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Posts Tagged ‘Depreciation Guild’

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Look At What The Light Did Now

Review of Feist’s Look At What The Light Did Now

Photo via FacebookFacebookOf all of the remarkable things that Feist has done in the past few years, one of the most impressive is managing to go from a state of almost complete ubiquity circa The Reminder to one of relative obscurity. Over the last two years, there’ve been the occasional guest appearance on others’ records and even rarer live appearances with Broken Social Scene, but by and large she’s done a fine job of keeping a low profile – presumably working on a new record but no one really knows.

That profile has risen again of late with the upcoming release of Look At What The Light Did Now, a documentary film culled from footage taken during The Reminder tour. Coming out on DVD on December 7 with an accompanying CD of recordings taken from and around the film, it received a hometown screening last night at the Royal Ontario Museum… which probably seemed like a good idea but proved to be an almost disastrous one thanks to the horrible acoustics in the main atrium. But if there was an upside to it, it was that you were forced to pay almost unnatural attention to the film to extract anything comprehensible from the echo- and reverb-drenched audio.

With regards to the film itself, some have questioned if there’s really a need for a Feist documentary when her career isn’t a decade old, and if Light was a biography of any sort, it’d be a valid question. But rather than focus on Leslie Feist the person, it spends most of its running time examining the art around The Reminder – not only the songs and the album itself, but everything surrounding it. The portion focusing on Clea Minaker’s shadow puppet/projections were particularly fascinating; I already regretted not seeing any of The Reminder shows – I last saw Feist perform way back in the Summer of 2005 – and now regret it even more now that I see what I missed.

Other segments recounted the recording of The Reminder in France, the filming of videos for “1, 2, 3, 4”, “I Feel It All” and “Mushaboom”, the last of which is not Reminder period-correct but offered some terrific anecdotes from director Patrick Daughters, and the assemblage of the artwork for The Reminder. Though there were some segments focusing on her early days and ascendancy to stardom, they were kept to a minimum, as were the behind the scenes tour footage that’re typically the bread and butter of musician docs (though the scenes of Feist and her band and crew playing ball hockey was pretty great). Instead, the topic of who she is and how she got where she is was left to be implied by her work, how she approaches her work and how and why she works with others. In focusing on the what and how rather than the who, Look At What The Light Did Now manages to be an engaging and entertaining document of one of Canada’s biggest and brightest musical stars while barely acknowledging that fact.

And in the Q&A with Feist following the screening, the inevitable question of “when is the next record coming” was raised and all that she’d offer in return was that she’d be recording over the Winter – based on that, I wouldn’t expect a new album before next Fall.

Video: Feist & Little Wings – “Look At What The Light Did Now”
Trailer: Look At What The Light Did Now

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene talks about the KC Accidental days with Spinner. Broken plays the Sound Academy on December 9 and 10.

Planets profiles Dan Mangan.

The Guardian talks to Dan Snaith of Caribou.

Away from the city for far too long – she played here four times in eight months circa Neptune CityNicole Atkins returns to Toronto for a show at the Horseshoe on February 26 with support coming from Cotton Jones; tickets $15 in advance. Her new record Mondo Amore arrives January 25.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Gotta Cheer Up”

Keren Ann 101, the new record from, Keren Ann will be out February 21 – the rather divine first single “My Name Is Trouble” is currently streaming at her website.

John Vanderslice has set a Janury 25 release date for his next record, which will bear the title of White Wilderness, a record recorded over three days with the assistance of the Bay Area Magik*Magik Orchestra.

The Depreciation Guild have released a new video from their latest Spirit Youth.

Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Blue Lily”

Prefix and The Toledo Blade chat with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Crystallised

The xx and Warpaint at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen it was announced in June that The xx were not only coming back to Toronto for their fourth show in less than 10 months but doing it in a room far bigger and pricier than anything they’d done before, people thought they were mad. Now it doesn’t seem like madness so much as prescience. For starters, two of those three previous shows were support slots for acts who would have had no trouble selling out even without a buzz band opening and the third was at a room – The Phoenix – that was probably already undersized for them (it too was completely sold out). And really, all three of these shows were before the band REALLY blew up outside of indie circles, never mind the Mercury Prize win for their debut XX a few weeks ago. So was staging last night’s show at Massey Hall ambitious and unthinkable even as recently as a few months ago? Maybe. Was it the right thing to do? Yes, yes it was.

