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Posts Tagged ‘Galaxie 500’

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Rolling Thunder

Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson team up for shenanigans and misadventures

Photo By John ShearerJohn ShearerThe era of the touring festival has by and large given way to massive destination and regional festivals – it seemingly being easier to bring a bunch of bands and tens of thousands of fans to one place than it is to bring a bunch of bands to hundreds of thousands of fans in a bunch of places – but sometimes a touring bill is so impressive that it warrants a fancy name of its own. And the bill of Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson which will be hitting amphitheatres across North America this Summer is one of those bills; ergo “AmericanaramA”.

Even though he’s the headliner and by far the biggest act – though if there was justice in the world, Thompson wouldn’t be far behind – Dylan is also the biggest question mark on the lineup. As I mentioned last Summer when the Fall tour in support of his latest album Tempest, Dylan is not someone who suffers nostalgiasts lightly and based on the tweets I saw the night of that Air Canada Show about people walking out after just a few songs, his penchant for rendering his songs nigh unrecognizable live remains undiminished. So caveat emptor, but also know that each of Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson are also absolute known quantities at the other end of the spectrum – they’re incapable of putting on a bad show, even if they’ll most likely be allotted much less than their usual marathon set times.

So whether that math is persuasive enough to convince you to shell out the $49.50, $69.50, or $89.50 for reserved seats or $35.50 for lawns to see them at The Molson Amphitheatre on July 15 is between you and your accountant. But don’t forget to factor in the cost of an “AmericanaramA” t-shirt. The presale goes Saturday, April 27 Tuesday, April 30, at 10AM, with the regular onsale following on Friday, May 3, at 10AM.

MP3: Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are A-Changin'”
MP3: Wilco – “Whole Love”
MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Heartbreakin’ Man”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “The Sights & Sounds Of London Town”

Austin shoegaze aficionados Ringo Deathstarr have made a date at The Shop Under Parts & Labour for June 3 in support of their second album, last year’s Mauve. Tickets for the show are $7 in advance.

MP3: Ringo Deathstarr – “Imagine Hearts”

Aussie-fronted Swedish electro-pop up-and-comers Kate Boy have slated a short North American tour that includes a Toronto stop at Wrongbar on June 9. Tickets are $12.50 and if you need to catch up on some of the buzz behind them, there are these features at Pitchfork and Billboard.

MP3: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”
Video: Kate Boy – “In Your Eyes”
Video: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”

There was both curiosity and concern when London’s Still Corners canceled their North American tour in support of the forthcoming Strange Pleasures, out May 7, and the reasons for the itinerary change was made clear yesterday – instead of headlining their own Summer tour, they will supporting CHVRCHES on theirs. Exclaim has the new dates, which still include a Toronto date – June 12 at The Hoxton – but raises questions about their participation in NXNE. On one hand, even though that CHVRCHES date falls on the first night of the festival, there’s no sign that it will be associated with it at all – get your $16 ticket while you can – but on the other hand, they’ve got two off days before they need to be in Montreal so there’s technically no reason that their previously-announced June 14 NXNE showcase can’t still happen. Anyways.

MP3: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”

With a new album out in Change Becomes Us, British post-punk legends Wire will be at Lee’s Palace on July 10, tickets $25. There’s interviews with the band at Rolling Stone, PopMatters, and Rock Cellar.

MP3: Wire – “Dot Dash” (live)

Born Ruffians will be playing a presumably free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 13 as part of their Sound Clash festival thing.

MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”

Guelph’s Hillside Festival announced their 2013 lineup this year, and if you were interested in seeing the likes of Fucked Up, Colin Stetson, Diamond Rings, Hayden, Jim Guthrie, Lee Ranaldo, METZ, The Sadies, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, or World Party (!) with easy access to swimming, camping, and drum circles, then Guelph Lake the weekend of July 26 to 28 is probably where you want to be. If you hate hippies, you may want to reconsider.

Further cementing the possibility that he might just be homeless, Josh Tillman will bring Father John Misty back to town for his fifth show in 15 months, this time headlining the Danforth Music Hall on August 3 with Minneapolis’ Night Moves as support. Tickets will run from $15.50 to $19.50, depending on floors or balcony.

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

With the new Guided By Voices album English Little League out next week, April 30, the five lead-up 7″ singles have been conveniently collected into a single Soundcloud playlist, and while The Quietus has collected all of the b-sides, as well.

