Posts Tagged ‘Miles Kurosky’

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day One

Miles Kurosky, Frightened Rabbit, Basia Bulat and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith every passing year as the middle of March approaches, I feel more and more like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. Clearly the sensible thing to do would be to buy a boat and sail around the world (or at least a ferry ticket to the islands) rather than throw myself yet again into the annual maelstrom of 6th St. And yet here I was, in Austin for the sixth straight year to do SxSW. Or have SxSW done to me, as the case may be.

Things began Wednesday at noon with a familiar face, Toronto’s own Basia Bulat kicking off two days of epic lineups for Paste‘s parties at the Galaxy Room. Typically, early shows are sparsely attended affairs as people struggle to haul their asses out of bed, never mind deal with registrations and whatnot, but for Bulat’s show at least they were out in force, ready to have their spirits lifted. Though playing with a much smaller band than she normally does – just herself, brother Bobby on percussion and Alison Stewart on viola and vocals – her songs sounded almost as full as ever and the perfect thing to start of the afternoon/day/festival.

I only had to dash around the corner to Emo’s Annex for the next to-see on my schedule, but my apparent inability to tell time mean that when I got there, A Sunny Day In Glasgow were already halfway through their short set. Even so, I was still able to tell that their live experience was much more immediate and conventionally pop than their records – that might be a turn off for some, but for me, who finds their albums just a little too obtuse and twisty, it meant they were a most tasty bit of dream-pop. I’m still debating whether to see them or Serena-Maneesh in Toronto on April 2, but I now definitely want to see more of A Sunny Day In Glasgow. Your move, Serena.

Heading up Red River, it became clear that the Broken Bells “secret” show, which was just announced that morning, was no longer any kind of secret and any thoughts of getting in were quickly put aside. Continuing on past the massive line, I got to the Mohawk where Austinist’s annual party was going down. I had thought I had some time before Sweden’s First Aid Kit were supposed to start, so I watched Vancouver’s Yukon Blonde do their classic rocking thing for a bit before heading inside to see… Anni Rossi. I double-checked my schedule and indeed had First Aid Kit written down, but looking at the show posters they weren’t listed at all. They’re coming to Toronto in June so no big deal, but still perplexing. Not only can I not tell time, I am apparently making stuff up now.

Thankfully playing when and where I thought they were was The Depreciation Guild, who were just beginning to regale Peckerhead’s with their electronically enhanced dreampop when I got there. I had wholly enjoyed their set opening up for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in February 2009 but perhaps just wasn’t fully in the mood for that in mid-afternoon or maybe I missed the big 8-bit-esque projections that were so cool that time (big sunny windows onto 6th St don’t create the same vibe). Or maybe I just needed lunch. Either way, before long, it was back out onto 6th.

After recharging with some street meat, it was time to catch one of my must-see acts for the festival, former Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, whose long-promised solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects finally arrived last week. And just as the record was worth the wait, so too was Kurosky’s return to live performance. Fronting a band almost as large as his last one – five core members with percussionist and trumpet added when necessary – they brought his post-Beulah works to life in front of a goodly-sized audience that clearly had been anticipating this day for a long time. After shaking some early jitters, Kurosky was in good spirits and obviously just as pleased to be back, cracking jokes about his former band Pavement and even introducing the first of two songs from his past life as “Summer Landslide Babe”. Hearing the opening track from Yoko again was no joke, though, and would easily be the high point of the day, maybe even the week. Running out of time, they reached way back to finish off with “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand”, capping a short but fantastic set that not only served to remind that Beulah were one of the great pop bands of the last decade, but to notify that their chief songwriter was back and still had plenty more to offer. Win-win.

With the daytime portion of the, uh, day widing down, it was back to the Paste party for Rokkervil – the Roky Erikson/Okkervil River collaboration but seeing as how they were still soundchecking drums 20 minutes past their start time, I ducked to the other stage to see Frightened Rabbit… who also turned out to be running behind. But their problems would prove to be more than just getting their gear soundchecked – some of their equipment was not even working so when they finally got started, it was in a more stripped-down configuration than they’d intended, most notably with frontman Scott Hutchison sticking to acoustic guitar for the set. This actually proved to be a blessing, of sorts, as their new record The Winter Of Mixed Drinks takes their sound into heavier, more electric territory than their beloved Midnight Organ Fight and it was nice to hear the new material delivered with a little less bombast. I’ve not doubt that they can make the big presentation work, as they surely will when they play Toronto’s Opera House on May 4, but I liked seeing/hearing it done small(er).

