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Posts Tagged ‘Diamond Rings’

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Toronto Urban Roots Fest Day One

She & Him, Camera Obscura, Joel Plaskett, and more at TURF 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t know if the troops who manned Fort York in the 18th and 19th centuries necessarily knew that they were potentially laying their lives on the line so that future generations could wander the grounds, tall boy in hand and Ray-Bans on head whilst listening to live music, but if they did, they’d be proud. After serving intermittent duty as an outdoor venue over the past few years, Fort York and Garrison Commons has become the go-to site for music festivals in downtown Toronto, effectively replacing the picturesque but logistically problematic Olympic Island. And while it’s not large enough to host something on the scale of Lollapalooza or Osheaga, or even necessarily our own late and qualifiedly-lamented V Fest, it’s a convenient, scenic, and effective space for events like the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest this past weekend.

Unlike the Arts & Crafts anniversary Field Trip in June, the Lolla-Osheagea-drafting Grove Fest in early August, or the Replacements-reuniting Riot Fest later that month, TURF comes out of the gate homegrown – put on by local promoters Collective Concerts – and extra-ambitious, stretching over four nights and two full days plus club shows at The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace, and with a definite eye towards becoming an annual Summer tradition in the city, filling a glaring need in a town that’s otherwise pretty generous for its live music-going patrons (for more background on the festival, check out interviews with founder Jeff Cohen at The Toronto Standard, The Grid, The National Post, The Toronto Star, and The Toronto Sun).

And it all got underway last Thursday evening, under sunny and sweltering skies, with Barr Brothers, the multi-instrumentalised, harp-enhanced quartet from Montreal ably represented the “roots” end of things. Being largely unfamiliar with the band, their musical personality felt somewhat broad, but as the set progressed, settled into an enjoyable range, dwelling largely in the intricate and lovely folk end of things but with confident forays into rougher, bluesy territory, all of it elegantly and impeccably executed.

Photos: The Barr Brothers @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 4, 2013
MP3: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”
Video: The Barr Brothers – “Old Mythologies”
Video: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”

No such stylistic figuring out was needed for Scotland’s Camera Obscura, up next at the other end of the park. I’d seen them what seems like a million times – most recently their second-last visit in June 2009 behind My Maudlin Career (they circled back for another show that November) – but it had still been far too long. But now they were back with a charming new record in Desire Lines and back on the road. And, had there been any doubt, they confirmed that in addition to being top-class purveyors of indie-pop tunes, they could still look unsmiling and dour even on a beautiful Summer’s evening. That’s just them, though, and with a couple touring players utility filling things out on percussion, horns, and steel guitar, they were able to string together all the bright and jaunty pop numbers in their catalog – with a few of the slow burners dropped in for variety – for an ideal smile-inducing, hand-clapping festival show.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe have features on the band.

Photos: Camera Obscura @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 4, 2013
MP3: Camera Obscura – “Fifth In Line To The Throne”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “My Maudlin Career”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “If Looks Could Kill”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “Suspended From Class”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “Come Back Margaret”
Video: Camera Obscura – “The Sweetest Thing”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Honey In The Sun”
Video: Camera Obscura – “French Navy”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”
Video: Camera Obscura – “If Looks Could Kill”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get Out Of This Country”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Tears For Affairs”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Teenager”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Keep It Clean”
Video: Camera Obscura – “Eighties Fan”

It stands to reason that if you open up something of local importance, like say a shopping mall, you’d have the mayor on hand to cut the ribbon (maybe not Toronto’s mayor, but I digress). So if you’re inaugurating a new music festival in Canada, you bring out the de facto mayor of Canadian music, which is to say Joel Plaskett. Following an introduction from fellow sort-of Canuck icon, sportscaster Dave Hodge, Plaskett and the Emergency got to work with a set not too different from the one I saw at The Horseshoe in December, with a solo acoustic set sandwiched between classic rock-outs, but angled more for broad crowd-pleasing than just the die-hards. It’s pretty safe to say there’s no size stage that Plaskett doesn’t feel right at home at, whether playing the rocker or troubadour. And it seemed fitting that having largely missed Canada Day earlier this week because I was in the US, I was now marking Independence Day with as concentrated a dose of Canadiana as you could hope to find.

