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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Sweet’

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.

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Parentheses

The Antlers thankful for new EP, sessions a-plenty

Photo By Shervin LainezShervin LainezYou know how the internet basically shuts down when the US goes on holiday? Well it does, and that’s why today’s post is a bit slight to say the least.

And we’ll kick it off with a couple of sessions to listen to, watch and download from The Antlers to mark the release this week of their (together) EP. It’s a companion to this year’s Burst Apart long-player, which contains the remixes and covers that are standard for these sorts of releases but also re-recordings of selections from the record with the assistance of artists such as Nicole Atkins and Neon Indian. It vacillates between interesting and meandering and if you’re trying to decide between hearing it or Burst Apart, by all means go with the full-length – it’s gorgeous – but if you’re needing an Antlers fix, this may do ya.

It also provides an occasion for Daytrotter and Paste to post up sessions with the band, the former downloadable and purchaseable and the latter watchable. And just because, here’s that xx cover that also appears on (together).

MP3: The Antlers – “VCR”

Pitchfork has premiered the first sample of Sharon Van Etten’s forthcoming Tramp, out February 7. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 21.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”

Pennsylvanian punks Pissed Jeans have made a date at Sneaky Dee’s for January 20 of the new year, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Pissed Jeans – “Dream Smotherer”
MP3: Pissed Jeans – “False Jesii Part 2”

NPR has a World CafetUnE-yArDs.

Ivy have released a new video from this year’s All Hours.

Video: Ivy – “Fascinated”

Matthew Sweet talks about and performes his Girlfriend-era gem “I’ve Been Waiting” for The AV Club.

Paste has an extensive career-spanning retrospective piece on R.E.M..

The Jayhawks play a set for NPR’s World Cafe and give an interview to Country Standard Time.

For Folk’s Sake points to session at Abbey Road for Channel 4 (watchable only from the UK, unfortunately) wherein Laura Marling plays Emmylou to Ryan Adams on a performance of “Oh My Sweet Carolina”… and it’s very good. Marling is in town for two sold-out shows at Camera Bar on December 7 and Adams is at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 10.

NOW and The Victoria Times-Colonist talk to Kathryn Calder, in town for a free show at The Horseshoe on Tuesday night.

Uptown and The Winnipeg Free Press profile Austra, who is at The Phoenix on December 1.

Dreamland Apparel and The AV Club hang out with The Rural Alberta Advantage.

Clash enumerates ten things they think you didn’t know about Jarvis Cocker.

You know that fancy Elvis Costello The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! collector live set that was announced a little while back? Well Elvis doesn’t want you to buy it. Seriously.

Friday, October 28th, 2011

We All Go Back To Where We Belong

R.E.M. say goodbye with poet, actress proxies

Photo via REMREMHQYou can’t really call it a long goodbye – the announcement last month about the dissolution of R.E.M. was about as abrupt as they come, with no farewell tour or even a final show attached – but shortly thereafter they did announce a final release in the form of the Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 compilation which is set to come out November 15. And amongst its 40-song, career-spanning tracklist are the final three songs that R.E.M. will release, recorded after the Collapse Into Now sessions but before they knew that that album would end up being their last.

And from those three songs has come what is almost certainly R.E.M.’s last single – a gentle tune entitled “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” – but there’s no final video; there’s two. The clips, directed by Michael Stipe and Dominic DeJoseph, are about as simple as you get – single-take black-and-white screen test-style films of poet John Giorno and actress Kirsten Dunst as they listen to the song, presumably for the first time. It’s a nice, understated idea that Interview has a quick analysis of. Black Book also has some fun with the concept, trying to get in Dunst’s head during recording.

Also in the farewells and remembrances category, here’s a piece I’ve written for The Iceberg’s “A Song and A Memory” series about one of the most pivotal songs/albums/bands in my life. R.E.M. has also posted up some thoughts about it. Synchronicity!

Finally, JAM has recounted a chat Mojo had with Mike Mills in which he says to not expect a Michael Stipe solo project soon or ever.

Stream: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong”
Video: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” (John Giorno version)
Video: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” (Kirsten Dunst version)

Spin gets Matthew Sweet to look back and reflect on the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend.

Exclaim has put Tom Waits on their cover this month.

