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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus & Mary Chain’

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day Two

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kathleen Edwards, Garbage, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy writeup of day one of Osheaga mentioned a few times how hot it was, but it bears repeating: it was hot. 40 Celsius with the humidity – that’s 104 Fahrenheit, my American friends – and not even much relief in the shade. Why is Friday’s heat relevant to Saturday’s recap? Because Saturday felt even hotter. And why is the heat relevant? I guess it’s not, really, but even days on I still feel like complaining about it. It was damn hot. But even though any rational person would have opted to stay indoors and air conditioned, tens of thousands still headed back onto Parc Jean-Drapeau in the middle of the St. Lawrence River for another day of music. In the heat.

And the earliest or most masochistic of those – your call – were there in time to see The Dø, arguably the best French/Finnish band going, do their thing to kick off the day. Having seen them on their previous to last visit to Toronto in Fall 2010 – their most recent visit being the night before – I remembered that their live experience was a much less eclectic one than you got from their records, focused more on their pop side. But there’s only so much smoothing out you can do for an outfit as artistically restless as they and throughout their set, their odder/proggier tendencies would manifest themselves in outros, jams, what have you. Singer Olivia Merilahti’s charisma works better as slinky than sweaty, but you take what you can get.

Photos: The Dø @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”
Video: The Dø – “Gonna Be Sick”
Video: The Dø – “Too Insistent”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “Playground Hustle”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”

Immediately following on the Mountain stage and way at the opposite end of eccentric was Canada’s sweetheart 2012, Kathleen Edwards, with the first set of the weekend that came with a simple, “yeah it’s hot so why not lay back and soak it in” vibe. Indeed, looked at it from a different perspective, it was rather the perfect place for Edwards’ earnest and genial sort of roots-rock, bolstered by the fact that she’s pretty hellaciously funny – case in point, her comment to the stage hand turning the fire hose onto the audience: “hey, hose guy you and me have a date in 20 minutes”. I don’t see her live enough to not need to be reminded of this, but I did have enough of a reference point to notice that Edwards seemed happier and more content up there than I’d ever seen her, particularly in her older material which was represented by the singles though she did turn to her breakout Voyageur for some deep cuts. I don’t usually expect happiness to translate into great art, but Edwards wears and uses it well.

Huffington Post Music has a feature piece on Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Asking For Flowers”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”

Following Edwards – though with enough of a break between to allow a water run – was Calexico, who thanks to their Arizona roots probably didn’t even notice the heat, and if they had something to say about the humidity, they politely refrained from doing so. And indeed, if any artist on the lineup made music that sounded beaten down and bleached by the sun, it was Calexico. The usually workaholic band had been relatively quiet since 2008’s Carried To Dust, focusing on some archival reissues before getting around to making a new record in Algiers, due out September 11. But their set didn’t worry too much about proving they’d been making new music – opening with “Crystal Frontier” circa 2001’s Even My Sure Things Fall Through, they were much more about creating a deliciously parched, mariachi-tinged atmosphere and maybe getting people thinking, “hey, this heat thing isn’t so bad”. Methinks they succeeded.

Photos: Calxico @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
MP3: Calexico – “History Of Lovers”
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Black Heart”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “Ballad Of Cable Hogue”
MP3: Calexico – “Service And Repair”
MP3: Calexico – “Frontera”
MP3: Calexico – “Spokes”
Video: Calexico – “Para”
Video: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”

Considering they were a local band whose last album Shapeshifter had been a real breakout record – it certainly got me onside after years of indifference – I was a little surprised that Young Galaxy had drawn a mid-day time slot on the festival’s smallest stage. But considering they’d spent much of 2012 writing and recording the follow-up to said record in Sweden – though their Rockethub campaign didn’t reach its target, they made it over anyways? – perhaps they wanted to ease back into the live thing. In any case, they weren’t helped out by the fact that the technical difficulties that plagued the acts I saw on the Forest stage on Friday persisted, the overall mix rather shoddy, or the fact that Young Galaxy have never been the best live act, but the vibrancy of the Shapeshifter material still came through. Interestingly, their live sound seemed more built on conventional instruments and less reliant on electronics than I remembered; it remains to be seen if this was just happenstance for this performance or if it marks another change in direction… the one new song they offered up didn’t stray far from the Shapeshifter formula but I wouldn’t assume what was heard onstage necessarily resembles that which came out of Dan Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio. I look forward to hearing it.

Daytrotter recently posted up a session with the band.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Scène des arbes – August 4, 2012
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Phantoms”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”

Back at the mainstage, it was soon time for Garbage. As much as I hate people who equate bands falling off their own radar with having ceased to exist at all, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten they’d released two albums this century; I thought this year’s Not Your Kind Of People had been their first record in much more than seven years. I wasn’t even really a fan back in the ’90s and had not paid any attention to the Toronto stop of their tour earlier this year, but festival math is different and in this setting, Garbage were a must-see for me if for no other reason than I never had before and I’d surely know a lot of the songs. After all, they weren’t a cult band by any measure, but genuinely successful across their first two albums and ubiquitous across radio and television. Not that any of that necessarily meant anything to much of the Osheaga demographic, who were probably in primary school when Garbage were at their apex, but I digress.

Boasting surely the most spartan stage setup of anyone at the festival – there was almost no gear onstage – they turned in a thoroughly polished performance befitting the 3/4 of the band who’re studio perfectionists and with frontwoman Shirley Manson responsible for providing any and all rawness, which she did with aplomb. Looking as fierce and confrontational as ever – and probably thankful they had an early evening timeslot for even SPF10000 sunblock couldn’t have prevented her paleness from spontaneously combusting at high noon – Manson prowled and strutted around the stage like she owned it; time hasn’t diminished her charisma, that’s for certain. Their tunes have also aged surprisingly well; though their electro-grunge pop sound is inseparable from its era, the hooks and melodies are forever. And I appreciated their seeing the Pretenders’ “Talk Of The Town” quote in the outro of “Special” – probably my all-time favourite Garbage moment alongside the hard-panned guitars on “Vow” – and raising it an extra few lines from “I Go To Sleep”. A nice moment in one of my unexpectedly favourite sets of the weekend.

The Montreal Gazette and Huffington Post have interviews with Shirley Manson and Rolling Stone analyzes her distinctive fashion sense over the years.

Photos: Garbage @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
Video: Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
Video: Garbage – “Tell Me Where It Hurts”
Video: Garbage – “Run Baby Run”
Video: Garbage – “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
Video: Garbage – “Bleed Like Me”
Video: Garbage – “Why Do You Love Me”
Video: Garbage – “Shut Your Mouth”
Video: Garbage – “Breaking Up The Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Cherry Lips”
Video: Garbage – “Androgyny”
Video: Garbage – “You Look So Fine”
Video: Garbage – “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
Video: Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Garbage – “Special”
Video: Garbage – “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Video: Garbage – “Push It”
Video: Garbage – “Milk”
Video: Garbage – “Stupid Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Video: Garbage – “Queer”
Video: Garbage – “Vow”

En route from the mainstages to the far end of the festival grounds, I made my first and only stop at Osheaga’s electronic stage in order to see Sweden’s Little Dragon. I was there well in time but the band were extra-late in getting set up and underway, thus limiting my time to get acquainted with them. I hadn’t really heard much from them before, but an elevator pitch of three Swedes fronted by a little Japanese girl while cranking out beat-heavy electro-soul was enough to get me interested. For the few songs I was able to stick around and with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano was all over the stage, dancing and going to town on her tambourine, they certainly delivered what I’d hoped for and did with a good deal more energy and ferocity than I expected. As I said, I’d have liked to stay and watch more, but I had a long-standing appointment to keep.

Fuse and Rolling Stone have feature pieces on Little Dragon.

Photos: Little Dragon @ Scène Piknick Électronik – August 4, 2012
Video: Little Dragon – “Crystalfilm”
Video: Little Dragon – “Brush The Heat”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”
Video: Little Dragon – “Fortune”
Video: Little Dragon – “My Step”
Video: Little Dragon – “Never Never”
Video: Little Dragon – “After The Rain”
Video: Little Dragon – “Twice”
Video: Little Dragon – “Constant Surprises”

An appointment that dated back to March, when I got to within ten people or so of seeing The Jesus & Mary Chain in Austin at SXSW, but no closer. This was before they made it clear that they’d be on the road for much of 2012, mind, so being shut out and listening to them from the street felt extra painful at the time; needless to say, missing them again was simply not in the cards. Though if I had any fears about the Green stage being jammed before I got there, they were unfounded – the band may have been legends to many, but there weren’t more than a few hundred people gathered to see them close out the night, most of a certain generation and more than a few with kids in tow. No doubt a club show, as they’d sold out in Toronto the night before, would have better suited but this was what it was, and what it was was pretty great.