The Gate has an interview with Plaskett.

Photos: Joel Plaskett Emergency @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 4, 2013
MP3: Joel Plaskett – “When I Go”
MP3: Joel Plaskett – “Deny Deny Deny”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Somewhere Else”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “Through & Through & Through”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “You Let Me Down”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Fashionable People”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “Happen Now”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “Natural Disaster”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “Paralyzed”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Work Out Fine”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Come On Teacher”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “True Patriot Love”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Maybe We Should Just Go Home”
Video: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Clueless Wonder”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “She Made A Wreck Outta Me”
Video: Joel Plaskett – “News Of Your Son”

On an evening of TURF firsts, She & Him had the distinction of not only being the first headliner, but the first ones to reveal the very existence of the festival to the world when it was listed in their tour itinerary in support of Volume 3 back in January. It was a personal first for me, as well, seeing them for the first time outside of SXSW where I caught one of their earliest shows in 2008 and again in more seasoned form in 2010. It looked to be Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s same six-piece backing band in place as at that second show – nice to see they’ve kept the unit together over the years – and also in place was their strict “no photos” policy, applied to the entire audience and most of the media. This was a source of some grousing from those hoping to leverage the star power on display into more Instagram likes, but for those who accepted it and watched the show with their eyeballs, it was a pretty enjoyable show.

It may be an overstatement to say that had She & Him been exactly what they are musically but without the principals being who they are, they wouldn’t be where they are now – okay, any outfit with someone of Matt Ward’s guitar and arrangement skills would demand to be heard – but you can’t argue that having someone of Deschanel’s profile fronting them offered a pretty big leg up. She’s not an astonishing talent as a singer or a songwriter, but she’s certainly good enough to pull off the uncomplex but endearing retro-pop songs that she writes, particularly when surrounded with the players that she is. And considering that between the release of their first record in 2008 and now, she’s gone from an indie film darling to legit network sitcom star, the her commitment to She & Him remains as strong as it is actually pretty impressive.

Also impressive is how much she’s grown as a frontperson and performer. She’s not Juliette Lewis, by any measure, but considering how deer-in-the-headlights terrified she was at that first SXSW show, the assuredness she’s got on stage now if nice to see. Ward, also, was more engaged with being the titular Him in the band, stepping out of the shadows for some showy guitar moves and to elicit swoons with his gravelly vocals on the duets. Together, Ward and Deschanel have a charming if decidedly PG sort of chemistry, perfectly suited to the chaste, sock hop-esque concepts of romance that they specialize in. High points were the Chapin Sisters-harmonized rendition of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” against a backdrop of stars, a sweet version of Ward’s own “Magic Trick”, and a fiery guitar duel between Ward and Mike Coykendall to close out “In The Sun” and the main set. And also that the first day of the first TURF ever went off beautifully.

Photos: She & Him @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 4, 2013
MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
Video: She & Him – “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”
Video: She & Him – “Don’t Look Back”
Video: She & Him – “Thieves”
Video: She & Him – “In The Sun”
Video: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

Exclaim has a conversation with Louise Burns about her new album The Midnight Mass as well as an advance stream of said record ahead of its July 9 release date.

Stream: Louise Burns / Midnight Mass

Exclaim gets Diamond Rings to play an acoustic video session. He’ll be fully plugged-in when opening up for OMD at the Danforth Music Hall on July 11 and 19.

Exclaim talk changes in direction with Lightning Dust, in town at The Drake on September 10.

The Grid checks in with Dallas Good of The Sadies, whose new album Internal Sounds will be made external on September 17.

