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Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Apple’

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Let's Just Go To The Dogs Tonight

Review of The Dismemberment Plan’s Uncanney Valley

Photo By Shervin Lainez Shervin LainezI will admit, first impressions of Uncanney Valley – the first album from Washington, DC’s Dismemberment Plan since 2001’s Change – was disappointment. And it’s not that I came to it with excessive expectations. I counted myself a fan of the band at the end run of their existence, but mostly of their tremendously entertaining live performances with 2002’s Death & Dismemberment tour with a then-unknown Death Cab For Cutie and their 2003 farewell show being very fond memories. But in the years of their absence, I came to appreciate how singular their blend of post-pop-hardcore-math-punk-art-rock was, and how no one ever really stepped into their oddly-shaped void in indie rock, or even tried. So comeback album? Yes, please.

So why disappointment? I’m not sure. Valley seemed to lack the manic energy, unpredictable creativity, and general weirdness that made the other records unique. It sounded like the Plan, but not the Plan I remembered. But it also still didn’t sound like anything else out there, so it stayed in rotation and before long, its own merits – and not those of its predecessors – became what I focused on, and those merits were many. Yeah the tempos were a little slower and the energy probably measured at a few less joules, but top to bottom Valley was the work of a more mature and tuneful Dismemberment Plan.

Everything that makes the Plan the Plan – Travis Morrison’s mile-a-minute delivery and off-kilter lyrical imagery, Eric Axelson’s oddly funky basslines, Jason Caddell’s creatively jagged guitarwork, and Joe Easley’s heavily nimble drumming – are in place and show no signs of rust, though if I were in charge of the mix said drums would be higher in the mix. While the likes of “Mexico City Christmas” and “White Collar White Trash” tap into their darker sides, it’s the more chipper “Waiting” and “Let’s Just Go To The Dogs Tonight” that set the tone for the record. There’s a relaxedness to the proceedings that might seem contrary to the nervous energy that infused their earlier work, but they wear it well. I as much as anyone should be able to appreciate that you in your 40s is not, cannot be, and should not be you in your 20s and Uncanney Valley is the sound of a band that knows that and is fine with it. The Dismemberment Plan circa 2013 might not be the same Dismemberment Plan circa 2001, but there’s still no one like either of them.

NPR has posted an advance stream of the record, which is out officially next week on October 15. Wired, Filter, and What’s On Tap have interviews with the band, and for the bonus round, the Plan stops in at The AV Club to cover Heart’s “Barracuda”, done straight but great because you do not fuck with “Barracuda”.

Stream: The Dismemberment Plan / Uncanney Valley

Under The Radar and Yahoo! Canada talk to Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal about their new album lousy with sylvianbriar, out this week.

Elle has premiered the new video from Lissie’s just-released new album Back To Forever, which is still streaming at Rolling Stone; she’s at the Adelaide Music Hall on November 21.

Video: Lissie – “Sleepwalking”
Stream: Lissie / Back To Forever

Interview talks to Lee Ranaldo about his just-released new record Last Night On Earth; he and The Dust are at The Horseshoe on October 11.

With a week to go before the October 15 release of Emancipated Hearts, Dean Wareham has made the mini-album available to stream via Spin.

Stream: Dean Wareham / Emancipated Hearts

Refinery 29 talks to Cameron Mesirow of Glasser, whose new album Interiors came out this week. She plays The Drake Underground on October 13.

Pitchfork has an advance stream of Campfire Songs, the new acoustic EP from The Men, out October 15. They play The Horseshoe on October 20.

Stream: The Men / Campfire Songs

The Head & The Heart have given Rolling Stone the nod to stream their new album Let’s Be Still, before it comes out October 15. Mother Jones has an interview with the band, who’re at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

Stream: The Head & The Heart / Let’s Be Still

Also out next week and streaming at NPR is Static, the second album from Cults. It brings them to Lee’s Palace on November 25.

Stream: Cults / Static

Pitchfork checks in with Fiona Apple, whose tour with Blake Mills brings her to The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17.

Consequence Of Sound has got a stream of a new Yo La Tengo song which will be released as a 7″ single on November 5 and also appear as one of the bonus tracks on Fade Deluxe when it comes out on November 19.

