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Posts Tagged ‘John K Samson’

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day Three

Friends, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, DIIV and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt was sometime on Friday that, in looking at my NXNE schedule, that I realized just how Pitchfork-y it all was and for that, I apologize. It wasn’t intentional, but there’s no arguing that the balance of stuff I’ve heard of/stuff I was curious about/stuff that doesn’t come through town all the time is pretty influenced by the online echo chamber.

But to be fair, the options amongst my usual go-to of acts from the UK and Scandinavia was frightfully lean this year; like I can count them on one hand. A consequence of the global recession, I suppose, but at least one of the acts who did make it over was 2:54. Their show kicking off the night at Lee’s Palace wasn’t far removed from when I saw them at SXSW but definitely better, both for my being familiar with the material and their having developed some more stage presence, frontwoman Collette Thurlow having traded her thousand-yard glare for some dramatic sway-dancing. I like but can’t claim to love their self-titled debut – they excel at atmosphere but the songwriting could be stronger – but they were tight and had an air of slight aloofness, and as one of the few British acts at the festival, they played ambassador well.

Londonist has an interview with the band.

Photos: 2:54 @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
MP3: 2:54 – “The March”
Video: 2:54 – “Creeping”
Video: 2:54 – “You’re Early”
Video: 2:54 – “Scarlet”

You probably didn’t need to be told that DIIV were from Brooklyn; just a look at their outfits and/or haircuts would have made that conclusion obvious. But assuming that meant they were going to be some unworthy, overhyped flavour-of-the-minute would have been a mistake. To be clear, they certainly sound very “now”, their shimmery jangle being very reminiscent of fellow buzz band Real Estate, but with more jump and less emphasis on vocals and more focus on creating a tight, airy groove. The initially claimed the were going to play their new album Oshin in its entirety, but the insertion of a “new song” mid set made that claim questionable, though I suppose that with the album not out until next week, they’re all technically new songs. Oh, and then there was the Nirvana cover that’s probably not on the record. In any case, their music was well-personified by their live show: the rhythm section kept their heads down and tended to business whilst the guitarist danced around like electrified marionettes.

Interview, The Line Of Best Fit, and NOW have features on the band, Spin gets to know their pet rat, and Oshin is streaming in its entirety right now over at Hype Machine.

Photos: DIIV @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
MP3: DIIV – “Sometime”
Video: DIIV – “Sometime”
Video: DIIV – “How Long Have You Known?”
Stream: DIIV / Oshin

The build-up around New York’s Friends started a good year ago, so by the time their debut album Manifest! came out a couple weeks ago, they were probably due some good, solid backlash. And while I haven’t heard the album, the live show certainly entertained for the 30-plus minutes they were on. They had far less reliance on electronics than I’d have expected – lots of percussion to with the guitar and bass, and less electro-pop than old school disco/funk. Frontwoman Samantha Urbani had presence to spare, offering a great impression of an ’80s pop diva with a simpler, more innocent kind of sexy. Her pipes were also good but her breathy-to-squeal move got formulaic pretty quickly. The same could be said for their sound as a whole – it’s pretty templated – but if you were looking for a band to soundtrack a dance party for this night, at least, you couldn’t do much better.

Blurt has a feature piece on Friends and The Line Of Best Fit a Bands In Transit session.

Photos: Friends @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
Video: Friends – “Mind Control”
Video: Friends – “I’m His Girl”
Video: Friends – “Friend Crush”

At this point it was goodbye Lee’s, hello mad dash across town to The Garrison. And while I made pretty good time if I do say so myself, I still needed to brandish the priority pass to jump the queue for Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. I already explained how their debut YT//ST improbably found its way onto the number two slot on my Polaris Prize ballot, but it probably counts as remarkable that they did so without my having seen their live show. Not that live performance is supposed to influence our voting, but it’s hard to imagine not being influenced by such an elaborate production. And with the costumes, the Kabuki paint, the stage dressings, they arguably had the most going on onstage at the fest for a band not named Of Montreal or The Flaming Lips.

And yet for all that they put into it, there was a refreshing lack of pretence from the band. They set up their gear and props like anyone else, and the cognitive dissonance of hearing them finish an intense, thrash/operatic passage and then ask for monitor adjustments was pretty funny. In performance, though, they were all business and deadly serious – there was no irony detectable, and I don’t even know if allowing themselves to dance a bit during “Hoshi Neko” even counts as breaking character; it’s a pretty danceable song. It was a unique, breathtaking performance that left you dazed and feeling like you may have just joined a cult. And you may be right.

