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Posts Tagged ‘Lower Dens’

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day Two

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kathleen Edwards, Garbage, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy writeup of day one of Osheaga mentioned a few times how hot it was, but it bears repeating: it was hot. 40 Celsius with the humidity – that’s 104 Fahrenheit, my American friends – and not even much relief in the shade. Why is Friday’s heat relevant to Saturday’s recap? Because Saturday felt even hotter. And why is the heat relevant? I guess it’s not, really, but even days on I still feel like complaining about it. It was damn hot. But even though any rational person would have opted to stay indoors and air conditioned, tens of thousands still headed back onto Parc Jean-Drapeau in the middle of the St. Lawrence River for another day of music. In the heat.

And the earliest or most masochistic of those – your call – were there in time to see The Dø, arguably the best French/Finnish band going, do their thing to kick off the day. Having seen them on their previous to last visit to Toronto in Fall 2010 – their most recent visit being the night before – I remembered that their live experience was a much less eclectic one than you got from their records, focused more on their pop side. But there’s only so much smoothing out you can do for an outfit as artistically restless as they and throughout their set, their odder/proggier tendencies would manifest themselves in outros, jams, what have you. Singer Olivia Merilahti’s charisma works better as slinky than sweaty, but you take what you can get.

Photos: The Dø @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”
Video: The Dø – “Gonna Be Sick”
Video: The Dø – “Too Insistent”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “Playground Hustle”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”

Immediately following on the Mountain stage and way at the opposite end of eccentric was Canada’s sweetheart 2012, Kathleen Edwards, with the first set of the weekend that came with a simple, “yeah it’s hot so why not lay back and soak it in” vibe. Indeed, looked at it from a different perspective, it was rather the perfect place for Edwards’ earnest and genial sort of roots-rock, bolstered by the fact that she’s pretty hellaciously funny – case in point, her comment to the stage hand turning the fire hose onto the audience: “hey, hose guy you and me have a date in 20 minutes”. I don’t see her live enough to not need to be reminded of this, but I did have enough of a reference point to notice that Edwards seemed happier and more content up there than I’d ever seen her, particularly in her older material which was represented by the singles though she did turn to her breakout Voyageur for some deep cuts. I don’t usually expect happiness to translate into great art, but Edwards wears and uses it well.

Huffington Post Music has a feature piece on Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Asking For Flowers”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”

Following Edwards – though with enough of a break between to allow a water run – was Calexico, who thanks to their Arizona roots probably didn’t even notice the heat, and if they had something to say about the humidity, they politely refrained from doing so. And indeed, if any artist on the lineup made music that sounded beaten down and bleached by the sun, it was Calexico. The usually workaholic band had been relatively quiet since 2008’s Carried To Dust, focusing on some archival reissues before getting around to making a new record in Algiers, due out September 11. But their set didn’t worry too much about proving they’d been making new music – opening with “Crystal Frontier” circa 2001’s Even My Sure Things Fall Through, they were much more about creating a deliciously parched, mariachi-tinged atmosphere and maybe getting people thinking, “hey, this heat thing isn’t so bad”. Methinks they succeeded.

Photos: Calxico @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
MP3: Calexico – “History Of Lovers”
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Black Heart”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “Ballad Of Cable Hogue”
MP3: Calexico – “Service And Repair”
MP3: Calexico – “Frontera”
MP3: Calexico – “Spokes”
Video: Calexico – “Para”
Video: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”

Considering they were a local band whose last album Shapeshifter had been a real breakout record – it certainly got me onside after years of indifference – I was a little surprised that Young Galaxy had drawn a mid-day time slot on the festival’s smallest stage. But considering they’d spent much of 2012 writing and recording the follow-up to said record in Sweden – though their Rockethub campaign didn’t reach its target, they made it over anyways? – perhaps they wanted to ease back into the live thing. In any case, they weren’t helped out by the fact that the technical difficulties that plagued the acts I saw on the Forest stage on Friday persisted, the overall mix rather shoddy, or the fact that Young Galaxy have never been the best live act, but the vibrancy of the Shapeshifter material still came through. Interestingly, their live sound seemed more built on conventional instruments and less reliant on electronics than I remembered; it remains to be seen if this was just happenstance for this performance or if it marks another change in direction… the one new song they offered up didn’t stray far from the Shapeshifter formula but I wouldn’t assume what was heard onstage necessarily resembles that which came out of Dan Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio. I look forward to hearing it.

Daytrotter recently posted up a session with the band.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Scène des arbes – August 4, 2012
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Phantoms”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”

Back at the mainstage, it was soon time for Garbage. As much as I hate people who equate bands falling off their own radar with having ceased to exist at all, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten they’d released two albums this century; I thought this year’s Not Your Kind Of People had been their first record in much more than seven years. I wasn’t even really a fan back in the ’90s and had not paid any attention to the Toronto stop of their tour earlier this year, but festival math is different and in this setting, Garbage were a must-see for me if for no other reason than I never had before and I’d surely know a lot of the songs. After all, they weren’t a cult band by any measure, but genuinely successful across their first two albums and ubiquitous across radio and television. Not that any of that necessarily meant anything to much of the Osheaga demographic, who were probably in primary school when Garbage were at their apex, but I digress.

Boasting surely the most spartan stage setup of anyone at the festival – there was almost no gear onstage – they turned in a thoroughly polished performance befitting the 3/4 of the band who’re studio perfectionists and with frontwoman Shirley Manson responsible for providing any and all rawness, which she did with aplomb. Looking as fierce and confrontational as ever – and probably thankful they had an early evening timeslot for even SPF10000 sunblock couldn’t have prevented her paleness from spontaneously combusting at high noon – Manson prowled and strutted around the stage like she owned it; time hasn’t diminished her charisma, that’s for certain. Their tunes have also aged surprisingly well; though their electro-grunge pop sound is inseparable from its era, the hooks and melodies are forever. And I appreciated their seeing the Pretenders’ “Talk Of The Town” quote in the outro of “Special” – probably my all-time favourite Garbage moment alongside the hard-panned guitars on “Vow” – and raising it an extra few lines from “I Go To Sleep”. A nice moment in one of my unexpectedly favourite sets of the weekend.

The Montreal Gazette and Huffington Post have interviews with Shirley Manson and Rolling Stone analyzes her distinctive fashion sense over the years.

Photos: Garbage @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
Video: Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
Video: Garbage – “Tell Me Where It Hurts”
Video: Garbage – “Run Baby Run”
Video: Garbage – “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
Video: Garbage – “Bleed Like Me”
Video: Garbage – “Why Do You Love Me”
Video: Garbage – “Shut Your Mouth”
Video: Garbage – “Breaking Up The Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Cherry Lips”
Video: Garbage – “Androgyny”
Video: Garbage – “You Look So Fine”
Video: Garbage – “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
Video: Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Garbage – “Special”
Video: Garbage – “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Video: Garbage – “Push It”
Video: Garbage – “Milk”
Video: Garbage – “Stupid Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Video: Garbage – “Queer”
Video: Garbage – “Vow”

En route from the mainstages to the far end of the festival grounds, I made my first and only stop at Osheaga’s electronic stage in order to see Sweden’s Little Dragon. I was there well in time but the band were extra-late in getting set up and underway, thus limiting my time to get acquainted with them. I hadn’t really heard much from them before, but an elevator pitch of three Swedes fronted by a little Japanese girl while cranking out beat-heavy electro-soul was enough to get me interested. For the few songs I was able to stick around and with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano was all over the stage, dancing and going to town on her tambourine, they certainly delivered what I’d hoped for and did with a good deal more energy and ferocity than I expected. As I said, I’d have liked to stay and watch more, but I had a long-standing appointment to keep.

Fuse and Rolling Stone have feature pieces on Little Dragon.

Photos: Little Dragon @ Scène Piknick Électronik – August 4, 2012
Video: Little Dragon – “Crystalfilm”
Video: Little Dragon – “Brush The Heat”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”
Video: Little Dragon – “Fortune”
Video: Little Dragon – “My Step”
Video: Little Dragon – “Never Never”
Video: Little Dragon – “After The Rain”
Video: Little Dragon – “Twice”
Video: Little Dragon – “Constant Surprises”

An appointment that dated back to March, when I got to within ten people or so of seeing The Jesus & Mary Chain in Austin at SXSW, but no closer. This was before they made it clear that they’d be on the road for much of 2012, mind, so being shut out and listening to them from the street felt extra painful at the time; needless to say, missing them again was simply not in the cards. Though if I had any fears about the Green stage being jammed before I got there, they were unfounded – the band may have been legends to many, but there weren’t more than a few hundred people gathered to see them close out the night, most of a certain generation and more than a few with kids in tow. No doubt a club show, as they’d sold out in Toronto the night before, would have better suited but this was what it was, and what it was was pretty great.

If you were to drop someone from the ’80s in front of the stage, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea who they were looking at – William Reid may have looked similar to how he did back then, albeit heavier-set, but Jim Reid’s wild shock of hair has long been traded for a rather office-looking cut and it’s hard to imagine the younger him wearing a red Flying Burrito Brothers t-shirt onstage as he did. The time-traveler might also ask why Phil King of Lush was there on bass. And just as they didn’t look like they once did, they didn’t entirely sound like they did either – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While still exceptionally loud, the white noise screech that was their signature circa Psychocandy was localized mainly to Reid’s guitar as opposed to across the entire sonic spectrum and the melodic pop polish that they’d achieved by the end of their recording career (1999’s Munki) was applied to all of their career-spanning set. And while the younger Reid may have looked rather more proper than he once did, his voice still had that Glaswegian sneer and the misanthropic spirit of his lyrics remained – it’s hard to sugarcoat a song like “Reverence”, after all.

We didn’t get to hear Jim Reid berate his brother for messing up at all as I’ve heard he’s done at other shows – some things never change – but he did apologize to the audience for forgetting the words to “Happy When It Rains” and forcing a start-over (the second time that day I’d heard a Scottish person sing about how they enjoy the rain, coincidentally). And while I’m sure they intended having Mad Men actress and Montréal native Jessica Paré come out to sing backups on “Just Like Honey” and cover Hope Sandoval’s parts on “Sometimes Always” as a surprise, the fact that she’d done the same at the previous Buffalo and Toronto shows kind of took some of the wow factor out of it. Unsurprisingly, that’s what most of the reviews of the show focused on but the real important take-away was that even if they never make a new record – and maybe we don’t even want one – The Jesus & Mary Chain still sound amazing and still don’t give a fuck. All hail.

Photos: The Jesus & Mary Chain @ Scène verte – August 4, 2012
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Love Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Cracking Up”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Sometimes Always”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Almost Gold”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Something I Can Have”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Far Gone And Out”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Teenage Lust”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Reverence”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Blues From A Gun”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Darklands”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “April Skies”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”

Some other things that you may want to know about… Cat Power has announced the North American tour dates in support of Sun, out September 4. She’ll be at The Kool Haus on October 20, tickets $34.50 in advance, and a second track from the new record is now available to download.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

Bob Mould is streaming the first single from his new one The Silver Age, out September 4. It sounds like going through those Sugar reissues reinspired him in the very best way, and if you’re unfamiliar with Mould’s extensive body of song but want to start investigating, The AV Club has a helpful beginner’s guide.

Stream: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Rolling Stone has some details on the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Document, due out on September 25.

Paste, LA Weekly, and The Village Voice talk to Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross, who’ve just released a new video and download from their excellent new record Researching The Blues.

MP3: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
Video: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”

Circuital may be over a year old, but that doesn’t mean that My Morning Jacket can’t release a new animated, Galifianakis-powered video from it to coincide with their tour which brings them to Echo Beach next Wednesday, August 15.

Video: My Morning Jacket – “Outta My System”

Lower Dens also have a new video from Nootropics. There’s also interviews at DCist and The Village Voice.

Video: Lower Dens – “Candy”

Tom Waits had everyone convinced last week that he’d be announcing his first tour in forever this week. He didn’t, he just released a new video from Bad Like Me. Never before has such a cool video been met with so much disappointment.

Video: Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”

Rolling Stone talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats about their new record Transcendental Youth. It’s out October 2 and brings them to The Phoenix on October 20.

Britt Daniel chats with Exclaim about his new band Divine Fits, his old band Spoon, and about his other new band, Spl:t S:ngle. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 and they’re at Lee’s Palace September 5.

Fang Island gives aux.tv a track-by-track walkthrough of their latest Major.

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

CONTEST – Lower Dens @ Lee’s Palace – July 17, 2012

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Lower Dens
What: Baltimore-based psych-kraut-dream-rock outfit led by Jana Hunter
Why: Their murky and intriguing second album Nootropics was released in May and should translate interestingly to stage.
When: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Where: Lee’s Palace in Toronto (19+)
Who else: No Joy and Alan Resnick are their tourmates for this jaunt.
How: Tickets for the show are $12 in advance but courtesy of Domino Records, I’ve got one pairs of passes to give away for the show as well as a copy of Nootropics on LP. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Lower Dens” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body; contest closes at midnight, July 15.
What else: Denver Westword, The Georgia Straight, OC Weekly, and Austinist have features on the band. There’s also a video session from the streets of Barcelona available to watch at They Shoot Music.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”
MP3: Lower Dens – “Propagation”
MP3: Lower Dens – “Lamb”
MP3: Lower Dens – “Candy”

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Yours, Mine and Ours

Joe Pernice & Norman Blake at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t think Toronto necessarily has an international reputation as a destination for expatriate pop geniuses, but apparently Canadian women hold a certain appeal for them. Joe Pernice of Pernice Brothers has been up here for the better part of eight years while Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub moved to Kitchener a couple years ago – both on account of their Canadian wives – and on Friday night, they were on stage together at The Dakota Tavern for a low-key show together. It had been advertised as a Joe Pernice show with the promise of a “special guest”, and while a show from Joe alone would be worth pencilling into the calendar, once the faintly-veiled clues as to who said guest would be got out, it turned into a must-see.

Anyone expecting a high-falutin’ musical summit between two of the finest pop songwriters around would have done well to dial down their expectations, though. The show was much more of a back porch strumalong between two old friends who just happened to have one hell of a songbook to draw from and though it had its share of sloppy moments, that arguably made it even more special and memorable than if it had been meticulously rehearsed. Pernice started out with a short solo set that drew from his many projects – Pernice Brothers, Joe solo, Scud Mountain Boys – and included a new song entitled “Surf’s Up” that he revealed was from a new, just-completed Scuds record. Scoop!

Blake was then invited onstage and the two spent the rest of the show playing each other’s songs – Pernice on a standard acoustic, Blake on a Nashville-strung parlour-body – and reminding the gathered that they were two of the funniest stage banterers in the business with some great repartee. There was plenty of time for banter as Blake’s guitar required plenty of tuning and retuning – their first run through of “Baby Lee” went further out of tune with each strum and forced a do-over – but when they were able to get onto a song, it was grand if clearly not overly rehearsed. Even with a music stand overflowing with notes onto the floor between them, they were happy to do things off the cuff – Blake had to teach Pernice the chords to “You Was Me” from his Jonny side-project with Euros Childs on the fly (it turned out fine) and even though their take on Fanclub’s “I Don’t Want Control Of You” was a bit of a comedy of errors, they still made it tremendously entertaining.

The stuff that was more properly arranged, however, was nothing sort of sublime. Hearing them trade verses on “Everything Flows” was easily the highlight of the night and their finale of “Alcoholiday” not far behind. You obviously didn’t have the wall of harmonies that Teenage Fanclub proper can offer, but Pernice’s falsetto was a pretty good stand-in. It wasn’t just about the Fanclub material, mind, as their work on “Loving Kind” off the last Pernice Brothers album Goodbye Killer was stirring and their cover of The Zombies’ “The Butcher’s Tale” darkly affecting. Though they obviously could have kept going all night, a hard curfew forced them to cap things at 90 minutes though they were permitted an encore of Fanclub’s “Start Again” that was a divine finale.

It’s not clear if this tweet is a joke or a promise, but an actual collaboration between the two – or even some more of these casual-vibe shows – would be a great treat and a far better way to enjoy having these talents as locals than going through their trash.

The Calgary Herald has an interview with Joe Pernice about his plans to release two albums this year – the aforementioned new Scuds record and the long-promised new Pernice Brothers album.

Photos: Joe Pernice & Norman Blake @ The Dakota Tavern – June 22, 2012
MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
MP3: Scud Mountain Boys – “Grudge Fuck”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “It’s All In My Mind”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Everything Flows”
MP3: Jonny – “Candyfloss”
MP3: Jonny – “Gloria”

Dirty Projectors are giving away a couple tracks from their forthcoming Swing Lo Magellan, out July 10. They play The Music Hall on July 6.

MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Dance For You”
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Video: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”

The Alternate Side has a session and Clash, Houston Press, and Indy Week have interviews with Lower Dens. They play Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Beirut has released a video for the title track of last year’s The Rip Tide. They are at The Sound Academy on July 19.

Video: Beirut – “The Rip Tide”

The Antlers are streaming a track from their forthcoming EP Undersea, due out July 24.

Stream: The Antlers – “Drift Dive”

The Shins have rolled out a new video from Port Of Morrow; they’re in town August 4 opening up for The Black Keys at The Molson Amphitheatre.

Video: The Shins – “No Way Down”

Pitchfork talks to Cat Power about her new record Sun, due for release on September 4.

Aimee Mann has given Rolling Stone the title track of her new record Charmer to stream. It’s out September 18.

Stream: Aimee Mann – “Charmer”

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has taken their reunion from the stage into the studio and are set to release their first new album since 2004’s Damage in Meat & Bone, out September 18. Then they’ll take in back to the stage with a series of live dates that includes an October 18 appearance at The Horseshoe in Toronto. Stream one of the new songs below.

Stream: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Black Mold”

San Fransciso goth-gazers The Soft Moon will be at The Drake Underground on September 22, tickets $11.50 in advance.

MP3: The Soft Moon – “Tiny Spiders”
MP3: The Soft Moon – “Breathe The Fire”

Michael Gira’s Swans will make an appearance at Lee’s Palace on October 25 in support of their new double-record We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head, tickets for that $26.50 in advance.

MP3: Swans – “Sex God Sex”

Matt & Kim are preparing for the Fall release of their new record Let’s Go with a video for the title track.

Video: Matt & Kim – “Let’s Go”

Boulder Weekly has a tete-a-tete with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The Daily Herald and Missoulian chat with Nels Cline.

Interview talks to Munaf Rayani of Explosions In The Sky.

Spinner documents a typical day in the life of The Flaming Lips, assuming that playing a free show in downtown Toronto as part of NXNE counts as typical for these guys. Maybe it does. You don’t know.

Okay, gotta go. San Francisco beckons.

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Fragrant World

Yeasayer are now big enough to play The Sound Academy, and other assorted sundry news items

Photo By Anna PalmaAnna PalmaIt used to be that the room that every concert-goer in Toronto hated was The Kool Haus, a ridiculously-named concrete box on the waterfront that usually marked the point where a percentage of long-time fans would decide a band had gotten too big and would peel off to find the next big thing, only to have their places happily taken by folks from the more mainstream side of things who could care less that said band had been grinding it out in the clubs for years – they were that band with that one song that they’d heard on the radio/on a soundtrack/in and ad/whatever.

It was the circle of life, and it still applies now except that instead of the 2000-capacity Kool Haus marking that demarcation point, lately bands have been jumping straight from the clubs to the Sound Academy – an even more despised concrete box on the waterfront that, despite the number of people who swear they will never go to a show there, still sells out its 3000+ capacity with regularity. But on the plus side, people look at the Kool Haus a lot more affectionately these days.

All of which is to say that I’m mildly surprised – and yet not – that Brooklyn’s Yeasayer have booked themselves into The Sound Academy this Summer for their North American tour in support of their third album, Fragrant World. I guess I just didn’t think that Yeasayer had the sort of mass appeal that would justify a move from the 1000-person Phoenix, where they were their last time through in June 2011, to a room three times larger this time out. But hey, it’s happening – much to the dismay of many, I’m sure – on August 21, which also happens to be the day that the new album comes out. Tickets for that one will be $22.50 general admission and $32.50 for VIP balcony seats.

The first track from Fragrant World has been made available to download, and there’s a piece in Spin from last Fall where singer Chris Keating talked about the song, specifically.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Henrietta”

In other show announcements – The Dandy Warhols will play an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on June 3 at 4:30PM before their show at The Phoenix later that night. There’s interviews with the band at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Phoenix, and Vancouver Observer.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Country Leaver”

Brooklyn’s Ava Luna have made a date at The Drake Underground for July 14, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut album Ice Level was released earlier this Winter.

MP3: Ava Luna – “Wrenning Day”

California’s RACES – yes, I believe the all caps is mandatory – will be at The Drake on July 23 in support of their debut Year Of The Witch, which is also available to stream in its entirety.

MP3: RACES – “Big Broom”
Stream: RACES / Year Of The Witch

Los Angeles ambient-electronic artist Julia Holter will be at The Horseshoe on September 22 in support of her widely-acclaimed second album Ekstasis. Tickets for that are $12 in advance and The Quietus has an interview.

Video: Julia Holter – “Our Sorrw”

Beachwood Sparks have released a second MP3 from their comeback record The Tarnished Gold, out June 26.

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Sparks Fly Again”

Rolling Stone has premiered the new animated video from Andrew Bird, taken from Break It Yourself. He plays Echo Beach on July 19.

Video: Andrew Bird – “eyeoneye”

Filter has a video session with School Of Seven Bells.

Room 205 has posted the second installment of their video series with Blouse.

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from Jana Hunter of Lower Dens, in town at Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Coup de Main and Tulsa World talk to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Ume’s Lauren Larson chats with The Dallas Observer.

The Village Voice finds out what Amy Klein has been up to since leaving Titus Andronicus last Fall – mainly starting a new band, Leda. Which sounds like this.

MP3: Leda – “Halfway”

The Stool Pigeon talks to both Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House.

The Quietus profiles The Men, doing up NXNE with shows at The Garrison on June 14 and Wrongbar on June 15.

Blurt talks to Brett Netson of Electronic Anthology Project about synth-ing up the likes of Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr.

Rolling Stone has a video interview with Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs reunion.

Bob Mould takes an in-depth look back at the Sugar years for The Quietus. Their catalog gets reissued in fancy form come July 24.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Funtimes In Babylon

Father John Misty and Har Mar Superstar at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangCosmic questions: What makes an artist put a respectable if underappreciated solo career on hold in order to play drums for a band that’s sold hundreds of thousands of records and gone platinum in the UK? And what makes that same artist leave that band in order to not resurrect their former solo career but start a completely new one? Okay, the first one is kind of a no-brainer but the second one is more of a puzzle, one that Baltimore-born, Los Angeles-based Josh Tillman is uniquely positioned to answer. He was plugging away as J Tillman since 2005 before joining Fleet Foxes in 2008 to tour behind their self-titled debut and while he continued to release solo albums, following the end of the Helplessness Blues touring cycle he announced he was leaving the band – but not to go back to being J. Tillman; instead to begin being Father John Misty.

If you do find yourself in a position to pose the above questions to Tillman, don’t be surprised if by way of an answer he just hands you a copy of Fear Fun, the just-released Father John Misty debut because it does, indeed, tell you why. Whereas the J. Tillman-branded material was pretty easily slotted as acoustic singer-songwriter fare, Fear Fun is nowhere near as easy to categorize. Suffused with ’70s-era country-rock vibes , it sounds as though Tillman gathered inspiration on his drive home from Seattle by routing through Bakersfield, the Laurel Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, and Reno, Nevada before pulling up in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. Gram Parsons’ “cosmic American music” quote gets trotted out a lot when describing music with a country-rock lineage but it applies to Father John Misty more than anything I’ve heard in recent years. Parsons would have approved of the album art as well, I think. In short, it’s not called J. Tillman because it sounds nothing like J. Tillman. Or Fleet Foxes, for that matter, though you can bet that was the hook for many/most of those who piled into the Horseshoe on Monday night for the band’s Toronto debut.

Support came from another Tillman, the unrelated Sean who himself had a few musical projects to juggle. I had seen him with Sean Na Na when they opened up for The Hold Steady in this same room back in 2006, but rather than showing off that project’s classic rock stylings, he was here as Har Mar Superstar and he was going to take off his pants. But that’s getting a bit ahead of things. Things started with Tillman fully-dressed – overdressed, really – and fronting a four-piece band that included Josh Tillman on drums but as their set progressed and their funk-soul groove gathered steam, he stripped down item by item until, by the final song of their set, it was just Tillman in his short, sweaty, paunchy glory clad only in a pair of briefs (and socks and shoes). Even a cursory bit of research about Har Mar beforehand would have revealed this was what they were about but even if you knew what was coming, it was still something to behold. Like with Sean Na Na it was almost a shame that Tillman’s onstage persona overshadowed the music – which was more than legit – but the net entertainment value was nothing to complain about. Though I wish there was more breakdancing.

Besides being a superb drummer and vocalist, Josh Tillman’s main contribution to Fleet Foxes was as the comic relief during their live shows – the guy was all kinds of funny from behind the kit. So while seeing him up front with no instrument in hand was a bit odd, you at least knew that there’d be no feeling awkward about being the centre of attention and really, you can’t keep presence like his behind a drum kit. Tillman was a litany of stage moves – shimmies, points, mic stand dancing – while leading his five-piece band through bigger, more rockier renderings of the Fear Fun material that emphasized the psychedelic aspects of the material. And of course there was the banter, which was random and hilarious and came with the added bonus of Tillman feeling extra punchy thanks to the Pitchfork review of his album earlier in the day, which despite being positive caused great offense. Towards the end of the show, Tillman mentioned that he had been “way too stoned” for the entire show – and the band passed around a lit joint as emphasis – and while that might have explained some of the the more out-there comments he made through the night, it made how tight and note-on their performance was even more impressive. Some folks may have came to the show as J. Tillman fans, most were probably Fleet Foxes fans but by the end of the show, they were all Father John Misty fans.

NOW also has a review of the show and Father John Misty already have a return engagement scheduled for July 12, when they open for Youth Lagoon at the Opera House.

Photos: Father John Misty, Har Mar Superstar @ The Horseshoe – May 14, 2012
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Cry 4 Help”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Power Lunch”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Brothers And Sisters”
Video: Father John Misty – “This Is Sally Hatchet”
Video: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
Video: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Tall Boy”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “DUI”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Power Lunch”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “EZ Pass”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Brothers & Sisters”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Body Request”

I don’t really know who Jonathan Coulton is – I gather he’s big on/via the internet – but the fact that he’s touring with John Roderick of The Long Winters makes the fact that said tour includes a June 6 date at The Mod Club worth noting. As is the fact that we are well overdue for a new Long Winters record.

MP3: Jonathan Coulton – “Washy Ad Jeffy”
MP3: The Long Winters – “Pushover”

The NXNE schedule is due out any day now, but word of some of the bigger shows are coming out a little beforehand. Like that White Rabbits and Vacationer will be at The Mod Club on June 14. The Independent ran a feature on the band a few weeks back.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Heavy Metal”
MP3: Vacationer – “Trip”

Your festival wristband will also be good for admission to see A Place To Bury Strangers at The El Mocambo on (I believe) June 14, where they’ll be previewing their new record Worship, out June 26. The Stool Pigeon has an interview with the band about the new record.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”

Rolling Stone is offering for download a version of the title track from Guided By Voices’ next record Class Clown Spots A UFO from when it was a Robert Pollard song. Which it still is, technically. The album is out June 19.

MP3: Robert Pollard – “Class Clown Spots A UFO”

State interviews Lower Dens, who’ve released a new video from Nootropics. They’re at Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Video: Lower Dens – “Nova Anthem”

DIY talks to Andrew Bird, who plays Echo Beach on July 19.

It being release week for Best Coast’s new one The Only Place, there’s plenty of press going around with Bethany Cosentino. Check out pieces at LA Weekly, The Guardian, Under The Radar, GQ, The Line Of Best Fit, and Vice. They play The Phoenix on July 21.

By the same token, lots of people are talking to Beach House about their just-released Bloom – people like The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Interview, and eMusic.

Loud & Quiet talks to Chairlift.

Daytrotter has a session with Shearwater and The AV Club an interview with Jonathan Meiburg.

Greg Dulli talks to The Village Voice and John Curley to Cincinnati.com about the Afghan Whigs reunion, which finally gets underway next week in New York.

NPR welcomes Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt for a WFUV video session.