Posts Tagged ‘John K Samson’

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Turn Up The Radio

Review of Camp Radio’s Campista Socialista

Photo via KillbeatKillbeatIf we were to spool up the Wayback Machine to November 2006, you’d find a post where I confessed that sending me a lovely slab of vinyl was a pretty good way to get to the top of my “to listen to” pile… something that apparently still holds true over a half decade later. But as I pointed out even way back then, a listen is not the same as a writeup so I find it comforting to know that Camp Radio still has the goods to impress in whatever format they’re auditioned on.

The three-piece comprised of Ottawa scene veterans released Campista Socialista last Fall but the five-year gap between it and their 2006 self-titled debut shouldn’t be attributed to overthinking or obsessive tweaking – Campista sounds like it was tossed off in an afternoon, and that’s meant in the very best way. It’s a short and spirited collection of guitar-driven power pop that’s high on energy and melody and low on frills, more than a little reminiscent of the sounds of American college rock circa the mid-’90s that are back in vogue. Sure, some of the harmonies might be imperfect but they’re well-intentioned and endearing in their wobbles and most importantly, they sound great while you, they, everyone, is pogoing around.

Camp Radio play The Horseshoe tomorrow night as part of Nu Music Nite. As always, it’s free and worth your while – they’re on at 9PM sharp.

MP3: Camp Radio – “The Girl Who Stole My Motorbike”
MP3: Camp Radio – “Turn Up The Radio”

Exclaim, Beatroute and CBC Radio 3 talk to The Darcys, performing at The Phoenix on March 1 in support of Bombay Bicycle Club and July 12 at Downsview Park for Edgefest.

The AV Club, Yahoo, and JAM talk to John K. Samson. He’s premiered the first video from Provincial over at IFC and will be at The Great Hall on March 22.

Video: John K. Samson – “Longitudinal Centre”

Le Blogotheque stages a Take-Away Show with Woodpigeon.

Exclaim reports that Patrick Watson will be releasing their new album Adventures In Your Own Backyard on April 30, and the first MP3 from it is already available to download.

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

Under The Radar talks to Graham Van Pelt about what 2011 meant for Miracle Fortress.

A second and much more in-character taste of Memoryhouse’s debut The Slideshow Effect is now up for grabs. The album is out February 28.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Walk With Me”

Hooded Fang have released a new video from Tosta Mista, just in time – well almost – for their show at The Great Hall on February 24.

Video: Hooded Fang – “Vacationation”

DIY has a video session with Kathleen Edwards, while and The Courier-Journal have interviews. She plays The Phoenix on February 11.

The New Zealand Herald has an interview with Feist. And oh, new video.

Video: Feist – “The Bad In Each Other”

The L has a video session with Little Scream, who’s just announced a date at The Great Hall on March 1 opening up for The Barr Brothers.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

Jenn Grant has rolled out a sweet, split-screened new video from last year’s Honeymoon Punch.

Video: Jenn Grant – “Baby’s Been Away”

NOW talks to Rae Spoon.

And if you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when Neil Young and Crazy Horse get together – that is, outside of the countless albums they’ve recorded together – head to Neil’s website to hear a 37-minute jam that’s presumably taken from their ongoing recording sessions.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012


John K. Samson at Soundscapes in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough his punk credentials are beyond reproach thans to his tenure in Propagandhi, John K. Samson has always cut a bit of a curious figure in front of The Weakerthans. While his bandmates are more than willing and able to play the part of rockers in turning out muscular guitar riffs and solos, Samson by comparison has always been a bit slight of stature, reedy of voice, sheepish of grin; the thoughtful and verbose folksinger who somehow ended up fronting a rock band. I don’t know if the contrast between he and his mates has especially struck anyone else, but it’s always been one of those things I’ve noticed – particularly live – and been one of the key facets to The Weakerthans’ collective charms.

So the idea of Samson taking a solo sidebar, as he does for the first time on the just-released Provincial, is an interesting one. His songwriting style – photographically-detailed and emotionally evocative vignettes of everyday life in distinctly Canadian settings – is a well-established and well-loved one by this point, but what it would sound like without the extra sonic heft that the rest of The Weakerthans could be counted on to bring to the table? Not too different, as it turns out. Although it still has a lot of range amidst its dozen compositions and “Longitudinal Centre” comes wrapped in some nasty fuzztone, Provincial doesn’t get as punchy as a proper Weakerthans record might. It lays back some and moves at a more casual pace that feels different, but also entirely natural; it might be heretical to say, but Samson solo seems to suit Samson better than Samson as bandleader does. This is in no way a wish for the end of The Weakerthans, but if Samson wants to be himself for a little while longer, it’s alright with me.

It was Samson himself and alone who was marking the release day for Provincial with an acoustic in-store performance at Soundscapes last night, following up a reading from his also just-released Lyrics and Poems: 1997-2012 at Type the night before. It wasn’t a long set, as the clock ticked, but Samson still managed to showcase half his new record and reaffirm himself as a special kind of performer whose show you can go into knowing exactly what you’re going to get, get exactly that, and still somehow find yourself marvelling at how it was still somehow better than you expected. I’d listened to “Heart Of The Continent” and “The Last And” through the album quite a lot in the past month or so, and yet hearing it straight from his mouth still revealed unknown details. The album might be called Provincial but there’s no question that Samson is a national treasure.

There’s features on Samson and Provincial at Uptown, The Winnipeg Free Press, and Spinner while Exclaim and CBC talk to him about his lyrics book. Mechanical Forest Sound is sharing a recording of one of the songs from the in-store. Samson returns with a full band for a show at the Great Hall on March 22.

Photos: John K. Samson @ Soundscapes – January 24, 2012
Stream: John K. Samson – “Letter In Icelandic From The Ninette San”
Stream: John K Samson – “When I Write My Master’s Thesis”

Ohbijou are helping The Drake Hotel mark its eighth anniversary by playing a special, intimate show at The Underground on February 8 – tickets for the super-intimate show are $20 in advance.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”

The Elwins will celebrate the February 21 self-release of their debut full-length And We Thank You with a release show on February 24 at The Burroghes Building at Queen and Bathurst (no, not the new CB2 – beside it), with support from The Meligrove Band and The Bicycles. Tickets $8 in advance.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”
MP3: The Meligrove Band – “Halflight”

And down the street the same night, Hooded Fang will be at The Great Hall; if you think that’s a bit of an ambitiously-sized room for them to try and fill, note that they’re bringing a lot of friends and only charging $10 in advance.

MP3: Hooded Fang – “ESP”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”

Treble Charger aren’t the only band from my college years getting back together for Canadian Musicfest; The Inbreds are digging their bass and drums out of the attic for a reunion show at Lee’s Palace on March 24.

Video: The Inbreds – “Any Sense Of Time”

Montreal’s Plants & Animals will follow up the February 28 release of The End Of That with an immense Spring tour; the April 21 show at Lee’s Palace will be the end of that. Tickets are $15 in advance and oh, there’s a cover they did of a Wolf Parade tune that’s making the rounds, have a boo.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”
Video: Plants & Animals – “I’ll Believe In Anything”

Clearly, it was all the saxophone on Kaputt that did it; Destroyer is coming back to town for a show at The Opera House on June 23 as part of The Toronto Jazz Festival – tickets are $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”

Exclaim has some details on a show at The Horseshoe on February 4 as part of Junofest 2012. I’m not really sure what it is but it involves people who play in bands like Sloan, Fucked Up and Broken Social Scene doing stuff together. I dunno, read the piece and you tell me.

Kathleen Edwards continues to rack up the press clippings with Voyageur – there’s pieces on her at Paste,, The Grid, NPR, eMusic, and The Globe & Mail. With this kind of momentum, her February 11 show at The Phoenix will be sold out right soon.

The Balconies have released a video for the title track of their Kill Count EP, which will get a physical release on February 28.