Exclaim has the first batch of live dates from Rae Spoon in support of his new record My Prairie Home, coming August 13, and they include a September 18 date at The Gladstone in Toronto.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Crash Landing”

The Montreal Gazette and Spin have feature pieces on Austra, who play a hometown show at The Phoenix on September 27.

The Grid talks to Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras about their new 7″ “Gay Goth Scene” and the new album, Age, that it precedes. That is due out sometime this Fall.

Evening Hymns have released a new video from their Polaris-longlisted album Spectral Dusk.

Video: Evening Hymns – “Song To Sleep To”

Stars have premiered the newest video from The North at The Huffington Post.

Video: Stars – “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It”

Huffington Post talks to Al Spx of Cold Specks about collaborating with Moby on his new record and where she’s going with her own next album.

The Guardian has a video session with Rachel Zeffira, wherein she performs her version of The Beatles’ “Because”; she plays one of her own songs in session for Chart.

aux.tv has an interview with Odonis Odonis.

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Never Minding

Hooded Fang well past teething stage with Gravez

Photo By Sara Amroussi-GilissenSara Amroussi-GilissenWhen Toronto’s Hooded Fang first surfaced in early 2009, despite being over a year away from releasing their debut full-length Album, they seemed inescapable on the club circuit – I saw them thrice that year without trying at all. And because of that concentrated dose, and even though they were clearly still in the early stages of finding themselves, I assumed that sugary, ramshackle twee-pop would remain the bedrock of what they were about. Which was fine and fun, but not enough to hold my attention.

As it turns out, they were on an accelerated evolutionary track, with their second album Tosta Mista coming out barely a year after their first and pointing to a more focused and compact aesthetic that traded the “twee” modifier for “garage” and “surf”. Their third album Gravez, out tomorrow, brings even more changes as the band lineup has been whittled down from its original seven-piece collective to a lean quartet and in the process, getting louder, harder, and steering their sound towards more time-warped, psychedelic destinations. If you handed me this record four years ago and told me that this is what that instrument-swapping, glockenspiel-tapping, shambolically giddy outfit would become, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet, here we are.

Exclaim and Cut From Steel have interviews and The Grid a video session with the band, who’ve just released a new video from Gravez. They play a hometown release show for the new record at The Horseshoe this Friday night, May 31.

Stream: Hooded Fang / Gravez
Video: Hooded Fang – “Ode To Subterrania”

Artrocker has an interview with Young Galaxy, who make their first post-Ultramarine Toronto appearance at Lee’s Palace on May 31.

The Coast interviews Hayden, who is participating in the Arts & Crafts Field Trip festival at Garrison Commons on June 8.

Also playing that fest as well as NXNE at BLK BOX on June 14 are Vancouver’s Gold & Youth; VUE and The Province have feature pieces on the band.

Though not out until August 20, Diana’s debut album won’t be self-titled after all, but carry the title of Perpetual Surrender, the change intended to head of potential legal issues. Exclaim explains why. Diana are doing NXNE at The Horseshoe on June 13, and then opening for Tegan & Sara and fun. at Downsview Park on July 6.

CBC Music, Exclaim, Montreal Gazette, and Dummy have feature pieces on Majical Cloudz, whose NXNE showcase comes June 15 at BLK BOX.

The Fly interviews Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose new album Olympia comes out June 18.

Vancouver’s Lightning Dust have released a video and download for the first song from their new album Fantasy, out June 25.

MP3: Lightning Dust – “Diamond”
Video: Lightning Dust – “Diamond”

Diamond Rings gives Exclaim some hints as to the direction of album number three, due out sooner than you might think. They open up for OMD at The Danforth Music Hall on July 11 and 19.

Beatroute chats with The Belle Game, coming to town for the Soundclash Festival at Harbourfront Centre on July 13.

The Line Of Best Fit asks some questions of Sarah Neufeld, whose solo debut Hero Brother comes out August 20.

Suuns have released a new video from their latest, Images du Futur; The Province also has an interview.

