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Posts Tagged ‘Mates Of State’

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Give Up

The Postal Service and Mates Of State at The Air Canada Centre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough generally referred to as a reunion, the return this year of The Postal Service to active duty is unlike most others in that it’s to mark a very specific occasion – the 10th anniversary and reissue of their only album Give Up – and comes with absolutely no promise or expectation of carrying on after the occasion is past. And as much as people might think they want a second Postal Service record, I suspect that the truth is they don’t.

Much of the magic of Give Up is that it exists as a single specific point in space and time, and not just as the album where indie, emo, and electronica converged and created a template for countless artists to follow. It’s also special because it was the soundtrack for so many lives in 2003, and by not releasing a follow-up or even having The Postal Service really exist outside of the recordings, remained a snapshot of a moment trapped in amber. No one grew up with this band, or risked being disappointed by a subsequent effort that didn’t make them feel the way Give Up did. And by that same token, it’s a safe bet that no one who piled into the Air Canada Centre a decade later to finally hear these songs played live were remotely the same person they were when they fell in love with the band. And yet they came – not in nearly enough number to fill the theatre-configured arena, but enough to create a time-warped sense of community fuelled by excitement and nostalgia.

It would have been pretty funny and entertaining had Toronto drawn the Big Freedia card in the opening band rotation – the looks on passers by’s faces as they were introduced to the Sissy Bounce when she played Yonge-Dundas at NXNE 2010 is a fond memory – but I was more than happy to get Mates Of State’s first date of the tour. I hadn’t seen them since they kicked off Virgin Fest 2009, and while it’s unfortunate that there were about as many people on hand to see them this time as then – which is to say not a lot – they still put on a wholly enjoyable set, at least after getting over the shock of them playing as a four-piece, though there’s no denying that the extra dimension added by the supporting keys and guitar sounded nice, particularly the trumpet on “Rearrange Us” and “My Only Offer”. But the heart of Mates Of State remain Kori Gardner and Jason Hammell’s keys-and-drums-and-harmonies-and-adorableness, and though their recent work isn’t quite as sugar-giddy as the early stuff, it’s still got plenty of sweetness and remains delightful. I mean, how can you not love banter like, “That’s Kori, isn’t she hot?”. You can’t.

Given that The Postal Service didn’t even record Give Up as a proper band – their name refers to how Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello traded musical ideas via physical DAT – getting a guy on a laptop and another on guitar to translate live in as large a venue as an arena was surely no small task. So to fill things out, they promoted Jenny Lewis from backing vocalist to almost co-frontperson with guitar and keyboard duties, and enlisted Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds on glock and vox – certainly a fine ensemble, augmented by an acoustic drum kit on the stage for those moments when canned beats just wouldn’t do. And as to the problem of having only two sides of material to draw from, they naturally played the whole of Give Up, opening with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, as well as the four new/unreleased tracks from the anniversary edition, a Beat Happening cover, and the proto-Postal Dntel track “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” – making for a respectable-length set, all things considered.

So that was the what it was; what about the how it was? In all, pretty good. They certainly did all they could to make it a visually engaging show, with Gibbard dipping into his Death Cab dance moves, Lewis strutting around like she owned the stage – and really, she did, in front of some slickly-lit stage sets and glowing backdrops. And even though he was restricted to his podium at the back of the stage dropping beats, Tamborello got to contribute vocals to “Sleeping In” – not great vocals, but whatever – and again Daft Punk vocoder-styled at the end of “Recycled Air”. The showiness of the performance worked on the upbeat numbers, but for my personal Give Up high point – the Ben Gibbard-Jen Wood duet “Nothing Better” – it felt to its detriment and out of character. On record, the singalong melody belies the dark sentiments of the lyrics, and the whole feels like a incredibly personal conversation you can’t help be eavesdrop in. Live though, with Lewis’ big sassy vocals in place of Wood’s weary originals, it felt more like a work of broad theatre rather than the intimate moment it should have been. This may be my complaint alone, but there it is.

