Posts Tagged ‘Free Energy’

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Four

Free Energy, Lissie and The Middle East and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’ve been following SxSW coverage anywhere else over the last few days, then you know that Saturday, the final day of the festival, was cold. Damn cold. Colder than Toronto on that same day cold, which was particularly galling. I had brought just enough clothes so as to be able to layer a reasonably suitable outfit, so the loss of approximately 15 degrees overnight wasn’t enough to stop me from going out, just make it a bit less fun.

That said, I got out and about a little later than usual, opting to hit up Flatstock at the convention center first (no purchases, just browsing). A quick stop at the Rachael Ray party at Stubb’s came to nothing as the lineups for free food were massive – I like quesadillas but not to the point of spending an hour in line for them – and the music was already running a half hour behind schedule, so I popped into Red-Eyed Fly next door for WXPN’s day show and basically stuck around the rest of the day.

I arrived in time to catch most of the set from Lissie Maurus, who simply goes by Lissie. She’s an old-school country-rock singer-songwriter who isn’t banking on being fresh or innovative to get attention, just good. And she’s pretty good. Her voice has a raw yet wistful twang and her songwriting evocative and melodic, and oh yeah, she can play a pretty mean guitar as well. People have gotten much further with less, and judging from the jam-packed inside room at the venue, she was well on her way. Or people were just trying to get indoors.

The crowd was only slightly leaner for Sharon Van Etten’s set, but she had to contend with the sound of Jukebox The Ghost making a racket outside. This didn’t make for the most sympathetic environment for her quiet, heart-rending tunes and while she gamely tried to keep up by turning up, I couldn’t help thinking how perfect a setting St David’s Historic Synagogue would have been for her official showcase two nights prior. Or at least I imagine it was more perfect – I didn’t make it out to that show. Here’s hoping things are quieter for her when she plays the Horseshoe on April 5.

Despite the chill, it was to the outside stage for the next couple acts, and though it was Winter that was reminding us it wasn’t quite finished, Philly’s Free Energy were ready to be champions of Summer, at least musically speaking. People may have been expecting Cheap Trick to be the flag-bearers for big, ’70s power pop at this year’s festival, but with all respect to the veterans, Free Energy were untouchable when it came to hugely hooky, ass-shakingly great guitar rock. After their set, they handed out free copies of their debut Stuck On Nothing to all in attendance even though it’s not due out until May 4. The only catch was that it was on cassette. Thanks, guys.

I’d never heard of Australian 7-piece The Middle East before SxSW began, but they were one of the acts whose name got mentioned more and more with each of their performances so by this, their second-last show of the festival, I was actually making an effort to see what the hubbub was all about. Apparently they used to be some odd hybrid of folk-rock and post-rock, but now had a sound that was much more the former, but with some of the scope and grandeur of the latter and a heart-on-sleeve emotionality that tied it all together. With a short set time that was eaten up with soundchecking of their many, many instruments, they probably didn’t have time to really deliver their A-game and I wasn’t as won over as many seemed to have been with previous appearances, but I could see how it could happen.

At this point I was done with Red-Eyed Fly and crossed the street to Barbarella, which I didn’t realize used to be Spiro’s. And while the name had changed, the fact that it’s an awful room hadn’t. But I didn’t want to miss the chance to see Slow Club again – their one appearance at Eastbound & Found on Thursday was not going to be enough, especially since there was no indication that there’d be further North American touring in support of the Stateside release of their debut Yeah, So?. And perhaps because that record is so old to the band, despite not being available over here till March 30, the set again didn’t seem to include many of my favourite songs from that record but instead fresh tunes that at least still adhered to the album’s recipe for success: simple, gleeful guitar-and-drums arrangements, and wicked (witty) sharp songwriting. Highlights of the set included inviting the sisters of First Aid Kit up to sing a song before picking up and heading into the audience to play a tune amidst their public. They went back onstage for one final tune, but I preferred to leave the final impression of the show as that one, and anyways there was an enchilada calling my name.

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Foreign Born and Free Energy @ The El Mocambo – March 9, 2010

Photo via MySpace MySpaceWe’d gotten off pretty clean so far here in Toronto with respect to Winter weather, but while it’s hardly a snowpocalypse out there the last couple of days, it seems our run of clean sidewalks and dry feet is finally done – with less than a month left, formally, of Winter. Help, however, is on the way. Not in the form of a renegade chinook somehow making it across the entire continent, but in the a pair of bands whose brand of upbeat, good times guitar pop could be just the thing to chase away the winter blahs – at least for an evening.

I’m talking about the double-bill of Los Angeles’ Foreign Born and Philadelphia’s Free Energy, who are traversing the continent on tour and will be at the El Mocambo in Toronto on March 9. Free Energy’s debut Stuck On Nothing will be available digitally as of that date with a physical release coming May 4. Foreign Born’s Person To Person hit the streets last year.

Tickets for the show are $12.50 in advance but courtesy of Live Nation, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be Foreign Born” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 5.

For more Free Energy, head over to Daytrotter for a downloadable session and RCRDLBL for another album track.

