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Posts Tagged ‘Dum Dum Girls’

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Show Me Your Loves

NXNE 2014 comes with blessings from St. Vincent

Photo By Renata RakshaRenata RakshaIt may not technically be Winter out there yet, but it certainly feels it and so you can’t be blamed for wanting to look ahead to Summer – particularly when NXNE is getting out there months earlier than in the past with artist announcements for next year’s festival, which will run June 13 to 22 – this means the main weekend of shows is a week later than past years and thus will NOT be happening concurrently with LuminaTO, Taste Of Little Italy, the MMVAs… all of which is to say you will actually be able to get around the city that weekend.

Leading announcements off in the biggest font is Ms Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent. Yesterday, she confirmed details of her fourth album – a self-titled effort coming out February 25 – and today announced a Spring tour behind the record. NXNE isn’t scheduled contiguously with those dates, though, so either Annie’s getting on a plane just to come see us or more dates are happening this Summer – good news for those in markets not included in the itinerary, though to be fair, there aren’t that many. There’s no details on where she’s playing, but the show looks to be happening on June 20. It’s questionable if she’s big enough to anchor Yonge-Dundas Square that night, but considering her trajectory of local shows has gone from opener at Lee’s in 2007 through packing The Horseshoe in 2009 and then The Phoenix in 2011, it’s not unreasonable – after all, you know how you become a festival headliner? You headline a festival. You can stream a track from St. Vincent below and The Quietus has an interview with Annie Clark.

St. Vincent wasn’t the only notable name amongst those announced yesterday; you also had Danny Brown, Mac DeMarco, Speedy Ortiz, Rhye, Snowmine, and Until The Ribbon Breaks. A pretty good start and six more months to make it even better. Wristbands are on sale now and the early bird price of $75 is good until the end of the year – and 2-for-$75 until December 24; then it goes up to $99 until May and finally $150. Do with that information what you will.

MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Annie”
MP3: Snowmine – “Beast In Air, Beast In Water”
MP3: Danny Brown – “Die Like A Rockstar”
Stream: St. Vincent – “Birth In Reverse”
Video: Rhye – “Open”
Video: Speedy Ortiz – “Tiger Tank”
Video: Until The Ribbon Breaks – “Back To the Stars”

And oh yeah, Canadian Music Week also announced the first batch of bands playing their festival next year during its new dates of May 6 to 10. It’s okay if you don’t recognize any of the names. Not many people do.

Neil Young has announced a special benefit show in support of Aboriginal peoples fighting oil sands development in their territories. That’s happening January 12 at Massey Hall where he’ll be supported by Diana Krall and tickets range from $95 to $250, going on sale Friday. Information on the cause can be found at Treaty 8 and Honor the Treaties. Young’s new archival release Live At The Cellar Door came out this week.

Video: Neil Young – “Love And War”

Solo Stroke Albert Hammond Jr was just here last month promoting his new EP AHJ, but will return on January 14 for a date at the Sound Academy supporting Jake Bugg. Which I’m sure he’s totally cool with. Scotland On Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Pitch have interviews.

Video: Albert Hammond Jr – “Carnal Cruise”

One of the more talked-about bands of the latter part of this year – Syracuse’s punky Perfect Pussy – have put together an extensive tour behind their debut cassette EP I have lost all desire for feeling that wraps through the end of this year straight through to next, and wraps up in Canada, a January 25 date at The Silver Dollar being the second-to-last of the jaunt. Tickets for that show are $10.50 and their full-length debut is due out next year on Captured Tracks.

MP3: Perfect Pussy – “I”

Making up for the date he had to cancel in September because of a hand injury, Colin Stetson has announced two dates at the Workman Arts Theatre on February 14 and 15 behind his Polaris-shortlisted New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light.

MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”

San Fermin, the Brooklyn musical collective headed by keyboardist Ellis Ludwig-Leone, will be at The Garrison on February 15 behind this year’s self-titled debut. Advance tickets are $11.50. DIY and Under The Radar have features.