Stream: Guided By Voices / English Little League sampler
Stream: Guided By Voices / English Little League b-sides

Deerhunter have put their new album Monomania up on NPR to stream before it comes out May 7.

Stream: Deerhunter / Monomania

MTV Hive talks to Robert Levon Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club about his relationship with his late father. BRMC are at The Kool Haus on May 9.

Exclaim, Creative Loafing, The Island Packet, and Charleston City Paper interview Charles Bradley, in town at The Phoenix on May 11.

Mudkiss checks in with Nicole Atkins, who continues work on her third album Slow Phaser, due out later this year.

Janelle Monáe has made the first track from her new album The Electric Lady available to stream, and Erykah Badu has helped her do it. The record is due out later this year.

Stream: Janelle Monáe (featuring Erykah Badu) – “Q.U.E.E.N.”

CBC Music and Exclaim have interviews with Steve Earle about his new album, The Low Highway.

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine discusses his new album Ghost On Ghost with Clash.

Elle profiles Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, covering topics including her brush with breast cancer, the end of her marriage to Thurston Moore, and what’s next.

Chan Marshall of Cat Power discusses her personal style with MTV Style.

As much as I love Galaxie 500, they’ve never struck me as a band that required multiple books to be written about them. Of course, Dean Wareham’s Black Postcards obviously had its bias, so maybe Temperature’s Rising – Galaxie 500: an oral and visual history – released last week and featuring input from all three members – will be more balanced and accurate. And if not, it will at least be larger and offer more pictures.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Gentlemen

The Afghan Whigs and Crocodiles at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m old enough to have lived through The Afghan Whigs in their heyday, but I still missed them completely. Okay, not completely – I had a copy of Gentlemen on cassette because, well, Spin and such told me that I should – but it never really spoke to high school me. In 1993, I was all R.E.M. and Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead, at the artier end of the guitar rock spectrum, and the Whigs’ inherent seediness, the blackness of their soul, didn’t resonate; it probably scared me.

Fast-forward to late last year when it was announced that the 2012 edition of the ’90s rock reunion renaissance would feature the Afghan Whigs and on a whim, I decided to revisit their back catalog. And apparently my life has gotten much seedier or my soul much blacker in the past 20 years because damned if they haven’t become my most listened-to artist this year; not a fact that will be reflected in the old year-end list, but certainly merits mention. And it also offers some context as to why last Wednesday night’s show at The Phoenix – their only Canadian stop on the reunion tour – was probably my most-anticipated show of the year. The list of bands that I’m super-into and whom I haven’t been able to see live by this point is a pretty short one and for the last while, The Afghan Whigs have been at the very top of it. And while I thought I’d have been far from the only one – the band’s return to active duty had been met with great enthusiasm at almost all their European and American dates so far – but The Phoenix was far from full to welcome the Whigs back to town for the first time this century. Surprising and disappointing, but mostly unfortunate for those who missed it.

San Diego’s Crocodiles were on their own headlining tour in support of their second album Endless Flowers but took the support slot for this show, making for a bill that was impressive on paper but maybe a bit mismatched in practice. Not stylistically, but demographically – the Whigs fans would be out for their band, and an act with their own following, as Crocodiles had, probably would have been better off in front of their own audience. Those out early were largely impassive to their performance, but to be fair it wasn’t their best foot forward. I had been much more impressed seeing them at NXNE 2011 in the close quarters of the Silver Dollar, but here they weren’t as snotty or explosive with their balance of melody and noise far from optimal; they were good and loud but came across more generic than they should have. As with that NXNE show, watching guitarist Charles Rowell work was still the highlight, particularly when he managed to berate an audience member up front mid-song for being on his phone rather than watching the show. Okay, maybe they were still a bit snotty.

The Afghan Whigs setlists for the reunion tour had commendably changed things up from show to show, incorporating requests and just keeping things interesting, but most times the shows had opened with cinematic Black Love leadoff track “Crime Scene, Part One” and why not? It was the perfect way to kick things off, from slow burning introduction to impassioned chorus and so as predictable as it might have been to start this show, it was no less thrilling. Any concerns that Greg Dulli’s voice wouldn’t be what it once was – in recordings of the earliest live performances from the Spring, he came across more ragged and raspy than he probably should have – proved to be unfounded as except for a little bit of ducking on the toughest parts, he sounded every bit of whiskey, cigarette, and sex-shredded fantastic.