And while it would be presumptuous to suggest that Los Angeles’ Warpaint would find the same level of success as The xx in as short amount of time, they similarly didn’t seem to have any concerns about hitting their market saturation point – this was their third local show in less than four months and fourth in a year, and it’s still not enough as far as I’m concerned. Their debut The Fool, due out October 25, actually remains the last 2010 release that I’m looking forward to and haven’t heard yet and the fact that I won’t even contemplate my year-end lists until I’ve heard it should give you some idea of how much I’m anticipating it.

As to their show, it was interesting seeing how they translated into the much larger environs of a theatre having only experienced them in much more intimate club settings, and while the sound was murkier than ideal, their strengths – namely the thundering and undulating (thund-ulating?) rhythm section of Stella Mozgawa and Jenny Lee Lindberg and serpentine guitars and keening vocals of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman – still came across loud and clear. And while the tempos they operated at made them sound like speed metal relative to The xx, their shared affinity for dark and dreamlike atmospherics should have impressed anyone who showed up in time to catch their 35-minute set; happily, there were quite a few of them but even if Massey had been empty, one suspects the band wouldn’t have noticed – once they started, the quartet were in their own world and seemingly playing just for themselves. We were just fortunate to get to watch.

Any question as to whether The xx could draw enough for a room the size of Massey Hall was moot before the house lights even went down – though not sold out, it was close enough to confirm that The xx were, indeed, huge. Even so, the ongoing complaint from some that their live show was lacking in charisma or stage presence have some basis, although I stand by my standard response of, “well what would you have them do – scissor kicks?” and maintain that their low-key demeanour is fitting to the music they make; they’re a soundtrack to what you get up to in the dark – it’s not about seeing so much as feeling. That said, The xx have improved their live show each time I’ve seen them and this time was the best yet. Perhaps not in terms of actual performance – there were more than a few missed notes and falling out of time with one another, perhaps a consequence of trying to get too loose up there – but for vibe, it was pretty special. For starters, I wager that this was the first time many of the 2500 or so in attendance had seen them play and the excitement in the room was palpable – these folks, who also seemed to have the youngest mean age of any full house I’ve ever seen at Massey Hall – were excited. And though the band were as polite but low-key as ever, when those seated in the floors spontaneously rushed the stage to dance or just get closer to their heroes during “Islands”, they seemed genuinely taken aback by the enthusiasm.

With an intimate delivery that was also possibly even slower and more sensual than on record and playing under a grand yet still somehow dark, meticulously synchronized light show, their set encompassed all of XX plus their cover of Womack & Womack’s “Teardrops”. As they’ve maintained there’s no new material ready to be aired or even any guarantee of a second album, the only “fresh” material came via in the instrumental intros, outros and inter-song segues that they used to expand and differentiate the live renditions from the album versions. The set barely clocked in at an hour including encore, but I didn’t get the sense that anyone felt they didn’t get their money’s worth – they heard everything they could have wanted to.

In a way, you almost hope that they don’t ever make a second record, if just to preserve the purity of their narrative arc thus far. Over a year and a half, these teenagers making music in obscurity have skyrocked to global fame, a Mercury Prize and massive tour of some of North America’s most hallowed venues, and their debut could stand as the single definitive statement of The xx, a document of their youth preserved in amber. In reality, this almost certainly won’t be the last we hear from The xx, but if it were? That’d be okay.

The Toronto Sun also has a review of the show. The Seattle Times has an interview with DJ/producer Jamie Smith, whom Spin reports is releasing a solo single next month.

Photos: The xx, Warpaint @ Massey Hall – September 29, 2010
MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
MP3: Warpaint – “Undertow”
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”
MP3: Warpaint – “Billie Holiday”
Video: The xx – “Islands”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
Video: Warpaint – “Stars”
Video: Warpaint – “Elephants”
MySpace: The xx
MySpace: Warpaint

PopMatters talks to the reunited Chapterhous, in town at Lee’s Palace on October 6.

Film School and The Depreciation Guild, both of whom will be at the El Mocambo on October 4, have each released new videos from their latest albums Fission and Spirit Youth, respectively. Wired talks to Film School’s Greg Bertens.

Video: Film School – “Sunny Day”
Video: The Depreciation Guild – “My Chariot”

Spoonfed and The Georgia Straight talk to Benjamin Curtis of School Of Seven Bells.

Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead tells Spinner they’re hoping to get a lot of mileage out of their latest album Penny Sparkle. They play The Phoenix on October 17.

Exclaim’s cover story this month is Deerhunter, whose latest Halcyon Digest came out this week. They are at the Opera House on October 19.

Spoonfed and Austinist have interviews with The Morning Benders, who premiered a new song in their Take-Away Show for Le Blogotheque. It may well be in rotation by the time they play The Mod Club on November 5.

Exclaim has details on the inevitable deluxe edition of The National’s High Violet which will be available on November 22. The good news is all the bonus tracks will be available a la carte via the usual digital retailers.

Muzzle Of Bees interviews Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

Exclaim chats with Stephen McBean of Black Mountain, in town at The Phoenix on October 31.

Land Of Talk’s Liz Powell weighs in on the subject of illegal music downloads at Spinner (precis: she doesn’t like it one bit).

Daytrotter has posted a session with Born Ruffians.

Peaches will be celebrating the holiday season this year with her production of Peaches Christ Superstar, the content of which should be self-explanatory (but Spinner explains anyways). The touring production wraps December 21 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto.

And all those Neil Young videos from Le Noise are indeed parts of a larger filmic whole, and it’s available to watch in its entirety over at YouTube starting today. Young discusses the album with The New York Times.

Video: Neil Young / Le Noise – The Film

This is going to be about it for this week; off to Las Vegas tomorrow morning for Matador 21 and I’d normally be reporting all about it but… what happens in Vegas and all that. But you can follow along thanks to the magic of the internet as most of the sets will be streaming at MySpace – details at Matablog. And also check out this oral history of Matador Records at MySpace, with two parts up and the final one tomorrow. ‘Tis good reading.

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

All's Well That Ends

Los Campesinos! release EP, return to North America, won’t stay down

Photo By Jon BergmanJon BergmanNot much stops Los Campesinos!. The Welsh troupe shook off the departure of two founding members – keyboardist Aleksandra last Summer and drummer Ollie almost exactly a year later – and have ploughed ahead, continuing to release new music at a ridiculous pace, including their third album Romance Is Boring earlier this year and just this week, following up with a new EP entitled All’s Well That Ends. And just last week, frontman Gareth took a header whilst stage-diving and despite suffering “a sprained wrist, ripped ear, mild concussion and a ‘lump on the head'”, finished the song and the gig.

One thing that they couldn’t plough through, however, was a volcano – namely Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull. Said geological entity’s disquiet this past Spring forced the band to scotch a number of North American dates as they sat in a Heathrow departure lounge instead of pogoing around east coast stages, but they’re aiming to make some of those up and more. They just announced a Fall tour which kicks off in one of the cities who lost a show – Toronto – but instead of the spacious Phoenix, where they were slated to play in April, they’ll instead be at the decidedly clubbier Wrongbar on October 8. Considering the new joint is less than half the size of the old joint, expect the $20 tickets to be gone fast when they go on sale at 10AM on Friday.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “There Are Listed Buildings”
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future”

Paste reports that Noah & The Whale have targeted a March 2011 release for their third album.

Mojo talks to Johnny Marr about his soundtrack work.

Spinner talks to Glen Hansard of The Swell Season about their upcoming projects, which include a Frames reunion and tour for him and a solo record from Marketa Irglova.

Spin talks to Klara S&omul;derberg of First Aid Kit, who will be in town at the El Mocambo on October 15.

Boston post-punk legends Mission Of Burma have booked a date at The Garrison on October 22. So far it looks like a one-off and not part of a tour, but considering they didn’t come up here for last year’s The Sound The Speed The Light and are making it up to us. Either way, if my records are correct, they haven’t been here since Fall of 2006 and while the reunion has been ongoing for some time, do not take them for granted and if you haven’t seen them, do so. End PSA.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3 Partyy”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Max Ernst”

Exclaim reports that Matt & Kim have given their next record a name and release date. Expect to hear a lot of Sidewalks when they play the Phoenix on October 29, as it will be in stores the following Tuesday, November 2.

Daytrotter has a session with The Depreciation Guild; they’re at the El Mocambo on October 4.

NPR is streaming a studio session with Stars. They will be at Massey Hall on October 23.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Time To Listen

Film School and Autolux deliver shoegaze from the Golden State

Photo By Andrew YouseffAndrew YouseffShoegaze as a genre is generally considered to be a British sort of thing, which is reasonable since the concept of playing guitars really loudly while avoiding eye contact with the audience largely originated on that side of the Atlantic, but since the early ’90s, introverts everywhere have picked up guitars and daisy-chained distortion pedals and not a few of those who formed bands call California home. And a couple of the best-known of them are back with new records.

