Posts Tagged ‘Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s’

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

This Is Our Music

Pitchfork presents an oral history of Galaxie 500

Photo by Sergio HuidorSergio HuidorAs much as I’d have liked to have indulged in the recent re-release of the entire Galaxie 500 oeuvre – they were reissued worldwide in March by Domino and by Damon & Naomi’s own 20-20-20 label in North America – I couldn’t really justify buying those albums a third time, particularly since these new editions weren’t sonically different from the Rykodisc reissues that came out in the mid-90s and those, I’d already bought twice. Almost three times, actually.

My education started with the Portable Galaxie 500 compilation, which was then replaced with all three of their albums in their expanded editions, which were in turn again replaced by the Galaxie 500 box set, which added the Uncollected compilation to those albums in a fancy package. I actually remember the record store owner refusing to buy those individual CDs from me until I assured him that it was okay, I still had the music. Factor in additional purchases of the Copenhagen live album and the Peel Sessions collection, and I think I’ve done my fair share for keeping the G500 flame alive (fiscally speaking) – but that doesn’t mean I can’t encourage anyone who hasn’t bought On Fire at least a few times to do so… so do so. The double CD-editions, pairing the three studio records with Copenhagen, Uncollected and Peel Sessions are a tremendous value and the studio albums were also all put out on heavy vinyl for the analog-inclined.

The point of all this rambling is to lead into this terrific Pitchfork feature that compiles the story of Galaxie 500 as told by those who lived it, from the humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm through the sudden departure of singer/guitarist Dean Wareham and subsequent end of the band. It’s ground that’s been covered a fair bit already – in the press that accompanied the Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste DVD in 2004 and then with the publication of Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards in 2008 – but it remains a fascinating story, particularly as time passes and acrimony between the parties fades. Not that the three of them have been in the same room together in almost 20 years, but they seem capable of speaking honestly, respectfully and even fondly of what they created.

And while it seems that most everything Galaxie 500 ever recorded has been released (and re-released), there’s at least a few more bits and bobs lying about – a few years ago, MP3s of what was labeled as one of their earliest demo tapes were circulating and while three of those tracks did show up on Uncollected… the others didn’t. Here’s one of them, along with a Joy Division cover that appeared as a b-side to “Blue Thunder” and most of their videos. And here in the present, Dean & Britta are preparing to release their soundtrack to 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests sometime this Summer and Damon & Naomi’s latest release was last year’s Sup Pop Years which, as the title implies, collects the best of their work for the SubPop label.

MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Pride”
MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Ceremony”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “When Will You Come Home?”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Blue Thunder”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Fourth Of July”

Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking also pays tribute to G500 on their new album Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions with a cover of “Tugboat”. The live-off-the-floor album is out June 15.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Tugboat”

Billboard, NPR and San Francisco Chronicle profie The Hold Steady, who just released their latest record Heaven Is Whenever. They’re at the Kool Haus on July 17.

Spinner has got a couple of new tracks from Margot & The Nuclear So And Sos, who’re working on album number three, entitled Buzzard and targeted for a Fall release.

MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “New York City Hotel Blues”
MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Birds”

The National are in the spotlight at PitchforkTV this week, with video performances of the band playing tracks from High Violet – out next Tuesday – in a castle overlooking the Hudson River. So far they’ve got “Terrible Love”, “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Little Faith”. And on May 15, The National will be webcasting a live performance of High Violet from the Brooklyn Academy of Music via YouTube. It’ll be directed by legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and they’ll be soliciting donations for the Red Hot Organization; details at Pitchfork. The National have two dates at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9; Spinner talks to the band about selling out the Royal Albert Hall in London.

JAM talks to LCD Soundsystem main man James Murphy. This Is Happening is out on May 18 and they play the Kool Haus on May 25.

New York Magazine gets an update on the next Strokes record from Fabrizio Moretti.

Having trouble keeping track of all the preview goods that have been coming out for the new Band Of Horses record Infinite Arms? Yeah, me too. But this is a new video. And the record is out May 18. And they play the Toronto Islands on June 19. These things, I know for sure.

Video: Band Of Horses – “NW Apt”

The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 with The Flaming Lips.

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

In Her Gentle Jaws

An Introduction To The Depreciation Guild

Photo By Katelyn RoofKatelyn RoofMuch of the buzz surrounding next Thursday’s show at Neutral is focusing on the evening’s headliners, Brooklyn’s The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, and with good reason – their new self-titled album, out tomorrow, is wonderful and will be discussed soon enough. But it’s a shame that all the attention is falling on them when their tourmates are just as noteworthy.