Video: Suuns – “Sunspot”

Doldrums also have a new video from their debut album Lesser Evil.

Video: Doldrums – “Holographic Sandcastle”

Exclaim talks to Jim Guthrie about his excellent new solo record Takes Time.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Grimes.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

New Summer

Review of Young Galaxy’s Ultramarine

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsThey couldn’t have known it at the time, but when naming their 2011 album Shapeshifting, Montreal’s Young Galaxy were describing not only their sonic shift from well-worn dream-pop to sleek, futuristic disco, but in their fortunes as well. Their first couple records had failed to launch them into an orbit commensurate with their band name but Shapeshifting would make them, if not stars, then an act who were genuinely doing something fresh and interesting and well worth watching. It was a fresh start that not many artists get.

It would also put whatever they did next under a next-level degree of scrutiny to see if Shapeshifting genuinely the start of a fruitful new direction for the band or just a lucky aberration. Doing everything they could to ensure the former and acknowledging that Swedish producer Dan Lissvik’s job mixing Shapeshifting was an essential part of the record’s magic and success, Young Galaxy doubled down on his input and traveled to Gothenburg to record with him fully-credited as producer, and it’s a gamble that has paid off handsomely. To say an album sounds like its predecessor is usually interpreted as a sign of creative stagnation, but for Ultramarine to be considered an equal to Shapeshifting is actually rather high praise.

The space-age, synthesized aesthetic that so surprised on its predecessor still feels fresh and more importantly, natural. It provides the perfect setting for now-sole vocalist Catherine McCandless’ vocals and their peripheral iciness, but also allows draws out some of her most affecting performances to date, particularly on album bookends “Pretty Boy” and “Sleepwalk With Me”. Also interestingly, Ultramarine doesn’t find the band venturing any further into dancey territory despite being tooled up for it, funky expedition “Out The Gate Backwards” being the notable exception but even that does its work by way of Madchester, rather than via any contemporary EDM affectations. Ultramarine is a strong record that cements Young Galaxy’s place in the Can-rock firmament, and if Shapeshifting posited the question of, “this is Young Galaxy?”, Ultramarine definitively answers it with “this is Young Galaxy”.

Exclaim talks to Catherine McCandless and The Advocate to drummer Andrea Silver about the making of Ultramarine. It’s out April 23 but streaming now in whole at Pitchfork. They play Lee’s Palace on May 31.

Stream: Young Galaxy / Ultramarine

Odonis Odonis have released a video for the title track of their just-out new EP Better. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 17 supporting METZ.

Video: Odonis Odonis – “Better”

PopMatters talks to Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and Arts & Crafts about the label’s tenth anniversary. The corresponding compilation Arts & Crafts 2003-2013 is now available to stream in its two-CD entirety at CBC Music, and the festival to go along with the comp – Field Trip – hits Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: various artists / Arts & Crafts 2003-2013

Spin has posted a stream of Moon King’s new Obsession II EP, though the Soundcloud link below is a bit more reliable in performance. Speaking of in performance, their NXNE appearances have been confirmed – look for them on June 13 at The Garrison, June 14 at The Drake, and June 15 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

MP3: Moon King – “Appel”
Stream: Moon King / Obsession II

Paste gets to know Born Ruffians, whose new record Birthmarks came out this week.

The Belle Game are celebrating this week’s release of their debut Tradition Ritual Habit by giving away another download from the album via Rolling Stone.

MP3: The Belle Game – “Blame Fiction”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews No Joy, who are streaming their new album Wait To Pleasure ahead of its April 23 release date over at Pitchfork. They’re also at The Garrison that night opening for Clinic.

Stream: No Joy / Wait To Pleasure

Stereogum talks to Colin Stetson about his forthcoming New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, out April 30. He and his lungs are at The Great Hall on May 19.

Arts Journal and NPR talk to Rachel Zeffira, who makes her local debut at The Drake Underground on May 2.

