to Chairlift about their new record Something, out January 24 and followed by a show at The Horseshoe on March 28.

Stereogum checks in with Sharon Van Etten about the state of her new album Tramp, out February 7. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 21.

Opening up that show are Shearwater, who’ve offered up another track from their new one Animal Joy. It’s out February 14.

MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”

The first official preview of Sleigh Bells’ forthcoming Reign Of Terror is now available to hear. It’s out February 21 and they play The Phoenix February 18.

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

Another tune from the new Lambchop record Mr. M is available to download ahead of its February 21 release date.

MP3: Lambchop – “Gone Tomorrow”

The Boston Herald, Boston Phoenix, and Metro talk to Joe Pernice about the Scud Mountain Boys reunion tour, which kicked off this week in Boston and hits Lee’s Palace on February 25.

The Decemberists will be entering their hiatus in grand fashion, with the released of their first live album, the double-disc We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11). It will be out on March 13; Rolling Stone has specifics.

Rolling Stone has an MP3 from Threads, the new record for Minneapolis’ Now, Now. It’s out March 16 and they may or may not be opening for The Naked & Famous at The Sound Academy on April 5 – I’ve seen both that they are and aren’t.

MP3: Now, Now – “School Friends”

Rolling Stone has got an MP3 from the new Justin Townes Earle album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now available to download. The record is out March 27.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”

DIY profiles Howler, who are at The Drake Underground on April 5. They’ve also released a live session video recorded at the Rough Trade store in London.

Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck” (live at Rough Trade)

Wayne Coyne talks to Rolling Stone about a new The Flaming Lips record that will be made up of collaborations with other artists such as Bon Iver (who, let’s be honest, would probably agree to collaborate with anyone who asked) and which may be out as soon as April.

Lower Dens have announced a new record – look for Nootropics on May 1 – and also released the first MP3 from it, which is kind of great.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”

DIY has a feature piece on Guided By Voices, who aim to release their second reunion album Class Clown Spots A UFO in or around May.

Ryan Adams has released a new video from Ashes & Fire.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Chains Of Love”

There’s also a new video from Death Cab For Cutie’s Codes & Keys.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Underneath The Sycamore”

aux.tv talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Dean Wareham gives an interview to Music Times Two and offers some thoughts on a Luna reunion (not likely, but not impossible).

Filter has a two-part feature piece on Tom Waits.

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Having

Trespassers William to trespass no more

Photo via Trespassers Williamtrespasserswilliam.comThe new year is traditionally held as a time for fresh starts and new beginnings, but it can also be a symbolic time for drawing things to an end or perhaps more appropriately, wrapping up something to begin something else. Not that that was the only reason it wasn’t a complete surprise when Seattle duo Trespassers William took to Facebook this week to announce that the band would be shelved for the foreseeable future.

Despite completely winning me over with their second album Different Stars – one of my favourites of the decade – their gorgeously sad and languid dreampop led by Anna-Lynne Williams voice and slide guitar never really seemed to catch on beyond a devoted audience to whom the sound of melancholy captured at 100 frames per second and replayed in exquisitely detailed slow-motion was the best thing ever. Even so and despite seemingly endless lineup changes – Williams and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Matt Brown were the only constants – they carried on for a decade and a half and are now moving onto other things. Williams records solo as Lotte Kestner and is half of Ormonde, while Brown performs as Disinterested; Trespassers William may now be silent, but the voices that comprised it are not.

Similarly, while we’ll not be getting the follow-up to 2006’s Having that was promised for this year, that won’t be the final word from the band. In 2009, the released the European EP The Natural Order Of Things and at the start of last year, digitally released a compilation b-sides and to coincide with the announcement of the hiatus, have cleared the vaults with another digital release in New Songs & Outtakes, consisting of a couple of new songs that had been targeted for the fourth record and other goodies.

I’m sad that they never managed to put together a North American tour that brought them to Toronto, but am glad I was able to catch them at SXSW in 2008 and again in 2010, and to have had the fortune of living with their music for so long.

Update: Again, via Facebook, the band have announced that their b-sides/unreleased material currently available via Bandcamp will be getting a proper physical release. Details to come, but the digital sales will be ending this weekend.

MP3: Trespassers William – “Lie In The Sound”
MP3: Trespassers William – “Vapour Trail”
MP3: Lotte Kestner – “Crush The Bird”

Iron & Wine have released a new video from last year’s Kiss Each Other Clean.

Video: Iron & Wine – “Godless Brother In Love”

At The Paris Review, Dean Wareham keeps a tour diary about taking the “Plays Galaxie 500” shows to Japan.

Independent Weekly talks to Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers.

Nicole Atkins plays a video session for The Huffington Post.

Cursive, accompanied by Cymbals Eat Guitars, will be in at The Horseshoe on March 31. Tickets are $16.50 in advance. Cursive’s new album I Am Gemini comes out on February 7; Cymbals Eat Guitars released Lenses Alien last year.

MP3: Cursive – “The Sun & Moon”
MP3: Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)”
MP3: Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Definite Darkness”

The Huffington Post profiles and interviews Warpaint.