Killscreen Daily talks to band principals Ruby Attwood and Alaska B about the influence of video games on their music.

Photos: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan @ The Garrison – June 15, 2012
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”
Stream: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan / YT//ST

Following that show was going to be tough and topping it impossible, so it’s probably a good thing that New York’s Widowspeak don’t even attempt to blow you away with theatrics or spectacle. Their sleepy country/dreampop had the perfect sort of late night vibe that didn’t quite come across during their mid-afternoon set at SXSW. It wasn’t all aural narcolepsy, though – the guitars got a little more aggressive than I expected and downright heavy at points, but despite wielding a mean axe, Molly Hamilton’s voice smoothed it all over. Those asking for more vocals in the mix slightly missed the point – she’s at her best as a honeyed whisper you have to lean in to hear. And though the audience seemed a bit restless – understandable if they were still on a Yamantaka come-down, they were largely appreciative. As they should have been.

Photos: Widowspeak @ The Garrison – June 15, 2012
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Gun Shy”

A brace of new videos coming at you from across the pond – first there’s Summer Camp with a murderous clip for the title track of their forthcoming EP Always, out July 10. You can also hear it in French, if that’s your thing.

Stream: Summer Camp – “Always” (French)
Video: Summer Camp – “Always”

Richard Hawley has released a video from his latest album Standing At The Sky’s Edge, out August 28 in North America.

Video: Richard Hawley – “Down In The Woods”

The Guardian talks to Charles of Slow Club about getting Daniel Radcliffe to star in the new video from Paradise.

Video: Slow Club – “Beginners”

Noel Gallagher goes the guest celeb route for the new clip from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; Mischa Barton! Remember her?

Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Everybody’s On The Run”

Kate Nash has put out a new video for a non-album track that was apparently written and recorded in under 24 hours. Who’d have guessed.

Video: Kate Nash – “Under-Estimate The Girl”

And a few more show announcements over the last few days: John K Samson returns to get intimate – and all-ages – for a show in support of Provincial at 918 Bathurst on September 6, tickets $25 in advance.

Video: John K. Samson – “Longitudinal Centre”

San Fransico folkers Vetiver return to The Horseshoe on September 14, tickets $15 in advance. They’re still working last year’s The Errant Charm.

MP3: Vetiver – “Wonder Why”

Bluegrass all-stars Punch Brothers will be at The Phoenix on September 28 as part of a Fall tour, admission is $19.50. Acoustic Guitar has a feature on the band.

Video: Punch Brothers – “Kid A” (live)

The Besnard Lakes have been tapped to open up all three nights of Dinosaur Jr’s Lee’s Palace residency on September 24, 25, and 26. Tickets for each night are $34.50.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “And You Lied To Me”

Friday, June 15th, 2012

A Star Over Pureland

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan and 39 other artists are your 2012 Polaris Music Prize long list

Photo By Derrick BelchamDerrick BelchamIt figures that the first year that I would have been able to actually attend the long-list unveiling for the Polaris Music Prize, they up and move it from its usual home atop the Drake clear across the country to give Vancouver a taste of what the grand unveiling of the 40 albums selected as the top musical achievements in Canada over the past 12 months is like. But that’s alright because as it turns out, this was also the first year that I don’t need to make any changes to my ballot as all five of the records I submitted have made it onto the long list so unless I have some massive change of heart about which record is more artistically achieving than another, my role in this year’s Polaris is done.

Which is a surprise because at the start of this year’s eligibility period, I’d have only been able to predict one – maybe two – of my nominations. One of them I’d have sworn I’d never get behind and one I’d never even heard of. And yet. That said, the long list itself is simultaneously one of the most varied in recent memory, from a stylistic and profile point of view, and also one of the most predictable if you’ve been privy to the internal discussions of the 200+ jurors (or at least the ones who participate in the Google group). In any case, nows the time for forty artists to enjoy their time in the large-ish spotlight, send out press releases and update their Wikipedia pages; the short list is announced on July 17 and that, I’m far less confident in my ability to predict. Then, come September 24, there will only be one.

And as I do every year, here are what made my final ballot and why. There was more indecision and last-minute jockeying than there usually is, but I’m pretty comfortable with my picks and also with the fact that two of my three runners-up also made the long list. What can I say, this was just the year that I was wholly in sync with the zeitgeist or something.

