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Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day Two

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kathleen Edwards, Garbage, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy writeup of day one of Osheaga mentioned a few times how hot it was, but it bears repeating: it was hot. 40 Celsius with the humidity – that’s 104 Fahrenheit, my American friends – and not even much relief in the shade. Why is Friday’s heat relevant to Saturday’s recap? Because Saturday felt even hotter. And why is the heat relevant? I guess it’s not, really, but even days on I still feel like complaining about it. It was damn hot. But even though any rational person would have opted to stay indoors and air conditioned, tens of thousands still headed back onto Parc Jean-Drapeau in the middle of the St. Lawrence River for another day of music. In the heat.

And the earliest or most masochistic of those – your call – were there in time to see The Dø, arguably the best French/Finnish band going, do their thing to kick off the day. Having seen them on their previous to last visit to Toronto in Fall 2010 – their most recent visit being the night before – I remembered that their live experience was a much less eclectic one than you got from their records, focused more on their pop side. But there’s only so much smoothing out you can do for an outfit as artistically restless as they and throughout their set, their odder/proggier tendencies would manifest themselves in outros, jams, what have you. Singer Olivia Merilahti’s charisma works better as slinky than sweaty, but you take what you can get.

Photos: The Dø @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”
Video: The Dø – “Gonna Be Sick”
Video: The Dø – “Too Insistent”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “Playground Hustle”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”

Immediately following on the Mountain stage and way at the opposite end of eccentric was Canada’s sweetheart 2012, Kathleen Edwards, with the first set of the weekend that came with a simple, “yeah it’s hot so why not lay back and soak it in” vibe. Indeed, looked at it from a different perspective, it was rather the perfect place for Edwards’ earnest and genial sort of roots-rock, bolstered by the fact that she’s pretty hellaciously funny – case in point, her comment to the stage hand turning the fire hose onto the audience: “hey, hose guy you and me have a date in 20 minutes”. I don’t see her live enough to not need to be reminded of this, but I did have enough of a reference point to notice that Edwards seemed happier and more content up there than I’d ever seen her, particularly in her older material which was represented by the singles though she did turn to her breakout Voyageur for some deep cuts. I don’t usually expect happiness to translate into great art, but Edwards wears and uses it well.

Huffington Post Music has a feature piece on Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Asking For Flowers”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”

Following Edwards – though with enough of a break between to allow a water run – was Calexico, who thanks to their Arizona roots probably didn’t even notice the heat, and if they had something to say about the humidity, they politely refrained from doing so. And indeed, if any artist on the lineup made music that sounded beaten down and bleached by the sun, it was Calexico. The usually workaholic band had been relatively quiet since 2008’s Carried To Dust, focusing on some archival reissues before getting around to making a new record in Algiers, due out September 11. But their set didn’t worry too much about proving they’d been making new music – opening with “Crystal Frontier” circa 2001’s Even My Sure Things Fall Through, they were much more about creating a deliciously parched, mariachi-tinged atmosphere and maybe getting people thinking, “hey, this heat thing isn’t so bad”. Methinks they succeeded.

Photos: Calxico @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
MP3: Calexico – “History Of Lovers”
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Black Heart”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “Ballad Of Cable Hogue”
MP3: Calexico – “Service And Repair”
MP3: Calexico – “Frontera”
MP3: Calexico – “Spokes”
Video: Calexico – “Para”
Video: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”

Considering they were a local band whose last album Shapeshifter had been a real breakout record – it certainly got me onside after years of indifference – I was a little surprised that Young Galaxy had drawn a mid-day time slot on the festival’s smallest stage. But considering they’d spent much of 2012 writing and recording the follow-up to said record in Sweden – though their Rockethub campaign didn’t reach its target, they made it over anyways? – perhaps they wanted to ease back into the live thing. In any case, they weren’t helped out by the fact that the technical difficulties that plagued the acts I saw on the Forest stage on Friday persisted, the overall mix rather shoddy, or the fact that Young Galaxy have never been the best live act, but the vibrancy of the Shapeshifter material still came through. Interestingly, their live sound seemed more built on conventional instruments and less reliant on electronics than I remembered; it remains to be seen if this was just happenstance for this performance or if it marks another change in direction… the one new song they offered up didn’t stray far from the Shapeshifter formula but I wouldn’t assume what was heard onstage necessarily resembles that which came out of Dan Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio. I look forward to hearing it.

