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Posts Tagged ‘Film School’

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Crystallised

The xx and Warpaint at Massey Hall in Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muzzle Of Bees interviews Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

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

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

Daytrotter has posted a session with Born Ruffians.

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

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

Video: Neil Young / Le Noise – The Film

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

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Disconnect From Desire

School Of Seven Bells, Active Child and Bishop Morocco at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhile I appreciate that there were a lot of entertainment options in Toronto on Wednesday night – TIFF screenings, TIFF parties, no shortage of other concerts big and small – it was still disappointing that there were probably more people camped out in front of the Horseshoe thanks to rumours of a Boss appearance that had been debunked for hours than at the Mod Club to see School Of Seven Bells perform.

You’d have thought that at least the local openers would have gotten some support but the room was barely a dozen people deep when Bishop Morocco took the stage, but within a few songs I couldn’t say I blamed people for staying away. Their plodding, post-punk stylings lacked any of the personality, dynamics or tension needed to sell it and what few compelling melodies they did have were delivered blandly and indifferently. About midway through their set they brought a live drummer out to replace their drum machine and the quality of the music improved immeasurably, raising the question of why they didn’t utilize him for the whole set – the simple programmed beats they used to that point hardly added anything and wouldn’t have been hard to reproduce. Their second half managed to redeem the performance enough that I wouldn’t call it bad, but it still wasn’t especially good. And as a note, modulation effects on vocals don’t work for anyone. Don’t do it.

Active Child – the nom de plume of Los Angeles’ Pat Grossi – was a similarly barely-known quantity coming into the night but made a much more favourable impression. Performing with a bassist/backing vocalist, Grossi moved from harp to keys to guitar over the course of their set, showcasing his musical versatility, melodic intuition and stunningly soulful and operatic vocals, if at the expense of some focus. Some points seemed more directionless than others – everyone likes covering Joy Division’s “Ceremony” for fun but I don’t know that it needs to be part of anyone’s live set – but as a whole it was a warm and appealing performance that should have sent at least a few people over to the merch table to pick up a copy of his debut EP Curtis Lane.

I think my appreciation for School Of Seven Bells has been well-documented. Their debut Alpinisms was one of my favourites of 2008 and this year’s Disconnect From Desire, with it more polished 4AD-ish sheen and greater commitment to pop, is a worthy follow-up. But I’ve never been thrilled with their live shows for reasons that one of the openers had already quite ably demonstrated – canned beats. In the past, the live band was the same as the studio band which meant that behind the Dehaza twins and guitarist Benjamin Curtis, there was… a drum machine. As soaring as the songs they built around it might have been, in a live setting they always felt held back by the soullessness of the programmed beats. And this is not a problem specific to School Of Seven Bells; I maintain there isn’t a live band out there that wouldn’t sound better with a live drummer than even the most sophisticated software.

This is something that School Of Seven Bells seem to have come around on, as their live band now has an actual person behind an actual drum kit and consequently, they put on the best show I’ve seen from them yet. As always, there was guitarist Ali Dehaza on stage left and keyboardist Claudia stage right, Curtis set up behind them both, ensconced in his fortress of guitar gear and rocking out like a teenager in his bedroom with a tennis racket, and a drummer whose name may not have been known but whose presence was surely felt. The programmed beats were still there, underpinning everything, but the sheer muscular force of the percussion and overall volume gave the show a physicality that, quite frankly, kicked ass. Playing to those strengths, the hour-long set focused on the most direct songs from both records and the combination of the weighty sound and angelic, perfect harmonies of the sisters made for a sublime wall of sound on numbers like “Half Asleep” and “Windstorm” that, frustratingly, not a whole lot of people were there to enjoy. I’m sad that so few people came out, not just for the band for not having the audience they deserved but for those who weren’t there because they truly missed out on a great show.

Panic Manual was also on hand for the show. PopMatters has an interview with School Of Seven Bells and NME reports that the band will be re-recording some of their songs in Sim-ese for the soundtrack to the video game The Sims 3. I think I think that’s awesome.

