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Posts Tagged ‘Jenny & Johnny’

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Too Dramatic

Ra Ra Riot at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSyracuse’s Ra Ra Riot have found success largely by maintaining a delicate stylistic balancing act; one that relies on the sextet’s energy and musical dexterity to offset their more ostentatious proclivities. In particular, the tendency to allow the strengths that made them distinct – the vocal acrobatics of Wes Miles and string section of Alexandra Lawn and Rebecca Zeller – to run away with things. At their best, they were a dizzyingly nimble orchestral rock ensemble; at their worst, overly indulgent and precious. Their 2008 debut The Rhumb Line deftly walked this line and on the whole, came out on the winning side.

The just-released follow-up The Orchard doesn’t get to make the same claim. As sophomore efforts demand, the band’s sound has grown from the debut but it’s done so in the direction of giving Miles more room to stretch out, vocally, and the result is a general sense of oversinging. Similarly, it sounds as though the faders on the strings have been pushed up sufficiently that rather than dance in and out of the mix equally with the other instruments, they seem to be overtop of things more often than not. Neither are major, game-changing shifts but as stated, it was a fragile state of equilibrium and one easily upset. It’s by no means a catastrophe, though – still intact is their collective musical chemistry and sense of melody and songcraft and underneath the slightly overcooked presentation are still some instantly catchy tunes. The Orchard‘s best moments are the uptempo ones that sound like they could have come straight off The Rhumb Line, which I prefer to interpret not as that they’ve already peaked creatively but instead have a strong foundation from which to grow in the right direction come record number three.

They’ve still got it just right on the stage, however, as Monday night’s free show at the Mod Club attested. Offered as a gift to fans who didn’t want to see them turn in a brief opening set at the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday night, they delivered a full and proper show that served to remind that they’re an exceptional live act. Delivered with unrelenting energy and a punchiness that’s not really captured on record, nary a member of the band stopped moving for the better part of an hour, seemingly enthralled and compelled to dance by their music. That probably sounds more flowery than its intended, but it when the band is completely caught up in the sounds they’re making, it really sets the tone for the show and there was plenty of bopping up and down in the audience as well. The set list wisely stuck to the most up tempo songs in their repertoire and really showcased the talents of bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci and drummer Gabriel Duquette. Though Miles, Lawn and Zeller understandably get the most attention, its those three who really lay down the rhythmic and melodic backbone of the band. But it’s the six of them operating as a single musical entity that impresses most with Ra Ra Riot and no reservations about their recorded work can diminish that.

There’s a decent recording of the show up at Hater High and according to the band, we can expect another local date some time in December. Seattle Weekly interviews guitarist Milo Bonacci.

Photos: Ra Ra Riot @ The Mod Club – August 30, 2010
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year” (EP version)
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Can You Tell?”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Ghost Under Rocks”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MySpace: Ra Ra Riot

Magnet interviews Versus in anticipation of the band taking over the editorial reins of the website this week.

Arcade Fire continue to be disinterested in making conventional music videos, and the world is a better place for it. The clip ostensibly for “We Used To Wait” can be found at The Wilderness Downtown and uses a fascinating mash-up of HTML 5 and Google Earth to take you back to the neighbourhood you grew up in. My own personal experience was surprisingly powerful, but even if yours isn’t as much so, it’s still pretty cool. There’s some background about the technologies at play over at Chrome Experiments. Oh yeah, you’ll need the Google Chrome browser for it to work properly. It’s a good browser. Worth the download.

Video: Arcade Fire – “We Used To Wait”

Interpol are also getting into the neat video racket with a POV multi-camera session over at PitchforkTV. Their self-titled album is out next week.

Also out next week is The Thermals’ new record Personal Life, which is currently streaming in whole at NPR. They’re at Lee’s Palace October 9.

Stream: The Thermals / Personal Life

Film School’s new album Fission is available to stream over at Spinner, as is Jenny & Johnny’s debut I’m Having Fun Now; both are out this week. Film School are at the El Mocambo on October 4 and Jenny & Johnny open up for Band Of Horses at the Kool Haus on October 21.

Stream: Film School / Fission
Stream: Jenny & Johnny / I’m Having Fun Now

Stereogum has premiered the new video from The Drums’ self-titled debut, which is either out now if like vinyl or on September 14 if you like CD. They’re at the Mod Club on October 21.

Video: The Drums – “Down By The Water”

Cleveland Scene talks to Doug Martsch of Built To Spill.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Lights

Interpol at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEvery relationship waxes and wanes over time, and mine with Interpol is no different. Like many/most, I fell for the blend of post-punk and atmospheric rock on their debut Turn On The Bright Lights, an infatuation cemented by a stellar show at the Horseshoe way back in September 2002. The bloom started coming off the rose not long after, though, with a lacklustre show at the Kool Haus a year later where they were clearly exhausted from touring the world and should probably have just gone home and gotten a good night’s sleep rather than book one more North American leg.