Hailing from San Francisco, Film School have gone through considerable changes since their 2006 eponymous release, both in terms of personnel and sound, softening the somewhat hard edges of that record on the more melodic 2007 follow-up Hideout and from the sounds of the first MP3, their new record Fission – due out August 31 – looks to be their most pop-oriented effort yet. They’re hitting the road this Fall with New York’s The Depreciation Guild, who know a thing or two themselves about building walls of sound as evidenced on their latest album Spirit Youth, and both will be at the El Mocambo in Toronto on October 4.

Los Angeles’ Autolux have managed to remain one of the state/country’s the most revered dreampop acts despite not having released a record since their debut Future Perfect in 2004, but the long wait for a follow-up will finally end next week with the release of Transit Transit. And though you could argue that after waiting six years to hear a new record, what’s another week, the band are now streaming the whole album at their MySpace, giving folks a little extra time to cram on the new tunes before the trio kicks off a North American tour in a couple weeks that rolls through Lee’s Palace on August 24.

MP3: Film School – “Heart Full Of Pentagons”
MP3: Autolux – “Supertoys”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Dream About Me”
Stream: Autolux / Transit Transit

Owen Ashworth has decided that it’s time to pull the plug on Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and as such, his upcoming Fall tour will be his last. Local fans can say thanks and goodbye when he plays The Piston on October 10. Ashworth talks to Exclaim about the decision to hang it up.

MP3: Casitotone For The Painfully Alone – “Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm (When The Saints Go Marching In”

Two acts keeping Canada safe for down-home rock – The Wooden Sky and Yukon Blonde – are teaming up for a cross-Canada tour which will wrap up on November 6 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Wind Blows”

Diamond Rings has finally set a release date for his full-length debut Special Affections – it will be out in North America on October 26. He plays the Lower Ossington Theatre as part of Summerworks on August 11.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”

77 Square talks to Kathryn Calder about both her forthcoming solo debut Are You My Mother? and The New Pornographers.

Under The Radar throws Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham at Devo; interviewing ensues.

The Santa Barbara Independent checks in with Robin Pecknold, who is hitting the road solo as a break from recording the second Fleet Foxes record. There’s also a short tour documentary about Pecknold’s adventures on his own.

MPR has a studio session with Band Of Horses. They’re at the Kool Haus on October 21.

NPR is streaming a session with Retribution Gospel Choir.

Billboard talks to Sam Fogarino of Interpol. Their new self-titled record is out September 7 and they preview it on August 10 at the Kool Haus.

Interview does its thing with The Morning Benders. In addition to two dates at the Kool Haus opening up for The Black Keys next Wednesday and Thursday, they’re giving a free acoustic performance at The Big Chill ice cream on August 4 at 5:30 PM. Free ice cream for the early birds!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The Brutalist Bricks

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and Screaming Females at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangUnderstatement? This has been a very fucked weekend in Toronto. From the moment it was announced late last year that downtown Toronto would host the G20 summit of world leaders this last weekend in June, it has been an inevitability that things would turn out this way – an overwhelming police presence on city streets to greet masses of protesters and demonstrators who acted as camouflage for small groups of so-called anarchists set on turning things violent and wreaking mayhem – all while the world leaders met behind massive fences, oblivious to the tumult outside, and ultimately accomplishing nothing besides agreeing to maybe talk further about the same issues the next time they got together. In other words, the exact same script that has played out at every one of these summits over the last ten years, and with people feigning surprise and outrage whenever any of the above occurs (although the complete lack of leadership and accountability from every level of government and authority this weekend felt new – maybe the Toronto summit decided to allow some ad-libbing?).

Though out of town most of Saturday, I returned to find my neighbourhood had become a mess of smashed glass and boarded-up windows and though the flash points had moved elsewhere, the atmosphere was still extremely tense and discomfiting. Though staying home with the blinds drawn also seemed like a good course of action, a better option was available in heading out to Lee’s Palace where Ted Leo & The Pharmacists had the fortunate timing of playing that night. Or maybe unfortunate, considering that transit shutdowns and road closures made getting around the city difficult and the general advice seemed to be to stay home. Either way, the show was still on and while I might have otherwise liked a distraction from from everything going on in my city, I was curious to hear what Leo had to say. And get rocked.