And another Yo La Tengo Hannukah show is up over at NYC Taper; that’s five of them now.

Pitchfork bears bad news for those who thought the new Sleigh Bells album Reign Of Terror would be the perfect Valentine’s Day soundtrack; it has been pushed back a week from February 14 to the 21st.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Hotel Plaster

Nicole Atkins at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA little into her show at The Drake Underground on Saturday evening, Nicole Atkins mentioned that this was her first-ever solo show in Canada, and that performances of this format were usually reserved for more casual one-off performances back home in New Jersey during the holidays. Indeed, though Ms Atkins has been no stranger to Toronto stages since releasing her debut Neptune City back in 2007, she’s always been accompanied by some iteration of her band The (Black) Sea. I’d have to go back to SXSW 2007 to recall the last time I saw her in a stripped-down acoustic format (also the very first time overall), and even then she was backed by a hastily-recruited drummer and second guitarist because The Sea had gotten lost en route.

The call for backing players is a reasonable one as both her records – Neptune City and this year’s Mondo Amore – are pretty produced affairs, but it’s key to remember at her core Atkins is a folk/blues-rooted singer-songwriter and has had more than her share of experience performing with just her guitar, voice and songs. That’s all she brought with her on this evening and it was more than enough. Well, those and some hilarious anecdotes; for serious, the evening could have just been her sitting there – no guitar – and telling stories and it would have been worth the price of admission. But yes, she sang too.

Brassy set opener “Maybe Tonight” set the tone for the night, which is to say it wouldn’t be a quiet, navel-gazey affair. She promised that the set would mostly be country versions of her songs – and indeed, “Cry Cry Cry” was extra honky-tonky-ish – but most songs retained their basic stylistic personalities and there were a fair number of what she called the “sad bastard” songs, but even those were delivered with energy and conviction thanks to her room-filling voice. The set was all over the place as far as where it drew from, covering both albums, the rarely-heard title track of her debut Bleeding Diamonds EP, a new song entitled “Call Me The Witch”, and covers of Leadbelly, Benji Hughes and Cotton Mather (about whom she spilled the beans regarding an upcoming reunion at SXSW). After complimenting the audience on how quiet and attentive they were all night, she invited all to join in on “The Way It Is” and for the show closer and in what’s becoming a bit of a Drake tradition, came offstage to play “Neptune City” in the audience with everyone singing along.

Make no mistake, I loved both the widescreen, ornate presentation of Neptune City and the rawer, rockier Mondo Amore but if for her third record Nicole Atkins decides to peel things back to little more than what we saw on Saturday night, I’ve no doubt it’d be just as sublime.

Hater High was also in attendance and has the whole show recorded and available to download; it all sounds great but the banter prior to “Hotel Plaster” is especially worth hearing. The Free Lance-Star also has an interview.

Photos: Nicole Atkins @ The Drake Underground – December 3, 2011
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vitamin C”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Maybe Tonight”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City”

The Quietus talks to Janet Weiss of Wild Flag.

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert with tUnE-yArDs.

The Quietus interviews both Erika Anderson of EMA and Nika Roza Danilova of Zola Jesus.

Kind of an odd bill, but together The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys get to cross “go on an arena tour of North America” off their to-do lists. They’re at the Air Canada Centre on March 14 – presale goes December 6 at 10AM, public onsale on December 9. The Black Keys’ new album El Camino is out Tuesday.

Video: The Black Keys – “Tighten Up”
Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Suck It And See”

Austin 360 talks to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

The second Archers Of Loaf reissue – Vee Vee – has an official release date of February 21, and The AV Club has all the salient info. And they’ve also got Eric Bachmann doing a
One Track Mind performance and interview for “Web In Front”. Meanwhile, Bachmann puts his Crooked Fingers hat on to chat with Creative Loafing and The Phoenix New Times.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”

The first official single from Guided By Voices’ reunion record Let’s Go Eat The Factory is now available to download, all 1:44 of it. It will probably take you longer to read this interview with Bob Pollard at The AV Club than to listen to the song.

MP3: Guided By Voices – “Doughtnut For A Snowman”

Loud & Quiet interviews Ryan Adams, in town at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 10.

Blurt talks to Britta Phillips of Dean & Britta about being the voice of Jem (of Jem & The Holograms) back in the ’80s while Listgeeks chats with both her and Dean Wareham. And over at Captain’s Dead, they’ve got a downloadable recording of the “Plays Galaxie 500” set they did at Primavera in Barcelona back in May.

The Daily Beast talks to Michael Stipe and Mike Mills about the end of R.E.M..

Charles Bradley has released a new MP3 from No Time For Dreaming. He and his Extraordinaires are at Lee’s Palace on February 11.

MP3: Charles Bradley – “Heartaches & Pain”

Wye Oak stops in by Berlin Sessions for a video session. They open up for The National at The Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Dum Dum Girls.

Spin points out that Sleigh Bells’ website has been highjacked by a trailer for what is presumed to be their new album. It’s called Reign of Terror and it’ll be out when it’s out.