NPR has posted a Mountain Stage video session with Kathleen Edwards, who is part of the CBC Music Fest at Echo Beach on May 25.

Japandroids are coming back to town for a show at the Adelaide Music Hall on June 17, tickets $25. What the hell is the Adelaide Music Hall, you ask? Don’t worry – The Grid is on it.

MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”
MP3: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

Patrick Watson will be playing a free show at Pecault Square on June 20 as part of this year’s LuminaTO festivities.

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Words In The Fire”
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

BrooklynVegan has premiered a Moog Sound Lab video with Diamond Rings, who’s opening up for OMD at the Danforth on July 11 and 19.

The Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight have feature interviews with Two Hours Traffic.

DIY and Under The Radar talk to The Besnard Lakes.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Canadian Musicfest 2013 Day Three

Savages, Limblifter, and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’re ever debating what to do on a given evening of either Canadian Musicfest or NXNE, you can always do far worse than to simply post up at either The Horseshoe or Lee’s Palace for the entire evening. These Toronto anchors always host a solid bill of bands, both local and international, buzzy and unheralded, covering a swath of genres that will surely have something to delight the ears. Granted, I was there with a more specific mandate than to just take in some music – I wanted to see Savages – but still opted to spend the whole night there and see some other acts I’d not seen before. Because isn’t that the point of these things?

Vancouver’s Zolas drew the opening slot and my immediate impression of their lanky, piano-heavy and slightly funky rock was that they sounded like Spoon, but those comparisons became less valid as the set progressed. The ingredients were similar, but their recipe drew more from laid-back, ’70s pop-rock than the tense, ’80s post-punk influences of the Austinites. This didn’t make their set any less enjoyable, but I can’t say I wasn’t a bit disappointed that they weren’t a more adventurous outfit. Still, their sound was a crowd-pleasing one and when frontman Zachary Gray left the stage to sing the final song from the audience, it felt like he had been invited rather than invaded.

Photos: The Zolas @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: The Zolas – “Escape Artist”
Video: The Zolas – “Cab Driver”
Video: The Zolas – “Knot In My Heart”
Video: The Zolas – “No Talking”
Video: The Zolas – “The Great Collapse”

There’s almost no chance I’d have ever seen Dustin Bentall & The Smokes perform if not for the inherent eclecticism of club festival lineups. Not because I’d have gone out of my to avoid them, but because their brand of unaffected roots-rock ceased being the sort of thing that piqued my curiosity some time ago. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining, because it absolutely was – Bentall has an easy charm and his songs a friendly familiarity that helps compensate for the rather pedestrian songwriting, to say nothing of the live show – Kendel Carson’s aggressively virtuosic lead fiddle playing could make anything sound amazing.

Photos: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
MP3: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes – “Railroad”
Video: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes – “Streets With No Name”

Hamilton’s Young Rival have been kicking around for a while now – six years and two albums, says Wikipedia – but our paths had yet to cross, or at least until last month when one of their clips was shortlisted for the Prism Prize. In any case, I was advised just before their set to expect something between garage rock and power pop, and while this was true, their set tilted much more towards the former. They offered great guitarwork and a solid rhythm section and songwriting which while not the most memorable, was more than serviceable for rock’n’roll. I would have expected more showmanship from a power trio as tight as they were, but while they weren’t disinterested, they also didn’t seem especially fussed about wowing the audience.

Photos: Young Rival @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: Young Rival – “Two Reasons”
Video: Young Rival – “Nothing You Know Well”
Video: Young Rival – “The Ocean”
Video: Young Rival – “Authentic”
Video: Young Rival – “Your Island”

It was good to see that each of the acts on the bill had their own fanbase turn out, based on the enthusiasm of varying percentages of the audience and the constant turnover of the folks gathered up front, but for me it was London four-piece Savages who were the reason for being here this night. Not because I’m a huge fan, but because I’m not. Or more accurately, I was curious to see if the hype around a band with hardly any recorded output and yet just signed to one of the most respected labels around was justified. And for the record, their “they’re amazing live” reputation actually counted as something of a strike in my books, since talking about the performance before establishing the songs are there raises flags with me.