Video: San Fermin – “Sonsick”

Nicole Atkins has given her crowdfunded new album Slow Phaser a February 4 release date – check out the album art and stream a new song at Paste and read an interview at Speak Into My Good Eye – and while full dates to support it are still forthcoming, it’s confirmed she’ll be at The Horseshoe on February 18, tickets $12.50.

Stream: Nicole Atkins – “Girl You Look Amazing”

North Carolina’s Lost In The Trees will be on the road and at The Garrison on February 23 in support of their new album Past Life, which comes out just a few days before on February 18. It’s the follow-up to 2012’s A Church That Fits Our Needs. Tickets for that show will run $13.50 in advance.

Video: Lost In The Trees – “Rites”

London-based duo Public Service Broadcasting, who blend archival educational film soundtracks and footage with driving, Kraut-derived instrumental rock to bracing effect on their debut Inform Educate Entertain are setting out on a North American tour with a stop at The Drake Underground on February 26. And if you think that a band playing along with visuals is inherently kind of boring, do check out this live performance video at Noisey and also read this interview at The National Student.

Video: Public Service Broadcasting – “Signal 30”
Video: Public Service Broadcasting – “If War Should Come”

Not only have Warpaint offered up a second taste of their forthcoming self-titled effort, out January 25, but they’ve announced a North American tour that brings them back to Toronto for a show at the Danforth Music Hall on March 25.

Stream: Warpaint – “Biggy”

Dum Dum Girls have announced dates in support of their new album Too True, coming out January 28, and it will feature support from Portland’s Blouse, who released their second album Imperium this year. They will be at Lee’s Palace on March 29, tickets $20.

MP3: Blouse – “No Shelter”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Lost Boys And Girls Club”

The Head & The Heart and Basia Bulat will team up for a pretty folk-ing great Spring tour that stops at The Kool Haus on March 30; both released acclaimed new albums this Fall – The Head & The Heart with Let’s Be Still and Bulat with Tall Tall Shadow – read an interview with The Head & The Heart at The Georgia Straight and watch a video session with Bulat at Public Radio International. Tickets for the show are $26.50 in advance.

Video: The Head & The Heart – “Shake”
Video: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

Demand for The 1975 has bumped their May 6 date at The Danforth Music Hall up to The Kool Haus. You have five months to remember this.

Video: The 1975 – “Head.Cars.Bending”

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Lost Boys And Girls Club

Rumours of a third Dum Dum Girls album are Too True

Photo By James OrlandoJames OrlandoOf all the throwback, garage-rock bands that surfaced over the last few years, it’s been Los Angeles’ Dum Dum Girls who’ve been most likely to both break away from the pack and out of the stylistic pigeonhole. Besides having by far the best visual aesthetic, formidable melodic sensibilities, and Dee Dee Penny’s uncanny Chrissie Hynde-alike vocals, they had songs that were more sophisticated than their peers’ by half. Penny made no efforts to hide her fondness for classic British indie rock or prevent their influence from imbuing her own compositions, and by doing so her slow, melancholic numbers are as stirring as the rockers.

As a result, the breadth of the Dum Dum Girls sound has grown immensely over the course of two full-lengths and a handful of EPs without ever abandoning their girl group in a garage roots and so the announcement of their third album, alluded to in a Stereogum interview last week, is exciting news to those curious what they’ll do next. The new full-length will be called Too True and be released on January 28 of the new year. Pitchfork has all the specifics that there are to be had right now, and there’s a first video available to watch.

Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Lost Boys And Girls Club”

Stereogum and NPR talk to Eric Pulido about stepping up to become Midlake’s new frontman. Their new album Antiphon is out this week and they’ve got a new video for the title track.

Video: Midlake – “Antiphon”

Wall Street Journal is streaming The Coincidentalist, the latest album from king of the desert Howe Gelb, which is out as of this week.