If you were to drop someone from the ’80s in front of the stage, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea who they were looking at – William Reid may have looked similar to how he did back then, albeit heavier-set, but Jim Reid’s wild shock of hair has long been traded for a rather office-looking cut and it’s hard to imagine the younger him wearing a red Flying Burrito Brothers t-shirt onstage as he did. The time-traveler might also ask why Phil King of Lush was there on bass. And just as they didn’t look like they once did, they didn’t entirely sound like they did either – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While still exceptionally loud, the white noise screech that was their signature circa Psychocandy was localized mainly to Reid’s guitar as opposed to across the entire sonic spectrum and the melodic pop polish that they’d achieved by the end of their recording career (1999’s Munki) was applied to all of their career-spanning set. And while the younger Reid may have looked rather more proper than he once did, his voice still had that Glaswegian sneer and the misanthropic spirit of his lyrics remained – it’s hard to sugarcoat a song like “Reverence”, after all.

We didn’t get to hear Jim Reid berate his brother for messing up at all as I’ve heard he’s done at other shows – some things never change – but he did apologize to the audience for forgetting the words to “Happy When It Rains” and forcing a start-over (the second time that day I’d heard a Scottish person sing about how they enjoy the rain, coincidentally). And while I’m sure they intended having Mad Men actress and Montréal native Jessica Paré come out to sing backups on “Just Like Honey” and cover Hope Sandoval’s parts on “Sometimes Always” as a surprise, the fact that she’d done the same at the previous Buffalo and Toronto shows kind of took some of the wow factor out of it. Unsurprisingly, that’s what most of the reviews of the show focused on but the real important take-away was that even if they never make a new record – and maybe we don’t even want one – The Jesus & Mary Chain still sound amazing and still don’t give a fuck. All hail.

Photos: The Jesus & Mary Chain @ Scène verte – August 4, 2012
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Love Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Cracking Up”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Sometimes Always”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Almost Gold”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Something I Can Have”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Far Gone And Out”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Teenage Lust”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Reverence”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Blues From A Gun”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Darklands”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “April Skies”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”

Some other things that you may want to know about… Cat Power has announced the North American tour dates in support of Sun, out September 4. She’ll be at The Kool Haus on October 20, tickets $34.50 in advance, and a second track from the new record is now available to download.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

Bob Mould is streaming the first single from his new one The Silver Age, out September 4. It sounds like going through those Sugar reissues reinspired him in the very best way, and if you’re unfamiliar with Mould’s extensive body of song but want to start investigating, The AV Club has a helpful beginner’s guide.

Stream: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Rolling Stone has some details on the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Document, due out on September 25.

Paste, LA Weekly, and The Village Voice talk to Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross, who’ve just released a new video and download from their excellent new record Researching The Blues.

MP3: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
Video: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”

Circuital may be over a year old, but that doesn’t mean that My Morning Jacket can’t release a new animated, Galifianakis-powered video from it to coincide with their tour which brings them to Echo Beach next Wednesday, August 15.

Video: My Morning Jacket – “Outta My System”

Lower Dens also have a new video from Nootropics. There’s also interviews at DCist and The Village Voice.

Video: Lower Dens – “Candy”

Tom Waits had everyone convinced last week that he’d be announcing his first tour in forever this week. He didn’t, he just released a new video from Bad Like Me. Never before has such a cool video been met with so much disappointment.

Video: Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”

Rolling Stone talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats about their new record Transcendental Youth. It’s out October 2 and brings them to The Phoenix on October 20.

Britt Daniel chats with Exclaim about his new band Divine Fits, his old band Spoon, and about his other new band, Spl:t S:ngle. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 and they’re at Lee’s Palace September 5.

Fang Island gives aux.tv a track-by-track walkthrough of their latest Major.

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

"Some Candy Talking"

Richard Hawley covers The Jesus & Mary Chain

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’d actually decided on this song for this week’s selection a while ago – the fact that Richard Hawley’s new album Standing At The Sky’s Edge was coming out in the UK this week was more than enough excuse to dig out this track.

It dates back to 2006 when it appeared both as a b-side to the 7″ of “Hotel Room” taken from Cole’s Corner and as part of Q‘s Covered: Best of 86/06 CD compilation, which got artists doing stuff that year to reinterpret artists who were doing stuff two decades earlier and in this case, it meant The Jesus & Mary Chain – Hawley tackled the title track of the Some Candy Talking EP which came out in the Summer of 1986, not long after their 1985 debut Psychocandy.

The point being that it was on deck before the JAMC announced their first Toronto show in some fifteen years last week, making a date to play The Phoenix on August 3. But hey, double context – I’ll take it.

MP3: Richard Hawley – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Two Halves

My Morning Jacket and Band Of Horses team up for tour, beard-growing competition

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s been a long time since you could accurately describe My Morning Jacket as a southern rock kind of band – yes they’re southern and they rock, but they’ve long since chased their country/psych/soul-inspired muses into uncharted corners of the musical cosmos and are really rather their own genre entirely now. Similarly, it’s been a long time since you could call Band Of Horses “My Morning Jacket, Jr” as they were often referred – equally affectionately and derisively, I think – on account of Ben Bridwell’s own southern accents, sky-reaching field holler of a voice, and impressive hirsuteness. They’ve not reinvented themselves to quite the same degree but three albums in, they’re very much their own band now and follow in no one’s footsteps.

All that said, there’s plenty of natural synchronicity between the two acts so even though neither will have a new record to push – MMJ’s last release was 2011’s Circuital and BOH’s follow-up to 2010’s Infinite Arms isn’t due out until the Fall at earliest – it’s nice to see that they’re teaming up for a string of Summer dates that will see Band Of Horses set ’em up and My Morning Jacket knock ’em down, all while bringing smiles to the faces of those who dig on big guitar jams, soaring vocals, and luxurious facial hair. Toronto gets the double-bill on August 15 when they play Echo Beach at Ontario Place, tickets $49.50 in advance and going on sale Friday at 10AM – that’ll be just over a year since My Morning Jacket’s last visit in July 2011 and some time since Band Of Horses last headlined here in October 2010 (I wasn’t there but hit their free surprise show at The Horseshoe in May).

This isn’t the first time that My Morning Jacket and Band Of Horses teamed up; they were out on the road for a spell last Fall, and a recording from that tour – with Ben Bridwell guesting with My Morning Jacket at Madison Square Garden in New York – has been released to offer a taste of what this new tour will have to offer.

MP3: My Morning Jacket with Ben Bridwell – “Wondeful (The Way I Feel)” (live at MSG)
MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal”
MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Circuital”
MP3: Band Of Horses – “Factory”
MP3: Band Of Horses – “No One’s Gonna Love You”

Plenty more concert news from yesterday to get through. Those hoping to see Japandroids destroy a sold-out Horseshoe on June 23 in honour of their new record Celebration Rock should know that it has been moved to Lee’s Palace with that many more tickets available for sale. And speaking of moving, the release date of Celebration Rock has been moved from June 5 to May 29. And the first single is available to download.

MP3: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

Matador-signed Austin-based young punks The Young have set a date at The Shop Under Parts & Labour for July 4; their new record Dub Egg is out June 12.

MP3: The Young – “Livin’ Free”

If you can’t fit New York-based, every corner of the world-bred Young Magic into your NXNE schedule – they’re at Wrongbar on June 14 – know that they’ll be back much sooner rather than later in support of Melt with a date at The Garrison on July 5 with Boston’s Quilt. Tickets for that will be $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Young Magic – “Night In The Ocean”
MP3: Quilt – “Penobska-Oakwalk”

When Loney Dear brought Hall Music to the Drake Underground last November, it was just Emil Svanängen performing solo and while I was a bit wary of whether he could do it justice on his own, he succeeded in putting on one of my favourite shows of last year to go with one of my favourite albums of last year. I’ve no idea if he’ll be bringing a band with him on July 8 when he plays The Horseshoe – tickets $15 in advance – but you’re damn right I’ll be there to find out. Already one of my most-anticipated shows of the Summer and folks – it’s not a lean Summer for shows.

