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Posts Tagged ‘Keren Ann’

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Four Letter Word

My laptop died last night so as karmic retribution, you get Beady Eye

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickSo good times, my laptop died last night after 3.5 years of service due to a failed hard drive. I had planned on replacing it this year anyways, but hoped to squeeze a little more out of it – like a week. Fittingly, it died just as I was looking at the new upgraded Macbook Pros on the Apple site so… yeah. Anyways. Just some stuff from the old world to clear out before the weekend, so…

Beady Eye. Their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding is out over here on March 1 and kind of surprisingly, advance word seems to be that it’s not terrible. Not any kind of groundbreaking, being mostly bog-standard retro-styled Brit rock, but pretty alright for what it is. I haven’t heard it, this is just what I’m hearing. Anyways, I do hope it does okay if just for Andy Bell’s sake, and I get the sense that they’ll be doing a proper North American promotional push and that should include touring, perhaps come Fall. Anyways. The Guardian, BBC, Spinner and Exclaim all have features on the band.

MP3: Beady Eye – “The Roller”

Under The Radar talks to Andy Bell’s former compatriot Mark Gardener on the occasion of Ride’s 20th anniversary and yes, the reunion question comes up and no, there are not plans for it but as the Bieb says – never say never.

Captain’s Dead has rounded up a bunch of Lush’s Black Sessions MP3s for your shoegazing nostalgia purposes. Another band highly unlikely to ever get back together.

Drowned In Sound talks to Yan of British Sea Power. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 24.

Spinner talks to Norman Blake of Jonny, whose self-titled debut is due out in North America on April 12.

Spinner has an interview with Ellie Goulding, whose debut Lights gets a US release on March 8 and who is at The Phoenix on March 27.

The Mirror reports that Duffy, disappointed in the disappointment surrounding her disappointing second record Endlessly, is considering ending her music career.

Exclaim has made PJ Harvey their cover story for the month.

The Independent and Tour Dates chat with Patrick Wolf, whose new record Lupercalia is out May 23.

The Quietus, Irish Independent and Irish Times interview Guy Garvey of Elbow, whose build a rocket boys! is out March 8 in the UK but not until April 12 in North America.

Glasvegas have released a new video from their second album Euphoric Heartbreak, due out April 4. Guitarist Rab Allan talks to The Scotsman while James Allan offers a track-by-track overview of the record to The Daily Record.

Video: Glasvegas – “Euphoria, Take My Hand”

Also with a new clip are White Lies, taken from Ritual. Dose has an interview with the band.

Video: White Lies – “Strangers”

The Quietus reports that Wild Beasts have given their new record a title of Smother and release date of May 10.

Secret Sessions has a solo acoustic video session and interview with Tim Compton of The High Wire.

PitchforkTV has a Tunnelvision session with Yuck, who also have their self-title up to stream at Soundcloud. They play The Phoenix on May 1 and Gigwise has an interview.

Stream: Yuck / Yuck

Lykke Li talks to Spinner and Billboard and names off her dream band to The Independent. Her new record Wounded Rhymes is out on Tuesday and she plays The Phoenix on May 22.

Shockhound, Consequence Of Sound and Spinner chat with The Radio Dept, who just picked up their second Best New Whatevs in less than a year from Pitchfork. They’re at The Horseshoe on May 29.

Peter Bjorn & John have a new vid from Gimme Some, out March 29. They play Lee’s Palace on May 6.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance”

The Megaphonic Thrift have rolled out a new vid from Decay Decoy, out March 8.

Video: The Megaphonic Thrift – “Talks Like A Weed King”

Keren Ann’s new record 101 is now streamable in advance of its March 22 release. She plays The Drake Underground on June 28.

Stream: Keren Ann / 101

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Good Evening

The Concretes and Hooray For Earth at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAfter a much-needed break from live music with a month spent watching television instead of bands, it was back out to the clubs on Monday night for the first gig of 2011, and it was one that as recently as a couple weeks ago I hadn’t planned on attending – The Concretes at The Horseshoe. From passing listens to the singles, I didn’t expect much of their latest WYWH but a proper sit-down with their second post-Victoria Bergsman album happily proved me wrong. And so I went.