Stream: Howe Gelb / The Coincidentalist

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Sebadoh’s stop in New York last week; the band have also offered an interview to The Village Voice and made a new b-side available to stream via Stereogum. They’re going to be at The Horseshoe on November 8.

Stream: Sebadoh – “No Wound”

Albert Hammond Jr talks to PopMatters ahead of his solo show at The Phoenix on November 10. He’s also released a new video from the AHJ EP via Complex.

Video: Albert Hammond Jr – “Carnal Cruise”

Grizzly Bear are streaming another of the bonus tracks that will appear on the Shields: Expanded edition coming out November 12.

Stream: Grizzly Bear – “Listen and Wait”

Stereogum and Rolling Stone talk to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips about their new Peace Sword EP, out digitally now and physically on November 29. You can hear one of the new songs via Rolling Stone and check out an in-studio Tame Impala cover for good measure.

Stream: The Flaming Lips – “”
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Elephant” (Tame Impala cover)

Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are coming back to town for a headlining show in support of their new record The Speed Of Things on March 14 at The Hoxton; English electronic artist Chad Valley will open up.

MP3: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – “Vocal Chords”
MP3: Chad Valley – “Fast Challenges”

Wye Oak talks to Spin about the directions their third album, coming in 2014, is taking. Apparently that includes less guitars, which makes perfect sense since Jenn Wasner is such a terrible guitarist </sarcasm>.

Neko Case and company got in the seasonal spirit when recording a Hallowe’en Tiny Desk Concert for NPR; she’s also interviewed by The Boston Globe.

Rhett Miller talks to Rolling Stone about keeping it loud and loose on the next Old 97’s record and teaming up with some Decemberists for his next solo record. He also chats with Jambands.

And as for The Decemberists, Colin Meloy tells Rolling Stone he’s been writing new material for the band while attending to his solo pursuits.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River chats with Drowned In Sound.

The Rumpus interviews Dean Wareham.

Merge Records has announced details of their 25th anniversary subscription series, which will run throughout 2014 as the Or Thousands Of Prizes box set. And to mark the occasion (as well as the occasion of Hallowe’en last week), Superchunk have released a new Misfits cover.

Stream: Superchunk – “Children In Heat”

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Love Is To Die

Warpaint put their warpaint back on with Warpaint

Photo by Chris CunninghamChris CunninghamConsidering how busy they were leading up to and around the release of their 2010 debut album The Foolfive Toronto shows in the span of 18 months, for example – it was eminently understandable that Los Angeles’ Warpaint would want to take some time off before getting back at it.

But three years is quite long enough, thanks, so news of their second album is welcome indeed. The record will be called Warpaint, but don’t look for any title track as the song “Warpaint” already showed up on The Fool, though I suppose there’s no rule that you can’t write more than one song of the same name. Hell, they could call every song on the album “Warpaint” if they like, so long as they’re as reality-bendingly mesmerizing as everything they’ve done so far, and from the first new song that’s been made available to stream – definitively not called “Warpaint” – they will be.

Pitchfork has details on the album – co-produced by the band and Flood and mixed by Flood and Nigel Godrich – which is out January 21 in the new year, while The Fly talked to drummer Stella Mozgawa about how the sessions went. In addition to the new song stream, there’s a trailer for something of the same name – the song, the album, a video, a documentary, it’s not clear – by director Chris Cunningham, who documented the band at work over the last two years.

Stream: Warpaint – “Love Is To Die”
Trailer: Warpaint – “Love Is To Die”

Clash and The Irish Examiner talk to Midlake v2.0, who are streaming their new album Antiphon at NPR ahead of its official release on November 5.

Stream: Midlake / Antiphon

PopDose talks to Tanya Donelly about her Swan Song Series of EPs, of which there are currently three volumes with a fourth on schedule for release in the next week or so.

Under The Radar interviews Sebadoh, coming to town for a show at The Horseshoe on November 8.

