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Posts Tagged ‘Molina & Johnson’

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Keep Sakes

Sky Larkin and Peggy Sue at The Cameron House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere are many things to like about Leeds trio Sky Larkin, not least among them their wonderfully sweet and spiky debut album The Golden Spike, but what I think I like most is how much of a good time they’re clearly having. On record, on stage, in their videos, everything Sky Larkin is permeated with a genuine, unaffected sense of fun – no brooding angst or overamped giddiness, just the natural reaction to three friends in their early 20s getting to travel around the world playing rock music without the massive weight of expectation that some of their peers are carrying (ahemxxahem). How could they not be having fun?

The band were nearing the end of a North American tour when they rolled into the Cameron House in Toronto on Wednesday night, accompanied by fellow Brits Peggy Sue, who had the co-ed trio thing in common with their tourmates but not a lot else. Fronted by the wonderfully pseudonymed (presumably) Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex with Olly Olly Olly on drums, the outfit formerly known as Peggy Sue & The Pirates (perhaps the Pirates were taken by Pete) deal in a strain of folk that’s probably too off-kilter in instrumentation and arrangement for traditionalists yet not nearly weird enough for the 21st century hippie scene. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both Klaw and Rex have the sorts of voices that you’d normally find in soul music, rich and emotive with the right amount of rasp – they’re not equipped to create conventional folk music, even if they were inclined to do so. Their Lover Gone EP intrigued but was really too brief to get a proper handle on what they were about and while their set went a ways towards filling in the blanks, it also expanded the canvas of what they were doing enough that their net inscrutability remains unchanged. I guess I’ll just have to hear more to figure them out. I’m okay with that.

Sky Larkin don’t require nearly as much contemplation to understand – the nature of their scrappy guitar pop will be familiar to anyone who’s ever heard Sleeper or Sleater-Kinney and satisfies on an immediate and visceral level. I’d gotten to take in their live show at SxSW so I knew that the energy of the record more than translated in the live setting with the extra bonus of the fact that the band were genuinely hilarious on stage in their between-song banter. The between-banter stuff was pretty good too, with the trio turning in an energetic if a bit short set of highlights from The Golden Spike as well as their new (and free) “SMARTS” single. As befit a band that tours as much as they, they were superbly tight with frontwoman Katie Harkin effortlessly tossing off sophisticated guitar riffs and drummer Nestor Matthews literally beating his drum kit to death. A destroyed cymbal got some licks in of its own, though, inflicting a nasty bloody gash on Matthews’ hand which he insisted on playing through, finishing off the set’s last two songs with equal – if not extra – vigor. That is dedication. Sky Larkin will bleed for you.

Photos: Sky Larkin, Peggy Sue @ The Cameron House – October 28, 2009
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Antibodies”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
Video: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
MySpace: Sky Larkin
MySpace: Peggy Sue

Clash has a short interview The xx, whose exhaustion-induced show cancellations haven’t affected this Fall’s North American dates opening up for Friendly Fires… yet.

Frightened Rabbit have given their third album a name – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks – and a target release date of March 2010.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

ChartAttack talks to Dog Day, who will be at the Horseshoe on November 5.

Great Lake Swimmers have released a new video from Lost Channels. They play a War Child benefit at the Dakota Tavern on November 5 and a show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on February 6 of next year.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”

Vue has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

FFWD reports on exactly what goes on at the mysterious Banff Centre, where both Woodpigeon and Basia Bulat are currently sequestered away being turned into unstoppable cybernetic killing machines honing their musical craft with an impressive team of mentors. CBC Radio 3 has also been checking in from the the Banff Centre and Woodpigeon has posted another song.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “For Norman Luxton”

Molina & Johnson (that’s Jason and Will) have released a second MP3 from Molina & Johnson, out November 3.

MP3: Molina & Johnson – “Almost Let You In”

Gigwise chats with Glenn Kotche of Wilco.

The Loyola Phoenix has an interview with Mountain Goats bassist Peter Hughes.

eye, The National Post, NPR, The Montreal Gazette, CNN and Spinner have conversations with The Swell Season, who have a date at Massey Hall on November 3.

The Raveonettes talk to The Georgia Straight.