Video: The Balconies – “Kill Count”

Islands are streaming another new track from A Sleep & A Forgetting. It’s out February 14 and they’re at The Music Gallery on February 28.

Stream: Islands – “Hallways”

The Boston Globe has a feature piece on The Darcys, whose cover album of Steely Dan’s Aja is, like their self-titled debut, available to download for free from their website – or stream if you don’t want to commit – and to buy on LP. Consequence Of Sound has also premiered an alternate version of “Josie” for your listening pleasure. They’re at The Phoenix on March 1 opening for Bombay Bicycle Club and are also part of Edgefest at Downsview Park on July 12.

MP3: The Darcys – “Josie”
MP3: The Darcys – “Josie (Vol 2)”
Stream: The Darcys / Aja

CBC Radio 3 talks writing method with Dan Mangan. He’s at The Royal York on March 24 as part of the CMW Indie Awards.

Paste has premiered the first video from Great Lake Swimmers’ new album New Wild Everywhere. It’s out April 3 and they’re at The Music Hall June 2.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Easy Come Easy Go”

The Line Of Best Fit has a feature interview with Bruce Peninsula, and also premiere a new video from Open Flames and are offering a mixtape of all the artists who’ve been part of the band.

Video: Bruce Peninsula – “In Your Light”

Xtra and Calgary Herald talk to Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon on the occasion of the release of their new EP For Paolo.

Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up talks to Eater about eating.

The Guardian talks to Leonard Cohen and Drowned In Sound reports on a tete-a-tete between he and Jarvis Cocker about his new record Old Ideas, out next Tuesday and streaming in whole now at NPR.

Stream: Leonard Cohen / Old Ideas

Neil Young in the news – MTV reports that he still hates digital music but likes Mumford & Sons, while Rolling Stone reveals that he’s been working on a new album with Crazy Horse.

If you enjoyed last year’s video session collaboration between Southern Souls and Paper Bag Records, you’ll be pleased to know that the recordings have been collected into a compilation entitled Paper Bag Sessions and it’s available to download and keep for free.

And because that’s what the CBC is for, CBC Radio 3 has compiled a list of all the notable Canadian releases due out in the first half of 2012.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Change The Sheets

Review of Kathleen Edwards’ Voyageur

Photo By Todd V WolfsonTodd V WolfsonI feel that I should say up front that any reservations I have about Kathleen Edwards and her work are entirely my own issues. Since her 2002 debut Failer, I’ve enjoyed her honest, roots-rock fare but always felt like I expected more from her creatively even though across her first three albums, she’d never shown any signs that she had ambitions beyond being a good singer-songwriter. That said, the fact that she spent her downtime following 2008’s Asking For Flowers songwriting with John Roderick of The Long Winters and becoming romantically/artistically involved with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver made me think that perhaps her fourth record would represent that creative hard left that for whatever reason I kept expecting her to take.

So just to get it out of the way, Voyageur, out today, is not that game-changing record. It does, however, represent a significant enough shift in Edwards’ modus operandi to be noteworthy and is arguably her best effort to date. She’s shed much of the country-rock accouterments of her earlier records and the more narrative songwriting structures for an approach that’s more sonically expansive and more thematically raw, but has balanced out that weightiness with some of her catchiest pop compositions to date in “Change The Sheets” and “Sidecar”. It’s surprising that two of the most personal and pensive numbers on the record – “Pink Champagne” and “A Soft Place To Land” – would be the Roderick co-writes; I’d have expected different lessons to be learned from one of the smartest power-pop songwriters around, but again perhaps that’s teaching me to think I know what to expect. Similarly, looking for Vernon’s overt fingerprints on the record are futile – there’s no vocoder or falsetto in effect, even though he contributes backing vocals throughout. Okay, the outro guitar solo(s) on “Going To Hell” are kind of Bon Iver-ish.