Stream: Yo La Tengo – “Super Kiwi”

Rolling Stone talks to Frank Black of Pixies about their plans to stay relevant ten years into their reunion. They’ve already had cast changes with the Roseanne-esque swapping of Kims on bass, are finally releasing new if underwhelming new material via a series of EPs complete with new video, and now another North American tour that kicks off in Toronto at Massey Hall on January 15, tickets ranging from $44.50 to $79.50, FIDLAR supporting.

MP3: Pixies – “Bagboy”
MP3: FIDLAR – “Got No Money”
Video: Pixies – “Andro Queen”

Those who like a little more Danger Mouse in their Shins will be happy to know a second Broken Bells album is on the way; they just released a trailer for After The Disco, which is due out in January.

Trailer: Broken Bells / After The Disco

After releasing her debut Neptune City on a major and the follow-up Mondo Amore on an indie, it just makes sense that for her third album Slow Phaser, Nicole Atkins would start her own label and release it via PledgeMusic. She’s soliciting donations now and with the two-month window, it stands to reason that the new album will be out sometime in early 2014.

NPR puts Superchunk behind a Tiny Desk and demands a concert.

NPR has a KCRW session with Jim James available to stream.

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Drain

Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, and Dilly Dally at The Silver Dollar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA glance at the sandwich board outside the Silver Dollar on Saturday night would shown a bill of bands with largely vague and generic names, yet if one were to have stepped inside and takn in the bill, they’d have found the appellations remarkably descriptive and appropriate.

I’d seen locals Dilly Dally a few years ago at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010, and despite the rough edges – or maybe because of them – I liked what I heard and was happy to have the opportunity to check in with them again, what with their not having especially blown up in the interim. What had transpired between then and now, however, was a dialing down of the early ’00s garage rock snottiness in favour of a heavier, jerkier Pixies-esque sound and songwriting style. So while still rather on the nose with their influences, their material was definitely more distinctive and, should a record finally emerge, it should be interesting and an aural salve for anyone who feared sullenly tuneful indifference was a thing of the past.

I don’t know if Toronto really had a former great shoegazing hope amongst all the bands operating, but they’ve certainly got a next one in Breeze. Looking and sounding the part of the first wave of the genre – Jazzmasters, check; shaggy curly hair and striped shirts, check – their songs were simply structured, unfailingly melodic, and struck the right balance of soft, dreamy vocals and churning guitars that wisely saved their really noisy moments for the instrumental breaks. There wasn’t any specific aspect of them that marked them as burgeoning superstars but as a unit they were really strong on fundamentals, their drummer as solid as he wasn’t flashy. Signed to local label Hand Drawn Dracula, they’ve only got a couple singles out at the moment but a debut album is forthcoming and for fans of the genre, worth keep an eye out for.

Philadelphia’s Nothing were the front half of the touring bill that was anchoring this show, and though I hadn’t heard them before, their name was a pretty good indicator of where they were coming from. While you could technically argue they were in keeping with the shoegazing theme of the evening, they were less about having sound wash over you than hit you like a brickbat. Though punishingly loud, they avoided sonic incoherence and if you paid close attention, were fundamentally tuneful under it all – a trait which became clearer the few times they turned the distortion down. I’m kind of amazed how different they sound on their last release, the Downward Years To Come 12″ EP, which is much more classically shoegaze in conceit and execution. Though as it turned out, that Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon wasn’t isolated to them.

The first sign that this Whirr set might not be what I was expecting was that as Nothing tore down and they set up, the grinding feedback that closed the former’s performance continued to reverberate through the club until they began playing. The second was that there was no sign of singers Alexandra Morte, who appeared on their Pipe Dreams and Distressor albums, or Kristina Esfandiari who appeared on this year’s Around mini-LP. Considering the female vocals are a huge part of the band on record – their being the softness that buttresses against the band’s waves of sound – it was a pretty big absence. Not that they’d have necessarily been heard anyways, since the guitars and drums were so loud that the vocals were rendered completely inaudible. Seriously, they could have been lip-synching or singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and you wouldn’t have known; given this, that Nothing’s singer jumped on stage to sing one song was kind of hilarious.

