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Posts Tagged ‘Death From Above 1979’

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Hall Of Mirrors

Review of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan’s Uzu

Photo By Derek BelchanDerek BelchanIf you thought that unclassifiable Montreal-Toronto outfit Yamantaka//Sonic Titan would have difficulty following up their utterly 2011 debut YT//ST, that their blend of prog-rock, Japanese opera, and metal amongst many other influences would inevitably turn from unique to self-parody, or that the pressure of going from obscurity to 2012 Polaris Prize shortlister would paralyze them creatively, then you don’t need to look up what Uzu – the title of their second album due out on October 29, means – it means “you are dead wrong”.

Even as an avowed fan of the band, I wasn’t sure how they’d follow up YT//ST, so singular a work that it seemed to be, but clearly Yamantaka//Sonic Titan had no such reservations. Whereas much of the excitement of YT//ST came from the primal, alchemical reactions of bringing their disparate elements and ideas together, Uzu intricately crafts them all together with a much more assured hand – rather than melding all those styles together, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan now sound like they’ve created their own. And remarkably, that’s not even what stands out the most about Uzu – that would be how much better they’ve gotten at sounding conventional.

Lead track “Atalanta” opens with a classical piano figure that is quickly joined by Ruby Kato Attwood singing a plaintive and achingly pretty melody. It’s the sort of move that a band determined to hold onto the “experimental” adjective might eschew as too straight, too accessible, but which too Yamantaka is clearly just the right thing to do for the song. The greater emphasis on melody and straight emotion persists through the record and gives Uzu a heart that YT//ST might have possessed, but kept in the background. The two-part “Seasickness” is the best example of how far they’ve come, with the first part emphasizing the austere beauty of the approach and the second demonstrating how well it meshes with their established sound. What this all means is that those who liked Yamantaka before because they were weird will continue to like them because their weird, but those who found them too weird before may well now find them to be sufficiently more accessible to be won over. What this all means is that with Uzu, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan may now be unstoppable.

Pitchfork has an advance stream of the album. They play The Garrison on November 6.

Video: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “One”
Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / Uzu

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from The Belle Game’s debut Ritual Tradition Habit, while NOW previews their show at The Drake Underground on Friday night, October 25, with an interview.

Video: The Belle Game -“River”

Your latest Arcade Fire inevitability updates: Pitchfork has a lyric video for the next officially-released preview, NPR will host a live concert showcasing Reflektor before its release the next day, and both Rolling Stone and Macleans have interviews with Win Butler about the new album, The National Post with Will Butler, and Radio Free Canuckistan throwing in Q&As with Richard Reed Parry and Tim Kingsbury for good measure. Update: And yeah now you can stream the album in whole.

Lyric Video: Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
Stream: Arcade Fire / Reflektor

Pitchfork has stepped up with an advance stream of the new Moonface record Julia With Blue Jeans On, which comes out on October 29.

MP3: Moonface – “Everyone Is Noah, Everyone Is The Ark”
Stream: Moonface / Julia With Blue Jeans On

Kashka has premiered a new video from her forthcoming Bound at Indie88; the album is out November 5 and there’s a record release show for it at The Great Hall on December 5.

Video: Kashka – “Never Had It”

Exclaim reports that the new album from Vancouver retro-rockets Chains Of Love will now be an EP, or series of EPs, starting with Misery Makers Vol. 1 which comes out November 5.

The Vancouver Sun, Halifax Chronicle Herald, and What’s Up interview Braids. They’re at The Great Hall on November 10.

Neil Young continues to make his fans easy to Christmas shop for via his Archives series; Consequence Of Sound reports that he’ll release Live At The Cellar Door, capturing a 1970 residency in Washington DC, on November 26.

The Besnard Lakes have released a new video from Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO; they’re at Lee’s Palace on November 26.

Video: The Besnard Lakes – “Colour Yr Lights In”

Death From Above 1979 want some of your Boxing Day spending money, having just announced a show at The Danforth Music Hall for December 26. Tickets will run between $33.50 and $39.50.

Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”

Shad explains some of the stories behind the lyrics on Flying Colours to The Grid and also talks to JAM, The Huffington Post, The Edmonton Journal, The Coast, and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. He’ll be back in town to perform it at The Danforth Music Hall on January 31.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Rose Cousins; The Georgia Straight also has an interview.

Paper Bag Records is proud to present a new video session with Diana. Or at least I assume they are. Why wouldn’t they be?

Monday, October 31st, 2011

You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

Death From Above 1979 at Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFirstly, thanks to The Grid for their preview piece on the Death From Above 1979 reunion tour which finally made it home for two nights at the Sound Academy last Thursday and Friday night. They do a far better job of encapsulating the band’s backstory than I could, since though I was certainly around for their first heyday in the early aughts, I wasn’t much of a fan. Some of their disco-metal hybrid was appealing and I dug Jesse Keeler’s bass tones, but it was generally too aggressive for my tastes and Sebastien Grainger’s vocals were definitely not my thing. When they announced they were splitting up five years ago, I didn’t give it half a shrug.

So why be at the Sound Academy to see the reunion? Mostly curiosity about this reunion which, even in the era of reunions, felt different to all the others. For starters, the response to it seemed disproportionate to how big they were when they broke it off, but as The Grid points out they were on the cusp of blowing up when they split and rather than see interest in them fall off a cliff as a result, evidently it kept growing into the realm of myth. Hence the high billing on festivals worldwide. Hence the playing to more people at home over two nights than they probably did in total over their first run. So curiosity, and also the fact that I happened to be outside the Beauty Bar in Austin, Texas back in March when they were soundchecking their surprise SXSW appearance – their very first comeback show and eventual near-riot – and it sounded great.

I’ve been to my share of reunion shows and most have had the sort of demographic you’d expect; mainly older fans from said act’s first go-around indulging in a bit of nostalgia with the mean age brought down a notch by kids who discovered the act in their fallow years and finally getting a chance to see them live (I tend to straddle the two). For DFA1979, however, the audience was overwhelmingly young – so much so that you got the sense if they hadn’t booked an all-ages venue, they wouldn’t have needed two shows. My theory is that those who’d followed the band in the first half of the decade had largely outgrown them, no longer running on the necessary blend of hormones and adrenaline, and instead these shows were being attended by those who’d been in high school or college when DFA were at their peak – see above about hormones and adrenaline – but had never gotten the chance to see them live. Until now.

And with youth comes energy and the jammed room was rather crackling with it as they awaited their hometown heroes to emerge, getting into form with a little exploratory crowd surfing to Iron Maiden over the PA and chanting, “D! F! A!” the way you might hear “U! S! A!” at a monster truck rally. With that as the pre-show noise floor, then it was no surprise that security had orders to be extra-vigilant and rightly so – when the curtain covering their giant “DFA 1979 2001-2006” tombstone backdrop fell to the floor and Keeler and Grainger strode out onstage, shit was lost (and so was their stage garb, with the all-in-white, bleached-blonde Grainger looking rather Jacob and Keeler playing The Man In Black, but I digress).

I must confess to only knowing a few songs from the DFA1979 oeuvre (even though it consists of just a single full-length in You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine and a few EPs and singles) but I don’t think that was a real issue as their aesthetic is pretty limited. Imagine grinding, metallic bass and drum riffing seasoned with synths and wailing vocals and you’re pretty much there. But what they lack in range, they more than make up for in volume and vigor. They pounded out one song after another while the crowd surged like a wave pool, steadily cresting with crowd surfers as drinks, clothes and three-finger devil salutes flew about. Early on it seemed like it’d be all business for the duo, with a “Thank you, we’re from here” offered by Grainger as the only bit of banter, but later on they got chattier with a highlight of the banter being Keeler’s response to a request for a bass solo: “every song is a bass solo”.

As mentioned, things got fairly samey to me after a while with the band offering sleek aggression and relentless rhythm in lieu of hooks – not that my head ever stopped bobbing to the beat. “Romantic Rights” was appreciated not only because its killer opening riff remains a high point in the entire DFA1979 catalog, but because Grainger took the opportunity to get up from behind the kit and wander the stage while singing, proper frontman-style. But even when my attention wandered from the music, there was also the audience to watch as they continued to freak out, head bang, what have you throughout the show. I may have been there mainly out of curiosity, but for many/most this was something they’d been waiting for for years and probably never expected, considering how acrimonious the original split had seemed. And for them, I’m pretty sure it was everything they’d hoped for and more. I get it, but I still don’t like the vocals.

