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Posts Tagged ‘Gentleman Reg’

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Taking My Time

Jim Guthrie Takes his Time making it onto the 2013 Polaris Prize long list

Photo By Colin MedleyColin MedleyThe 2013 Polaris Prize long list was announced yesterday, and unlike past years where there were a number of obvious frontrunners for inclusion, whether because they were by the biggest artists or had the biggest buzz over the preceding twelve months, there actually didn’t seem to be a lot of “gimmes” amongst the records eligible this year. Rather than the field having a few standouts and a lot of dark horses, it instead felt very wide and flat, which meant that guessing who’d be amongst the forty longlisted records was anyone’s guess.

And now, even with the pool of candidates narrowed from every Canadian album released in the past year down to forty, it’s difficult to speculate at who will survive onto the short list of ten albums when it’s announced on July 16; the only thing that’s certain is that this year’s Polaris – the eighth – could be the most exciting one yet, at least if you’re the sort of person who derives excitement from music awards-spotting. I’m going to refrain from any sort of guessing until at least then because truly I have no idea what the temperature of the jury at large is. But I can tell you what my ballot was, besides four-for-five at making the long list. And so I’ve got one more longlisted album to insert into my ballot before my Polaris duties for this year are done, and to be honest I have no idea what it’s going to be. Guess I’ve got some more homework to do.

The Polaris Prize will be awarded at a gala at the Carlu in Toronto on September 23.

1) Evening Hymns / Spectral Dusk (Shuffling Feet)

My connection to this record is well-documented, but even without that personal angle, it’s still a gorgeously written, performed, and recorded piece of folk-rock that succeeds at being both intensely personal, and yet universally relatable. I can usually say that from one Polaris to the next, that I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but not this year. This is my dog.

MP3: Evening Hymns – “Arrows”
Video: Evening Hymns – “Family Tree”

2) Godspeed You! Black Emperor / ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

Despite being the act that least likely to even acknowledge being nominated, Godspeed’s unexpected comeback record was maybe the closest thing to a sure thing I could think of. Besides the engaging narrative around the band’s return to active duty and their sneak release of the album, there’s the simple fact that the Godspeed formula still works amazingly well, particularly when they’ve got something to be angry about. Which they do.

Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Mladic”

Jim Guthrie / Takes Time (Static Clang)

Another unexpected record but a wholly welcome one was Jim Guthrie’s first proper singer-songwriter record in a decade, and one that affirmed his status as one of this country’s greatest melodicists. While it seems like just a collection of pop songs, pretty much every song is a master class in arrangement and songwriting efficiency; Guthrie knows exactly how much to give and when and makes it look and sound effortless. Whether it shortlists or wins or not, the best prize would be not having to wait another ten years for its follow-up. The Huffington Post has an interview with Guthrie about the record.

Video: Jim Guthrie – “Bring On The Night”
Video: Jim Guthrie – “The Rest Is Yet To Come”

Rachel Zeffira / The Deserters (Paper Bag)

My one selection that didn’t make the long list, and I’m not really surprised it didn’t. While I think its classical-operatic-indie hybrid is as good as anything else on the list, and arguably more interesting, London-based Zeffira’s distance from the Canadian scene at large and lack of wide promotion – one lightly-attended North American show to date – probably doomed it.

Video: Rachel Zeffira – “Here On In”
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “The Deserters”

Young Galaxy / Ultramarine (Paper Bag)

It may have been the last record to make my ballot, but the fact that it’s here at all considering that for the longest time, I had no time for Young Galaxy, says a lot. I often bemoan the general lack of stylistic or artistic revolution amongst Canadian bands – more often it seems they prefer to continue refining what’s been proven to work – but Young Galaxy have successfully reinvented themselves and that impresses me. The record’s pretty damn good as well. They’ve just released a new, Bruckheimer-esque video from it.

Video: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Pretty Boy”

NOW meets the band formerly known as Always but now know as Alvvays; they show off their new official name tonight, June 14, at 10PM at The Silver Dollar.

Toro gets to know Toronto country-pop newcomers Beams. Their NXNE showcase is at 11PM tonight, June 14, at The Central.

Spin talks to Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz. They play BLK BOX for NXNE on June 15 at midnight.

The National Post catches up with Gentleman Reg, who did his NXNE duties Wednesday night.

YOUNXT hada pre-NXNE interview with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, who played a couple of shows yesterday.

aux.tv interviews No Joy, who played NXNE last night.

Exclaim talks to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose new record Olympia comes out June 18. They play The Phoenix on September 27.

Hooded Fang have released a new video from their latest, Gravez.

Video: Hooded Fang – “Bye Bye Land”

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Canadian Musicfest 2013 Day Three

Savages, Limblifter, and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’re ever debating what to do on a given evening of either Canadian Musicfest or NXNE, you can always do far worse than to simply post up at either The Horseshoe or Lee’s Palace for the entire evening. These Toronto anchors always host a solid bill of bands, both local and international, buzzy and unheralded, covering a swath of genres that will surely have something to delight the ears. Granted, I was there with a more specific mandate than to just take in some music – I wanted to see Savages – but still opted to spend the whole night there and see some other acts I’d not seen before. Because isn’t that the point of these things?

Vancouver’s Zolas drew the opening slot and my immediate impression of their lanky, piano-heavy and slightly funky rock was that they sounded like Spoon, but those comparisons became less valid as the set progressed. The ingredients were similar, but their recipe drew more from laid-back, ’70s pop-rock than the tense, ’80s post-punk influences of the Austinites. This didn’t make their set any less enjoyable, but I can’t say I wasn’t a bit disappointed that they weren’t a more adventurous outfit. Still, their sound was a crowd-pleasing one and when frontman Zachary Gray left the stage to sing the final song from the audience, it felt like he had been invited rather than invaded.

Photos: The Zolas @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: The Zolas – “Escape Artist”
Video: The Zolas – “Cab Driver”
Video: The Zolas – “Knot In My Heart”
Video: The Zolas – “No Talking”
Video: The Zolas – “The Great Collapse”

There’s almost no chance I’d have ever seen Dustin Bentall & The Smokes perform if not for the inherent eclecticism of club festival lineups. Not because I’d have gone out of my to avoid them, but because their brand of unaffected roots-rock ceased being the sort of thing that piqued my curiosity some time ago. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining, because it absolutely was – Bentall has an easy charm and his songs a friendly familiarity that helps compensate for the rather pedestrian songwriting, to say nothing of the live show – Kendel Carson’s aggressively virtuosic lead fiddle playing could make anything sound amazing.

Photos: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
MP3: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes – “Railroad”
Video: Dustin Bentall & The Smokes – “Streets With No Name”

Hamilton’s Young Rival have been kicking around for a while now – six years and two albums, says Wikipedia – but our paths had yet to cross, or at least until last month when one of their clips was shortlisted for the Prism Prize. In any case, I was advised just before their set to expect something between garage rock and power pop, and while this was true, their set tilted much more towards the former. They offered great guitarwork and a solid rhythm section and songwriting which while not the most memorable, was more than serviceable for rock’n’roll. I would have expected more showmanship from a power trio as tight as they were, but while they weren’t disinterested, they also didn’t seem especially fussed about wowing the audience.

Photos: Young Rival @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: Young Rival – “Two Reasons”
Video: Young Rival – “Nothing You Know Well”
Video: Young Rival – “The Ocean”
Video: Young Rival – “Authentic”
Video: Young Rival – “Your Island”

It was good to see that each of the acts on the bill had their own fanbase turn out, based on the enthusiasm of varying percentages of the audience and the constant turnover of the folks gathered up front, but for me it was London four-piece Savages who were the reason for being here this night. Not because I’m a huge fan, but because I’m not. Or more accurately, I was curious to see if the hype around a band with hardly any recorded output and yet just signed to one of the most respected labels around was justified. And for the record, their “they’re amazing live” reputation actually counted as something of a strike in my books, since talking about the performance before establishing the songs are there raises flags with me.

In any case, Savages took the stage certainly looking as you’d expect – lights dimmed, faces stern, and dressed all in black save for frontwoman Jehny Beth, who in addition to looking an uncanny hybrid of Ian Curtis and Sinead O’Connor, also wore a pair of bright red heels. And for the next 40 minutes, it was all business – that business being a relentless, sonic pummeling of the post-punk variety, all hard edges and not so much interested in hooks as stabs. Each song had a distinct musical angle to distinguish it from the others without compromising their aesthetic consistency, but this wasn’t always enough to make them memorable, particularly measured against the standard of their two best songs and set closers, “She Will” – which was highlighted by drummer Fay Milton absolutely destroying her splash cymbal – and “Husbands”. No question Savages put on a good show, but I will still reserve judgement until the May 7 release of Silence Yourself when I can hear if they’ve got the songs to back up the performance.

Photos: Savages @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Stream: Savages – “She Will”

There’s probably a rule somewhere that you can’t call it a festival without some ’90s-vintage reunion act, and that’s where the night’s ostensible headliners Limblifter came in. I wouldn’t say I had any particular affection or enmity towards the Vancouver band, having liked some of their hits back in the day and been indifferent to others, but I could think of worse things than to hear “Vicious” live. It’s worth noting that just as frontman Ryan Dahle has aged remarkably well over the past 15 years, Limblifter’s sound has also held up pretty well. Their slightly strangled, angsty grunge-pop is still very much of an era – on hearing “Screwed Up” I half-expected a space-time wormhole to open up and drag me back to my sophomore year (this would not have been a good thing) – but enough of their repertoire is strong enough melodically to still impress so many years hence; to wit, “Tinfoil” still sounded great. And as evidence that Limblifter was still a going concern in 2013, they introduced some new material that didn’t feel out of place with the old. Whether the folks in attendance were actually interested in adding to their Limblifter collection rather than just hearing the old tunes remains to be seen, but for this night, at least, they were loving it.

The KW Record has an interview with Limblifter.

Photos: Limblifter @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2013
Video: Limblifter – “Perfect Day To Disappear”
Video: Limblifter – “Wake Up To The Sun”
Video: Limblifter – “Cordova”
Video: Limblifter – “Vicious”
Video: Limblifter – “On The Moon”
Video: Limblifter – “Ariel Vs Lotus”
Video: Limblifter – “Tinfoil”

NOW and The Montreal Gazette talk to The Besnard Lakes about their new album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, out April 2. And if you were thinking that it was about time an advance stream of the album surfaced, you would be correct – CBC Music has it (for Canadians).

Stream: The Besnard Lakes / Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

Beatroute, The Leader-Post, The Province, Metro, and The Times-Colonist chat with Born Ruffians about their new album Birthmarks, out April 16.

Exclaim has premiered the first video from Gentleman Reg’s latest album Leisure Life. He’ll play songs from it at an in-store at Sunrise Records on Yonge St on April 19.

Video: Gentleman Reg – “Waiting Around For Gold”

Consequence Of Sound reports that Caribou will celebrate Record Store Day with vinyl reissues of his first three albums. That’s April 20 for those not keeping track.

Portals talks to Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy about the story behind their new single “Pretty Boy”. Their new album Ultramarine is out April 23 and another track from it is available to stream:

Stream: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”

Exclaim talks to Rachel Zeffira, who is in town for a rare show at The Drake on May 2.

NPR has video of one of METZ’s performances at SXSW this year. They play Lee’s Palace on May 17 and then Downsview Park opening up for Weezer on July 12.

The Toronto Sun, Black Book, and amNY chat with Stars, BlogTO with The Darcys, and The Georgia Straight, Vue, Playback, and FFWD with Hayden – all of whom are part of the Field Trip festival at Garrison Common on June 8.

A Heart Is A Spade and Noisey grabbed interviews with Diamond Rings at SXSW; he opens up both of OMD’s shows at the Danforth Music Hall on July 11 and 19.

Exclaim rounds up some details on Shad’s next album, Flying Colours.

Kestrels have released a new video from A Ghost History.

Video: Kestrels – “Drowning Girl”

Suuns answers questions from Spinner, Noisey, The 405, All The Write Notes, and Ca Va Cool.

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Negative Space

This is a bunch of stuff of a Canadian nature. And this is METZ.

Photo By Colin MedleyColin MedleyThis here is another of those posts that, were it a category on Jeopardy, would be called “Potpourri” on account of it being a whole lot of this and that with only the passports of the artists mentioned in common.

And I’ll start with Toronto’s METZ because, well, I haven’t used one of their photos yet and my posting process is really that random. The trio has been making a lot of noise – literally and figuratively – on the back of their self-titled debut, and while it wouldn’t normally be my particular sack of hammers, there’s a clarity to their attack and just enough underlying melody for me to get behind. I’d like to experience one of their legendarily… energetic live shows, but we’ll probably have to wait until at least the Spring as they’re taking their show through Europe for pretty all of the first quarter of 2013. In the meantime, there’s a recording of their show at the Knitting Factory in New York last month over at NYC Taper, NPR has just posted video of a KEXP radio session, and the a-side of their new, non-album single is available to stream.

Stream: METZ – “Dirty Shirt”

Exclaim gets a look inside Yamataka//Sonic Titan’s home studio/headquarters and also asks them what they’ve got in mind for their second album. They play 1st Thursday at the Art Gallery Of Ontario this Thursday night, December 6.

The Line Of Best Fit, The Lantern, and The Marquette Tribune interview Patrick Watson, headlining Massey Hall on December 6.

The Line Of Best Fit and The 405 have interviews with Do Make Say Think, who’ve made a track from their live soundtrack to the 1924 film´╗┐ Greed available to download via CBC Music. They’re at The Opera House on December 7.

MP3: Do Make Say Think – “Greed Waltz”

Fucked Up have announced the lineup for the second installment of their Long Winter series, taking place December 14 at The Great Hall. They will again headline the event, and be joined by Dusted, Laura Barrett, and many more. Admission is pay what you can.

MP3: Fucked Up – “I Hate Summer”
MP3: Dusted – “(Into The) Atmosphere”

The Wooden Sky have announced details of their third annual Holiday Revue charity show, scheduled for December 17 at The Music Gallery. Tickets for the show are $20 and all proceeds from the event will go to the Daily Bread Food Bank. Support will be announced later this week. Metro talks to frontman Gavin Gardiner.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”

If you were wondering why it’s not been possible to get tickets for the Evening Hymns show at the Church Of The Redeemer on December 15 announced in October, it’s because that show is no longer happening. It has been replaced by one at The Music Gallery on December 20, tickets $17 and available right now via Kelp Records. So the room is still appropriately church-y but it’s also smaller, so if you wanted to go, best get on that. Neil Haverty of Bruce Peninsula will open up.

MP3: Evening Hymns – “Arrows”

Julie Doiron has scheduled a show at The Horseshoe for January 25 in support of her new album So Many Days. Tickets are $15 in advance. The Vancouver Sun and The Province have profiles.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “By The Lake”

The lead single from Suuns’ new album Images Du Futur is now available to download. It’s out March 5.

MP3: Suuns – “Edie’s Dream”

AC Newman has a new video from his latest solo record Shut Down The Streets.

Video: AC Newman – “I’m Not Talking”

The Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and MTV have feature pieces on Diamond Rings, who’s released a live route for an alternate version video from Free Dimensional.

Video: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”

Martin Tielli has taken to Facebook to explain his withdrawal from the Rheostatics reunion shows which were to have taken place this week; Radio Free Canuckistan has reposted the message for those who are just fans but maybe not friends of Tielli.

The National Post has an interview with The Dears.

CBC Music gets to know Shad. Again. Some more.

Exclaim has some videos from Bry Webb’s recent Toronto Public Library performance available to watch.

Hooded Fang stops in at DIY for a video session.

Spin interviews Alice Glass of Crystal Castles.

Exclaim asks Chains Of Love about their plans for album number two.

BlogTO chats with Gentleman Reg.

Spinner talks to Neil Young about last night’s Hurricane Sandy benefit in New York.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Asleep In The Pews

Evening Hymns stream last Toronto show, slate next Toronto show

Photo via FacebookFacebookThe last time that Evening Hymns graced a Toronto stage, it was back in August as part of the Summerworks festival and came a few days before the official release of their gorgeously heavy second album Spectral Dusk. After that show, which featured a band and lightshow specially assembled for that performance, Jonas Bonnetta and Sylvie Smith – the Evening Hymns principals – jetted across the ocean to tour the record across Europe with friends and album collaborators The Wooden Sky, only returning a couple weeks ago only to set out on a coast-to-coast, cross-Canada tour last week which will keep them working the Trans-Canada Highway until the end of November.

And then they’ll come home.

The band have just announced a tour-ending, hometown performance for December 15 at the Church Of The Redeemer in Toronto, a room that doesn’t frequently host live music but sounds marvelous when it does. It’s hard to think of a more appropriate locale to bookend what has surely been a physically and emotionally draining Autumn for Bonnetta. And to coincide with the Canadian tour and show announcement, CBC Music has made a recording of that August show at The Great Hall available to stream. And yep, it’s as beautiful as I remember it.

MP3: Evening Hymns – “Arrows”
Video: Evening Hymns – “Family Tree”

Also just announced and perhaps of interest – Gentleman Reg will release his third Leisure Life EP of the Fall digitally on November 6, with the collected physical edition coming not long after on November 20 and a hometown release show taking place at The Gladstone on December 2. Details at Exclaim, and all three are available to stream

Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part One
Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part Two
Stream: Gentleman Reg / Leisure Life Part Three

Cold Specks has been added as support for Conor Oberst at Massey Hall on December 8. Remaining tickets range from $39.50 to $69.50.

Video: Cold Specks – “Winter Solstice”

Since they’ll be all rehearsed up for their European tour in November as part of Constellation Records’ 15th anniversary, Do Make Say Think have slated a hometown show for The Opera House on December 7, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Do Make Say Think – “The Landlord Is Dead”

Beatroute talks quickly to Plants & Animals, in town at The Great Hall on November 15.

Interview, The Ottawa Citizen, The Grid, and Durham Region talk to John O’Regan of Diamond Rings, bringing his Free Dimensional tour through Toronto to The Mod Club on November 29.

The Broken Speaker talks to The Wooden Sky, playing a tour-ending, homecoming show of their own at The Phoenix on December 1.

Drowned In Sound chats with Japandroids, hitting The Phoenix on December 12.

The Balconies have squeezed a new video out of their now-three-year-old-and-counting self-titled debut. Why yes, that is a passive-aggressive nudge for a new record, how good of you to notice. At least the video is seasonally-themed.

Video: The Balconies – “Do It In The Dark”

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Snowblink.

Spin and The Calgary Herald profile METZ.

The AV Club has a Blogotheque-produced video session with A.C. Newman, guest-starring one Neko Case. They sound great together – they should make a record or something.

NOW talked to The Wilderness Of Manitoba before last week’s record release show at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Beatroute and Queen’s Journal chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

No Can Do

Ladyhawk are back. No, the other Ladyhawk.

Photo via KillbeatKillbeatIt was pretty fun times to be an artist named for (or almost named for) a Matthew Broderick vehicle back circa 2007/2008. Pip Browne was turning heads with her hooky, ’80s synthpop-referencing tunes from all the way in New Zealand as Ladyhawke and in Canada, four guys were making a name for themselves with hooky, ’70s bar rock-referencing tunes from all the way in Kelowna. Hard to confuse the two (unless you were the guys in this story), but it was interesting that both were active at the same time and then basically disappeared around the same time in 2009, neither taking advantage of the other’s inactivity to increase their Ladyhawk/e identity mindshare.

But while Ladyhawke’s disappearance was because of a prolonged process of recording album number two, Ladyhawk went on a proper hiatus after finishing with their second album Shots, with frontman Duffy Driediger putting together a new outfit in Duffy & The Doubters, bassist Sean Hawryluk pulling time in Baptists, and drummer Ryan Peters and guitarist Darcy Hancock recording as SPORTS. Fast-forward to 2012, though, and they’re back. Both of them.

Ladyhawke released Anxiety back in May, and Ladyhawk will let their third album No Can Do out of the pen on October 9. Note how the two records look nothing alike and most certainly don’t sound anything alike (a track from the new record is available below for reference). Possibly creating some genuine confusion is the fact that both artists are touring North America this Fall, though fully a month apart. Toronto gets Ladyhawke (the feminine article) September 15 at The Hoxton, and Ladyhawk (the band of bros) on October 25 at The Horseshoe ($15 in advance). I suppose it’s conceivable that you could get those two venues mixed up, but I really hope you don’t. Unless you’re the guys from London.

MP3: Ladyhawk – “You Read My Mind”

It’s a little bit of Montreal in Toronto on November 15 when Plants & Animals and Parlovr play The Great Hall, tickets $15.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “The End Of That”
MP3: Parlovr – “Pen To The Paper”

The Weeknd are making it a three-day weekend stand at The Sound Academy, adding a third show for November 4 to go with the November 2 and 3 ones that are presumably just about sold out.

MP3: The Weeknd – “Life Of The Party”

Pitchfork has got a new song from Yamantaka/Sonic Titan, recorded for Adult Swim’s Singles Series, available to download. And if you’ve had trouble finding their YT/ST album in stores – despite it being Polaris shortlisted, they’ve been label-less since March – fear not; they’ve just signed to Paper Bag Records, who will be reissuing it and making it available pretty much everywhere on September 11.

MP3: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “Lamia”

Torq Campbell of Stars gets all fired up about topics political with The Huffington Post. Their new record The North is out September 4 and they open up for Metric at the Air Canada Centre on November 24.

Claire Boucher – aka Grimes – also has some thoughts on politics of the Russian variety, which she shares with NME. She has two nights booked at Lee’s Palace on September 21 and 22 and has just released another wacky-ass video from the Polaris shortlisted and heavily-favoured Visions.

Video: Grimes – “Genesis”

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns.

Talk Rock To Me chats with You Say Party, who will be back in action at The Great Hall on September 29.

Also playing that Paper Bag anniversary show at the Great Hall on the 29th are Young Galaxy; Stephen Ramsay discusses with Spinner the changes of direction that will come with their next album when it comes out next year.

Exclaim has details on the second of Gentleman Reg’s digital Leisure Life EPs, the second of which will be out on September 4. A track from it is available to stream courtesy of Ion.

Stream: Gentleman Reg – “Make It Better”

CBC Music gets some tips on eating on the road from Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker.