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Posts Tagged ‘J Mascis’

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Jesus Of Cool

Nick Lowe at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMaybe listening to Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust weren’t the best warm-ups for Nick Lowe’s show at The Phoenix on Monday night. After all, he was many many years removed from being the young pub-rock firebrand who recorded those first two records, having settled comfortably into the role of professorial pop singer-songwriter – a guise that’s suited his still-potent pen quite nicely, as last year’s The Old Magic proved. But if you assumed this meant that his shows would be sedate, sit-down affairs, then you were mistaken. Somewhat.

Though the show was billed as Lowe with band, the man took the stage solo to open things up with something old and something new – “Stoplight Roses” from Magic and “Heart” from 1982’s Nick The Knife – before he took some time to chat up the crowd. He apologized if anyone was confused about the venue, since his recent shows had typically been at The Mod Club but with the positive reception that Magic has gotten and the increase in profile he got opening up for Wilco back in September, an upgrade in venue was not overreaching although what with the Phoenix floor being set up with chairs, the increase in capacity was probably only a couple hundred more at best.

Also in his opening monologue, Lowe mentioned that despite the new record being received quite favourably, it wouldn’t be one of “those” shows and that the set list had been optimized for “quality entertainment,” and the man wasn’t lying. After bringing his band out, he led them through a set that went from jazzy on the slower end of things to rollicking rockabilly at the other and both established the strength of his career’s body of work and affirmed that his recent records were as good as his old ones, in their way. After all, Lowe’s talents have always been his way with words and melodies, not in the fashions they were dressed in. I was a bit surprised how that Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust didn’t get a bit more attention – besides being arguably his most famous records, they were also the ones recently reissued – but Lust was only represented by “Without Love” and “Cruel To Be Kind” and Jesus ignored completely.

No one was complaining, though. The audience was dead silent when they needed to be and whooped it up when appropriate, to say nothing of the sounds of female swooning that periodically punctuated the show; indeed, Lowe was a study in songwriting, charm and aging well. It wasn’t until the finale of the main set – “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – that they finally got up out of their seats – well, five of them at least – to turn the space at the front of the stage into a dance floor. They were joined by many more for the encores, the first of which was highlighted by a hymnal version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and the second which found Lowe, again alone onstage, performing a song by the other iconic British artist to whom he’ll be forever tied – Elvis Costello and “Alison”, and that he missed a chord change while singing “My aim is true” only made the whole thing that much more perfect.

The Toronto Sun and NOW also have reviews of the show; Interview has an interview.

Photos: Nick Lowe @ The Phoenix – April 23, 2012
Video: Nick Lowe – “Sensitive Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “All Men Are Liars”
Video: Nick Lowe – “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll)”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Half A Boy And Half A Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Cruel To Be Kind”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Crackin’ Up”

The Line Of Best Fit revisits Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie-saluting Mermaid Avenue releases; Mermaid Avenue: Volume III would appear to only be available in physical form in the Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Alas. Maybe take it up with Billy when his North American tour brings him through the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia on July 8? It looks like that’s as close as he’s getting to Hogtown this time out.

Tiny Mix Tapes interviews Sleigh Bells, back in Toronto next week on April 27 and 28 at the Air Canada Centre opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

With Lower Dens’ new album Nootropics due out next week – May 1 – DIY has both a stream of the whole thing and song-by-song annotations from the band.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”
MP3: Lower Dens – “Propagation”
Stream: Lower Dens / Nootropics

La Sera – aka Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls – brings her new record Sees The Light to The Shop Under Parts & Labour on May 13, part of a North American tour.

MP3: La Sera – “Please Be My Third Eye”

The AV Club has got a stream of Fear Fun – the debut album from Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman ex of Fleet Foxes – ahead of its May 1 release date as well as an interview with the man. He plays The Horseshoe on May 14.

MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
Stream: Father John Misty / Fear Fun

Billboard has a feature piece on Beach House, whose new album Bloom is out May 15.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips talks to Forbes about why the band has been so dedicated to making weird records/releases over the last couple of years; basically, just to see if they could. Another of the tracks from their Record Store Day Heady Fwends has just been made into a video. The Flaming Lips play a free show for NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 16.