1. Fucked Up / David Comes To Life
As with Arcade Fire’s eventual champion The Suburbs last year, this one felt like a no-brainer for the number one slot if for no other reason than it aspired to more, artistically, than most of its peers and arguably succeeded far more than it fell short. Certainly, questions abound: Does the rock opera narrative hold up? Is it hardcore anymore? Will this be the year an artist finally repeats as Polaris champ? To these questions, I have no answer, but I do know this: those guitar riffs friggin’ shoot for the moon.
MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Ship Of Fools”
MP3: Fucked Up – “A Little Death”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”
Video: Fucked Up – “Turn The Season”
Video: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
Video: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

2. Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST
I fully expected to hate this band and this record. I mean, how much more pretentious can you get than a bio like, “the pan-Asian cultural collective, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan has crafted a debut LP that sets new standards for the creative heights and satisfactions of genre fusion. They call it Noh-Wave”. And yet that may very well be what they’ve done. Within it’s barely-qualifying seven tracks (really six) and 30 minutes, there’s incredibly deft moves through rock, metal, no-wave, and jazz, all with a genuine Eastern flavour that’s more than just affectation; by rights, it should collapse under the weight of its conceit but instead it soars. It’s operatic, metallic, exotic, and fantastic.
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”
Stream: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan / YT//ST

3. Bry Webb / Provider
Never the biggest Constantines fan, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations of their frontman’s solo career, and with its low-key production and ruminations on age and family and life, Provider doesn’t seem like it’s necessarily expecting you to expect much from it. And yet it’s an unquestionably powerful and resonant work, with Webb’s rich, rasp of a voice proving to be just as effective – if not more – in a conversational tone as it was as a defiant bark.
MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”

4. Patrick Watson / Adventures In Your Own Backyard
I will refer you back to this post in order to fully appreciate how remarkable I must think Adventures is for it to be on my ballot. And really, he’s not doing anything substantially different than he’s done on his earlier records – elegantly arranged and executed art-pop that’s content to just be lovely. And that he’s dialed down the fussiness a bit and dialed up the beauty a lot has apparently been enough to win me right over.
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Words In The Fire”
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

5. Kathryn Calder / Bright & Vivid
I liked Calder’s first record a lot and loved her second, and yet was reluctant for a long while to put it on my ballot. Why? Because it’s pop music – pure and simple – without any particular stylistic angle or backstory, and pure pop is frequently dismissed or denigrated for aspiring to nothing more than creating indelible, earwormy melodies. Well you know what? That’s an incredibly hard thing to do, and to do it as well as Calder does on just her second time out? That deserves recognition.
MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Turn A Light On”
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”

Plants & Animals have released a new video from The End Of That. Their NXNE schedule puts them at Yonge-Dundas Square tonight at 8:30PM for a free show.

Video: Plants & Animals – “H.C.”

NOW and The Ottawa Citizen talk to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan as they gear up for NXNE; they’ll be at The Garrison tonight at 12AM, will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on Saturday at 3PM and if you’re still up and about late Saturday night, maybe you’ll need a soundtrack for some nachos…

Toronto’s METZ – who have been fixtures around the city seemingly forever – have finally announced details of their debut full-length, which is still untitled but will be out on October 9 via Sub Pop. They talk to Exclaim about it, and will be at Wrongbar tonight and The Phoenix opening for Archers Of Loaf tomorrow.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, City Arts, Denver Westword, Washington City Paper, Willamette Weekly, The Phoenix New Times, and Vice discover Destroyer’s Dan Bejar isn’t so media-averse after all. He’s at The Opera House on June 23.

Consequence Of Sound and Spin have features on Japandroids, in town at Lee’s Palace on June 23.

Reg Vermue has been pretty busy in the guise of Regina The Gentlelady in Light Fires, but Gentleman Reg is not being neglected; Exclaim reports that Reg will be releasing a new album entitled Leisure Life as a series of three digital EPs, the first arriving July 3 and all of which will be collected in physical form in the Fall. The first track from the collection has been made available to stream.

