Posts Tagged ‘Lily Allen’

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

NXNE 2009 Day One

NXNE 2009 day one with No Age, Ume, Kittens Ablaze and The Darcys

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith a lead-up week that had included rather insane shows from each of Patrick Wolf, Phoenix and The Dead Weather, it wasn’t surprising that I was half-dead before NXNE even began this year. I don’t even want to speculate what kind of shape I’d been in if I hadn’t taken the week off from work. But the will and energy to hit the clubs would be found. Somehow.

There were many options to kick things off, but I opted for the secret-but-not-really show at the Whipper Snapper Gallery featuring Los Angeles duo No Age. I wasn’t especially won over by last year’s Nouns but had heard good things about their live show and the venue’s location would allow me to grab a tasty panzerottti at Bitondo’s. I say the show was not really secret because though the festival tried to keep it under wraps, it had been listed on the band’s booking agency’s website for over a week. But considering the modest-sized turnout, maybe it had been kept under wraps better than I’d thought. As for the show, I found the duo more entertaining live than on record, exchanging their lo-fi white noise sonic signature for something louder and meatier. Song-wise, it all sounded a blur but it was fun to watch them revel in the noise as well as pull off one of the most seamless broken guitar string changes I’ve ever seen. Metro has an interview with the band.

Photos: No Age @ The Whipper Snapper Gallery – June 18, 2009
MP3: No Age – “Neck Escaper”
MP3: No Age – “Eraser”
Video: No Age – “Eraser”
Video: No Age – “Boy Void”
Video: No Age – “Goat Hurt”
MySpace: No Age

From the Whipper Snapper, it was a short jaunt over to Neutral to welcome Austin’s Ume to town. They were one of the best things I saw at SxSW this year and I was very pleased that they’d made the long trip up to Toronto. I was also pleased that a very good-sized crowd of people were there to greet them and that the band managed to get their A-game across the border. Just as in Austin, singer-guitarist Lauren Larson was a dervish, her voice ranging from a coo to a shriek and her guitar chops several degrees past ridiculous as the band powered through selections from their Sunshower EP and some new material. In the few instances I was able to tear my eyes from the stage, I saw that others in the audience with that same look of “holy shit” I’m sure I was wearing back in March – pure rock action. Pure Grain Audio has an interview.

Photos: Ume @ Neutral – June 18, 2009
MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”
MP3: Ume – “Wake”
Video: Ume – “The Conductor”
MySpace: Ume

There were a few options for the next show, but the mental coin flip came up Kittens Ablaze, a Brooklyn act slated to play the Rivoli. Between them and Finnish outfit Cats On Fire, I detect a disturbing trend in pop bands with feline immolation-themed names. This particular one was a six-piece ensemble whom it would be impossible not to compare to Ra Ra Riot thanks to their near-identical band makeups and penchant for dizzying, uptempo orch-pop. They didn’t have the same quality of tunes, but were able to convey the sense of fun they were obviously having to the audience and made for a good time. NOW talked to the outfit before the festival.

Photos: Kittens Ablaze @ The Rivoli – June 18, 2009
MP3: Kittens Ablaze – “Gloom Doom Buttercups”
Video: Kittens Ablaze – “Strobelight”
MySpace: Kittens Ablaze

It’s not that long a haul from the Rivoli to Clinton’s by bike, but it certainly felt like it. I dragged my ass to basically the most northwest-located venue of the fest to see locals The Darcys, who’d been on my to-see list for a while. Now a lot of bands list Radiohead as an influence, which sadly usually means that the singer thinks that he’s got a great falsetto and some profound angst that needs to be expressed and thus, are generally meant to be given a wide berth. The Darcys do NOT list Radiohead as an influence (at least on their MySpace), but they were the first reference point I came up with. Not because singer Kirby Best has either a falsetto or angst (he may, I don’t know) but because of the the band’s innate creativity and their remarkably intricate arrangements of their three-guitar attack. I couldn’t help thinking that if the ‘Head had gone into their more introverted post-OK Computer phase with guitars still at the fore, The Darcys are the sort of band they’d have influenced. The recordings on their 2007 album Endless Water don’t really reflect what I heard on Thursday night – I very much look forward to what they’ll put out next.

