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Posts Tagged ‘Maria Taylor’

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Come As You Are

Giving thanks for “Whatever happened to Alternative Nation?”

Photo By Charles PetersenCharles PetersenFell into a long-form musical journalism rabbit hole recently via The AV Club’s “Whatever Happened To Alternative Nation?” 10-part series which actually ran almost three years ago but somehow got back on my radar, probably bubbling up to the surface in the wake of their recent redesign. If you haven’t read it, it covers the years from 1990 to 1999 through the lens of author Steven Hyden’s teen years, beginning with the rise of grunge at the start of the decade through the supremacy of nu-metal and chaos of Woodstock ’99 at the end of the century.

It was of particular interest to me because, though a few years older than Hyden and situated in the suburbs of Toronto rather than Wisconsin, it roughly documents my own journey of musical discovery in high school. Though Nirvana didn’t ultimately end up meaning much to me, I still very clearly remember hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the very first time on a friend’s Walkman in the cafeteria in the Fall of 1991 and being impressed that I could hear the string squeaks on the opening riff. And while I would like to pretend that I was into all the ’90s bands then that I love now – your Britpop, shoegaze, college rock, what have you – most of that was discovered retroactively, and that sort of personal revisionist history is addressed in part six; fact is, I was listening to the same now-acknowledged-as-awful radio rock as everyone else – yes I owned Throwing Copper but at least knew even then that Bush was awful – and only discovered or came to appreciate the good stuff after the fact. But better late than never, right?

In any case – it’s a well-written series that covers a lot of what anyone in their 30s lived through with the benefit of hindsight and historical insight, and worth reading if you’ve got some time on your hands and a copies of Siamese Dream and Definitely Maybe handy. Plus it lets me segue into some newsy bits from acts of that era who’re still doing stuff.

Video: Nirvana – “In Bloom”

For anyone who missed it, Tanya Donelly released the fourth volume of her Swan Song Series late last week and the bonus materials are particularly sweet and topical – ten demos of Belly’s debut, Star. And lest you think that’s the end of it, a fifth EP is in the works and I think I read somewhere that it’ll be out around February.

Stream: Tanya Donelly – “Salt”

Stephen Malkmus lists off the music he grew up listening to for The Guardian; his new album with The Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags – comes out January 7.

Black Francis of Pixies discusses the band’s second act with The Guardian; they kick of their new tour at Massey Hall on January 15.

Seeing as how Andrew Rieger and Laura Carter opened for Jeff Mangum when he was here solo in August 2011, it makes sense that they’d bring the whole band with them when he does the same; Elf Power will open up both sold-out Neutral Milk Hotel shows at The Kool Haus on January 19 and 20. They released their latest album Sunlight On The Moon earlier this year.

Video: Elf Power – “Darkest Wave”

Guided By Voices has settled on a February 18 release date for their new record Motivational Jumpsuit – their fifth since the reunion and presumably the last with the so-called “classic lineup” with now-booted drummer Kevin Fennell. Rolling Stone is streaming the first preview track from the record.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Littlest League Possible”

Superchunk have released another video from this year’s I Hate Music.

Video: Superchunk – “Void”

The 405 chit-chats with Sebadoh.

Dialing the Wayback Machine a little further, influential ’80s Los Angeles outfit and Paisley Underground pioneers The Dream Syndicate have made a date at The Garrison for February 8, tickets $30 in advance. The Chicago Tribune talks to leader Steve Wynn about the reunion.

Video: The Dream Syndicate – “That’s What You Always Say” (live)

And back to the 21st century, Entertainment Weekly has premiered the new video from Broken Bells’ forthcoming After The Disco, out January 14, and if you’d prefer a studio session version rather than a movie star-featuring version, head over to The Guardian. Broken Bells are at The Danforth Music Hall on March 3.

Video: Broken Bells – “Holding On For Life”

Saddle Creek songstress Maria Taylor has made a date at the Drake Underground for February 9 in support of her latest album Something About Knowing. Tickets for that are $11.50 and examiner.com has an interview with Taylor.

Video: Maria Taylor – “Up All Night”

Boston psych-folk trio Quilt have announced a Winter tour in support of their second album Held in Splendor, which comes out January 28th and from which there’s a video and stream to preview. They’re at The Drake Underground on March 3, tickets $10. Philthy has an interview.

Stream: Quilt – “Tired & Buttered”
Video: Quilt – “Arctic Shark”

Under The Radar gets a track-by-track walkthrough of Shearwater’s new covers album Fellow Travelers. The play The Horseshoe on March 27.

