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Posts Tagged ‘Metz’

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

'Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor win 2013 Polaris Music Prize; speechless seems an appropriate reaction

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWell I certainly didn’t expect that.

Even though Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s surprise comeback record‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! was high on my own ballot and certainly a worthy record by any standard – refer back to my review last October – I had expected that some combination of the band’s own refusal to interact with the media (and thus any of the jury), the relative bleakness/impenetrableness of their music, and just their lack of profile outside of old-school indie circles to stack the odds against them. Apparently not. Proving that predicting the Polaris Music Prize is a tricky, tricky pastime, the name that last year’s winner Leslie Feist read from winner’s envelope wasn’t Zaki Ibrahim or A Tribe Called Red or any of the other acts who were widely expected to walk away with the $30,000 in this unusually wide-open year, but Godspeed.

No one was sure if they’d even acknowledge the nomination though it was a pretty sure thing they wouldn’t show up to the ceremony, and indeed they didn’t. American music journalist Jessica Hopper said a few short words at the gala to acknowledge their nomination and Ian Ilavsky of Constellation Records, Godspeed’s label, said a few words after their win, thanking the jurors and announcing that the winnings would be donated to a program to bring music and instruments to Quebec prisons. There was no giant novelty cheque. And this morning, the band made their own official statement on the win and manage to be entirely gracious while remaining entirely Godspeed.

As to the rest of the gala, it was an eminently enjoyable affair in its fancy new home at The Carlu. Shad and Kathleen Edwards were fine hosts, with the requisite costume skits and making light of the fact that they were both two-time Polaris losers (including both of them in 2008 when my Grand Jury gave the prize to Caribou), as well as leveraging Edwards’ renowned potty mouth towards collecting money for charity via a swear jar on each guest table whenever she cussed. Which was often.

The performances opened with Purity Ring bringing their trademark cocoon lantern stage show to accompany their squelchy electro-pop, followed by and impressive set by R&B artist Zaki Ibrahim with costumes and dancers that was probably revelatory for most in attendance, since she’s hardly if ever performed live in Canada. As they did in 2009, Metric opted to perform acoustic as just the core duo of Emily and James but bringing in a grand piano to fancy things up a bit helped avoid the coffee house vibe of that previous showing.

What with having been sidelined very recently with a broken hand, solo saxophonist Colin Stetson was a surprise performer on the night but showed no ill effects fresh off the DL, turning in the most raw, elemental performance of the night and maybe the history of the Polaris Prize. Tegan & Sara also surprised, not by showing up and performing but by having Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! sub in with a brilliant and buoyant version of “Closer”.

Whitehorse only played one song when they could have easily done two in their allotted time, but that one more than ably showcased their abilities and appeal, with Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland’s intricately choreographed instrument swapping and looping an impressive demonstration of musicality and chemistry. And it speaks to the diversity of nominees on this year’s short list that Young Galaxy’s set would come across as unusual, what with them being a conventional rock band simply performing a couple of their songs.

A fancy-dress gala might have been an odd first time to see local punk heroes METZ, but their loud and loud and awesome and loud set successfully transformed the Carlu from a storied concert hall that once hosted Frank Sinatra and Glenn Gould into every dirty, grungy basement venue in the world, albeit a really well-lit one. And finally, to wrap the night, A Tribe Called Red added some visual interest to their three-DJ performance with a native break/hoop dancer who, while no Gary the pole dancer, certainly put on a memorable and unique performance.

And then they gave the prize to Godspeed. It’s funny – of all the years the Polaris has been a thing, this was the year I felt least invested in. The couple of records I would have really loved to see make the final round having not, I had a lot of difficulty getting interested in this year’s edition beyond an academic level. And of course, it turns out the album I was pulling for but had basically assumed was out of contention wins, and the gala features some of the very best performances I’ve seen at these things. The Polaris – you just never know. Photos from the gala and a reminder of who the shortlist was below.

Photos: The Polaris Music Prize 2013 Gala @ The Carlu – September 23, 2013

A Tribe Called Red / Nation II Nation (Pirate’s Blend)
Video: A Tribe Called Red – “Electric Pow Wow Drum”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor / ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Mladic”

Zaki Ibrahim / Every Opposite (Motif)
Video: Zaki Ibrahim – “Go Widdit”

Metric / Synthetica (Metric Music International)
MP3: Metric – “Clone”

METZ / METZ (Sub Pop)
MP3: METZ – “Wet Blanket”

Purity Ring / Shrines (Last Gang)
MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”

Colin Stetson / New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation)
MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”

Tegan & Sara / Heartthrob (Warner Music)
Video: Tegan & Sara – “Closer”

Whitehorse / The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss (Six Shooter)
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

Young Galaxy / Ultramarine (Paper Bag)
Video: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”

Young Galaxy have premiered a stream of another of the new tracks on their Ultramarine deluxe edition, out today, at Stereogum. The Edmonton Journal and Metro have interviews with the band.

