Posts Tagged ‘Grinderman’

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

I Saw You Blink

Stornoway and Franz Nicolay & Major General at The El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSome, like myself, felt that Stornoway and their debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill were the perfect soundtrack to Summer. Others find their rich yet subtle orchestral pop to be more Autumnal than anything else. For the Oxford, England quartet’s visit on Tuesday night, the seasonal backdrop neither – instead, they made their Canadian debut on a wet and dreary eve right on the cusp of Winter.

With them was a face who’d visited many times before, though not in his current guise – Franz Nicolay, formerly of The Hold Steady but now of himself and his band Major General. Some have wondered what would possess someone to leave a band as popular and fun as The Hold Steady, but as terrific as his contributions to that band were, his musical (and sartorial) style always seemed at odds with The Hold Steady’s unabashed bar rock-ness. And just a few songs of what he’s done on his own made the reasoning for leaving abundantly clear; his own artistic ambitions can’t play second fiddle to anyone. Fronting a five-piece band of upright bass, drums, violin and keys, Nicolay himself would rotate through guitar, accordion and banjo whilst running through material from his new album Luck & Courage that was rich with old world influences while retaining a pop immediacy – more DeVotchKa than Hold Steady, to be sure. And music aside, Nicolay clearly enjoyed the frontman role, offering up almost as much banter as music – someone as loquacious as he staying in Craig Finn’s shadow for long? Not likely.

For as good of a record as Stornoway released this Summer, they seemed to have flown largely under the popular radar and as such I wasn’t sure how many people would turn up for this show – Toronto’s inherent Anglophilia would certainly help, but I’ve also seen English bands play to empty rooms before. That wouldn’t be the case here, though – whatever numbers were dispersed throughout the ElMo for the opener ignored the rules of Toronto concert-going etiquette of feigning indifference and converged immediately at the front of the stage when Nicolay and company began their tear-down; everyone who was in attendance was seriously keen.

Much of the charm of Beachcomber’s Windowsill comes from its beautifully understated aesthetic, so it was a bit of a surprise that the show opened not with the band shyly taking the stage, but with violinist Rahul Satija offering up a plaintive looped violin solo before the rest of the band, with multi-instrumentalist Adam Briggs making their number six, strode on stage and launched into a reading of “The Coldharbour Road” that was markedly more dynamic and dramatic than the recorded version. And really, that was the recurring theme of the show – everything you liked about Beachcomber’s Windowsill was very much in evidence, but instead of just being good, it was great. Despite or perhaps because of his somewhat awkward banter and stage presence, Brian Briggs was an engaging and curiously magnetic frontman but was clearly far more confident when actually performing, and why not? His voice was a much more powerful instrument than certainly I ever expected.

Equal credit must also go to his bandmates, though. One of the talking points of the album was that over 100 instruments were utilized in its creation and while not that many were brought on tour, an impressive number were pressed into service over the course of the show, all in the name of recreating as much of Windowsill‘s rustic yet sophisticated textures as possible, to say nothing of their contributions on backing vocals. All of which is to say that Stornoway sounded incredible up there. Why they’ve not gotten more attention is a mystery to me – perhaps because they haven’t been seeking it out – but an upside to this is the sense of surprise that can result when you see and hear for yourself how good they actually are, and beyond just having made a terrific record are in fact an even more terrific band and will surely make even better records in the years to come. And if anyone had any doubts of this, then they didn’t stay for the encore when the band played a pair of songs almost completely unplugged (bassist Oliver Steadman remained tethered for one song but plucked gently), the audience inviting themselves into a call-and-response with Briggs on a stirring “The End Of The Movie”.

Earlier in the show, Briggs expressed amazement that so many people had come out to see them and knew their material so well, but would later declare – and sincerely, I believe – this to be the best show of their tour, a sentiment equally held by the devoted audience. I won’t lie, I’ve been kind of burnt out on going out and seeing bands for the last little while – not unusual for this time of the year – but shows like this recharge my batteries and renew my faith in live music.

Chart also has a review of the show. The Georgia Straight profiles Stornoway while, The Phoenix and The Minnesota Daily talk to Franz Nicolay. Stornoway’s North American tour runs another two weeks. Really do go see them.

Photos: Stornoway, Franz Nicolay & Major General @ The El Mocambo – November 30, 2010
MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”
MP3: Stornoway – “On The Rocks”
MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
MP3: Franz Nicolay – “This Is Not A Pipe”
Video: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
Video: Stornoway – “I Saw You Blink”
Myspace: Stornoway
Myspace: Franz Nicolay

NME reports that Richard Hawley has completed work on an album with guitar god Duane Eddy. No word on when it’ll be released but that thing is going to have some deeeep twang.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a full show from Blood Red Shoes at New York’s Bowery Ballroom.

A North American release date has been set for The Joy Formidable’s full-length debut – The Big Roar will be out on this side of the pond on March 15 of the new year, some time after its January 24 UK release. And in addition to the normal CD (and hopefully LP) formats, there will be a fancy pants box set edition that throws in a live CD, two DVDs and assorted sundry tchotchke including, for the first 300 orders, a piece of Ritzy’s smashed guitar.

The New York Press talks career ambition and lack thereof with The Radio Dept’s Johan Duncanson. They’ve made an acoustic reading of “Heaven’s On Fire”, recorded for KEXP earlier this week, available to download and will release their career-spanning Passive Aggressive on January 25. They play Lee’s Palace on February 7.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire” (acoustic)

Spinner talks to Lisa Milberg of The Concretes. They have a date at The Horseshoe on January 17.

Blurt engages Nick Cave and Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman in conversation, The Georgia Straight gets Warren Ellis on the phone and The San Francisco Chronicle and LA Weekly talk to Cave alone, the latter sending Henry Rollins to do their dirty work.

Keren Ann’s new album 101 will be out on March 22.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Archer On The Beach

Destroyer heads to the beach, Chinatown

Photo via MergeMergeJust a short one today as I’m still recovering from a) replacing all the carpet in my apartment with hardwood (well, laminate) in a single day and b) trying to clean up the enormous mess generated by a). Exhausting stuff, that.

So I’ll let Dan Bejar take it away. Now a couple years removed from Trouble In Dreams and with Pornographer duties largely done with for a while, Dan is getting Destroyer back into gear. Following up last year’s epic-length “Bay Of Pigs” 12″, Bejar released a second limited edition 12″ for the song “Archer On The Beach” earlier this month, but if you haven’t already got your copy secured, then you’re out of luck – all 1000 copies are spoken for. But you can stream the song, and its spoken-word b-side “Grief Point”, courtesy of Merge.

There’s still plenty of time to reserve a copy of the new Destroyer LP Kaputt, though – it’s not out for another two months, on January 25. The first MP3 is now up and while it’s not a cover of the Luna song (how great would that be?), it’s a pretty sweet if chilled out tune that incorporates some of the electronic and atmospheric touches of the aforementioned 12″ releases and some wonderfully questionable saxophone. I’ve been in the mood for a new Destroyer record for a while now – looking forward to hearing the rest of this.

MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”
Stream: Destroyer – “Archer On The Beach”/”Grief Point”

Montreal represents on March 5 when Lee’s Palace welcomes 2008 Polaris Prize shortlisters Plants & Animals and 2010 Polaris Prize winners Karkwa. Tickets for the show are $15 in advance.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”
MP3: Karkwa – “Dors Dans Mon Sang”

Exclaim has details on a Nick Drake tribute/benefit concert taking place at Trinity-St. Paul’s in Toronto on November 28.

BBC talks to Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon on the topic of concert taping. Mark has been posting various sundry MP3s to the Woodpigeon site all Fall, including this live solo one from Montreal’s CJLO.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “…And as the Ship Went Down, You’d Never Looked Finer (Live on CJLO)”

S. Carey, in town at the Horseshoe on December 19, is featured in a Daytrotter session.

School Of Seven Bells have released a new video from Disconnect From Desire and have been tapped to open up for Interpol on their North American tour next year – including the February 15 stop at the Sound Academy in Toronto.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “I L U”

Also with a new video is Sufjan Stevens, who’s taken the song title to heart with regards to the clip’s art direction. Tribute will be paid to a simpler Sufjan by means of a tribute album to his Seven Swans record featuring Bonnie Prince Billy and a number of Asthmatic Kitty artists. Seven Swans Reimagined will be out on March 22.

Video: Sufjan Stevens – “Too Much”

The Radio Dept.’s Martin Carlberg discusses the band’s modest career ambitions with Spinner. Their singles and b-sides compilation Passive Aggressive is out on January 25 and they make their Toronto debut at Lee’s Palace on February 7.

M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez talks to Pitchfork about his plans for his next record.

Nick Cave tells Spinner that a new Nick Cave record should be out next year – just as soon as he writes it. In the meantime, Grinderman remains on the front burner – The AV Club talks to Warren Ellis about making Grinderman 2.

Friday, November 19th, 2010


Memoryhouse finally done seeing the world, schedule dates at home

Photo via MyspaceMyspaceFor the better part of the year, I’ve been hearing about this Guelph duo Memoryhouse – another entrant in the increasingly fashionable he-she duo band configuration sweepstakes – and while I liked what I heard in passing of their hazy, languorous dream-pop, I figured I’d pay more attention around the next time they scheduled a local show. After all, they’re from Guelph. That’s like right over there.

And yet any time I saw tour dates posted throughout the year, they’d be touring and gathering accolades in far-flung places in Europe or around the US, never close to home. The closest they seemed to get was the Wolfe Island Music Festival in Kingston in August, and that wasn’t in the cards so I’ve waited. And waited. Not impatiently, mind you – I’m still in the curious stage more than anything else – but I’m still pleased to see that they’ve finally set a couple of live dates in and around Toronto before the year is out. There’s a December 2 engagement at E-Bar in Guelph, and more importantly a December 16 show at the Twist Gallery in Toronto.

Of course, that’s the same night that The Rural Alberta Advantage make their own long-awaited live homecoming at Lee’s Palace, so there’s no guarantee I’ll be availing myself of Memoryhouse’s show anyways. But their announcement did give me the incentive to go download their The Years EP – it’s free – and do up a little post. That’s really all anyone can ask for.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Troisieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Gian Lorenzo Bernini”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Bonfire”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
ZIP: Memoryhouse / The Years

Also originally hailing from Guelph are disco-pop ensemble The Magic, who will be playing a free show along with Maylee Todd at the North York Central Library tomorrow night, November 20, at 8PM. Get details on this and other goings-on at the Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise blog.

Director Spike Jonze has the director’s credit on Arcade Fire’s new video/short film for the title track from The Suburbs. Win Butler talks to Exclaim about potential retirement plans.

Video: Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

Soundproof talks to The Thermals.

Rhett Miller of Old 97’s talks to Spinner about getting permission from Bob Dylan to crib the melody from “Desolation Row” for one of his own songs.

Even though Retribution Gospel Choir’s latest 2 came out way back in January, SubPop has opted to release a second MP3 from it for giving away. Why ask why? The Minnesota Daily chats with bandleader Alan Sparhawk.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Workin’ Hard”

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sun and Oregon Music News talk to Blonde Redhead about their current tour and forays into electronica.

Spin declares Two Door Cinema Club to be breaking out. They’re at the Kool Haus on January 15 alongside Tokyo Police Club.

NPR is streaming a radio session performance from Elvis Costello while AOL Music has a video session with ol’ Declan.

Spin has got the video for the new collaborative single between Hot Chip and Bernard Sumner.

Video: Hot Chip & Bernard Sumner – “I Didn’t Know What Love Was”

A second MP3 from Blood Red Shoes’ second album Fire Like This is now up for grabs. The Prague Post has an interview.

MP3: Blood Red Shoes – “Heartsink”

White Lies have released a video for the first single from their second album Ritual, which is out January 18. They’ll be at The Mod Club on January 29.

Video: White Lies – “Bigger Than Us”

Sloucher interviews The Twilight Sad.

Creative Loafing checks in with Warren Ellis and The Wall Street Journal with Nick Cave of Grinderman.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Worm Tamer

Grinderman at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust in case anyone was uncertain, let it be known – Grinderman are not fucking around. The subset of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds made their North American debut at The Phoenix on Thursday night, the first date of an extensive North American tour, and it’s just as well their set dressing consisted of plastic sheeting draped everywhere like one of Dexter’s kill rooms because shit was flying.

Sound, spittle and fury, Cave and company unloaded it all on the completely sold out room and in the process, made the distinctions between Grinderman and their parent project much clearer than they are on record. As the Bad Seeds’ last visit in October 2008 proved, there’s still plenty of fire in the unit even after 25-plus years. But whereas The Bad Seeds operate with an air of elegance and romance, even at their darkest moments, Grinderman functions as that band’s id, trading in any stateliness for an extra dose of sleazy blues and offering it up with pretty much one setting – in your face.

Opener “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man”, the lead track from this year’s delicious Grinderman 2, set the tone for the night with Cave demonstrating his newfound penchant for guitar abuse – clearly having learned a thing or two from mad scientist bandmate Warren Ellis – whilst rhythm section Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos punished their bass and drums for an apparent lifetime of unforgivable transgressions. That vibe of unchecked id permeated the room, given focus through Cave’s mad preacher figure as he climbed around on monitors, leered at the front row and generally reaffirmed his position as one of the most magnetic frontmen in music, no matter who he’s playing with.

Though unquestionably seedy in tone, the show wasn’t all raunch – midpoint “What I Know” had Cave trading in electric weaponry for acoustic and allowed both Cave, who had sounded occasionally hoarse throughout the show, and the audience, who had been on the receiving end of their unrelenting aural thrust from note one, to take a breather. But that tenderness was more foreplay than anything as it set up the exponentially amped-up triple-punch of “Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)”, “Kitchenette” and “No Pussy Blues” and then smouldering set-closer, “Bellringer Blues”. By the time they left the stage, the show hadn’t even run an hour but after that sort of primal one-two, did we really expect to be held afterwards? And yet they had more than a little gas left in the tank, coming back as they did for a five-song encore that included a guitar-led “Palaces Of Montezuma” and yearning “Man In The Moon”. Running half as long as the main set and feeling a good deal moodier, it was an extended coda that acted as a complex and unexpected punctuation mark on a fierce and memorable performance.

eye, The Phoenix and The Boston Globe have Grinderman features while Spin, Chart and The Globe & Mail were also on hand for the show. And Anti- are running a Grinderman photo contest wherein you can be chosen to shoot one of the shows on the tour.

Photos: Grinderman @ The Phoenix – November 11, 2010
MP3: Grinderman – “Heathen Child”
Video: Grinderman – “Worm Tamer”
Video: Grinderman – “Heathen Child”
Video: Grinderman – “No Pussy Blues”
MySpace: Grinderman

The Guardian is streaming a new instrumental track from Richard Hawley, inspired by a visit to the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery in Scotland. There’s a second such track available to stream at the Glenfiddich website; you just have to pretend you live in the UK to access it. Elsewhere, The Financial Times talks food with Hawley.

Amy Millan of Stars talks to The Dumbing Of America, See and The Gateway while Chris Seligman chats with OC Weekly.

Black Book has a brief chat with Warpaint.

Sharon Van Etten plays a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

The Other Paper talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater.

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

The One

The Radio Dept collect a-sides, offer up b-side

Max WeilandI was actually going to skip posting today entirely, so meagre was the amount of post-worthy material I had ready, but then there trickled in juuuust enough that the night/day off went out the window.

And it took some Radio Dept. news to do it. On the short term end of things, there’s the fact that their new single/EP for “Never Follow Suit”, taken from this year’s divine Clinging To A Scheme, is coming out next Tuesday. It’s limited to 1000 pieces of 12″ vinyl and is advertised as exploring the band’s dubbier side. Yeah. And to prove their point, one of the b-side tracks is available to download.

A little further out, Under The Radar has some more details on the double-disc compilation from the band due out in January 2011. Whereas initial reports made it sound like it was going to be all b-sides and rarities, and as someone who’s collected a good number of their older EPs I can attest that there’s a lot of great non-album material to be compiled, it now sounds as though it’s going to be a mix of proper singles and rarities. The set will be called Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 and I can accept it containing material I already own if it provides them the excuse to finally stage a proper North American tour in the new year, as they’ve hinted they will. And if/when that happens, you bet your sweet bippy there’ll be a blog post about it.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “The One”

NOW and Chart preview Friday night’s Junip show at Lee’s Palace.

Pitchfork has a stream of the new single from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, taken from their forthcoming record Belong, out in March.

There’s a new video from Of Montreal’s latest long-player False Priest.

Video: Of Montreal – “Famine Affair”

The Ash Gray Proclamation talks to Tobin Sprout, once again of Guided By Voices.

Even though it was just rescheduled last week, Lissie’s Toronto debut has been moved again – it will now be happening on January 24, still at the Opera House. Tickets for both the October El Mocambo show and the short-lived January 18 show will be honoured. Relix has a short feature on her.

A studio performance is doubling as the new Grinderman video, just in time for the start of their first North American tour at the Phoenix in Toronto on November 11. Guess they blew their whole budget on the special effects spectacular for “Heathen Child”.

Video: Grinderman – “Worm Tamer”

Mike Mills spills to Spin on some of the guest stars who will appear on the next R.E.M. album Collapse Into Now, due out next Spring.