Given the rotating drum throne of the ’90s-era Afghan Whigs, the 2012 reunion technically only meant Dulli, guitarist Rick McCollum, and bassist John Curley were there from the original records, but with the rest of the band made up of Dave Rosser (guitar), Rick Nelson (strings/keys), and Cully Symington (drums) – all of whom had played with Dulli in The Twilight Singers – this edition had plenty of legitimacy and more importantly, chemistry. The songs had been masterfully re-arranged for three guitars, sounding massive without any player ever stepping on the others’ parts, as well as tastefully incorporating violin and cello to make the Whigs an intricate and elegant sonic bludgeon.

After the Black Love opener, the set list moved through all points of their discography, giving due to early works Congregation and Up In It – “Turn On The Water” was used to accomodate a shouted request for a cover of, “Helter Skelter” complete with Dulli yelling, “I got blisters on my fingers!” at its close – but the bulk of the show was justly dedicated to the triumvirate of Gentlemen, Black Love, and 1965, kicking it into especially high-gear with a sublime mid-set run of “Gentlemen”, “Crazy”, “My Enemy”, and “Somethin’ Hot”, each sounding as fiercely swaggering as they did a decade and a half ago.

While his bandmates were mostly content to lay back and go about their business – McCollum and Rosser’s guitar kingdom was curiously set about halfway back on the stage – Dulli was engaging and chatty through the show, bantering with the audience and complimenting Toronto on our beautiful women, perhaps intending to add emphasis to this when he got into the crowd to go after them a couple songs later during, “See And Don’t See”, after which he got on the piano for the Frank Ocean cover of “Love Crimes”. This covered their officially-released new recordings since reuniting, but the eagle-eared would have noticed another new song – “Dead Body” – appended onto “We Two Parted”. Their main set ran for an hour twenty, capped by a searing “Fountain and Fairfax”, and while I can understand those calling out for “Miles Iz Dead” in the encore – it would have been great to hear, for sure – their decision to close things bookend-style out with the epic Black Love suite of “Bulletproof”, “Summer’s Kiss”, and “Faded” – complete with “Purple Rain” quote in the outro – was damned near perfect, as was the show.

Exclaim also has a review of the show.

Photos: The Afghan Whigs, Crocodiles @ The Phoenix – October 3, 2012
MP3: The Afghan Whigs – “Lovecrimes”
MP3: The Afghan Whigs – “See And Don’t See”
MP3: Crocodiles – “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)”
MP3: Crocodiles – “Sleep Forever”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Going To Town”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Somethin’ Hot”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Honky’s Ladder”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Gentlemen”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Debonair”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Come See About Me”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Conjure Me”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Turn On The Water”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “You My Flower”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Miles Iz Dead”
Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Sister, Brother”
Video: Crocodiles – “Endless Flowers”
Video: Crocodiles – “Hearts Of Love”
Video: Crocodiles – “Sleep Forever”

Ohio State University newspaper The Lantern talks to The National about their decision to actively support the Obama campaign, and some of the grief they’re taking for it.

Sadie chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

MTV Hive reports that even though they’re pretty busy with the Turn On The Bright Lights tenth anniversary edition and Paul Banks with his new solo record Banks on top of that, Interpol has started work on their fifth studio album. And over at DIY and Clash, Banks talks about Banks.

Filter and The Calgary Herald talk to Dean Wareham about the Galaxie 500 legacy and Andy Warhol, respectively.

Loud & Quiet talk to J. and Lou of Dinosaur Jr.

Stereogum talks to Mark Eitzel, in town at The Rivoli on November 28.

Jason Lytle has handed his new record Dept. Of Disappearance over to NPR to stream a week before its release on October 16 and offers an interview to The Irish Times. He opens up for Band OF Horses at Massey Hall on December 5.

Stream: Jason Lytle / Dept. Of Disappearance

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

New Ceremony

Dry The River at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTwo points. One, I am rather smitten with Dry The River’s debut album Shallow Bed, out now in the UK and coming out in North America on April 17. Two, I am somewhat suspicious of how smitten I am with said record as history shows that my infatuation with British bands who trade in big, emotive rock can be short-lived, either for overexposure or for having a shelf life that’s shorter than one would hope. As such, I went into seeing them at SXSW something of a skeptic and came out a believer – their performance was one of the most stirring I saw all week by a band not hailing from E Street – and as much as seeing them make their Toronto debut less than a fortnight later might have seemed redundant, it was also not to be missed. After all, if things played out for the band as they certainly seemed like they might, the next time they visited would be in a much bigger room.