The Hold Steady are crowdfunding a new covers EP via PledgeMusic while they continue to work on a new album, due out in the new year.

Paste checks in with Colin Meloy about matters solo and Decemberist.

Magnet interviews Midlake, this week’s guest editors on their website.

The War On Drugs.

Drowned In Sound has an interview with A Place To Bury Strangers.

Bassist/organist Peter Bauer of The Walkmen tells The Washington Post that their upcoming shows in Washington DC and Philadelphia could be/will be the band’s last. Ever. For serious.

Having covered “Kill The Turkey” on last year’s Thanksgiving episode, it’s not really a surprise that The National would again spend American turkey day with Bob’s Burgers, and lo – Entertainment Weekly has an animated video of the band doing this year’s musical number, a salute to gravy boats. Happy Thanksgiving, America.

Video: The National – “Sailors In Your Mouth”

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Walking On A Wire

Richard Thompson at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve been mentally composing my writeup for Richard Thompson’s visit to Toronto last week, as I do, and went digging through my archives for past pieces on the artist to perhaps link to as relevant, also standard procedure, which brought this piece I wrote back in 2005. And it’s helpful, as it actually covers a lot of the preface that I was preparing, but also mortifying as I didn’t realize that I’d already written – sometimes verbatim – what I was planning to write with regards to my personal history with Thompson’s music. You know you’ve been doing this too long when you’re recycling material without even knowing it. So go back and read that, if you please. I’ll wait here. And if you can’t be bothered, I’ll simply sum up with the fact that Thompson is one of the world’s greatest living singer/songwriter/guitarists and this isn’t up for debate.

Finding that entry was also notable because it reminded me that I hadn’t done a very good job of keeping up with Thompson’s work since then, missing both Front Parlour Ballads and last year’s Dream Attic; and while I do have 2007’s Sweet Warrior, I haven’t exactly worn it out. Similarly, I missed both of Thompson’s last visits – in 2008 at the Danforth Music Hall and 2005 at Trinity-St. Paul’s – my only live experience being back in 2003 at the Toronto Star Bluesfest at Exhibition Place, a jaw-dropping experience despite the less than auspicious setting. There would be no complaints about the venue last Thursday night, with Thompson being booked into the jaw-droppingly gorgeous – both visually and acoustically – Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music – a fitting room for a recently-honoured Officer of the Order of the British Empire, methinks. This was to be a solo show in all regards, just Thompson with a single acoustic guitar – no band, no opener, not even an amplifier (though he was mic-ed – the acoustics of the room weren’t THAT good) – truly as simple as you could get, but also all that he’d need.

Well, that and his immense, almost 40-year deep songbook. For over an hour and a half, Thompson explored the breadth of his repertoire including a nod back to his early days with Fairport Convention by way of a cover of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and a couple of selections from Shoot Out The Lights though not the title track, which I grudgingly accept as an electric song. Much of the set, however, focused on his ’90s material – well-documented on the Action Packed compilation – indicating that I wasn’t the only one who was most familiar with his works from that era. Highlights were plentiful, with any fears that an unplugged set would mean less guitar heroics put well to rest early on with astonishing excursions on Mock Tudor‘s “Crawl Back (Under My Stone)”, his one-man, six-string Zydeco band impersonation on “Valerie” or even how his down-tuning segued perfectly into the intro of his tour de force “Vincent Black Lightning 1952”.

If anything, playing acoustic didn’t mean fewer solos, only more astonishing ones. Understand that Thompson doesn’t solo like anyone else – for someone of his instrumental repute, he’s one of the least-copied because, well, it’s damn near impossible to ape his unique blend of folk, Celtic, and rock moves. And while you might reasonably question why a player would want to make his axe sound like bagpipes, hearing how Thompson works it into his music – making leads less about being showy as adding intense instrumental conversations to the topic at hand – you’d get it. The 1100 or so people on hand this night certainly did.

While it’s all well and good to focus on Thompson’s instrumental prowess, it’s crucial to note that on his songwriting scoreboard, each unearthly bend and riff is matched by a lyric of deliciously black English humour or a character either wronged or doing the wronging in love. Perhaps it was the setting and his having my undivided attention, but even songs that I didn’t like so much on record like Sweet Warrior‘s cruse ship comedy “Johnny’s Far Away” was considerably more entertaining live, thanks in no small part to the humorous intros Thompson prepended onto it and others. A bevy of charmingly corny jokes also got Thompson through a patch of having to change a string on his guitar; to reiterate – the man restrung his own guitar. He only brought the one.

It doesn’t seem right to register complaints for such a stunning show, but I was disappointed that neither of Mirror Blue‘s finest acoustic moments – “King Of Bohemia” and “Beeswing” – were left out. But for the encores we did get his cover of Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did It Again” which engendered an audience singalong – hilarious if you consider the age demographic of most in attendance – as well as the wonderfully dark “I Misunderstood” and a gorgeous reading of “Walking On A Wire”. The standard line on Richard Thompson is that he’s one of the world’s most under-recognized and underappreciated musicians – which may well be true – but you wouldn’t have known it from this performance and the reception it got.

The Ottawa Citizen, The Toronto Star, NOW, Montreal Gazette and Morton Grove Champion have interviews with Richard Thompson.

Photos: Richard Thompson @ Koerner Hall – September 8, 2011
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Harlan’s Bounce”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Treadwell No More”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Uninhabited Man”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Dear Janet Jackson”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Banks Of The Nile”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “The Sights And Sounds Of London Town”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “I Agree With Pat Methany”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Keep Your Distance”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Vincent Black Lightning 1952”
MP3: Richard Thompson – “Hard On Me”

Zach Condon of Beirut is interviewed by NPR and given his run of Drowned In Sound to post whatever he and his bandmates like, but not before submitting to an interview. And oh, there’s a new video available from The Rip Tide.

Video: Beirut – “Santa Fe”

Drowned In Sound interviews Ringo Deathstarr about their new odds-and-sods album Sparkler, due out tomorrow.

The Line Of Best Fit has a feature interview and Billboard goes into St. Vincent’s Twitter PR strategy for Strange Mercy, out tomorrow.

Salon, New York Magazine and Slate have feature pieces on Wild Flag, whose self-titled debut is finally out tomorrow. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 12.

Christopher Owens of Girls gets interviewed by The Guardian about their new record Father, Son, Holy Ghost, out tomorrow. They play The Mod Club on September 27.

Stereogum talks influences with The Drums, who are at The Mod Club on October 1 in support of new album Portamento, out tomorrow. There’s also an interview at Digital Spy.

Spin talks to Chris Taylor of CANT (and also Grizzly Bear, while Pitchfork has a stream of Dreams Come True, his solo debut in that identity. It’s out tomorrow and he plays The Garrison on October 21.

Stream: CANT / Dreams Come True

Explosions In The Sky have released another video from Take Care, Take Care, Take Care and are profiled in The Georgia Straight, Boise Weekly and LAist. They’re at the Sound Academy on October 7.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Be Comfortable, Creature”

Exclaim has details on the She & Him Christmas album A Very She & Him Christmas, which is due out October 25 and will exist whether you like it to or not.

Maria Taylor returns to town in support of her new record Overlook with a show at The Drake Underground on November 13.

MP3: Maria Taylor – “Matador”
MP3: Maria Taylor – “Bad Idea?”

Mastodon have made a date at the Kool Haus for November 25, tickets $29.50. Their new album The Hunter is out September 27; I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’s heavy.

Video: Mastodon – “Black Tongue”

The Big Takeover has posted the second part of their interview with Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev.

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Look At Me Now

The Elected elect to run again

Photo By Lauren DukoffLauren DukoffOnly the most optimistic of souls think we’ll ever hear new material from Rilo Kiley; aside from rumours of a b-sides/rarities compilation, it would seem that 2007’s Under The Blacklight – on which they already sounded disinterested – will be the final word for the Los Angeles pop outfit. And while frontwoman Jenny Lewis has already established a pretty successful solo (and duo) career, former partner Blake Sennett is returning to active duty by turning his former side-project The Elected – last heard from on 2006’s aptly-titled Sun Sun Sun – into a full-time gig with Bury Me In My Rings, out next Tuesday.

The album is currently streaming in whole over at My Old Kentucky Blog and it sounds as though Sennett is still content to mine the rich tradition of classic and breezy Californian pop – with a foray into funk that’s as questionable as any attempts at funk that can be described as a “foray” – for his purposes. His tunes were never the highlights of Rilo Kiley’s records – Lewis’ ascent to stardom over their run was impossible to eclipse – but he was always a solid tunesmith with a good sense of melody. Perhaps now, without having to be constantly measured against his bandmate, he can establish his own merits properly.

He’s also taking his show on the road and that will bring him to Toronto’s Drake Underground on June 30. American Songwriter and Consequence Of Sound have conversations with Sennett about the new record and the latter gets a pretty colourful and definitive-sounding quote about the current (and final?) state of Rilo Kiley.

MP3: The Elected – “Babyface”
Stream: The Elected / Bury Me In My Rings

PopMatters and The News Chief have interviews with Jason Isbell, in town for a show at The Horseshoe on May 22.

And Maria Taylor, who opens up that show and the tour for Isbell, has announced an August 16 release date for her new record Overlook. Details and a streamable new song over at Under The Radar.

Rolling Stone talks to The Head & The Heart.

The Fruit Bats have a new record in the can entitled Tripper, and will be sharing it with the world come August 2. Exclaim has details and a widget from which to download a new, non-album, J Mascis-guesting MP3.

eMusic interviews Will Sheff of Okkervil River. They’re at The Phoenix on June 10.

NPR has a couple notable World Cafesessions up for your enjoyment – one with The Mountain Goats and another featuring The Kills.

Blurt profiles The Antlers, in town at The Mod Club on June 14.

Spin and NOW talk to Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla, respectively. Death Cab are at The Phoenix on May 18 and the Molson Amphitheatre on July 29 and their new record Codes & Keys is out May 31.

Daytrotter has posted a session with John Vanderslice.

Metromix and CityBeat welcome The National back to Cincinnati.

Captain’s Dead has unearthed an old 1988-vintage Uncle Tupelo demo tape and posted the contents online.

Interview does its thing with James Blake, playing a sold-out show at Lee’s Palace on Saturday night.

NPR is streaming a Lykke Li session from KCRW while Express Night Out has an interview. She’s at The Phoenix on May 22.

The Alternate Side has a video session and interview with The Raveonettes, The Columbian just an interview.

MSN talks to The Naked & Famous, back for a show at Lee’s Palace on August 9.

Friday, March 11th, 2011

As I've Known

Epitonic is back; Wrens, still working on it

Photo via Agency GroupAgency GroupA decade ago, before there were really such things blogs but the MP3 existed, there was Epitonic. Easily the best site online for researching, discovering and hearing new and independent acts, it was a treasure trove of great things to hear right up until it was shut down in 2004. By that point there were many other avenues for sampling music via downloadable files – you’re on one right now – but the breadth and organization of Epitonic was missed.

So it’s more than great to see that they’ve returned with the same mandate and they’ve come bearing gifts – including a new track from everyone’s favourite prodigal band, The Wrens. They were last heard from, as far as records go, at about the same time Epitonic went dark so hopefully the site’s return will apply some pressure to them to get the new record – in process for years and years – finished and out. I thought that they were close when they started issuing recording dispatches in early ’09 and even played some shows at SxSW that year, but there’s still been nothing released. Their booking agency says they’re available for Spring and Summer 2011 headlining dates, though, so maybe…? Come on guys, 10 more songs and you can go back to hiding for another decade.

Either way, at least Epitonic is back.

MP3: The Wrens – “As I’ve Known”

The Battles show announced last week in support of new record Gloss Drop will be happening at The Mod Club on April 29, and not The Horseshoe as originally reported. Tickets are $15.

The Felice Brothers will be at Lee’s Palace on May 12, just a couple days after their latest album Celebration, Florida is released, tickets $17.50.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are back in town on May 12 for a show at the Sound Academy. The Pensicola News Journal has an interview with Jones.

Video: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – “I Learned The Hard Way”

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit have set a May 22 date at The Horseshoe Tavern in support of their new record Here We Rest, out April 12. Maria Taylor will support.

MP3: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – “Codeine”
MP3: Maria Taylor – “Song Beneath The Song”

Explosions In The Sky have released the first MP3 from their new record Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, due out April 26.

MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Trembling Hands”

Austinist and Austin 360 chat with Will Sheff of Okkervil River about their new record I Am Very Far, due out May 10. There’s also a video session and interview at Rolling Stone and the first official MP3 from said record is now available. They play The Phoenix on June 10.

MP3: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”

Fender Guitars has a chat with proud users of their products Ume.

The AV Club talks to Lucinda Williams.

NOW‘s CMW cover story is Janelle Monáe, who headlines The Indies at The Royal York on Saturday night.

The Huffington Post talks to Mike Mills of R.E.M.. Another new video from Collapse Into Now has gone up and as a bonus, an official live studio performance clip is up at Fluxblog.

Video: R.E.M. – “Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter”
Video: R.E.M. – “Every Day Is Yours To Win” (live)

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Of Montreal. They’re at The Phoenix on May 3.

The Vinyl District, Rocky Mountain Collegian and NPR talk to Wye Oak about Civilian. They are at The El Mocambo on April 9 and their show in DC tonight will be streamed live on NPR.

Pitchfork reports that The Antlers have set a May 10 release date for their new record, which will bear the title Burst Apart.

The New York Times have a feature piece on The Strokes. Angles is out March 22.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are streaming the whole of their new record Belong on their website, well ahead of its March 29 release.

Stream: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / Belong

The National have released a new video from last year’s High Violet, starring Flight Of The Conchords’ Kristen Schall and Mad Men‘s John Slattery. Black Book also has a video session with the band.

Video: The National – “Conversation 16”

Faster Louder meets The Hold Steady.

NPR is streaming a KEXP radio session with The Jayhawks, Denver Westword talks to Mark Olson and Jambands to Gary Louris.

Blurt has a feature piece on DeVotchKa, who are in town at The Mod Club on March 30.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Fossil, I

Review of Sky Larkin's The Golden Spike and live video from Amsterdam

Photo via FabchannelFabChannelAfter considerable listens, I think I’ve twigged on to why I’m so taken with The Golden Spike, the debut album from Leeds’ Sky Larkin’s. The crackling pop-punk energy, barely contained in the power trio configuration, the odd and wiry yet undeniably accomplished guitarwork, the raspy vocals that can’t quite conceal the sweetness underneath – they remind me of Land Of Talk. A more youthful version, to be sure, with more exuberance and less anxiety, but the parallels – now that they’ve occurred to me – are obvious.

And, of course, after I’d written that, I did a little archive digging and discovered that in my first post about the band, way back in August 2008, I said the first taste of the band “grab(bed) me in a way that I don’t think I’ve been grabbed since I first heard Land Of Talk”. Technically, though, I was only using LoT as a chronological reference point and not necessarily as a stylistic one, as I’ve now done. But I actually completely forgot I said that and the preceding paragraph was written completely ignorant of that original observation. Okay, I’m boring the life out of me now. Moving on.

Band comparisons notwithstanding, I’m also totally taken with The Golden Spike because it’s a superb bit of guitar pop. Katie Harkin, she of the aforementioned guitarwork and vocals, is a forceful presence and her songs are unconventional and elliptical enough to encourage intensive listening, yet remain utterly melodic and hummable. It’s a corker of a record, and surely one of the finer debuts we’ll see this year. As previously mentioned, their label Wichita Recordings are setting up North American operations and The Golden Spike will be one of their first domestic releases – you can be certain I’ll let you know more about that as information becomes available.

FabChannel webcast the band’s show in Amsterdam this past weekend but don’t have it up in their archives for your eternal enjoyment just yet. They have, however, prepped a couple of songs from the show and have graciously allowed me to share them with you. Please enjoy.

MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
MySpace: Sky Larkin

Emmy The Great talks to NME about some of her lyrics and reveals the story of her “first love”. Drowned in Sound also has a two-part interview with the singer.

Details on the debut full-length from Florence & The Machine are still forthcoming, but this pre-order listing at CDWow seems to hint at July 6th release date, or thereabouts. Much more confirmable is the April 28 release of the A Lot Of Love, A Lot Of Blood EP, which collects her singles to this point and an unreleased track.

MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”

Spinner talks to PJ Harvey and John Parish about their working history together. Their collaborative album A Woman A Man Walked By is out March 30.

CD Times interviews The Joy Formidable.

QRO talks to Los Campesinos!. They’re at the Opera House on April 1.

This Is Fake DIY and Clash converse with Tilly & The Wall.

Magnet takes it upon themselves to identify the five most overrated and underrated Radiohead songs.

Exclaim! has a feature-length interview with Neko Case and have also assembled a timeline tracking her life and times. Her new album Middle Cyclone is out next Tuesday and the title track is now available to download. Her label is also giving away autographed copies of the record. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

MP3: Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone”

Maria Taylor has a date at the El Mocambo on April 17, tickets $10. Her new record LadyLuck is out April 7. $10

MP3: Maria Taylor – “Time Lapse Lifeline”
Video: Maria Taylor – “Time Lapse Lifeline”

Ladyhawk return for a show at the Horseshoe on April 23, tickets $12.50.

MP3: Ladyhawk – “I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying”
MP3: Ladyhawk – “S.T.H.D.”

Elvis Perkins In Dearland will be hitting the road in support of their self-titled record, due March 10, and will play the Horseshoe on April 29.

MP3: Elvis Perkins In Dearland – “Shampoo”

Not part of their upcoming Spring itinerary, but Plants & Animals will be at the Mod Club on May 7.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Bye Bye Bye”

And finally, an incredulous shout-out to Zoilus’ Carl Wilson, who will be appearing on The Colbert Report next Wednesday night to talk about his 33-1/3 book Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste. All instigated, if you didn’t know, by the Green Goblin 2. What a strange, strange thing.