Helping that decision along was the presence of New York’s Hooray For Earth as support. I’d meant to investigate their 2010 debut EP Momo further but never did, so seeing them live in advance of their full-length debut True Loves‘ release on May 3 seemed like a good way to make up for that. Unfortunately, and perhaps as a result of a traumatic border-crossing experience alluded to by singer Noel Heroux, the band didn’t seem to be at the top of their game, seeming distracted or even disinterested as they ran through their half-hour set. The quality of their songs – catchy New Waved numbers marked by big ’80s synths and (over)-effected vocals – was evident despite that, but the pep of their recorded sound was decided muted.

I was there the last the the sandwich board outside The ‘Shoe declared, “The Concretes” back in May 2006, but a half-decade one, it was a completely different band who took the stage. Singer Victoria Bergsman departed shortly after that show – that’s been well-documented – and rather than call it a day, drummer Lisa Milberg moved into the role of frontwoman but what was surprising was that Maria Erikson – guitarist, vocalist and co-founder of the band with Milberg and Bergsman – was not amongst the half-dozen Concretes who’d crossed the Atlantic. Or maybe not so surprising considering her credits on the new record amount to “backing vocals”. But either way, this was now Milberg’s show.

And as WYWH would dictate, it was a disco show, but without much dancing. Despite the dancefloor grooves and textures of the new record, it’s still a downbeat record and accordingly, a rather restrained performance. The live renderings were actually sped up some from the album version, perhaps to give them a little more zip or perhaps to help them sit alongside the older material better. Yes, they still did the older material – fair game considering Milberg co-wrote most of it – but what was more surprising than that it wasn’t verboten was how natural those songs still sounded without Bergsman’s distinctively sleepy vocals. And if you think about it, Milberg’s voice might have a different timbre from her former bandmate but it has a similar wounded quality about it that helps maintain the songs’ spirit.

With such disparate-sounding material rubbing elbows on the set list, the flow of the show was a little odd at times but the balance of new material and key singles from The Concretes and In Colour made for a solid batch of songs. And while it was hard to not recall the glorious rotating lead vocals from Bergsman, Milberg and Erikson the last time they played main set closer “Song For The Songs”, these new Concretes had already established their 2011 bona fides. And for that, bravo.

Photos: The Concretes, Hooray For Earth @ The Horseshoe – January 17, 2010
MP3: The Concretes – “All Day”
MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”
MP3: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: The Concretes – “Kids”
Video: The Concretes – “All Day”
Video: The Concretes – “Keep Yours”
Video: The Concretes – “Seems Fine”
Video: The Concretes – “Oh Boy”
Video: The Concretes – “Chosen One”
Video: The Concretes – “On The Radio”
Video: The Concretes – “Say Something New”
Video: The Concretes – “You Can’t Hurry Love”
Video: The Concretes – “Warm Night”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Form”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Rolling/Nectarine”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Get Home”
Myspace: The Concretes
Myspace: Hooray For Earth

Lykke Li has released a new video from her forthcoming record Wounded Rhymes, out on March 1 – BBC has an interview with her about the new record. She will be at The Phoenix on May 22.

Video: Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers”

Also straight outta Sweden with a new vid are Peter Bjorn & John – it’s the first sample of their forthcoming Gimme Some, due out March 29, which you can also download over here. They have a talk with Spinner about the new record.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Breaker Breaker”

There were a crapload of show announcements yesterday… and a crapload today. Starting with Suuns, who’ll be playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on January 29 at 4PM. As always, it’s a free show but food bank donations are encouraged.

MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”

Ty Segall will be anchoring the Wrongbar lineup for Canadian Musicfest on the Saturday night, March 12.