Still, one down point amongst many high points isn’t bad at all. High points like Lewis’ big rock guitar solo to close out “This Place Is A Prison”, the nearly-deafening shoegaze treatment of “Natural Anthem” to close out the main set, the being reminded that the simple guitar line in “Such Great Heights” may well be one of the riffs of the century so far. By the time the show’s hour and fifteen running time was up, it was clear that this wasn’t a reunion meant to help you recapture your youth, or wherever you were in 2003 the first time you first heard “District” or “Heights”; it was intended to celebrate where you’ve gone in the ten years that have followed. Not for nothing, I think, was “Brand New Colony” the show closer and the final lyrics uttered, “Everything will change”. Because you can’t go back, but you can remember.

The Toronto Star, Huffington Post, and Exclaim also have reviews of the show, and The Toronto Star also has a show previewing interview.

Photos: The Postal Service, Mates Of State @ The Air Canada Centre – June 11, 2013
MP3: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
MP3: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
MP3: Dntel – “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Think Long”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Hoarding It For Home”
Video: The Postal Service – “Against All Odds”
Video: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
Video: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
Video: The Postal Service – “We Will Become Silhouettes”
Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”
Video: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
Video: Mates Of State – “Sway”
Video: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
Video: Mates Of State – “True Love Will Find You In The End”
Video: Mates Of State – “I Am A Scientist”
Video: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
Video: Mates Of State – “Get Better”
Video: Mates Of State – “Like U Crazy”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fraud In The 80s”
Video: Mates Of State – “Goods (All In Your Head)”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fluke”
Video: Mates Of State – “Gotta Get A Problem”

NPR has an interview and a Tiny Desk Concert with The National, who are at Yonge-Dundas Square for a free show tomorrow night, June 14. The Globe & Mail also has an interview with Matt Berninger.

Nylon is streaming Beach Day’s debut album Trip Trap Attack ahead of its release next Tuesday. As mentioned earlier this week, Beach Day are all over NXNE, playing Urban Outfitters Friday afternoon at 2, Handlebar Saturday night at 11, and a Kops instore Sunday at 6:30.

Stream: Beach Day / Trip Trap Attack

Kurt Vile has released a new video from Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. He and his Violators play the final day of TURF at Garrison Common on July 4.

Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”

Neko Case has confirmed details of her new new album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, due out September 3. The first M Ward-powered taste is available to stream, there’s a sweet trailer to watch, and further details can be had at Pitchfork. She also plays the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common on July 4.

Stream: Neko Case – “Man”
Trailer: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

The Village Voice talks to Yo La Tengo about the imminent closing of their Hoboken home away from home, Maxwell’s; The Province and Denver Post also have features. They’re here for TURF on July 4 as well.

PopMatters and NPR talk to Jason Isbell, in town at Lee’s Palace on August 2.

Beatroute has a quick word with Superchunk, whose new record I Hate Music is out August 20.

Stereogum has a video session with Wild Nothing. They open up for Local Natives at The Kool Haus on September 21.

Billboard gets some more info from Janelle Monáe about her new album The Electric Lady, coming in September.

Tiny Mix Tapes has an interview with Charles Bradley.

Dungeonesse have a new video from Dungeonesse; it is not called “Dungeonesse”.

Video: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”

Sharon Van Etten has released a stream of a new old song, originally released as part of a compilation CD for Esopus magazine in 2010.

Stream: Sharon Van Etten – “Esao Andrews”

Tiny Mix Tapes gets to know Caitlin Rose.

The National Post talks NXNE with Calexico; they were here last night.

And a couple noteworthy show announcements that missed yesterday’s cutoff – first, Blonde Redhead may not have the follow-up to 2010’s Penny Sparkle ready for release until early 2014, but they’re still doing some touring this year. They’ll be at The Adelaide Music Hall on July 15, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “Here Sometimes”

And also, Riot Fest announced their 2013 lineup last night, and it’s a doozy. We’ll ignore the August 24 acts for the moment because I have no idea who any of them are, but Sunday, August 25 will be headlined by the first Replacements show in 22 years. That’s right – Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson back together again as The Mats. And if that wasn’t worth your $50 ticket, the lineup ALSO includes Iggy & The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, and more. That goes down at, of course, Garrison Common. The Replacements, people. The Replacements.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
Video: The Replacements – “Bastards Of Young”
Video: Iggy & The Stooges – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Rocket From The Crypt – “On A Rope”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Heard The News

Guards, Mates Of State, and other support acts elevated to blog post headline status

Photo By Olivia MaloneOlivia MaloneSome weeks, the inbox is a veritable cornucopia of interesting concert announcements for acts big and small. Compiling the blog posts that collect those up is a genuine delight. And easy. Generally so easy. This was not one of those weeks. Indeed, most of the news was of the “support announced” variety, which isn’t necessarily uninteresting – sometimes it’s more interesting than the headliner – but it is less easy.

Anyways, we’ll kick off with New York’s Guards, who will be supporting Palma Violets at Lee’s Palace on May 3. They’re fronted by one Richie Follin, whose did time in Cults with sister Madelin and also worked with Caroline Polachek of Chairlift, and while either of those reference points are probably enough to garner attention, the sun-kissed, retro-styled power pop of their debut album In Guards We Trust, released in February, are far more in line with the former than the latter. It’s not revolutionary by any measure, but it is well-executed and likeable.

The Bay Bridged has an interview with Richie Follin.

MP3: Guards – “Silver Lining”
MP3: Guards – “Crystal Truth”
Video: Guards – “Ready To Go”
Video: Guards – “Silver Lining”

It’s a bit of an odd pairing, but throwback jangle-poppers DIIV will be supporting Trent Reznor’s How To Destroy Angels at The Sound Academy on April 25. They were also here in December supporting Japandroids, but I’m sure there’s enough fans of Oshin that a headlining show – which they last did in September – would also be welcome.

MP3: DIIV – “Sometime”

Not that Titus Andronicus need any help drawing a crowd, but their May 2 date at Lee’s Palace announced last week just got a boost regardless with the announcement that they’re being joined by Brooklyn’s So So Glos for what they’re calling the “Bring Back The Dudes” tour – which will be a pretty apt description of the demographic at the show. Their new record Blowout is out April 23 and there’s an interview at The L.

Video: So So Glos – “My Block”

Some bands worry about announcing multiple upcoming dates in a given market out of fear that one show may cannibalize ticket sales from the other; Ra Ra Riot clearly do not. They spent most of the lead up to their early March headlining show for Beta Love with their name also on posters for the Arts & Crafts Field Trip festival at Garrison Common on June 8, and now they’ve also announced that they’ll also be in town a couple weeks prior to that supporting The Shins at The Sound Academy on May 22. I don’t know if there are Ra Ra Riot fans so dedicated to hit up every one of their local shows, but if so, they’re probably pretty happy.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Beta Love”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dance With Me”

Ra Ra Riot will also be opening up some of the dates on the upcoming Postal Service tour, but not Toronto – according to the itinerary released yesterday, we’ll have Mates Of State opening up at the Air Canada Centre on June 11 and that’s a-ok with me, though I can’t say I wouldn’t love to see peoples’ faces when Big Freedia shakes what she’s got on those west coast dates.

MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”

And in headlining announcements – Spencer Krug will appear as Moonface in a solo piano context on May 12 at The Great Hall in something called The Conversation Room. I don’t know what/where that is, but I kind of hope it’s like The Champagne Room. Tickets are $16.50 and there is probably no sex.

MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips”
MP3: Moonface – “Headed For The Door”

One of the buzzier bads at CMF this year were German electro-pop duo BOY, and those who missed out on their shows will be pleased to know they’re back in town at The Great Hall on May 16 in support of their debut Mutual Friend. Tickets for that are $17.50.

Video: BOY – “Little Numbers”

I could be wrong but I don’t think Richard Buckner has been to Toronto since the “two really big dudes with gravelly voices” tour with Eric Bachmann in September 2006. In any case, the upcoming release of Surrounded – about which there’s no other information besides that it exists and will be called Surrounded – will bring him back to The Horseshoe on May 23, tickets $13.50.

MP3: Richard Buckner – “Escape”

One of the unfortunate casualties of the canceled Efterklang show during CMF last month was the local debut of Philadelphia’s Nightlands, who were supposed to open up. They’ll make that show up at The Drake Underground on June 3, playing songs from their debut Oak Island, from which they’ve just released a new video. The Concordian also has an interview with band principal Dave Hartley.

MP3: Nightlands – “300 Clouds”
MP3: Nightlands – “Suzerain (A Letter To The Judge)”
Video: Nightlands – “Born To Love”

Brooklyn’s Yeasayer will circle back behind their third album Fragrant World with a show at The Phoenix on July 2.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Henrietta”
MP3: Yeasayer – “Longevity”

Two-tone legends The Specials are coming back to town, slating a July 9 date at The Kool Haus, tickets $39.50.

Video: The Specials – “Message To You Rudy”

“Edge” certainly doesn’t mean what it used to. Traditionally the region’s premier bro-fest, the CFNY-sponsored Edgefest has gone acoustic and plaid for 2013, taking advantage of Lollapalooza weekend to present a lineup headlined by The Lumineers and Band Of Horses at Downsview Park on July 31. Quite an about face from past editions of the festival, which has in the past been closed out by the likes of Billy Talent, A Perfect Circle, Stone Temple Pilots, and Our Lady Peace. Tickets for the day are $49.50 plus fees.

MP3: Band Of Horses – “No One’s Gonna Love You”
Video: The Lumineers – “Hey Ho”

Okay, so as it turns out there was more announced this week than I thought. Elsewhere…

Philly.com talks to Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald, who will tear things up at The Horseshoe tomorrow night, April 11.

The Thermals are streaming their new super-short but super-intense new album Desperate Ground at Pitchfork before its out on Apri l6. They play The Horseshoe on May 21.

Stream: The Thermals / Desperate Ground

Another new track from Steve Earle’s Low Highway – out April 16 – has been made available to stream.

Stream: Steve Earle & The Dukes (and Duchesses) – “Calico County”

DIY talks to Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne ahead of next week’s release of The Terror.

Under The Radar interviews Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, in town at The Kool Haus on May 9.

NPR has a Mountain Stage session with Calexico, coming to Toronto for a NXNE show at the Mod Club on June 12.

Exclaim, The Village Voice, Pitchfork, and Consequence Of Sound all want to talk to Kurt Vile about his latest album Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, out now. He plays the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common on July 7.

Lissie has rolled out a lyric video fro the first sample of her second album, due out this September.

Lyric Video: Lissie – “Shameless”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Caitlin Rose.

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Myth

Review of Beach House’s Bloom

Photo By Liz FlyntzLiz FlyntzIf we can regard Beach House literally as their namesake, which is to say as a holiday getaway, a reliably stolid place to escape from the real world, then the amount of adoration they’ve gotten for largely sticking to their skeletal formula through four albums now is understandable. Their fans don’t want them to reinvent themselves with each outing; they want that comforting blanket of Victoria Legrand’s narcoleptic vocals and whirring keyboard interwoven with Alex Scally’s languid slide guitar, and across their first two records – their 2006 self-titled debut and 2007’s Devotion – that’s almost exactly what they got, seasoned with some rudimentary percussion both electronic and organic.

The closest thing they’re ever likely to come to a revolution was with 2010’s Teen Dream, which managed to take a relatively huge leap forward with the production and songwriting, making interesting rhythms and pop hooks a front burner concern without compromising their core sound. A risk, perhaps, but one that paid off immensely in the form of their strongest and most critically and commercially successful work. So with that in mind, it’s not surprising that Bloom – out next Tuesday – opts to stay the course laid out by its predecessor. Surprises simply aren’t Beach House’s style.

Gorgeousness is, however. It took the aforementioned embrace of bigger sounds on Teen Dream to really make me appreciate Beach House – prior to that, I had to be in a very particular mood to listen to them for any period of time – and now they’re a band for all occasions. Having touring drummer Daniel Franz play on the whole of the record, a third member of the band even if he’s not formerly acknowledged as such, helps both ground and propel Bloom while Legrand and Scally do their thing in crafting the haunting textures and melodies that are the foundation of Beach House. And while we’re being literal about things, Bloom is an exceptionally appropriate name for this collection as there’s moments that simply burst outwards. To even suggest that the band be capable of this sort of dynamicism circa their debut would have seemed absurd, and yet just six years later, here we are – and without compromising their identity, no less.

It’s too early to say if Bloom is better than Teen Dream, but by the quantitative measure of how many times I’ve felt compelled to listen to it, it’s already well ahead. At worst, it’s as good as its predecessor and at best, its even better. In either case, it’s hard to imagine liking one and not the other and regardless of where you rank it relative to Beach House’s earlier output, despite really just being more of the same – or perhaps because of it – it’s excellent.

NPR has an advance stream of the new record and DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, The Orlando Sentinel, and Pitchfork have interviews with the band.

MP3: Beach House – “Myth”
Stream: Beach House / Bloom

Also streaming at NPR but two weeks ahead of release are The Only Place, the second album from Best Coast, and Passage, the debut from Exitmusic. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21 and Exitmusic have a NXNE showcase at Wrongbar on June 14.

Stream: Best Coast / The Only Place
Stream: Exitmusic / Passage

S. Carey’s new EP Hoyas came out this week – stream it at Stereogum and read interviews with Sean Carey about the record at The Leader Telegram and Volume One.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”
Stream: S. Carey / Hoyas

In concert announcements, Joe Pernice will stretch his legs and take a mosey to The Dakota Tavern on June 22, maybe play some songs.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”

Having sold out Lee’s Palace their last time through, Youth Lagoon will be at The Opera House on July 12 with Father John Misty, who still has to get through Monday night’s show at the Horseshoe before he can make a return engagement. Tickets are $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Youth Lagoon – “July”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

If part of Liars’ to-do list in preparation for the June 5 release of WIXIW was slate a North American tour, they can cross it off – they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on July 21, tickets $15. They can also check off releasing the first video from the new album.

MP3: Liars – “Scissor”
Video: Liars – “No. 1 Against The Rush”

Twin Shadow is also hitting the road in support of a new record – with Confess due out July 9, George Lewis Jr will be at Lee’s Palace on July 30 and 31, tickets $20.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Slow”

Merge has released a companion album to Crooked Fingers’ 2011 album Breaks In The Armor comprised of acoustic demos of the album. It’s out now and you can stream one of the tracks at Donewaiting.

Stream: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood” (acoustic)

Exclaim reports that some of The Mountain Goats’ early cassette releases from the early ’90s – The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, specifically – will be released on a single CD on June 26.

Fang Island have announced that their second album Major will be out on July 12; details at Spin.

Pop Etc have released a video from their self-titled debut, out June 12.

Video: Pop Etc – “Live It Up”

Explosions In The Sky have released a second video from last year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Postcard From 1952″

America Give Up has yielded another video from Minneapolis’ Howler.

Video: Howler – “This One’s Different”

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Mates Of State, off of last year’s Mountaintops.

Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”

The Magnetic Fields have released a second video from Love At The Bottom Of The Sea.

Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Quick!”

Interview talks to Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak, in town at The Garrison on June 15 for NXNE.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Of Montreal, in town for NXNE on June 16 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Artrocker and Drowned In Sound talk to A Place To Bury Strangers about their forthcoming album Worship, out June 26.

Red Eye and The Detroit Free Press talk to Andrew Bird, in town at Echo Beach on July 19.

Sharon Van Etten plays a video session for WBEZ; she’s at The Phoenix on July 31.

Pitchfork talks to Merrill Garbus and the director of the recent tUnE-yArDs video for “My Country”. She plays The Phoenix on August 1.

SF Weekly chats with John Vanderslice.

Reverb interviews Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

NPR is streaming a KCRW radio session with M. Ward.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Savoir Adore.

Ra Ra Riot talks to Spin about what they’ve got planned for album number three and to Grantland about their appreciation for hockey.

NPR has a WFUV session with Shearwater.

Spin gets a progress report on the next Dinosaur Jr album, due out later this Summer.

Greg Dulli takes The Skinny on a guided tour of The Afghan Whigs’ catalog.

Spin talks to Bob Mould about the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s Copper Blue and the single, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” in particular. Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that two of Mould’s ’90s albums – Bob Mould and The Last Dog & Pony Show – will be getting released as a three-disc set in the UK on June 18 with the third disc consisting of a live 1998 show.

The Atlantic reflects on the significance of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The AV Club has posted the fourth part of their look at the history of R.E.M..

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Easy Water

Review of Caveman’s Coco Beware and giveaway

Photo via Dine Alone RecordsFrank YangMost bands that name themselves for prehistoric entities – your Mastadons, your Dinosaur Jrs – seem to do so at least a little for the heavy and/or primal connotations that come with it. Not so much for Brooklyn’s Caveman, who seem to have chosen the name ironically as there’s nothing raw or neolithic about their smooth and polished debut album Coco Beware.

Rather than club you about the head with a bone, Caveman makes an impression with shimmering guitars, floaty synths and tight harmonies delivering genial, mid-tempo pop that’s reminiscent of a less annoying Vampire Weekend sans Afropop influences. Another reference point is Local Natives thanks to their vocal interplay and creative percussion though Caveman never gets nearly as frantic as that outfit when they’re in gear. Granted, atmosphere and mood are much more Caveman’s mandate than overt dynamicism but you can sense that they’ve got the goods to amp things up a bit if they wanted, they’ve simply opted not to. As a result, Coco Beware succeeds at being an interesting listen, but not a very exciting one. They can do better.

Caveman are in town at The Horseshoe on January 11 along with Oklahoma’s Hospitality, chattered about here. Tickets are $10 in advance but courtesy of Embrace I’ve got a pair of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Caveman” in the subject line and your full name in the body, contest closes at midnight, January 8.

MP3: Caveman – “Thankful”
MP3: Caveman – “Easy Water”
MP3: Caveman – “Old Friend”
MP3: Caveman – “Decide”
MP3: Caveman – “My Room”
Video: Caveman – “Easy Water”

Anyone hoping that the Cat Power Christmas Eve release would be a new song rather than a cover might be a little disappointed that it’s not – but to be fair, it’s a cover of herself. Her redo of “King Rides By” sounds very much like the confident Cat Power of today than rather than the one who originally recorded it for her third album What Would The Community Think in 1996 – great for those who have been waiting to hear her voice wrapped around anything new but not necessarily offering much insight into where her songwriting is as she prepares her first release of new material since 2006’s The Greatest. An MP3 of the track is available to download from Cat Power’s website in exchange for a charitable donation and the video, featuring boxer Manny Pacquiao and directed by actor/director Giovanni Ribisi, is available to watch below.

Video: Cat Power – “King Rides By”

Wilco are streaming the opening night of their “Incredible Shrinking Tour Of Chicago” from earlier this month at Roadcase.

One of this year’s Record Store Day releases was an EP consisting of Franz Ferdinand covers; a video for the selection by Peaches came out back in the Spring but now, three more for the contributions by LCD Soundsystem, Stephin Merritt and ESG have come out. Still nothing for the collaboration between Franz Ferdinand themselves and Deborah Harry yet, but these other vids came out of nowhere as well. So.

Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Live Alone”
Video: ESG – “What She Came For”
Video: Stephin Merritt – “Dream Again”
Video: Peaches – “Turn It On”

Spinner talks to Matthew Sweet about celebrating his 20th anniversary with his Girlfriend, Laundromatinee welcomes the popsmith to their studios for a session, and NPR has a Mountain Stage session.

The AV Club gets Craig Finn to go all One-Track Mind with one of the songs from his solo debut Clear Heart Full Eyes, due out January 24.

DIY checks in with Of Montreal as they put the finishing touches on Paralytic Stalks, out February 7.

The Alternate Side serves up a session with Mates Of State.

Spin has a Moog Sound Lab video session with The Antlers.

Loud & Quiet interviews Erika Anderson of EMA, who has a date at The Garrison on March 13.

Merrell Garbus talks to Blurt about what’s been a pretty good year for tUnE-yArDs. Relix also has a chat.

NYC Taper – who narrowly avoided being hacked into oblivion earlier this week – has posted recordings of a couple of this year’s Yo La Tengo Hannukah shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken.

Paste looks into the enduring appeal of Neutral Milk Hotel’s not-nearly-as-reclusive-as-he-used-to-be leader Jeff Mangum.

NPR talks to Tom Waits.

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Blood Bank

Bon Iver and Lianne La Havas at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor a guy who made his name on being sad and lonely, Justin Vernon sure has a lot of friends. The first Bon Iver record, For Emma, Forever Ago, became the soundtrack for broken hearts when it was released in 2008 and with this year’s self-titled letting some sun into his secluded musical cabin, so to speak, his legion of followers continued to swell. As of this past Tuesday night, he could list two sold-out shows at Massey Hall (approximately 5500 people), four Grammy nominations and high rankings on countless year-end reviews amongst his accomplishments – not bad for someone specializing in writing anthems of being one.

I couldn’t count myself amongst his devoted followers, though. While I appreciated both records well enough, they never reached that crucial frequency of emotional resonance with me that they clearly had with so many others – one perk of not having gone through any kind of traumatic breakup in the last while, I suppose. But having not seen him/them perform since catching a bit of one of his sets at SXSW 2008 and being genuinely curious as to what the live experience was like now – particularly in one of the city’s hallowed venue filled with his devotees – I made sure I was at the first evening of the two-night stand.

Support on this tour came from London’s Lianne La Havas; a new artist but not an unknown, having already garnered much attention in the UK and a spot on the BBC Sound Of 2012 long list despite having only a 4-song 10″ EP in Lost & Found to her name (plus a free-to-download live EP). While she came out on stage solo with just a guitar, she immediately made friends by flashing a megawatt smile and asking to take a photo of the audience before playing a note, then being charmed turned into being impressed when she began to play. Singing with a calm, conversational delivery, she mined a jazz-pop sound with an immediacy that belied its sophistication and showcased her intricate, rhythmic guitarwork and rich, soulful voice. Though she’d come from London at Vernon’s behest, it wasn’t hard to imagine her back on this stage before too long based entirely on her own merits.

To recreate the solitary vibe of the recorded works, Bon Iver wouldn’t need to be anything more than Justin Vernon, a guitar and maybe some snow. So that Bon Iver was, instead, a nine-piece band armed with an orchestra’s worth of horns, percussion and guitars was the first sign that those expecting the show to be a celebration of sadness might be in for a surprise. Intimacy was not to be the tone of the evening, with the introverted nature of the songs checked in favour of grand, extroverted arrangements with big, jammy breakdowns, choral vocals and a constant trilling of horns and strings, all accented by a pulsing, occasionally strobing light show. No, no log cabin atmosphere here.

The way that opener “Perth” segued smoothly via instrumental breakdown into “Minnesota, WI” set the tone for the evening, with few breaks between songs or even much in the way of silence. Perhaps that responsibility was assigned to the audience, because they were pin-drop quiet throughout the show, utterly respectful and even reverent. It was notable that the devoted didn’t seem to mind at all that the songs that they had connected so directly and deeply to weren’t nearly as open-hearted as they were on record, the constant flurry of instrumentation effectively keeping the listener from getting too close. Some of the interludes worked, like Colin Stetson’s circular breathing clinic as his saxophone bridged “Holocene” and “Blood Bank”, but a lot of it felt overdone and unnecessary.

This was made especially clear when his bandmates left Vernon alone on stage for a tender solo electric reading of “Re: Stacks”, which he dedicated to Kathleen Edwards and was head and shoulders the highlight of the night. Even though it only lasted the one song, the moment of vulnerability echoed through the rest of the show which felt more open, more plaintive. Set closer “Skinny Love” pulled two-thirds of the band from their instrumental duties and cast them as a gospel chorus complete with hand claps and foot stomps and the show finale of “The Wolves (Act I and II)” struck the perfect balance of beauty and violence thanks to the room-shaking efforts of the dual drummers.

It’s odd that the person who went into the show demanding the least left as one of the few who expected more, but I’d have preferred more starkness, more of the sadness that I thought was what gave the Bon Iver records their power. But perhaps, given that things seem to be going pretty damn well for Vernon these days, trying to tap into that emotional well or act as though he had might have felt dishonest to him. Or maybe he just wanted to do something different. In any case, it’s completely and objectively true that Bon Iver, the live experience, was an impressive one and left the vast majority satisfied. And that on the way home, it began to snow.

The Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, and NOW have reviews of the show, while Paste has a feature piece on the artist who made their album of the year. Lianne La Havas is profiled in NOW, The Fader, and The Guardian and performed sessions for Le Blogotheque and Black Cab Sessions.

Photos: Bon Iver, Lianne La Havas @ Massey Hall – December 6, 2011
MP3: Bon Iver – “Holocene”
MP3: Bon Iver – “Calgary”
MP3: Bon Iver – “Blood Bank”
MP3: Bon Iver – “Skinny Love”
Stream: Lianne La Havas – “Don’t Wake Me Up” (live)
Video: Bon Iver – “Holocene”
Video: Bon Iver – “Calgary”
Video: Bon Iver – “Wolves (Act I & II)”
Video: Lianne La Havas – “No Room For Doubt”

Californian ambient-electronica artist Tycho will be at Wrongbar on January 14 as part of a tour to showcase his album Dive.

MP3: Tycho – “Hours”
MP3: Tycho – “Coastal Brake”

The Heartless Bastards will be at The Horseshoe on February 20 in support of their new record Arrow, due out the week before on February 14, tickets $15.50 in advance. The first MP3 from the album comes courtesy of Rolling Stone.

MP3: The Heartless Bastards – “Parted Ways”

Just here in October, Neon Indian have set a return engagement for their latest Era Extraña at The Phoenix on May 8. Admission $20 in advance, full dates at Pitchfork.

Video: Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”

So apparently Toronto has a new outdoor venue up at Downsview Park, and it’s called The Meadows and may be an inland equivalent to Echo Beach at Ontario Place. In any case, it’ll be hosting at least one show next Summer – Foster The People on June 19. The Grid has a little more info on the space.

MP3: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”

Rolling Stone talks to Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal about their new record Paralytic Stalks, out February 7. Pitchfork has a track from the album available to download.

MP3: Of Montreal – “Wintered Debts”

Spin has posted the first MP3 from the new Shearwater record Animal Joy and it sounds a damn sight tougher than anything off their last three records. Quite keen to hear the rest. It’s out February 14 and they’re at Lee’s Palace on February 21.

MP3: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”

Also in preview mode is School Of Seven Bells, showing off the first track from their new record Ghostory, out February 28. Ben Curtis and Ally Deheza talk to NBC New York about the new record.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”

JAM checks in with Matt Berninger of The National, who’ve begun work on their next record but make no guarantees about when it might be done. They play the Air Canada Centre tonight.

The Toronto Star and NOW profile The War On Drugs in advance of their show at The Horseshoe on Friday night.

Spinner chats with Annie Clark of St. Vincent. She’s at The Phoenix on December 15.

The Quietus talks to Real Estate. They’re at Lee’s Palace on January 20.

The Wooden Birds have released a new video from Two Matchsticks.

Video: The Wooden Birds – “Criminals Win”

How do you make Mates Of State even cuter? Put them behind a Tiny Desk. NPR did.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with The Submarines.

Having just confirmed the existence of their new record Reign Of Terror last week, Pitchfork reports that Sleigh Bells have given it a release date of February 14.

Andrew Bird has announced a March 6 release for his new record Break It Yourself; details at Exclaim.

The AV Club reports that bassist Shonna Tucker has amicably left Drive-By Truckers.

Quite a scare for Guided By Voices fans yesterday when word came that they had cancelled their European festival commitments for 2012 and had supposedly split up again. A clarification from the band’s PR confirmed that all live dates had been pulled due to “personal problems”, but that in addition to the January 1 release of Let’s Go Eat The Factory, the band were already working on a second album of new material entitled Class Clown Spots A UFO with a targeted release date in May.

But the silver lining of that cancellation was that it allowed The Afghan Whigs to confirm that they had reunited for their first shows in 13 years and would be taking GBV’s place at the May All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in May as well as curating their own event in New Jersey in September. Details at Spin.