There wasn’t a need to wait for the headliner for that, though, thanks to tourmates Screaming Females. Their name was a bit of a misnomer as of the trio, only frontwoman Marissa Paternoster was lacking a Y-chromosome but they made up for that bit of false advertising by delivering on the screaming part. Not literally, as in lung-shredding hollers though there was a bit of that, but their combination of classic rock riffage and new wave stutter was pretty impressive and Paternoster’s intensely awkward stage presence kind of entertaining. Their audience wasn’t especially sizeable, but it was appreciative.

“I know this is kind of a weird night”, Ted Leo said a little into their set, “but hopefully we can offer some catharsis”. This was as much comment on world politics as he offered at first, though he was more than willing to get into the state of the World Cup (sorry to see USA go but was fully behind Ghana). Instead, he let his set list do the talking – I don’t know what other cities had been getting, but for Toronto on this most particular of evenings, he and the Pharmacists delivered rocker after rocker, piledriving the fastest numbers and speeding up the others to terminal velocity, all delivered as such a punishing volume that Leo’s vocals were occasionally inaudible under the din. While he’s been touring as a four-piece for some time – they were still a power trio when I first started seeing them – this year’s Brutalist Bricks was the first written and recorded as such, and the new material which comprised the lion’s share of the set really benefitted from the extra complexity and power of James Canty’s second guitar. From the word go, there was no let up in the show’s energy save for when Leo stopped to converse with the crowd a bit, which had filled up nicely though not nearly to capacity, and crack a joke or two.

It was during one of these breaks later on that he finally said he felt obliged to comment on the G20 happenings, and after a bit of back and forth with a patron who wanted more rock, less talk, he basically left it by saying that every one of the songs he would play this night was written in the past ten years and under the shadow of corporate globalization. And that’s probably all that needed to be said; anyone who’s listened to his music, which I think would be everyone there, would know where his ideology lies and implicitly what his stance would be on summits like this and the protests that’d ensue. I’m not sure what I had expected. Maybe some sort of explanation or rationale for what was happening in my city or why it was necessary – and to his credit Leo offered as such but warned it would take “like nine hours” – but that’s unfair. This wasn’t a lecture hall but a rock show – and not a Billy Bragg rock show – and on that count, Leo had more than delivered what was expected. An excuse to pogo during “Me & Mia”, a stellar solo cover of Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes”, a glorious “Timourous Me” and – after handing over his guitar to Canty who broke a string on his – closed the show out with a bloodletting (literally) “Ballad Of The Sin Eater”. Ted Leo has never put on a bad show, but this one reached a new level of intensity and yes, as promised, catharsis that I thank him for and hope is never necessary again.

Photos: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Screaming Females @ Lee’s Palace – June 26, 2010
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have To Die”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb Repeat Bomb (1954)”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Sons Of Cain”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Me & Mia”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Squeaky Fingers”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Under The Hedge”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Come Baby Come”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Under The Hedge” (Treble In Trouble)
MP3: Screaming Females – “Arm Over Arm”
MP3: Screaming Females – “I Do”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Colleen”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Me & Mia”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”
Video: Screaming Females – “Buried In The Nude”
Video: Screaming Females – “Bell”
Video: Screaming Females – “Boyfriend”
Video: Screaming Females – “Electric Pilgrim”
MySpace: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
MySpace: Screaming Females

The National’s Matt Berninger tells Spinner about the time his luggage created a terrorist scare at an airport. Hi-larious.

Pernice Brothers have released a blockbuster, high-budget video from Goodbye, Killer. He’s taking over the editorial reins at Magnet this week, and they kick it off with a Q&A.

Video: Pernice Brothers – “Jacqueline Susann”

Daytrotter has posted a session with Venice Is Sinking.

David Dondero has set a July 23 at the Drake Underground in support of his new record Zero With A Bullet, due out August 3.

MP3: David Dondero – “Wherever You Go”

Nada Surf has recorded a video session for They Shoot Music.

Of Montreal’s new record False Priest will be out September 14, and the first MP3 is now available to download.

MP3: Of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”

PitchforkTV serves up a TunnelVision session with The Depreciation Guild.

The Quietus has an exit interview with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.

And if this past weekend has utterly drained you as well, stock up on some good karma by chipping in and helping this puppy frolic again.