Stream: Gentleman Reg – “Waiting Around For Gold”

Basia Bulat will be opening up for Andrew Bird at Echo Beach on July 19.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”

CBC Music asks Bry Webb to name his five favourite records of the last 20 years; The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Uptown, and Regina Leader-Post. Webb plays The Theatre Centre on August 18 as part of the Summerworks festival, the lineup of which was just announced this week and also features the likes of Evening Hymns and Buck 65 in special performances that promise to better integrate the theatrical side of the festival; should be interesting. Dates and performer information can be had at Exclaim.

The National Post talks to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers; they’re opening up for Blue Rodeo at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 18.

Exclaim, eMusic, National Post, and Spinner have features on Metric and The Alternate Side a video session to mark the release of Synthetica. The band have a new video from it as well.

Video: Metric – “Youth Without Youth”

PS I Love You have released another video in their Paper Bag Sessions series. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald and McMaster Silhouette have interviews.

Video: PS I Love You – “Death Dreams Pt 1 & 2”

Spin talks to Spencer Krug about the new Moonface record With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery, from which a new video has just been released.

Video: Moonface – “Faraway Lightning”

Macleans investigates why John K Samson is so popular in Germany. Check the Hasselhoff jokes, people. Just don’t.

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

The Darkness

Review of Rose Cousins’ We Have Made A Spark

Photo By Shervin IainezShervin IainezRose Cousins is not a new artist. The Charlottetown by way of Halifax artist has been releasing music for the better part of a decade and I’ve technically heard her before as she’s guested on any number of Maritime-born records including Joel Plaskett’s, but I’d not heard any of her own material until her third full-length album We Have Made A Spark, released at the end of February. And clearly that’s been my loss.

It’s not a record that stops you in your tracks – describe it as singer-songwriter that’d be comfortable at an adult contemporary party and lists towards the rootsy end of things and you wouldn’t be wrong – but that wouldn’t give credit to the emotional richness that Cousins infuses her work with. Her voice has that special blend of wistfulness and resignation that’s put to good use throughout Spark and ably supported by the lean and tasteful arrangements. But the sense of something ineffably special about this record really emerges on the record’s back half, with “For The Best” and “This Light” acting as a particularly powerful one-two punch and the cover of Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” finishing the listener off. Predominantly slow and sad, yet still standing tall, Spark articulates the sorts of feelings and experiences that everyone has either known or will know soon enough.

Uptown and The Edmonton Journal have feature pieces on Cousins and Southern Souls recently posted a video session with her. She plays The Rivoli on May 3.

MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”

The Elwins are helping celebrate Record Store Day with an in-store at Soundscapes on the evening of April 21 at 7PM; details over at Facebook. They’ve also been added to the support bill for Zeus at The Phoenix on June 9.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”

Sonic Boom is also once again celebrating Record Store Day with their own in-store mini-festival; this year they’ll have Army Girls, The Darcys, Born Ruffians, Plants & Animals, Bloodshot Bill, Fresh Snow, Lioness, Eight And A Half, and Diemonds. Now that’s a lineup and the schedule for the day looks like this.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: The Darcys – “Shaking Down The Old Bones”
Video: Diemonds – “Take On The Night”
Video: Eight And A Half – “Scissors”
Video: Lioness – “You’re My Heart”

Though she figures to be around six months pregnant by that time, Coeur de Pirate has made a date at The Opera House for June 1, tickets $22.50 in advance. Rock!

Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Golden Baby”

The 2012 LuminaTO arts festival schedule is out, and from the music end of things, it’s got quite a bit to offer, mostly for free. Highlights include a Rufus Wainwright show on June 10, a Dan Mangan/Kathleen Edwards double-bill on the afternoon of June 16 (hopefully Ms. Edwards’ voice will be back) and an Ohbijou show on the afternoon of June 17; all of these are at David Pecault Square and are free. And yes, that second weekend is the same time as NXNE. So much culture you’re going to choke. The Line Of Best Fit has a video session and interview and Black Cab Sessions do their thing with Wainwright and NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert and Beatroute and The Calgary Herald have feature stories on Kathleen Edwards.

MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
Video: Rufus Wainwright – “Out Of The Game”

The Great Hall gets dark and synthy on July 13 when it hosts a show featuring Toronto’s Trust and New York’s Light Asylum; tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Light Asylum – “A Certain Person”
Video: Trust – “Bulbform”

I don’t remember the last time Little Scream played her own headlining show hereabouts – has she ever? – but she has great luck with opening gigs, having been added as warm-up for Beirut at The Sound Academy on July 19.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

Kind of an mish-mash of a bill, both in terms of genre and geography, but you’ve got The Sam Roberts Band, Bombay Bicycle Club, and The Jezabels at Echo Beach on July 26 – tickets $39.50 for general admission and $55.00 for VIP.

MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
Video: Sam Roberts – “I Feel You”
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Shuffle”

Beatroute, The Georgia Straight, and here profile Chains Of Love, who’re in town at The Great Hall opening up for Said The Whale on April 14.

With the release of the new Moonface record With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery nigh – it’s out April 17 – it’s time for some premieres; a new video over at Spin and a stream of the whole record at The AV Club.

MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Video: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Stream: Moonface / With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery

The fourth part of The Wooden Sky’s Grace On A Hill video series has premiered at IFC. They’re at The Opera House on April 20.

Still no specifics on the “why”, if there are any, surrounding the Fucked Up show at The Power Plant on May 1, but the band have announced that it’ll be free. So the “why” now matters that much less than “when do we line up”, yes?

CBC Music has got a video session with PS I Love You wherein they preview material from Death Dreams ahead of its May 8 release. They’re at The Garrison on May 15.

JAM, The Victoria Times-Colonist, Banff Cragg & Canyon, and Beatroute talk to Joel Plaskett. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Spinner and The Globe & Mail chat with Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, who’ve made a track from New Wild Everywhere available to download and also released a new video. There’s also clips from their performance at the Glenn Gould Studio last month at CBC Music. They play The Music Hall on June 2.

MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “The Great Exhale”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “New Wild Everywhere”

Guelph disco-pop ensemble The Magic are streaming the first single from their debut Ragged Gold, due out June 25.

Stream: The Magic – “Mr. Hollywood”

Feist has released a new video from Metals.

Video: Feist – “Bittersweet Melodies”

NPR serves up a World Cafe session and Planet S an interview with John K Samson.

Daytrotter has posted a new session with Timber Timbre.

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day Two

July Talk, Chains Of Love, The Big Sleep and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDespite only seeing four bands, I like to think that I covered a fair bit of ground – stylistically, geographically, exploratorily (?), what have you – on the first night of Canadian Musicfest. The Friday night stuck slightly closer to home on all fronts but yielded much better and consistent results.

The evening kicked off at Rancho Relaxo with Neufovin in all the way from Finland (I mistakenly called them Norwegian in my festival preview and apologize profusely). Besides having an affinity for anything Scandinavian, the foursome impressed me with the samples posted online – they’ve yet to release a debut album but already sound like a tight and creative unit only somewhat all over the place with respect to what they want to sound like. But based on their set, they were leaning towards a low-level orbit brand of space-rock, propelled by their nimble drummer whose work reminded me of The National’s Bryan Devendorf and that’s basically the highest praise I can give a drummer; I could have just sat and listened to him play all night. The vocals could use a little more expressiveness but hearing their confident transitions from sonic grace to chaos and back again, I would definitely like to hear that debut whenever it’s done.

Photos: Neufvoin @ Rancho Relaxo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Neufvoin – “Drunken Captain”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Villasukka”
MP3: Neufvoin – “Mouse On Mars”
Video: Neufvoin – “Polar Song”

I’m not sure who booked New York’s The Big Sleep into The Painted Lady, but it was a weird venue for them, being better suited to singer-songwriter acts than heavy, lumbering rock acts – to wit, they kept getting asked to turn down their amps through their set. But while the band had a track record, their third album Nature Experiments had just come out in January and was their first in four years; they probably had to work to get back onto peoples’ radars. I for one had lost track of them after seeing them at Pop Montreal 2006 circa their debut Son Of The Tiger, but remembered them well enough to know I wanted to see/hear them again, given the chance. Happily, time hadn’t messed with my memory and they were as good as I recalled, coming across equal parts intense and cool and heavy all around. Sonya Balchandani and Danny Barria have distinct vocal styles but maintain a similarly detached personality, offering a nice balance to their decidedly pummelling guitar-bass-keys instrumental groove. I imagine it’d make great car chase music.