I wasn’t the only one with that idea, evidently, as The Garrison was decidedly full before they took the stage. With all respect to Bowerbirds and their fanbase, I suspect the support was as much of a draw on this tour as the headliners if not moreso. Still, the five-piece took the stage humbly and a bit taken aback by the turnout – reasonable, as apparently their show the night before in Montreal had been downgraded to an impromptu coffee shop show after Bowerbirds’ van broke down and the main show had to be cancelled – and opened with “No Rest”, whose soaring chorus couldn’t help but win over everyone and anyone within earshot. The band’s ability to build from quiet to crescendo was a potent weapon, but one they used judiciously – if anything, they played things quieter than on record, emphasizing the folkier aspects of their sound and keeping the big guns in reserve for when they’d be most effective, like the crashing intro to “Bible Belt” and the grand, heart-stopping finale of “Lion’s Den”.

As I mentioned in that SXSW writeup, from a strictly musical point of view, there’s no reason that Dry The River can’t follow the trail laid by the likes of Mumford & Sons to mass success. If anything holds them back, it’s their lack of pre-packaged marketability, Dry The River being decidedly scruffier and less ready for the cover of Non-Threatening Boys than their tweed-clad countrymen. But if that keeps their star from ascending quite so quickly and we early adopters can keep them to ourselves a bit longer, I’m all for that.

Alas, something came up and I couldn’t stick around to see Bowerbirds’ set, but I’m sure they were lovely. Next time.

Panic Manual and Syncopated Sound also have reviews of the show. NPR and Toro have interviews with the band, Clash asks guitarist Matthew Taylor to curate his dream festival lineup and The Alternate Side and Daytrotter have posted sessions with the band.

Photos: Dry The River @ The Garrison – March 27, 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”

Ascendent British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka will make his proper Toronto debut – he played an invite-only thing during CMW – at The Great Hall on June 19, tickets $15 in advance. Rolling Stone has all the North American dates and a chat with the singer while Chart antes up with a video session.

MP3: Michael Kiwanuka – “Tell Me A Tale”

M. Ward is gearing up for the release of his new album A Wasteland Companion next week with a Daytrotter session and New York Times interview; you can also now download the lead single from said record if you like.

MP3: M. Ward – “Primitive Girl”

The Quietus interviews Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low and also get Sparhawk to list off his favourite albums. They’re at Massey Hall in support of Death Cab For Cutie on April 19.

Jana Hunter of Lower Dens talks to Spin about their new record Nootropics, out May 1.

Their tour having wrapped up last night right here in Toronto, A Place To Bury Strangers have announced the June 26 release of their next full-length album Worship, and the first single is now available to download courtesy of Spin. The AV Club and The Phoenix have interviews with guitarist Oliver Ackermann.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”

The Riverfront Times talks to Roger Miller of Mission Of Burma; their new one Unsound is due out on July 9.

NPR serves up a World Cafe session with tUnE-yArDs, in town at The Phoenix on August 1.

Dum Dum Girls has released a new video from last year’s Only In Dreams.

Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”

Interview interviews Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal. The Star-Ledger, LA Weekly, Boise Weekly, and What’s Up also have features.

Aquarium Drunkard grabs an interview with Dean Wareham.

Bryce Dessner of The National talks to You Ain’t No Picasso.

CBC, The Awl, The Toronto Star, and Exclaim all ran features on The Magnetic Fields in advance of last week’s show at The Sound Academy.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Andrew Bird.

NPR is streaming a recording of a collaboration between The Mountain Goats, Owen Pallett, and vocal group Anonymous 4 at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The Past & Pending

The Shins and Faces On Film at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf someone were to start one of those, “Who the eff are The Shins?” Tumblrs, there’d be no shortage of content to start with. They were once called Flake Music. They were the band who got a song with lyrics about having “dirt in your fries” to soundtrack a McDonalds commercial. They were the band that helped establish Sub Pop as the sensitive pop label for the new century rather than the sweaty grunge label for the last one. They were the band whose keyboardist was a hero to indie boys for dating one of the contestants on the first season of America’s Next Top Model and then a villain to all when he was arrested for assaulting her. They were the band that would change your life. And following the 2007 release of their third album Wincing The Night Away, which almost topped the charts worldwide (#2 in the US and Canada), they went into hiding and almost disbanded.

Or to be more precise, bandleader James Mercer opted to assert his bandleadership and essentially dismissed the rest of the band, then rather than release a new album went and worked with Danger Mouse on the largely unremarkable Broken Bells instead. Only this Summer did any concrete news about the status of The Shins emerge with a promise of a new record in 2012 and a run of tour dates through this Fall – including this past Thursday night in Toronto – with a new lineup of not-nobodies. Singer/songwriter Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, Crystal Skulls bassist Yuuki Matthews and singer/songwriter Jessica Dobson are clearly billed as the touring band for this jaunt and with no permanence implied. For the time being, these would be The Shins but for future reference, The Shins would essentially be a pseudonym for Mercer.

Boston-based openers Faces On Film knew a thing or two about one-man multi-member bands, being the project of one Mike Fiore. It took a few songs to pin down exactly what their slow-burning jangle-pop reminded me of but once I did, it was hard to hear anything else; if you imagined My Morning Jacket or Band Of Horses coming out of a northeastern college rather than the south, you’d have a pretty good sense of what they were about. Fiore has a big voice – far bigger than you’d expect to look at him – and perhaps more importantly, a penchant for interesting and structurally ambitious songwriting without being too obtuse about it. Cribbing a bit of either of those bands’ facilities for big moments wouldn’t hurt – some of the songs were heavy on build, light on payoff – but they were both interesting and entertaining and judging on audience response, left the stage with a few more fans than when they took it. And that’s really all an opener can ask for.

Reaching back in memory to the few times I’ve seen The Shins live – that’d be Summer 2002 at The Rivoli, April 2005 at The Kool Haus and Lollapalooza 2006 – the prevailing recollection was that James Mercer didn’t ever really seem to enjoy being onstage, and was perfectly happy to stand off to the side and let the more gregarious Crandall handle most banter and fan interaction. This jives with the sense that Mercer is a sort of cipher whose intensely catchy pop instincts help disguise the fact that his oblique lyrics, filled with odd and wonderful imagery actually offers little insight into the man himself. Which is not to say that songwriters owe their listeners a piece of themselves in their work, but success to the degree that The Shins achieved usually doesn’t come with the amount of privacy that Mercer has maintained.

None of which is really salient to this show, I suppose, and there’s plenty more relevant points of interest surrounding it to discuss. Like how, even though it’s only been four years since The Shins have been through town or toured to any great extent, that span is akin to a lifetime when your fanbase is on the cusp of adulthood as much of their post-Garden State demographic was when they broke out. Woud a Shins fan circa 2007 still identify as such in 2011? That was answered by the fact that there were enough interested to sell out the Phoenix and most were indeed still pretty young, though sadly most people look pretty young to me these days.

Whether they were diehards or nostalgists, they were all thrilled to hear The Shins live again (or finally, as the case may have been), no matter who was actually in the band. And why not? Whatever there might be to say about James Mercer as a boss, there’s little debate that he’s a gifted songwriter who has penned more than few tunes that are as catchy as they are quirky, and which have endured nicely – even the ones that hadn’t been heard in years and whose existence may even have been forgotten came instantly back within a few chords. Being veteran players all, there was no doubt the new lineup would be able to deliver exactly what was demanded of them and all were performed impeccably, if a bit louder and faster than on record, and with nice multi-part harmonies thrown in for good measure. Mercer was animated and affable in the frontman role, but you couldn’t argue he’d upped the charisma levels to fill Crandall’s absence; he and his crew were there to play the songs and that’s all.

The set included a couple of new songs which sounded identifiably Shins-y though didn’t jump out as instant classics and otherwise balanced equal contributions from Chutes Too Narrow and Wincing The Night Away – four apiece – with a lot of Oh Inverted World filling out the rest. And it was this earliest material that still had the most nuance, even when busied up some by the rhythm section, though it was hard to no remember that back in their salad days, the greatest charm of The Shins was their simplicity and sincerity. And a fixture of past Shins shows, the cover song, not only remained intact but was doubled upon with the encore closing with faithful covers of both Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” and Pink Floyd’ “Breathe” – and apparently the latter’s massive upcoming reissue/revival (but not reunion) is well-timed because the indie kids seem primed and ready to get their Floyd on.