Then it was time to forage up some dinner before things got official.

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Soft As Chalk

Joanna Newsom at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t know exactly when I became a Joanna Newsom fan. Though I’d certainly heard people talk about her, my first exposure to her music wasn’t through either of her first two records but by seeing her live on her first visit to Toronto in October 2006 – a breathtaking performance that had me picking up The Milk-Eyed Mender almost immediately thereafter and the follow-up Ys when it came out later that year, but even then I didn’t listen to them all that much. They were my go-to records for when I was in the mood for ornate and expansive, harp-led folk music, sure, but for some reason that wasn’t that often.

Even so, I was still amongst those who picked up her new triple-album Have One On Me on the day of release, and while you’d think that two hours of Joanna Newsom for anyone less than a fanatic would be overwhelming, I instead found it surprisingly immersive and immediate. It’s less quirky than Mender and less epic than Ys, but to my ears, more fully realized. Whereas the talking points for her earlier records focused on her unusual voice or the elaborate orchestrations that adorned her compositions, the only thing worth talking about on Have One On Me is the songs themselves. It’s as though she’s developed enough confidence in her craft to no longer hide behind an affected singing style or lush orchestrations, and though on paper it makes her more conventional, the sheer quality of the work makes that complaint null and void. If I wasn’t a huge Joanna Newsom fan before hearing Have One On Me, I certainly was by the time side 6 hit the runout groove.

As such, I fit right in with the rest of sold-out crowd packed into the Phoenix on Saturday night, breathlessly awaiting her first appearance in Toronto in three and a half years. And waiting. It was at least 20 minutes past her scheduled start time before the curtains were drawn back and her band’s setup revealed. Whereas her last visit was just her solo, this time she brought a five-piece backing band – drums, horn, strings and guitar – to help recreate the arrangements on the record and she herself would start things off not at her signature harp, but the grand piano. Leading off with “Easy”, Newsom managed the impressive feat of utterly silencing 1000 people as she played, all of whom were hanging on every note she played, every word she sang.

After a trio of songs on the piano – and after the allotted time for photography was over, hence the piano-only gallery – Newsom moved to the harp for “In California” and remained there for the remainder of the set. For all the elegance of the music, the first part of the set was marked by some endearingly grounded interaction from Newsom and her band. She forgot the words to “The Book Of Right-On” and then took an extended break to tune her harp, leaving drummer Neal Morgan to chat with the crowd, answer questions and generally buy time. Time which would turn out to be at a premium, as the Phoenix’s looming curfew would put a hard cap on the proceedings. Getting back down to business, they played “No Provenance” and the title track from the new record before closing with the sole Ys cut, “Emily”. Everything was uniformly gorgeous-sounding, the Phoenix never sounding better. The only source of disappointment on the evening was that it ended at 9PM, though after some (myself included) had left – the house lights and music were on! – the stalwarts managed to call Newsom and her band back for an encore. I’m sorry I missed that reading of “Baby Birch”, but it in no way diminishes the hour of music I did get to take in. Just as I said after her last show…. Amazing.

The National Post, The Globe & Mail, Exclaim and Chart all have reviews of the show and share the complaint that the set was too short. I agree, but would point out that Newsom’s Mod Club show wasn’t more than an hour long and while I’ve never played a harp, I imagine it’s pretty fatiguing – especially for 10-minute stretches whilst singing. She was toweling herself off after the more sprawling numbers. I don’t know if she does especially long shows, curfew or not? Maybe we’ll find out when her show in Washington DC on March 23 is webcast live on NPR.

Photos: Joanna Newsom @ The Phoenix – March 13, 2010
Video: Joanna Newsom – “The Sprout & The Bean”

Gibson Guitars talks to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers about his guitars (natch) and just-released new album The Big To-Do, currently streaming at Spinner – who also have an interview. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 6 and 7 and were, curiously, the pre-show music over the PA at the Joanna Newsom show. Maybe they were late taking the stage because she was playing air guitar to Southern Rock Opera.

Stream: Drive-By Truckers / The Big To-Do

New York drone merchants Cold Cave have a date at Wrongbar on June 19.

