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Posts Tagged ‘Liz Phair’

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

When I Am New Again

Wildlife, The Darcys and Freedom Or Death at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI will be the first to admit I don’t do nearly as good a job of keeping track of worthy up and coming local and/or Canadian bands as I’d like, generally taking an “if they’re worth hearing I’ll hear them eventually” approach and deferring to great local and national sites with a homegrown focus like I Heart Music, The Take, Singing Lamb and Herohill to do the legwork and put worthy new Canuck talent on my radar. Showcasing said talent is the mandate of the Unsigned series which periodically puts on shows at the Steam Whistle brewery and checking out said talent was what I was doing there on Friday night along with a pretty packed roundhouse.

Leading things off were Freedom Or Death, who were marking the release of their debut mini-album Ego earlier in the week. The duo in the studio/quartet on stage craft what would best be described as a sort of synth-rock-soul amalgam, though not nearly as left field-sounding as that might imply. Most of their material is built around frontman Sway C in R&B croon mode overtop keyboard patches lifted from the ’80s and given a ’90s-ish production sheen, but its relative safeness is offset by the fact that a lot of their songs are instantly memorable and expertly crafted. It’s the sort of thing that if alt.rock radio or MuchMusic still held the cultural hegemony they once did, could become huge but as things stand today, would have to settle – for now at least – for impressing a roomful of punters in a brewhouse. Like their music, their performance was a bit slick and calculated but certainly effective; those watching might well have walked away thinking they’d seen one of the city’s next big things and who knows, they might be right.

Goodness knows that’s a title that’s been hanging around The Darcys for years now, and clearly no guarantee of anything. The circumstances around their delayed ascent to greatness were pretty well-documented back in March by The Toronto Star – but with the self-titled sophomore effort that’s really more of a debut hopefully finally ready to see the light of day after being stalled for more than a year, the band may finally be ready to move forwards. For the as yet unacquainted, my best description of The Darcys would a balance of prog and pop somewhere between the tension of mid-era Radiohead and the grand presentation of early Elbow, though I don’t think it’s any slight to add the caveat that they’re not as brilliant as either, at least not right now if ever, but it does give a sense of where they’re pointed creatively as well as their potential. And so while there’s still no definite timetable for when their recorded selves will finally be let loose, though it seems inconceivable that no label in the city will have the good sense to put it out before the year is out, The Darcys are making do venting their energies onstage.

As with the last couple times I’d seen them live, their show was an impressive exercise in musicianship and intensity though as I’ve mentioned in the past – and as also applies to their record – a couple of less-clenched songs would really help the dynamics of the experience. But considering they’ve been sitting on this record and these songs far longer than any band ever should, who knows where they’re actually at right now with respect to their songwriting. And that’s perhaps the biggest reason I hope they get the album out soon; not just so that the rest of the world can be let in on what Toronto’s known for so long, but so that the band can finally get on with it.

Though The Darcys were top billed on the show posters, they weren’t the closing act – that honour went to Wildlife, whose acquaintance I’d made only a day or two earlier via a copy of their debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond which conveniently showed up in my mailbox. And the collection of uptempo rock, faintly Wolf Parade-ish without all the quirkiness and striking a good balance between heart-on-sleeve sensitivity and beer-in-hand boisterousness, made a good impression so though the option of heading home early was on the table, I opted to stick around. That the aforementioned balance wouldn’t be carried over to the stage was made clear pretty early on as frontman Dean Povinsky declared that the evening’s spirit animal would be Andrew WK and the theme would be partying. They did the party thing well, however, and while it didn’t really hold my attention for the duration, it did energize the crowd with the good time vibes. And props for the solid encore of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”.

NOW has a profile on Freedom Or Death and Toro a video session. Their next show is June 9 at The Drake while Wildlife’s next local performance will be May 26 at Sneaky Dee’s.