Photos: The Big Sleep @ The Painted Lady – March 23, 2012
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Bad Blood”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Pinkies”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “Murder”
MP3: The Big Sleep – “You Can’t Touch The Untouchable”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Ace”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Valentine”
Video: The Big Sleep – “Murder”

At this point, the best laid plans kind of fell apart as catching a streetcar across College from Ossington to Spadina turned into walking across College from Ossington to Spadina, an exercise that took quite a bit longer than intended (it wasn’t by choice). But being late for an 11PM showcase means you’re early for an 11:30 one, so I managed to slip into the El Mocambo between sets and get in position for one of the festival’s hotter acts, Vancouver’s retro-soul revivalists Chains of Love. They’d been a highlight of last year’s NXNE and their just-released debut Strange Grey Days was a solid one, so I was pretty content with this plan B. This show was somewhat less gleefully chaotic than that Silver Dollar show – the ElMo stage affording enough space that the band weren’t falling over each other up there – but while that was part of the fun last time, its loss was mitigated by the fact that the band were more polished and all-around better sounding than last time, and the extra space allowed for frontwoman Nathalia Pizarro’s dance moves and tambourine workout. They wisely stuck to their uptempo material for the set and while that meant that it was all over extra fast – I don’t think it even clocked in at half an hour – they definitely proved that NXNE show wasn’t any kind of fluke. Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: Chains Of Love @ The El Mocambo – March 23, 2012
MP3: Chains Of Love – “In Between”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “Breaking My Heart”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “You Got It”

And if Chains Of Love were going to pass on their title of “best new discovery at The Silver Dollar during a music festival” – it’s a real thing, look it up – then across the street July Talk were ready to take it. I didn’t know a thing about them ahead of time, but The Silver Dollar is usually a pretty safe bet during either CMF or NXNE – at the very least, whatever you see will be loud and rocking and at the very most, it’ll be amazing. That might be overselling July Talk a bit, but they were definitely one of the most entertaining sets I’d see all week. Fronted by the duo of Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, they offered a sort of rowdy, sleazy blues punkabilly take on June & Johnny/Gram & Emmylou with not a little Sailor & Lula/Mickey & Mallory dynamic thrown into the mix. They two were electric onstage, whether playfully shoving, biting or rubbing up against each other or working the audience – Fay graciously put lipstick on more than a few members of the crowd – all the while leading their band through some foot-stomping, ass-shaking tunes that were almost as tuneful as they were theatrical. Tremendously fun, and I don’t know what is says about me that I assumed they were an out-of-town act from Los Angeles or the like… and not from right here in Toronto. Who knew we had it in us?

Photos: July Talk @ The Silver Dollar – March 23, 2012
M4A: July Talk – “Paper Girl”
M4A: July Talk – “The Garden”

PS I Love You are gearing up for the May 8 release of Death Dreams with a second MP3 and a set of tour dates that includes a May 15 date at The Garrison.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers”

The AV Club gets to know Army Girls; they’re opening up some of those PS I Love You dates, no word if they’re going to be doing so in Toronto but one can hope. Update: Yup, they’re opening the Garrison show.

And not to give up the title of pre-eminent loud Canadian rock duo, Japandroids will release their new one Celebration Rock on June 5 and have plotted their own Summer tour which brings them to The Horseshoe on June 23. A stream from the new record is available now.

Stream: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

It almost goes without saying that the just-announced Fucked Up show at The Power Plant art gallery space at Harbourfront on May 1 will be something more than just a concert, but they haven’t said what yet. But if you’re looking to get some Fucked Up in you life, keep the date open.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

The Wooden Sky have released the third instalment of their “Grace On A Hill” video session series at Chart. They play The Opera House on April 20.

Exclaim and The Awl talk to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, whose new album New Wild Everywhere is out next week and streaming in full over at aux.tv. They’re at The Music Hall on June 2 and have just announced an in-store at Sonic Boom for April 3 at 6PM.

Stream: Great Lake Swimmers / New Wild Everywhere

Opening up that Great Lake Swimmers show will be Cold Specks, who was profiled by NOW and The Globe & Mail. I Predict A Graceful Explosion will be out May 22.

The Globe & Mail, Willamette Weekly, Edmonton Journal, and NOW talk to John K Samson.

Exclaim and aux.tv talk to Joel Plaskett about his new record Scrappy Happiness. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

The National Post and Spinner chat with John O’Regan of Diamond Rings about his second album and how it feels to be a Juno nominee.

Also up for a Juno is Dan Mangan; The Vancouver Sun has an interview with the singer-songwriter.

Spin points to a stream if another of Arcade Fire’s contributions to the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Horn Of Plenty”

Pitchfork reports that Caribou’s performance at the 2009 ATP festival as the Caribou Vibration Ensemble is available to watch in its entirety at Vimeo. Caribou opens up for Radiohead at Downsview Park on June 16.