Daytrotter recently posted up a session with the band.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Scène des arbes – August 4, 2012
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Phantoms”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”

Back at the mainstage, it was soon time for Garbage. As much as I hate people who equate bands falling off their own radar with having ceased to exist at all, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten they’d released two albums this century; I thought this year’s Not Your Kind Of People had been their first record in much more than seven years. I wasn’t even really a fan back in the ’90s and had not paid any attention to the Toronto stop of their tour earlier this year, but festival math is different and in this setting, Garbage were a must-see for me if for no other reason than I never had before and I’d surely know a lot of the songs. After all, they weren’t a cult band by any measure, but genuinely successful across their first two albums and ubiquitous across radio and television. Not that any of that necessarily meant anything to much of the Osheaga demographic, who were probably in primary school when Garbage were at their apex, but I digress.

Boasting surely the most spartan stage setup of anyone at the festival – there was almost no gear onstage – they turned in a thoroughly polished performance befitting the 3/4 of the band who’re studio perfectionists and with frontwoman Shirley Manson responsible for providing any and all rawness, which she did with aplomb. Looking as fierce and confrontational as ever – and probably thankful they had an early evening timeslot for even SPF10000 sunblock couldn’t have prevented her paleness from spontaneously combusting at high noon – Manson prowled and strutted around the stage like she owned it; time hasn’t diminished her charisma, that’s for certain. Their tunes have also aged surprisingly well; though their electro-grunge pop sound is inseparable from its era, the hooks and melodies are forever. And I appreciated their seeing the Pretenders’ “Talk Of The Town” quote in the outro of “Special” – probably my all-time favourite Garbage moment alongside the hard-panned guitars on “Vow” – and raising it an extra few lines from “I Go To Sleep”. A nice moment in one of my unexpectedly favourite sets of the weekend.

The Montreal Gazette and Huffington Post have interviews with Shirley Manson and Rolling Stone analyzes her distinctive fashion sense over the years.

Photos: Garbage @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
Video: Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
Video: Garbage – “Tell Me Where It Hurts”
Video: Garbage – “Run Baby Run”
Video: Garbage – “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
Video: Garbage – “Bleed Like Me”
Video: Garbage – “Why Do You Love Me”
Video: Garbage – “Shut Your Mouth”
Video: Garbage – “Breaking Up The Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Cherry Lips”
Video: Garbage – “Androgyny”
Video: Garbage – “You Look So Fine”
Video: Garbage – “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
Video: Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Garbage – “Special”
Video: Garbage – “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Video: Garbage – “Push It”
Video: Garbage – “Milk”
Video: Garbage – “Stupid Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Video: Garbage – “Queer”
Video: Garbage – “Vow”

En route from the mainstages to the far end of the festival grounds, I made my first and only stop at Osheaga’s electronic stage in order to see Sweden’s Little Dragon. I was there well in time but the band were extra-late in getting set up and underway, thus limiting my time to get acquainted with them. I hadn’t really heard much from them before, but an elevator pitch of three Swedes fronted by a little Japanese girl while cranking out beat-heavy electro-soul was enough to get me interested. For the few songs I was able to stick around and with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano was all over the stage, dancing and going to town on her tambourine, they certainly delivered what I’d hoped for and did with a good deal more energy and ferocity than I expected. As I said, I’d have liked to stay and watch more, but I had a long-standing appointment to keep.

Fuse and Rolling Stone have feature pieces on Little Dragon.

Photos: Little Dragon @ Scène Piknick Électronik – August 4, 2012
Video: Little Dragon – “Crystalfilm”
Video: Little Dragon – “Brush The Heat”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”
Video: Little Dragon – “Fortune”
Video: Little Dragon – “My Step”
Video: Little Dragon – “Never Never”
Video: Little Dragon – “After The Rain”
Video: Little Dragon – “Twice”
Video: Little Dragon – “Constant Surprises”

An appointment that dated back to March, when I got to within ten people or so of seeing The Jesus & Mary Chain in Austin at SXSW, but no closer. This was before they made it clear that they’d be on the road for much of 2012, mind, so being shut out and listening to them from the street felt extra painful at the time; needless to say, missing them again was simply not in the cards. Though if I had any fears about the Green stage being jammed before I got there, they were unfounded – the band may have been legends to many, but there weren’t more than a few hundred people gathered to see them close out the night, most of a certain generation and more than a few with kids in tow. No doubt a club show, as they’d sold out in Toronto the night before, would have better suited but this was what it was, and what it was was pretty great.