Photos: Wildlife, The Darcys, Freedom Or Death @ Steam Whistle Brewing – April 29, 2011
MP3: Wildlife – “Stand In The Water”
MP3: The Darcys – “The House Built Around Your Voice”
MP3: Freedom Or Death – “This Crowded Room”
Video: Freedom Or Death – “This Crowded Room”

Heartbeat Hotel, who are one of my personal picks for worthy unsigned bands in the city – as in worthy of being signed, not that they should remain without a label – have released a new video from last year’s free and excellent and free album Fetus Dreams.

Video: Heartbeat Hotel – “Windowsill #1”

Nashville’s Tristen will be in Toronto on July 16 for a show at the Drake in support of her debut album Charlatans At The Gate; a 7″ worth of MP3s is available at their website in exchange for an email.

Video: Tristen – “Baby Drugs”

Liz Phair defends the artistic merits of lat year’s Funstyle to Spinner.

Having just announced that they’ll be reissuing their 2004 EP Cherry Tree in limited edition on June 28, The National are giving away an MP3 of “About Today” from said release at their Bandcamp in exchange for an email. Also available to grab is the song they contributed to the soundtrack of Portal 2, which I’m led to understand is a video game of some kind.

MP3: The National – “Exile Vilify”

The Dallas Observer and Exclaim talk to Will Sheff of Okkervil River, whose new record I Am Very Far comes out next Tuesday, May 10 but is streaming in whole right now at Exclaim. They play The Phoenix on June 10.

Stream: Okkervil River / I Am Very Far

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Low’s set at the Bowery Ballroom in New York last week. They’re at The Mod Club tonight.

DCist talks to Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom.

The New York Times profiles the people behind the up-and-coming live music resource Songkick.

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Never Know

The Wooden Birds release second album, migrate across continent

Photo By Leslie SissonLeslie SissonIt was a sad day in late 2005 when Austin’s American Analog Set called it a day, or it would have been if they had bothered to officially do so. They announced prior to touring their last (as in most recent, not final) record Set Free that it would be their final tour before a hiatus, and that while they didn’t have any plans to do anything else together, be it recording or playing or whatever, they weren’t ruling out the possibility. And they invoked the “not dead, only sleeping” clause at SXSW 2009 when they reconvened to mark the 10th anniversary of The Golden Band by playing the whole album at a day show I had the privilege of helping present.

But that special occasion aside, the band’s signature blend of shimmering vibraphone, humming Farfisa and dreamy guitarwork has been silent with frontman Andrew Kenny trading his Jazzmaster in for an acoustic guitar and lending his gentle vocals to a new band, The Wooden Birds. AmAnSet had been extremely consistent in sound and vision throughout their existence, so it’s not surprising that despite the change-up in instrumentation and addition of female vocals from sometime AmAnSet member Leslie Sisson, The Wooden Birds’ 2009 debut Magnolia could easily have passed as a new Analog Set record. It’s more earthy than ethereal, thanks to its simpler presentation, and less drifitly droning but if you were an AmAnSet fan, it’s hard to imagine not finding much to like about The Wooden Birds. Unless, of course, you were all about the vibes, in which case you may want to keep walking.

The Wooden Birds have set a June 7 release date for their second album Two Matchsticks and having passed us by on all tour dates in support of the debut, it’s exciting to see that the first North American dates finally include a Toronto date at The Drake Underground on July 10 – the first time back as bandleader for Kenny since November 2005 (he may well have been here as a member of Kevin Drew’s “Presents…” band). And while you might not guess it from listening to the records, The American Analog Set were always a fantastic live show thanks to the mesmerizing and hypnotic nature of their sound. I expect similar head trips from The Wooden Birds. Tickets for the show are just $12.00 in advance.

Samples from Two Matchsticks aren’t available yet, but there’s no reason to believe the new material strays too far from what surfaced on Magnolia. Update: One of the new songs is streaming at MTV Hive.

MP3: The Wooden Birds – “False Alarm”
Video: The Wooden Birds – “Hometown Fantasy”

There’s been no word of a follow-up to last year’s Goodbye Killer nor would I expect one, given the pace at which Joe Pernice works, but he’s taking the time out of whatever it he’s doing to play a show at The Dakota on May 6, tickets $20.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Jacqueline Susann”

That same evening, Peter Bjorn & John will warm up for their show at Lee’s Palace with an in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM. Admission is free with the donation of canned goods.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance”

With a new greatest hits compilation in Golden Greats, No. 1 just released, Sweden’s The Soundtrack Of Our Lives have made a date at Lee’s Palace for June 4. Tickets for the guaranteed rock spectacle are $18.50 in advance.

MP3: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Karmageddon”

His show at Lee’s last month apparently a roaring (or dead silent) success, Mark Kozelek is coming back for a pair of even more intimate shows – he’s at The Drake Underground on July 8 and 9, tickets for each show $24.50 in advance.

Video: Red House Painters – “24”

The National Post Q&As Joey Santiago of Pixies; they close out their two-night stand at Massey Hall tonight.

The Antlers are giving away an MP3 from Burst Apart, out May 10. They’re at The Mod Club on June 14.

MP3: The Antlers – “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”

Daytrotter has posted a session from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, in town at The Opera House on August 2.

I Am A Mermaid questions Stephin and Claudia of The Magnetic Fields about mermaids.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Sharon Van Etten’s homecoming show in Brooklyn this past weekend and Express Night Out has an interview.

Pitchfork has a feature interview with TV On The Radio.

The Baltimore Sun and Philly Burbs talk to Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, who have a new video from their new record Civilian. NYC Taper is also sharing a recording of their show in New York last week.

Video: Wye Oak – “Fish”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a recent Mountain Goats show while The Sound Of Young America has an interview with John Darnielle.

Hear Ya, Madison Eagle, Jam Bands, Blurt and Paste talk to Jason Isbell, whose new record Here We Rest is out now and who leads The 400 Unit into The Horseshoe on May 22.

Want to hear some of the new My Morning Jacket record, Circuital? You can download the title track below, hear it played live on VH1 Storytellers via Pitchfork and stream another new tune over at Antiquiet. The record is out May 31 and they play The Kool Haus on July 11.

MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Circuital”

Pitchfork 3D – which is exactly what you think it is – has launched with a video session featuring Deerhunter.

BBC talks to Michael Stipe of R.E.M..

NPR is streaming the whole of Steve Earle’s new album I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive a week ahead of its April 26 release. Earle plays The Molson Amphitheatre opening up for Blue Rodeo on August 20.

Stream: Steve Earle / I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive

Spinner caught up with Rhett Miller of Old 97’s before their show in Toronto a couple weeks ago.

Spin, Clash and The Line Of Best Fit have features on Explosions In The Sky, whose new album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care comes out next week and is streaming in whole right now at Exclaim.

Stream: Explosions In The Sky / Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Memory Tapes will release a new album in Player Piano on July 4.

Crawdaddy interviews Liz Phair.

aux.tv has a video session with Warpaint while Relix offers an interview.

Spinner talks to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. Their new record Helplessness Blues arrives May 3 and they’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sunken Treasure

Jeff Tweedy and Snowblink at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis show was a week ago; I think this may actually be my longest delay between witness and writeup ever and, in fact, Jeff Tweedy’s solo tour is just about over. So if you were waiting on some kind of report from opening night at Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre to decide if it was worth picking up one of the few remaining tickets for a later date… I’m sorry. Sorry that you would allow anything I say or do to influence your decision-making – you know I’m drunk most of the time, right?

But if I had gotten this review up sooner, I could have exhorted everyone going to any of the shows to arrive early enough to catch Snowblink, as local duo had been tapped to open up every show on the tour – maybe those at Wilco HQ had seen my glowing review of their debut Long Live? Either way, even though it was a tremendous opportunity for them, as soon as the lights dimmed it was clear they weren’t just happy to be there. The pair of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman took the stage carrying lanterns and eventually set up in their own, white cloth-strewn side of the stage – they were going to put on their show. And what a show it was – Gesundheit’s voice was strong and clear and sounded divine in the theatre’s acoustics, and their simple two-guitar arrangements – including an oustanding cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper” – were subtly embellished with loops, percussion and electronic flourishes. Gesundheit might be a California native, but Toronto now proudly claims her as our own.

Wilco might have last been here as recently as October 2009, but it’s been much, much longer since Jeff Tweedy has come to town with just his acoustic guitars and songbook – so long that Tweedy himself didn’t remember ever having done so. In fact, it had been almost a decade exactly since he played Trinity-St. Paul’s on March 1, 2001, and when reminded of that by the audience he wryly referred to those as “the bad old days”. And while that may have been true for him from both a personal and professional sense, it’s impossible to deny that those were also some of Wilco’s most creatively fertile years, but also an era not often revisited with the full band.

And for about 90 minutes, alone on stage save for a circle of five acoustics and occasional visits from his guitar tech Steve (who was celebrating a birthday), Tweedy would revisit all eras of his career as well as some of his side-projects to air out some songs which would likely never otherwise be heard in these parts. Such as the original, non-Krautrock arrangement of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot b-side “Magazine Called Sunset” or Loose Fur selections “The Ruling Class” and “Chinese Apple”. And of course there were the couple of rare forays into the Uncle Tupelo canon – I know “Gun” would have been too much to hope for, but “Wait Up” was a most certainly welcome and the encore-closing, unamplified “Acuff-Rose” was for the ages. And from Wilco proper, there was a “Poor Places” which I thought turned out better than he seemed to, a rousing “Shot In The Arm” and a new song which has been unofficially dubbed “Open Up Your Mind”.

Considering who the Wilco dynamic has changed with the addition of virtuoso players like Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche, it was good to be reminded that without Tweedy’s songs at the core, beautiful and resonant even stripped down to their essences, it’d all be for naught. Tweedy on his own was also a different sort of performer, more inclined to engage and banter with the audience (and not berate us for not standing up this time), debate grammar, vocabulary and requests and crack more than few jokes, his best being that which accompanied the photographic evidence of his visit to local Wilco-themed sandwich shop Sky Blue Sky, and to which he added they “seemed a little safe – why not try some mulch, tinsel or fibreglass?”.

With a new Wilco album likely due out in the Summer, it’s a pretty safe bet that Tweedy will be back with his cohorts in tow for another couple nights at Massey Hall. And it’ll be expansive and filled with amazing musicianship, no doubt, but that just makes simple shows like this one all the more special.

The Toronto Sun, The National Post, The Globe & Mail and Chart were all in attendance; three out of four dentists agreed it was a great show.

Photos: Jeff Tweedy, Snowblink @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – March 22, 2011
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
MP3: Wilco – “Spiders” (live)
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
Video: Snowblink – “The Haunt”

From the ashes of The Broken West and to The Drake Underground comes Pasadena’s Apex Manor; Ross Flournoy’s new band will be opening up for Jonny on June 3 and 4. Their debut The Year Of Magical Drinking is out now.

MP3: Apex Manor – “Under The Gun”

With the May 10 release date of their new record Burst Apart not really all that far off, The Antlers have put together a North American tour that includes a June 14 stop at The Mod Club with Little Scream supporting. She had to bail on the last few dates of her tour with Sharon Van Etten, including the April 12 date at The Drake, to go to Europe with Junip so this will be her next local date. Not that you needed the extra incentive to go see The Antlers, of course. The band performed the whole of the new record live at SxSW and NPR has the stream.

MP3: The Antlers – “Two”

There were here no less than four times last year, and they’re totally coming back for more – that’s Phantogram, and they’ll be at 69 Bathurst on July 28 in the company of The Glitch Mob.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Village Voice talks to Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus, who are in town for a show at The Horseshoe on April 1 and again on June 10 at The Phoenix supporting Okkervil River.

Exclaim, Billboard, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Mother Jones all have features on The Mountain Goats. Their new record All Eternals Deck is out now and they’re at The Opera House on April 3.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “The Age Of Kings”

Blurt, The Huffington Post, Fogged Clarity, Los Angeles Times and The Von Pip Musical Express have profiles of Wye Oak, in town at The El Mocambo on April 9.

Sharon Van Etten is featured in The Phoenix New Times, Spin and Georgia Straight while NPR is streaming one of her SxSW performances. She’s at The Drake Underground on April 12, and yes that’s her doing backing vocals on The National’s contribution to the soundtrack for the film Win Win, which is now available to download.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”

Spinner, Pedestrian TV and Vanity Fair have interviews with The Kills, whose new record Blood Pressures is out next week. NPR is streaming one of their SxSW performances so you know what to expect when they hit The Sound Academy on May 1. The new album is also streaming in whole at their website.

Stream: The Kills / Blood Pressures

Low have made available a new MP3 from their forthcoming C’Mon, which is out April 12. They’re at The Mod Club on May 2 with Memoryhouse supporting.

MP3: Low – “Especially Me”

CNN has an interview with Shonna Tucker of Drive-By Truckers, who have a date at The Phoenix on June 15.

PopMatters and Blurt have interviews with The Dodos, who’ve put out a new video from No Color. They’re at The Phoenix on June 16 for NXNE.

Video: The Dodos – “Black Night”

Exclaim reports that My Morning Jacket have assigned a May 31 release date for their new record Circuital. They will be at The Kool Haus on July 11 to support.

Metro Pulse talks high fidelity with Asobi Seksu.

Paste and Blurt have interviews with J Masics, who has released a new Chad Van Gaalen-directied video from Several Shades Of Why

Video: J Mascis – “Not Enough”

MTV Hive has an interview with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes while NPR is streaming their show from Auditorium Shores at SxSW.

NOW interviewed those involved with the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour that rolled through town a few weeks back, while NYC Taper has a recording of one of the New York shows.

eye and The Georgia Straight check in with Warpaint.

The Los Angeles Times, Spinner, The Boot, The Telegraph and Publishers Weekly all talk to Steve Earle about I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, which is both the name of his new record, out April 26, and first novel, out May 12.

Rolling Stone chats with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who has set a June target for their second record.

Spinner, The Phoenix and The Fly have interviews with Buffalo Tom.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart discuss their new record Belong with The Line Of Best Fit, The University Observer, Jambands and Exclaim. And oh hey new video.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”

Pitchfork pays tribute to the hanging-it-up LCD Soundsystem with an exhaustive analysis of the band’s catalog. Seriously, it’s exhausting.

Austinist and The Huffington Post interview Liz Phair.

NYC Taper has posted a recording of Yo La Tengo’s show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey last week.

NPR doubles up on The Head & The Heart, streaming both one of their SxSW sets and a World Cafe session. The Big Takeover has an interview with the band, whose self-titled debut gets a reissue on April 16.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Where You'll Find Me Now

Jeff Mangum to transform Toronto church into unbiased dairy hostel

Photo via american songwriterAmerican SongwriterWhen Jeff Mangum, prodigal godhead of that which is largely called indie, gave a rare performance in a Brooklyn loft last December, people freaked out. And reasonably so – the Neutral Milk Hotel-ier had been basically been retired and out of sight for nigh on twelve years, his band having dissolved post-In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and in the intervening years, his legend only grew. So the idea of him suddenly surfacing to play a show probably seemed like a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Except that it wasn’t. My theory at the time was that this was far from a one-off but the start of a return to music for Mangum, who was probably tired of the mythology that had grown around him and wanted to begin the process of deconstructing it, of saying “hey – I’m a guy with a guitar who wrote some songs” and maybe pave the way to being able to write, release and perform some more. And so it really wasn’t a surprise that 2011 started with a trickle of additional live show announcements – first as a special guest at the Portishead-curated I’ll Be Your Mirror at Asbury Park, New Jersey in September, then as curator of the All Tomorrow’s Parties in Somerset, UK in December, and now additional non-festival dates have begun trickling out, and at the moment they begin in Toronto.

Though The Horseshoe played host to a legendary, almost-never-was Neutral Milk Hotel in 1998, Mangum’s return will be in the suitably reverent environs of Trinity-St. Paul’s on August 12 and 13. Tickets are $32.50 and will go on sale as follows: a limited pre-sale of paperless tickets will begin at 10AM on Friday, February 25 with the presale password being made public at the Collective Concerts website on Wednesday, February 23 at 3PM. Presale customers will be allowed to purchase four tickets per order, per customer, per show. Public on sale begins on Saturday, February 26 at noon via usual outlets – Ticketmaster, The Horseshoe, Rotate this and Soundscapes – and purchases will be limited to two per customer.

Exciting news, to be sure, though one wonders what this does to the chances of Mangum showing up with the upcoming Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour which hits The Horseshoe on March 18 – it had been a pretty safe bet that Mangum would show up on at least some of those dates, and he might still. But if you’re not the gambling sort and the guarantee of a night of great tunes from his Elephant 6 compatriots isn’t enough to convince you, then these Trinity shows should be just the ticket. Not that you had much choice since the Holiday Surprise show is sold out anyways.

The Wall Street Journal welcomes Jeff Mangum back from the wilderness with a timeline of his “lost years”.

MP3: Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland 1945”

From lost legends to exciting newcomers, Australia’s Tame Impala and London’s Yuck are teaming up for a North American tour that includes a stop at The Phoenix in Toronto on May 1, tickets $20. I’m not that familiar with Tame Impala but Yuck, whose wonderfully grungy ’90s power-pop-laden self-titled debut just came out this week and has been on heavy rotation in my ears. Spin thinks Tame Impala will be the next big thing while Spinner has an interview with Yuck.

MP3: Yuck – “Rubber”
MP3: Tame Impala – “Runaway, Houses, City, Clouds”

John Vanderslice will take his orchestrally-powered latest White Wilderness on the road this Spring, though it’s unlikely he’ll have an actual orchestra with him – you couldn’t fit one in the Drake Underground, where he’ll be on May 10. You will, however, be able to fit his tourmate Damien Jurado, and Jurado isn’t a small guy.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “The Piano Lesson”
MP3: Damien Jurado – “Gillian Was A Horse”

The Independent talks to Dean Wareham.

Pixies drummer Dave Lovering tells Billboard that the band are contemplating what to do after their run of Doolittle shows – including April 18 and 19 at Massey Hall – are done. Either do the full-album show treatment for another of the records or – horror of horrors – write and record new material.

Buffalo Tom is streaming the whole of their just-released new record Skins, out March 8.

Stream: Buffalo Tom / Skins

I haven’t been keeping track of whether The Flaming Lips have made good on their song-a-month promise, but they have uploaded a 12-part simul-song to YouTube, so that sort of counts I guess.

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Liz Phair.

Also stopping in at NPR’s World Cafe for a coffee and session are Superchunk.

Spinner talks to The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr about their new record Angles, out March 22.

The Montreal Gazette and Toronto Star have feature pieces on Interpol.

Pitchfork reports that the new Death Cab For Cutie album Codes & Keys will be released on May 31.

NPR has a World Cafe session and Pitchfork and Crave interview features with The Decemberists.

The Independent Weekly, Paste, Blurt, Prefix, The Wall Street Journal, NBC and Spinner profile Drive-By Truckers, whose new record Go-Go Boots is out next week but streaming now in whole at Spinner.

Stream: Drive-By Truckers – “Go Go Boots”

The Alternate Side has a video session and interview with Iron & Wine.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River blogs about his experience at the Grammy Awards (he was nominated for best liner notes) for Billboard. Their new record I Am Very Far is out May 10. A video of one of the new songs, recorded last month when they played Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, has just been posted online – check it out at Prefix.

Bright Eyes have released a new video from their new record The People’s Key. The Quietus also has an interview with Conor Oberst, who plays The Sound Academy (with his band) on March 13.

Video: Bright Eyes – “Shell Games”

The new DeVotchKa record 100 Lovers is up to stream at NPR in advance of its March 1 release.

Stream: DeVotchKa / 100 Lovers

The San Francisco Examiner and Spinner have interviews with and NYC Taper a live recording from last week of Nicole Atkins; she’s at The Horseshoe on February 26.

Asobi Seksu released their lastest Fluorescence this week and released a new video from it. They also have a chat with Spinner and will be at The Horseshoe on February 27.

Video: Asobi Seksu – “Trails”

NYC Taper has a live recording and Spinner an interview with Wye Oak, whose Civilian is out March 8 and who play The El Mocambo on April 9.

Paste and So Much Silence chat with Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. They play The Horseshoe on March 6 and have an in-store at Sonic Boom earlier that afternoon.

Stereogum checks in with Fleet Foxes on the status of their new record Helplessness Blues, out May 3.

Rolling Stone is holding a competition to choose who will grace an upcoming cover – vote Ume.

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Lahaha

Review of Shugo Tokmaru’s Port Entropy

Photo via PolyvinylPolyvinylSo I’ve had to check myself a couple times from taking a, “Shugo Tokumaro‘s music is so weird and wonderful, it must be because he’s Japanese!” angle on this writeup. Because even though it’s not incorrect – Tokumaru IS Japanese and sings entirely in Japanese and many things that come out of Japan are weird and wonderful to Western sensibilities – it’s too reductive and doesn’t give Tokumaru enough credit for what he’s done with his music.

His latest album, Port Entropy is the second of his records I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in after 2008’s Exit and like its predecessor, it’s a whimsical whirlwind of instruments and orchestration, almost all played by Tokumaru, that lifts aloft his winsome and dreamlike melodies. For all the musical sophistication and cinematic scope of his recordings, the songs at their core have a childlike simplicity and pop appeal that transcends things like language or culture, and anyways “la la la” pretty much means the same thing universally.

Port Entropy was released in the Spring of 2010 in Japan and will be out in North America on February 15. Tokumaru toured over here behind Exit, assisted in the live setting by members of such acts as Beirut and The National, and word is that he’ll be crossing the Pacific again to support the new record.

MP3: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shogu Tokumaru – “Tracking Elevator”
Video: Shugo Tokumaru – “Rum Hee”

Spin talks to Bob Nastanovich about the future of the Pavement reunion, which apparently isn’t as over as though who saw them melt down at Matador 21 might have guessed – but even if they play more shows, don’t expect any new material.

PopMatters, Exclaim and The Star-Tribune talk to Mark Olson of The Jayhawks.

Spinner talks to Nicole Atkins about her Canadian connections while Vol. 1 Brooklyn asks her about her reading habits. Atkin’s second record Mondo Amore is out February 8 and she plays The Horseshoe on February 26.

State and Baltimore Magazine talk to Dean Wareham.

Black Book returns to Chicago’s Wicker Park with Liz Phair. Nashville Scene also has an interview.

The National Post, The Independent and Time talk to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, who are at The Sound Academy tomorrow night. NYC Taper is sharing a recording of their show in New York from last week.

Paste catches up with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

Le Blogotheque serves up an order of Take-Away Show with Spoon, up-sized to include downloadable MP3s of the performance.

The Georgia Straight talks to Daniel Kessler of Interpol, who have a date at The Sound Academy on February 15.

The Strokes make the press rounds in advance of the March 22 release of Angles, offering interviews to Spinner, Myspace and Spin.

Beggars USA reports that Alela Diane will release a new record entitled Alela Diane & Wild Divine on April 5th.

The New Zealand Herald and Pitchfork talk to Sufjan Stevens.

In support of the release of their new record Long Live on February 15, Snowblink will play an in-store at Soundscapes on March 3 followed by a record release show at The Music Gallery on March 5.

MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”

Plants & Animals will warm up for their March 5 show at Lee’s Palace with an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom that same afternoon at 4PM.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

The National has words with Dan Bejar of Destroyer. They are at Lee’s Palace on March 31.

NOW checks in with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras.