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Posts Tagged ‘Longwave’

Monday, August 10th, 2009

It's Blitz!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Amanda Blank at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI haven’t done any sort of formal review of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest album It’s Blitz!, mainly because I think it’d be redundant. Not just because it’s already gotten largely universal praise, but because it should be evident to anyone listening to it that’s it’s a wholly splendid record, and to my ears, the band’s best yet and one of the top of the year from anyone. Heady praise? Yes, but considering my head is pretty much consistently enveloped in a bubble of happy before the end of opening track “Zero” and it doesn’t evaporate for the remainder of the record, I’ll stand by it. It’s remarkable that a band who made their name with abrasive, in-your-face, punk-infused rock would find their crowning achievement – so far – in a record as sleek, synthy and hooky as It’s Blitz!, but there it is. As good as they were at their original sound – which is pretty damn good – they’re better at this.

And as good as they are on record, they’re even better live. My only such experience came in September 2007 at the now-legendary Berkeley Church show, where I have fond memories of getting crushed by hundreds of fans drunk on free booze surging forward towards a mesmerizing Karen O, who just happened to be grabbing my head and screaming in my face. Getting one’s ass kicked was never so much fun, and I couldn’t wait for last week’s two-night stand at the Kool Haus, for which I went to night two, to experience it again. And considering that the Berkeley gig was a semi-private party, many of Toronto’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs disciples had been waiting even longer. A hotly anticipated show? You might say that.

Before the main event, of course, there was the support and for these shows it was a sort-of double-bill with two members of Spank Rock doing DJ duties for fifteen minutes or so before being joined by up-and-coming (based on the PR emails I get) hip-hop artist Amanda Blank, whose debut I Love You just came out. Her short set was high-energy and with a party vibe to it, but she seemed as interested in playing Yeah Yeah Yeahs cheerleader as performing her own material, calling for the crowd to show their love for Karen O on numerous occasions, the audience obliging each time.

Of course, no one in the sold-out house needed a cue to scream in adoration for Ms Orzolek – as soon as the band strode onstage, it was shrieking bedlam. And why not? O is easily one of the most charismatic frontwomen in rock today, complimenting her formidable vocals and presence with a most distinctive sartorial sensibility. Which is to say the woman does love her costumes. And we do love her and her costumes. And I do love photographing her and her costumes. Considering the Berkeley show was notable for being essentially unlit – fitting the dark vibe of the then-current Is Is EP, sure, but a bitch to shoot in – the fact that they decided to match the big and bright production of the new record with equally big and bright stage design was greatly appreciated. It’s never the wrong time for confetti cannons.

I suppose I should talk about the music some, but for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, more than most bands, the visuals are just as crucial as the sounds. With every strut across the stage, every point with her impossibly long fingers, every dramatic pose and particularly appropriate for Blitz!, every huge grin, O is physically embodying their music. It’s the whole package. Just as for all the praise laid at Karen O’s wonderfully stylish feet, equal accolades must go to her bandmates, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist/keyboardist Nick Zinner (and also to nameless fourth utility player) for laying down the massively tight and wall of sound behind her for the career-spanning, 15-song set – glam and glossy when appropriate as on “Heads Will Roll” and “Hysteric”, rough and jagged for the likes of “Y Control” and “Kiss Kiss” when not, though even their jags tend to sparkle like the rhinestones on O’s “Zero” leather jacket. And of course, as predictable as “Maps” was, dedicated to Toronto no less, it still broke your heart. No one loves you like Yeah Yeah Yeahs love you. It’s true.

The National Post, Exclaim!, Panic Manual and eye were all in attendance at the Wednesday show and offer their thoughts.

Photos: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Amanda Blank @ The Kool Haus – August 5, 2009
MP3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Bang”
MP3: Amanda Blank – “Make It Take It” (Eli Escobar remix)
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Heads Will Roll”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Down Boy”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Cheated Hearts”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Turn Into”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Gold Lion”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Y Control”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Pin”
Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Date With The Night”
MySpace: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Exclaim talks to Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth.

PopMatters talks to Kim Deal, who will be seeing a lot of the 416 (and 705) in the next while as she’s in town this Saturday at Lee’s palace with The Breeders and then returns a fortnight later with Pixies at V Fest Ontario. And if Blurt has their information correct, their set will NOT be a Doolittle set, which is actually perfectly fine with me – they’ll still play the best tunes from that, and we may still get to hear the likes of “Where Is My Mind?”, “Velouria” and “Head On”. I’ll take it.

Under The Radar has an interview with Mew, who are playing the second day of V Fest on August 30 and who will release No More Stories on August 25.

The Line Of Best Fit chit-chats with Mum and Drowned In Sound have declared this Mum week, and are running all manner of Iceland-themed pieces including this one on the state of the Icelandic music scene, post-economic collapse. Their new album Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know is out August 24 and they’re at the Phoenix on October 27.

Daytrotter offers up a session with Longwave.

The new video from Julian Plenti, aka Paul Banks from Interpol finally escaped from the spectre of Carlos D’s dubious facial hair only to grow some of his own, features him canoodling with Metric’s Emily Haines in Toronto’s super-sketchy Waverly Hotel. The album, Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper, came out last week.

Video: Julian Plenti – “Games For Days”

Matt Johnson gives The AV Club a tour of Kim Schifino’s iPod. Matt & Kim are at the Reverb on October 1.

Threadless (the online t-shirt shop, yes) has a video interview with Ume.

Friday, December 19th, 2008

He Lives In A House, A Very Big House In The Country

The Guardian talks to the people who inspired famous songs

Photo via BlurBlurSo it seems the holidays are officially upon us. I know this because I skipped out of work early yesterday, and the streetcar was packed with people doing exactly the same thing. And as things everywhere wind down, so too will things around here. I’ll still post as long as there’s stuff to post about, but I intend to utilize the downtime to catch up on some reading, movie watching, shopping… real world stuff.

But I’ll wind out the week with this really interesting piece from The Guardian, wherein they talk to the people who served as inspiration for famous songs throughout the years. Like the guy who owned Blur’s “Country House”, the girl whom The Beatles said was “Leaving Home”, she whose name is “Geraldine” and is Glasvegas’ social worker and Patti Boyd, who both had something in the way she moved and also went by “Layla”. Worth a read, perhaps this afternoon between glances at the clock every few minutes, waiting for 5:00.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a variety of sessions that’ve gone online in the last couple days that are worth your while.

NPR gets Mercury Rev to record a session with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite. The Montreal Mirror and Chicago Reader have interviews.

Daytrotter has a Crooked Fingers set available to download.

Bandstand Busking gets Asobi Seksu to play a few songs, busker-style. Their new album Hush is out February 17. And digging through the archives also reveals similar sessions with The Acorn (session) and Frightened Rabbit (session). Nice.

MPR has Longwave over to play a few. They’ve got a new vid from new album Secrets Are Sinister and The Columbian has an interview with frontman Steve Schlitz.

Video: Longwave – “Shining Hours”

Stereogum’s Decomposed puts on The Uglysuit.

NPR talks to School Of Seven Bells.

The Age profiles Fleet Foxes.

I’d mentioned in my favourites of 2008 post that the Woodpigeon record which made the list was a limited release and currently unavailable, but that it’d re-released soon – as Exclaim reports, “soon” means February 3. On that day, Treasury Library Canada will be available again in regular retail outlets and come with a ten-track bonus disc entitled Houndstooth Europa. And if that’s not enough Woodpigeon for you, their next album Die Stadt Muzikanten will be released in the Fall.

Von Bondies have a date at the Horseshoe on February 13, full tour dates at Plug In Music. Their new album Love, Hate And Then There’s You is out February 3.

Part of Drowned In Sound’s year-end coverage has involved soliciting “best of year” picks from various artists including Sky Larkin, Shearwater, Frightened Rabbit and School Of Seven Bells, the results of which are available in three parts. Filter has also been collecting Top 10 lists from a slew of acts and compiling them at eRockstar.

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Prefix Free

Review of Parts & Labor's Receivers

Photo By Francesca TalloneFrancesca TalloneThe most striking thing about Parts & Labor’s last record Mapmaker, even more than the massively buzzing wall of synths, unrelentingly anthemic songwriting or Dan Friel’s more Bob Mould than Bob Mould vocals – it was the maniacally propulsive drumming of Christopher Weingarten. His breakneck tempos kept the entire record at the very brink of either taking off into orbit or utterly collapsing under itself. So with him having left the band after that record, it was reasonable to question whether their new album Receivers would be able to measure up to Mapmaker‘s adrenaline rush?

And in measures of pure energy, the answer is no. New drummer Joe Wong is hardly a slouch but he doesn’t play at full throttle in the same way as his predecessor, and accordingly the record is less relentless and chaotic, but also more tuneful. The addition of Wong and also second guitarist Sarah Lipstate have shifted the personality of Parts & Labor sufficiently that trying to directly compare the two records (as I’ve been doing) isn’t really appropriate. In terms of analogies, if Mapmaker-era Parts & Labor was Husker Du, then the Receivers era can be likened to Sugar. Hell, the none-more-pop of “Nowhere’s Nigh” sounds like it could have been taken straight off Copper Blue, like the mash-up of “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and “Helpless”, rendered in keyboard. Which, incidentally, qualifies it as maybe one of my favourite songs of the year.

Rest assured, Mapmaker fans, Parts & Labor haven’t mellowed out. Receivers still buzzes and wails in all the right places – it simply trades a few BPMs and a few notches of cacaphony for a bucketful of melody, and that’s a trade I’d make any day. They’ll still make your fist pump and your head bob. It may simply not hurt quite as much the next morning.

The band are currently on tour and will be in Toronto on November 21 for a show at Sneaky Dee’s. Bassist BJ Warshaw talks to The San Francisco Bay Guardian and Spinner about the band’s solicitation of found sounds from their fans to use on the album while Friel covers similar ground for Tuscon Weekly.

MP3: Parts & Labor – “Nowhere’s Nigh”
MySpace: Parts & Labor

Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy discusses the band’s next album Tonight with Drowned In Sound. The album is out January 27 and they’re playing Lee’s Palace on December 4.

Brendan Canning has released another video from Something For All Of Us…. He and the rest of Broken Social Scene will be at the Sound Academy on November 27 and 28.

Video: Brendan Canning – “Churches Under The Stairs”

Also with a new video are Death Cab For Cutie.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “No Sunlight”

NPR is streaming The Decemberists’ show in Philadelphia from last week. They’re currently in the midst of releasing the three volumes of their Always the Bridesmaid vinyl single series and are targeting an April release for their next proper album, Hazards Of Love.

It’s still just Fall but if looking ahead to Winter (note I didn’t say “looking forward to” because that’d just be madnesS), one of the acts for next year’s WinterCity festival has been announced. On February 7, The Stills will play a free show to the huddled, freezing masses at Nathan Phillips Square. No word yet who’ll do the same on January 30. Looking a little more short-term, they’ve got four nights at the Danforth Music Hall starting tonight.

New York’s Longwave release their fourth album and first in three years today – Secrets Are Sinister is streaming in its entirety at Spinner.

Stream: Longwave / Secrets Are Sinister

And also streaming and out today is The Sound Of The Smiths, the umpteenth compilation of The Smiths.

Stream: The Smiths / The Sound Of The Smiths

And finally, over at Spin, they’ve got the whole of Just Like Heaven, the Cure tribute album due out on January 27. There’s some commentary from the particpating artists over here.

Stream: Just Like Heaven: A Tribute To The Cure