Stream: Young Galaxy – “Talk To Her”

The Lab interviews Katie Stelmanis of Austra, who brings their 2014 Polaris-likely second album Olympia to The Phoenix on September 27.

The AV Club is offering an advance stream of Basia Bulat’s new album Tall Tall Shadow before its release next Tuesday, October 1. She plays three nights at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10 through 12.

Stream: Basia Bulat / Tall Tall Shadow

Beatroute, The Montreal Gazette and CBC Music talk to Nick Thorburn of Islands about their new album Ski Mask. They play The Garrison on October 10.

Noisey have premiered the new video from The Darcys’ new record Warring, while B-Insider has an interview. They play the Adelaide Music Hall on October 11.

Video: The Darcys – “Muzzle Blast”

Shad discusses his new album Flying Colours with Respect. It’s out October 15 and he’s at The Opera House on October 19.

The Weeknd has premiered another video from Kiss Land; his three-night stand at Massey Hall begins October 17.

Video: The Weeknd – “Pretty”

NOW talks to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, who’ve released a first video from their new record Uzu, coming out October 29.

Video: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “One”

Consequence Of Sound reports that Arcade Fire will follow-up their September 27 appearance on Saturday Night Live with a 30-minute concert performance to be shown on NBC – so that’s 1AM EDT, if it was unclear. Elsewhere, Richard Reed Perry tells NME how David Bowie ended up on “Reflektor” and Under The Radar has got a stream of their cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers”, appearing on the forthcoming All I’ll Scratch Yours tribute album, out this week. Arcade Fire’s own Reflektor is in stores October 29.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Games Without Frontiers”

Also streaming from the Peter Gabriel tribute is this track from Feist featuring Timber Timbre; whether you choose to imagine a video featuring Leslie and Taylor clinging to each other for warmth for four minutes is your business.

Stream: Feist with Timber Timbre – “Don’t Give Up”

Destroyer has announced the release of Five Spanish Songs, an EP of songs by Spanish musician Antonio Luque of the band Sr. Chinarro, due out November 29. You may hear some of these songs when Dan Bejar plays The Great Hall solo on November 9. Or you may not.

Stereogum are streaming a new song from Odonis Odonis, presumably from a new album in the works or coming soon or something. They’ve not said.

Stream: Odonis Odonis – “Are We Friends”

Pitchfork welcomes Majical Cloudz for a City Of Music video session.

No Joy have released a new video from their latest, Wait To Pleasure.

Video: No Joy – “Blue Neck Riviera”

aux.tv has an interview with METZ.

Exclaim reports that the limited edition vinyl pressing of the first Super Friendz record Mock Up Scale Down is now a little less limited but more easy to buy, being on sale via murderrecords directly.

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Crying My Heart Out

Young Galaxy offer up deluxe shade of Ultramarine

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsI’m going to resist the urge to rail against the whole idea of the “deluxe edition” of an album being issued just months after the original issue. The reasons of why it’s a shitty-ass trend are self-evident and the quite clearly, it’s not going away anytime soon as labels keep doing it, meaning the fans keep buying it. Perhaps the correct perspective to look at it is that since physical singles and EPs are basically relics of a bygone age, the avenues to release b-sides and unreleased stuff are far fewer than they once were so maybe, mathematically speaking, buying the same record twice is about on par with buying all those singles and more space-efficient, to boot. I don’t know if I actually believe it, but I’ll go with that for now and move on.

At the least, the bonus materials should be worthwhile and from the looks of the expanded, double-disc edition of Young Galaxy’s Polaris-shortlisted Ultramarine, they are. There’s two edits of their new single, streamable below, both sides of last year’s sold out “Shoreless Kid” 7″, a couple more unreleased original songs and the requisite remixes, and perhaps most importantly, it’s reasonably priced. It’s coming out on September 24, the day after it could conceivably be crowned as Polaris champ. Not saying it’s going to happen, but it could. Exclaim has specifics on the reissue and CBC Music has a quick chat with Young Galaxy keyboardist/guitarist Matthew Shapiro.

Stream: Young Galaxy – “Crying My Heart Out”

The National Post and Exclaim talk with Diana songwriters Joseph Shabason and Kieran Adams. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

Exclaim has posted this month’s cover story on Braids online, and there’s further writeups at The Montreal Gazette and The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. They play The Great Hall in support of the just-released Flourish//Perish on November 10.

And tangentially and unexpectedly, Diana frontwoman Carmen Elle, as well as Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston, are featured in a New York Times fashion spread. So that’s unexpected.

CBC Music and The Montreal Gazette talk to Murray Lightburn about going solo on Mass:Light.

The 405, Victoria Times-Colonist, NOW, and Interview get to know Sarah Neufeld; she’s at The Drake Underground on August 22.

Though they’ve already shown off all kinds of ingenious promotional ideas to lead up to the September 3 release of The Silver Gymnasium, Okkervil River have topped themselves with an 8-bit video game that lets you explore Will Sheff’s youth while assembling the Triforce, pursuing the Death Angel, and knocking out Piston Honda. See a higher-res and more grown-up version of Sheff when he leads his band into The Phoenix on September 28.

PopMatters has an interview with Colin Stetson, who has had to drop off the Constellation Records showcase at The Great Hall on September 5 on account of a hand injury. He’s not just a pair of lungs, you know.

BrooklynVegan has an interview with Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up, who’ve finally traded in their Blogspot account for a proper website and filled it with all kinds of streamable rarities. They play 1st Thursday at the AGO on September 5.

The Darcys are streaming another new track from their forthcoming Warring, out September 17, via The AV Club and drummer Wes Marskell gives Thrillist a list of his favourite Toronto eateries. And oh, they’ve offered up the stems of their new song “The River” so you can make and submit remixes. So go to that, if it’s your bag, just don’t send them to me.

Stream: The Darcys – “Muzzle Blast”

Black Book interviews Nick Thorburn of Islands about their new record Ski Mask. It’s out September 17 and they play The Garrison on October 10.

Basia Bulat has used footage from her AGO 1st Thursday performance in January for the first video from Tall Tall Shadow. Paste has the premiere, the album is out October 1, and she plays at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10 and 11.

Video: Basia Bulat – “It Can’t Be You”

Though her September 10 date at The Drake supporting Lightning Dust is still a couple weeks away, Louise Burns has been announced as support for Hannah Georgas at The Great Hall on November 2.

Video: Louise Burns – “Emeralds Shatter”

Though they’ve yet to release any samples from their new record Static, coming October 15, Cults have announced a Fall tour that brings them to Lee’s Palace on November 25.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

The Daily Swarm talks to Alex Edkins of METZ. The Ottawa Citizen also has a feature.

Noisey gets to know Los Angeles trio Tashaki Miyaki, who should really put some new music out.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Memoriam

Ohbijou says “au revoir”, throws going-away party

Photo via FacebookFacebookThere was some sad news last week announcement last week that local stalwarts Ohbijou were going on an indefinite hiatus. Sad because not only was the city losing one of its finest orch-folk bands after three lovely albums – 2006’s Swift Feet For Troubling Times, 2009’s Beacons, and 2011’s Metal Meets – but it felt like the closing of a chapter in the story of Toronto’s independent music scene, one of particular resonance for me.

After making their acquaintance when they opened the very first V Fest in September 2006, I went on to see the band many many many many times over the years and delighted in seeing them grow in leaps and bounds as a live band. Further, their debut Swift Feet topped my 2007 Polaris ballot and I felt Beacons was even better; I don’t recall why it didn’t make my 2010 Polaris ballot though coming out on the very first day of the eligibility period may have caused to get lost in the shuffle. All of which is to say that Ohbijou have been a very rewarding band to be a fan of over the years.

Further, it’s not without significance that they were the very first band to open that inaugural V Fest as Broken Social Scene closed the fest the next night; that was about the time that the initial Can-indie rock explosion was beginning to settle and if you were to draw a rough circle around the artists that represented Toronto across Canada and abroad in the post-Broken era, it could well be the Bellwoods musical community led largely and hosted literally by Ohbijou. You can’t look at the lineup of artists that they drew together for the two Friends In Bellwoods compilations in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank and not be impressed by the names involved: The Acorn, Basia Bulat, The Rural Alberta Advantage, the Diamond Rings-begetting D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Bruce Peninsula, Evening Hymns, Hooded Fang, the pre-Austra Katie Stelmanis, Snowblink, Timber Timbre, and The Wooden Sky, to name but a few. These are many of the bands that over the run of this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing arise from playing tiny clubs or gallery spaces to much larger stages and acclaim, and have been proud to share an area code with.

