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Posts Tagged ‘Girls’

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Reappear

Review of School Of Seven Bells’ Ghostory

Photo By Justin HollarJustin HollarI had actually forgotten how weird Alpinisms, the 2008 debut from New York’s School Of Seven Bells was. It basically inverted the balance of pop-to-experimentalism of the Deheza sisters’ former outfit On! Air! Library! and made itself it much more accessible than O!A!L!’s self-titled effort but was still willing to forgo the pop in parts to play with textures, exotic sounds and the interesting harmonies that their twin frontwomen could create.

2010’s Disconnect From Desire was decidedly slicker, dancier and more straight-ahead in comparison – at least relatively speaking in a dream-pop/post-shoegaze frame of reference. It successfully grew their audience but not without cost – keyboardist/vocalist Claudia Deheza left the band in the middle of a Fall tour that year, leaving the official band lineup as just sister Alejandra and guitarist Ben Curtis, replacing the musical chemistry between the two with another singer being pretty much impossible.

You would think that losing a third of the band would have more dramatic impact on their sound, but had you no knowledge of the personnel changes and just came to their just-released third album Ghostory with a familiarity of their previous efforts, you would be forgiven for assuming that everything was business as usual. Losing their keyboardist hasn’t meant losing the keys as the album still leans heavily on sequenced rhythms and synthetic atmosphere and through the magic of overdubs the band’s signature harmonies are superficially intact if less inherently magical. In fact, though the band is officially now a pair of guitarists, Ghostory is arguably less guitar-driven than before, instead favouring a more ’80s-era 4AD sheen than any overt ’90s shoegaze aesthetic; anyone who still wants to pigeonhole them as such is working with outdated information.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Ghostory is how steady on it finds the band in what they do despite the upheavals. Parsing the lyrics, which ostensibly center around a young girl literally haunted by ghosts, you can find traces of deeper, more personal emotions – loss, regret, what have you – but this is not music meant for soundtracking deep introspection. It’s for drifting, dreaming, dancing. No more, no less. The school may experience staff turnover but the lesson plan remains the same.

Ghostory is out today and available to stream in full at Spinner. After a jaunt in Europe, their North American tour brings the band to The Hoxton in Toronto on May 2. Alejandra Deheza talks to Spin about her interest in tarot cards and to Rolling Stone about the just-released first video from the album.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”
Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
Stream: School Of Seven Bells / Ghostory

Blurt chats with Amber Papini of Hospitality, in town at The Horseshoe on February 29 and The Garrison on May 4 in support of Tennis and Eleanor Friedberger, respectively.

Stereogum is streaming in whole The Clearing, the new album from Bowerbirds, out next Tuesday. They play The Garrison on March 27.

MP3: Bowerbirds – “Tuck The Darkness In”
MP3: Bowerbirds – “In The Yard”
Stream: Bowerbirds / The Clearing

NPR is streaming the whole of Milk Famous, the new one from White Rabbits, a week ahead of its March 6 release date.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Heavy Metal”
Stream: White Rabbits / Milk Famous

Young Prisms will warm up for their March 10 show at The Drake Underground with an in-store at the Kensington location of Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. Their second album In Between is out March 27 and Stereogum just premiered the first video.

MP3: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”
Video: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”

James Mercer of The Shins stops in at The Alternate Side for an interview and video session. Port Of Morrow comes out March 20.

Spin has posted online the Sleigh Bells cover story from the all-new, redesigned magazine, and dang is it pretty. The magazine, not the story, but if Alexis Krauss does it for you, then it’s both. There’s also features at eMusic, AltSounds, The Guardian, and The Stool Pigeon. Sleigh Bells are at The Phoenix on March 26 and The Air Canada Centre on April 27 and 28 with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session and The Fly has an interview with with Chairlift, who are at The Horseshoe on March 28.

Pitchfork has a +1 interview and video session with Perfume Genius while Stereogum gets Mike Hadreas on the phone for an interview about Put Your Back N 2 It. He plays The Drake Underground on April 8.

Maps & Atlases have made a May 16 date at The Horseshoe in support of their forthcoming album Beware And Be Grateful; the album is out April 17, tickets for the show are $11.50 and the first MP3 is available to download courtesy of Rolling Stone.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Winter”

It’s happy news that the Luna back catalog is finally going to be reissued on vinyl, at least some of it. Record Store Day will see their last two albums, Romantica and Rendezvous, come out on wax (that’s April 21) and there’s plans to press my personal favourite Bewitched in early Summer and Penthouse will eventually follow. I said I was largely done re-buying albums I already owned on LP, but this is an exception. Oh yes. And coincidentally, the band played their final show seven years ago today. Sigh.

MP3: Luna – “Black Postcards”

Lower Dens have released a video for the first single from their forthcoming album Nootropics; it’s out May 1.

Video: Lower Dens – “Brains”

A visit to France has yielded some live Blouse videos worth watching; a full show at arte.tv and a session for Faits Divers; there’s also one recorded stateside at Yours Truly and an interview with the band at Drowned In Sound. Blouse are at The Garrison on May 5.

The original release has since been redacted – someone broke embargo, apparently – but it seems likely that the new Beach House album will be out on May 15 and be called Bloom. Unless, of course, it’s not – in which case, it’s another case of “oh, internet!”.

Girls have gone to Conan O’Brien to premiere the new video from Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

Video: Girls – “My Ma”

Bon Iver has released a new video from Bon Iver.

Video: Bon Iver – “Towers”

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Real Estate.

Daytrotter has posted a session with CANT.

CBC Radio 3 and CNN have conversations with The Kills, who are streaming the Velvet Underground cover that appears on the “Last Goodbye” 10″.

Stream: The Kills – “Pale Blue Eyes”

Annie Clark of St. Vincent talks to The New Zealand Herald, The Guardian, and Drowned In Sound while the director for her “Cheerleader” video explains the clip to Pitchfork.

Culture Mob talks to Ume.

Pitchfork talks to James Murphy about his life post-LCD Soundsystem.

Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs talks to Spin about the band’s reunion. No word of lie, there is no show announcement I await more eagerly than this one.

Billboard talks to Bob Mould about Sugar’s Copper Blue, which he’s taken to performing in its entirety for a handful of mostly European shows.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

We Are Fine

Sharon Van Etten Tramp stamps the internet

Photo By Dusdin CondrenDusdin CondrenI’m not playing “firsties” here, but I’ve always known that Sharon Van Etten would go on to big things since writing up her debut Because I Was In Love back in October 2009, and following 2010’s excellent epic it seemed pretty clear that her third album Tramp – released yesterday – would be the one that would see her break out in a big way.

That said, I’m still surprised at just how much press coverage Van Etten has been getting with this album, beyond just record reviews – those have been pretty uniformly glowing, by the way. My own thoughts will have to wait as I’m still processing; you can expect impressions sometime around the writeup for her show at Lee’s Palace on February 21 – but for now, wade through feature interviews with the New Jersey native at and and all of The Washington Post, Nylon, Billboard, New York Magazine, eMusic, Spinner, Beatroute, Blurt, The AV Club, NPR – who also have a conversation with her specifically about the track, “We Are Fine” – and Pitchfork solicits a guest list.

And if you’d rather listen than read, check out a sampler of live and studio tracks collected over at Largehearted Boy, a stream of the album and new to download as of yesterday is a demo version of Tramp highlight “Serpents”.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents” (demo)
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
Stream: Sharon Van Etten / Tramp

Also on that February 21 bill at Lee’s is Shearwater and their new album Animal Joy is now streaming at NPR ahead of its release next Tuesday; there’s also a radio session with KDHX available to stream and an interview with Jonathan Meiburg at The Wesleyan Argus. And I’ll tell you this for free – you can file the show under, “gigs of the Winter” and the album under, “records of the year”.

MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”
MP3: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”
Stream: Shearwater / Animal Joy

Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s are prepping the March 20 release of their new record Rot Gut, Domestic and will be at The Garrison on April 5 to play some songs from it. Tickets are $11.50 in advance and you can preview the new material by way of the first video.

Video: Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s – “Prozac Rock”

Portland’s Horse Feathers – who were one of the unexpected highlights of NXNE 2011 – will be releasing a new album in Cynic’s New Year on April 17 and will be at The Horseshoe on April 29, tickets $10.50. If you like beautiful things, you should be there.

MP3: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”

Hospitality celebrated the release of their self-titled debut last week with a hometown show in Brooklyn and NYC Taper was there to record it. There’s also features on the band at The Village Voice and Capital, and a session and interview at The Alternate Side. They’re at The Horseshoe on February 29 opening up for Tennis.

And speaking of Tennis, their new record Young And Old is now available to stream at The Line Of Best Fit ahead of its official release next week.

Stream: Tennis / Young & Old

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a recent show by Blouse, who’re at The Garrison on May 5 opening up for Bear In Heaven.

DIY chats with Chairlift, hitting the Horseshoe on March 28.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Girls.

IFC is showing off a clip of St. Vincent’s recent appearance on Portlandia and also a performance from her 4AD Session, while Prefix points out a video session she recorded for CBC’s Q, presumably when visiting last December. And oh, there’s a new video from Strange Mercy to grok at. And speaking of Portlandia, CBC Radio 3 has an interview with Carrie Brownstein about working both Wild Flag and the show.

Video: St. Vincent – “Cheerleader”

Drowned In Sound, The Kansas City Star and Chicago Reader meet Craig Finn.

The Line Of Best Fit, Clash, Consequence Of Sound, and eMusic profile Of Montreal and their new album Paralytic Stalks.

The Wilco episode of Austin City Limits is now available to stream in full.

A new installment of the Old Ideas With New Friends video series is now up, with Mountain Goats man John Darnielle covering Leonard Cohen’s “The Smokey Life” over at Consequence Of Sound.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Gone Tomorrow

Lambchop prepares another serving of Lambchop

Photo via MergeMergeIf you thought that it had been a while since we heard from Nashville’s Lambchop, well you were right. It had. After finishing up with 2008’s OH (ohio), bandleader Kurt Wagner was content to put the orchestral country-soul outfit in mothballs for an undetermined spell while he worked on KORT, a collaborative project with singer-songwriter Courtney Tidwell.

But with the passing of friend and collaborator Vic Chesnutt in 2009 and at the urging of guitarist Mark Nevers, Wagner got the band back together for at least one more go-around and the result is Mr. M, their eleventh studio album which will be out on February 21 of the new year.

Clash has details on the new record and some background from Wagner about its inception, and the leadoff track has been made available as a download – if you were hoping that Wagner had gotten in touch with his inner metalhead during the layoff, you may be disappointed. But if you want some lovely, languid string-laden soul, “If Not I’ll Just Die” is like manna.

MP3: Lambchop – “If Not I’ll Just Die”

Daytrotter has posted up a session with Crooked Fingers, and there’s some fresh and vintage Bachmann available to download via the just-released Merge Winter Sampler: a new MP3 from the exquisite new Crooked Fingers record Breaks In The Armor and one of Archers Of Loaf’s best tunes, from the forthcoming Vee Vee reissue due out sometime in the new year. Plus a pile of other stuff either recently out or coming soon from the label – so download already. And read this interview with Bachmann over at Denver Westword.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
ZIP: Merge Winter Sampler 2011

Over at The AV Club, Mac McCaughan of Superchunk discusses and performs “Digging For Something” from their latest, Majesty Shredding.

Fleet Foxes have gotten around to releasing a new video from Helplessness Blues.

Video: Fleet Foxes – “The Shrine/An Argument”

Paste is streaming the new Calexico CD Selections From Road Atlas 1998-2011, which is not to be confused with their new vinyl box set Road Atlas 1998-2011. The former is a 16-track sampler of the latter, which is a compendium of all the band’s tour-only releases of the past 13 years – 12 LPs worth. The former is also out now, whereas the latter is out next week.

Stream: Calexico / Selections From Road Atlas 1998-2011

CNN talks to Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt of Wilco.

Craig Finn discusses the Friday Night Lights connection in his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes with Slate. It’s out January 24.

Having released his second album of the calendar year in Humour Risk at the start of the month, Cass McCombs will be back in town for a show at The Garrison on January 27, tickets $14.50 in advance. Pitchfork has an interview.

MP3: Cass McCombs – “The Same Thing”
Video: Cass McCombs – “The Same Thing”

The Fly interviews Girls.

PopMatters interviews The War On Drugs, in town for a show at the Horseshoe on December 9.

Of Montreal are streaming the first taste of their forthcoming Paralytic Stalks, due out next year.

Stream: Of Montreal – “Wintered Debts”

The Line Of Best Fit gets Okkervil River to play a video session from aboard a boat at End Of The Road in September while Spoonfed snags an interview with Will Sheff.

HearYa has a session with Mates Of State available to watch and/or download. On Milwaukee, Cleveland Scene and Minnesota Daily snag interviews as the duo tours through the midwest.

The Georgia Straight, Huffington Post, SF Weekly, The Weal, Victoria Times-Colonist and Calgary Herald talk to Merrell Garbus of tUnE-yArDs.

The Austin Chronicle profiles hometown heroes Ume.

The New Zealand Herald interviews Annie Clark of St. Vincent, who plays The Phoenix on December 15.

