Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pernice’

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Spirit Guides

Evening Hymns and The Harbour Coats at The Tranzac in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Bellwoods crew is certainly setting a high standard when it comes to set dressings. Thanks to them, I’ve now attended shows in the heart of a volcano, an exploding library in the sky and as of this past Friday night, a heavily wooded lumberjack camp. In reality, it was the Tranzac and the occasion was the record release party for Evening Hymns’ new album Spirit Guides; a grand and gauzey statement of gospel-inflected folk-rock which is quite highly-regarded around these parts.

Support for the night came from The Harbour Coats, who on most occasions are a miniature Canadian super-group of sorts with members of Constantines, Snailhouse and Evening Hymns principal Jonas Bonnetta but on this night, due to logistical issues, were just frontman Bry Webb and an acoustic guitar and his own And if the oft-repeated reference point for Constantines is a heavier Springsteen, then Harbour Coats is a nod to the Boss’ more stripped-down side. Decked out head to toe in blue Christmas lights, Webb turned in a short set of tunes rich with images of the Canadian north and proving that he was as compelling and charismatic a songwriter a performer outside the Cons as he was with them.

At one point in the set, Jonas Bonnetta mentioned that this was pretty much his first-ever headlining show and for the occasion, he did it up right. Enlisting many/most of the contributors who played on Spirit Guides, Evening Hymns ranged from Bonnetta solo to a stage-filling 10-piece band including members of The Wooden Sky, Ohbijou, The Magic and The D’Urbervilles as well as a couple of his own siblings. And though all the parts were in place to recreate the expansive beauty of Spirit Guides – the stage even looked the part of the record’s rustic aesthetic – it would prove to more a question of chemistry than mathematics.

Though the show began strongly and remained so as the band’s numbers ebbed and flowed, at one point leaving Bonnetta to perform solo for a few numbers from his first record Farewell To Harmony, to my ears they weren’t quite managing to capture the ineffable specialness of the recorded work. And there’s no shame in that – to catch lightning in a bottle once and commit it to tape is a feat, to be able to do it again and on demand is asking a lot. But as the show progressed, it became evident that things were starting to coalesce and by the time the band’s numbers swelled for what was clearly the climax of the show, for which they’d wisely saved the record’s biggest moments, they were sounding like something much greater than the sum of its parts, in the same way that Spirit Guides is much more than the sum of its influences and reference points. As if cued by the bold organ of “Tumultuous Sea”, the show found a new level and through the encore and its gloriously jubilant readings of “Broken Rifle” and “Mtn. Song”, all crashing chords, thundering percussion and choral vocals, it was finally everything it could have been.

With so many of the record’s performers involved with other bands, it’s a bit difficult to envision how they could take this record on the road and do it the same sort of justice they did on this evening. This is not to say it can’t be just as effective and affecting with a different configuration, and I’m sure that however they end up taking it on tour, even if it’s just Bonnetta solo, it will be its own kind of special but I’m pretty pleased to have been able to witness it with the original cast, so to speak.

Soundproof and The Vancouver Sun have interviews with Bonnetta and London Burgeoning Metropolis, another review of the show.

Photos: Evening Hymns, The Harbour Coats @ The Tranzac – December 4, 2009
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
MySpace: Evening Hymns

NXEW is offering a free seasonal download from Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.

Great Lake Swimmers have posted up a set of live videos entitled The Legion Session. They play Trinity-St. Paul’s on February 6.

Thrasher’s Wheat is hosting a stream of the new Neil Young live record Dreamin’ Man, featuring live performances of all of Harvest Moon, out tomorrow.

Stream: Neil Young / Dreamin’ Man Live ’92

In addition to playing the Constantines’ 10th anniversary shows at Lee’s Palace on December 12, Oneida will play an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom at 4PM with what they’re calling an “improvised set”.

MP3: Oneida – “I Will Haunt You”
MP3: Oneida – “Saturday”
MP3: Oneida – “What’s Up Jackal”

American Songwriter talks to Canadian landed immigrant songwriter Joe Pernice.

Country-rockabilly-bluegrass-punk-whatever trio Those Darlins will bring their debut self-titled album to the Horsesehoe on February 9.

MP3: Those Darlins – “Red Light Love”

Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes talks to Pitchfork about how and where things are going with album number two.

Swear I’m Not Paul interviews Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers and learns they’ll be releasing two new albums in 2010 – a rocker called The Big To Do, presumably out first around February, and a “R&B Murder Ballad album” entitled Go Go Boots due out later in the year. There’s also features at Charleston City Paper and Charleston Daily Mail (I think the band might have just played in Charleston).

Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell talks hometowns with Spinner. They’re currently in Los Angeles working on their third record.

Cat Power tells The Courier-Mail that she’s working on a new record and the one that was reportedly done and ready to go, entitled The Sun, has been shelved.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

God Knows I Had Plans

Review of The Mary Onettes’ Islands

Photo By Gunnar BjorlingGunnar BjorlingI am convinced that somewhere within the Labrador Records offices in Stockholm, there exists a magical machine that issues mandates to bands on the roster as to what their next albums must sound like. For example, The Radio Dept drew “Belle & Sebastian meets the Jesus & Mary Chain” for their debut and then “depressed Pet Shop Boys” for the follow-up and The Mary Onettes, it seems, were told to make their new record Puzzles sound like “the Shout Out Louds covering Echo & The Bunnymen”, though their official bio namechecks a-ha as well, and I don’t know that I’d argue that point.

This reductive one-liner approach isn’t intended to be dismissive because though I may poke fun at them for wearing their influences on their sleeves, they wear them like goddamn supermodels. Islands brims with grandly romantic songs built on shimmering guitar figures, swelling synths and soaring melodies and tempered by the distinctive Scandinavian melancholy that makes the best Swedish pop so delectable. Some of the numbers drift by, well-meaning if a touch anonymous, but the hits are bullseyes, particularly if you’ve a weak spot as I do for the sounds and styles that are their primary inspirations – “Puzzles” and “God Knows I Had Plans”, in particular, are clean sniper head-shots of awesome.

Frustratingly, like most of their labelmates, The Mary Onettes aren’t given to a lot of touring on this side of the Atlantic – they just wrapped a four-date jaunt in the eastern US which got some high profile attention but probably won’t be a precursor to more extensive visits in the future. I still maintain that a Labrador traveling caravan tour across North America with a pile of their bands on the bill would… probably lose a tonne of money, but certainly make for some great music.

Strange Glue has a song-by-song walkthrough of Islands from frontman Phillip Ekstrom. RCRDLBL has a second MP3 from the album available to download.

MP3: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
Video: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
MySpace: The Mary Onettes

Coincidentally, labelmates Sambassadeur – whose one-line mandate could be “twee-folk Camera Obscura meets orch-pop Camera Obscura sometime in the ’80s” – have gotten a new record ready for a January 2010 release. The first MP3 from European is available to grab below.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Days”

Norwegian shoegaze/drone merchants Serena-Maneesh return after a five-year hiatus with a new album on 4AD in March 2010. I think I liked these guys alright – I recall their live shows were ridiculous but honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.

Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Drain Cosmetics”
Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Sapphire Eyes”

Though Editors won’t release their new album In This Light And On This Evening doesn’t get a North American release until January 19 of the new year, that’s not stopping the PR engine over here from getting started – Spin talks to frontman Tom Smith about the title track of the album while Spinner is streaming the whole record for a week.

Stream: Editors / In This Light And On This Evening

The Guardian has the premiere of the new Patrick Wolf video from The Bachelor, presumably the last single because 2010 is supposed to be the year of the sequel, The Conqueror! has an inerview with Wolf.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Damaris”

Spinner goes behind the scenes of the latest Ladyhawke video for “Magic”. She talks to WA Today about the confusion/controversy arising from different countries wanting to lay claim to her success (born in New Zealand, started her music in Australia, now resides in Britain).

Video: Ladyhawke – “Magic”

I had to stop ragging on Joe Pernice for never playing any local shows since becoming a Toronto resident after his wonderful Dakota Tavern show in September and it seems the return to live local performance has stuck. Joe will be performing at the Music Gallery on Wednesday night along with D-Sisive and The Reveries as part of “Songs For Jesse Presley”, an art project named for Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother and co-presented by Zoilus, who has more information on the show.

The AV Club talks to The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard.

Some of you who’ve been visiting a while may recall a few years ago, I auctioned off a copy of Emily Haines’ super-rare first solo record Cut In Half And Also Double as a fundraising effort for Pat Spurgeon, drummer of Rogue Wave, who needed a kidney transplant. Not that Metric or Rogue Wave had anything in common, but it was the most potentially valuable music-related thing that I didn’t have any need to keep. I consider the efforts a success, netting $177.50 USD, and Spurgeon eventually had the necessary transplant and is feeling much better now. And he’s also the subject of a documentary film called D Tour, which follows Spurgeon in his search for a suitable transplant while continuing to live the rock’n’roll dream.

Trailer: D Tour

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Midnight Directives

Final Fantasy provides directions to Heartland

Photo by Ryan PflugerRyan PflugerAfter much teasing and delay, details have finally come forth about Final Fantasy’s long-awaited third album and follow-up to 2006’s He Poos Clouds. Though the title – Heartland – has been known since at least late 2006 (that’s the first time I mentioned it at least), the actual record has been much longer in coming. And the delays are understandable – in the interim, Owen Pallett has become the go-to string arranger in certain circles, working on records from Beirut, Pet Shop Boys and Mountain Goats to name a very few as well as putting out two EPs of his own last year.

But the new album is finally done and will arrive on January 12 complete with a typically high-minded and utterly bizarre concept behind it. Pallett’s full explanation can be found in the press release, but key phrases that should give you some idea of what to expect are “a farmer named Lewis and the fictional world of Spectrum”, “compositionally modeled upon the principles of electronic music” and, “inversion of a Tomita record”. What any of that means is unclear to me, but at least one can be reasonably assured that whatever it is, it will come wrapped in strange and delicious orch-pop wrappers. Unless, of course, it doesn’t.

Pitchfork has a look at the album art for Heartland and as we await a first sample of Heartland‘s aural delights, enjoy a couple of tracks from last year’s EPs.

MP3: Final Fantasy – “The Butcher”
MP3: Final Fantasy – “Ultimatum”

And if you want to talk strange synchronicity, consider Final Fantasy and Woodpigeon. Woodpigeon will also release their next album Die Stadt Muzikanten on January 12, both records will be orchestra-enhanced (Die Stadt also featuring a 30-piece choir), both just performed at the Rifflandia festival in Victoria, BC and while Pallett fell ill with what was originally feared to be swine flu (but wasn’t), Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton actually has come down with what appears to be the dreaded H1N1 virus. He’s been treated and is hopefully on the road to recovery, though it’s unclear if he’ll be well enough to make it to Pop Montreal this weekend. Fingers crossed. Either way he should be recovered enough by mid-month when Woodpigeon is set to participate in this Fall’s Banff Centre residency, where they’ll work on honing their craft with the likes of Steve Albini. Woodpigeon and Steve Albini – there’s a combination I’d like to hear. Update: And to be clear, the exact phrasing above was “appears to be” – tests are still not conclusive as to what grounded the ‘Pigeon and called for Jane Vain to cover for their Pop Montreal showcase, but the important thing is that Hamilton is on the mend and will be back in the (broad) general vicinity for a show at Cafe Deckuf in Ottawa on October 16 presented by I Heart Music. And he will not be contagious.

Also moving into the Banff Centre for that fortnight is Basia Bulat, also with a much-anticipated new record out in January. Heart Of My Own is out on the 26th of the month, and JAM has a chat with Bulat about the new record. Also check out a video of Basia performing “Gold Rush” in a DUMBO session.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
Video: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush” (live at DUMBO Sessions)

As I’m following little threads and segues, It occurs to me that in addition to seeing the release of a follow-up to the inaugural Polaris Prize-winning record (He Poos Clouds, if you weren’t paying attention), both Woodpigeon and Basia’s last records were the top picks on my Polaris ballots this year as well Ohbijou’s new one Beacons, and its predecessor Swift Feet For Troubling Times topped my 2007 Polaris ballot… AND the new record was much-informed by their session at the Banff Centre last year. I daresay this post is at risk from collapsing in on itself in a quantum singularity of circular references, so I’ll finish this thread by saying that as much as I’d like to say that next year’s ballot will be full of fresh faces and new discoveries, all of the new Ohbijou, Woodpigeon and Basia records make strong arguments for repeat appearances. Wait, does that mean I’ve heard those last two records? Oh, uh, hey – look over there!

The National Post talks to Cuff The Duke’s Wayne Petti about the heaviness that informs their new record Way Down Here. There’s also features at The Georgia Straight, FFWD and Edmonton Journal. They play two nights at the Horseshoe on October 16 and 17. has an interview with Glenn Kotche of Wilco, who will be at Massey Hall for two nights on October 14 and 15.

Joe Pernice discusses his new book and album with Exclaim.

In addition to their October 31 show at the Horseshoe, Noah & The Whale will be doing an in-store at Criminal Records earlier that night, precise time to be announced. Perfect for everyone with Hallowe’en plans as well as those who need a double-dose of weepy break-up tunes. And the band will probably have replaced if not recovered all the gear that was stolen the other night – tough break, that. Some seriously nice equipment in that trailer.

