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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Cohen’

Monday, June 4th, 2012

No Cure For Loneliness

Bry Webb and Del Bel at 918 Bathurst in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure that the timing was just coincidence, but if Friday night’s Wavelength show at the Buddhist temple at 918 Bathurst featuring Bry Webb and Del Bel was meant as a last-minute bit of lobbying for my Polaris Prize ballot – long-list voting had opened that day – then I salute them. Well played. Though I’ve had a year to mull it over, there was very little actually locked down on my list of the top five Canadian “albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history”, and both Webb’s Provider and Del Bel’s Oneric were very much in the running.

I’d seen Del Bel at another Wavelength in January and Webb’s record release show in February, and while the live show is not supposed to have any bearing on the nomination process, this wasn’t going to hurt with keeping them front of mind. But this show was intended to mark Del Bel’s return from a couple weeks of Canadian touring and celebrate the release of their new single – a collaboration with Webb – and not to squeeze their way onto any Polaris ballots at the 11th hour. I think.

Del Bel’s set was structurally quite similar to the one in January – Webb’s guesting on the new single “No Cure For Loneliness” was obviously different – but better from the band’s point of view for having been road-tested the past weeks and better from mine for having had many more months to spend with Oneric. Some combination of the two points – probably more the latter – made it much easier to extract and appreciate the songs from their atmospheric cinematic-noir style, and as far as the performance went, the shifts in mood felt more natural and dextrous than before and while singer Lisa Conway still preferred to stand behind her bandmates while she sang, she had less of a wallflower air about her this time out, coming across more mysterious than just shy. Touring: it does a band good.

I don’t think Bry Webb has taken his band out on the road for any extended jaunts since Provider came out, but with over a decade of fronting Constantines before they went on hiatus to his name, he hardly needs the practice of getting in front of an audience. If there was an immediate difference between this night’s show and the one at the Music Gallery in the Winter, it was that Webb had found his guitar strap and was playing standing up although it still wouldn’t mean forays into the audience – electrical noise on stage kept him fairly rooted to one spot to avoid interference. It also featured a few new songs to augment the Provider material but the enlistment of Del Bel’s horns and drummer for a good portion of the set really gave things an extra kick to augment the more solemn, low-key tone of the material. And while Webb’s solo material exists a good distance from what the Constantines were about, there was a taste of the old band’s fire when Webb stepped up for a righteous lead break on “Low Life” which he dedicated to former bandmate Will Kidman. On the other hand, it was impossible to imagine the Cons covering Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze” as Webb and seven-ninths of Del Bel (two of whom, it should be noted, are also full-time Providers) did to end their main set.

There’s little question that Oneric and Provider are two of the finest releases to come out of Toronto/southern Ontario in the past year; this evening was strong proof of that. But would that be enough to get them on the Polaris long-list, short-lists, or my ballot for either? To the first two, I’ve no idea and to the last, well we’ll just have to wait and see.

NOW had both a preview piece on Del Bel for the show and a review of the show; Singing Lamb and BlogTO were also in attendance.

Photos: Bry Webb, Del Bel @ 918 Bathurst – June 1, 2012
MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”
MP3: Del Bel with Bry Webb – “No Cure For Loneliness”
Stream: Del Bel / Oneric

NPR is streaming a short film that Neil Young has made to coincide with the release of his new album with Crazy Horse Americana, out this week.

The June 12 release date of Synthetica not far off, Metric is ramping up the media cycle with a complete stream of the new record, a cover story in this month’s Exclaim, and a fans-only show on the day of release at The Opera House; details on how to win tickets will be available by hanging out on the band’s various social media sites.

Stream: Metric / Synthetica

Spinner and The Winnipeg Free Press talk to Japandroids about not breaking up. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 23.

Willamette Weekly and San Francisco Bay Guardian chat briefly with Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose previously Record Store Day-only vinyl edition of Destroyer’s Rubies is now available for anyone/everyone to own and spin.

Grimes has made another MP3 from her breakout album Visions available to download; she’s at Historic Fort York as part of the Full Flex Express on July 13.

MP3: Grimes – “Circumambient”

And speaking of shows at Fort York, I’ve made some jokes about how Toronto seems to be commemorating the bicentennial of the War Of 1812 with nothing but raves, but there’s now something a little more musically patriotic and family-friendly happening to mark the anniversary. On July 14, The Garrison Commons at Fort York will host a free show featuring performances from Sarah Harmer, Shad, The Rural Alberta Advantage, and Alex Cuba. Specifics are still forthcoming so keeping up with the Facebook page probably isn’t a bad idea.

MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”
Video: Sarah Harmer – “Almost”
Video: Alex Cuba – “Cabello”

Macleans talks to Don Pyle about the Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet reunion, which hits Lee’s Palace on July 14.

Exclaim and The Grid have feature pieces on Cold Specks and Exclaim also ups the ante with a video session. Cold Specks are at The Great Hall on August 8.

Daytrotter has a session and NOW and interview with Great Lake Swimmers, who will be at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 18 opening up for Blue Rodeo.

Leonard Cohen has added a second Toronto show at the Air Canada Centre for December 5, to go along with the December 4 one that is just about sold out now. Tickets range from $72.50 to $250 plus fees. And while you mull that over, check out Clash‘s liste of ten things you didn’t know about Lenny.

Their show at The Music Hall sold out and in the books, Patrick Watson has announced another Toronto date for December 6 at Massey Hall with The Barr Brothers supporting; tickets are $24.50 to $35.00 plus fees, on sale now. NPR also has a Tiny Desk Concert, PostCity and interview, and a second MP3 from Adventures In Your Own Backyard has been made available to download.

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Words In The Fire”

BlogTO has the full lineup of this year’s Open Roof Festival, which pairs bands and movies for a night under the stars at the Amsterdam Brewery all Summer. You’ve got bands like Army Girls, Bruce Peninsula, and The Magic and films like Moonrise Kingdom, Charles Bradley: Soul of America, and Indie Game: The Movie – a bad time can’t be had (okay it can but it shouldn’t). Tickets for each night are $15.

Young Galaxy are releasing a new 7″ single tomorrow and the B-side is available to download courtesy of Stereogum. And if you liked what they accomplished on Shapeshifter working with producer Dan Lissvik electronically across the ocean, imagine what they could do working directly with him in the studio. If you’d like the see that happen, the band would like you to help out.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”

77 Square, Pioneer Press, City Pages, Isthmus, and Columbus Alive talk to Feist.

Monday, May 7th, 2012

We Have Made A Spark

Rose Cousins at The Rivoli in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s basically a given that the songwriters who pen the saddest songs also have the wickedest senses of humour, right? I have no quantitative proof to support this – only anecdotal – but if I were to start assembling some scientific proofs in support of this hypothesis, I’d certainly include Rose Cousins’ show at The Rivoli on Thursday night in the lab report. It was a record release show for her third album We Have Made A Spark – the gorgeousness of which was saluted hereabouts last month – and while three months after it came out seems a little late for a record release show, she has been touring the record all over since it came out and has presumably been making each show an occasion. This one certainly was.

And not just because they put out chairs, dispensed with an opener, and scheduled an early start time, though those were certainly signs that it wasn’t going to be a typical show. As was Cousins opening up the show solo with a cover – Blue Rodeo’s “Five Days In May” – which would be one of two songs by others she’d perform that night (Ana Egge’s “Shadow Fall” being the other). The rest of the show, however, was dedicated to showcasing Spark in all its rich emotional nuances with Cousins moving from guitar to piano and being accompanied by two of the musicians who played on the album, Austin Nevins on electric guitar and Zachariah Hickman on upright bass. She was also joined through the night by special guests Suzie Ungerleider aka Oh Susanna, Ruth Moody of The Wailin’ Jennys and Robyn Dell’Unto who augmented Cousins’ own gorgeous vocals with some astonishing harmonies.

Between the songs, however, it was all charm and humour with Cousins proving herself quite the crack up with anecdotes, impressions and audience banter, the crowning glory of which was a hilariously detailed description of her ideal soundtrack placement for the song, “Go First” – specifically, the season finale of a surgical drama that included but wasn’t limited to a newborn child getting an arm transplant from a gorilla. It really is a shame that a video already exists for the song because her treatment had “viral” written all over it. It was moments of levity like this that helped provide the right amount of lightness to balance out the emotional weight and dark tones of the songs, though as Cousins pointed out the album isn’t all downcast – it acknowledges and arcs towards the silver linings of matters. No jokes were needed to end the show on a high note, however, as it was all hands on deck for a rowdy cover of Adele’s “Rumour Has It”. Not even the ginormous thunderstorm that awaited outside the Rivoli could dampen the spirits of those leaving the show after that finale; our clothes, yes.

NOW had an interview with Cousins in advance of the show.

Photos: Rose Cousins @ The Rivoli – May 3, 2012
MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”
Video: Rose Cousins – “Go First”

Bry Webb and Del Bel will team up for a Wavelength show at 918 Bathurst on June 1 to mark the release of a collaborative single which you can hear below. Single aside, both have excellent albums to draw from – Webb with Provider and Del Bel with Oneiric – and both have already put on impressive shows this year in support of them – Del Bel in January and Webb in February. All of which is to say you can’t go wrong here. Tickets are $12 in advance.

MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”
MP3: Del Bel featuring Bry Webb – “No Cure For Loneliness”

Le Blogotheque has a video session from and Spin a conversation about hats with Patrick Watson; he plays the Music Hall on May 29.

Uptown and Beatroute have features on Great Lake Swimmers, back in town playing a show at the Music Hall on June 2. They’ve also just been announced as support for Blue Rodeo’s annual Molson Amphitheatre show on August 18.

Rolling Stone gets to know Japandroids, whose new record Celebration Rock is out May 29 and who play Lee’s Palace on June 23.

The Line Of Best Fit chats with Hooded Fang, whose next local show is their NXNE showcase on June 15 at The Silver Dollar.

Dan Mangan has released a new video for the opening track of his latest, Oh Fortune. He plays a free show at Pecault Square on the afternoon of June 16.

Video: Dan Mangan – “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All”

Long rumoured but now fact, Leonard Cohen will take his new record Old Ideas on the road and play the Air Canada Centre on December 4. Full dates at Pitchfork.

Video: Leonard Cohen – “Show Me The Place”

Braids talk to Spin about the direction of their sophomore record.

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Changes With The Wind

Great Lake Swimmers at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhat’s better than hearing a new album on the day that it’s released? How about hearing it live? Okay, the former might have carried a little more weight a decade ago when records weren’t consistently available to stream online well before they were available to buy, but there’s still something special about the latter. So it was pretty nice of Great Lake Swimmers to mark the release of their fifth album New Wild Everywhere this past Tuesday with a full-band, plugged-in in-store performance at Sonic Boom where they showcased ten of the record’s twelve tracks with a one-song encore from their back catalog.

Even if you hadn’t heard the recorded versions, it was pretty clear from the new material that this was far from the same band that recorded their spare, almost spectral self-titled debut in an abandoned grain silo a decade earlier. Each subsequent record has fleshed out their sound a little more, certainly, and Tony Dekker’s songwriting hasn’t changed dramatically over that time but with New Wild Everywhere – the band’s first album recorded in a proper studio – it feels as though the reverberations of that grain silo have finally faded to silence and the fields that surrounded it have been gradually built up to the point that the landscape is no longer recognizable. There’ve been subtle changes from record to record, certainly, but for a band who deals in subtleties it doesn’t necessarily take a lot to effect a dramatic change.

In specifics beyond just the aesthetic, Everywhere seems to complete the transformation into a folk-pop band that their past releases had just flirted with; tempos are zippier and choruses bigger and live, there’s considerably more electric guitar in play. This shift was more pronounced live as there just seemed to be more everything – guitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals – in the mix; whereas previously the space left open was as much a part of their sound as what they played, now it sounded busy almost to the point of distraction. Which is not to say it sounded bad – though initial impressions are that this batch of songs don’t quite measure up to Dekker’s best compositions, they’re solid and the players behind them skilled – but for those who’d followed the band since those early recordings, it’s hard not to feel like something of what made them unique has been buried or left out in a field.

The band performed the whole of the new album for CBC Music and that recording should be available to stream in whole later today; currently they’ve got one song available. NOW has video of one of Tuesday evening’s performances, while aux.tv, The Vancouver Sun, The Montreal Gazette, and The Toronto Star all have features on the band. After touring North America and Europe, they return home for a show at The Music Hall on June 2.

Photos: Great Lake Swimmers @ Sonic Boom – April 3, 2012
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “I Am A Part Of A Large Family”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Easy Come Easy Go”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “River’s Edge”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Stealing Tomorrow”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Still”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Back Stage With The Modern Dancers”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “To Leave It All Behind”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Bodies & Minds”

The Line Of Best Fit is streaming a new track from Cold Specks’ debut album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, due out May 22, and The Guardian a profile piece. She opens up the aforementioned Great Lake Swimmers show on June 2 at the Music Hall.

Stream: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”

No longer timely, but prior to last weekend’s Juno awards Spinner ran a number of interviews with nominees – there was this piece with Coeur de Pirate about her appreciation for Drake and The Weeknd, this one with Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson of Sloan about their odds of winning and this chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage about what their roles at the awards ceremony might be as well as this one, post-awards. For the record, none of the three won – maybe they should have made a Christmas album.