If The Shins were using this tour to gauge how much of their audience remained, then based on the Toronto sample group it’s still pretty significant though it was a room half the size of the one they played their last couple times through. Still, it felt like more of a reminder that the band wrote some great songs and was still around rather than a forceful declaration of their continued relevance. Not that forcefulness has ever been The Shins’ forte – it’s been the songs. And if Mercer’s next batch of songs measure up to the work he’s done in the past, then it won’t matter who’s playing with him or even if he wants to be up there playing them at all. He’ll be able to point at the album and say, “this is what matters” and he’ll be right.

The National Post and Exclaim also have writeups of the show and Twentyfourbit has a nice piece on both The Shins’ performance at Outside Lands last month and their transformation from a band into a “James & Someone & Someone & Someone & Someone” t-shirt.

Photos: The Shins, Faces On Film @ The Phoenix – September 22, 2011
MP3: The Shins – “Australia”
MP3: The Shins – “Phantom Limb”
MP3: The Shins – “Kissing The Lipless”
MP3: The Shins – “So Says I”
MP3: The Shins – “Know Your Onion!”
Video: The Shins – “Australia”
Video: The Shins – “Phantom Limb”
Video: The Shins – “So Says I”
Video: The Shins – “Turn On Me”
Video: The Shins – “The Past & Pending”
Video: The Shins – “New Slang”
Video: The Shins – “Kissing The Lipless”
Video: The Shins – “Know Your Onion!”
Video: Faces On Film – “Manitoba”

The Drums’ show at the Mod Club this Saturday night has apparently sold well enough that they’ve added an in-store engagement earlier in the evening to satisfy demand (or do some shopping). They’ll be at Sonic Boom in The Annex at 7PM on October 1. Admission free, canned good donation encouraged.

MP3: The Drums – “Down By The Water”

The band that people initially thought was a Michael Cera project but is really a Man Man/Islands/Modest Mouse (and Shins, if you count Joe Plummer’s hired hand gig) spin-off – Mister Heavenly – have put together a tour in support of their debut Out Of Love and will be at The Great Hall on November 16. Examiner.com talks to Nick Thorburn, the Islands half of the band.

MP3: Mister Heavenly – “Bronx Sniper”
MP3: Mister Heavenly – “Pineapple Girl”

The Baltimore Sun profiles Fleet Foxes.

The Des Moines Register talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

NPR can’t get enough Beirut, roping the band in for both a Tiny Desk Concert and World Cafe session. Zach Condon is also chatted up by the likes of The Guardian, The Independent, and The New Zealand Herald.

Stephen Malkmus talks to Pitchfork about choosing the cover art for his latest Mirror Traffic, to The Hook, hour.ca, and Metro about the contents of said album and The Vancouver Sun about Nirvana and R.E.M.

130BPM talks to Dean Wareham about revisiting the Galaxie 500 oeuvre.

The Los Angeles Times marks the release of Wilco’s new record The Whole Love tomorrow with a feature piece in the paper and a couple of extra pieces in their Pop & Hiss blog. And if you’re more the watch and listen than read type, there’s a stream of the complete set they played on Letterman available to watch at The Line Of Best Fit, a recording of their show in Central Park to download at NYC Taper and NPR will have last night’s show in Washington DC up to stream later today.

The Guardian and Billboard talk to Ryan Adams about his new record Ashes & Fire, due out October 11 but now available to stream at NPR.

Stream: Ryan Adams / Ashes & Fire

The AV Club interviews Will Sheff of Okkevil River.

Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers selects some sound sculptures for a feature in Impose. The new Crooked Fingers record Breaks In The Armor is out October 11 and they play The Drake Underground on November 4.

Matthew Sweet is giving away an acoustic EP in exchange for an email address over at Noise Trade, but if you want to leave a little something in the tip jar provided, that’s cool too. His new studio album Modern Art is out tomorrow.

How do you let people listen to a six-hour song? By being The Flaming Lips and having fans willing to hack into two-hour blocks and post them on Soundcloud. The Line Of Best Fit has gathered them together in one place… if you dare.

Stream: The Flaming Lips – “I Found This Star On The Ground”

R.E.M.’s disbandment last week led to no shortage of tributes and testimonials to their greatness, the full depth of which will probably be fully appreciated now that their career has that final punctuation point on it. And I don’t refer to their final studio album Collapse Into Now but the just-announced best-of set Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 which will be out on November 15 and be the first compilation to compile material from both their IRS and Warner Bros. years. Of course, the label-specific comps – And I Feel Fine for the indie and In Time are more thorough, but the new set will also cover their final three studio albums as well as some extra material from the post-Collapse sessions. And hopefully the double-disc reissue series of their catalog will continue, because those are gold through and through. And if you want to read some of the better R.E.M. tributes, check out pieces at The Atlantic, Rolling Stone and Spin. Update: Rolling Stone also has an exit interview with Mike Mills.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

This Is Our Music

Pitchfork presents an oral history of Galaxie 500

Photo by Sergio HuidorSergio HuidorAs much as I’d have liked to have indulged in the recent re-release of the entire Galaxie 500 oeuvre – they were reissued worldwide in March by Domino and by Damon & Naomi’s own 20-20-20 label in North America – I couldn’t really justify buying those albums a third time, particularly since these new editions weren’t sonically different from the Rykodisc reissues that came out in the mid-90s and those, I’d already bought twice. Almost three times, actually.

My education started with the Portable Galaxie 500 compilation, which was then replaced with all three of their albums in their expanded editions, which were in turn again replaced by the Galaxie 500 box set, which added the Uncollected compilation to those albums in a fancy package. I actually remember the record store owner refusing to buy those individual CDs from me until I assured him that it was okay, I still had the music. Factor in additional purchases of the Copenhagen live album and the Peel Sessions collection, and I think I’ve done my fair share for keeping the G500 flame alive (fiscally speaking) – but that doesn’t mean I can’t encourage anyone who hasn’t bought On Fire at least a few times to do so… so do so. The double CD-editions, pairing the three studio records with Copenhagen, Uncollected and Peel Sessions are a tremendous value and the studio albums were also all put out on heavy vinyl for the analog-inclined.

The point of all this rambling is to lead into this terrific Pitchfork feature that compiles the story of Galaxie 500 as told by those who lived it, from the humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm through the sudden departure of singer/guitarist Dean Wareham and subsequent end of the band. It’s ground that’s been covered a fair bit already – in the press that accompanied the Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste DVD in 2004 and then with the publication of Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards in 2008 – but it remains a fascinating story, particularly as time passes and acrimony between the parties fades. Not that the three of them have been in the same room together in almost 20 years, but they seem capable of speaking honestly, respectfully and even fondly of what they created.

And while it seems that most everything Galaxie 500 ever recorded has been released (and re-released), there’s at least a few more bits and bobs lying about – a few years ago, MP3s of what was labeled as one of their earliest demo tapes were circulating and while three of those tracks did show up on Uncollected… the others didn’t. Here’s one of them, along with a Joy Division cover that appeared as a b-side to “Blue Thunder” and most of their videos. And here in the present, Dean & Britta are preparing to release their soundtrack to 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests sometime this Summer and Damon & Naomi’s latest release was last year’s Sup Pop Years which, as the title implies, collects the best of their work for the SubPop label.

MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Pride”
MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Ceremony”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “When Will You Come Home?”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Blue Thunder”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Fourth Of July”

Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking also pays tribute to G500 on their new album Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions with a cover of “Tugboat”. The live-off-the-floor album is out June 15.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Tugboat”

Billboard, NPR and San Francisco Chronicle profie The Hold Steady, who just released their latest record Heaven Is Whenever. They’re at the Kool Haus on July 17.

Spinner has got a couple of new tracks from Margot & The Nuclear So And Sos, who’re working on album number three, entitled Buzzard and targeted for a Fall release.

MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “New York City Hotel Blues”
MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Birds”

The National are in the spotlight at PitchforkTV this week, with video performances of the band playing tracks from High Violet – out next Tuesday – in a castle overlooking the Hudson River. So far they’ve got “Terrible Love”, “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Little Faith”. And on May 15, The National will be webcasting a live performance of High Violet from the Brooklyn Academy of Music via YouTube. It’ll be directed by legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and they’ll be soliciting donations for the Red Hot Organization; details at Pitchfork. The National have two dates at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9; Spinner talks to the band about selling out the Royal Albert Hall in London.

JAM talks to LCD Soundsystem main man James Murphy. This Is Happening is out on May 18 and they play the Kool Haus on May 25.

New York Magazine gets an update on the next Strokes record from Fabrizio Moretti.

Having trouble keeping track of all the preview goods that have been coming out for the new Band Of Horses record Infinite Arms? Yeah, me too. But this is a new video. And the record is out May 18. And they play the Toronto Islands on June 19. These things, I know for sure.

Video: Band Of Horses – “NW Apt”

The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 with The Flaming Lips.