MP3: Foreign Born – “Vacationing People”
MP3: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”
Video: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
Video: Foreign Born – “Winter Games”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MySpace: Foreign Born
MySpace: Free Energy

Friday, December 11th, 2009

All Yr Songs Are Belong To Us

Sony stages Diamond Rings heist

Photo By David WaldmanDavid WaldmanThe tale of Toronto’s Diamond Rings was one of the unexpected little Toronto triumphs of the Summer, what with the electro-glam alter-ego of D’Urbervilles frontman Jon O’Regan releasing a fun video to go with his debut 7″ single, “All Yr Songs”, and having it quickly get not only catch the ear of Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, but also garner title of “Best New Music” by the same tastemaking site, leading to plenty of attention, singles sales and plum opening slots.

The happy tale took an unfortunate turn Wednesday, however, as the YouTube clip – at 50,000 plays and counting – was unceremoniously pulled because of “a copyright claim by Sony BMG Music Entertainment”. This was especially odd considering that the song is an original, sample-free composition and the video, while paying tribute to the aesthetic of early hip-hop videos, was also wholly original. Exactly what the basis for Sony-BMG’s DMCA claim on the clip is unknown, as neither they nor Google are talking, but perhaps they’ve enlisted Gollum as their new head of A&R? Get it? Gollum? Wants the ring? His precious? No? Never mind.

But in all seriousness, this is a lousy situation not only for O’Regan but for video director Colin Medley who, for being the one to have uploaded the clip, has had is account essentially put on notice, being informed that as a YouTube user, he is “not in good standing” and further “strikes may result in the termination of your
account”. That the situation is bullshit is clear; what can be done about it is muddier, though some would advocate a Sony boycott. There are processes in place for appealing DMCA notices and those wheels have been put into motion, but as any music blogger who’s held a Blogspot account – also a Google property – knows, the would-be, presumably benign overlords of the internet aren’t big on communication. Here’s hoping it all gets sorted out sooner rather than later.

Even with this setback, Diamond Rings is still full steam ahead – a new single will be out in the new year, followed but a full-length album, he’s playing the Tranzac New Year’s Eve bender (taking place New Year’s Eve at the Tranzac – duh), opening up for Final Fantasy at the Mod Club on January 12 and will be heading down to Austin for SxSW in March. Sony will have to hire a team of interns to stop him.

NOW talked to O’Regan about the YouTube kerfuffle. You can still watch the video at Vimeo and listen to the tune in both its original form and remixed, if it suits your fancy, and if you see/hear anything that sounds like a crib from a Sony-BMG artist, do speak up. I’m sure the creators would love to find out exactly who they ripped off and how.

Update: Okay, the YouTube clip has been un-banned though no explanation as to why has been given. My completely baseless theory is that it may have mistakenly gotten caught up in some Vevo-related dragnet of material that the labels were seeking to clean up/seize control of. I’ll relay anything else I learn, but the important thing is you can now watch Jon bust a move on the online streaming video platform of your choice.
Update 2: NOW has updated their piece, saying Sony is claiming it was a case of mistaken identity with a Sony artist named Chipmunk who had a song called “Diamond Rings”. Uh-huh.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs” ((GOBBLE GOBBLE’s Wings for Eyeliner remix)
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”

The Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star, Torontoist, NOW and eye salute Constantines on the occasion of their tenth anniversary as one of Canada’s foremost rock bands. Their series of southern Ontario anniversary shows hits Toronto tonight at Lee’s Palace and continue on there tomorrow and December 19.

Ohbijou are capping off their own terrific year by giving away a free cover of Wham!’s holiday classic, “Last Christmas”. Head over here to grab it.

Woodpigeon have shared the MP3 of a Pink Floyd cover they recorded for a Mojo compilation. I had suggested they do “Run Like Hell”, but no one ever listens to me. Their new record Die Stadt Muzikanten is out January 12.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Mother” (Pink Floyd cover)

The Besnard Lakes’ identity crisis continues – apparently they no longer believe themselves to be The Dark Horse for as of March 9, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night. The new album will be preceded a month earlier with the release of a new single “Albatross” on 12″.

College Times and Austin360 talk to the Rural Alberta Advantage.

The Joy Formidable, who had me scrambling to check airfare prices upon seeing they’re playing four shows in New York at the start of next January (no I’m not going), are getting into the holiday spirit by giving away a free MP3 of a new song just crackling with festive cheer – “My Beerdrunk Soul is Sadder than a Hundred Dead Christmas Trees”. Now that’s my kind of Christmas carol. I love this band – someone give them tonnes of money so they can tour over here, or give me tonnes of money so I can go see them wherever they play. Actually, let’s just pursue scenario two.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “My Beerdrunk Soul is Sadder than a Hundred Dead Christmas Trees”

eye has a video interview and The New York Observer a print one with The xx. They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20 with Hot Chip, who’ve released a video for the title track from their next album One Life Stand, out February 9.

Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”

Rogue Wave will be at the Mod Club on February 26 to promote their new album Permalight, which will be in stores on March 2.

Electro duo YACHT have set a port of call for Wrongbar on March 4 as part of a cross-Canada tour. Their latest album See Mystery Lights was released earlier this year.

Video: YACHT – “Psychic City (Voodoo City)”

Los Angeles’ Foreign Born and Philadelphia’s Free Energy will be at the El Mocambo on March 9. The former released Person To Person earlier this year, the latter has nothing in tangible form but a nifty digital EP you can get on the interwebs. No, it’s not free. The energy is free, the music is not.

MP3: Foreign Born – “Vacationing People”
MP3: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Something In Common”
Video: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
Video: Foreign Born – “Winter Games”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”

Exclaim has details of the second She & Him record, entitled Volume Two (it’s the second volume, y’see?) and out March 23.