Video: The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73 – “The Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee”

And going on before the Lips and doubling the insane live show quotient will be Of Montreal. They’ve just released a new video from this year’s Paralytic Stalks and NPR is streaming last night’s show in Washington DC. And if you’re curious about some of the other NXNE scheduling that I’ve sussed out, last week’s post is in a constant state of update.

Video: Of Montreal – “Spiteful Intervention”

These United States – whose last attempted visit was derailed, I believe, by something we Torontonians like to call the G20 riots, will give it another go with a show at The Horseshoe on June 22. Update: okay, so they were actually here just a couple weeks ago opening for Trampled By Turtles. Fine.

MP3: These United States – “The Great Rivers”
MP3: These United States – “Water & Wheat”

Their fourth album Magic Hour due out on May 28, New York’s Scissor Sisters have set a date at the Sound Academy for June 28 – tickets are $32.50 for general admission and $42.50 for VIP.

Video: Scissor Sisters – “Only The Horses”

Andrew Bird has extended his Summer tour in support of Break It Yourself to include a July 19 date at Echo Beach in Toronto. Tickets are $35 in advance, full itinerary at Under The Radar.

MP3: Andrew Bird – “Eyeoneye”
MP3: Andrew Bird – “Give It Away”

Rolling Stone talks to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. She’s at The Phoenix on August 1.

To everyone reporting that Cat Power had named her new record, Sun – it’s not really news. She named announced it as the name of her next studio album following The Greatest as early as 2007, reported that the album was done in 2008 and then said that she’d shelved it in 2009. The more pertinent question is did she change her mind about those sessions and is releasing five-year old recordings or was she so attached to the album title that she’s using it for a whole new set of songs. In any case, it is news – assuming it’s true – that the record will be out on September 11. I’ll wait for Matador to chime in.

Exclaim solicits an acoustic video session with Nada Surf.

The Blue Indian chats with Bowerbirds.

The Mountain Goats play a video session for Paste and bassist Peter Hughes chats with Tone Deaf.

The Village Voice talks to Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, and if you missed last week’s guest editor run at Magnet, check it out – they discuss the origins of each song on Mr. M.

State talks to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Clash sends Crispin Glover to interview J. Mascis. Stranger things have happened, but not much.

Proxart talks to Anna-Lynne Williams of Trespassers William; on Facebook this week, she reported that the final Trespassers release – a double-disc cupboard clearing compilation – had gone off for mastering. Details on that release soon, one hopes.

The AV Club has posted their third instalment documenting the history of R.E.M..

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

How Darwinian

Review of Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune

Photo By Jonathan TaggartJonathan TaggartAs one of the most social media-savvy musicians in the country, it’s not unreasonable to say that Dan Mangan reads his own press and so he’s probably seen the phrases “everyman”, “coffee shop”, “roots-rock” and variants thereof in regards to his breakout 2009 record Nice, Nice, Very Nice many, many times. And while these descriptors were usually meant in most complimentary ways – one does’t make the Polaris shortlist on the back of negative press – his just-released follow-up Oh Fortune gives you the impression that he didn’t take those writeups as incentive to stay the course.

From the very first heavily-reverbed piano chords which open leadoff track “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” before giving way to strings, it’s clear that this record is built on a different game plan than its predecessor. Throughout, there’s plenty of elegantly orchestrated horns and woodwinds, but also feedbacking, layered, wall-of-noise guitars – often all side-by-side or on top of one another – and if that sounds like the complete opposite of what you’d have expected a Dan Mangan record to sound like, well I suspect that’s the point. This is not a record that can be pigeonholed as the work of a singer-songwriter or folkie; it’s brimming with full-on pop ambition and if Mangan had kept such lofty musical aspirations in check before, he’s certainly enjoying the artistic freedom that success engenders now.

But for all of that, as soon as the vocals come in it’s unmistakably a Dan Mangan record. Not having the most elastic voice becomes an pro rather than a con as it remains warm and comforting like a woollen blanket, delivering poignant and poetic lyrics that; another Mangan trademark still intact, if perhaps darker in tone this time out. And it’s Mangan’s voice and the words it carries that act as a sturdy, reliable centre amidst the swirling sonic proceedings; it’s as if between Very Nice and Fortune, Mangan was transplanted from the setting of a comfortable stool in his local into… well, it’s hard to say, exactly. The atmosphere of Fortune is consistent but difficult to pin down, also certainly part of the overarching strategy to head off preconceptions and expectations and forces the listener to consider the record on its own merits rather than what they figured a new Dan Mangan record would sound like.