That would be The Depreciation Guild, also from Brooklyn, and talking points around the band generally center around the fact that they’re giving their debut album, In Her Gentle Jaws away for free on their website and also that their band’s sound is built off of an old 8-bit Nintendo gaming system. Which, as far as angles for getting noticed go, are pretty good. But putting those aside and focusing on the music, there’s still plenty to comment on.

Like how they take those tones and textures that evoke memories of pixelated plumbers amongst those of a certain generation and build soaring, shoegazing soundscapes of pop wonder out of them. And while the 8-bit aesthetic is fundamental to their sound, they’re not beholden to it – they also use more conventional instruments like guitars and drums to get where they’re going and the songs would more than stand up even without the Nintendo backbone – it just might not be quite as much fun.

Exclaim and Gothamist talk to The Depreciation Guild about, um, their Nintendo-fi sounds and their free album. And you can also get their EP Nautilus for free at 8-Bit Peoples. Update: This show has been moved to Lee’s Palace.

MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Darklooming”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Butterfly Kisses”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Nautilus”
Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Nautilus”
MySpace: The Depreciation Guild

Rolf Klausener talks to The National Post about the utter bizarreness of The Acorn’s world right now, where just before setting out on an arena tour of the UK in support of Elbow, they get the Kanye West seal of approval for their video for “Crooked Legs”.

Video: The Acorn – “Crooked Legs”

The Village Voice and Exclaim talk to Matt & Kim, though it’s really just Matt.

Spinner interfaces with Of Montreal, feels vaguely dirty about it the next morning.

It’s a kiwi invasion! First, Cut Off Your Hands will make their Toronto debut at the Horseshoe on March 30 – tickets $10 in advance.

And then Flight Of The Conchords will play not one but two nights at Massey Hall on April 21 and 22. Presale goes today at 10AM, tickets $49.50. That’s… a lot.

Cloud Cult and Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s are at the El Mocambo on April 3, tickets $10.

Super Furry Animals have a new album in the can, if not a name for it, and will release it digitally via their website on March 16 and give it a physical release on April 21. Details at Beggars blog.

This Is Fake DIY interviews The Airborne Toxic Event, playing the El Mocambo on March 3.

Stereogum gets a progress report on the new Wrens record.

Spin gets the backstory on the AC Newman song “Submarines Of Stockholm”.

White Lies’ chart-topping (in the UK) debut To Lose My Life will get a North American release on March 17 – none of this, “wait a year before jumping across the pond” nonsense. Tickets for their March 31 show at Lee’s Palace with Friendly Fires and The Soft Pack will run you $15.

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Scandinavian Blonde

Review of Frida Hyvonen's Silence Is Wild

Photo By KnotanKnotanWith her 2005 (2006 in North America) debut Until Death Comes, Swedish songstress Frida Hyvonen established herself as a distinctive new voice, capable of veering from stark confessionals to demented whimsy at the drop of a hat. I base this as much on my recollections of her deliciously entertaining March 2007 performance at the Mod Club as I do from whatever impression the album itself made because, well, I no longer seem to have a copy of the album around to refer to.

But I do have the follow-up, Silence Is Wild, and it does reaffirm those impressions. This time out, she chooses to frame her compositions in richer and at points, more theatrical trappings which suit her quite well – better, in my estimation, than the simpler presentation of the debut. The focal point is still her voice – huge yet fragile – and piano, but the grander arrangements lift everything up and offer a broader emotional and musical range that Death simply didn’t have.

Considering my favourite tracks from the album – “Dirty Dancing” and “London” – are also the biggest, I obviously like this change in tact for Hyvonen. The vivid imagery of her lyrics combined with the exuberance of their delivery strike just the right chord in me, and offer a stronger contrast to the smaller, more intimate moments of the album. But even with what some may consider to be a more conventional musical approach, Hyvonen’s innate eccentricity still shines through and sets her apart.

Ms Hyvonen did some solo dates on the east coast in October, so I don’t know if there’s any further North American touring in the cards. But if so I do hope there’s a band involved, even though it’s probably cost-prohibitive. As charming and engaging as she was in the solo context last time, I couldn’t imagine a lot of the new material being done proper justice without all the proper sonic accouterments.

Hyvonen picks her favourite song of the year for Line Of Best fit, gives Aquarium Drunkard a guided tour of her hometown of Flarken and subjects to herself to an interview at RCRDLBL, where you can also download an MP3 of “Birds” from the new album. And check out a live performance of “Dirty Dancing” at PSL.

MP3: Frida Hyvonen – “The Enemy Within”
MySpace: Frida Hyvonen

Clash talks to Lykke Li about her really big 2008. She’s at the Phoenix on February 6.

The video for the first single from A Camp’s forthcoming Colonia is now up. The album is out February 2.

Video: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”

If you were one of those bummed about the cancellation of Noah & The Whale’s North American tour, maybe this Basement Tapes session with the band, recorded their last time through the continent and featuring downloadable live tracks, will ease the pain a bit.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “5 Years Time” (Basement Tapes session)

The Courier-Mail discusses the art of songwriting with Mountain Goat John Darnielle.

LAist interviews John Dragonetti of The Submarines. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 15 and The Morning Benders have been added as co-headliners on the whole tour.

New York City’s Virgins have a date at the El Mocambo on February 5, tickets $12.50.

MP3: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”
Video: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”, The Montreal Gazette and The McGill Tribune spend time with Stars, gearing up for a three-night stand at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre December 11 through 13.

Gentleman Reg, who is opening up the middle of those Stars shows (the 12th) as well as playing his own gig at the Drake Underground tonight, will release his new album Jet Black on February 24.

Le Blogotheque takes away a show with Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s.

Prefix talks to Mark Lanegan about working with Isobel Campbell.

JAM interviews Richard Thompson.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Marvelous Design

Review of Pale Young Gentlemen's Black Forest (Tra La La)

Photo By Christina HensleyChristina HensleyWhen I was writing up the self-titled debut from Madison, Wisconsin’s Pale Young Gentlemen last year, I took the easy way out in name-checking some of the more obvious stylistic reference points (DeVotchKa, Decemberists, Beirut) but the band has to take equal responsibility in that – they made it easy. And to be fair, I still gave the record a thumbs up – just because it was a bit obvious, it didn’t make it any less of an accomplished and enjoyable debut.

But they’re not letting me get away with any such shortcuts with the follow-up, Black Forest (Tra La La), released last month. Though the same elements are at work, or even moreso in the case of their expanded string section, Black Forest has a much greater sense of purpose and determination about it. The debut seemed quite content to spend the evening at the cabaret getting debauched in grand fashion, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but while the sophomore effort starts off in that same setting with the grandiose “Coal/Ivory”, it then opts to step outside and go for a walk, exploring the dark nooks and crannies of existence.

As such, it’s a less immediate and raucous affair. On the first few listens, I was asking myself, “didn’t this band used to be fun?”, but repeated listens served the record well. Michael Reisenauer’s croon is as dramatic as ever and the orchestrated backdrops even richer than before, but the overall delivery is much more nuanced and less reliant on the big, sweeping gestures. That may not play as well to those in the cheap seats, but for those up front and paying attention, it’s much more rewarding.

Fingertips, The Bat Segundo Show and Culture Bully all have interviews with Reisenauer about the new record.

MP3: Pale Young Gentlemen – “Coal/Ivory”
MP3: Pale Young Gentlemen – “The Crook Of My Good Arm”
MySpace: Pale Young Gentlemen

Drowned In Sound solicits a mix tape from Emmy The Great. She also gives Clash a list of the meats currently comprising up her cultural stew. Her debut First Love is out in the UK on February 2.

Laura Marling is the subject of interviews at Clash and For Folk’s Sake. I feel compelled to mention that the LP versions of Alas, I Cannot Swim are worth seeking out, not only because it’s a nice heavy pressing but because it also comes with a bonus live CD that features the backing band that played with her on the recent “Fe Fie Fo Fum” North American tour, and as such, sounds absolutely splendid. I don’t know if there’s any other (legal) way to get Verses From The Union Chapel, but it’s worth having. And the players that largely comprised said band, Mumford & Sons, are also interviewed at For Folk’s Sake.

Colin Meloy describes the new Decemberists record, Hazards Of Love, to Rolling Stone. Key takeaways? Musical theatre, rock opera, more of the same.

Jonathan Meiburg annotates Rook, track by track, for Drowned In Sound.

The Broken West stop in for a session at Daytrotter. Stereogum asks frontman Ross Flournoy about his day job.

eye features M83 while Limewire, The Georgia Straight and NOW interview School Of Seven Bells. Both are in town tonight for a show at the Opera House.

Laundromatinee welcomes Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s to their studios for a video session.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The Golden State

Kathleen Edwards and John Doe at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Dakota Tavern, a little subterranean rec room of a bar, has fried chicken. This is a very exciting fact to me, as I’ve been at a loss as to where to get non-gross, non-fast food fried chicken in this town. This assumes, of course, that the quality of foodstuffs there measure up to reputation the Tavern has as both a cool, rootsy watering hole and a friendly, intimate venue. It was these qualities that made it the perfect locale for a warm-up show in advance of the “Hurtin’ And Flurtin’ Tour” that would take co-headliners Kathleen Edwards and John Doe across America, starting tonight.

While I expect the tour itself will be decidedly more put-together and probably feature full backing bands, I would hope for the sake of their audiences that Edwards and Doe continue to eschew the traditional opener/closer roles and play as they did Monday night to a packed house, alternately playing together and separately. This format allowed them to display their obvious musical and personal chemistry, backing each other up and harmonizing on a choice selection of covers and songs of their own, including “The Golden State” off of Doe’s latest A Year In The Wilderness on which the two duet marvelously. They apologized in advance for being a bit under-rehearsed, and while they definitely were that, they were also quite relaxed and having a great time of it. The tightness will come – the rapport was already there.

I’m not as well-versed in Doe’s repertoire as I probably should be – I know some X material and had a couple of his solo records in university, but that’s about the extent of it. That lack of familiarity didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying his songs, though – the man has been at it for some 30 years and is damned good at what he does. I had expected from the company he was keeping that he’d be operating in a more country-rock vein, but I guess he saves that for The Knitters – his solo material was thoughtful, melodic and direct singer-songwriter fare, seasoned with charming and witty banter. And the mention that he was in the process of cutting an album with The Sadies was particularly exciting to hear.

But it was Edwards who really impressed. I’ve counted myself a fan since her debut Failer, but my interest had drifted since then and I’m on record as having found her latest effort Asking For Flowers, Polaris-nominated as it may have been, decidedly underwhelming. I had, however, never seen her live. Came close a number of times but it’d just never happened. And based on this performance, I have to wonder if I might have been even more favourably inclined to her stuff than I am because she was really terrific. It’s difficult to say exactly what’s different about hearing her live than on record because production-wise, her albums have always been pretty straightforward, but for whatever reason her songs – and in particular the characters contained within – really came alive. I think I now more fully appreciate her more intangible qualities, that certain resonance that she has beyond just her songs and her voice. It really was an eye- and ear-opener.

Though there’s no local – or even Canadian – dates on the formal tour, Edwards has already started planning her 2009 and it includes a date on February 13 at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, a venue that – as lovely as it is – couldn’t be further in vibe from the Dakota. I guarantee you they don’t serve fried chicken.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has an interview with Kathleen Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards & John Doe @ The Dakota Tavern – November 3, 2008
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”
MP3: John Doe – “The Golden State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
MySpace: Kathleen Edwards
MySpace: John Doe

Beirut mastermind Zach Condon will be releasing two new EPs of material next year on February 17 – March of the Zapotec under the Beirut banner and Holland under the Realpeople nom de plume. Details at Paste.

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff makes a mixtape for Drowned In Sound, makes conversation with Filter.

JAM talks to Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric about the process of getting their heads together to create album number four, currently looking for an early 2009 release. They’re headlining that big Canuck-rock shin-dig at Sound Academy on December 13.

Spinner’s Interface welcomes Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s to their studios.

Daytrotter offers up a Born Ruffians session for download. And congratulations to Andrew, who won the tote bag and stuff.

In addition to headlining the Make Some Noise concert at the North York Central Library on November 15, Gentleman Reg has got a show scheduled at the Drake Underground for December 4, tickets $12. The release date for his new album Jet Black is still a moving target (though you can hear new material at his MySpace) but there’s a new 7″ single out now and an EP intended to introduce Reg to US audiences entitled Little Buildings is set for release south of the border on November 11.

And speaking of things south of the border… congratulations America. You did a hell of a thing. Though between you and me, I think I was more choked up when Jimmy Smits won the White House on The West Wing. Yeah, sometimes I’m weird like that. But still, bravo.