Photos: School Of Seven Bells, Active Child, Bishop Morocco @ The Mod Club – September 15, 2010
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Windstorm”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Babelonia”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Connjur”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Chain”
MP3: Active Child – “Wilderness”
MP3: Active Child – “Body Heat (So Far Away)”
MP3: Bishop Morocco – “Last Year’s Disco Guitars”
Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Windstorm”
Video: School Of Seven Bells – “My Cabal”
Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Half Asleep”
Video: Bishop Morocco – “Last Year’s Disco Guitars”
MySpace: School Of Seven Bells
MySpace: Active Child

Blonde Redhead have released a video from their latest Penny Sparkle. They play The Phoenix on October 17.

Video: Blonde Redhead – “Not Getting There”

Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Spin all have various features on Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal; PitchforkTV also has a Cemetery Gates video session with the band and NPR is streaming their show in Washington DC from earlier this week.

A new track from Sharon Van Etten’s forthcoming Epic is up for grabs and the album is streaming in whole at NPR. At some point in the near future I will write about why this record is fantastic, but for now, trust me and celebrate the fact that the original October 5 release date has apparently been moved up to next Tuesday. Also make plans to see her open up for Junip on November 5 at Lee’s Palace or wherever she/they are playing near you. The Daily Times and Washington Post have interviews.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
Stream: Sharon Van Etten / Epic

Blurt profiles Film School, who bring their new record Fission to the El Mocambo on October 4.

Warpaint, who made their Toronto debut opening up for School Of Seven Bells last Fall at Lee’s, have released the first MP3 from their forthcoming debut The Fool, out October 25. They’re at Massey Hall on September 29 opening up for The xx, who incidentally have told NME not to expect a follow-up anytime soon. Or maybe at all.

MP3: Warpaint – “Undertow”

Twenty-Four Bit reports that PJ Harvey may have a new record out as soon as next February.

NME has it that Duffy will release her second album, entited Endlessly, on November 30.

Spin reports that The Joy Formidable have named their debut full-length The Big Roar and the first single, “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”, is now streaming at their website. The record isn’t out until 2011 but expect to hear lots of it on their Fall North American tour which kicks off November 3 at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

NOW talks to Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub in advance of their two-night stand at the Horseshoe next Wednesday and Thursday nights.

And it would be funny if it wasn’t so serious, but The Charlatans have – get ready for it – cancelled tonight’s show at Lee’s Palace. Drummer Jon Brookes suffered a seizure during their show in Philadelphia Wednesday night and was taken to hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery but it forced the cancellation of both Canadian dates on their North American tour. For those keeping score, this is their third straight failed attempt to play Toronto in the last few years and the second nixed because of a Brookes medical situation (the last time he needed shoulder surgery). Refunds are available at point of purchase but the date is currently in the process of being rescheduled, although their itinerary leaves little flexibility through mid-November. But hey – fourth time’s the charm, right? Best wishes to Brookes on a speedy recovery and I will do my best to not jinx them in the future with jokes about tour cancellations/calamities. The San Francisco Examiner has an interview with Tim Burgess.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Too Dramatic

Ra Ra Riot at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSyracuse’s Ra Ra Riot have found success largely by maintaining a delicate stylistic balancing act; one that relies on the sextet’s energy and musical dexterity to offset their more ostentatious proclivities. In particular, the tendency to allow the strengths that made them distinct – the vocal acrobatics of Wes Miles and string section of Alexandra Lawn and Rebecca Zeller – to run away with things. At their best, they were a dizzyingly nimble orchestral rock ensemble; at their worst, overly indulgent and precious. Their 2008 debut The Rhumb Line deftly walked this line and on the whole, came out on the winning side.

The just-released follow-up The Orchard doesn’t get to make the same claim. As sophomore efforts demand, the band’s sound has grown from the debut but it’s done so in the direction of giving Miles more room to stretch out, vocally, and the result is a general sense of oversinging. Similarly, it sounds as though the faders on the strings have been pushed up sufficiently that rather than dance in and out of the mix equally with the other instruments, they seem to be overtop of things more often than not. Neither are major, game-changing shifts but as stated, it was a fragile state of equilibrium and one easily upset. It’s by no means a catastrophe, though – still intact is their collective musical chemistry and sense of melody and songcraft and underneath the slightly overcooked presentation are still some instantly catchy tunes. The Orchard‘s best moments are the uptempo ones that sound like they could have come straight off The Rhumb Line, which I prefer to interpret not as that they’ve already peaked creatively but instead have a strong foundation from which to grow in the right direction come record number three.

They’ve still got it just right on the stage, however, as Monday night’s free show at the Mod Club attested. Offered as a gift to fans who didn’t want to see them turn in a brief opening set at the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday night, they delivered a full and proper show that served to remind that they’re an exceptional live act. Delivered with unrelenting energy and a punchiness that’s not really captured on record, nary a member of the band stopped moving for the better part of an hour, seemingly enthralled and compelled to dance by their music. That probably sounds more flowery than its intended, but it when the band is completely caught up in the sounds they’re making, it really sets the tone for the show and there was plenty of bopping up and down in the audience as well. The set list wisely stuck to the most up tempo songs in their repertoire and really showcased the talents of bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci and drummer Gabriel Duquette. Though Miles, Lawn and Zeller understandably get the most attention, its those three who really lay down the rhythmic and melodic backbone of the band. But it’s the six of them operating as a single musical entity that impresses most with Ra Ra Riot and no reservations about their recorded work can diminish that.

There’s a decent recording of the show up at Hater High and according to the band, we can expect another local date some time in December. Seattle Weekly interviews guitarist Milo Bonacci.

Photos: Ra Ra Riot @ The Mod Club – August 30, 2010
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year” (EP version)
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Can You Tell?”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Ghost Under Rocks”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MySpace: Ra Ra Riot

Magnet interviews Versus in anticipation of the band taking over the editorial reins of the website this week.

Arcade Fire continue to be disinterested in making conventional music videos, and the world is a better place for it. The clip ostensibly for “We Used To Wait” can be found at The Wilderness Downtown and uses a fascinating mash-up of HTML 5 and Google Earth to take you back to the neighbourhood you grew up in. My own personal experience was surprisingly powerful, but even if yours isn’t as much so, it’s still pretty cool. There’s some background about the technologies at play over at Chrome Experiments. Oh yeah, you’ll need the Google Chrome browser for it to work properly. It’s a good browser. Worth the download.

Video: Arcade Fire – “We Used To Wait”

Interpol are also getting into the neat video racket with a POV multi-camera session over at PitchforkTV. Their self-titled album is out next week.

Also out next week is The Thermals’ new record Personal Life, which is currently streaming in whole at NPR. They’re at Lee’s Palace October 9.

Stream: The Thermals / Personal Life

Film School’s new album Fission is available to stream over at Spinner, as is Jenny & Johnny’s debut I’m Having Fun Now; both are out this week. Film School are at the El Mocambo on October 4 and Jenny & Johnny open up for Band Of Horses at the Kool Haus on October 21.

Stream: Film School / Fission
Stream: Jenny & Johnny / I’m Having Fun Now

Stereogum has premiered the new video from The Drums’ self-titled debut, which is either out now if like vinyl or on September 14 if you like CD. They’re at the Mod Club on October 21.

Video: The Drums – “Down By The Water”

Cleveland Scene talks to Doug Martsch of Built To Spill.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Time To Listen

Film School and Autolux deliver shoegaze from the Golden State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”

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

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

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

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

NPR is streaming a session with Retribution Gospel Choir.

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

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

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The Flame That Burns

CONTEST – Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan CD giveaway

Photo By Kyle HuttonMySpaceThough it’s Isobel Campbell who gets top billing on Sunday At Devil Dirt, just released in North America after coming out in the UK this Spring, it’s her co-conspirator who permeates and defines the second album from herself and Mark Lanegan.

Lanegan’s presence is inescapable throughout. His gravelly voice takes lead on the majority of the songs with Campbell sticking mainly to harmonies or duet duties, and even when he’s not audible, he’s definitely felt, like a shadow falling over the land. It’s a bit cliche to talk about Lanegan in terms of his dark and brooding persona, but it’s really true. The man does what he does, and does it utterly convincingly, no surprises there. What is something of a surprise is that the vehicles Lanegan is given to drive, in all their raw folk-noir glory, were written and orchestrated entirely by Campbell.

Though she also claimed the bulk of the songwriting credits on their first collaboration Ballad Of The Broken Seas, that record still kept one foot in the more wispy folkish styles to which Campbell was accustomed. This time out, she’s more confidently embraced the possibilities offered by the talents at hand and has produced a more varied and convincing record. Guided by Campbell’s ghostly voice and hand, Lanegan’s desolate soul wanders through simple pastorals, country-blues and orchestrated ’60s spy-soundtracks, eternally seeking something – perhaps salvation, or perhaps just a stiff drink.

You can currently stream Sunday At Devil Dirt at Spinner, or you can win it on CD along with Ballad Of the Broken Seas. Courtesy of Vagrant Records, I’ve got a copy of both albums to give away to one lucky winner. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want the Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan CDs” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest is open to residents of North America and will close in a week at midnight, November 26.

NOTE – the Spinner streams, both this one and the B&S one below, appear to currently be busted. Try hitting them back later. Sorry. Blame AOL. And the economic downturn. Update: Stream links fixed.

MP3: Isobel Campbell & Mark Langean – “Trouble”
Stream: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan / Sunday At Devil Dirt

NME reports that Lanegan’s other ongoing gig – The Gutter Twins – will be hanging it up after their European tour in January. He’ll then go to work on a new Soulsavers album and a new solo record.

Belle & Sebastian released their BBC Sessions collection this week, and it’s presently streaming at Spinner. A clarification should be made about the bonus disc that comes in the deluxe edition – many, including myself, assumed that since this is a BBC Sessions collection and the live disc was recorded at Christmas, that the extra CD is of the BBC Christmas show that has been bootlegged ad nauseum every year since it was recorded in 2002. It is not. It is a regular gig, recorded in Belfast in 2001. As for the main disc, I don’t know that I’d call it essential. The live versions of most songs don’t vary too much from the album cuts and the one that does the most, “Lazy Line Painter Jane” (which is tellingly retitled “Lazy Jane” here), differs larger for the worse for the absence of vocalist Monica Queen and the dialing down of its northern soul though the final minute does rescue it in grand fashion. None of the four unreleased songs is particularly exceptional though they do provide a fitting coda to Isobel Cambpell’s tenure in the band. But as a reminder of how wonderful this band was, particularly in their early years (the later years were wonderful in a completely different way), it’s a triumph. And most of their fans are so obsessive that they’ve already gone out and bought it already, anyways though if you’re on the fence, Paste has compiled a list of 15 reasons you need to own this.

Stream: Belle & Sebastian / The BBC Sessions

Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb discusses their new record proVisions (on which Isobel Campbell guests) with The Sun.

Pitchfork interviews Fleet Foxes.

altsounds chats with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. They’ve got a US tour coming together for January, but no Toronto date yet nor is there an obvious gap in the itinerary where I’d guess one would go. Still, fingers crossed.

Daytrotter sessions up with Film School.

Opting not to wait for Black Friday, Hard To Find A Friend has declared the holiday season as begun and has released a lovely charity Christmas compilation. Featuring artists such as American Analog Set, Oxford Collapse and Jason Collett, whose contribution can be sampled below. The mix costs $7.50 USD and all proceeds go to support The Children Of Uganda Foundation. Check it out – it’s the right thing to do and the easy way to do it.

MP3: Jason Collett – “A Beguiled Christmas in Sales”

Seattlest has an interview with Kathleen Edwards, The Oregon Daily Emerald talks to her and tourmate John Doe.

The Skinny gets some face time with Mick Harvey and Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & Bad Seeds.

Drowned In Sound engages Okkervil River’s Will Sheff in the first of a two-part feature.