Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Handsome Furs’

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Metals

Feist wins 2012 Polaris Music Prize to almost universal, “yeah, okay”

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA day later than I would have liked – but some things like after parties, gin and tonics, and going to bed way too late can’t be helped – here’s my official writeup of Monday night’s Polaris Music Prize gala, in convenient short and long versions.

The short: Feist won the $30,000 prize for Metals. This pleased some people, displeased others. Eventually, everyone got on with their lives. Some got drunk first. Not naming names.

The long: Despite telling anyone who asked – or who’d listen – that I could see perfectly reasonable scenarios wherein six or seven of this year’s shortlist could walk off with the prize, I was more than a little surprised that in the end, it was Feist. This despite the fact that I become more convinced as time goes by that history will hold her as one of the most creative Canadian artists of this decade. I just thought that for all its artfulness, subtle merits, and general grower-ness, it hadn’t seemed to generate the sort of passion amongst listeners that would allow it to come out on top of such a strong pack of albums through what was surely a rough-and-tumble critical throw-down. Shows what I know.

That announcement came at the end of another largely entertaining Polaris gala, dedicated this year to the memory of Canadian music icon Sam ‘The Record Man’ Sniderman who’d passed away the day before.. Now that it’s in its seventh year, folks pretty much know what to expect: CBC’s Grant Lawrence hosting – this year with MuchMusic’s Lauren Toyota as co-host – cracking a few jokes but mainly passing things off to the journalists/jurors who would introduce each of the nominees and, if they were present, said artist would make an appearance or perform. This year’s live slate included seven of the ten shortlisters, with Japandroids bowing out on account of touring in Europe, Handsome Furs not performing on account of no longer existing, and Drake not showing up on account of being Drake.

The perennial question of, “who plays when?” had an extra angle this year in, “who plays after Fucked Up?” And since it would be unfair to make any one act follow their maniacal live show, the organizers probably did the smart thing in making everyone follow them while also kicking the show off with a bang. With the band laying down David Comes To Life, frontman Damian Abraham wandered onstage in a sweatshirt and backpack, looking like he just ducked out of class at Ryerson to attend to this, and got down to it. Having seen Fucked Up many times, this performance seemed a little more perfunctory than usual – not surprising given the setting, and unlike in 2009, they were here as former champions, not outsiders with something to prove. Still, they sounded good, Abraham still stripped down to his shorts and it was nice hearing Jennifer Castle on hand to reprise her vocals on “The Other Shoe”.

Handsome Furs had their moment next, with Alexei Perry offering an emotional and heartfelt thank you to all – Polaris and public – for their support over the band’s career. CBC has the full text of her acceptance speech, which no matter what came next would be the most moving part of the evening.

While some artists in the past have used the Polaris gala as an opportunity to do something different or fancy, Cold Specks opted to eschew performance frills and played to her strengths, letting her huge, emotive voice carry the songs from I Predict A Graceful Expulsion to the roof of the concert hall while her band played it spare and tasteful. Sticking with the “let the music do the talking” modus, Al Spx offered few words after performance, offering just, “cool” and “thanks”.

Cadence Weapon had the stage next, and playing with just his DJ as he always did, there was a lot of stage for him to work with. Taking advantage of the spotlight and working with efficiency, he got through three songs in his allotted time, rapping, dancing, and as on the nominated Hope In Dirt City, even trying a little actual singing. The beats were turned up loud but still sounded pretty tinny, though that’s less a flaw than a deliberate fidelity choice as on the record. One would hope.

Conversely, Kathleen Edwards only offered up one song, but decked it out with youth choir in addition to her full band. But rather than flirt with excess, “Soft Place To Land” from Voyageur was as vulnerable and bare a performance as the evening would offer. Edwards’ detractors – myself sometimes amongst them – often take issue with the traditionalness of her songwriting, but moments like this were a potent reminder that sometimes words, a voice, and a guitar are all you need. And a youth choir, if you’ve got access to one. Her acceptance speech was also solid and worth transcribing, or at least CBC Music thought so.