Never ones to be slaves to convention, Wheat have decided that rather than release another video from White Ink Black Ink, they’re releasing a video game. It’s Windows-only, unfortunately, so I can’t tell you if it’s any good or if up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-start gets you any free lives, but if you’re on a PC and take it for a spin, let me know how it is. I’m curious.

Volcano Choir has released a first video from their debut album Unmap.

Video: Volcano Choir – “Island, IS”

Love Shack, Baby and The Diamondback have interviews with The Antlers.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

It Feels So Good When I Stop

Joe Pernice and Kate Boothman at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe last time Joe Pernice took a Toronto stage, he promised that as a new resident of the city, he might find himself playing more gigs around town and that he’d see us soon.

That was over four years ago.

Being fair, Joe has hardly been idle in that time. He released another Pernice Brothers record in Live A Little, became a father and wrote his first novel It Feels So Good When I Stop, which was the occasion for him to again get up, guitar in hand, in front of an audience of his neighbours – literally, as the Dakota Tavern was stumbling distance from his west-end digs.

Opening up was Kate Boothman, a local who had accompanied Joe on a couple of the US dates of this brief tour. Her short set didn’t do much for me, her folkish compositions failing to take off mostly on account of her rather flat vocal phrasing. The one tune she did with Julie Fader on harmonies fared better, so perhaps she works better when fronting her band Sunbear – people who’d stick around would find out as she’d be playing a full-band set after Joe went on.

Seeing as how the occasion for the show was both the release of the book and Joe’s latest record – a soundtrack of sorts to the book comprised of covers of songs mentioned in the book – the evening was being billed as a combination performance/reading, a format which actually worked really well. The evening started with Pernice, looking not a little like a fitter Elvis Costello, reading a passage from the novel and though he’d thank us at the end for being patient with him for doing so, it was our pleasure – his dry delivery really gave the book (which I have but still haven’t read sorry sorry sorry) life and I, for one, found it wholly engaging. This was followed by a set of covers from the soundtrack record and another reading, all interspersed with Pernice’s razor-sharp and self-effacing wit. Though his songwriting persona is famously bummed out (or “exquisitely sad”, he is truly one funny guy.

The real gold came next, though, as Pernice followed up with a lengthy set of his own material. The solo acoustic configuration precluded a lot of the regular Pernice Brothers material, as rich and full band-arranged as those tend to be, so instead the Dakota was treated to a trove of riches from the other eddies of Pernice’s career – the Big Tobacco solo record, the Chappaquiddick Skyline one-off project and to close it out, a suite of Scud Mountain Boys tunes that reinforced just how wonderful and consistent Pernice’s songwriting has been for so long. All told, Pernice played for nearly two hours – remarkable considering that Pernice Brothers live tended towards shorter sets – filled with songs, stories and banter. And before leaving the stage, he once again mentioned that now that he’s a Torontonian, maybe he’d play some more gigs around town. Alone or with band, book it and we’ll be there Joe. Just don’t wait another four years to do so.

The Globe & Mail has a feature piece on Joe and his book with outtakes from the interview available over at Zoilus. NOW and The Los Angeles Times also have pieces on Pernice. Now that the promotional rounds for the book are about done, Pernice is getting back to work on the already-started next Pernice Brothers record. Look for that sometime in the new year.

Photos: Joe Pernice, Kate Boothman @ The Dakota Tavern – September 24, 2009
MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Baby In Two”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “The Weakest Shade Of Blue”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Working Girls”
MySpace: Pernice Brothers

Nick Cave is another musician whose recent foray into fiction – in his case his second novel The Death Of Bunny Munro – has been generating press. There’s conversations with Cave about the book at The Winnipeg Free Press, Time, CBC, The Toronto Star, The National Post and The Montreal Gazette, which also offers a full transcript of the interview. The Ampersand also got a musical endorsement for Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers.

The Times talks to Steve Earle, who is working on his first novel I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.

NPR talks to Fanfarlo about their literary inspirations (their name comes from Baudelaire) while Tourdates also has an interview with frontman Simon Balthazar and if you’ve still not heard it (shame!), Clash is streaming the album right now.

Stream: Fanfarlo / Reservoir

This Is Nottingham has an interview with Charlotte Hatherley, who has released a video for the second single from her third album New Worlds. It will be out October 20.

Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “Alexander”

The Dodos have a new video from Time To Die. Look for them at Lee’s Palace on October 17.

