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Posts Tagged ‘Maps & Atlases’

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Sound Go Round

Dressy Bessy at Littlefield in Brooklyn

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf anyone were to ask – and really they’re not – this long weekend jaunt to New York was most definitely not a music trip. It was a shopping/eating/visiting/just getting out of Toronto trip, yes, but not a “music” trip as so many of my getaways tend to be. So that I ended up at shows the first two nights I was in town was purely mostly coincidence.

I mean, I hadn’t even thought about Denver’s Dressy Bessy in the better part of a decade. I saw them at The Horseshoe way back in 2002 circa Sound Go Round – pre-blog era, yo – but lost interest not long after that and they haven’t exactly fought their way back onto my radar, having not released an album since 2008’s HOLLERandSTOMP. But here they were, still together and getting ready to put out a series of singles this Summer, and here I was, in an apartment just a few blocks from Littlefield in Brooklyn and in town with friends who wanted to go. And so we went.

And though Dressy Bessy were ostensibly the headliner on the bill over former Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn and his Miracle 3, they went on first – just as well since the day was beginning to catch up with me. The turnout was relatively light – perhaps some of their audience was peeled off by NYC Popfest, which this show could easily have been part of but wasn’t – but the band seemed bound and determined to have a good time of it regardless. Though they’re associated with the Elephant 6 scene and all the tweeness that can come with that, they were refreshingly loud and garagey/glammy in performance – I really wished I had earplugs – yet still bouncy and fun, with the energy of a band that doesn’t play much live but still really enjoys it. And as I remembered from that one time I saw them a decade ago, Tammy Ealom still has a curious relationship with the concept of pitch – her singing isn’t accurate, at least not with respect to the Western musical scale, but it is precise. It’s really kind of interesting.

Only stuck around for a little bit of Steve Wynn’s set – see above about being tired – but stayed long enough to a) hear Dream Syndicate’s “That’s What You Always Say”, which I know mostly from Luna’s cover, and b) acknowledge that Steve Wynn is a shit-hot guitarist. ‘Tis true.

Photos: Dressy Bessy @ Littlefield – May 19, 2012
MP3: Dressy Bessy – “Ringalingaling”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Hey Alice!”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Pretty Pleaze”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Automatic”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Anyone Can See”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Ease Me Down”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Dressed The Part”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Do You Whisper”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Roundabout”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “In Your Headphones”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Left To The Right”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Simple Girlz”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Shoot I Love You”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Ten Million Stars”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Electrified”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Better Luck”

The Afghan Whigs have released their first single in a half-decade, a cover of Marie “Queenie” Lyons’ “See And Don’t See”, and have made it available as a free download. They kick off their 2012 reunion tomorrow night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom – if I were staying here one extra day, I’d have moved heaven and earth to get a ticket. Instead, I will go home and feed the cat.

MP3: The Afghan Whigs – “See And Don’t See”

The Alternate Side has a video session with White Rabbits, playing the Mod Club on June 14 for NXNE.

The first track from Major, the second album from Fang Island, is available to download. The record is out July 12.

MP3: Fang Island – “Asunder”

Having had to cancel last week’s show at The Horseshoe, Maps & Atlases have rescheduled for July 17, same venue. The New York Daily News and Courier-Post have interviews.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Winter”

DIY, Seattle Times, and Clash talk to Best Coast. They’re at The Phoenix on July 21.

Merge Records continues their duties as archivists of the ’90s with remasters and reissues of all of the Sugar albums. Copper Blue and Beaster will be collected as one double-LP/triple-CD set and File Under: Easy Listening on its own, both with attendant b-sides and live material. There will probably not be a more essential musical release this year, folks. They’re out July 24 and you can download live versions of three Copper Blue songs by Bob Mould earlier this Spring at Slicing Up Eyeballs.

Filter and The Telegraph have features on Sharon Van Etten, playing the Phoenix on July 31.

For No One has a video session and Drowned In Sound an interview with School Of Seven Bells.

Ardent Studios welcomes Shearwater for a video session and Under The Radar has a feature piece.

Spinner interviews Chairlift.

The Guardian has a feature interview with Beach House and The Line Of Best Fit points to where you can watch the whole of their record release show in New York last week.

Perfume Genius has made a non-album track that’s been showing up in live sets available to download.

MP3: Perfume Genius – “Rusty Chains”

The AV Club has posted part five of their R.E.M. timeline/retrospective.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Reappear

Review of School Of Seven Bells’ Ghostory

Photo By Justin HollarJustin HollarI had actually forgotten how weird Alpinisms, the 2008 debut from New York’s School Of Seven Bells was. It basically inverted the balance of pop-to-experimentalism of the Deheza sisters’ former outfit On! Air! Library! and made itself it much more accessible than O!A!L!’s self-titled effort but was still willing to forgo the pop in parts to play with textures, exotic sounds and the interesting harmonies that their twin frontwomen could create.

2010’s Disconnect From Desire was decidedly slicker, dancier and more straight-ahead in comparison – at least relatively speaking in a dream-pop/post-shoegaze frame of reference. It successfully grew their audience but not without cost – keyboardist/vocalist Claudia Deheza left the band in the middle of a Fall tour that year, leaving the official band lineup as just sister Alejandra and guitarist Ben Curtis, replacing the musical chemistry between the two with another singer being pretty much impossible.

You would think that losing a third of the band would have more dramatic impact on their sound, but had you no knowledge of the personnel changes and just came to their just-released third album Ghostory with a familiarity of their previous efforts, you would be forgiven for assuming that everything was business as usual. Losing their keyboardist hasn’t meant losing the keys as the album still leans heavily on sequenced rhythms and synthetic atmosphere and through the magic of overdubs the band’s signature harmonies are superficially intact if less inherently magical. In fact, though the band is officially now a pair of guitarists, Ghostory is arguably less guitar-driven than before, instead favouring a more ’80s-era 4AD sheen than any overt ’90s shoegaze aesthetic; anyone who still wants to pigeonhole them as such is working with outdated information.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Ghostory is how steady on it finds the band in what they do despite the upheavals. Parsing the lyrics, which ostensibly center around a young girl literally haunted by ghosts, you can find traces of deeper, more personal emotions – loss, regret, what have you – but this is not music meant for soundtracking deep introspection. It’s for drifting, dreaming, dancing. No more, no less. The school may experience staff turnover but the lesson plan remains the same.

Ghostory is out today and available to stream in full at Spinner. After a jaunt in Europe, their North American tour brings the band to The Hoxton in Toronto on May 2. Alejandra Deheza talks to Spin about her interest in tarot cards and to Rolling Stone about the just-released first video from the album.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”
Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
Stream: School Of Seven Bells / Ghostory

Blurt chats with Amber Papini of Hospitality, in town at The Horseshoe on February 29 and The Garrison on May 4 in support of Tennis and Eleanor Friedberger, respectively.

Stereogum is streaming in whole The Clearing, the new album from Bowerbirds, out next Tuesday. They play The Garrison on March 27.

MP3: Bowerbirds – “Tuck The Darkness In”
MP3: Bowerbirds – “In The Yard”
Stream: Bowerbirds / The Clearing

NPR is streaming the whole of Milk Famous, the new one from White Rabbits, a week ahead of its March 6 release date.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Heavy Metal”
Stream: White Rabbits / Milk Famous

Young Prisms will warm up for their March 10 show at The Drake Underground with an in-store at the Kensington location of Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. Their second album In Between is out March 27 and Stereogum just premiered the first video.

MP3: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”
Video: Young Prisms – “Floating In Blue”

James Mercer of The Shins stops in at The Alternate Side for an interview and video session. Port Of Morrow comes out March 20.

Spin has posted online the Sleigh Bells cover story from the all-new, redesigned magazine, and dang is it pretty. The magazine, not the story, but if Alexis Krauss does it for you, then it’s both. There’s also features at eMusic, AltSounds, The Guardian, and The Stool Pigeon. Sleigh Bells are at The Phoenix on March 26 and The Air Canada Centre on April 27 and 28 with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session and The Fly has an interview with with Chairlift, who are at The Horseshoe on March 28.

Pitchfork has a +1 interview and video session with Perfume Genius while Stereogum gets Mike Hadreas on the phone for an interview about Put Your Back N 2 It. He plays The Drake Underground on April 8.

Maps & Atlases have made a May 16 date at The Horseshoe in support of their forthcoming album Beware And Be Grateful; the album is out April 17, tickets for the show are $11.50 and the first MP3 is available to download courtesy of Rolling Stone.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Winter”

It’s happy news that the Luna back catalog is finally going to be reissued on vinyl, at least some of it. Record Store Day will see their last two albums, Romantica and Rendezvous, come out on wax (that’s April 21) and there’s plans to press my personal favourite Bewitched in early Summer and Penthouse will eventually follow. I said I was largely done re-buying albums I already owned on LP, but this is an exception. Oh yes. And coincidentally, the band played their final show seven years ago today. Sigh.

MP3: Luna – “Black Postcards”

Lower Dens have released a video for the first single from their forthcoming album Nootropics; it’s out May 1.

Video: Lower Dens – “Brains”

A visit to France has yielded some live Blouse videos worth watching; a full show at arte.tv and a session for Faits Divers; there’s also one recorded stateside at Yours Truly and an interview with the band at Drowned In Sound. Blouse are at The Garrison on May 5.

The original release has since been redacted – someone broke embargo, apparently – but it seems likely that the new Beach House album will be out on May 15 and be called Bloom. Unless, of course, it’s not – in which case, it’s another case of “oh, internet!”.

Girls have gone to Conan O’Brien to premiere the new video from Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

Video: Girls – “My Ma”

Bon Iver has released a new video from Bon Iver.

Video: Bon Iver – “Towers”

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Real Estate.

Daytrotter has posted a session with CANT.

CBC Radio 3 and CNN have conversations with The Kills, who are streaming the Velvet Underground cover that appears on the “Last Goodbye” 10″.

Stream: The Kills – “Pale Blue Eyes”

Annie Clark of St. Vincent talks to The New Zealand Herald, The Guardian, and Drowned In Sound while the director for her “Cheerleader” video explains the clip to Pitchfork.

Culture Mob talks to Ume.

Pitchfork talks to James Murphy about his life post-LCD Soundsystem.

Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs talks to Spin about the band’s reunion. No word of lie, there is no show announcement I await more eagerly than this one.

Billboard talks to Bob Mould about Sugar’s Copper Blue, which he’s taken to performing in its entirety for a handful of mostly European shows.

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Perch Patchwork

Maps & Atlases, Cults and Laura Stevenson & The Cans at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangHeading into Saturday night, I had a managed to go a full six weeks without hitting a club show – only partly by design – and feeling on the cusp of official “shut-in” status and a full week of activities coming up, I figured that it was a good time to start getting back into game shape with a trio of bands with whom I was only passingly familiar – enough so to think that it might be a good show, but not enough to really know what to expect.

Leading off were Brooklyn’s Laura Stevenson & The Cans, who at the core are sweet, jangly and slightly twangy pop-rock but get a bit orchestral and right noisy around the edges. Namesake Stevenson has an immediately likeable crystalline voice and her bandmates do a fine job of providing the proper accompaniment to keep things dynamic and interesting. Apparently not enough to keep the folks standing beside me from believing that loudly quoting 30 Rock jokes was more entertaining than what was going on onstage, but what can you do. Stevenson’s record A RecorD is available for free download with donations welcome. You should do both of these things.

New York duo Cults came into the night with the highest buzz-to-recording ratio, the enthusiasm that met their “Go Outside” 7″ earlier this Summer being responsible for their being able to tour the continent before they’d released anything else and do it as a full six-piece band instead of just the core two-piece with taped backing tracks. And while they had more than the four songs released so far to fill up a set, it may have been a blessing that being held up at the border and arriving at the club late forced them to truncate their show a bit. While the newer material fit the Motown-in-Summer mould that the single did, none of it was as instantly catchy and their relative green-ness as a live act was also evident – what made Madeline Follin’s vocals sound sweet and girly on record came across thin on stage and co-conspirator Brian Oblivion had the annoying habit of constantly brushing his hair back behind his ears while playing. That aside, they were clearly comfortable as live performers – no given – and they’ve got a good sound so one hopes they’ll improve with time. What I got most out of their set, though, was just how much I miss Saturday Looks Good To Me, who did what Cults do so much better and were summarily ignored for it. Oh SLGTM.

I’d given Maps & Atlases’ latest Perch Patchwork a number of listens in advance of the show to try and get a handle on exactly what the Chicago quartet were about and… well, I’m pretty sure I failed. Were they math-rock? Prog-rock? Jam-rock? Pop-rock? Folk-rock? Just rock? The answer, apparently, was yes. Maps & Atlases somehow straddle all of these genres and while you can’t say their union is seamless – some sounds weren’t meant to go gently together – they largely make it work thanks to the fact that they’re all astonishing musicians and they seem to think what they’re doing is perfectly normal. Constantly shifting tempos and time signatures rendered by heavy yet nimble percussion and mad guitar tapping figures underneath, high and lonesome vocals and plaintive melodies overtop. Certainly, no one sounds like them and like most distinctive bands, they drew a modestly-sized but wholly enthusiastic audience who cheered wildly for every feat of musicianship, of which there were many. I didn’t fall in love with them, but I was impressed. And that was enough.

Photos: Maps & Atlases, Cults, Laura Stevenson & The Cans @ The Horseshoe – August 7, 2010
MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Solid Ground”
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
MP3: Laura Stevenson & The Cans – “Holy Ghost!”
Video: Cults – “Oh My God”
MySpace: Maps & Atlases
MySpace: Laura Stevenson & The Cans

Spinner has an Interface session with The National.

NYC Taper has a recording of Spoon set opening up for Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden in New York last Wednesday.

In conversation with Spinner, Interpol’s Sam Fogarino discusses Interpol and the band’s journey from indie to major to indie again. The record is out September 7 and they’re at the Kool Haus tomorrow night.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Laura Marling.

St. Louis Today chats with Phoenix guitarist Laurent Brancowitz. They play the Ricoh Coliseum on October 26.

NPR interviews Bjork.

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

CONTEST – Maps & Atlases @ The Horseshoe – August 7, 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Maps & Atlases
What: Chicago quartet build mathy, proggy structures from country-inflected, psych-rock implements
Why: Following a series of EP releases, their full-length debut Perch Patchwork came out at the end of June
When: Saturday, August 7, 2010
Where: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto
Who else: Support comes from Cults and Laura Stevenson & The Cans
How: Tickets are $11.50 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Maps & Atlases” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Entries due by midnight, August 5.
What else: A Daytrotter session with the band went up last month. The Arizona Daily Wildcat, Green Shoelace, Colorado Daily and The Santa Barbara Independent have interviews.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Solid Ground”

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade

The Joy Formidable and The Dig at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo yeah, I see a lot of bands live. And as a result, the list of bands that I want to see and haven’t – at least amongst those artists currently on active duty – has gotten pretty small, made up mainly of smaller acts for whom North American touring is an economical improbability. I’d placed Welsh trio The Joy Formidable in this category since discovering them last February, and so was more than a little frustrated that the place I thought I might have a chance to see them – SxSW – just wouldn’t happen. They canceled their 2009 appearance and opted for a UK tour instead this year and while they’d made a few surgical strikes to New York, there never seemed to be a greater design for conquering America… until there was.

A modest plan, perhaps, but the North American release of their most excellent debut A Balloon Called Moaning – which was one of my favourites of last year and would have been noted as such in year-end lists had I not been so pedantic about albums versus EPs – in advance of the release of their first full-length later this year was certainly a good start. The short tour that brought them to the Horseshoe in Toronto on Tuesday for a free Nu Music Nite engagement was a fantastic next step.

Their tourmates for their first expedition through the wilds of the northeast of the continent were Brooklyn’s The Dig, who were themselves readying their debut in Electric Toys, slated for a June 8 release. My advance copy of the record hadn’t made a huge impression, coming across mainly as decent if not especially distinctive college rock, but live the differences between their strengths and weaknesses were clearer. At their best, they combined the pop sense and garage-y attitude of The Strokes with a musical approach built on insistent bass riffs and dreamy, atmospheric touches. At their worst, they turned in unremarkable and plodding rote bar/blues-rock. Sadly, these seemed to be the songs that were best-received. Here’s hoping that in the long run, The Dig don’t give the people what they want and instead, make interesting music.

Though I hadn’t noticed much chatter about this show going into the evening and most of the city’s Brit-rock fans were at the Opera House selling out the Frightened Rabbit show, there was a good-sized crowd in place to welcome The Joy Formidable to Toronto. And it’s a good thing, because their brand of big guitar rock really demands an audience for full effect. To my ears, A Balloon Called Moaning is a pretty much perfect blend of sugary pop hook, spiky attitude and aesthetics that are little too effervescent to count as shoegazey (though that influence is quite evident) and live, The Joy Formidable were somehow able to make it all sound even better. There were initially some technical problems – a broken strap here, a split drum skin there – but the band made up for those early lulls with extra intensity when they were able to get everything working and when there were no more equipment glitches, that energy just snowballed. Ritzy Bryan was a tiny but magnetic frontwoman, handling both vocal and Stratocaster sonic attack duties with aplomb, and while it was hard to take your eyes off her, much credit must also go to her bandmates Rhydian Dafydd on bass and backing vocals and Matt Thomas on drums for both laying the foundation for their monolithic wall of sound and lifting her up on top of it. Though their set was just 45 minutes or so, that was more than enough time to run through the Balloon material along with some new material, cement existing fans and completely win over new ones. So completely worth the wait and, with promises to return within months – presumably when the new album arrives later this Summer – the next wait won’t be quite so long.

Photos: The Joy Formidable, The Dig @ The Horseshoe – May 4, 2010
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Greyhounds In The Slips”
MP3: The Dig – “You’re Already Gone”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Popinjay”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Cradle”
MySpace: The Joy Formidable

Clash talks to Editors guitarist Chris Urbanowicz about some of the most important events in his life.

The Riverfront Times and Chicago Tribune interview Frightened Rabbit.

Jez Williams of Doves looks back on the band’s career for Under The Radar.

eye interviews Massive Attack’s 3D in advance of their two shows at the Sound Academy, tonight and Sunday.

Kele has released a video for that first single from The Boxer, due out June 21. He plays the Mod Club on July 29.

Video: Kele – “Tenderoni”

Jon Wurster gives Stereogum an update on the new Superchunk record, which has been given the title of Majesty Shredding and will be out this Fall.

BBC6 talks to The National’s Matt Berninger about High Violet, out Tuesday, while Vanity Fair has a rather pointless piece wondering if The National are America’s Radiohead… yeah. Nice photos, though. The National are at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

Drowned In Sound meets Band Of Horses, whose Infinite Arms arrive May 18 and who play the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Spinner welcomes The Hold Steady to their studios for an Interface session, while Paste and The Herald have interviews. They play the Kool Haus on July 18.

Daytrotter is offering a session with Lambchop.

Grab “Babelonia”, the first MP3 from the new School Of Seven Bells record Disconnect From Desire, by signing up for their mailing list. The record is out July 13.

Karen Elson – who may well be known as a singer-songwriter first and foremost but for now will have to settle for being a top model and Mrs Jack White – has a date at the El Mocambo on June 16 as part of a tour in support of her solo debut The Ghost Who Walks, out May 25 in the UK and later this year in North America. Tickets for the show are $15 in advance. Black Book has an interview.

Video: Karen Elson – “The Ghost Who Walks”

The Fiery Furnaces, who seem to have played every room – big and small – in the city, will be doing the small when they return on June 21 for a show at the Drake Underground. Their last release was 2009’s I’m Going Away.

MP3: The Fiery Furnaces – “The End Is Near”

Maps & Atlases – just here on Tuesday opening for Frightened Rabbit – return for a show at the Horseshoe on August 7 in support of their new record Perch Patchwork, out June 29.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Solid Ground”

Spin talks to Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons about their just-announced new record Swanlights, which will be out October 5.