MP3: Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”

I would have thought that they’d be playing bigger rooms by now, but that just means that Warpaint’s show at Wrongbar on March 26 – which they packed last August well before their debut The Fool came out and got all those rave reviews – will be that much more of a hot ticket. You’ve been warned. Full tour dates up at Beggars USA and support for the show will be Australia’s PVT.

MP3: Warpaint – “Undertow”
MP3: PVT – “Quick Mile”

After a too-long absence – I’m not counting their set opening for Gogol Bordello last Spring because a) it was at The Sound Academy and b) I couldn’t go – DeVotchKa are coming back to town. Their last headlining show was way back in June 2006, so that they’ll bring their new record 100 Lovers to the Mod Club on March 30 is welcome news indeed; tickets $19 in advance.

MP3: DeVotchKa – “Along The Way”

Luke Temple’s Here We Go Magic have made a date at the El Mocambo for April 2, tickets $13.50. Their last record Pigeons came out last Summer.

MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Casual”
MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Collector”

I don’t know if John Darnielle thought Toronto wouldn’t notice that The Mountain Goats skipped us over entirely whilst touring their last record The Life Of The World To Come, but it’s good to know we won’t be slighted when All Eternals Deck comes out on March 29 – they’ll be here just five days later, April 3, with Megafaun in tow, for a show at the Opera Hosue – tickets $17.50 in advance. Pitchfork has a chat with Darnielle about the new album and there’s a campaign to get The Mountain Goats on Law & Order: SVU so obviously you should go and get behind that.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Tyler Lambert’s Grave”

Following an extensive North American tour, Kingston’s PS I Love You will play an almost-hometown show at The Garrison on April 7.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Get Over”

And looking waaaaay ahead, Keren Ann will follow up the March 22 release of her new record 101 with Summer dates that include an appearance at the Drake Underground on June 28, tickets $16.50. She’s just released a video from said record.

Video: Keren Ann – “My Name Is Trouble”

Aquarium Drunkard, Artinfo, The Fader and Prefix talk to Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose new record Kaputt is out next week but streaming right now at Hype Machine. Destroyer plays Lee’s Palace on March 31.

Stream: Destroyer / Kaputt

The Line Of Best Fit and The AV Club interview Jenny Conlee and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, respectively. The Polaroid portfolio which was a part of deluxe editions of The King Is Dead is available to peruse at New York Magazine with commentary from photographer Autumn de Wilde. Further, the band’s hometown show in Portland will be webcast tonight on NPR starting at 3PM EST. The Decemberists are at The Sound Academy on February 1.

And the only relevance that the Coachella lineup has to my life is the fact that Elbow and Suede are on this continent in April…

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

I Saw You Blink

Stornoway and Franz Nicolay & Major General at The El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSome, like myself, felt that Stornoway and their debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill were the perfect soundtrack to Summer. Others find their rich yet subtle orchestral pop to be more Autumnal than anything else. For the Oxford, England quartet’s visit on Tuesday night, the seasonal backdrop neither – instead, they made their Canadian debut on a wet and dreary eve right on the cusp of Winter.

With them was a face who’d visited many times before, though not in his current guise – Franz Nicolay, formerly of The Hold Steady but now of himself and his band Major General. Some have wondered what would possess someone to leave a band as popular and fun as The Hold Steady, but as terrific as his contributions to that band were, his musical (and sartorial) style always seemed at odds with The Hold Steady’s unabashed bar rock-ness. And just a few songs of what he’s done on his own made the reasoning for leaving abundantly clear; his own artistic ambitions can’t play second fiddle to anyone. Fronting a five-piece band of upright bass, drums, violin and keys, Nicolay himself would rotate through guitar, accordion and banjo whilst running through material from his new album Luck & Courage that was rich with old world influences while retaining a pop immediacy – more DeVotchKa than Hold Steady, to be sure. And music aside, Nicolay clearly enjoyed the frontman role, offering up almost as much banter as music – someone as loquacious as he staying in Craig Finn’s shadow for long? Not likely.

For as good of a record as Stornoway released this Summer, they seemed to have flown largely under the popular radar and as such I wasn’t sure how many people would turn up for this show – Toronto’s inherent Anglophilia would certainly help, but I’ve also seen English bands play to empty rooms before. That wouldn’t be the case here, though – whatever numbers were dispersed throughout the ElMo for the opener ignored the rules of Toronto concert-going etiquette of feigning indifference and converged immediately at the front of the stage when Nicolay and company began their tear-down; everyone who was in attendance was seriously keen.

Much of the charm of Beachcomber’s Windowsill comes from its beautifully understated aesthetic, so it was a bit of a surprise that the show opened not with the band shyly taking the stage, but with violinist Rahul Satija offering up a plaintive looped violin solo before the rest of the band, with multi-instrumentalist Adam Briggs making their number six, strode on stage and launched into a reading of “The Coldharbour Road” that was markedly more dynamic and dramatic than the recorded version. And really, that was the recurring theme of the show – everything you liked about Beachcomber’s Windowsill was very much in evidence, but instead of just being good, it was great. Despite or perhaps because of his somewhat awkward banter and stage presence, Brian Briggs was an engaging and curiously magnetic frontman but was clearly far more confident when actually performing, and why not? His voice was a much more powerful instrument than certainly I ever expected.

Equal credit must also go to his bandmates, though. One of the talking points of the album was that over 100 instruments were utilized in its creation and while not that many were brought on tour, an impressive number were pressed into service over the course of the show, all in the name of recreating as much of Windowsill‘s rustic yet sophisticated textures as possible, to say nothing of their contributions on backing vocals. All of which is to say that Stornoway sounded incredible up there. Why they’ve not gotten more attention is a mystery to me – perhaps because they haven’t been seeking it out – but an upside to this is the sense of surprise that can result when you see and hear for yourself how good they actually are, and beyond just having made a terrific record are in fact an even more terrific band and will surely make even better records in the years to come. And if anyone had any doubts of this, then they didn’t stay for the encore when the band played a pair of songs almost completely unplugged (bassist Oliver Steadman remained tethered for one song but plucked gently), the audience inviting themselves into a call-and-response with Briggs on a stirring “The End Of The Movie”.

Earlier in the show, Briggs expressed amazement that so many people had come out to see them and knew their material so well, but would later declare – and sincerely, I believe – this to be the best show of their tour, a sentiment equally held by the devoted audience. I won’t lie, I’ve been kind of burnt out on going out and seeing bands for the last little while – not unusual for this time of the year – but shows like this recharge my batteries and renew my faith in live music.

Chart also has a review of the show. The Georgia Straight profiles Stornoway while aux.tv, The Phoenix and The Minnesota Daily talk to Franz Nicolay. Stornoway’s North American tour runs another two weeks. Really do go see them.

Photos: Stornoway, Franz Nicolay & Major General @ The El Mocambo – November 30, 2010
MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”
MP3: Stornoway – “On The Rocks”
MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
MP3: Franz Nicolay – “This Is Not A Pipe”
Video: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
Video: Stornoway – “I Saw You Blink”
Myspace: Stornoway
Myspace: Franz Nicolay

NME reports that Richard Hawley has completed work on an album with guitar god Duane Eddy. No word on when it’ll be released but that thing is going to have some deeeep twang.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a full show from Blood Red Shoes at New York’s Bowery Ballroom.

A North American release date has been set for The Joy Formidable’s full-length debut – The Big Roar will be out on this side of the pond on March 15 of the new year, some time after its January 24 UK release. And in addition to the normal CD (and hopefully LP) formats, there will be a fancy pants box set edition that throws in a live CD, two DVDs and assorted sundry tchotchke including, for the first 300 orders, a piece of Ritzy’s smashed guitar.

The New York Press talks career ambition and lack thereof with The Radio Dept’s Johan Duncanson. They’ve made an acoustic reading of “Heaven’s On Fire”, recorded for KEXP earlier this week, available to download and will release their career-spanning Passive Aggressive on January 25. They play Lee’s Palace on February 7.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire” (acoustic)

Spinner talks to Lisa Milberg of The Concretes. They have a date at The Horseshoe on January 17.