It’s no small thing to shift gears or change lanes immediately after a breakthrough record; the temptation to stick to what worked – at least for the follow-up – must be immense, particularly when what worked was a time-tested, meat-and-potatoes sort of approach. So Mangan should be praised for going as conceptually far afield as he has on Oh Fortune without abandoning his core strengths and lauded for making it work so well. If it wasn’t clear from any of the above, Oh Fortune is an excellent record, expansive in scope yet efficiently delivered and both musically and lyrically rich. No, there’s nothing as immediate as “Robots” but in lieu of that degree of immediacy, you get songs that continue to reveal themselves over repeated listens. Oh Fortune confirms Mangan as one of this country’s best new songwriters and, as a bonus, forces those who’d seek to dismiss him as too conventional to find a new line of criticism. Maybe that he’s too tall. Because he’s pretty tall.

Southern Souls, The Vancouver Sun, The Winnipeg Free Press and Exclaim have interviews with Mangan and he chats with Rolling Stone about his just-released new video; there’s also three four videos from a full-album performance Mangan gave at the CBC presently online, with more to come. His Fall tour brings him to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses”
Video: Dan Mangan – “About as Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Post-War Blues” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune” (live at CBC)
Stream: Dan Mangan / Oh Fortune

Also out this week is Ohbijou’s Metal Meets. Exclaim and Toro talk to bandleader Casey Mecija about making the new record. They play a release show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on September 30.

Boasting a similar album title and gracing this month’s Exclaim cover is Feist; Pitchfork also has an interview. Metals is out October 4 and she plays Massey Hall on December 1. Update: And now the album is available to stream if you sign up for her mailing list. Preview the album AND get emails from Leslie!

Stream: Feist / Metals

Canadian Interviews is playing host to a tour diary from Bruce Peninsula. Open Flames is out October 4 but streamable now at Exclaim – they also have an interview and review – and they play an in-store at Soundscapes that evening, then a proper show at Lee’s Palace on October 27.

Stream: Bruce Peninsula / Open Flames

Their record release show for Tosta Mista safely in the books, Hooded Fang have announced they’ll play a free show at the Sanderson Branch of the Toronto Public Library (Bathurst and Dundas West) on October 1 at 2PM. They’ve also put out a new animated video.

MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”
Video: Hooded Fang – “Brahma”

Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange has been announced as support on the upcoming tour for CANT, the solo project from Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, as well as being part of his band, all of which means that he’ll be at The Garrison on October 21. And to mark it, a new MP3 from Coastal Grooves is available to grab courtesy of Stereogum.

MP3: Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”

J Mascis will be in town on November 4 as part of the Sleepwalk Guitar Festival taking place at The Great Hall all that weekend and ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd leads off the Saturday night bill followed by The Sadies. And if you were wondering just how “ex” Lloyd was with respect to Tom Verlaine and Television, this exchange documented at The Daily Swarm seems to indicate that bridges are pretty well burned. Tickets for each evening show are $25, all-day and weekend passes also available.

MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”
MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”

English songwriting legend Ray Davies has made a date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for November 25 in support of last year’s See My Friends though it’s unlikely any of his big-name collaborators will be joining him for these shows. Tickets are $49.50 and $69.50 plus fees.

Video: The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset” (live)

Young Galaxy have been added to the Austra show at The Phoenix on December 1, as well as the rest that tour. They’ve also released a new video from Shapeshifting, an animated sequel to the clip for “We have Everything”.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”

The War On Drugs are coming back to town, making a date for December 9 at The Horseshoe; tickets $13.50 in advance. The Washington Post and DCist have interviews and NPR a World Cafe session.

MP3: The War On Drugs – “Come To The City”

Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians and Said The Whale appear to be a winning combination as a second show has been added at The Phoenix for December 9, the one for the night before presumably just about sold out. Tickets are again $25 in advance.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Party In The USA”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”
MP3: Said The Whale – “Camilo (The Magician)”

Ryan Adams’ first show back in Toronto since Summer 2007 – he’s retired and come back out of retirement in the interim – will take place on December 10 at The Winter Garden Theatre; tickets are $45 plus fees, fan presale goes Thursday at 10AM and general onsale Friday, same time. His new record Ashes & Fire is out October 11; Exclaim takes a look back over his prolific career.

Video: Ryan Adams – “New York, New York”

Putting lie to my post in July when they announced it, The Radio Dept. have cancelled their entire Fall tour, which was to include a November 17 show at The Mod Club, “due to family related matters”. They hope to pick up again in 2012, perhaps even with some new material to share. Yeah, right.

Salon, Spinner, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, JAM, and aux.tv talk to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to Nels Cline and The Line Of Best Fit to Glenn Kotche. NYC Taper has a recording of their second of two Central Park shows available to download and CBC’s Q has a video studio session with the band.

Spinner talks to Ben Gibbard about the new Death Cab For Cutie video from Codes And Keys.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Stay Young Go Dancing”

Filter, The National Post and NOW have features on Girls.

Spinner talks to The Drums, in town on October 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM and a show at The Mod Club a little later that evening.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Strange Mercy

Want new records from St. Vincent, Beirut and The Jayhawks? Of course you do

Photo By Tina TyrellTina TyrellSummer’s only just arrived – climatologically speaking, at least, druidically speaking the solstice isn’t for another fortnight – but already the music industry has us looking towards Fall, at least as far as new albums are concerned. Which is fine, at least insofar as that’s typically the season for the year’s biggest releases and while “big” is a relative measure, details on a few records I’m looking forward to hearing have come to light over the last few days.

For starters, Annie Clark – aka St. Vincent – has wrapped up her third record, the follow-up to 2009’s Actor, and given it the title of Strange Mercy. At this point details are lean – Exclaim has recapped all the salient points from the press release – but it’s coming out on September 13. Mark it down.

Backing up a couple weeks to August 30 and giving some context to their two shows at The Phoenix on August 2 and 4 is the new album from Beirut. The Rip Tide will be the band’s first full-length release in four years, following The Flying Club Cup, and while you peruse the album details and track list at The Sentimentalist, you can hear the first single from the record at Soundcloud.

Jumping ahead again, we’ve got the first proper post-reunion album from The Jayhawks, which will be called Mockingbird Time and be out on September 20. Rolling Stone has the tracklisting and a video interview with the band wherein they talk about making the first new recordings with the present lineup in over 15 years.

Not quite of the same stature as the other announcements but still of interest to me, at least, is the fact that Bloomington, Indiana’s Early Day Miners have decided that acronyms are the way to go and have renamed themselves EDM. They will release their first album under that name come July 5 with Night People.

MP3: EDM – “StereoVideo”

And because new is not always better, it’s exciting to hear that the entire Archers Of Loaf catalog will be getting reissued courtesy of Merge, complete with bonus goodies, starting with Icky Mettle on August 2. Similar treatments for Vee Vee, All the Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes will follow in 2012, hopefully with more tour dates – none of the announced reunion shows so far come anywhere near the 416. But we do get a Crooked Fingers gig at the Horseshoe on July 3 and NPR is streaming their set at Sasquatch last weekend.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”

And some show news – Cults are clearly looking to maximize their NXNE experience, adding an in-store at Kops on Queen St for June 17 at 8PM to go with their midnight show at Lee’s Palace that same evening and their 6PM time slot at Yonge-Dundas Square the next day. Their self-titled debut is streaming in whole at Spinner and there’s interviews with the band at Exclaim, Spinner, Stereoboard and The Australian and oh, there’s a new video.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
Video: Cults – “Abducted”
Stream: Cults / Cults

Ours are apparently still around and have a show at Wrongbar on June 20, tickets $10 in advance.

Video: Ours – “Realize”

New Jersey’s Real Estate have a date at The Garrison for July 19, tickets $18.50. A follow-up to 2009’s self-titled debut should be due soon. Ish. Though it’s just been announced that said record will be out on Domino in October. So there’s that.

MP3: Real Estate – “Beach Comber”
MP3: Real Estate – “Green River”

DNTEL – aka Jimmy Tamborello, aka the half of The Postal Service who is not married to Zooey Deschanel – will be taking his show on the road in support of last year’s After Parties 1 and After Parties 2 EPs with a show at The Horseshoe on August 14, tickets $11.50.