In any case, Savages took the stage certainly looking as you’d expect – lights dimmed, faces stern, and dressed all in black save for frontwoman Jehny Beth, who in addition to looking an uncanny hybrid of Ian Curtis and Sinead O’Connor, also wore a pair of bright red heels. And for the next 40 minutes, it was all business – that business being a relentless, sonic pummeling of the post-punk variety, all hard edges and not so much interested in hooks as stabs. Each song had a distinct musical angle to distinguish it from the others without compromising their aesthetic consistency, but this wasn’t always enough to make them memorable, particularly measured against the standard of their two best songs and set closers, “She Will” – which was highlighted by drummer Fay Milton absolutely destroying her splash cymbal – and “Husbands”. No question Savages put on a good show, but I will still reserve judgement until the May 7 release of Silence Yourself when I can hear if they’ve got the songs to back up the performance.

Photos: Savages @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Stream: Savages – “She Will”

There’s probably a rule somewhere that you can’t call it a festival without some ’90s-vintage reunion act, and that’s where the night’s ostensible headliners Limblifter came in. I wouldn’t say I had any particular affection or enmity towards the Vancouver band, having liked some of their hits back in the day and been indifferent to others, but I could think of worse things than to hear “Vicious” live. It’s worth noting that just as frontman Ryan Dahle has aged remarkably well over the past 15 years, Limblifter’s sound has also held up pretty well. Their slightly strangled, angsty grunge-pop is still very much of an era – on hearing “Screwed Up” I half-expected a space-time wormhole to open up and drag me back to my sophomore year (this would not have been a good thing) – but enough of their repertoire is strong enough melodically to still impress so many years hence; to wit, “Tinfoil” still sounded great. And as evidence that Limblifter was still a going concern in 2013, they introduced some new material that didn’t feel out of place with the old. Whether the folks in attendance were actually interested in adding to their Limblifter collection rather than just hearing the old tunes remains to be seen, but for this night, at least, they were loving it.

The KW Record has an interview with Limblifter.

Photos: Limblifter @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: Limblifter – “Perfect Day To Disappear”
Video: Limblifter – “Wake Up To The Sun”
Video: Limblifter – “Cordova”
Video: Limblifter – “Vicious”
Video: Limblifter – “On The Moon”
Video: Limblifter – “Ariel Vs Lotus”
Video: Limblifter – “Tinfoil”

NOW and The Montreal Gazette talk to The Besnard Lakes about their new album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, out April 2. And if you were thinking that it was about time an advance stream of the album surfaced, you would be correct – CBC Music has it (for Canadians).

Stream: The Besnard Lakes / Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

Beatroute, The Leader-Post, The Province, Metro, and The Times-Colonist chat with Born Ruffians about their new album Birthmarks, out April 16.

Exclaim has premiered the first video from Gentleman Reg’s latest album Leisure Life. He’ll play songs from it at an in-store at Sunrise Records on Yonge St on April 19.

Video: Gentleman Reg – “Waiting Around For Gold”

Consequence Of Sound reports that Caribou will celebrate Record Store Day with vinyl reissues of his first three albums. That’s April 20 for those not keeping track.

Portals talks to Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy about the story behind their new single “Pretty Boy”. Their new album Ultramarine is out April 23 and another track from it is available to stream:

Stream: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”

Exclaim talks to Rachel Zeffira, who is in town for a rare show at The Drake on May 2.

NPR has video of one of METZ’s performances at SXSW this year. They play Lee’s Palace on May 17 and then Downsview Park opening up for Weezer on July 12.

The Toronto Sun, Black Book, and amNY chat with Stars, BlogTO with The Darcys, and The Georgia Straight, Vue, Playback, and FFWD with Hayden – all of whom are part of the Field Trip festival at Garrison Common on June 8.