Blurt engages Nick Cave and Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman in conversation, The Georgia Straight gets Warren Ellis on the phone and The San Francisco Chronicle and LA Weekly talk to Cave alone, the latter sending Henry Rollins to do their dirty work.

Keren Ann’s new album 101 will be out on March 22.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Look At What The Light Did Now

Review of Feist’s Look At What The Light Did Now

Photo via FacebookFacebookOf all of the remarkable things that Feist has done in the past few years, one of the most impressive is managing to go from a state of almost complete ubiquity circa The Reminder to one of relative obscurity. Over the last two years, there’ve been the occasional guest appearance on others’ records and even rarer live appearances with Broken Social Scene, but by and large she’s done a fine job of keeping a low profile – presumably working on a new record but no one really knows.

That profile has risen again of late with the upcoming release of Look At What The Light Did Now, a documentary film culled from footage taken during The Reminder tour. Coming out on DVD on December 7 with an accompanying CD of recordings taken from and around the film, it received a hometown screening last night at the Royal Ontario Museum… which probably seemed like a good idea but proved to be an almost disastrous one thanks to the horrible acoustics in the main atrium. But if there was an upside to it, it was that you were forced to pay almost unnatural attention to the film to extract anything comprehensible from the echo- and reverb-drenched audio.

With regards to the film itself, some have questioned if there’s really a need for a Feist documentary when her career isn’t a decade old, and if Light was a biography of any sort, it’d be a valid question. But rather than focus on Leslie Feist the person, it spends most of its running time examining the art around The Reminder – not only the songs and the album itself, but everything surrounding it. The portion focusing on Clea Minaker’s shadow puppet/projections were particularly fascinating; I already regretted not seeing any of The Reminder shows – I last saw Feist perform way back in the Summer of 2005 – and now regret it even more now that I see what I missed.

Other segments recounted the recording of The Reminder in France, the filming of videos for “1, 2, 3, 4”, “I Feel It All” and “Mushaboom”, the last of which is not Reminder period-correct but offered some terrific anecdotes from director Patrick Daughters, and the assemblage of the artwork for The Reminder. Though there were some segments focusing on her early days and ascendancy to stardom, they were kept to a minimum, as were the behind the scenes tour footage that’re typically the bread and butter of musician docs (though the scenes of Feist and her band and crew playing ball hockey was pretty great). Instead, the topic of who she is and how she got where she is was left to be implied by her work, how she approaches her work and how and why she works with others. In focusing on the what and how rather than the who, Look At What The Light Did Now manages to be an engaging and entertaining document of one of Canada’s biggest and brightest musical stars while barely acknowledging that fact.

And in the Q&A with Feist following the screening, the inevitable question of “when is the next record coming” was raised and all that she’d offer in return was that she’d be recording over the Winter – based on that, I wouldn’t expect a new album before next Fall.

Video: Feist & Little Wings – “Look At What The Light Did Now”
Trailer: Look At What The Light Did Now

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene talks about the KC Accidental days with Spinner. Broken plays the Sound Academy on December 9 and 10.

Planets profiles Dan Mangan.

The Guardian talks to Dan Snaith of Caribou.

Away from the city for far too long – she played here four times in eight months circa Neptune CityNicole Atkins returns to Toronto for a show at the Horseshoe on February 26 with support coming from Cotton Jones; tickets $15 in advance. Her new record Mondo Amore arrives January 25.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Gotta Cheer Up”

Keren Ann 101, the new record from, Keren Ann will be out February 21 – the rather divine first single “My Name Is Trouble” is currently streaming at her website.

John Vanderslice has set a Janury 25 release date for his next record, which will bear the title of White Wilderness, a record recorded over three days with the assistance of the Bay Area Magik*Magik Orchestra.

The Depreciation Guild have released a new video from their latest Spirit Youth.

Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Blue Lily”

Prefix and The Toledo Blade chat with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.