Exclaim, NOW, BlogTO, The National Post and The Globe & Mail all have reviews of the show(s).

Photos: Death From Above 1979 @ The Sound Academy – October 27, 2011
MP3: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”
Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Black History Month”
Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”

Arctic Monkeys have released a new video from Suck It And See.

Video: The Arctic Monkeys – “Evil Twin”

PopMatters chats with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons.

The Quietus talks to Jim Reid of The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Exclaim reports that Elvis Costello will be releasing a live set culled from the Los Angeles dates of this year’s “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” tour, which came through town in June. Elvis Costello & the Imposters: The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! will be released as a limited-edition CD/DVD/10″ box set on December 6 – with price to match – and less fancy editions will be released in the new year.

GQ talks to PJ Harvey.

Spin is offering a stream of the opening track from Noel Gallagher’s solo debut Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, out next Tuesday and showcased over two nights at Massey Hall on November 7 and 8. The Globe & Mail has an interview.

Stream: Noel Gallagher – “Everybody’s On The Run”

Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers discusses his Polaroid fetish with The Guardian. The images compiled over the Manics’ career will be compiled in a book entitled Death of a Polaroid: A Manics Family Album, out next month, and the band’s new best-of comp National Treasures is out today in the UK.

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Globe & Mail and The Guardian talk to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine about her second album Ceremonials, out this week.

Exclaim points to a stream of both sides of a new 7″ from former Long Blondes singer Kate Jackson, limited to 300 pieces and due out December 7. You may recall a different song was premiered a few months back, but it wasn’t sold physically so this is her first “proper” release.

MP3: The Kate Jackson Group – “Date With Dawn”
Stream: The Kate Jackson Group – “Wonder Feeling”
Stream: The Kate Jackson Group – “The Atlantic”

And Prince has announced two dates at the Air Canada Centre on November 25 and 26 as part of his “Welcome 2 Canada” tour. Yes he’s crazy but he’s also an incredible performer and if the “Welcome 2 America” shows already done are any indication, he’s giving the fans what they want this time out. So… yeah. Tickets on sale this Friday, November 4 at 10AM, ranging from $67.75 to $268.25, fees included.

Video: Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy”

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

"Luno"

Death From Above 1979 covers Bloc Party

image via WikipediaWikipediaAs recently as a year ago, it didn’t look like this cover would ever get a chance to be aired out again in a legitimate manner. Sure, I posted it back in 2007 when Sebastien Grainger’s new band The Mountains opened up for Bloc Party, but that was tenuous at best – Death From Above 1979 had been inactive since 2006 and Bloc Party were formally on hiatus as of Summer 2009.

And yet here we are, with both sides of the equation back in action. DFA1979’s return to performance was unexpected and improbable, considering the terms on which the original run ended (check out the original farewell note) but time heals all and if not, money makes a pretty good bandage and DFA1979 has been doing the festival circuit all year and are finally doing some Canadian dates, including two hometown nights at the Sound Academy on October 27 and 28.

As for Bloc Party, they got back to business this Fall and garnered some headlines with both Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack “took the piss”, as the Brits say, with the media and started a little firestorm about Okereke having been kicked out of the band and the other three auditioning new singers (Grainger has a little fun with that on Twitter). But with the dust settled and the transcripts and recordings made a matter of public record, the net take-away is that Bloc Party remains Bloc Party and are working on a fourth record. Just like they always said they would.

As for this track, it originally showed up as the b-side to DFA1979’s “Black History Month” single and was then included in the Silent Alarm Remixed album because, well, it was pretty great.

MP3: Death From Above 1979 – “Luno”
Video: Bloc Party – “Luno” (live)

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Heaven's Gonna Happen Now

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhat happens when The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart meet the pains of being busted up in shoulder? You take advantage of the fact that said band used an off day on their touring itinerary to play an in-store a day before their official show, so as to avoid having to stand around The Opera House for three hours, possibly/probably looped on meds. Which is basically what happened on Monday night at Sonic Boom.