Photos: The Darcys @ Clinton’s – June 18, 2009
MySpace: The Darcys

Anyone who missed Metric’s set at Edgefest this weekend can console themselves a bit with this full concert stream from DC last week at NPR and this session at MPR.

Islands have released details of their next album, Vapours, due out September 22. They’ll play a free show as part of Pride 2009 at the corner of Church and Wood on June 27.

Bonfires On The Heath, the new album from The Clientele, has been given a release date of October 6. Full details at Pitchfork.

Matador is streaming the whole of the God Help The Girl album of the same name, in stores tomorrow.

Stream: God Help The Girl / God Help The Girl

The Yorker has an interview with Patrick Wolf.

Emmy The Great has re-recorded a batch of songs which had been kicking around for a while but didn’t make it onto First Love, including favourites “Canopies & Grapes” and “Two Steps Forward”. Edward EP (First Songs) is out July 27 digitally and on 12″ vinyl, and will also be added to all future copies of First Love.

Bloc Party will be releasing a new non-album single on August 10. Well, not taken from any album we know of – yet. You can stream it at Pitchfork.

Stream: Bloc Party – “One More Chance”

There are new videos out from Lily Allen, Rose Elinor Dougall and Franz Ferdinand. Perhaps you would like to watch one, two or perhaps all three. I have provided links. You are welcome.

Video: Lily Allen – “Fuck You”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Stop/Start/Synchro”
Video: Franz Ferdinand / No You Girls

I can’t say as I’m that familiar with his works, but I do know that ’70s Detroit-based, psych/folk protest singer Sixto Rodriguez – who worked as just Rodriguez – is held in very high esteem by people whose opinions I respect. His two previously lost albums Cold Fact and Coming From Reality were reissued in super-deluxe format last year, and he’s been hitting the road to support – including a just-announced July 3 free show at Harbourfront Centre as part of their Hot Spot festival. I get the feeling that even if you don’t know his work, this is a show you will want to see.

MP3: Rodriguez – “Sugar Man”

Built To Spill return to Lee’s Palace for a two-night stand on October 6 and 7. Their new record There Is No Enemy is due out right about then as well.

The resurrected Jesus Lizard is coming to town – they’re at the Phoenix on November 9, tickets $20.

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Two Suns

Bat For Lashes and Lewis & Clarke at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe most beautiful day of the year so far turned into one of the foulest just in time for the early-evening start of Bat For Lashes’ Saturday night date at the Mod Club, the first for this leg of their North American tour in support of their much-heralded new album Two Suns. A more ambitious writer might try to draw some parallel between the dramatic weather shift and the themes of duality that run through the new record – I’ll just blame a high pressure system surrounded by low pressure systems and get on with it.

Rather surprisingly, support for this tour was Pennsylvanians Lewis & Clarke – surprising because they were also support the last time Bat For Lashes came to town in October 2007, and you don’t often see acts getting taken out as support twice. And their last time out couldn’t have been the most pleasant for the band either, since my recollections were the duo, as they were playing as at the time, had a poor time of trying to be heard over the chatty and inattentive audience (those of us up front notwithstanding). I also remarked at the time that maybe a full band would have had been more successful at getting peoples’ attention. Apparently bandleader Lou Rogal took my advice because the Lewis & Clarke that showed up this time was five members deep, including a drummer and string section. They delivered a set of four (maybe five) songs over 35 minutes, all of the slow and thoughtful chamber-folk variety, and while unquestionably pretty, it was all quite same-y. But at least this time, the audience was much more receptive – or at least polite. Lewis & Clarke will release a new EP Light Time on May 12.

Also rejigged significantly from last time was Bat For Lashes, the band. Whereas the troupe that visited in 2007 was a drummer-less all-female multi-instrumentalist quartet, this one had more defined musical roles and was slightly more co-ed, with Ben Christophers on keys, New Young Pony Club’s Sarah Jones on drums and the divine Charlotte Hatherley on pretty much everything. Oh, and also Natasha Khan – she whose voice, vision and songs ARE Bat For Lashes.

And as beguiling as she is on record, she’s equally charismatic on stage. She set the bar high for the show by leading with Two Suns opener “Glass”, the finest showcase for her soaring vocals, but didn’t let things lag a bit through the 70-minute set. Splitting material fairly evenly between Suns and Fur & Gold, Khan crafted a spellbinding performance that despite the rich visual presentation, didn’t rely on theatrics to rivet – rich with atmosphere and mystery, the songs were more than enough. It’s hard to pick highlights from a show really had no let-downs, but Fur singles “Prescilla” and “What’s A Girl To Do” naturally got the biggest response and single “Daniel” even got aired twice – early on, reimagined in skeletal, autoharp-led form and as the encore closer as “(Big) Daniel” (so noted on the set list), complete with the huge synths of the album version and deliciously Cure-ish guitars. Grand finale, indeed.

It’s impossible to overstate how much the new band configuration has improved their live show, which was hardly wanting in the first place. In particular, the drums, thundering and tribal, gave things a vitality that really took things to another level and Hatherley’s versatility was also put to good use, as she switched off between guitar, bass, keys, accordion and percussion in addition to providing backing vocals. For lack of a better way of putting it, Bat For Lashes v2 are just much more powerful. Though I did miss seeing the rain stick/staff of power from last time.

As for Khan, it’s remarkable how effortlessly she manages to indulge her more out-there creative impulses – her musical world is inhabited by wizards, knights and creatures of fantasy – while seeming utterly grounded, friendly and without airs. With a penchant for costumes and with stage decorations consisting of all manner of dime-store kitsch like Virgin Mary statues and ladies legs table lamps, she obviously doesn’t take things all that seriously but there’s no whiff of irony to be found, either. She makes wolf howls in her songs, for goodness sake, but also cracks jokes and at one point, looked up to see who was calling to her when an audience member yelled, “Natasha!”. Utterly charming.

Though you might think the eccentric nature of Bat For Lashes would be sufficient to consign them to cult band status – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but the fact that this show was not only sold out but with people desperately looking for tickets seems to imply that they’re bound for bigger things. But even so, even if within a year you’re seeing Bat For Lashes in venues holding thousands, I have a feeling that if you holler “Natasha!” during a quiet moment between songs, she’ll still look up and go, “yes?”.

There are feature pieces on Bat For Lashes at CMJ and The Boston Phoenix.

Photos: Bat For Lashes, Lewis & Clarke @ The Mod Club – April 25, 2009
MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live)
MP3: Bat For Lashes – “I’m On Fire”
MP3: Lewis & Clarke – “Petrified Forest”
MP3: Lewis & Clarke – “Before It Breaks You”
Stream: Lewis & Clarke / Light Time
Video: Bat For Lashes – “Daniel”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Whats A Girl To Do”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Prescilla”
MySpace: Bat For Lashes
MySpace: Lewis & Clarke

Interview talks to Lily Allen, who has a newish video. Kinda regret not seeing her last week, enjoying her new one It’s Not Me, It’s You more than I’d expected. Hope her vague promises to retire are false.

Video: Lily Allen – “Not Fair”

Daytrotter has posted a session they recorded with Glasvegas during SxSW.

The first track from Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl – I’m not sure whether to call it a band, project, play, or what – is now up for grabs and shock, it sounds a LOT like Belle & Sebastian. Which is to say it sounds wonderful. The album is out June 23.