Albert Hammond Jr talks to Rolling Stone and Washington Square News about matters both solo and Strokes; he’s here in the former context at The Phoenix on November 10.

Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils have made a date at The Horseshoe for November 17 in support of their new album Clash The Truth, from which they’ve just released a new vid. Tickets for that are $14.50 in advance.

MP3: Beach Fossils – “Shallow”
Video: Beach Fossils – “Generational Synthetic”

Spin is streaming another song from the Beachwood Sparks issue of their previously unreleased debut album Desert Skies, coming November 20.

Stream: Beachwood Sparks – “Watery Moonlight”

Le Blogotheque has posted a Take-Away Show with Charles Bradley, who returns to town for a show at The Kool Haus on December 12.

Stereogum checks in with Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls about how their next record is coming along; it should be out early next year.

Rolling Stone talks to Josh Tillman about the next Father John Misty record.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Okkervil River’s The Silver Gymnasium and Spin has a second video for a remix of the same song done by Will Sheff’s Lovestreams alter ego – you can also download said remix. There’s also an interview at The Province and over at Gawker, Sheff has penned a tribute to the late Lou Reed.

MP3: Okkervil River – “Stay Young” (Lovestreams remix)
Video: Okkervil River – “Stay Young”
Video: Okkervil River – “Stay Young” (Lovestreams remix)

Also with a Reed eulogy worth reading is Dean Wareham over at Salon; Wareham opened up for the Velvet Underground reunion in the ’90s while fronting Luna.

Drowned In Sound interviews of Montreal.

Under The Radar has posted an interview with Neko Case as well as an extra piece chock full of bonus material.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Costume Characters Face Dangers In The Workplace

Mark Eitzel doesn’t want to be a Stranger

Photo By Cynthia WoodCynthia WoodA lot’s happened with Mark Eitzel since he last set foot on a Toronto stage. That would have been back in April 2008, when he was leading the reunited American Music Club on tour in support of their second album of the 21st century, The Golden Age. The American Music Club machine slowly wound down again and was officially declared on indefinite hiatus again by Eitzel last Fall, and he also released a couple more solo records in that time: Klamath in 2009 and Brannan Street the following year, both low-key in both presentation and distribution. Oh, and last Spring he had a heart attack (but is okay now).

But as has been the pattern over a career that has swung from the cultiest of cult artists to getting a modicum of the respect that his songwriting talent deserves, Eitzel again appears ready to step a little more into the spotlight. His new solo record Don’t Be A Stranger is coming out on Merge, who rightly believed those two AMC reunion albums deserved to be shepherded into the world, and Eitzel is undertaking what he’s dubbed “The Warm Gentle Rain Tour”, which will traverse North America and bring him to the Rivoli in Toronto on November 28, tickets for that $15.50 in advance. It’s hard to say what form the show will take, be it solo or with a band, but when I last saw Eitzel at SXSW 2011, it was just him and a keyboardist and he was singing AMC songs lounge/cabaret-style, so it could really be anything. What is certain is that it will be hilarious, depressing, and excellent.

After all – the promotional campaign for the record involves Eitzel getting career and performance advice from the experts on video; there’s clips of him consulting with Lady Gaga’s make-up artist Billy B. and at Gawker, you can watch him discuss his lyrics with comedienne Nadya Ginsburg. Yes, hilarity ensues.

Stream: Mark Eitzel – “I Love You But You’re Dead”

GQ, The Chicago Tribune, and Spinner talk to Bob Mould about what has turned out to be the year of the resurgence of Bob Mould.

Gothamist and Newsday talk to Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, finally bringing their reunion tour to The Phoenix on October 3.

Consequence Of Sound, DIY, NOW, and Clash all talk to members of Dinosaur Jr about their new record I Bet On Sky. They’re at Lee’s Palace on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week.

Exclaim has specifics on the third Guided By Voices album of 2012, The Bears For Lunch, out November 13.