Video: The Dodos – “Fables”

The Rural Alberta Advantage stopped in at Minnesota Public Radio for a streaming session and gave an interview to Decider. They’re also in the new issue of Spin but that piece isn’t online yet. They play Lee’s Palace on November 4.

The first MP3 from El Perro Del Mar’s new album Love Is Not Pop, out October 20, is now available to download. There’s also an interview at the Buenos Aires Herald. She opens for Peter Bjorn & John at the Phoenix on November 11.

MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”

Daily Finance chats with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance of Merge Records about their 20th anniversary as an independent music label. Babelgum is also hosting a whole slew of video footage from the XX Merge festival in Carrboro back in July.

The National Post has a nice little feature on Canadian sportscasting legend and inveterate music fan – that IS him you see at all those gigs around town – Dave Hodge.

Friday, September 25th, 2009


The Antlers at Criminal Records in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEverything I have to say about The Antlers’ record Hospice has already been said, so I’ll focus squarely on their live performance which I was able to witness yesterday evening despite opting to see Joe Pernice at the Dakota rather than their show at the Horseshoe, thanks to their booking an in-store at Criminal Records before either got underway.

While they could easily have gotten away with doing something simple, short and stripped-down, the fairly packed store was instead treated to something akin to a full and proper set, fully plugged-in and running 40 minutes plus. And it’s just as well, because that extra volume and amplification was crucial to the impact of the set (not to mention allowing keyboardist Darby Cicci to be heard at all). Where the recorded versions of the songs were built on foundation of tension and delicacy, the live renderings were much grandiose in scale – bigger and bolder without compromising the fragile atmospherics so integral to the songs. Rather than evoking images of hospitals, they felt like cathedrals, and perhaps most importantly, felt more uplifting than despairing. The lyrical content of the songs didn’t come across so pointedly, instead taking a back seat to the rawer, more visceral impact of the sound.

So while sorry to have missed their show proper, I’m thankful to have caught close to a proper show and still got to see Joe Pernice, all before the cold which has been stalking me the last couple weeks finally took me victim. Achoo.

Photos: The Antlers @ Criminal Records – September 24, 2009
MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two” (remastered)
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
MP3: The Antlers – “The Universe Is Going To Catch You”
MP3: The Antlers – “On the Roof”
MP3: The Antlers – “Stairs To The Attic”
MP3: The Antlers – “Cold War”
MP3: The Antlers – “Keys”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
MySpace: The Antlers

And if you opted to see The Antlers last night rather than Pernice, know that Joe will be making an appearance at Word On The Street this Sunday at Queen’s Park. Not performing, but being interviewed at 4PM – though there’s nothing to say he won’t spontaneously break out into song. Details in his cover feature from this week’s eye.

SFAppeal, The Dallas Observer and The Arizona Daily Star talk to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

School Of Seven Bells’ Alpinisms, a highlight of 2008, will be getting a re-release with a second disc of remixes and alternate takes on October 13 – almost just in time for their Fall tour which brings them to Lee’s Palace in Toronto on October 15. Pitchfork has one of the tracks from the bonus disc available to download. The Diamondback and Austinist have interviews with the band.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Iamundernodisguise” (alternate version)

The Hook questions Decemberist Chris Funk.

Spin questions. Monsters Of Folk answer. On November 2, they perform at Massey Hall.

Austinst talks to John Vanderslice, who’s made a demo MP3 from Romanian Names available to download in support of an upcoming 7″ single for “Too Much Time” due out October 6.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Too Much Time” (demo)

Good news – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists will have a new record out in the early part of next year. Better news – it’s coming out on Matador.

To anyone thinking about attending the October 24 White Rabbits show – note that it has been moved from the Drake to the Horseshoe, and rather than an early show it’s now a regular/late show. Adjust your plans accordingly. You have a month to do so.

Soundproof talks to Reverie Sound Revue.

There’s a new MP3 available from The Wooden Sky’s new album If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone – they’re at Lee’s Palace on November 13. The Sudbury Star talks to frontman Gavin Gardiner.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Bit Part”

Spinner gets to know Dog Day and suggests you do the same. They’re at the Horseshoe on November 5.

Young Galaxy have set a date at the Horseshoe for November 13, tickets $10.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Long Live The Fallen World”

Mew have released a new video from No More Stories.

Video: Mew – “Repeaterbeater”

Filter chats in two parts with Mum, who’ve also made Magnet a mix tape. They’re at the Phoenix on October 27.

MP3: Mum – “Illuminated”