MP3: Cold Cave – “Theme From Tomorrowland”
MP3: Cold Cave – “Laurels Of Erotomania”
MP3: Cold Cave – “Life Magazine”
Video: Cold Cave – “Life Magazine”

Pitchfork has a feature interview with Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, whose new album Volume Two is streaming in its entirety over at NPR, a week before its March 23 release. They play The Phoenix on June 9.

Stream: She & Him / Volume Two

Wye Oak will be releasing a new EP entitled My Neighbor / My Creator on June 8, and are sharing a first MP3 from said release. They’re hitting the road with Shearwater this Spring and will be at Lee’s Palace with them on April 1.

MP3: Wye Oak – “I Hope You Die”

Billboard talks to Spoon drummer Jim Eno. They play The Sound Academy on March 29.

4AD has details of what’s sure to be one of the coolest Record Store Day specials this year – a live concert DVD from The Mountain Goats wherein John Darnielle performs The Life Of The World To Come in its entirety.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Ted Leo.

Magnet kicks off a week of handing the editorial reins to Miles Kurosky, whose solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects is out now.

Check out the new video from Retribution Gospel Choir.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Workin’ Hard”

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert with The Antlers. They’re opening up for The National at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

And speaking of The National, Pitchfork has details on their new one High Violet, due out May 11 including cover art and tracklisting.

New Hot Chip video! They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20.

Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”

The Quietus talks to Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant.

Spinner talks to Swedish duo First Aid Kit. They’re at the Rivoli on June 12.

Serena-Maneesh, whose new record S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor comes out March 23, talk to Spinner. They play the Great Hall on April 2.

Exclaim talks to John K Samson of The Weakerthans, whose Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre is out next week and streaming right now at Exclaim. They play an in-store at Sonic Boom on March 25 and a proper show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 26.

Stream: The Weakerthans / Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre

The Toronto date for Lilith Fair has been announced – it’s happening July 24 at the Molson Amphitheatre. I had been saying that if we got the right combination of acts from the pool of talent already announced to be participating, it could be good. Well so far, we have not.

And y’all will excuse me as I immerse myself in South By South Nonsense for the next few days – trip down was completely uneventful, which was all I hoped for, and though it’s a touch cooler here in ATX than I’d like (or have packed for), it’s gonna be a good time.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Eyelid Movies

Phantogram at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor solo artists, it’s easy. Either play alone and keep things stripped down and simple (or, as is becoming more fashionable, looped) or gather up a band. Duos, however, are more and more inclined to try and make a go of it without hired help, particularly duos who’re already heavily reliant on technology for their studio efforts – after all, you don’t have to feed a laptop. And if the cost of that convenience is some energy and spontenaity in the live setting, then so be it.

So despite being quite taken with Eyelid Movies, the debut album from the great state of New York’s Phantogram, I went into their Toronto debut at the Drake Underground on Saturday night with modest expectations. But even if I’d gone in demanding to witness great things, I’d have still left feeling the same way – pretty damned impressed.

Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter don’t travel with much – she with a number of synths and laptop, he with a guitar and extensive but not excessive pedalboard – but armed with a brace of great songs and a genuine joy of playing them for people, it was all they’d need. Just as their idea of dream pop isn’t about hazy somnambulance, there was no de rigeur synth-pop iciness in their delivery – Barthel delivered her lines with emotion and whipped her head around to the rhythm when not, while Carter, whose vocals sounded even better live than on record, took advantage of the mobility afforded him by the guitar and wandered around the stage, adding some extra physicality to their performance. This, combined with the well-chosen projections that bathed the band during their set, made for a show that was more dynamic and engaging than some of their stylistic peers could achieve. They were having their own little dance party on stage and the rest of us were just lucky to be invited.

Phantogram will be back on March 12 for a show at Supermarket as part of Canadian Musicfest.

Photos: Phantogram @ The Drake Underground – February 20, 2010
MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House. They’re at the Opera House on March 30.

The New York Times has a feature piece on Holly Miranda, and confirms that The Jealous Girlfriends are pretty much done. There’s also an interview at Miami New Times with Miranda, whose solo debut The Magician’s Private Library is out this week. Her former bandmates continue on in New Numbers.

Joanna Newsom is the subject of an extensive feature in The Times, just in time for the release of her new triple-album Have One On Me this week. I will have hopefully made it through the opus at least once before her March 13 show at the Phoenix.

The Guardian declares Spoon “the best band of the last 10 years”. Spoon modestly agrees. They are at the Sound Academy on March 29.