It’s possible that Grimes was conscious of how visually static her performance might seem, given that she wouldn’t have the time to deck the stage out in the way she would for her usual shows, so she did the only logical thing to spice it up: she hired a male pole dancer. And so as she went to work assembling the selections from the heavily-favoured Visions live, layering keyboards, triggering samples, and providing vocals, dancer Gary – whom she said she’d only met 10 minutes earlier – wowed the crowd with his moves up and down the stripper pole. It was all very tasteful and artistic, but not entirely PG – after messing up at one point an effected and very amplified, “fuck” rang out. Yup.

While acknowledging that Yamantaka//Sonic Titan might have a tough time recreating the dense and dynamic visual atmosphere of their typical live shows, I had still hoped that they’d be as much of a wild card on the evening’s performances as they were on the shortlist itself. That wasn’t to be, as they played without full costumes or stage props – the kabuki make-up was there, though – and chose the most prog and pop ends of YT//ST – “Reverse Crystal” and “Hoshi Neko” – to introduce themselves. It wasn’t as out there as some might have hoped for, but compared to Cold Specks, it still may as well have been from the furthest reaches of outer space.

Finally, there was Feist. She’d already begun slowly disassembling her Metals touring band when I saw her at FME earlier this month, so it wasn’t surprising that she had assembled a new band for the occasion. And while I didn’t recognize them at first, they were actually all familiar faces – Dan and Daniela from Snowblink on one side of her, AroarA (aka Andrew Whiteman from Broken Social Scene and Ariel Engle) on the other, forming a pretty formidable guitarmy with the added firepower of four-part harmonies. And this goes to what I’d said earlier about her creativity. No one would have said boo if Feist had just performed a couple songs from Metals solo – Feist solo is far from a simple, strummy affair – she instead went out and enlisted a new batch of players and rearranged the songs yet again for maybe a one-off performance. And while the other Metals shows were hardly polite, polished affairs, this was a raw, forceful performance that had the record had this kind of energy, even fewer people would be taking issue with its Polaris win.

And the win. Feist may genuinely not have expected to win – she’d later say she, like so many others, expected Grimes to take it – she reacted pretty quickly to the announcement of her name by Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara of Arcade Fire, repping last year’s winners, and immediately ducked under her table.

Recovering gracefully, she accepted the giant novelty cheque and opened her acceptance speech with the pullquote-ready soundbite, “This was my worst fear”. It’s unclear if she meant public speaking – you’d think she’d be used to having an audience by now – or actually winning the Polaris. The latter would be understandable for as much as Feist is generally universally respected in Canadian music, she’s committed the cardinal-to-some sin of being successful and as soon as her name was announced, you know the “she doesn’t need the money” comments began to swirl. Which, of course, is absolutely no one’s business but hers, but in the post-gala press conference she mentioned that at least some of the winnings would go to support the fight against the Melanchthon mega-quarry north of Toronto. See, there’s an upside when someone who doesn’t necessarily need to pay off van repair bills and bar tabs comes into the prize money.

In any case, the Polaris win is a very nice punctuation point on Feist’s year of Metals, and I’ve no doubt she’ll wear the title of reigning Polaris champ well. And if you don’t like it, just wait twelve months – there’ll be a new musical injustice for you to rage about.

Canada.com, Exclaim, Torontoist, Rolling Stone, Spinner, and The Globe & Mail were all on hand to cover the proceedings, and The Grid has documented the evening in animated .gif form.

Photos from the evening are below, and if you needed a refresher as to the what of the shortlist, I’ve got that too.

Photos: The Polaris Music Prize 2012 Gala @ The Masonic Temple – September 24, 2012

Cadence Weapon / Hope In Dirt City (Upper Class Recordings)
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning

Cold Specks / I Predict A Graceful Expulsion (Arts & Crafts)
Video: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”

Drake / Take Care (Universal Republic)
Video: Drake – “Marvin’s Room”

Kathleen Edwards / Voyageur (Maple Music)
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Feist / Metals (Arts & Crafts)
Video: Feist – “The Bad In Each Other”

Fucked Up / David Comes To Life (Matador)
MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”

Grimes / Visions (Artbus)
MP3: Grimes – “Oblivion”

Handsome Furs / Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
MP3: Handsome Furs – “Repatriated”

Japandroids / Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST (Psychic Handshake)
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”

BlogTO grabbed a pre-gala interview with Fucked Up.