Whether it came from her collaborators of from within, what’s most remarkable about Voyageur is that Edwards is able to step away from her comfort zone just enough to establish a new creative boundaries – and I suspect that these are her boundaries as her voice sounds on the edge of strained at points – without abandoning the touchpoints that her existing fanbase would need to stick around. Maybe I’d have preferred that she went a little bit further – again, I don’t know what I mean by that it’s just how I feel – but Voyageur is pretty good proof that she knows what she’s doing better than I do.

The National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, The Ottawa Citizen and 660 News have interviews with Edwards while The Line Of Best Fit has a mini-documentary on the making of Voyageur, as well a stream of the entire album. She plays The Phoenix on February 11.

MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Stream: Kathleen Edwards / Voyageur

Bry Webb has finally announced a proper local show to mark the release of his excellent solo debut Provider; he’ll play two shows on Saturday, February 4 at the Music Gallery – one at 6PM, the other at 8:30PM. Tickets are $12 for each show and on sale now at Rotate and Soundscapes. Also check out his just-released video session for Southern Souls.

MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”

John K Samson’s solo debut Provincial comes out next Tuesday and Exclaim has the whole thing available to stream now. Samson plays an in-store at Soundscapes on the day of release – January 24 – at 7PM and will be back as part of Canadian Musicfest on March 22 at The Great Hall. And if that’s not enough, he’ll be doing a signing for his new book Lyrics and Poems 1997-2012 at TYPE Books on January 23 at 6:30PM.

Stream: John K Samson / Provincial

American Songwriter has premiered the new video from Canadian songwriter Louise Burns, taken from her Mellow Drama album.

Video: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”

A new, non-album Ohbijou song has been made available to download via Nylon; have at it.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Mossy Lungs”

BlogTO talks to Rae Spoon, in town at The Gladstone on January 27.

The new Woodpigeon EP For Paolo is now available to stream in whole and will be available to buy on January 23.

Stream: Woodpigeon / For Paolo

You can now watch the whole of Arcade Fire’s performance on Austin City Limits. Yeah, you have to sit through some commercials first, but it’s worth it.

Another new song to stream from Leonard Cohen’s forthcoming Old Ideas via The New Yorker. And you can also read it in poem form.

Stream: Leonard Cohen – “Going Home”

In conversation with The Chronicle Herald, director Bruce MacDonald reveals that his next film project will be based on the next Stars album and that it’s called Those Days Are Gone.

Local label Out Of This Spark have announced details of their fifth anniversary show, and as always it’s an impressive showcase of local talent. This year’s show happens February 25 at the label’s spiritual home of The Tranzac and will feature Forest City Lovers, Snowblink, Snailhouse and more.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Snailhouse – “I Never Woke Up”

Canadian Musicfest wasn’t able to follow through on their promise of more artist announcements yesterday, but the lineup for the Indie Awards did leak this weekend, and the lineup of artists performing is as random and arbitrary as the awards themselves… but solid, nonetheless. Performing at the Royal York Hotel on the evening of March 24 will be Passion Pit, Rich Aucoin, The Sheepdogs, Dan Mangan, Cœur de pirate, Treble Charger, and The Pack AD. And yes, that means that Treble Charger – or at least Greg Nori and Bill Priddle – have reunited… but you’re more likely to hear them play “American Psycho” than “10th Grade Love”. Unfortunately. Update: Treble Charger are also playing their own show on March 21 at The Phoenix.

MP3: Rich Aucoin – “It”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
MP3: The Pack A.D. – “Sirens”
Video: Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead”
Video: The Sheepdogs – “I Don’t Know”
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Adieu”
Video: Treble Charger – “Red”

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Stirring Bones

Del Bel, The Hollow Earth, Persian Rugs, and RLMDL at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI like a break as much as the next guy – believe me – but coming up on two and a half weeks since I’d been to a live show and with the January concert calendar looking pretty sparse by any measure, I was getting pretty anxious to go and see something. Happily, it was Wavelength to the rescue. I hadn’t been to a showcase in almost two years – certainly not since they wrapped the weekly series and went to the intermittent schedule – but their first presentation of the year was just about what I was looking for, with a good blend of the familiar, unknown and intriguing.