The Decemberists appear to be ready to stream the whole of their new EP Long Live The King in piecemeal form before it comes out on November 1. Two more tracks from it have been made available to stream at Stereogum and Rolling Stone.

Stream: The Decemberists – “I 4 U & U 4 Me”
Stream: The Decemberists – “Burying Davy”

Memory Tapes have released a new video from Player Piano; The Daily Princetonian has a quick interview with Dayve Hawk.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Offers”

The National have released a new MP3 for their contribution to If a Lot of Bands Play in the Woods…, a covers/remix album of The Philistines Jr’s 2010 album If A Band Plays In The Woods. The connection between the two being the fact that Philistines Jr counts one Peter Katis among its number, and Katis has produced a crapload of great bands, many of whom also appear on the record. It’s out November 1 and there’s more details at Pitchfork. And yes it’s kind of a treat to hear Matt Berninger sing about cats. The National are at The Air Canada Centre on December 8.

MP3: The National – “Twenty Miles To NH (Part 2)”

Also on that bill are Wye Oak, whose Jenn Wasner offers a songwriting lesson and video performance to The AV Club’s “One Track Mind” feature.

Nola.com, The Dallas Observer, The Phoenix New Times, and Offbeat talk to Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag.

Pitchfork has a video session with The Antlers, The Daily Tarheel and Daily Free Press have interviews.

GQ talks to Jim James of My Morning Jacket as part of their music issue.

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Answer

CANT, Luke Temple and Blood Orange at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne of the shifts in the music industry over the last few years has been the evolution of bands as brands (google it, it’s a phrase) with as much, or more, equity being place in an artist’s name and identity as with their work. So it was interesting to hit up The Garrison on Friday night for a triple bill of acts who were quite consciously not trading under their more successful brands – there was one side project, one solo project and one complete re-brand.

First up and most enticing to me was Blood Orange, the new project from one Devonté Hynes. Though only 26, he’s already established a track record for building up projects and then walking away, disbanding the NME-championed punk rock Test Icicles in 2006 then putting out two records of ambitious, Americana-influenced pop as Lightspeed Champion before deciding to make his funk-soul side-project his main gig. Coastal Grooves, his debut as Blood Orange, came out earlier this Fall and as much as I was sad to see Lightspeed Champion retired, it’s hard to argue that Blood Orange is as good a showcase for Hynes’ talents as there’s ever been. The irresistible melodies of Lavender Bridge and to a slightly lesser degree, Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You are largely intact but they’re now driven by deep, slow jam grooves and ripping guitar solos and more mature songwriting themes.

It’s the sort of record that could and perhaps should be done justice live with a full band, but instead Hynes stayed true to the home studio aesthetic of the project and took the stage with just himself, a sequencer and his guitar. It wasn’t much but it was more than enough as two songs into the set, Hynes moved the mic stand into the audience and played most of the rest of his set in the round, only interrupting the sequence of souful vocals and guitar shredding to hop back on stage to adjust his pedals and/or sequencer and right back to getting down. Maybe the best thing about it was how nonchalantly Hynes went about his business, as though a solo set that surely required considerable thought and preparation to sound to full was no big deal at all, and occasionally throwing in a bit of flash like a knee slide or tossing his guitar in the air and catching it without missing a beat. He capped it off with an extended, Prince-worthy guitar solo back onstage complete with behind-the-head riffing and once the backing track ended, he was up and out, at least for now. No big deal.

Luke Temple, best known for fronting Brookyln’s Here We Go Magic but recently returned to his solo roots for this year’s Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care wasn’t even going to try and top the Blood Orange show. Performing as a two-piece with Natalie Bergen on bass and keys, his set had a casual, almost ad-libbed vibe and the material more country-ish overtones and certainly not as refined as Here We Go Magic’s prog-pop. You got the sense that Temple wasn’t especially impressed with the lack of attention being paid by the chatty audience but to be fair, his low-key approach and material didn’t offer a lot of reason to.

Audience attention was no problem for CANT, the side-project from Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor. Now I’m more of a Grizzly Bear respecter than admirer, but I was surprised how much I genuinely enjoyed Dreams Come True, the CANT debut which came out last month. It still has the meticulousness that marks his main band’s work, but its R&B angle feels looser, more dynamic and more immediately soulful. Live, Taylor led a four-piece band that included Dev Hynes on guitar and the two would spend the set swapping instruments and enduring electric shocks as they did so due to bad grounds. But no pain, no gain and for the better part of an hour, Taylor and co ran through an enjoyable set of Dreams material, offering Taylor a chance to show off his pipes and Hynes to further showboat on guitar a little more. Grizzly Bear has always gotten a great reception in Toronto and this show proved that Bear cub projects were also wholly welcome, with Taylor telling the wildly applauding fans at the show’s end that this had been the best show of the tour. I’m inclined to believe him.

The Pitch, Metro, The Daily Cardinal and The Dossier Journal have interviews with Chris Taylor while NOW talks to Dev Hynes.

Photos: CANT, Luke Temple, Blood Orange @ The Garrison – October 21, 2011
MP3: CANT – “Be Around (Rough Cutz)”
MP3: Luke Temple – “Ophelia”
MP3: Luke Temple – “More Than Muscle”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Dinner”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Sutphin Boulevard”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”
Video: CANT – “Believe”
Video: Luke Temple – “More Than Muscle”
Video: Blood Orange – “Sutphin Boulevard”
Video: Blood Orange – “Dinner”
Video: Blood Orange – “S’Cooled”
Video: Blood Orange – “I’m Sorry We Lied”

The Sun and Newsweek talk to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, whose new record Ceremonials is streaming over at Pretty Much Amazing in advance of its release on November 1.

Stream: Florence & The Machine / Ceremonials

Drowned In Sound are streaming the cryptically-titled A Frightened Rabbit EP, which is in fact a free EP from Frightened Rabbit, available to download over at Grabtrax. Quad News also has a chat with Scott Hutchinson.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Scottish Winds”
Stream: Frightened Rabbit / A Frightened Rabbit EP

The Fly sets up a Summer Camp in their courtyard and records a video session. The duo’s debut Welcome To Condale arrives November 8.

Billy Bragg tells The Sabotage Times it’s time for bands to get political again. He also weighs in on matters political with The Scotsman and The Irish Times.

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers talks to NME about the band’s plans following the release of their National Treasures compilation next week; look for a break and then a reinvention.

Pitchfork, The Telegraph, Shortlist and Billboard talk to Noel Gallagher about his High Flying Birds, which come to roost at Massey Hall on November 7 and 8 and at record stores November 8.

Meanwhile, little brother Liam is sounding a bit conciliatory in talking to Rolling Stone, telling them that he’d be open to an Oasis reunion in 2015 or so. Uh huh.

The Sabotage Times talks to Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris about the transition from being Joy Division to New Order.

The Irish Independent talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent, in town at The Phoenix on December 15.

New Wild Flag video!

Video: Wild Flag – “Electric Band”

The New York Times profiles Tom Waits ahead of the release of Bad As Me on Tuesday.

The Pittsburgh Tribune, Red & Black and American Songwriter talk to Matthew Sweet on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend and the release of his new record Modern Art.

And sadly, Titus Andronicus just got a little less awesome with the announcement that Amy Klein, aka Amy Andronicus, aka the most ass-kicking embodiment of rock’n’roll going, announced that the shows at Halifax Pop Explosion this weekend were her last with the band, as she’s going to be concentrating on other projects from here on. Update: Patrick Stickles has posted his own thanks and farewell to Amy.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Last Known Surroundings

Explosions In The Sky and Wye Oak at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure they didn’t intend to be away for so long – it wasn’t their fault that the 2009 edition of the Toronto Islands show for which they were the undercard was cancelled – but as of Friday night’s long-awaited show at the Sound Academy., it had been over four years since Explosions In The Sky last played Toronto and you could round up closer to five if you’re talking headlining shows. A long time for any active, touring band but an eternity for an act whose fanbase grew markedly in the years between 2007’s All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone and this year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care through key soundtrack placements and old fashioned word of mouth about how astonishing their cinematic, instrumental post-rock was.

Baltimore duo Wye Oak have been no such strangers hereabouts, their supporting slot marking their third show in Town this calendar year with one still to come. This was less a case of market oversaturation than simply keeping up with demand, though; specifically the demand of larger acts who wanted them to open up for them. And when the likes of The Decemberists, Explosions and The National ask you to come along on tour with them, you say yes. Since playing this same stage in February opening up for The Decemberists, Wye Oak had released their second album Civilian and toured it heavily, so even just eight months later there were noticeable differences in the band’s live show. The moodier Civilian must call for a leaner approach to things, as Jenn Wasner took fewer guitar excursions and Andy Stack seemed to be called on less to handle keyboard duties simultaneously with drums. It was as though the two were feeling more confident in their ability render the songs with just the guitars, drums and vocals, and when the keys were brought in, such as for some gut-punch bass, their contributions were extra-effective. In any case, it was mope-rock on a grand scale.

One of the most magical things about Explosions In The Sky, either live or on record, is how from the moment they begin to play you’re instantly transported to a world writ on 70mm film but left wide open. There is a universality to their music that allows it to be the soundtrack to the movie of each listener’s life, for them to write their own script and direct their own scenes, using the emotions and dynamics created by the band as cues. So I suspect that the people sitting, eyes closed, out of line of sight of the band were getting just as much out of the performance as the people jammed up front watching them actually play – or at least I’d like to think so; it’s possible they were just asleep.

It’s this intangible that allows them to transcend their formula and continue to connect and be remarkable. Their sound hasn’t really changed much since 2000’s How Strange, Innocence – they’re more adept at the push and pull of evoking emotional responses but any stylistic shifts over their career have been relative to the EITS aesthetic – they’ve never redefined, only refined. So even though Friday’s show pulled from their entire decade-plus repertoire, with a little extra emphasis on Take Care, it felt like a single, unified feature-length piece with gentle lulls and soaring crescendos in all the right places. One major difference from their last time through was for touring, they’d expanded to a five-piece with a full-time bassist which allowed for an even bigger sound with either a three guitar-attack or double-guitar, double-bass, all the sounding even more massive without losing any of the intricacies of their arrangements. As the final notes of “The Moon Is Down” rang out and the band bid farewell, hopefully without as long a wait between visits, I wanted to tell those gathered at the front pleading for an encore that the band doesn’t do encores, and if they wanted more they’d have to wait for the sequel.

The Toronto Star alos has a review of the show while aux.tv and The Detroit News have interviews with Explosions.

Photos: Explosions In The Sky, Wye Oak @ The Sound Academy – October 7, 2011
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Trembling Hands”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Memorial”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “A Poor Man’s Memory”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Greet Death”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Look Into The Air”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Last Known Surroundings”
Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Be Comfortable, Creature”
Video: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
Video: Wye Oak – “Fish”

Chicago post-rock instrumentalist Russian Circles will be at Lee’s Palace on November 12 in support of their new record Empros, due out October 25.

MP3: Russian Circles – “Mladek”

Nicole Atkins is giving away a free live EP entitled …Til Dawn over at her Bandcamp in exchange for an email address.

The Georgia Straight talks to Kristen Gundred – aka Dee Dee – of Dum Dum Girls. They’re at Lee’s Palace next Sunday night, October 16.

NPR is streaming the new My Brightest Diamond record All Things Will Unwind in advance of its release next week. There’s also a new video at Stereogum and some live video performances posted at Le Blogotheque.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “Reaching Through To The Other Side”
Video: My Brightest Diamond – “Be Brave”
Stream: My Brightest Diamond / All Things Will Unwind

Beatroute talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

DIY interviews Wild Flag, in town to melt your faces at Lee’s Palace tonight.

NPR is streaming Days, the new album from Real Estate, out next week.

MP3: Real Estate – “It’s Real”
Stream: Real Estate / Days

Clash, The National Post, DIY, Drowned In Sound and The Los Angeles Times all have interviews with Ryan Adams about his new record Ashes & Fire and Exclaim has a list of RyRy trivia, but only LA Weekly manages to piss him off. Bravo. He plays The Winter Garden Theatre on December 10 and has released a live studio video and proper “if MTV still played videos” video from the new album.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Lucky Now”
Video: Ryan Adams – “Invisible Riverside”

The Vancouver Sun and The Republic interview Stephen Malkmus.

Blurt interviews Matthew Sweet.

DIY talks to Girls.

The New York Daily News chats with Mates Of State.

The Alternate Side has an interview and session with EMA.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of The Antlers’ show in New York last week.