MP3: Loney Dear – “My Heart”
MP3: Loney Dear – “What Have I Become?”

Lower Dens will be at Lee’s Palace on July 17 in support of their new record Nootropics, out today. To mark the occasion, they’ve released a new video and another new MP3 to download.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Lamb”
Video: Lower Dens – “Propagation”

It took longer than I expected but The Big Pink have finally made a local date in support of this year’s Future This; they and their smoke machines will be at The Hoxton on August 1, tickets $18 in advance.

MP3: The Big Pink – “Stay Gold”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Give It Up”

Last week’s Jesus & Mary Chain rumours are now fact. The Reid brothers will be at The Phoenix on August 3 and the $59.50 tickets go on sale Thursday at 10AM. Of course it’s not cheap – you think they’re doing this for love?

Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”

Technically, Steve Earle has been through town already in support of last year’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, but that was at the Molson Amphitheatre opening for Blue Rodeo. August 14 sees him coming back with The Dukes for his own show at Massey Hall; tickets are $49.50 and go on sale Friday at 10AM.

Video: Steve Earle – “Waitin’ On The Sky”

The Swedish sisters of First Aid Kit will ride the success of their sophomore effort The Lion’s Roar through a Fall North American tour that brings them back to town for a September 26 show at The Danforth Music Hall. Which they prefer you now just call The Music Hall but I do what I want.

Video: First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Upside Down

The Jesus & Mary Chain’s randomly-routed reunion tour finally hits Canada. Probably.

Photo via BPMBeats Per MinuteMost tours follow some sort of logical routing anchored around major markets, festivals, what have you. Reunion tours are usually even moreso, what with their main motivation – or at least one of them – being to maximize revenue rather than build audiences (unless of course you’re the Pixies, in which case your motivation is to play ever single market ever). So it’s been equally frustrating and exciting to try and figure out what The Jesus & Mary Chain would do next. After calling it a day following 1998’s Munki, they reconvened in 2007 to play Coachella and followed that up with a number of one-off and festival dates in the US, Europe, Australia, South America through 2008 – though never anything that could be construed as a proper tour – and then went silent again. Given the Reid brothers’ famously combative nature, it wasn’t unreasonable to think they’d broken up again but there was always just enough activity from the JAMC camp – word of new recordings, an interview with one of the Reids, a massive reissue series – to keep them in the “active” file.

Then as of this Spring, they were back at it. A date at SXSW was accompanied by a handful of Texas dates, but visa problems forced a couple to be canceled and a New Orleans show was rescheduled for September. And then they were playing a festival in Beijing in May. Then a run in California and Nevada in June, and another festival in North Carolina in September. It’s like their booking agent was throwing darts at a map of the world or the band was collecting frequent flier miles. And yesterday morning, another set of dates came up on their website that placed them riding the 401 this Summer, with an August 2 date in Buffalo, August 3 at The Phoenix in Toronto and an August 4 date at Osheaga in Montreal as well as more North American dates through September. Now the dates were pulled shortly thereafter (though saved on their message board) but seemed legit enough to believe that their official-ness is just a matter of timing; Osheaga confirmed their appearance this morning. I expect the Toronto PR – and ticket info – shortly.

In any case, reports from the SXSW show were that they sounded good and still appeared to hate each other; I can at least testify to the former from where I was listening out on the street. And things I did not know about the reunited JAMC – Ride’s Loz Colbert was their drummer in 2007 and 2008 (though he’s gone now) and Lush’s Phil King is their bassist. How about that?

Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock & Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”

Speaking of vague reunions, it figures that as soon as I build a post around the conceit that Blur are done, Damon Albarn goes off and gives an interview to Metro in which he basically says, “but maybe not”. THANKS DAMON.

Riot Of Perfume talks to Electrelane, who’ve been off hiatus since last year but not doing a lot with it until some gigs in Australia this Spring.

Spin gets a look in the M83 man-cave. They’re at The Sound Academy on May 6 and Fort York on August 4.

The Cribs discuss their new record In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull with NME; it’s out May 15.

The 405 has a video session with Amanda Mair, whose self-titled debut gets a North American release on June 5.

Spinner talks to Michael Kiwanuka, in town at The Great Hall on June 19.