MP3: DNTEL – “The Distance”
MP3: DNTEL – “Dumb Luck”

Kyuss Lives! – whom I’ve learned are not actually Kyuss, what with the absence of Josh Homme, but are close enough for Kyuss fans to get excited about – have a date at the Sound Academy on September 16, tickets $29.50 for general admission, $50.00 for balcony.

Video: Kyuss – “Demon Cleaner”

I thought I’d be waiting ages for Baltimore’s Lower Dens to come to town, and lo and behold – three shows in just over a month. In addition to their two NXNE appearances (The Garrison on June 15 at 10PM and Lee’s Palace on June 16 at 1AM), they’ll be here on July 23 at The Rivoli as support for Cass McCombs.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Hospice Gates”

Battles return to town on October 4 for a show at The Phoenix, tickets $18.50 in advance. Their new album Gloss Drop is streaming now at Spinner, who have also posted an Interface session with the band as well as an interview. Clash also has a feature piece.

Video: Battles – “Ice Cream”
Stream: Battles / Gloss Drop

Spin gets Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff and Steve Earle to play a couple of their own songs on camera. New York Magazine, City Pages and amNY also have features on Okkervil River, who are at The Phoenix on Friday night. Earle plays The Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.

Uprooted Music Revue and The Georgia Straight have features on Alela Diane, in town at The Rivoli on June 11.

Beatroute talks to Kristen Reynolds of Dum Dum Girls, who are at Lee’s Palace on June 17 for NXNE.

Esquire, The Vancouver Sun and The Wall Street Journal talk to My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James. My Morning Jacket are at The Kool Haus on July 11.

The Line Of Best Fit, Los Angeles Times, Contact Music and The Quietus get to know Erika Anderson, aka EMA. She’s at The Garrison on July 23.

Exclaim, The Daily Sundial, San Jose Mercury News and Filter have feature interviews with Death Cab For Cutie. They play The Molson Amphitheatre on July 29.

The New York Times profiles Bon Iver – the man, the band, the myth. The album of the same name is out on June 21 and they play The Sound Academy on August 8.

The Rosebuds, who open up that show and the whole tour for Bon Iver, are featured in pieces at Spin and Interview. Their new record Loud Planes Fly Low came out this week.

Matablog is offering the first listen to a song from Stephen Malkmus’ new album Mirror Traffic, set for an August 23 release.

MP3: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Senator”

Daytrotter serves up a session with J Mascis.

PopMatters talks to Sharon Van Etten.

Hitfix interviews Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan.

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats chats with Drop D and his band stopped in at The AV Club Undercover to turn in a Jawbreaker cover.

NPR has posted a World Cafe session with Warpaint.

The Star-Tribune talks to Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

The Quietus gets some time with The Kills’ Jamie Hince.

Friday, May 6th, 2011

These Days

Review of Sleepy Vikings’ They Will Find You Here

Photo By Kelley JacksonKelley JacksonHere’s a somewhat disturbing trend – bands of young’ns drawing influence from the music I grew up with, despite the fact that they probably weren’t even out of diapers when it was contemporary. Disturbing mainly in the fact that it implies I’ve crossed some sort of generational checkpoint and the cycle of influences is looping in on itself, as it does.

Case in point, Tampa sextet Sleepy Vikings, whose acquaintance I first made at NXNE last year. Despite making a non-stop 26-hour drive from there to here and playing their showcase half-dead as a result, they still impressed with their decidedly ’90s-vintage sound, all beautifully sullen jangle and fuzz. The only recordings they had to offer then were a three-song EP dubbed Ghost, but it certainly augured well for the future.

And the future is now – or more accurately, next Tuesday when their debut They Will Find You Here is released. It takes those three songs from Ghost – which remain the standout moments – and adds another half-dozen compositions that mostly reinforce what they’ve already proven excellent at. But what’s most remarkable about They Will Find You Here isn’t so much the music itself but the mood that it, as a whole, conjures. Led by singer Tessa McKenna’s subtle twang and Julian Conner’s rough harmonies, Sleepy Vikings evoke the sense of ennui and melancholy that’s one of the less-celebrated aspects of being young. They sound too resigned to be called angsty, even in their more fiery moments, but with that comes an honesty and vulnerability that would have been lost if delivered with more bluster.