Clash has an interview and NPR a radio session with Midlake. They play The Mod Club on May 21.

The Wooden Birds are giving away a free EP of studio recordings at Insound.

ZIP: The Wooden Birds / Montague Street EP

Spinner talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who’ve just released a new video – and live solo performance clip – from their new album The Golden Archipelago, out on Tuesday. They play Lee’s Palace on April 1.

Video: Shearwater – “Hidden Lake”
Video: Shearwater – “Hidden Lake” (solo)

The March 9 release date for Miles Kurosky’s solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects is drawing closer – check out the first video from the new record.

Video: Miles Kurosky – “Dog In The Burning Building”

Also out this week is American Gong, the new record from Quasi – it’s available to stream in its entirety. They’re at The Horseshoe on April 18.

Stream: Quasi / American Gong has compiled a list of the best contemporary shoegaze bands right now.

Torontoist reports that plans are afoot for Downsview Park to host Imagine on July 10 and 11, a two-day festival from the people who brought you Woodstock (but not the knockoff sequels) intended to resurrect the ideals of hippie peace and love through a big-ass concert at a former military base. No acts have been announced but they’ve already promised tributes to The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin so that should give you some notion as to what direction they’re looking in. But if they manage to a) actually stage this thing and b) have it be the biggest concert in 40 years as they say, it’ll be impossible to ignore and the law of averages states they’ll have at least SOME interesting performers. Even if they’re only invited to join the inevitable mass, on-stage “Give Peace A Chance” singalong.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Have One On Me

Joanna Newsom prepares new album; will at least drive through Toronto

Photo By Paul O'VallePaul O’ValleBefore the passing of Jay Reatard on Wednesday – condolences to his friends, family and fans – the topic du jour in the indie nation was what was up with Joanna Newsom. Everyone’s favourite harpist hadn’t released any new music since 2007’s Joanna Newsom & The Ys Street Band EP, itself a chaser for the epic Ys, and while anyone is entitled to a break after putting something like that together, fans were certainly getting anxious for some new material, or even news of new material.

Which finally came this week, first in the form of a cryptic comic strip at her North American label Drag City and then as a confirmation from her Australian handlers at Spunk Records which has since been removed, but too late – the word was out that Newsom’s third album will be entitled Have One On Me and be released on February 23 in North America.

And that timing makes sense, considering the previously-announced tour dates that will take her around North America in March. And while I had previously suggested that the days off between her Grand Rapids date on the 12th and Montreal’s on the 15th were enough that a Toronto show would be a virtual certainty, that window of opportunity has since gotten smaller with the addition of a second Montreal date on the 14th. Which essentially means that if there is going to be a local date for Ms Newsom, it’s going to have to be on March 13 – which happens to be the final day of Canadian Musicfest. So one theory is that the announcement of the show is being held back to coincide with a festival press release. Another is the show is happening independently of the festival and the announcement is just being delayed for one reason or another. Or it’s possible that she’s skipping us entirely and any Torontonians hoping to get a glimpse of her first visit to the 416 since October 2006 will have to do so from a 401 overpass, assuming she travels by car and not on the back of a flying unicorn.

I’ll obviously keep you posted if anything further emerges about either the album or tour. Until then, enjoy the one available piece of official media available online – a video from her 2004 debut The Milk-Eyed Mender.

Video: Joanna Newsom – “The Sprout & The Bean”

Dirty Projectors are giving away both sides of a new 7″ as free MP3 downloads from their website right now.

Muzzle Of Bees asks five questions of Sharon Van Etten, in town on February 6 at Trinity-St. Paul’s opening up for Great Lake Swimmers.

Black Cab Sessions has a session in a cab with Alela Diane, circa SxSW 2009.

Department For Sound interviews Dean & Britta on the occasion of their playing the WOMAD festival in Australia in March.

The Dumbing Of America talks to Lauren Larson of Ume while declaring them, “your new favourite band”.

Check out the first MP3 from The Morning Benders’ new album Big Echo, due out March 9. They play the Drake Underground on April 14. The Fader has an interview.

MP3: The Morning Benders – “Promises”

Magnet solicits an interview from Centro-Matic’s Will Johnson, who is playing guest editor on their site this week.

ABC News has a video interview with Richard Balayut and Fontaine Toups of Versus, who are back together and working on a new record.