DIY has a chat with Grimes.

Spinner talked to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan about the whirlwind of acclaim that brought them from obscurity to the Polaris shortlist, and Pitchfork points to a stream of the band covering David Bowie as a bonus track attached to a new compilation from Paper Bag Records. As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations (which kick off Thursday night at The Great Hall for three evenings and at which new signees Yamantaka//Sonic Titan play Friday), they’ve assembled a tribute album to David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars – itself turning 40 this year – and it’s available for free download. And while this comp would be noteworthy fun simply for existing, it’s actually really good. Like REALLY good. Listen to it while you read this piece at The National Post about the decade of Paper Bag.

Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “John, I’m Only Dancing”

Crystal Castles have released a new video from their still-untitled third album, due out sometime in November. And speaking of November, their November 3 4 show at The Kool Haus is now happening on November 4 3; all tickets are still valid for the new date. And I’ve probably not helped the confusion at all. Sorries. Update 2: Pitchfork reports the album will be called (III) and will be out November 5.

Video: Crystal Castles – “Plague”

Spin has premiered a new video from Caribou extra-electronic side-project Daphni whose debut album Jialong arrives October 16.

Video: Daphni – “Pairs”

Rolling Stone has premiered the first video from Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s new album Psychedelic Pill, and no – they’re still clearly not allotting much budget to their videos in Neil’s camp. We won’t be seeing anything of the calibre of “Wonderin’” anytime soon. The album is out October 30 and they’re at the Air Canada Centre on 19.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Walk Like A Giant”

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Repatriated

The 2012 Polaris Music Prize shortlist looks a little like this. Or a lot.

Photo By Liam MaloneyLiam MaloneyAnd then there were ten.

Yesterday, atop the roof of the Drake Hotel amidst record-breaking heat, the short 2012 Polaris Music Prize short list was announced, dashing the hopes of thirty artists and allowing ten others to begin imagining just what they might do with the $30,000 prize that awaits one of them (the correct answer being: gold plate all of the things). And it’s an interesting group, to be sure.

Some will complain about the lack of a francophone artist – which also surprises me considering the number of strong contenders on the long list – and the heavy 416-ness of the list – 4.5 from Hogtown – but as far as gender and genre splits go, it acquits itself pretty nicely. Usually I can look at the short list and immediately eliminate at least a few of them from serious consideration of winning, but this year it’s a lot tougher to do so – I can envision how many of these records could garner enough support from the grand jury, whomever that ends up being, to have sufficient numbers to come out on top. All of this is speculation, of course, and only those in that creepy-ass Freemason room in the Masonic Temple on September 24 will know exactly how it goes down. But until then, and even though most will save their handicapping until the week before the gala, here’s my thoughts on the short list with points for and against.

Cadence Weapon / Hope In Dirt City (Upper Class Recordings)
Edmonton’s former poet laureate second appearance on the short list comes for a stronger record than Breaking Kayfabe and a higher overall public and critical profile. However, the narratives around the other nominees are almost all stronger and more compelling, and whatever merit Dirt City has, I don’t think it’s going to be front of anyone’s mind including the grand jury.
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning

Cold Specks / I Predict A Graceful Expulsion (Arts & Crafts)
That Al Spx is a compelling talent and Expulsion an impressive debut that doesn’t just rest on the power of her voice is unquestionable. But whether it goes far enough in establishing her as having a strong artistic vision of her own rather than just exploring styles of the past, at least at this point in her career, is still up for debate.
Video: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”

Drake / Take Care (Universal Republic)
By far the “biggest” – at least in terms of mass appeal, record sales, fanbase – artist to make the short list since the Polaris was created, Drake is in rather a unique position, and one that I can’t really argue for or against. Sufficed to say that while I don’t care at all for what he does, millions of others do – and statistically that certainly increases the odds of a sympathetic grand jury. If he does win, I’m pretty sure we won’t be seeing any, “Who the hell is Drake” Tumblrs.
Video: Drake – “Marvin’s Room”