I initially liked Sleepy Vikings because they sounded a lot like bands I used to – and still do – enjoy; now I like them because they remind me of things I used feel – though thankfully not nearly as much.

Orlando Weekly and therepubliq have band features.

MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Calm”
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Flashlight Tag”

am New York talks to Kip Berman of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, in town at The Opera House on August 2.

Spinner talks to Warpaint about the Interface session they’ve just posted.

The Kills’ Jamie Hince talks to Spinner and The Georgia Straight.

According to Pitchfork, Ted Leo will be recording a none-more-analog live set for Jack White’s Third Man Records next week, to be released on vinyl shortly thereafter.

Interview talks to The Antlers’ Peter Silberman about their new record Burst Apart, due out on Tuesday. They play The Mod Club on June 14.

Consequence Of Sound reports that the Soft Bulletin live shows that The Flaming Lips have been performing will produce a live album in the near future.

eye, The AV Club and Cleveland Scene interview Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal.

Simultaneously tending to both their their present and their past, R.E.M. has released another new video from Collapse Into Now while also revealing details of their next super-deluxe reissue set; next up is 1986’s Life’s Rich Pageant, which will be released in loaded-with-bonuses double-disc form on July 25. Interview has a talk with frontman Michael Stipe.

Video: R.E.M. – “Discoverer”

Fracture Compound interviews Superchunk.

It’s a J Mascis video bonanaza. In addition to a new official clip from Several Shades Of Why, there’s a set of in-studio performances over at Pitchfork.

Video: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Buffalo Tom’s recent visit to the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

In conversation with Hitfix, Zach Condon reveals that a new Beirut record should be out sometime this Summer. Presumably before they play two nights at The Phoenix, August 2 and 4.

Hitfix also gets the scoop on Matt Ward’s return to being M Ward – solo artist – rather than Him or a Monster.

Fleet Foxes have posted up another MP3 from the just-released Helplessness Blues. They’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean”

On May 31, My Morning Jacket will mark the release of Circuital that day with a live-to-YouTube concert at Louisville’s Palace Theater. The New York Times talks to filmmaker Todd Haynes, who will be directing the performance, as to what he’s got planned.

NOW finds out what’s going on in the world of Joe Pernice; home renovations, a new record due out this Fall, a possible/probable tour as Pernice Brothers and a solo show at the Dakota Tavern tonight.

Exclaim has details on the first new Richard Buckner record in five years; Our Blood will be out on August 2 and the first taste of what he’s been up to in that time is available to download.

MP3: Richard Buckner – “Traitor”

Old 97’s will follow up the release of last year’s The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1 with – wait for it – The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2 on July 5. Spinner talks to Rhett Miller about the record.

The Toronto Star, Houston Chronicle and The Daily Herald talk to Steve Earle. He’s at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Everything Works

Review of Miracle Fortress’ Was I The Wave?

Photo By Andre GueretteAndre GueretteI have a confession to make; I lied to you. Or more accurately, I misled you. When I wrote up Miracle Fortress’ performance at Canadian Musicfest last month, I made it out that I was as in the dark about what Graham Van Pelt had in store for album number two as most everyone else, and that my insights were based entirely on the show. This was not true. In fact, I’d gotten advanced a copy of Was I The Wave? a week or so earlier but had to keep mum about it as word of its existence was still under wraps. I was thankful for the heads up, though, because otherwise my writeup of the two-man, laser-lit rave-down may well have amounted to, “well that was different”.

After all, Miracle Fortress’ debut Five Roses was an unexpected ’60s-via-’00s classic pop jewel that came out of nowhere to end up on the 2007 Polaris Music Prize short list despite being released barely a week before the eligibility period ended. Pretty high expectations are sure to follow a debut like that, so maybe it’s no surprise that rather than rush into a follow-up, Van Pelt turned his attentions to his other band Think About Life and let ideas for Miracle Fortress percolate for a few years.

It’s not unreasonable to call Was I The Wave? a sequel to Five Roses if it’s meant in the sense of a a part two picking up not where the original left off, bu twenty years into the future. Which in this case would bring things smack dab into the ’80s, and indeed Wave is unabashed in planting its stylistic flag in that most distinctive-sounding of decades. A delicious New Wave-y, synth-pop iciness pervades much of the record, both in the writing and arrangements of the songs and the textures used to render them. Danceable yet not at all disco, at points it’s reminiscent of the period where Joy Division transitioned into New Order and at others, it reminds me how proud I am of the “Depeche Shop Boys” reference I made in the live review. It’s all a bit alien at first, but with enough familiar touchstones to allow you to keep up.

About midway through – actually, precisely with “Spectre” – said iciness begins to thaw and some of the Five Roses warmth begins to shine through. The melodies become more buoyant, less guarded, and the album’s tonal balance begins tilting towards the human. But it’s the record’s ability to balance the synthetic and the organic – its cyborg nature, if you will – that makes it so exceptional. By the end of its not-quite 40 minute running time, it’s taken you back to the same magical pop heights as Five Roses but taken a completely different route to get there. Turns out all you needed was to trust Van Pelt to guide you.

Was I The Wave? is out now in Canada and will be out May 17 in the US. Exclaim has made Miracle Fortress their cover story this month, and have more talk time with Van Pelt in another shorter piece. The Montreal Gazette also has a feature piece. Miracle Fortress’ extensive touring itinerary takes them across Canada in the company of Shad through May, and then come June it’s eastern North America with Junior Boys, a tour with starts June 9 in Toronto at The Phoenix.

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Pitchfork is streaming the first single from the Junior Boys’ new record It’s All True, due June 14.

The Quietus and Spinner talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose debut Feel It Break is out May 17. They play Lee’s Palace two nights later for a hometown record release show.

The Wild Honey Pie has a video session with Snowblink, who have a date at The Music Gallery on June 16 as part of NXNE.

Bruce Peninsula continues their Fire Sale campaign to the Fall release of Open Flames, this time with a Daytrotter session.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a complete Rural Alberta Advantage performance from The Phoenix (in Austin) from SXSW and has a video interview chaser for good measure. The band are at The Phoenix (in Toronto) this Friday night.

Consquence Of Sound is streaming the third advance single from Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life, out June 7.

The Waterloo Record and Spinner profile Malajube, who have an April 30 date at The Horseshoe.

The Coast, The Sheaf, Here and The Telegram talk to Dan Mangan, who should have a new record out before the year is out.

This month’s Exclaim timeline feature follows the long and storied career of Sloan, which will soon include the May 10 release of The Double Cross, a May 14 in-store at Sonic Boom and – just announced – an extensive North American tour that includes their first non-festival/event Toronto show in ages, a June 22 date at The Mod Club. Either they’re grossly underestimating their draw (or I’m overestimating) or they want to create some serious demand for tickets.

MP3: Sloan – “Follow The Leader”

Also just announced – Yuck will warm up for their show at The Phoenix on May 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. Admission free, canned food donations encouraged.

MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”

Dum Dum Girls’ NXNE itinerary has been sorted out somewhat and it looks like a double-header – their booking agency notes that they’ll be playing both The El Mocambo and Lee’s Palace on June 17.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”

Kurt Vile & The Violators return with Woods in tow for a show at Lee’s Palace on July 13.

MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Woods – “To Clean”

Their May 18 show at The Phoenix sold out pretty much immediately, Death Cab For Cutie have put together a Summer tour more in scale with their success – they’ll be at The Molson Amphitheatre on July 29 and accompanying them will be Frightened Rabbit. Death Cab’s new record Codes & Keys arrives May 31 and another song from it is streaming over at Soundcloud.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Okkervil River will be webcasting a live performance of their new record I Am Very Far via NPR tonight at 7PM ET. The record is out May 10 and they play The Phoenix on June 12.

R.E.M. has put out a new video from Collapse Into Now.

Video: R.E.M. – “Every Day Is Yours To Win”

The Fly welcomes J Mascis to their courtyard for an acoustic video session.

Exclaim has an interview feature with Fleet Foxes and Spin an in-studio video. Helplessness Blues is out May 3 and they’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

JAM talks to Jamie Hince of The Kills. They’re at The Sound Academy on May 1.