If you were to drop someone from the ’80s in front of the stage, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea who they were looking at – William Reid may have looked similar to how he did back then, albeit heavier-set, but Jim Reid’s wild shock of hair has long been traded for a rather office-looking cut and it’s hard to imagine the younger him wearing a red Flying Burrito Brothers t-shirt onstage as he did. The time-traveler might also ask why Phil King of Lush was there on bass. And just as they didn’t look like they once did, they didn’t entirely sound like they did either – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While still exceptionally loud, the white noise screech that was their signature circa Psychocandy was localized mainly to Reid’s guitar as opposed to across the entire sonic spectrum and the melodic pop polish that they’d achieved by the end of their recording career (1999’s Munki) was applied to all of their career-spanning set. And while the younger Reid may have looked rather more proper than he once did, his voice still had that Glaswegian sneer and the misanthropic spirit of his lyrics remained – it’s hard to sugarcoat a song like “Reverence”, after all.

We didn’t get to hear Jim Reid berate his brother for messing up at all as I’ve heard he’s done at other shows – some things never change – but he did apologize to the audience for forgetting the words to “Happy When It Rains” and forcing a start-over (the second time that day I’d heard a Scottish person sing about how they enjoy the rain, coincidentally). And while I’m sure they intended having Mad Men actress and Montréal native Jessica Paré come out to sing backups on “Just Like Honey” and cover Hope Sandoval’s parts on “Sometimes Always” as a surprise, the fact that she’d done the same at the previous Buffalo and Toronto shows kind of took some of the wow factor out of it. Unsurprisingly, that’s what most of the reviews of the show focused on but the real important take-away was that even if they never make a new record – and maybe we don’t even want one – The Jesus & Mary Chain still sound amazing and still don’t give a fuck. All hail.

Photos: The Jesus & Mary Chain @ Scène verte – August 4, 2012
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Love Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Cracking Up”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Sometimes Always”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Almost Gold”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Something I Can Have”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Far Gone And Out”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Teenage Lust”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Reverence”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Blues From A Gun”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Darklands”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “April Skies”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”

Some other things that you may want to know about… Cat Power has announced the North American tour dates in support of Sun, out September 4. She’ll be at The Kool Haus on October 20, tickets $34.50 in advance, and a second track from the new record is now available to download.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

Bob Mould is streaming the first single from his new one The Silver Age, out September 4. It sounds like going through those Sugar reissues reinspired him in the very best way, and if you’re unfamiliar with Mould’s extensive body of song but want to start investigating, The AV Club has a helpful beginner’s guide.

Stream: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Rolling Stone has some details on the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Document, due out on September 25.

Paste, LA Weekly, and The Village Voice talk to Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross, who’ve just released a new video and download from their excellent new record Researching The Blues.

MP3: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
Video: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”

Circuital may be over a year old, but that doesn’t mean that My Morning Jacket can’t release a new animated, Galifianakis-powered video from it to coincide with their tour which brings them to Echo Beach next Wednesday, August 15.

Video: My Morning Jacket – “Outta My System”

Lower Dens also have a new video from Nootropics. There’s also interviews at DCist and The Village Voice.

Video: Lower Dens – “Candy”

Tom Waits had everyone convinced last week that he’d be announcing his first tour in forever this week. He didn’t, he just released a new video from Bad Like Me. Never before has such a cool video been met with so much disappointment.

Video: Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”

Rolling Stone talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats about their new record Transcendental Youth. It’s out October 2 and brings them to The Phoenix on October 20.

Britt Daniel chats with Exclaim about his new band Divine Fits, his old band Spoon, and about his other new band, Spl:t S:ngle. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 and they’re at Lee’s Palace September 5.

Fang Island gives aux.tv a track-by-track walkthrough of their latest Major.

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

CONTEST – The Dø @ Lee’s Palace – August 3, 2012

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: The Dø
What: Wildly eclectic Franco-Finnish art-pop duo who draw on rock, folk, electro, and soul influences in equal measure and make them into something quite unique.
Why: Their latest album Both Ways Open Jaws came out in Spring of 2011 in Europe, but not until that November in North America, so they’ve got a reasonable excuse for taking so long to come back to town – they were last here in September 2010.
When: Friday, August 3, 2012
Where: Lee’s Palace in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Support is still to be announced
How: Tickets for the show are $15 in advance but courtesy of Livenation, I’ve got a pairs of passes and copy of the new album on CD to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want The Dø” in the subject line – the slashed o is required – and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 31.
What else: They just debuted a new video from Both Ways at NPR. The San Francisco Examiner also has a quick interview.

MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

DJ, Ease My Mind

Niki & The Dove leads a whole whack of concert announcements

Photo By Eliot HazelEliot HazelDays like yesterday are kind of my favourite. Those are the days where the inbox/RSS/Twitter feed is like a non-stop barrage of concert announcements and they’re great because not only do they put interesting things on my calendar to look forward to, but they also make the next day’s blog post an easy one.

Of all the announcements to come down the pipe, the one that I’m most pleased about is that Swedish electro duo Niki & The Dove will be at The Drake Underground on October 2, tickets $15 in advance. I had originally been disappointed that their first proper North American tour supporting Twin Shadow didn’t include his two nights at Lee’s Palace at the end of July, but they tacked on a handful of headlining dates after that tour wrapped including Toronto. I’m a bit surprised about the size of the venue – having seen them at both Iceland Airwaves last Fall and at SXSW this Spring, their stardom seemed assured and considering those dates were coming a good while after the August 7 release of their debut Instinct, I would think that the buzz would demand a decidedly larger room.

All of which is to say that when tickets go on sale this Friday, if you’re at all interested in seeing this band – which you should be – you should get on tickets quick.

MP3: Niki & The Dove – “Tomorrow”
MP3: Niki & The Dove – “Mother Protect”
MP3: Niki & The Dove – “The Drummer”

Also confirmed rolling through the 416 in the last few days, in chronological order:

Peppy Louisiana five-piece Givers, who had one of the songs of the Summer last year with “Up Up Up” hope that their debut In Light has the legs to keep toes tapping through another Summer tour. They’re at The Drake on July 31, tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: Givers – “Up Up Up”

Echo Beach is a far, far cry from the intimate environs of The Drake Underground where Perfume Genius played in April, but the sum beauty that the pairing of him and Sigur Rós could bring to the waterfront gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. They open for the Icelanders there on August 1, one of four dates they’re doing with them.

MP3: Perfume Genius – “Hood”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Dark Parts”

I had thought that Franco-Finnish duo The Dø might be giving us a pass in support of their latest album Both Ways Open Jaws – it came out in November and they hadn’t been through since September 2010, but they’ve just taken their time getting around to it. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace on August 3, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”

With their new, self-titled album out today, Australia’s Temper Trap have made a date at The Phoenix for August 7 since they’ll be over this way for Lollapalooza anyways. Tickets for that are $26.50 in advance. There’s interviews with the band at MySpace and FasterLouder.

Video: The Temper Trap – “Trembling Hands”

San Franciscan country/garage-pop – maybe barn-pop? – outfit Sonny & The Sunsets have put together a Summer tour in support of their new record Longtime Companion, out June 26. They’re at The Silver Dollar on August 11, tickets $11.50.

MP3: Sonny & The Sunsets – “Pretend You Love Me”
MP3: Sonny & The Sunsets – “I See The Void”

Having made his name with The Frames and The Swell Season (and The Commitments, but we don’t talk about that), Glen Hansard is looking to do the same for Glen Hansard. His solo debut Rhythm & Repose is out June 16 and he’s put together a North American tour that brings him to The Music Hall on September 16; tickets range from $25.50 to $35 in advance. There’s chats with Hansard at Spinner and Exclaim.

Video: Glen Hansard – “Philander”
Video: Glen Hansard – “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting”

Los Angeles art-rock weirdos Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti have yet to formally announce their follow up to 2010’s Before Today, but that they’ve announced a Fall tour that includes a September 19 date at Lee’s Palace – tickets $20 – implies that it’s not far off.

MP3: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Round And Round”

Chairlift are coming back to town for Something and they’ve graduated from The Horseshoe to The Molson Amphitheatre! Of course, it’s in support of Gotye, whom you may know from that one song and whom you won’t remember in a year, but still. That’s September 20, and I suspect if you sit tight there’ll be a lot of tickets made available super-cheap in the days leading up to the show. PopMatters has a feature on the Brooklyn band.

MP3: Chairlift – “I Belong In Your Arms”
MP3: Chairlift – “Cool As A Fire”

Though they released the Into The Night EP this Spring as a stopgap, The Raveonettes also have a new album in the works and some Fall tour dates to go with it. They’ll be at The Phoenix on October 2, tickets $18.50.

MP3: The Raveonettes – “Into The Night”

Punk rock veterans Social Distortion have announced a Fall tour that brings them to the Sound Academy on October 20.