On paper, there was a fair bit going against RLMDL (pronounced “role model”), the stage name of one Jordan Allen of London, Ontario – self-identifying as “chillwave” chief among them, the vowel-less stage name and trying to make a compelling live show out of the one-guy-with-a -table-full-of-samplers-and-effects-pedals not far behind – but to his credit, especially considering this was one of his first live shows (if I heard correctly), he did pretty well. Sure, he had an aesthetic of loops and synths that may age badly and an inherently uninteresting visual presentation, but those were secondary to the fact that he had solid melodies, confident vocals, and added a reasonable amount of physicality to the proceedings. In short, he had songs, and if you’ve got songs you’re doing alright. Not every electro-tinkerer artists deserve to leave their bedroom studios; Allen does.

I’d seen Persian Rugs back in October and while I’d been pleased to see the former Airfields/Diableros back in action, they didn’t seem to have fully cohered and while their jangly indie-pop was certainly friendly enough, it mostly just made me remember how much I liked their former outfits. Happily, the months since seem to have done the unit a world of good as they had a much better foot to put forward this time out. The formula remains the same – classic pop with hooks made of jangly guitars and vintage-y organs – but rotating through their three lead vocalists emphasized their individual and collective strengths and just coming across much more assuredly than that Parts & Labour show made for a much better performance. There’s still room to improve but it would seem the hardest part – the coming together and sounding like a cohesive band rather than echoes of their past projects – seems to be behind them.

How new a band is The Hollow Earth? So much so that a short feature in this week’s issue of a local alt-weekly is now the top online reference about them. But while they’ve got no Facebook/Soundcloud/Bandcamp presence, the folks in the band have been operating in local bands for many years (Pony Da Look, Beethoven Frieze, Blood Ceremony) now and the sound they’ve come together to create is hardly new, either. As one might discern from their name, they work an unabashedly ’70s-influenced mine of inspiration which you could reasonably describe as any or all of stoner, prog, psych, or metal with a bit of goth or folk thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t quite heavy enough for headbanging but plenty of nodding and being entertained by Gaven Dianda’s extended guitar solos and Amy Bowles’ interpretive dance moves.

Relatively new Toronto collective Del Bel came to my attention late last year when The Toronto Star included “Beltone” from their debut album Oneiric in their year-end mix of some of the best in Canadian music for 2011. High praise, and a few listens to Oneiric confirmed that it was deserved; it’s moody and atmospheric, yet very raw and real in its way largely thanks to singer Lisa Conway, whose vocals can come across as ethereal or bruised depending on where one stands in the combination caberet/carnival/antique shop run by David Lynch that seems to define their musical world. Live, they were a nine-piece which in this town typically means some sort of racket, but instead all the horns, strings, keys, and percussion that filled the stage were unified in their mission to set the scene, sonically speaking. That said, they sounded more ramshackle live than on record – deliberately, I should point out, in a Tom Waits sort of way – but still compelling in their balance of discomfort and beauty.

NOW has the interview with The Hollow Earth mentioned above, while BlogTO has an interview with Del Bel and Southern Souls has a beautifully-staged and shot session in a Hamilton church.

Photos: Del Bel, The Hollow Earth, Persian Rugs, RLMDL @ The Garrison – January 7, 2012
MP3: Persian Rugs – “Always All”
MP3: RLMDL – “Just My Luck”
Stream: Del Bel – “Beltone”
Stream: Del Bel / Oneiric
Stream: RLMDL / Just My Luck

Weakerthans frontman John K Samson could spend January 24, the day his solo debut solo album Provincial comes out, anywhere – his beloved Winnipeg comes to mind – but instead he’ll be hanging out at Soundscapes around 7PM playing some songs for anyone who might care to listen. That should be you. Yes, it’s free. He also plays The Great Hall on March 22, but that’s not free.

Stream: John K. Samson – “Letter In Icelandic From The Ninette San”
Stream: John K Samson – “When I Write My Master’s Thesis”

Trust may currently be best known as the extra-cirricular project of Austra drummer Maya Postepski, but with the February 28 release of their debut album TRST they should be able to stand on their own merits as another impressive Toronto-based electro-dance act. They’ll play a record release show at Wrongbar on March 3.

Video: Trust – “Bulbform”
Video: Trust – “Candy Walls”

Also out on February 28 is The End Of That, the new record from Montreal’s Plants & Animals. A first MP3 from the record is available now to download.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”

Great Lake Swimmers have revealed details about their next album via Exclaim. Their fifth album New Wild Everywhere will be out April 3 and a cross-Canada Spring tour will follow, including a June 2 date at The Music Hall in Toronto.

Stream: Great Lake Swimmers – “Easy Come Easy Go”

Snowblink have premiered a new video from Long Live.

Video: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”

Friday, January 6th, 2012

When I Go

The Joel Plaskett Emergency aspires to record rock’n’roll in record time

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJoel Plaskett is a guy who’s established that he’s not averse to applying a little bit of high concept to his brand of friendly, meat-and-potatoes rock – recall that his last release of new material, 2009’s Three, was both triple-disced and triple-themed – so one shouldn’t be too surprised that his next record also has to come with a bit of an explanation.

As reports, Plaskett and his band The Emergency will endeavour to record and release a new song every week – and endeavour they’re likening to the pace of artists in the ’50s and ’60s – and calling it “Rock’n’Roll in Record Time”; probably a bit of an overstatement but a noble mission statement nonetheless. Each week’s track will be premiered on CBC Radio 2 on the Tuesday starting on January 10 and straight through to March 13, with the ten tracks then being collected as Scrappy Happiness and released as an album proper on March 27.

Shortly thereafter, they’ll set out on a cross-Canada tour that stops in Toronto for two nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19, though the itinerary listed at Exclaim certainly leaves plenty of room for more dates, including his native Maritime stomping grounds.

Since each song reveal is going to be an event unto itself, there’s obviously no preview tracks – so instead lend your ears to a couple samples from his last couple releases, the attic-clearing EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations comp and the aforementioned triple-threat Three.

MP3: Joel Plaskett – “When I Go”
MP3: Joel Plaskett – “Deny Deny Deny”

Exclaim is streaming Rae Spoon’s new record I Can’t Keep All Of Our Secrets ahead of its official release next Tuesday, January 10; Spoon plays the Gladstone Hotel on January 27.

Stream: Rae Spoon / I Can’t Keep All Of Our Secrets

Salon talks to Kathleen Edwards about her new record Voyageur, out January 17. She plays The Phoenix on February 11.

Though I declared last Fall that labels should be tripping over each other for an opportunity to release And We Thank You, the debut album from The Elwins, the band have opted to not wait for a knight in shining armour and will put it out independently on February 21. NOW has a conversation with the band about the decision to DIY it. They just played The Silver Dollar last night but will also be at 918 Bathurst on January 21 if you’ve not yet caught them live.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”

Exclaim is streaming another new song from John K. Samson’s forthcoming solo debut Provincial. It’s out January 24 and he plays The Great Hall on March 22 as part of Canadian Musicfest.

Stream: John K. Samson – “Letter In Icelandic From The Ninette San”

Montreal noise merchants No Joy have made a date at the Great Hall for February 18; with their debut Ghost Blonde coming up on being a year and a half old, perhaps this is an opportunity to preview some new material?

MP3: No Joy – “Hawaii”

PS I Love You, just seen a couple weeks ago opening up for Fucked Up, have made a date of their own at The Garrison on February 19.

MP3: PS I Love You – “2012”

Pitchfork reports that Montreal electro-pop artist Grimes, who entered 2012 with a good bit of buzz already, will be taking it up a notch what with having signed to legendary label 4AD for the February 21 release of her new album Visions. Expect her March 19 show at The Horseshoe to be jammed. And have jams.

MP3: Grimes – “Genesis”

Paste invites The Wooden Sky into their kitchen to play a few songs; the band have just released the first MP3 from their forthcoming album Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun, due out February 28. They play The Opera House on April 20.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”