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Posts Tagged ‘Julia Holter’

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Thick As Thieves

Widowspeak and The Auras at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangObjectively speaking, there’s not a world of difference between Widowspeak’s 2011 self-titled debut or the follow-up Almanac, released in January of this year. You can file them both quite comfortably under “the soundtrack to dreams of dusty country roads”, not too far from lazy but not inaccurate reference points Mazzy Star and Cat Power, but something about Almanac grabs me the way that Widowspeak, as much as I dug it, didn’t. And it’s not something as simple as they’re getting more dynamic or rocking out harder, as refresher listens to their debut confirm there’s no shortage of volume spikes amidst the sleepiness. There’s just something more present, more assured, in Almanac‘s grooves – like lucid dreaming versus wake-walking. Whatever it is, I love it, and so their show at The Garrison on Monday night – their first non-festival headline date in Toronto – was a must-go on my calendar.

Local support came from The Auras, signed to Toronto’s Optical Sounds and labelmates with B-17, whom I’d just seen just a few days earlier; if there’s some sort of shadow conspiracy to get me more attuned with the city’s psych-pop scene… then it’s working. Mind you, The Auras didn’t impress the same way that B-17 did, but they’re not really built to. Comprised of fresh-faced youngsters rather than scene veterans, they were a bit of a mish-mash visually – a mass of paisley, headbands, shaggy hair, tassels, and with half the six-piece band in sunglasses, all bathed in their a bring-your-own light show. Sonically, they felt more like a a psychedelic jam session, rotating through four lead vocalists and possessing more of vague mandate to sound like a more shambolic, polite Black Angels than a firm mission statement. Understand that this is not a complaint, but actually more a point of envy. Having a group of like-minded players to jam, gig, and record with sounds like the best thing ever, actually.

I saw Widowspeak twice last year – in the same room at NXNE and a few months earlier at SXSW – but this time there was a new rhythm section in place and a fifth member in the fold on guitar and keys. The heart of the band, however – Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas – were still there, ever front and centre. Opening with Almanac leadoff “Perennials”, the template for the show was quickly established – Hamilton serenely cooing into the mic while Thomas got to play the role of guitar hero, although he would have been more effective at it had his guitar not been the quietest of the three on stage; a little more volume would have helped his leads achieve the prominence they deserved and might also have quieted the reasonably-sized if disproportionately chatty crowd audience.

As the show progressed, the chatter either diminished or the genuinely interested moved up to the front – in either case, they were drawn in by the performance, which maintained the same basic rhythm through the better part of an hour, offering a good mix of Almanac and Widowspeak material though sadly omitting two of my favourite new songs, “Devil Knows” and “Spirit Is Willing”. They did shift gears slightly towards the end with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” – yeah, having Hamilton wrap her voice around it is a bit on the nose, but still gorgeous – and a keyboard-led “Thick As Thieves”, before closing with a relatively raucous “Ballad Of The Golden Hour” and “Harsh Realm”. An encore wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but Hamilton was enticed to come back out for a final number, a reading of “Limbs” done solo because the rest of the band didn’t know how to play it, and were also busy selling merch off to the side. A modest finale to a modest yet wholly enjoyable show.

Iamnosuperman and Good Times have interviews with Robert Earl Thomas and The Riverfront Times chats with Molly Hamilton while El Paso What’s Up talks to both.

Photos: Widowspeak, The Auras @ The Garrison – April 16, 2013
MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Sore Eyes”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Gun Shy”
MP3: Widowspeak – “In The Pines”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Devil Knows”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
Video: Widowspeak – “Locusts”
Stream: The Auras / The Auras

Not necessarily enough show announcements this week to devote a post, but still a few things of note. Seattle’s Cave Singers will bring their new album Naomi – released last month – to town for a show at The Horseshoe on June 17, tickets $15. There’s a feature on the band at 85-26.

MP3: The Cave Singers – “Black Leaf”
MP3: The Cave Singers – “Swim Club”

California’s Rogue Wave are back with a new record in Nightingale Floors coming out on June 4, and are teaming up with Brooklyn’s Caveman, who just released their second self-titled album, for a Summer tour that hits The Mod Club on June 25, tickets $18.50/.

MP3: Caveman – “Easy Water”
Stream: Rogue Wave – “College”

Another bi-coastal bill will team Californian psych-pop outfit Woods, still working last Fall’s Bend Beyond, with New York ’90s indie rock revivalists Parquet Courts and their debut Light Up Gold for a date at The Horseshoe on July 17, tickets $15.50.

MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”
MP3: Parquet Courts – “Borrowed Time”

Los Angeles’ Julia Holter brings last year’s Ekstasis to The Drake on July 17, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”

Consequence Of Sound, Spinner, Vulture, and Spin talk to Thermals frontman Hutch Harris and PopMatters to drummer Westin Glass about their just-released new record Desperate Ground, and they also talk to The AV Club and Clash respectively about action movies. The Thermals are at The Horseshoe on May 21.

MTV Hive and Stereogum have features on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose new record Mosquito arrived this week.

Interview and The Victoria Times-Colonist talk to Sam Beam about the new Iron & Wine album Ghost On Ghost.

PopMatters, eMusic, Forbes, and Spin have features on The Flaming Lips and their new album The Terror.

The National Post talks to Steve Earle about his latest The Low Highway.