Video: Social Distortion – “Machine Gun Blues”

With their Americana album of traditional folk songs grunged the hell up out today, Neil Young & Crazy Horse decided it’s as good a time as any to announce their Fall tour in support of it. They’ll be at The Air Canada Centre on November 19 with Los Lobos as support, tickets on sale June 15. Pricing still not announced but odds are it won’t be cheap; it never is and yet it’s always worth it. Rolling Stone talks to Neil to find out why it’s Crazy Horse and not Buffalo Springfield.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “God Save The Queen”

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

You Wish You Were Red

Review of Trailer Trash Tracys’ Ester

Photo By Harley WeirHarley WeirNo question, the first thing that needs to be addressed is their name. Even in an era with no shortage of terrible band names, Trailer Trash Tracys is an exceptionally terrible band name; the London quartet would probably be the first to admit it. But if there’s an upside to it, it’s that it offers no clues to what their debut album Ester might hold, so you’ve no choice to experience it with an open mind, if perhaps also lowered expectations.

Not that pressing “play” is quite enough – instrumental opener “Rolling – Kiss The Universe” is an abstracted mash-up of textures and tones that may intrigue or annoy, depending on your mood. But stick it out to the deep, twanging guitar line that announces “You Wish You Were Red” and Ester pays off in spades. The band owes obvious debts to Morricone and Badalamenti soundtracks, both in sound and mood, but attempting to pigeonhole them as Brits acting as cinematic tourists doesn’t account for the angelic croon of Susanne Aztoria, the unabashedly synthetic rhythms that bubble up throughout, the general lo-fi gauziness that permeates the proceedings or the unexpected bursts of guitar tapping that remind you that guitar tapping exists.

The sheer number of ideas and influences that go into Ester makes it seem like it should be a random mess, succeeding only occasionally and despite itself, but somehow it all manages to cohere in a way that’s unsettling yet alluring. It’s dream-pop that doesn’t sound much like that which typically gets called dream-pop, perhaps because rather than attempting to evoke what people think the subconscious sounds like, all soft-focus and slow-motion, Trailer Trash Tracys make music that sounds like it actually does – abstract and unpredictable while coming across as completely logical and natural within its own frame of reference. Well, that’s how my subconscious sounds, at least.

Addict Music has an interview with the band, while Spin has an interview as well as a stream of the album, which was released last month in the UK but is out in North America as of February 7.

MP3: Trailer Trash Tracys – “Candy Girl”
MP3: Trailer Trash Tracys – “Candy Girl” (demo)
MP3: Trailer Trash Tracys – “Dies In 55”
Video: Trailer Trash Tracys – “Englehart’s Arizona”
Video: Trailer Trash Tracys – “You Wish You Were Red”
Stream: Trailer Trash Tracys / Ester

The Twilight Sad’s James Graham talks haggis with Food Republic. No One Can Ever Know is out February 7 and they play Lee’s Palace on February 29.

Amanda Mair has released a first video from her self-titled debut, due out February 15.

Video: Amanda Mair – “Sense”

The Daily Record gets to know Niki & The Dove.

Of Monsters & Men have put their international, major-label record deal monies to good use, releasing a first video from My Head Is An Animal. The album is out April 3 and they’re at The Mod Club on April 12.

Video: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”

NOW welcomes The Asteroids Galaxy Tour to Toronto, where they’re playing The Hoxton on Monday night.

The Dø have decided to cover Janelle Monáe. It sounds like this. They also did a session for The Line Of Best Fit, as well as an interview back in November when Both Ways Open Jaws came out.

Stream: The Dø – “Tightrope”

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Hall Music

Loney Dear at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhile I don’t expect anyone loses any sleep over anything I write, I feel compelled to offer a formal mea culpa for my thoughts on Loney Dear’s last record Dear John. Said review wasn’t a thumbs down by any means nor was it inaccurate, but “yeah it sounds like all his other stuff but that’s okay” now feels at best faint praise and at worst, dismissive. And considering how much I’ve grown to properly appreciate the work and vision of Emil Svanängen, I’d like to take the opportunity of Saturday night’s show at the Drake Underground in support of his latest album Hall Music to properly praise him.

As I mentioned, it’s true that all the Loney Dear albums share a similar vibe and dynamic – that of orchestrally ornate pop that ruminates on love and melancholy the ebbs and crests with Svanängen’s falsetto – but rather than imply a lack of new ideas, Svanängen continues to find new angles to observe from and depths and heights to explore within those parameters. That every one of his albums offer a fully-realized suite of songs and are as worthy a point of entry into his catalog as any other is remarkable, and also necessary – his works have been released in North America in as non-chronological a sequence as mathematically possible, with Hall Music being pretty much the first to count as the “new” Loney Dear album everywhere in the world at once.

Within the parameters of what is Loney Dear, Hall Music could be considered a bit of a revolution, particularly when compared to its predecessor, Dear John. Whereas John was sonically dense and had a distinctly sleek and synthetic sheen to it, Hall Music feels sparer but bigger, no doubt a result of the chamber orchestra tour undertaken prior to its recording. It makes full use of the reverberant space around things to create a more stately, almost spiritual, frame to present Svanängen’s compositions, the net result being what may be the most cohesive and beautifully rendered album in the Loney Dear canon.

So you might think that reproducing all of the grandeur live would require a full band if not a full orchestra. Instead, his brief North American tour was billed as a solo one, which might have raised concerns about the material being done full justice – my reviews of his past two visits in June 2007 and October 2009 hailed his band for being able to bring his complex arrangements to life – but when you consider that the Loney Dear recordings are largely done by Svanängen alone, this might have actually been the more faithful presentation. And considering the stage setup consisted not of a single acoustic guitar but of a fortress of gear arranged on four sides around a single seat, I was pretty confident this wouldn’t be a thin-sounding show.

And indeed, “thin” was about the last thing you could call the hour-long set. Deftly working an array of effects, bass pedals and loopers with his feet while singing and playing 12-string acoustic, Svanängen did a remarkable job of recreating and reinventing material from all of his albums, even adding live percussion by playing an array of drums and cymbals and looping them into the mix. One-man band? One-man orchestra, more like. It wasn’t completely strictly solo – he solicited a choral F# note from the audience and had a tour companion named Susanna (missed the surname but she hails from a town about 10km from where original Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was killed – this was the banter on offer) on backing vox and keys for a few songs. Nor was it flawless as a runaway note from a stuck bass pedal during “My Heart” forced him to dash back to his laptop to silence the offending tone, though full points for not missing a single lyric while doing so.

At one point, Svanängen apologized for the slowness of the material chosen for the set, a consequence of the church settings he’d been playing at home of late, but no apology was necessary as it suited the sit-and-listen mood of the audience quite well. If there was any regret, it was that long-time bandmate Malin Ståhlberg wasn’t on hand to not only add backing vocals but to take lead on my favourite song from Hall Music, “What Have I Become?”. But to have her there would have made it a completely different show, and this one was just about perfect in its way; as beautiful and heartswelling as I’ve learned to expect Loney Dear shows to be, but in a completely new way.

Gimme Indie is streaming a live recording from Sweden a couple weeks ago.

Photos: Loney Dear @ The Drake Underground – November 5, 2011
MP3: Loney Dear – “Calm Down”
MP3: Loney Dear – “My Heart”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
MP3: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “A Few Good Men”
Video: Loney Dear – “Young Hearts”
Video: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
Video: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Video: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
Video: Loney, Dear – “Saturday Waits”

Q solicits a soundtrack for a meal from Amanda Mair.

Björk talks to Clash about Biophilia, from which she has released another new video.

Video: Bjork – “Thunderbolt”

Aux.tv talks shop with Vincent Morriset, director of the film component of the new live Sigur Rós document Inni, out next week. And Jonsi’s solo projects continue with the announcement that he will score the new Cameron Crowe film We Bought A Zoo with new and old material. The soundtrack will be out on December 13 and the film will be released on December 23. Exclaim has specifics, and that title? Not a metaphor.

Trailer: We Bought A Zoo

Franco-Finn duo The Dø will be releasing their second album Both Ways Open Jaws on November 15. An MP3 for a single which came out on their Dust It Off is available now to preview, along with a video.

MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”

If you’re heading to Massey Hall tonight for the first of two shows by Noel Gallagher and are concerned you haven’t heard any of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds because it’s not released until tomorrow, fear not – Rolling Stone has the former Oasis songwriter’s solo debut available to stream so you can get acquainted with all the songs you’ll be patiently waiting through before you hear “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. And apparently a half-hour film documenting the recording sessions of said album is out there; Rolling Stone also has those details.

Stream: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Beatroute profiles The Jezabels, who’ve released a new video from Prisoner – out tomorrow – and will be at The Phoenix on November 24 and 25 supporting Hey Rosetta!.

Video: The Jezabels – “Trycolour”