When their second album Antics arrived in 2004, surrounded by a sea of sonic imitators, my attention was already wandering and by the time their major label debut Our Love To Admire came out in 2007, I was detached enough to be able to regard it objectively and heard a band struggling with how to grow artistically without losing their distinctive sound and ending up compromising on both fronts. Their V Fest 2007 appearance, however, was still pretty solid and reminded me of why I liked them in the first place.

Fast-forward to 2010, specifically Tuesday night at the Kool Haus in Toronto. Circumstances beyond their control – namely their leaving Capitol after one album and the departure of founding bassist Carlos Dengler – have forced Interpol out of their comfort zone and though three years isn’t that long a time, the musical landscape has changed enough that they may be finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of being underdogs. And though these dates in advance of the September 7 release of their self-titled fourth album were ostensibly to make up for their support slots on the cancelled U2 Summer tour, also on the agenda was retrenching and seeking to remind fans why Interpol were the soundtrack to their early-mid ’00s.

Striding on stage besuited and dapper as ever, the five-piece touring ensemble started things off with the new and hopefully prescient “Success”, the pulsing opener to Interpol. It’s interesting that after getting progressively cleaner-sounding with each album, the new record dives back into the sonic muck, relatively speaking, thanks to post-production work from uber-shoegaze producer Alan Moulder, and while it still doesn’t reach the heights of their debut, it does possess a pleasing denseness and sophistication that hits the balance that they were striving for on Love. It would be only one of four new songs previewed, though, as the bulk of the set stuck to their first two records and thereby ensured the just-about sold-out house would remain largely enraptured for 90 minutes or so and lose their shit more than a few times for numbers – classics? – like “PDA”, “NYC” and “Slow Hands”.

In the past, it was Dengler – all low-slung bass, questionable moustache and irresistible aloofness – who acted as the visual focus for the band but with him gone and touring players Dave Pajo and Brandon Curtis off to the side tending to their bass and keyboard duties respectively, it left guitarists Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler to provide the band’s stage presence. Kessler obliged, barely standing still throughout the show in favour of dancing/lurching around the stage and Banks, never the most magnetic frontman, was somehow more charismatic and animated than in the past. Even with the new players, Interpol were superbly tight throughout, performing with a nimbleness and weight that you can’t take for granted. That cohesion has always their greatest strength, moreso than any showmanship, so it was a relief to see that that survived the lineup changes.

It can be argued that Interpol sound and style are so tightly tied to a time and place that it would be hard if not impossible for them to ever regain that level of relevance. But it’s also true that while all the imitators that followed in their wake have largely disappeared, the original article has persisted and stayed true to themselves well past fashionable, and it still resonates. Either way, it feels good to have Interpol back.

eye, The Chicago Sun-Times and Charleston City Paper talk to Fogarino and aux.tv with Paul Banks about life in Interpol post-Dengler. Exclaim, Chart and Music Vice have reviews of the show.

Photos: Interpol @ The Kool Haus – August 10, 2010
MP3: Interpol – “Lights”
MP3: Interpol – “NYC”
MP3: Interpol – “PDA”
Video: Interpol – “Lights”
Video: Interpol – “The Heinrich Maneuver”
Video: Interpol – “No I In Threesome”
Video: Interpol – “Mammoth”
Video: Interpol – “C’Mere”
Video: Interpol – “Evil”
Video: Interpol – “Slow Hands”
Video: Interpol – “PDA”
Video: Interpol – “Obstacle 1”
Video: Interpol – “NYC”
MySpace: Interpol

Belle & Sebastian have released some of the salient details about their next album – it will be called Write About Love, look like this and be out on some yet to be announced date this Fall – probably sometime around their October tour dates that include Massey Hall on the 12th of the month.

Pitchfork talks to Isobel Campbell about her new album with Mark Lanegan Hawk, out August 24, cancelled shows and the state of her relationship with her old band. She and Lanegan are at Lee’s Palace on October 20.

The Vaselines have released a video for the title track from Sex With An X. The record is out September 14 and they play The Horseshoe on October 30.

Video: The Vaselines – “Sex With An X”

The triple-bill of Dawes, Peter Wolf Crier and Vetiver will be at the Horseshoe on November 8. For Peter Wolf Crier, it’ll be their second time in town in just over a month and a half as they’re also part of a bill with Rogue Wave and Midlake at the Opera House on September 24. There’s a concert video with them available over at Baeble Music.

MP3: Dawes – “Love Is All I Am”
MP3: Peter Wolf Crier – “Hard As Nails”
MP3: Vetiver – “Strictly Rule”

Support for Band Of Horses’ October 21 show at the Kool Haus has been announced as Jenny & Johnny (as in Lewis and Rice) and The Besnard Lakes.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

NOW features Forest City Lovers, playing a record release show for Carriage at the Great Hall tonight.

Exclaim reports that after celebrating their 10-year anniversary earlier this year, Constantines have gone on indefinite hiatus.