Yeah they’ve been away a while – I think their last visit was like four years ago – but The Hives have a new record in Lex Hives, out June 5, and a new North American tour that brings them to The Sound Academy on June 26, tickets $28.50. And as Spin documents, they also have some new sombreros.

Video: The Hives – “Hate To Say I Told You So”

Having both sold out shows here in February in support of their new albums – Sharon Van Etten at Lee’s Palace for Tramp and Tennis at The Horseshoe for Young & Old – the two acts will see if they can’t do the same at The Phoenix on July 31, tickets $18.50.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
MP3: Tennis – “Civic Halo”

Dry The River are the subject of interviews with eMusic and Spin.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Big Deal.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Everybody's On The Run

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo here we are, with both post-Oasis projects with their debuts officially out in the wild – the Liam-led Beady Eye having released Different Gear, Still Speeding back in March and Noel Gallagher’s Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds out this week. Given the not-so-greatness of Liam’s Oasis output, the bar for the former was set fairly low and Different Gear‘s meat-and-potatoes Brit-rock had no problem clearing it, with “not bad” counting as a big win. Noel, on the other hand, had considerably more to live up to what with not only having penned some of the most memorable British rock anthems of his generation, but having been the one pulled the pin on the grenade that finally, inevitably, killed Oasis. Though looking at it from another perspective, Beady Eye had everything to prove while Noel could point as his songbook and say, “what the fook have YOU done?”.

The best and the worst thing you can say about High Flying Birds is that it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Noel Gallagher solo record, with his respective weaknesses and strengths on full display. Amongst the former are his penchant for cribbing lyrics and melodies from others wholesale, and may of the words that are his are vague and nonsensical, though at least they rhyme. However just as he did in Oasis, he’s able to marry them with an unimpeachable gift for melody, a delivery that makes them sound profound and a flair for dressing them up in big arrangements that aren’t too overcooked (obviously this took some time to learn). It can be frustrating to sing along with words that make no sense, but sing along you will.

That said, for all the familiar motions, Birds feels distinct from an Oasis record for reasons beyond the absence of Liam’s rock’n’roll sneer. Perhaps in being freed from the inherent compromises of a band and being able to take full creative control, Gallagher has been able to fully assume the role of composer rather than just songwriter and consequently, Birds feels more meticulous in its execution than any Oasis record I can recall. Some might bemoan its mid-temponess or dearth of guitar heroics, but let’s be fair – he’s made those records already. High Flying Birds doesn’t necessarily revitalize or recontextualize what Noel Gallagher is about – not even remotely, if we’re being honest – but it is well-crafted, tuneful and likeable. Well I like it, anyways, and that’s why despite not getting accredited to cover the show in an official capacity, I headed down to Massey Hall about 20 minutes before showtime and patronized my first ever scalper. Less than half face value? Sure.

Though not sold out – two nights at Massey is a tall order for many acts, even one who sold out arenas with his old band – the hall was nearly full and crackling with the energy of fans who’d not seen the elder Gallagher since that fateful Virgin Festival 2008 appearance where he was assaulted onstage, if not earlier. The vibe was not unlike that at The Sound Academy in June when Liam led Beady Eye into town for their first visit, though feeling a bit older and with fewer (no) Union Jack flags hanging from the balconies.

Unlike Beady Eye, however, Noel had already said that the Oasis songbook was very much fair game for his solo shows and to prove it, the show opened with “(It’s Good) To Be Free”, a 17-year old b-side from a non-album single. Not just the hits, then. Oasis material would actually comprise almost half the 90-minute set, spanning the breadth of their catalog but with no small amount of revisionist history applied – “Wonderwall” got the Ryan Adams treatment, “Supersonic” was stripped down to acoustic guitar and piano (and would be a post-show point of contention for being a Liam song) and “Talk Tonight” given the full band treatment. It was as though Gallagher was more than willing to indulge his fans’ desire to hear the old material, but wasn’t going to make head-to-head comparisons of Oasis and his High Flying Birds easy.