A Heart Is A Spade and Noisey grabbed interviews with Diamond Rings at SXSW; he opens up both of OMD’s shows at the Danforth Music Hall on July 11 and 19.

Exclaim rounds up some details on Shad’s next album, Flying Colours.

Kestrels have released a new video from A Ghost History.

Video: Kestrels – “Drowning Girl”

Suuns answers questions from Spinner, Noisey, The 405, All The Write Notes, and Ca Va Cool.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Here On In

Review of Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters

Photo via last.fmlast.fmIn some ways, being introduced to British Columbia-born/London-based Rachel Zeffira by way of Cat’s Eyes did less to prepare one for her solo debut The Deserters than coming to it completely cold. That 2011 collaboration with Horrors frontman Faris Badwan presented her as a sweetly-voiced ingenue, and since its strong throwback/girl-group aesthetic was so far removed from The Horrors’ grinding shoegaze, one could reasonably assume that it better reflected where Zeffira’s own influences lay.

It isn’t that The Deserters presents her in a dramatically different light, it’s more that it presents her in a much more revealing one and; one that so much better demonstrates the full breadth of her talents. Her operatic training, only implied by Cat’s Eyes, is much more to the fore here but is never the point. Her voice – a lovely, lilting thing that effortlessly soars when called upon – is a formidable instrument to be sure, but just one of them. While voice and piano do form the foundation of the album, orchestral and electronic flourishes surface throughout and the numbers built around more conventional rock band configurations – with contributions from TOY and S.C.U.M. – add extra dimensions to the album without jarring its flow. Impossibly elegant and beguiling throughout, The Deserters is a timeless, otherworldly, and utterly remarkable debut.

The Fader has an advance stream of the album, out in North America next Tuesday. CBC Music, Violent Success, and The Edmonton Journal all have features on the Canadian ex-pat.

Video: Rachel Zeffira – “Here On In”
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “The Deserters”
Stream: Rachel Zeffira / The Deserters

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Al Spx of Cold Specks, performing at The Kool Haus on March 22 for the Canadian Music Week Indie awards, and at Fort York on June 7 as part of the Field Trip festival.

The Fly has a interview with Suuns, who are playing Lee’s Palace on March 23 for Canadian Musicfest.

The StarPhoenix, The Calgary Herald has an interview with John O’Regan of Diamond Rings, also playing the aforementioned Indies on March 22 and then opening for OMD at The Danforth Music Hall on July 11 and 19.

Vancouverites The Belle Game have released a new video from their forthcoming debut Ritual Tradition Habit, coming April 16.

Video: The Belle Game – “Wait For You”

Exclaim has details on appropriately-titled Takes Time, the first new record that’s not a video game soundtrack from Jim Guthrie since 2003. It’s out May 7 and a first single is available to stream.

Stream: Jim Guthrie – “The Rest Is Yet To Come”

The Fly, Edinburgh Journal, and Exclaim have interviews with Doldrums’ Airick Woodhead. He plays The Horseshoe on May 11.

Toronto-Vancouver electro-pop outfit Gold & Youth caught my ear last Fall but are only getting around to releasing their first album this Spring. Beyond Wilderness will be out May 14 and a first track is available to preview courtesy of Noisey.

Stream: Gold & Youth – “Jewel”

The Skinny and DIY talk to Toronto’s METZ, who’ve premiered a new video from their self-titled debut at Stereogum. They bring all it back home to Lee’s Palace on May 17.

Video: METZ – “Wasted”

Beatroute talks to Hayden.

Toro has an interview with Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon.

The Darcys are working on a new studio album, but that doesn’t mean they can’t release a new video via Under The Radar to remind you of last year’s Aja cover album.

Video: The Darcys – “I Got The News”

Clash talks fashion with Claire Boucher of Grimes.

And finally, RIP Stompin’ Tom Connors.