Salon, NPR, and Stereogum talk to Aimee Mann about hew new record Charmer, from which she’s just released a new video that has a few guest stars you might recognize and is a shot-for-shot remake of a video you might recognize if you’ve been following Aimee’s career from the outset… Don’t worry, I’ll help you out. You’re welcome. Aimee Mann is at The Danforth Music Hall on November 6.

Video: Aimee Mann – “Labrador”
Video: ‘Til Tuesday – “Voices Carry”

DIY, NOW, The Quietus, and Billboard all want to talk Shields with Grizzly Bear. They’re at Massey Hall on September 26.

Cat Power goes blonde zombie-fighting road warrior in the first video from Sun. Of course. She’s at The Kool Haus on October 20.

Video: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

The 405, DIY has a feature and The Line Of Best Fit a video session wtih Band Of Horses.

The Lab sends Saturday Night Live and Portlandia‘s Fred Armisen to interview St. Vincent, while The Montreal Gazette talks to both her and David Byrne. They’re at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tomorrow night.

The AV Club talks to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, and his right-hand guitarist Nels Cline will be at The Great Hall on November 2 as part of this year’s Sleepwalk Guitar Festival.

MP3: Nels Cline – “Don’t Threaten Me With Your Threats”

Dum Dum Girls are streaming their new EP End Of Daze over at Stereogum. It’s out next week, and Houston Press talks to Dee Dee about it.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows”
Stream: Dum Dum Girls / End Of Daze

Titus Andronicus have unveiled the album art and first lyric video from their new record Local Business, coming October 22. See the art at Pitchfork and hear the first song from the new record below.

Lyric Video: Titus Andronicus – “In A Big City”

Trespassers William have released a video from their farewell compilation Cast.

Video: Trespassers William – “Believe Me”

Hospitality has released a new video from their self-titled debut.

Video: Hospitality – “Eighth Avenue”

NPR and Spoonfed chat with Calexico.

Check out the latest video from The Kills’ Blood Pressures.

Video: The Kills – “Wild Charms”

I speculated that The Killers’ show at the Sound Academy this weekend was a precursor to something bigger, and I was right. Las Vegas’ favourite sons return for a show at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, tickets ranging from $39.50 to $65.00.

Video: The Killers – “Runaways”

A Place To Bury Strangers have a new video from Worship.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “Leaving Tomorrow”

Benjamin Gibbard – he’s only Ben when he’s in a band, apparently – discusses his solo album Other Lives with Stereogum. It’s out October 16 and he’s at The Danforth Music Hall a couple days earlier, on October 14.

Magnet welcomes Beachwood Sparks to their website editor’s chair with a Q&A.

You Me & Charlie interviews Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. He plays Lee’s Palace on October 27.

The Quietus interviews James Murphy.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day One

Florence & The Machine, Sigur Rós, The Weeknd, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI had decided a little while ago that I was done with big, outdoor music festivals. My last go-around was Pitchfork 2010 – not even what could be considered a “big” festival in the grand scheme of things – and even then, I was really feeling the “I am too old for this”-ness of the experience. But two years is a long time, or at least long enough to forget those aches and pains, and so when the opportunity arose at the last minute to hit Montrél’s Osheaga – Canada’ biggest and last multi-day, all-day outdoor music fest – I said, “why not”. After all, I’ve done fests all over the US and even in Europe – to not have been to the one closest to home (aside from the late Toronto V’s) seemed silly, and this year they’d assembled a pretty impressive lineup by drafting off of Lollapalooza. And so I went.