And so even with so many of those acts soldiering on, with Ohbijou hanging it up for the foreseeable future it really does feel like the end of an era. But going out on a down note just wouldn’t be their style, so with this lovely video message from frontwoman Casey Mecija as an invitation, the band have announced a final show – with many of the aforementioned Bellwoods artists as guests – on September 7 at The Great Hall; tickets for the show are $20 in advance. I know everyone looked at the Arts & Crafts Field Trip fest as the year’s big celebration of Toronto’s emergence as a musical heavyweight; in its way, I think this matters as much.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Mossy Lungs”
Video: Ohbijou – “Niagara”
Video: Ohbijou – “New Years”
Video: Ohbijou – “The Woods”

Braids have premiered a new video from their forthcoming Flourish//Perish; it’s out August 20.

Video: Braids – “In Kind”

The Weeknd appears to be totally over his camera-shyness, as evidenced by Abel Tesfaye plastering his face on the cover of the forthcoming Kiss Land, which can be seen at The Line Of Best Fit. And more relevantly, the release date for said record appears to be August 27 September 10; well ahead of his three-night stand at Massey Hall on October 17, 19, and 20.

Exclaim talks to Colin Stetson about getting another Polaris nod for his New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light and his contributions to the forthcoming Arcade Fire record. Stetson plays The Great Hall on September 5 as part of the Constellation Records touring caravan.

Lightning Dust have released another video from their latest Fantasy. They play The Drake Underground on September 10.

Video: Lightning Dust – “Loaded Gun”

Kathleen Edwards talks festival life from the artist’s perspective with CBC Music.

Loud & Quiet has an interview with METZ.

Indie88 talks with Young Galaxy.

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Wet Blanket

METZ add dose of loud and all-caps to 2013 Polaris short list

Photo By Colin MedleyColin MedleyThe prevailing trend that I saw amongst Polaris Music Prize-spotters as yesterday’s short list announcement drew close was that there was hardly any consensus as to which of the 40 long list albums would make the cut. This wasn’t especially surprising since as I observed last month when the long list was revealed, the nominees were all over the place without a lot of big names or obvious picks; with absolutely nothing to back this up, I would speculate that this year’s ballots were the most diverse in the history of the prize.

But whether one point or a thousand separate first place from last, the math is the math and we now have the 2013 Polaris Prize short list. And it looks like this:

A Tribe Called Red / Nation II Nation (Pirate’s Blend)
Video: A Tribe Called Red – “Electric Pow Wow Drum”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor / ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Mladic”

Zaki Ibrahim / Every Opposite (Motif)
Video: Zaki Ibrahim – “Go Widdit”

Metric / Synthetica (Metric Music International)
MP3: Metric – “Clone”

METZ / METZ (Sub Pop)
MP3: METZ – “Wet Blanket”

Purity Ring / Shrines (Last Gang)
MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”

Colin Stetson / New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation)
MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”

Tegan and Sara / Heartthrob (Warner Music)
Video: Tegan & Sara – “Closer”

Whitehorse / The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss (Six Shooter)
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

Young Galaxy / Ultramarine (Paper Bag)
Video: Young Galaxy – “New Summer”

Even though three of my five picks made the short list, I’m personally disappointed that my numbers one and two, Evening Hymns and Jim Guthrie, didn’t make the cut. I genuinely thought they’d make it and in my more fanciful moments, could even envision a win if the stars aligned. Shows how much I know. Well, I know enough to not speculate on who’ll win come September 23 at The Carlu in Toronto. Even in a year with strong/obvious frontrunners, the prize has been predictably unpredictable and while at the moment I’d like to see METZ, whom I swapped for Rachel Zeffira on my second ballot, take it, I’m also really curious if and how Godspeed would respond to a win. What I do know that with two two-time almost-winners in Shad and Kathleen Edwards hosting the gala – did Susan Lucci ever host the Daytime Emmys? Martin Scorcese ever hand out the Best Director Oscar? – it’ll be entertaining. And for the first time, they’ll be selling tickets to the gala, if you want to see it in person – they’ll be $50 and go on sale July 22.

The Fly talks to Raphaelle Standel-Preston of Braids, whose new full-length Flourish//Perish is out August 20.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Diana drummer Kieran Adams about their debut album their debut album Perpetual Surrender, out August 20. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

Beatroute talks to Lightning Dust about their new album Fantasy. They play The Drake Underground on September 10.

Dazed & Confused has an interview with Daniel Woodhead of Moon King, who’ve announced their series of Obsession EPs will be released in the UK as a single volume on September 16. I would hope that a similar edition is made available domestically, for those of us who’re a little more space-conscious with their record collections.

Austra have released the second video from their second album, Olympia. They play The Phoenix on September 27.