Rolling Stone has posted up a video session with Patrick Watson recorded at SXSW. His new album Adventures In Your Own Backyard comes out April 17 and they’ve a gig at The Music Hall on May 29, but before that is a special show at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio on April 11 which you can win tickets for at CBC Music.

NPR has premiered a video for the title track of Plants & Animals’ latest effort The End Of That. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 21.

Video: Plants & Animals – “The End Of That”

Tiny Mix Tapes interviews Claire Boucher of Grimes.

Cheers to Herohill, who’s assembled a tribute album to Leonard Cohen featuring artists such as Kathryn Calder and Woodpigeon. The Bard Of Montreal is available to download for freesies.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Kinds Of Light

It’s streaming day in Canada with new albums from Memoryhouse, The Wooden Sky, Trust and more

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsIt’s gotten to the point where the Tuesday before an album is officially released is as much a day to look forward to as the day an album is actually released. That’s because it’s standard practice these days to make any record anyone might care to buy available to stream at least a week before its official street date – it theoretically helps offset downloads of leaks, gets the promo cycle revved up, all of that sort of thing. It’s a trend I’m fully in favour of.

And based on this, it would seem that there’s a lot of anticipated Can-con coming out next week, starting with The Slideshow Effect from Guelph-via-Toronto duo Memoryhouse. It may be just their first album, but it already sees them trying to expand their sound beyond the slow-motion dreampop that got them attention in the first place without diluting that appeal. Does it work? Let’s find out. The Quietus has a song-by-song annotation of the record from the band and 77 Square and DIY have interviews.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Walk With Me”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “The Kids Were Wrong”
Stream: Memoryhouse / The Slideshow Effect

Further over in the electronic spectrum is another Toronto-born debut; TRST, the first record from Trust – it should hold much appeal for goths who still like to get their dance on. They have a record release show at Wrongbar on March 3. The Grid has an interview.

Video: Trust – “Bulbform”
Video: Trust – “Candy Walls”
Stream: Trust / TRST

The new Wooden Sky album Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun is also much anticipated by fans of the rootsier side of things, and it’s now up to stream at Paste. They play The Opera House on April 20.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Malibu Rum”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Angelina”
Stream: The Wooden Sky / Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun

And if you needed more evidence that Paste loves them some Canadian acts, they’ve also got the new Plants & Animals record The End Of That available to hear. They play Lee’s Palace on April 21.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”
Stream: Plants & Animals / The End Of That

You don’t have to wait until next week to get a hold of PS I Love You’s collection of Meet Me At The Muster Station radio session tracks – the Kingston duo are giving The Muster Sessions away via Facebook in exchange for an email address, and is streaming over at Exclaim if you’re the sort who wants to know what they’re getting for their email address before they hand it over. Their official second album Death Dreams is out May 8 and they’re at Lee’s Palace on March 23 for Canadian Musicfest.

Stream: PS I Love You / The Muster Sessions

Patrick Watson will bring their new record Adventures In Your Own Backyard to The Music Hall on May 29, tickets $29.50 and $24.50 in advance. The album is out April 30 and I’ve noticed in the SXSW schedule, they’re listed as “Patrick Watson & The Wooden Arms” – are they done with pretending “Patrick Watson” refers to the band and not just the man?

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

CBC Radio 3 chats with The Elwins, whose debut And We Thank You is officially out now. They have a release party for it at the Burroghes Building this Friday, February 24, and are also Rancho Relaxo on March 25 for Canadian Musicfest.

Nick Thorburn tells Exclaim that if you think the new Islands record is dark, you haven’t seen anything yet. They’re at The Music Gallery on February 28.

Billboard, Blurt, The Montreal Gazette, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Edmonton Journal have feature pieces on Grimes. She’s at The Horseshoe on March 19.

Exclaim reports that the next Black Mountain record will come in the form of a soundtrack for the surfer film Year Zero; it will be out on April 3 and the first track is available to download.

MP3: Black Mountain – “Mary Lou”

The Toronto Standard has a video session with Army Girls. Still waiting on the where and when of their Canadian Musicfest gig; it will be a highlight of the fest, guaranteed.

Jenn Grant gives CBC Radio 3 a look into her songwriting process.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Kathleen Edwards.

Watch this Evening Hymns performance from Belgium wherein they perform “Dead Deer” with a big-ass band. Majestic. Still waiting on Spectral Dusk details. And waiting.

Video: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer” (live at Transmusicales de Rennes)

Syncopated Sound talks to Damian Abraham of Fucked Up.

The Old Ideas With New Friends Leonard Cohen cover series continues, with Exclaim hosting a clip of Nicole Atkins doing “Bird On A Wire” and Matablog offering up AC Newman covering “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”.

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.