Despite the fact that Pains’ self-titled debut was one of my favourites of 2009, I hadn’t seen the New York outfit since their local debut that February, when their buzz was just building and their packed Lee’s Palace show was one of their largest audiences to date. I missed their next two local shows that same year, but obviously the past two and a half years of steady touring through bigger and bigger stages has served the band well, honing them from a group of adorable wide-eyed kids at the start of a great adventure to a pretty damn tight rock band… who are still adorable. Their second album Belong captured this evolution pretty well, keeping the Sarah-referencing winsome pop core that made their debut so delicious but dressing it up in bigger, thicker production that added a little or a lot of roar to their guitar jangle.

It’s interesting to re-read my comments on the live Pains experience circa that Lee’s show and contrast them with the show they put on Monday night. That band was a shy four-piece, light on presence but charming nonetheless and had barely enough material to fill out 45 minutes including encore. This time out they numbered five, with second guitarist Christoph Hochheim along to fill out the sound, and played with the confidence of a band who’s no longer just happy to be there – they were there to play and play well and loud, even if it was just a freebie in the basement of a record store. And to that end, they played a full and sweaty 45-minute set – presumably the same one they delivered the day before to thousands at Osheaga – the the delight of those who opted to wind out their long weekend there instead of clutching a beer on some patio. I’m sure the hundreds who filled the Opera House last night got just as good if not better of a show, but for me this was an ideal opportunity to catch up with the band and still rest up the arm.

Chart and Paste have feature pieces on the band.

Photos: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Sonic Boom – August 1, 2011
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Young Adult Friction”
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Come Saturday”
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Everything With You”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “The Body”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Say No To Love”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Higher Than The Stars”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Young Adult Friction”
Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Everything With You”

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from American ambient-pop artist John Maus, who has a date at The Drake Underground on September 30 in support of We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. The Los Angeles Times also has a feature piece.

MP3: John Maus – “Believer”

I am going to assume that The Naked & Famous’ show at Lee’s Palace next week is well and proper sold out because otherwise, they wouldn’t have already announced a return engagement – October 6 at The Phoenix, tickets $20.

Video: The Naked & Famous – “Girls Like You”

Fans of all things rootsy and rocking will want to keep October 30 open, as that’s the day the double-header of Blitzen Trapper and Dawes hit the Opera House. Blitzen Trapper will be promoting their latest American Goldwing, out September 13, while Dawes released their second album Nothing Is Wrong back in June. And to whet your appetite, they’re giving away a six-track sampler EP in exchange for an email at either of their official websites. Playback, Illinois Entertainer and Boulder Weekly have interviews with Blitzen Trapper.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “American Goldwing”
MP3: Dawes – “Love Is All I Am”

Having played pretty much every major festival on the circuit, the Death From Above 1979 reunion finally comes home for a show at the Sound Academy on October 28, tickets $36 in advance.

Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Blood On Our Hands”
Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”

Also in the finally department, those Feist tour dates announced last week have been enhanced with some Canadian dates, including a December 1 stop at Massey Hall. Exclaim has the complete itinerary as of right now, as well as the cover art and tracklisting for her new record Metals, out October 4 and a third vignette preview of the new record is up on her website.

Video: Feist – “Mushaboom”

And for those who’ve gone to put the above two dates in their calendars only to find prior commitments pencilled in, I offer these options – rather than try to choose between DFA1979’s sweaty shirtlessness at the Sound Academy and Dan Mangan’s bearded sensitivity at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, catch Dan either the night before in Hamilton or the night after in Guelph. And as for choosing between Feist and Austra’s homecoming gig at The Phoenix that same night, note that the December 2 slot on her itinerary is currently vacant and the last times she played Massey back in 2007 and 2008, she did two nights and in ’08, there was also that Air Canada Centre nightcap. You do the math.

PopMatters has an interview with Austra’s Katie Stelmanis.

Daytrotter has got a session with Zeus, who’re playing a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square on September 9.

NOW talks to Owen Pallett about getting the band back together, in this case Les Mouches. Pallett and company are at the Phoenix tomorrow night warming things up for Beirut.

The Huffington Post talks to Torq Campbell and Amy Millan of Stars about their ten-year anniversary as a band.

Handsome Furs talk the touring life with The National Post and Georgia Straight.