More R.E.M. exit interviews – there’s been a lot of them, yes, but once this round is done, that’s it. For always. Read the pieces at Spin, Spinner, The AV Club, NPR, Shortlist, and Pitchfork.

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Give Out

Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater shake of February blahs with new albums, joint tour

Photo By Dusdin CondrenDusdin CondrenYes, it’s the shortest month but February is generally acknowledged as the coldest, darkest and generally shittiest month as well. Which is why it’s nice that Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater are teaming up to make sure that there’s something lovely to look forward to for at least three weeks of the four. On February 7, Van Etten will release Tramp, her third album and the follow up to 2010’s gorgeous epic. Pitchfork has details on the record and a list of the many guest artists who contribute to the record, which was produced by National guitarist Aaron Dessner.

Austin’s Shearwater will follow that up with a Valentine’s Day (February 14) release of Animal Joy, their first album for Sub Pop and the first in years to not be part of their Palo Santo/Rook/Golden Archipelago “Island Trilogy” and as much as I loved those records, I can’t wait to hear where they’re going next; the band have promised it’s going to be different. Exclaim has some specifics.

And perhaps best of all is the fact that the two artists will be teaming up for a Winter tour which stops in Toronto’s Lee’s Palace on February 21, tickets $15.50. It’s interesting that just a couple years ago, when Van Etten’s star was just beginning to rise, she tour managed Shearwater through a series of dates – now she’s headlining their double-bill. Life’s funny, innit? In any case, the powers that be haven’t opted to offer any tastes of either new record just yet, so if you need to hear a bit of what I’m going about, here’s some tunes from each of their last records.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Shearwater – “Castaways”

Also filling out the Winter release schedule is Nada Surf with their first album of new material since 2008’s Lucky; look for The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy on January 24 and a Spring tour that brings them to the Opera House on April 4, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”

And if your tastes run to the louder/strobier, A Place To Bury Strangers have announced the release on a new EP in Onwards To The Wall for February 7; details at Exclaim, MP3 below.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “So Far Away”

State interviews Peter Silberman of The Antlers, who are drumming up interest in their new EP (together) by making available their xx cover as a download at Pitchfork.

MP3: The Antlers – “VCR”

NPR serves up a World Cafe session with Beirut; The Lexington Herald-Weekly and The Philadelphia Inquirer have interviews with the band.

You may recall that Okkervil River already released a video for “Your Past Life As A Blast” made up of Will Sheff’s old home movies, but they’ve just premiered a second one at IFC. Because.

Video: Okkervil River – “Your Past Life As A Blast”

An acoustic Telekinesis session at Epitonic Saki Sessions is now available to download, and if that’s not enough then there’s also a new video from 12 Desperate Straight Lines for your listening pleasure.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Your Turn Clear In The Sun” (Epitonic Saki Sessions)
MP3: Telekinesis – “Please Ask For Help” (Epitonic Saki Sessions)
MP3: Telekinesis – “50 Ways” (Epitonic Saki Sessions)
Video: Telekinesis – “Country Lane”

The Seattle Times interviews Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie.

The Stool Pigeon and Beatroute have interviews with the boys of Real Estate, who’ve just released a new video from Days.

Video: Real Estate – “It’s Real”

Pitchfork has posted a special church-recorded video session with Girls, who will be releasing a special heart-shaped, non-album 7″ single dedicated to Felt on December 6 – details at True Panther.

Paste has a video session with Mates Of State.

Beatroute, The Phoenix New Times and The AV Club talk to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, while College Times chats with bassist Nate Brenner.

The Iceberg solicits a song and a memory from Lauren Larson of Ume.

Le Blogotheque has posted a Takeaway Show with EMA.

Beatroute talks to Mary Timony of Wild Flag, while NPR welcomed the band for a World Cafe session.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Last Known Surroundings

Explosions In The Sky and Wye Oak at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure they didn’t intend to be away for so long – it wasn’t their fault that the 2009 edition of the Toronto Islands show for which they were the undercard was cancelled – but as of Friday night’s long-awaited show at the Sound Academy., it had been over four years since Explosions In The Sky last played Toronto and you could round up closer to five if you’re talking headlining shows. A long time for any active, touring band but an eternity for an act whose fanbase grew markedly in the years between 2007’s All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone and this year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care through key soundtrack placements and old fashioned word of mouth about how astonishing their cinematic, instrumental post-rock was.

Baltimore duo Wye Oak have been no such strangers hereabouts, their supporting slot marking their third show in Town this calendar year with one still to come. This was less a case of market oversaturation than simply keeping up with demand, though; specifically the demand of larger acts who wanted them to open up for them. And when the likes of The Decemberists, Explosions and The National ask you to come along on tour with them, you say yes. Since playing this same stage in February opening up for The Decemberists, Wye Oak had released their second album Civilian and toured it heavily, so even just eight months later there were noticeable differences in the band’s live show. The moodier Civilian must call for a leaner approach to things, as Jenn Wasner took fewer guitar excursions and Andy Stack seemed to be called on less to handle keyboard duties simultaneously with drums. It was as though the two were feeling more confident in their ability render the songs with just the guitars, drums and vocals, and when the keys were brought in, such as for some gut-punch bass, their contributions were extra-effective. In any case, it was mope-rock on a grand scale.

One of the most magical things about Explosions In The Sky, either live or on record, is how from the moment they begin to play you’re instantly transported to a world writ on 70mm film but left wide open. There is a universality to their music that allows it to be the soundtrack to the movie of each listener’s life, for them to write their own script and direct their own scenes, using the emotions and dynamics created by the band as cues. So I suspect that the people sitting, eyes closed, out of line of sight of the band were getting just as much out of the performance as the people jammed up front watching them actually play – or at least I’d like to think so; it’s possible they were just asleep.

It’s this intangible that allows them to transcend their formula and continue to connect and be remarkable. Their sound hasn’t really changed much since 2000’s How Strange, Innocence – they’re more adept at the push and pull of evoking emotional responses but any stylistic shifts over their career have been relative to the EITS aesthetic – they’ve never redefined, only refined. So even though Friday’s show pulled from their entire decade-plus repertoire, with a little extra emphasis on Take Care, it felt like a single, unified feature-length piece with gentle lulls and soaring crescendos in all the right places. One major difference from their last time through was for touring, they’d expanded to a five-piece with a full-time bassist which allowed for an even bigger sound with either a three guitar-attack or double-guitar, double-bass, all the sounding even more massive without losing any of the intricacies of their arrangements. As the final notes of “The Moon Is Down” rang out and the band bid farewell, hopefully without as long a wait between visits, I wanted to tell those gathered at the front pleading for an encore that the band doesn’t do encores, and if they wanted more they’d have to wait for the sequel.

The Toronto Star alos has a review of the show while aux.tv and The Detroit News have interviews with Explosions.

Photos: Explosions In The Sky, Wye Oak @ The Sound Academy – October 7, 2011
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Trembling Hands”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Memorial”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “A Poor Man’s Memory”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Greet Death”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Look Into The Air”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Last Known Surroundings”
Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Be Comfortable, Creature”
Video: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
Video: Wye Oak – “Fish”

Chicago post-rock instrumentalist Russian Circles will be at Lee’s Palace on November 12 in support of their new record Empros, due out October 25.

MP3: Russian Circles – “Mladek”

Nicole Atkins is giving away a free live EP entitled …Til Dawn over at her Bandcamp in exchange for an email address.

The Georgia Straight talks to Kristen Gundred – aka Dee Dee – of Dum Dum Girls. They’re at Lee’s Palace next Sunday night, October 16.

NPR is streaming the new My Brightest Diamond record All Things Will Unwind in advance of its release next week. There’s also a new video at Stereogum and some live video performances posted at Le Blogotheque.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “Reaching Through To The Other Side”
Video: My Brightest Diamond – “Be Brave”
Stream: My Brightest Diamond / All Things Will Unwind

Beatroute talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

DIY interviews Wild Flag, in town to melt your faces at Lee’s Palace tonight.

NPR is streaming Days, the new album from Real Estate, out next week.

MP3: Real Estate – “It’s Real”
Stream: Real Estate / Days

Clash, The National Post, DIY, Drowned In Sound and The Los Angeles Times all have interviews with Ryan Adams about his new record Ashes & Fire and Exclaim has a list of RyRy trivia, but only LA Weekly manages to piss him off. Bravo. He plays The Winter Garden Theatre on December 10 and has released a live studio video and proper “if MTV still played videos” video from the new album.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Lucky Now”
Video: Ryan Adams – “Invisible Riverside”

The Vancouver Sun and The Republic interview Stephen Malkmus.

Blurt interviews Matthew Sweet.

DIY talks to Girls.

The New York Daily News chats with Mates Of State.

The Alternate Side has an interview and session with EMA.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of The Antlers’ show in New York last week.