Kathleen Edwards / Voyageur (Maple Music)
There’s no question that Voyageur is the strongest album of Edwards’ career and she’s an eminently likeable artist, but I have trouble arguing it’s the grandest artistic statement our country was able to turn out this year. That said, with the most of the short list decidedly genre there’s a lot of room for something to come up through the middle (of the road) and take it all. If half the jury has gone through a break up recently, then it’s as good as hers.
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Feist / Metals (Arts & Crafts)
Many/most assumed that Feist’s latest would at least make the short list even before the album was released – that’s how much people assume that Feist would do something great. So it’s interesting how polarized the response to it has been, with some thinking it’s the deepest record she’s made and others the dullest, but neither side of the argument seems to be that passionate about it.
Video: Feist – “The Bad In Each Other”

Fucked Up / David Comes To Life (Matador)
Despite a few opportunities, we’ve yet to see an artist repeat as Polaris winner and as much as I think Fucked Up are deserving – not for nothing did they top my first ballot and everyone loves the band if not their music – I don’t know if David will have won enough hearts and minds so convincingly to overcome the innate, “they’ve already won!” sentiment that everyone will feel if few will admit.
MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”

Grimes / Visions (Artbus)
Perhaps the most heavily-favoured act, at least amongst people I know, there’s not an artist on the list who sounds more absolutely of the moment than Claire Boucher and her chirpy electro-pop. My concerns about this record are that the songwriting is kind of slight and that which is in fashion will, by definition, fall out of fashion and I don’t know that Visions has the sort of weight or timelessness that I’d like to think that the best album our country has to offer would have. However I don’t expect people will hear those concerns as they’ll be too busy dancing. Probably the odds-on favourite to take it all right now.
MP3: Grimes – “Oblivion”

Handsome Furs / Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
This one’s an interesting entrant, what with the band having announced their dissolution just before the deadline for submission of the first ballots. Not to say that it didn’t have a lot of support before that happened – it almost certainly did – but dominating the news cycle for those few days and reminding every music critic in the country that the band had an eligible record and that it was kind of great certainly didn’t hurt. Now the question is whether or not Dan Boeckner and Alexis Perry can and will put their differences aside to show up at and perform at the gala. Drama!
MP3: Handsome Furs – “Repatriated”

Japandroids / Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
There’s a lot of affection for this duo, who went from the verge of splitting up to releasing one of the best pure rock records that this country has seen in a while, and I expect they’ll peel some loud guitar votes from Fucked Up and “if only Springsteen was Canadian” votes from Handsome Furs by being more accessible and immediate than either, but will they be able to sell party as art and get every fist in the grand jury room pumping in unison? I have my reservations.
MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST (Psychic Handshake)
I mentioned that Fucked Up topped my first ballot but I should note that by the time second ballots were due, YT/ST had taken the top spot. As Radio Free Canuckistan pointed out in his Polaris preview, a year ago no one had ever heard of this band and now they’ve shortlisted without any appreciable PR effort – just word of mouth from those who’ve heard the record or seen the show – and no label is really unprecedented. They’re certainly not for everyone – if you don’t buy into their “Noh-wave” manifesto, then they probably come off as kind of ridiculous – but despite being the most outside and difficult act on the short list, they’re clearly for more people than anyone might have expected. Certainly, no one can argue they don’t have artistic ambitions or that they’re boring, and they have momentum. So. Much. Momentum.
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”

While we’re talking Polaris, aux.tv has an excellent oral history of the prize from organizers, jurists, and nominees, and The National Post got some reactions of shortlisters after discovering that they were. And if you’re interested in seeing some of the nominees live in Toronto, you’re in luck – Cadence Weapon is at Lee’s Palace on July 21 opening up for Liars, Cold Specks is at The Great Hall on August 8, Drake’s annual OVO Fest hits The Molson Amphitheatre on August 5, Fucked Up play Fort York as part of Riot Fest on September 9, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan headline the first day of ALL CAPS! on Toronto Islands on August 11, and Grimes has just announced a date at Lee’s Palace on September 21, tickets $20 in advance.