When I first saw Londoner Charli XCX back at SXSW, the buzz around here was very much in the embryonic stage – people were talking about her but with very little actual music released, it wasn’t entirely clear why they were talking about her. Her short, low-key, afternoon set in the front room of Red Eyed Fly didn’t do much to clarify that either though to be fair, it clearly wasn’t her ideal setting. Which isn’t to say that opening up a festival under the blazing sun and smothering humidity was her element, but it was certainly closer. With a drummer, keyboardist, and no shortage of backing tracks behind her, she led things off with an energized set of clubby electro-pop that went over well with the smattering of early birds gathering in front of the Parc Jean-Drapeau mainstage. Sometimes said backing tracks were more audible than the live instrumentation, but the balance of things eventually settled down and that Charli XCX had a strong voice, capable of conveying both playfulness and drama, was evident – she was no ingenue up there, and though her sound is very much for the kids, her respectable cover of Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” went some way to endearing her to the oldsters in the audience.

Digital Spy and Paper have interviews with Charli XCX.

Photos: Charli XCX @ Scène de la montagne – August 3, 2012
MP3: Charli XCX – “I’ll Never Know”
MP3: Charli XCX – “Valentine”
MP3: Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Video: Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Video: Charli XCX – “You’re The One”

Typically, bands playing festivals have to agree to a radius clause that prevents them from playing any other local shows for a certain amount of time. Australia’s Jezabels, on the other hand, were playing their second Montrél show in less than 24 hours having played a club show the night before for MMOI, an event running parallel/in conjunction with Osheaga tasked with putting a spotlight on specific acts from around the world. But if they were feeling the effects of the hectic schedule, it didn’t show. Already rising stars down under, they’ve been working hard at making a similar dent in North America on the back of their debut album Prisoner and though their set started over 10 minutes late due to soundchecking issues, they used the remaining time to showcase their stadium rock ambitions with frontwoman Hayley Mary’s soaring vocals and arm-waving choruses.

Zimbio has a feature interview with the band, and they’ve just announced a date at The Mod Club on October 24.

Photos: The Jezabels @ Scène des arbes – August 3, 2012
MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Video: The Jezabels – “Rosebud”
Video: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
Video: The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”
Video: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Video: The Jezabels – “Easy To Love”
Video: The Jezabels – “Hurt Me”

Following up on the same stage were California’s Dum Dum Girls, who were also plagued with technical problems – the first big cheer of the day went not for their retro garage pop, but when they were finally able to get bassist Malia James’ mic working. Still on the road for last year’s Only In Dreams but also in advance of their new EP End Of Daze, out September 25, they put on an energetic set that wasn’t too different from the times I saw them last year at NXNE and at SXSW – right down to the sweltering heat making their make-up run – but their harmonies sounded more up front this time and, oh – both Dee Dee and Malia changed their hair colours, if that’s the sort of thing you’re keeping track of. Though the myriad technical issues persisted through their set – at times there were as many techs on stage as band members – they soldiered through for a solid set.

Photos: Dum Dum Girls @ Scène des arbes – August 3, 2012
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “D.A.L.”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”

It seems I only see Franz Ferdinand at festivals – the last time being Toronto’s final V Fest in 2009 – but that’s okay, as they’re a fantastic festival band. The timing was a bit odd as there’s been no official word on a follow-up to 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, though a release sometime this year has been promised for a while and new songs have been trickling out in live sets. In any case, it’s probably safe to say that no one cared that there wasn’t a new record out because they wanted to hear the old stuff, which Franz delivered with gusto. Opening with “Dark Of The Matinée” and powering through basically non-stop disco-rock anthems before closing with, “This Fire”, theirs was the first set that made the day feel like it was entering prime time. There was one new song, thrown in for good measure and sounding for lack of a better description very Franz. Also new was Alex Kapranos’ moustache which, even with his formidable swagger, I don’t think he pulled off. Can’t win ’em all, guys.