A track from Moonface’s new album With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery is now available to download. It’s out April 17.

MP3: Moonface – “Headed For The Door”

DIY interviews Claire Boucher of Grimes.

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Anything You Want Dear

Zeus release second album like it’s the Kraken or something

Photo By Derek BranscombeDerek Branscombe’70s-styled radio rock – the sort marked by tight multi-part harmonies, guitars that go from chunky rhythms to smooth leads like the peanut butter aisle, and a laid back sort of pop songcraft that’s inviting like a pitcher of beer on a hot Summer’s day – has been back in style lately, and no one’s done a better job of repping it locally than Zeus. Their 2010 debut Say Us won them plenty of fans both across Canada and abroad.

Somehow amidst all the touring the band did for their debut, they managed to write and record a new batch of songs and they’ve been collected as Busting Visions, which has been given a street date of March 27. To build anticipation, a couple of new songs have been released into the wild – a first MP3 is downloadable at Rolling Stone and another is streaming over at NPR.

If you want to hear the new songs – and probably some old ones – previewed live in front of a hometown crowd, Zeus have been announced as the headliner at the Horseshoe on the Friday night of Canadian Musicfest. That’s March 23 and they’re slated to go on at 1AM, but be prepared to be there at doors if you’re planning to see them because the ‘Shoe always fills up during CMW regardless of who’s playing and this will surely not be any different. Advance tickets will guarantee you entry and cost $15, otherwise you can try your luck with a festival wristband.

And I’m not saying that they’re related at all, but it’s interesting that Say Us came out just a couple months before Clash Of The Titans and now Busting Visions hits days before Wrath Of The Titans. At least I think so.

MP3: Zeus – “Anything You Want Dear”
Stream: Zeus – “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?”

The Darcys – another Toronto band with a pronounced affection for the “me” decade – have released a video from their Steely Dan cover record Aja. It’s premiered over at aux.tv and drummer Wes Marskell talks about it with Interview. The band are at The Phoenix on March 1 opening for Bombay Bicycle Club and are on the bill of Edgefest at Downsview Park on July 12.

Video: The Darcys – “Josie”

PunkNews has an interview with Damian Abraham of Fucked Up, whose new Chinese zodiac single “Year Of The Tiger” is now available to stream – all fifteen minutes of it. They’re at Steam Whistle Brewing on February 17 as part of Wavelength 12.

Stream: Fucked Up – “Year Of The Tiger”

Also part of the Wavelength anniversary fest, though two nights later on February 19 at The Garrison, are PS I Love You. They’ve finally completed their second album and on May 8, will be wishing Death Dreams on everyone. How kind. Chart has more info on the record.

Exclaim has got the new Islands record A Sleep & A Forgetting available to stream ahead of its physical release next Tuesday. They’re at The Music Gallery on February 28 and Nick Thorburn discusses the new record with New York Magazine and hour.ca.

MP3: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”
Stream: Islands / A Sleep & A Forgetting

Spin has made a new MP3 from Plants & Animals’ forthcoming The End Of That available to download. It’s out February 28 and the Montrealers are at Lee’s Palace on April 21.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”

Spinner has premiered a new video from Little Scream’s 2010 debut The Golden Record. She’s at The Great Hall on March 1 opening for The Barr Brothers.

Video: Little Scream – “Boatman”

Vancouver retro-soul outfit Chains Of Love have finally announced details of their full-length debut, to be entitled Strange Grey Days and due out on March 13. Specifics and a first taste is available to stream over at Exclaim, and the band have a couple of local dates coming up – a March 24 date at The Horseshoe as part of Canadian Musicfest (they’re on at 9:20) and then one on April 13 at The Great Hall opening up for Said The Whale.

Stream: Chains Of Love – “He’s Leaving (With Me)”

Beatroute has an interview and Exclaim a video session in two parts with John K Samson, in town at The Great Hall on March 22 for Canadian Musicfest.

NPR has posted video of a KEXP radio session and The New Zealand Herald an interview with Austra.

Stereogum has posted streams of a few selections from the Leonard Cohen covers CD currently gracing – which is to say glued to – the cover of Mojo. Hear Cohen redos by the likes of Cass McCombs, Field Music and Bill Callahan.

The Line Of Best Fit has unleashed their 20th Oh Canada compilation. Have at it.