Some were surprised that Dan Mangan didn’t make the shortlist; he’ll have to drown his sorrows in a cross-Canada tour with The Rural Alberta Advantage that stops in at the Danforth Music Hall on October 25, tickets $32.50 to $39.50. And if you feel inclined to point out that that room isn’t much bigger than the ones that each act has just about filled on their own last year (the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Phoenix, respectively), I would say that you were correct and point out, in return, that they currently have an off day the following night. You do the math.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”

Sarah Neufeld, aka violinist for current Polaris champs Arcade Fire, also does a solo thing and she’ll be bringing that thing to The Drake Underground on November 10, tickets $12. Read these pieces at The Georgia Straight and The Province from a west coast tour in May for an idea of what that thing is.

Video: Sarah Neufeld – “Scalpel/Stradivarius”

Pitchfork has details on the new album from Diamond RingsFree Dimensional will be out October 23.

The Line Of Best Fit has made a new song from The Wilderness Of Manitoba available to download, but it comes not from their new album Island Of Echoes – we continue to have to wait to hear an official sample of that – but from the Delaware House EP they’re releasing overseas to coincide with a European tour. The album is out September 18.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “The Ark”

Exclaim talks to Evan Gordon of The Magic.

The Line Of Best Fit has released a new Oh Canada! downloadable maple-flavoured compilation.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

What About Us

Handsome Furs call it a day

Photo By Liam MaloneyLiam MaloneyThe Canadian music scene got a little/lot less rock last night when word got out that Handsome Furs – the Wolf Parade spin-off that arguably equalled or bettered that project – had hung it up. Word came via a blog post without much in the way of explanation, and considering the previous post was in reference to cancelling European tour dates in March due to an “urgent health issues”, one can only hope that this is a decision that Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry are choosing to make rather than having it forced upon them.

Boeckner’s fans are surely reeling considering this is two of his bands retired in the past eighteen months, but according to the The Victoria Times-Colonist, he’s already got a new project in the pipe – based out of his new apparent homebase of Los Angeles – so maybe people won’t have to wait to hear his distinctive yelp coming out of their speakers again. Maybe he’s just trying to keep up with former bandmate Spencer Krug in terms of bands on their CV?

In any case, this announcement makes last year’s fist-clenchingly synth-soaked Sound Kapital the final word from the band. Not a bad note to go out on. And, of course, the fact that Canadian journos will go into the long weekend with Handsome Furs on the brain and a little over a week to assemble our Polaris Prize ballots may give the already favoured Sound Kapital a little extra push… not to mention if they make the short list, maybe they could be persuaded to play one, final gig for the gala in September. Hey, I’m just spitballing here.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “Repatriated”
MP3: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”
MP3: Handsome Furs – “Radio Kaliningrad”
MP3: Handsome Furs – “I’m Confused”
MP3: Handsome Furs – “Cannot Get, Started”
MP3: Handsome Furs – “What We Had”
Video: Handsome Furs – “Serve The People”
Video: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”
Video: Handsome Furs – “I’m Confused”
Video: Handsome Furs – “Cannot Get Started”
Video: Handsome Furs – “Dumb Animals”

Blurt gets to know Patrick Watson. He’s at the Music Hall on May 29.

Denver Westword and The San Francisco Chronicle profile Plants & Animals; they play Yonge-Dundas Square the evening of June 15 for NXNE.

The AV Club interviews Paul Saulnier of PS I Love You.

Feist hits the street for the latest video from Metals.

Video: Feist – “Cicadas & Gulls”

Yeah that’s all for today. I need to slink into the long weekend and get away for a bit.

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Take Me Out

The Wooden Sky readies album number three

Photo By Justin BroadbentJustin BroadbentIn an age where many young bands seek to get on the expressway to your skull immediately after their first rehearsal – assuming they rehearse instead of just uploading jams to Soundcloud – you have to appreciate a band like The Wooden Sky. They’ve taken the time to hone their songcraft and live show since forming as Friday Morning’s Regret in 2003, and with their 2009 sophomore full-length If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone and its attendant endless touring regimen, have positioned themselves as one of the country’s finest young roots-rock bands.

And after tantalizing with this Fall’s City Of Light EP, they’ll be looking to take that on-the-cusp status over the top on February 28 when their third album, an 18-track nearly-double opus 13-track regular-sized record Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, is released. Details on the release are available over at Exclaim, as is the itinerary for their accompanying Canada-heavy North American tour. That jaunt includes a hometown show at The Opera House on April 20, tickets $15.50 in advance.

There’s no official preview track of the new album yet but this one from City Of Light, if it’s not on it, should at least point at where they’re going.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”

Rich Aucoin will bring his debut album We’re All Dying To Live and accompanying over-the-top live spectacle to the Drake Underground on January 13.

MP3: Rich Aucoin – “It”
Video: Rich Aucoin – “It”

Fresh off their three-night stand headlining the Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club are back in a support role having been added as openers for Foster The People at The Meadows at Downsview Park on June 19.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Party In The USA”

Chart talks to Wes Marskell of The Darcys. They and The Balconies, with whom Plaid has an interview, are a couple of the acts playing this year’s edition of Edgefest, happening July 14 at Downsview Park.

So yeah, new Arcade Fire video(s) for “Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”, in conventional and interactive forms. Dance!

Video: Arcade Fire – “Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” (conventional)
Video: Arcade Fire – “Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” (interactive)

aux.tv talks to Bry Webb about life post-Constantines.

Exclaim has good news and bad news for Karkwa fans: the good is that the band are readying a double-live album – where I’d argue they’re at their best – to be recorded tomorrow night in Montreal and released next year, the bad is that it’ll be their last release for a while as they’re going on a hiatus after that. Which is reasonable – their Polaris win in 2010 made the touring cycle for Les chemins des verre (just certified gold, by the way) many times longer than they probably expected when they released it. Nice problem to have.

The Alternate Side has posted a session and interview with The Handsome Furs.

Exclaim has premiered the first track from John K Samson’s solo album Provincial, due out January 24.

Stream: John K Samson – “When I Write My Master’s Thesis”

CBC Radio 3 has posted a track-by-track live performance from Coeur de Pirate of her new album Blonde.

DIY has n interview and video session with Dan Mangan. Exclaim has also posted a couple of live session videos with the Dan.

Kathryn Calder talks the touring life with CBC Radio 3 and also to The Riverfront Times.

Diamond Rings talks about brushes with fame in the form of Beastie Boys and Katy Perry with Spinner.

Woodpigeon ends an extended – for them, at least – hiatus with the release of the For Paolo digital EP due out on January 16, presumably in advance of a full-length later next year.

The Line Of Best Fit has released their holiday edition of the Oh! Canada mix series. Download it and blast it from your car over the next two weeks.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Deconstruction

Fanfarlo, Childish Gambino lead first batch of acts announced for Canadian Musicfest 2012

Photo via fanfarlo.comfanfarlo.comWhen it was announced earlier this Summer that Canadian Musicfest/Canadian Music Week was moving from it’s traditional slot in the second week of March – right before SXSW – to the fourth week of March – right after SXSW – I was confused and concerned. Confused because, well, I dislike change, and concerned because whereas doing back-to-back festivals is exhausting no matter which way you order it, I liked that I could get into game shape with CMW, go hard through SXSW and then collapse immediately afterwards and savour my annual post-Austin cold. But that’s just me – and I think most other Toronto-based music writers – so I can only assume/hope that change in schedule was calculated to grab more high-profile acts touring their way out of Austin and maybe get some slightly less awful weather for the club-hopping.

The latter point remains to be seen but after trickling a number of confirmed smaller/local acts on their website over the past couple months, CMF released the first proper update of showcasing acts for next year’s festival, happening March 22 to March 25 around Toronto. And while it wasn’t a lot, it was still something to sink one’s teeth into just a bit. Of the most interest hereabouts was the return to Toronto of Anglo-Swedish pop orchestra Fanfarlo; I missed their last show here in favour of seeing Titus Andronicus and while it was an amazing show, the fact that Titus have been back like four or five times since and Fanfarlo zero makes me wonder if maybe I bet on the wrong horse for that particular evening. In any case, with their second album Rooms Filled With Light due out on February 28, it’s a no-brainer that they’re coming back for both SXSW and CMF – they’re at The Mod club on the Saturday night, March 24, and advance tickets are $16.00 if you don’t want to do the festival wristband or want to be guaranteed entry.