MP3: God Help The Girl – “Come Monday Night”

The Sunday Mail has a 60-second interview with Camera Obscura. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 27.

Channel M has a video session with My Latest Novel, whose second album Death & Entrances is out May 18.

PJ Harvey and John Parish discuss A Woman A Man Walked By with Pitchfork.

Drowned In Sound gets Adam Franklin to comment on the whole phenomenon/idea of “shoegaze”. Short version, he doesn’t think much of it but it’s an entertaining read. Franklin is supporting The Church on their Summer North American tour, which has a stop at the Ottawa Bluesfest on July 11 but so far hasn’t extended to include a Toronto date.

MP3: Adam Franklin – “Autumn Leaf”

Fans of XTC psych-pop alter-egos The Dukes Of Stratosphear should check out these two podcasts wherein Andy Partridge reminisces with producer John Leckie about the recording of 25 O’Clock and Psionic Psunspot, both of which were reissued in deluxe form last week.

MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “My Love Explode”
MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “Braniac’s Daughter”

Channel M has a video interview with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

A double-shot of Leonard Cohen docs for you – courtesy of the National Film Board, the 1965 documentary Ladies And Gentlemen… Mr Leonard Cohen and over at Pitchfork, the 2009 live concert film Leonard Cohen: Live In London. And apropos of nothing, whilst digging around IMDB I found that Lenny guest-starred in an episode of Miami Vice in 1986 playing a villain named Francois Zolan. I didn’t think it possible, but I think Cohen just got that much more awesome in my eyes. He plays Copps Coliseum on May 19.

Video: Ladies And Gentlemen… Mr Leonard Cohen
Video: Leonard Cohen Live In London

Seattle-based power-popper Telekinesis will be at the Horseshoe on June 10 in support of his/their excellent self-titled debut.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Coast Of Carolina”
MP3: Telekinesis – “I Saw Lightning”
Video: Telekinesis – “Tokyo”

Brooklyn’s Obits will bring their debut long-player I Blame You to Lee’s Palace on July 23, tickets $12.

MP3: Obits – “Pine On”

Eagles Of Death Metal are at the Kool Haus on August 2, tickets $27.50.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Nitrogen Pink

An introduction to Polly Scattergood

Photo by Tom Henry Jones Tom Henry JonesBy nature, I’m an album guy and prefer to let my impressions of an artist unfold over forty minutes or so. But sometimes I get swept up in the joy of the single – the one individual song – and give the “repeat” button on my CD player a workout that more than makes up for its usual state of neglect. Such was the case of “Nitrogen Pink”, the first single from UK singer-songwriter Polly Scattergood (her real name).

Musically, it unfurls from a simple, unadorned intro to a thing of great sonic grandeur in the span of five minutes, sounding like the finale to a musical set in the distant future. Not a new trick, but when executed properly – as it is here – it’s always impressive. But the centerpiece is Scattergood’s voice, a wonderfully expressive and elastic thing capable of evoking tremendous strength and utter frailty within a single phrase. Like many of her female English singer-songwriters peers do these days, Scattergood owes an immense debt to the influence of Kate Bush but like the best of that group – Bat For Lashes and Florence & The Machine come immediately to mind – she takes that inspiration and interprets it in a way that’s very much her own.

Her self-titled debut album Other Too Endless is set for a March 9 May 19 release and based on the additional samples available on her Myspace, the addictiveness of “Nitrogen Pink” isn’t a fluke – it sounds like the record will carry forward a fine balance between theatricality and vulnerability. It’s probably a tall order to expect the entire record will tickle my ears to the extent that the first taste has, but I’m hopeful.

MP3: Polly Scattergood – “Nitrogen Pink”

Yesterday was – after long last – the release date for Emmy The Great’s debut First Love and as much I’d have liked to be able to mark the occasion with a review, my copy is still somewhere between the UK and here (hopefully). So my gushing praise will have to wait for another day – instead, I’ll link to the slew of press clippings that have accompanied the release, which are worth the read because Emmy is as entertaining an interview as she is a songwriter. There’s features on Ms Moss at For Folk’s Sake, MusicOhm, BBC, Dazed Digital and The Irish Times. And though she did a quick song-by-song annotation of the record forThe Reading Evening Post a few weeks ago, the one she does for Drowned In Sound is considerably more in-depth. And also as part of what Drowned In Sound have declared “Emmy The Great week”, Emmy turns from interviewee to interviewer turning the spotlight on artists she deems worthy of attention. So far she’s talked to a couple of her bandmates about their own projects – with Tom Rogerson about Three Trapped Tigers and with Euan Hinshelwood about Younghusband – as well as with with Shilpa Ray of Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers. And to wrap my own “Emmy The Great day”, her session at Bandstand Busking is now up, with three songs and an interview.

And it’s interesting/amusing that a running theme through the interviews is Emmy’s disavowal of the whole “UK anti-folk” scene, particularly between her band and Noah & The Whale, because that’s one of the threads running through this piece in The Independent about, well, the so-called UK anti-folk scene.

And speaking of Noah & The Whale, they’re finally making up that December show which was cancelled when they decided they’d rather work on album number two – entitled First Days of Spring and due out sometime in the Spring – rather than drive around North America in Winter. They’ll be at The Mod Club on April 27, tickets $12.50. The Times checked in with the band while they were in the studio.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”

Camera Obscura have released details of their next album and first for new home, 4AD. My Maudlin Career will be out April 21 and they’ve made the title track available to sample.

MP3: Camera Obscura – “My Maudlin Career”

Frightened Rabbit have a new video from The Midnight Organ Fight.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Bright Pink Bookmark”

Duffy documents a day in the life of Duffy for The Times.

The Quietus talks to PJ Harvey and John Parish about their forthcoming collaboration A Woman A Man Walked By, out March 30.

Exclaim reports that Beth Orton’s debut album Trailer Park will be getting the deluxe double-CD reissue treatment – look for it March 10.

Sky Larkin, whose debut The Golden Spike was released yesterday, have been keeping a tour diary for Clash and has an interview with singer Katie Harkin. Said album will be getting a proper North American release this year as their label Wichita Recordings is setting up shop Stateside. They’ve made available a sampler of the first batch of artists they’ll be looking to introduce to folks on this side of the Atlantic.

ZIP: Wichita Recordings sampler

Some additional updates and clarifications on a few recently announced shows. Firstly, the Neil Halstead show at the Drake Underground on March 21 is open to everyone, tickets $20. The invite-only anniversary thing is something else entirely.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”

Would it have killed Ladytron to have released their new video alongside the announcement of their Spring tour so that I could have rolled it all into one post? Apparently so. Tickets for their April 6 show at the Phoenix go on sale this Friday and will cost your $28.50.

Video: Ladytron – “Tomorrow”

Lily Allen’s April 22 show at the Phoenix has been moved to the Sound Academy, on account of selling out in no time flat. Additional tickets now on sale. Chart has an interview.

Good news – Elbow are coming to town. Bad news – it’s as opener for Coldplay. They’ll be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 29. Is seeing them play a half-hour set worth buying Coldplay tickets for? That is a question only you can answer.

And last but not least… Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with Tom Jones.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Traveling Woman

Tour dates announced from Bat For Lashes, Franz Ferdinand, Lily Allen, Travis and more

Photo By Jeaneen LundJeaneen LundThe old inbox was overflowing with local concert announcements yesterday – certainly makes cobbling together a post easy. In chronological order…

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, who just played an instore at Sonic Boom last week, are heading out on a European tour through most of this month but will be having a little homecoming party at the Horseshoe on March 6. Tickets $10.50. Grainger has a little chat with Spoonfed.

MP3: Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains – “American Names”
MP3: Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains – “By Cover Of Night (Fire Fight)”

Julie Doiron is set to release a new album on March 24 in I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day and will follow that up a trio of dates up the 401 including a March 26 date at the Horseshoe. Tickets $10.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”

Their new album Beacons is complete, but there’s still no firm release date for the sophomore effort from Ohbijou… but considering they’ve just announced a CD release show for said record on April 18 at the Opera House, it’s probably safe to say that it’ll be out around then. Tickets for that fete will be $13.

I will admit to being mildly astonished not by the fact that Travis are coming back to North America this Spring in support of last year’s Ode To J Smith, but that they’re playing – at least here on April 21 – venues the size of the Sound Academy. 3000 people to see Travis in 2009? And at $34.50 a ticket? Really? Huh. The Daily Yomiuri has an interview with the band about the making of the album.

Video: Travis – “J Smith”
Video: Travis – “Song To Self”

The Appleseed Cast have a new album in Sagarmatha coming out February 17 and they’ve got a date at the Horseshoe for April 21, tickets $10. Songs from the record can be heard at Stereogum and RCRDLBL.

Despite being rather fond of most of the “sassy English female singer-songwriters” which followed in her wake, Lily Allen has never done much for me. Might her new record It’s Not Me, It’s You, out next week, change my mind? The album is currently streaming in its entirety over at her MySpace – let’s find out. She’s also playing a show at the Phoenix on April 22, tickets $27.50, and Spin has posted online an excerpt of this month’s cover story on the singer. Update: Full North American tour dates at The Music Slut.

Video: Lily Allen – “The Fear”
Stream: Lily Allen / It’s Not Me, It’s You

I need no such persuasion to get excited for the return of Bat For Lashes (pictured). Her second album Two Suns, which will feature unlikely guests Scott Walker and Yeasayer, is coming out on April 6 and following a set of European dates will come some North American ones. In addition to a previously announced New York and Philadelphia dates, she will be in Toronto on April 25 for a show at the Mod Club, tickets $15. Their last show here in September 2007 was amazing, no reason to believe this one will be anything less. Rolling Stone talks to Natasha Khan about the split personality conceit behind her new record while MTV has a video interview. And check out this live performance of a new song on BBC2:

Video: Bat For Lashes – “Moon And Moon” (live on BBC2)

And last but not least for the show announcements, Franz Ferdinand are coming back on May 4 and playing a venue considerably larger than their cozy little Lee’s Palace gig last December, but if you don’t think they’ll sell out the Kool Haus in a heartbeat, you’re dreaming. Tickets for that one are $30 and go on sale February 7 at 10AM. Pitchfork has an interview with the band conducted here during their last visit.

In a rather drastic change of venue, the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart/Depreciation Guild show originally slated to happen at Neutral next Thursday has been moved to Lee’s Palace. Which pleases me because the lights at Neutral are, to put it mildly, abhorrent. All tickets will be honoured and there will probably be a lot more available now.

And some bits related to already-announced shows that are upcoming… Exclaim has a feature on Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons and Radio Free Canuckistan has posted up the complete transcript of the interview that went into the piece. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 17.

Soundproof features The Rural Alberta Advantage, who will play Wavelength at Sneaky Dee’s on February 22 and then do a CMW showcase at the Gladstone in the wee hours (1AM) of March 12. The band made their NYC debut last week and accounts are that it went really well. They play New York again this Friday and Saturday nights.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit is out February 17, and Muzzle Of Bees has five questions with Mr Isbell. They play the Horseshoe on March 4.

The Montreal Mirror profiles Basia Bulat, who will play Lee’s Palace on March 14 as part of CMW, and will be getting to work on album number two later this Spring. also has a little chat about her decision to record a Sam Cooke cover for a 7″ single.

Aquarium Drunkard gets Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers to offer a brief guide to his favourite places in Toronto. There’s also a trio of intimate performance videos from Dekker over at Their new album Lost Channels is out March 31 and they play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.