Photos: Franz Ferdinand @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Eleanor Put Your Boots On”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Jeremy Fraser”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Wine In The Afternoon”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “L. Wells”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Fallen”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Walk Away”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Do You Want To”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “This Fire”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Michael”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “The Dark Of The Matinee”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Darts Of Pleasure”

Abel Tesfaye – the Toronto-based R&B singer known professionally as The Weeknd – spent most of 2011 shrouded in mystery, eschewing interviews and overt publicity and riding his trilogy of mixtapes – House Of Balloons/Thursday/Echoes Of Silence – to huge acclaim and a place on that year’s Polaris Prize shortlist. But seeing as how internet acclaim doesn’t put food on the table, it was only a matter of time before Tesfaye stepped out of the shadows and onto the stage. Specifically, big festival stages like at Osheaga. Fronting a five-piece band and facing a massive crowd of enthusiastic fans, Tesfaye certainly didn’t come across as someone who would shy away from attention. Though he wasn’t a showy performer, he was charismatic and in great voice. It was interesting to see how big a smile he wore considering how dark a perspective he frequently writes from, but I suppose it’s hard to be glum when you’ve got thousands of people – many of them young women – screaming for you. His set went overtime with a drawn-out, vocally acrobatic version of “Wicked Games” and was one of the many points in the weekend when the tag-team setup of the Osheaga mainstages made for an interesting contrast, with half the crowd swooning and the other half, waiting for Florence & The Machine’s set to begin, stewing.

Photos: The Weeknd @ Scène de la montagnes – August 3, 2012
MP3: The Weeknd – “Loft Music”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Life Of The Party”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Zone”
MP3: The Weeknd – “House Of Balloons – Glass Table Girls”
MP3: The Weeknd – “What Do You Need”
MP3: The Weeknd – “D.D.”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Fall”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Birds (Part 1)”
MP3: The Weeknd – “High For This”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Initiation”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Wicked Games”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Montreal”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Outside”
MP3: The Weeknd – “XO/The Host”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Same Old Song”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Morning”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Rolling Stone”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Birds (Part 2)”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Heaven Or Las Vegas”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Knowing”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Coming Down”
Video: The Weeknd – “The Knowing”

Florence & The Machine could only been delayed, however, not denied. I regard it as a statement of fact rather than boast that I was on board with Florence Welch way early on, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Her first releases painted her as a sort of crazy art-rock eccentric with prodigious vocal gifts but seemingly no inclination to use them conventionally or consistently – which may and well have been the plan at first, but at some point it became evident that big, roof-rattling anthems would be better use for her talents to say nothing of more marketable. Her debut Lungs somewhat split the difference between the two directions, albeit with the older material polished up so as to not embarrass their siblings, but her second album Ceremonials was all bombastic singles with little use for variety or restraint, and it’s hard to argue with the success of that direction – fully half the album has been released as singles and she’s a massive star worldwide, as her marquee billing at festivals like this testified.

Though not the Friday closer, Florence certainly drew the largest crowd of the day and taking the ornately-decorated stage in a billowing blue dress, she was certainly up for the occasion. Sweeping from one side of the stage to other so as to not neglect anyone, the dramatic flourishes and stage moves I commented on at her Toronto debut in November 2009 have only gotten bigger in the interim (I’ve missed all her local shows since) but she tempers the grandiosity of the presentation with appreciation and affection for her fans and playful moves like leaping up and down onstage, heels be damned. It’s possible that it’s all rehearsed and routine, but from my vantage point up front, her huge smile was genuine. It was nice. And it may seem odd to say, but losing her voice as she did a couple weeks ago may have been good for Welch – a complaint I’ve had about her live performance before was that her vocal power would come at the expense of pitch – read: she was flat a lot – but this time out, she was demonstrating more restraint in her delivery, perhaps intending to save her voice but reaping the benefits of being more controlled, more in key, and more dynamic as a result. Whatever it was, even though I don’t necessarily count myself a big fan anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed her set. Some artists are made for festivals.

The National Post, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and The Globe & Mail have interviews with Welch.

Photos: Florence & The Machine @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Breaking Down”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Spectrum (Say My Name)”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Breath Of Life”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Never Let Me Go”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “No Light, No Light”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Shake It Out”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “What The Water Gave Me”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Heavy In Your Arms”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Cosmic Love”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Drumming Song”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”

To paraphrase Winston Zeddemore, when someone asks you if you want to see Sigur Rós twice in 72 hours, you say YES. So a couple days after seeing their blissful set at Echo Beach in Toronto, I was lucky enough to see Iceland’s finest once again. And as great as their Osheaga set was, it really made me thankful that I saw that Toronto show as it was nearly twice as long and far better-paced to allow the beauty of what they do to come through. In a festival setting and limited to a set time of just an hour, they had to dispense with most of the slower, more ambient parts of their show in favour of a more compressed, impactful set list. I appreciated that it wasn’t necessarily their own audience they were playing in front of – I’m sure many didn’t even know who they were – but I did hope that for those unfamiliar, their set would be a gateway of sorts to something magical and otherworldly. Judging from the chants of, “Justice! Justice” that grew from the other half of the mainstage area as their set drew to a close, that probably wasn’t the case. Alas.

The National Post has an interview.

Photos: Sigur Rós @ Scène de la montagne – August 3, 2012
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Gobbledigook”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Hoppípolla”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Popplagio / The Pop Song”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Staralfur”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Svefn-G-Englar”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Nýja lagið”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Rembihnútur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Fjögur Píanó”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Varúð” (version two)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Varúð” (version one)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ég anda” (version two)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ég anda” (version one)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ekki Múkk”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Við Spilum Endalaust “
Video: Sigur Rós – “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Gobbledigook”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Sæglópur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Hoppípolla”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Glósóli”
Video: Sigur Rós – “(Vaka)”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Viðrar vel til loftárása”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Svefn-G-Englar”

And finally, there was Justice for all. At least all who were left. Though the ostensible headliners, the French disco-rock duo had a markedly smaller audience than Florence did but they were still legion and really, that just meant more room to dance. The pair set up atop/behind their signature wall of electronic consoles and wings of Marshall stacks – and giant glowing cross, yes – but from the angle up close it looked more ridiculous than impressive, with Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay looking like little more than severed heads sitting atop their setup. Certainly there was no way to see what they were actually doing up there, whether DJing records or playing Pac-Man, but no one seemed to care. They had a raging dance party to engage in, and rage they did. Justice provided an excellent soundtrack to ending a long, hot day of great music and also for walking to the subway.

The Montreal Gazette and NOW have interviews.

Photos: Justice @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
MP3: Justice – “On’N’On”
Video: Justice – “New Lands”
Video: Justice – “On’N’On”
Video: Justice – “Audio, Video, Disco”
Video: Justice – “Civilization”
Video: Justice – “Phantom Pt. II”
Video: Justice – “Stress”
Video: Justice – “DVNO”
Video: Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.”

And a few concert announcements that may be relevant to your interests. Just here in May, LA’s Grouplove are back in support of Never Trust A Happy Song for a show at The Phoenix on November 5, tickets $24 in advance.

Video: Grouplove – “Colours”

Aimee Mann has announced a Fall tour behind her new album Charmer, out September 18, and is bringing an expected tourmate with her – Ted Leo. I assume he’s leaving the Pharmacists at home for this outing and will be dialing down the punk a bit so as to not scare Mann’s audience, but it’s an interesting pairing. The Toronto show is November 6 at the Danforth Music Hall, tickets $27.50 and $32.50.

MP3: Aimee Mann – “Charmer”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”

After expressing surprise that Yeasayer were big enough to play the Sound Academy, as they were meant to on August 21, it appears that they in fact aren’t. On either count. Their new album Fragrant World is still out that day, but they’ll not be in Toronto until November 9 and it will be at the markedly smaller Danforth Music Hall. Anyone who says they are upset about the change in venue is lying and should not be allowed near small children.

Rachael Yamagata has made a date at The Mod Club for December 1, tickets $15. Her latest album Chesapeake came out last Fall.

Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Even If I Don’t”