The other notable big name – and these are relative terms – is Childish Gambino, the hip-hop alter-ego of Community star Donald Glover. I saw him at SXSW this year and it was an uneven performance at best as they were largely trying to work out the technical kinks in the multimedia aspects of the show prior to his first major tour. I am assuming that he’ll spend more time rapping and less time hunched over a laptop when he, his new album Camp and his roadshow hit the Sound Academy on March 24 for what will be one of the festival’s marquee events. Advance tickets for that one will be $25 and again, an undetermined number of CMF wristbands will be admitted.

It’s also worth mentioning that Weakerthans frontman John K Samson will present his new solo record Provincial, out January 24, at the Great Hall on March 22 and poet/hip-hop artist Saul Williams is at The Great Hall the following night, March 23. Beyond those, the interestingness of the additions fall off a cliff pretty quickly – some more acts are supposed to be announced in the next couple days and the next major update comes January 16. Let’s hope they’ve got something else up their sleeves, or else they’ve messed up my March festival routine for naught.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Replicate”
Video: Fanfarlo – “De.Con.Struc.Tion”
Video: Childish Gambino – “Bonfire”
Stream: Childish Gambino / Camp

Memoryhouse will be part of a bill including Dark Mean and headlined by The Rest on December 16 at The Tranzac, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut full-length The Slideshow Effect is set for a February 28 release next year.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Quiet America”

Not that you should have needed any more incentive, but when Fucked Up announced their two nights of benefit shows at The Great Hall – that would be with their performing David Comes To Life in its entirety and PS I Love You and Quest For Fire rounding out the bill on December 20 and Sloan, Ohbijou and Bonjay performing on December 21 – but the, “but wait! There’s more!” dropped yesterday and yes indeed, there is more. The Sadies have been added to night one while The Rural Alberta Advantage will be performing on night two, and if you don’t think that’s worth your $20 a night, well God, Jed, I don’t even wanna know you. Tickets are available here and here, respectively. And if that’s not Fucked Up enough for you, Exclaim has details on the next installment in their Chinese Zodiac single series – “Year Of The Tiger” will be out on February 7 of next year.

MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”

And while on the topic of worthy causes, Arcade Fire have announced that for the holiday season, they will match, dollar for dollar, any donations made to Haiti reconstruction charity Kanpe. They’ve capped the drive at $300,000 but if they have to invoke that limit, then everyone has won anyways. And over at CBC Radio 3, they’ve dug up an old 2004-vintage session with the band for your listening and reminiscing.

Royal City Scene interviews Ohbijou. As mentioned, they’re at The Great Hall on December 21.

Kathleen Edwards has released the first video from her forthcoming album Voyageur, out January 17.

Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Handsome Furs have rolled out a new video from Sound Kapital.

Video: Handsome Furs – “Serve The People”

The Darcys have premiered the first video from their self-titled album over at NME wherein they get all apocalyptic and stuff.

Video: The Darcys – “Don’t Bleed Me”

aux.tv talks to Beatrice Martin of Coeur de Pirate, whom they’ve declared their artist of the month.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Kathryn Calder.

The first single from Islands’ new album A Sleep & A Forgetting – out February 14 – is available in MP3 and video form at Pitchfork and Stereogum, respectively.

MP3: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”
Video: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”

NPR has a World Cafes session with Feist.

Dan Mangan tries on the journalism hat, penning pieces about the magic of live performance for The Guardian and his favourite books and authors for Clash.

Beatroute talks to Vancouver’s Chains Of Love.

And Toronto concertgoers should bookmark new site Just Shows, who are doing a pretty great job of aggregating concert listings and salient information for the 416 and presenting it in a clean, easy-to-use format.