As for the new material, not only was the album played in its entirety, but a b-side and new song thrown in for good measure. All of it was played pretty much verbatim from the album arrangements and in workmanlike fashion from Gallagher and his five-piece band – the crowd was enthused but Gallagher didn’t seem particularly interested in stoking the fires, just in doing his thing. It would have been unreasonable to expect him to discover some heretofore unknown wellspring on on-stage charisma upon assuming the role of frontman, but at least Gallagher seemed chipper in bantering with the crowd.

Early on, he told an audience member who’d not heard the new record that, “it’s going to be a long fucking night for you then” and later, when the inevitable topic of his younger brother came up (he has a home in Toronto), he responded to someone calling out that they’d seen Liam around town buying shoes, “were they high heels?”. Noel has a well-earned reputation for shooting his mouth off about anything and everything, but he’s got a sense of humour. The encore was a triple-bill of Oasis numbers – “Little By Little” from Heathen Chemistry, “The Importance Of Being Idle” from Don’t Believe The Truth and, finally, predictably and thrillingly, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. That finale was spared any rejigging and performed as it always has – how else do you lead the singalong? And sing along everyone did.

So with all the evidence gathered – live and on record – how do the two post-Oasis projects measure up? Both have turned in decent efforts without offering anything new, but neither is a patch on Oasis in their prime – but to be fair, most of Oasis’ career isn’t a patch on Oasis in their prime either. With Beady Eye, Liam seems to want to recreate the rock’n’roll heyday of Oasis without invoking Oasis, whereas Noel is content to acknowledge his legacy without resting on it. I’d go so far as to say if you took both their records and combined the best moments into one, you’d have the best Oasis record in some years. To be at their best, as both brothers once sang, they need each other. Maybe someday they’ll once again believe in one another.

The Toronto Sun, Exclaim, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, NOW, Spinner and National Post also have reviews of the show and Los Angeles Times and National Post also have feature interviews.

Photos: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ Massey Hall – November 7, 2011
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “AKA… What A Life”
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “If I Had A Gun”
Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “The Death Of You & Me”

In talking to NME, Damon Albarn reveals that Blur have been recording and discussions about more touring in 2012 have taken place. None of which is a commitment to anything, but it is something.

BBC chats with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner.

Band Of Skulls have set a date at The Phoenix for March 30 of next year in support of their new album Sweet Sour, out February 21. Tickets are $17.50 in advance. Exclaim has details and dates and there’s a video for the first single from the album.

Video: Band Of Skulls – “The Devil Takes Care Of His Own”

DIY talks to Kele about his new EP The Hunter.

Clash interviews Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Artrocker profiles Los Campesinos!, whose new record Hello Sadness is streaming at NPR ahead of its November 15 release date.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “By Your Hand”
Stream: Los Campesinos! / Hello Sadness

Interview, The Independent and Londonist talk to Summer Camp on the occasion of the release of their debut Welcome To Condale this week.

Pitchfork reports that The xx have begun work on their second album, and will be documenting the process via cryptic animated gif.

The ink barely dry on the their Toronto debut last month, London’s Still Corners will be back on December 9 at The Horseshoe in support of The War on Drugs. The Georgia Straight and Houston Press have interviews and Radio K is streaming a session with the band.

MP3: Still Corners – “Into The Trees”

The AV Club talks to Charlie Fink of Noah & The Whale.

Spinner interviews Laura Marling.

The Guardian gets two generations of folk music – Billy Bragg and Johnny Flynn – to discuss the relevance of protest music today.

Patrick Wolf has released a new video from Lupercalia, which continues to await a North American release. In 2012, perhaps. The Gay Times talks to Wolf about his impending nuptials.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The Falcons”

Rocksucker talks to The Twilight Sad about their third album No One Can Ever Know, due out in February.

Clash marks the 20th anniversary of My Bloody Valentine’s landmark Loveless album, while The Quietus reflects on the significance of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut Psychocandy.

And while not nearly on the level of either of those records, I greatly appreciate Drowned In Sound saluting The Closer I Get, the second album from Nottingham’s Six By Seven. Terribly underappreciated over their tenure, at their best – which would be that record – there was no more beautifully aggressive and misanthropic rock band out there. After a few ill-fated reunions, the band is done but if you go to their website, their last great record – 2004’s relatively sunnier :04 – is available for free download in exchange for an email. You should do this thing.

MP3: Six By Seven – “Bochum (Light Up My Life)”
Video: Six By Seven – “Eat Junk Become Junk”