Ra Ra Riot is streaming the single they’ll be releasing for Record Store Day this Saturday via T Magazine. The Alternate Side also has a session with the band, who are here on May 25 at The Sound Academy supporting The Shins, then back for the Field Trip fest at Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: Ra Ra Riot – “All I Fear”

Stereogum has a stream of The Hold Steady’s contribution to this week’s Game Of Thrones closing credits, while Wired examines the intersection of the kingdoms of Westeros and the world of indie rock. The Hold Steady are here as part of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 6 at Garrison Commons.

Stream: The Hold Steady – “The Bear & The Maiden Fair”

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert concert with Yo La Tengo, one of the names at the final day of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.

Kurt Vile is also playing TURF Sunday; Noisey has an interview with him about being a rocker parent rocker.

Janelle Monáe dishes a bit to Billboard about her long-awaited second album The Electric Lady, due out later this year.

Stereogum have premiered the new video from Low’s The Invisible Way.

Video: Low – “Just Make It Stop”

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff has squeezed another video out of his Lovestreams side-project.

Video: Lovestreams – “There’s Video”

NPR welcomes Local Natives for a World Cafe session.

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

CONTEST – Julia Holter @ The Horseshoe – September 22, 2012

Photo By Rick BahtoRick BahtoWho: Julia Holter
What: Los Angeles-based ambient/electronic-pop artist whose acclaimed, second album Ekstasis was released back in the Spring.
Why: After a Summer spent touring Europe and opening dates for Sigur Rós, Holter is embarking on a Fall headlining tour of her own.
When: Saturday, September 22, 2012
Where: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto
Who else: Floridians Hundred Waters support.
How: Tickets for the show are $12 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Julia Holter in the subject line and your full name in the body and have that in to me before midnight, September 19.
What else: Pitchfork published a solid, “get to you know” interview back in February and NPR has a concert from March available to stream. Not new, but still relevant.

MP3: Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”
Video: Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”
Video: Julia Holter – “Our Sorrows”
Video: Julia Holter – “Moni Mon Ami”
Video: Julia Holter – “Goddess Eyes I”

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Fragrant World

Yeasayer are now big enough to play The Sound Academy, and other assorted sundry news items

Photo By Anna PalmaAnna PalmaIt used to be that the room that every concert-goer in Toronto hated was The Kool Haus, a ridiculously-named concrete box on the waterfront that usually marked the point where a percentage of long-time fans would decide a band had gotten too big and would peel off to find the next big thing, only to have their places happily taken by folks from the more mainstream side of things who could care less that said band had been grinding it out in the clubs for years – they were that band with that one song that they’d heard on the radio/on a soundtrack/in and ad/whatever.

It was the circle of life, and it still applies now except that instead of the 2000-capacity Kool Haus marking that demarcation point, lately bands have been jumping straight from the clubs to the Sound Academy – an even more despised concrete box on the waterfront that, despite the number of people who swear they will never go to a show there, still sells out its 3000+ capacity with regularity. But on the plus side, people look at the Kool Haus a lot more affectionately these days.

All of which is to say that I’m mildly surprised – and yet not – that Brooklyn’s Yeasayer have booked themselves into The Sound Academy this Summer for their North American tour in support of their third album, Fragrant World. I guess I just didn’t think that Yeasayer had the sort of mass appeal that would justify a move from the 1000-person Phoenix, where they were their last time through in June 2011, to a room three times larger this time out. But hey, it’s happening – much to the dismay of many, I’m sure – on August 21, which also happens to be the day that the new album comes out. Tickets for that one will be $22.50 general admission and $32.50 for VIP balcony seats.

The first track from Fragrant World has been made available to download, and there’s a piece in Spin from last Fall where singer Chris Keating talked about the song, specifically.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Henrietta”

In other show announcements – The Dandy Warhols will play an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on June 3 at 4:30PM before their show at The Phoenix later that night. There’s interviews with the band at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Phoenix, and Vancouver Observer.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Country Leaver”

Brooklyn’s Ava Luna have made a date at The Drake Underground for July 14, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut album Ice Level was released earlier this Winter.

MP3: Ava Luna – “Wrenning Day”

California’s RACES – yes, I believe the all caps is mandatory – will be at The Drake on July 23 in support of their debut Year Of The Witch, which is also available to stream in its entirety.

MP3: RACES – “Big Broom”
Stream: RACES / Year Of The Witch

Los Angeles ambient-electronic artist Julia Holter will be at The Horseshoe on September 22 in support of her widely-acclaimed second album Ekstasis. Tickets for that are $12 in advance and The Quietus has an interview.

Video: Julia Holter – “Our Sorrw”

Beachwood Sparks have released a second MP3 from their comeback record The Tarnished Gold, out June 26.

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Sparks Fly Again”

Rolling Stone has premiered the new animated video from Andrew Bird, taken from Break It Yourself. He plays Echo Beach on July 19.

Video: Andrew Bird – “eyeoneye”

Filter has a video session with School Of Seven Bells.

Room 205 has posted the second installment of their video series with Blouse.

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from Jana Hunter of Lower Dens, in town at Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Coup de Main and Tulsa World talk to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Ume’s Lauren Larson chats with The Dallas Observer.

The Village Voice finds out what Amy Klein has been up to since leaving Titus Andronicus last Fall – mainly starting a new band, Leda. Which sounds like this.

MP3: Leda – “Halfway”

The Stool Pigeon talks to both Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House.

The Quietus profiles The Men, doing up NXNE with shows at The Garrison on June 14 and Wrongbar on June 15.

Blurt talks to Brett Netson of Electronic Anthology Project about synth-ing up the likes of Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr.

Rolling Stone has a video interview with Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs reunion.

Bob Mould takes an in-depth look back at the Sugar years for The Quietus. Their catalog gets reissued in fancy form come July 24.