Pitchfork reports that Okkervil River’s next recorded appearance will be as psych-rock legend Roky Erickson’s band on his new record True Love Cast Out All Evil,, out April 20.

Stereogum has the first taste of Miles Kurosky’s solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects, out March 9. There’s also some tour dates set, though nothing up this way. Hope that’s rectified soon – as I recall, Beulah’s final show here at Lee’s Palace in October 2003 was epic.

Soundproof talks to Dinosaur Jr drummer Murph as the trio finally makes it to Toronto, with a date at the Phoenix next Thursday night, January 21.

Baeble Music has a full concert video from Thao with The Get Down Stay Down at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.

Luxury Wafers has a video and downloadable session and an interview with The Dutchess & The Duke.

Record Store Day (which is April 17 this year write it down) has an interview with Britt Daniel of Spoon. Transference is out on Tuesday and they play the Sound Academy on March 29.

Vivian Girls have set a North American tour this Spring in support of last year’s Everything Goes Wrong. The Toronto date is at Wrongbar on March 10, tickets $14.

Video: Vivian Girls – “When I’m Gone”

Dr. Dog’s new record Shame, Shame is out April 6 and they will kick off their North American tour at Lee’s Palace on April 14.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s April 1 show at the Phoenix has been moved from the Phoenix to the Sound Academy.

Dose reports that the Blur documentary No Distance Left To Run will be getting a one-day engagement across Canada next Thursday, January 21. The Toronto showing will be at 7PM at the Scotiabank Theatre – advance tickets go on sale Friday. Since the reunion is apparently done for the foreseeable future, this is as close to Blur in 2010 as we’re going to get. I’ll have to wait for the DVD, though, since that evening is reserved for another reunion – Dinosaur Jr.

Trailer: Blur: No Distance Left To Run

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Show Me Something New

Shout Out Louds get back to Work

Photo via MergeMergeLast week, I was complaining that with the US holiday season, there wasn’t nearly enough blog fodder trickling out of the interwebs. This week, it’s like a deluge.

We begin wading through it all in Scandinavia, particularly Stockholm, Sweden, home of the Shout Out Louds. The quintet turned in one of the indie-pop highlights of 2007 with Our Ill Wills and are set to follow it up with the release of Work. For this outing, they’ve opted to not work with Bjorn Yttling, who manned the boards for Our Ill Wills and have instead enlisted producer Phil Ek, best known for his work with The Shins and Built To Spill, amongst many others. And if the band’s idea of adding an American accent to things means going for a drier, less shiny sonic approach without giving up any of the hooks, then judging from the just-released first MP3 and video they’ve succeeded.

Work is out on February 23 of next year and they promise to spend most of the year touring to support. They posted up a short video clip of the recording sessions back in September.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”

PopMatters interviews Anna Ternheim, who will be supporting El Perro Del Mar on her Winter 2010 tour including the February 21 date at the Mod Club. After her too-short set opening for Loney Dear at the Horseshoe in October, I had hoped she’d be back soon for a longer performance – wish granted.

MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”

Serena Maneesh are offering a taste of their new record, still untitled and due out in March 2010, by way of a Norwegian television session.

Clash gets a guided tour of Reykjavik from Mum.

DCist interviews Jonas Bjerre of Mew, who will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Chart talks to The Raveonettes.

The National Post profiles Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns, who are playing an in-store at 7PM at Soundscapes tonight and a full show at the Tranzac on Friday night.

Resonancity interviews Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula.

One of the great mythical unicorn-griffin-dragon hybrids of the indie rock world, the solo debut from Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, should become a reality on March 9 under the title of The Desert Of Shallow Effects… unless it doesn’t. Details at AntiMusic.

There’s still no North American release date set for Sigh No More, the debut album from Mumford & Sons, but considering they’re cobbling together a North American tour for February, including a February 15 date at the El Mocambo (tickets $12), mid-February seems like a reasonable guess.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”

Johnny Flynn, with whom Mumford & Sons made their Toronto debut last October, has put out a new EP entitled Sweet William, from which you can download a track, courtesy of Drowned In Sound.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”

The third member of that bill, Laura Marling, is still targeting a Winter 2010 release for her sophomore effort and will release the first single from album number two in “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” as a Christmas single on December 14.

Magnet and Filter Q&A Ray Davies.

Daytrotter has offered up a session with The Swell Season.