Video: Austra – “Painful Like”

Arcade Fire have announced, via Twitter, that their fourth album will be out October 29. I like to think that somewhere in Montreal, as soon as they hit the send button on that tweet, quietly said, “boom”.

Complex has posted a cover story interview with Abel Tesfaye of The Weeknd, whose album Kiss Land is due out this Fall, probably around the time he plays three nights at Massey Hall – October 17, 19, and 20. He also released a new video from the album, the sample of which was not cleared by Portishead, and Geoff Barrow’s not happy about it.

Video: The Weeknd – “Belong To The World”

KEXP welcomes METZ for a video session.

Beatroute talks briefly with Al Spx of Cold Specks.

CBC Music asks the likes of The National’s Matt Berninger, amongst others, why On The Beach is their favourite Neil Young album. It’s mine as well, but no one asked me why.

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The First 5 Minutes

The Sadies have a new record and all is right with the world

Photo By Rick WhiteRick WhiteGiven that if you live in the Toronto area, it may seem like The Sadies never go away – they’re gigging machines whether they’re on a touring cycle or not, playing any number of festivals, one-offs, support slots, backing gigs – it’s actually been over three years since their last studio album, 2010’s Polaris shortlisted Darker Circles, was released. Sure, in the interim they’ve also put out Night & Day backing Chicago blues-R&B veteran Andre Williams and Dallas and Travis helped make The Good Family Album with their parents, but responding to the announcement that they’ve got a new album done and en route with anything less than great enthusiasm is unacceptable.

The new long-player is called Internal Sounds and will be out September 17, with a first track available to stream now. From note one it sounds exactly like what you expect The Sadies to sound like – psychedelically twangy rock highlighted by tight harmonies and ridiculous musicianship – but the songwriting is stronger than its ever been. It’s an aspect of the band that probably doesn’t get the respect it deserves, overshadowed by all the bands’ other strengths, but compare anything off their last few records with their earliest and marvel at how good they’ve gotten compositionally without ceding any ground in the performance. Go on, marvel.

Exclaim has details on the new release and a brace of Fall tour dates; their hometown commitments are currently limited to two Toronto Urban Roots Fest appearances – July 5 at Lee’s Palace and July 7 at Garrison Common – but sure as the sun rises in the east, they’ll have more to come this Fall and I’ll leak this one right now – they’ll be at The Horseshoe on New Year’s Eve. A-yup.

Stream: The Sadies – “The First 5 Minutes”

With the release today of Fantasy, the new album from Vancouver’s Lightning Dust, the band has just announced another batch of Fall tour dates which include a stop at The Drake Underground on September 10; tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Lightning Dust – “Diamond”

It’s a double-dose of new METZ – a new Chad VanGaalen-animated video from their self-titled debut and a new song from the Adult Swim singles series which you can stream at Consequence Of Sound. Their next local show is July 12 at Downsview Park opening for Weezer.

Video: METZ – “Get Off”
Stream: METZ – “Can’t Understand”

Rae Spoon has announced the August 13 release of his new record My Prairie Home. Hit Exclaim for specifics and stream one of the new songs below.

Stream: Rae Spoon – “I Will Be A Wall”

Kieran Adams and Joseph Shabason of Diana discuss their debut album Perpetual Surrender with Under The Radar. It comes out August 20.

Tone Deaf talks to Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz, who also talks a bit about the cockroach-heavy new video from Impersonator with NPR. He brings his hopefully roach-free show to Wrongbar on September 17.

Video: Majical Cloudz – “Bugs Don’t Buzz”

Jenn Grant is the latest Canadian artist to assume a new synth-rock persona; she talks to CBC Music talks to about her new project Aqua Alta, a few songs from which you can stream at their website. Grant performs as Grant previewing new material at Lee’s Palace on September 21.

Exclaim has posted online this month’s cover story on Austra; Tone Deaf and The Guardian also have interviews with bandleader Katie Stelmanis. They play The Phoenix on September 27.

We’re still waiting on details of Basia Bulat’s third album, but that she’s added some Fall dates to a smattering of Summer commitments implies that it’ll be here soon enough – perhaps in time to make her October 17 date at The Polish Combatants Hall a record release show?

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”

Consequence Of Sound talks to Colin Stetson, who also talks about the new video from New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light at The New York Times.

Video: Colin Stetson – “Who The Waves Are Roaring For”

DIY and NBC San Diego have interviews and NYC Taper a recording of Hooded Fang’s show at The Mercury Lounge in New York at the start of the month.

The Calgary Herald interviews The Besnard Lakes.