This is not to suggest the show lacked presence or impact; Whirr had a physicality onstage not often seen at shows of this ilk, with all five moving as though jerked by marionette strings or being impacted by the notes they were playing, but given that their ability to capture on record that My Bloody Valentine-esque dichotomy of sonic brutality and aural beauty is a huge part of the band’s appeal, that they’d choose not to indulge that at all was rather frustrating. An guitar line would occasionally surface that gave some indication of what song it was they were playing, but the live renditions were so far removed from the recordings – if the album versions were watercolours, live they were huge swathes of jet-black paint – that experiencing the show on anything but a purely visceral level was largely futile. And while that approach was satisfying in its way, it also got tedious after a while. I found it curious that the band would go through the trouble of writing, recording, releasing, and touring these songs only to opt to bludgeon them to death every night, but I suppose that’s their prerogative. I do hope, however, that some of the people who were impressed enough to buy records after their set take them home, put them on, and are confused by all the actual songs.

The Aquarian has a short interview with Whirr.

Photos: Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, Dilly Dally @ The Silver Dollar – August 17, 2013
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”
Stream: Whirr – “Drain”
Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Nothing / Downward Years To Come
Stream: Breeze – “Paradise (In a While)”
Stream: Breeze – “Repent”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Tip Toes”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Green”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Killing Time”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Candy Mountain”

Grantland, The AV Club, and The Fly talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, whose new album I Hate Music is out this week.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the low-down on the players replacing the missing Replacements at Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson’s side at Riot Fest at Garrison Commons on August 25.

Neko Case has made her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to stream a full two weeks ahead of its September 3 release via NPR.

Stream: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

USA Today has premiered the next performance video from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium, this one of which finds Will Sheff playing in the titular gymnasium of his old grade school. The record comes out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Video: Okkervil River – “Lido Pier Suicide Car” (live in the Silver Gymnasium)

Consequence Of Sound have a stream of another track from the new of Montreal album lousy with sylvianbriar, out October 8.

Stream: of Montreal – “She Ain’t Speakin’ Now”

Matablog has details on Lee Ranaldo’s new solo record; credited to Lee Ranaldo & The Dust, Last Night On Earth will be out on October 8 and you can stream the first track from it below. This offers some context to Ranaldo’s previously-announced date at The Horseshoe on October 11.

Stream: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust – “Lecce, Leaving”

Magnet spends some (a lot) of time with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. You can do the same when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre solo on October 15.

Pitchfork has a new sort-of performance video from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, whose co-tour comes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17.

We Talk You Die interviews new Midlake frontman Eric Pulido about their new record Antiphon, coming November 5.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with Yo La Tengo.

KCRW is streaming an acoustic studio session with The National.

NPR welcomes Mikal Cronin for a World Cafe session; Spoonfed also has an interview.

MTV Hive and Glamour talk to Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Anything We Want

Fiona Apple to do whatever she wants, including more touring

Photo By Dan MonickDan MonickFiona Apple did pretty much all anyone could have asked in 2012. Starting with a tense but triumphant comeback show at SXSW, she proceeded to release a stellar new record with The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do last June and toured reasonably extensively behind it, though by late Fall she was cancelling dates to tend to her ailing dog. If that was the end of the promotional cycle for The Idler Wheel and the beginning of another hiatus, then so be it. Her inclusion on the initial lineup for the 2013 edition Primavera Sound in Barcelona was an encouraging sign that she wasn’t done yet, but that didn’t last.

Then last week – more than a year after the first single and video from Idler Wheel was released – a new video emerged for the album’s closing track, directed by auteur and former partner Paul Thomas Anderson, and that was followed up earlier this week with the announcement of a new Fall tour. But not a conventional tour. For starters, Apple will be touring and performing with Los Angeles singer-songwriter Blake Mills, and as per the name of the tour – Anything We Want – the format of it promises to be free-form and unpredictable. One would assume that with the not-cheap ticket prices, they’re acknowledging that Apple’s exponentially-larger fanbase will make up the bulk of the audience and will be played to accordingly, but then again, maybe not. They don’t know, so how can we?

In any case, Toronto is probably lucky that the October 17 date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre comes a couple weeks into the tour, so folks should have an idea of what to expect by that point. Of course, if they’ve already shelled out their $49.50 or $69.50 for a seat, it’s kind of academic. But still.

Video: Fiona Apple – “Hot Knife”

Portland’s Blitzen Trapper have announced details of the follow-up to 2011’s American Goldwing as well as accompanying tour dates. VII will be out on October 1 on their new home at Vagrant Records, and the accompanying tour hits Lee’s Palace a few days later on October 5, tickets $18.50. You can stream one of the new songs via Rolling Stone.

Stream: Blitzen Trapper – “Ever Loved Once”

Providence’s Deer Tick are also putting out a new record of their brand of Americana this Fall in the form of Negativity, due out September 24, and will also be hitting the road in support, kicking that tour off in Toronto at Lee’s Palace on October 10 – tickets for that are $22. They released a video for one of their new songs a couple weeks ago and are streaming another new tune via Rolling Stone.

Video: Deer Tick – “The Rock”
Stream: Deer Tick – “The Dream’s In The Ditch”

Pennsylvania psych-folkers Dr. Dog are also readying a new album for Fall release, with B-Room coming out October 1 – stream a new song below – and their touring itinerary in support of it runs pretty much the entire Fall, with the November 8 date at The Phoenix being one of the last. Tickets for that will be $22.

Stream: Dr. Dog – “The Truth”

Entertainment Weekly are streaming the whole of Explosions In The Sky’s soundtrack to the Prince Avalanche film ahead of its August 6 release date, just before the film opens on August 9. They play The Air Canada Centre on October 4, opening for Nine Inch Nails.

Stream: Explosions In The Sky w David Wingo / Prince Avalanche original motion picture soundtrack

Though you could be forgiven for assuming that we’d lost Tanya Donelly to the world of motherhood and domesticity – I certainly did – you would in fact be wrong. The former Belly/Breeder/Throwing Muse has been recording new music and will begin releasing it to the world in a series of monthly EP’s that she’s calling the Swan Song Series; the first volume will be available next Tuesday, August 6, via Bandcamp though those in the US with access to Pandora can apparently stream the songs in advance now. Lucky ducks.

The Justin Vernon-powered Volcano Choir have released a new video from their forthcoming Repave, which is out September 3 and brings them to The Phoenix on September 8.

Video: Volcano Choir – “Byegone”

Billboard talks to Neko Case about her forthcoming record The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, out September 3.

Stereogum chats with Lou Barlow about the return of Sebadoh, while The San Francisco Appeal talks to drummer Bob D’Amico and The San Francisco Bay Guardian to bassist Jason Lowenstein. They’ve released a stream of one of the new tracks and a video of another, both from Defend Yourself which comes out September 17.

Stream: Sebadoh – “I Will”
Video: Sebadoh – “All Kinds”

Pitchfork has some specifics about the new Cults record Static, which will be out October 15.

Trailer: Cults / Static

Rolling Stone has premiered the second video for the first new Pixies song in ages, because if any band has mastered the art of miking it, it’s Pixies. Trivia: that’s not actually Kim Deal on the recording, it’s her replacement Kim Shattuck.

Video: Pixies – “Bagboy” (version 2)

Huffington Post has premiered a stream of the first new TV On The Radio music since 2011’s Nine Types Of Light. No info on the new album, but this is a start.

Stream: TV On The Radio – “Mercy”

Chicago Grid has a feature story on Wilco (the business).

Beatroute and The Edmonton Journal chat with M Ward.

The Creator’s Project have posted their mini-documentary on The Postal Service’s 10th anniversary tour.

Consequence Of Sound talks to Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster about his recent commitment to sobriety.

Airship Daily and The Huffington Post have interviews with Stephin Merritt about his work with Future Bible Heroes.

NPR has a video session with Yo La Tengo.

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Looking Through

Nada Surf at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNada Surf fly under a lot of peoples’ radars, remembered as that “Popular” band if they’re remembered at all, but they really do deserve credit for not only surviving the boom and bust of the ’90s alt-rock scene but putting together a fruitful second act of solidly tuneful albums of sensitive guitar pop while many of their contemporaries called it quits and are only returning to action now via the reunion track.

The seventh of which, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, was released back in January to follow up their 2010 covers record If I Had A Hi Fi and it follows the aforementioned template though with more volume and velocity than you might expect from them at this point. The band could probably get away with writing strictly sensitive, ballad-y material at this point but Astronomy shows that they can still turn up and rock a bit when they want to.

And just as they did in January 2008 when they were promoting their last album of new material, Lucky, they made time during a visit to Toronto to play an in-store at Sonic Boom. That occasion came during the advance press circuit and not the actual tour, so they were able to play a longer set at the store’s old location; this time, they were at the new Bathurst St. location offering what frontman Matthew Caws described as a condensed version of that evening’s performance at the Opera House. But while this equated to a shorter set, it also meant that the band were fully equipped to play. Sure, Caws still stuck to his acoustic and drummer Ira Elliot again forewent a kit for a rhythm box/stool, this time Daniel Lorca had his bass with him and their two touring players – Calexio’s Martin Wenk and former Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard – were on hand to fill things out in indie rock all-star style.

Their mini-set drew from all their records and they performed with the confidence and ease of a unit with little else to prove, content and grateful to be able to play for themselves and their fans. Some may point at them and declare them a band that’s had its moment and is far from fashionable, but there’s something to be said about no longer be beholden to the machinations of hype. Bands of the moment should count themselves lucky if they can eventually write a brace of songs as good as Nada Surf’s, let along have their longevity.

Hater High has a recording of the in-store to share while The Boston Phoenix and Billboard have feature pieces on the band.

Photos: Nada Surf @ Sonic Boom – April 4, 2012
MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
MP3: Nada Surf – “See These Bones”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Do It Again”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Blankest Year”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Blonde On Blonde”
Video: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
Video: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”
Video: Nada Surf – “Whose Authority”
Video: Nada Surf – “Weightless”
Video: Nada Surf – “Always Love”
Video: Nada Surf – “Blankest Year”
Video: Nada Surf – “Inside Of Love”
Video: Nada Surf – “The Way You Wear Your Head”
Video: Nada Surf – “Firecracker”
Video: Nada Surf – “Popular”
Video: Nada Surf – “Treehouse”

The June 19 release date of The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do confirmed, the return of Fiona Apple continues with a full North American tour; Pitchfork has the Summer dates, which include a July 4 date at The Sound Academy in Toronto.

Video: Fiona Apple – “Fast As You Can”

Fast Company Create and Pitchfork talk to The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne about their forthcoming collaborations album Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends, due out this Record Store Day, April 21.

Father John Misty has released another track from the forthcoming Fear Fun, due out May 1. He plays The Horseshoe on May 14.

MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

There’s a new video available from White Rabbits’ latest Milk Famous. They’re interviewed at St. Louis Today, The Columbia Daily Tribune, and College Times.

Video: White Rabbits – “Temporary”

DIY has a feature piece on M. Ward, whose new album A Wasteland Companion is finally out tomorrow.

The Village Voice interviews Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Artrocker checks in quickly with Stephen Malkmus.

The Birmingham News talks to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.

The Toronto Star interviews Howler.

DIY has a video session with Craig Finn while CBS Sports talks to the Hold Steady frontman about his love of baseball. On a similar note, Rolling Stone talks to other musicians about their affection for America’s pastime.

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Night One A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe writeup for the first evening’s entertainment for SXSW 2012 can be found over here.

Fiona Apple
– Mercurial and beloved Los Angeles singer-songwriter who’s come out of seclusion to prepare the for the release of (deep breath) The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do – or The Idler Wheel… to its friends – later this Summer. Advance word is that it should be ready around June but Apple fans know better than to expect timely delivery of her work.

Photos: Fiona Apple @ Stubb’s – March 14, 2012
Video: Fiona Apple – “Paper Bag”
Video: Fiona Apple – “O’ Sailor”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Parting Gift”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Limp”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Fast As You Can”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Never Is A Promise”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Criminal”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Sleep To Dream”
Video: Fiona Apple – “Shadowboxer”

Daughter
– London trio who craft dark, ghostly and serrated folk led by singer-songwriter Elena Tonra. They’ve two EPs to their name and a full-length debut in the works. DIY has a feature on the band.

Photos: Daughter @ Red Eyed Fly Patio – March 14, 2012
MP3: Daughter – “Love”
Stream: Daughter / His Young Heart

Dry The River
– The next great British arena-folk hope, with open-hearted earnestness and rafter-shaking anthems at the ready. Their debut Shallow Bed gets a North American release on April 17 and they’re at The Garrison on Tuesday, March 27, opening for Bowerbirds. They played a video session for Rolling Stone whilst in Austin and Get Hampshire has an interview about their taking on (North) America.

Photos: Dry The River @ Red Eyed Fly Patio – March 14, 2012
MP3: Dry The River – “New Ceremony”
Video: Dry The River – “No Rest”
Video: Dry The River – “Chambers & The Valves”
Video: Dry The River – “Weights & Measures”