Johnny Marr weights in on the subject of reunions with Spinner.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Wilco Love You, Baby

Wilco and Liam Finn at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen I reviewed Wilco’s latest Wilco (The Album) back in July, I alluded to the absurdly tight musical chemistry of current lineup and how that effortlessness could actually be perceived as a detriment to the band. The same can be said of the band in performance – yes, they are arguably one of the best live acts on the road today, but with that praise comes certain problems. Like say you’ve seen said band, oh, a dozen times or more in the past decade and a baseline of “amazing” has been established for their shows – it’s very difficult for proceedings to not take on an air of over-familiarity, no matter how good they might be.

The one glorious exception in recent years was the second night of last year’s tour in support of Neil Young at the Air Canada Centre, where an absent Glenn Kotche necessitated a rotation of replacement drummers who got to call the set list. This resulted in an unbelievably spirited and unpredictable set that reached further back into the band’s catalog than they’d gone in Toronto in many, many, many years and the thought of which still brings a goofy grin to the face. So the fact that the band were soliciting requests via their website in advance of the shows made me hope that there’d be a surprise or five in the offing last Thursday night, the second of their two-night stand at Massey Hall.

Support for both nights was Liam Finn, whose acquaintance Wilco made whilst participating in the 7 Worlds Collide project organized by Finn’s father, Neil. And while Finn the younger has surely inherited his father’s innate musicality, he chooses to express it in a decidedly different way than his pop’s perfect pop (sorry – could not resist). Instead, he and collaborator Eliza Jane Barnes – and Glenn Kotche on a few songs – created a garage-rock symphony of looped guitar, voice, drums and keys and augmented it with some hyperactive and acrobatic stage moves that for all their seeming chaos were perfectly choreographed and timed to never miss a beat or cue. It was something to see and hear, and extra points for catering to the city and venue with a cover of “Cinnamon Girl”. Anyone impressed with Finn’s set – and that probably included most who saw it – should note that he’s back in town on October 29 for a show at Lee’s Palace.

The thing about Wilco shows is that, as previously mentioned, you are basically guaranteed a stellar performance. The only variables are the set list and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Tweedy’s mood. He’s never been outright surly, but playfulness isn’t a given either so catching him in particularly good spirits, as he was this evening, was a treat. Granted, it wasn’t until halfway through the night that he even addressed the crowd with a simple, “how you doing?” but interaction only grew from there, as he let the audience handle vocals on “Jesus, Etc” (though sadly, not everyone seemed to remember the words) and then mugging it up through “Hummingbird”. Nothing hugely atypical, but he was definitely having fun with it.

As to the song selection, the set list for the Wednesday show had a few treats I was sad to miss including “Shot In The Arm” and “Can’t Stand It”, but hoped that meant at least that many older gems for Thursday night. Those hopes dimmed when, as the main set was reaching its conclusion, it became clear that they had not yet and were unlikely to play anything pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – at least not before the encore. Wilco (The Album) was well-represented, as was YHF and A Ghost Is Born – I hadn’t realized how long it’d been since I’d heard some of those tunes – but the much-anticipated catalog excavation wasn’t happening. What exactly had people been requesting? “Walken”?

The encore opened with “Wilco (The Song)” and the next song opened with a drum beat that was so familiar but hadn’t been heard in so long – “Misunderstood”. Hello, Being There, it’s been a while. Liam Finn and Eliza Jane Barnes were then invited out to join the band on “California Stars” and as they left, I noticed a stage hand ushering someone else onto the side of the stage. Another special guest, Ms Leslie Feist. Tweedy dryly noted, “I think she’s from around here” to great applause before they performed the (Album) duet, “You And I” – a good reading of a song that’s a favourite from the new record, but not as transcendent as I’d hoped. But that transcendent moment would come a couple songs later with A.M.‘s “Casino Queen”, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen them play and which they absolutely tore to pieces. C’mon Jeff, you can’t tell me that wasn’t insanely fun to play? It was certainly a blast to hear. Bust out the old stuff more often! They had time to finish off with, “I’m A Wheel” and then it was a wave and goodbye.

Was it a hell of a show, just like pretty much every other Wilco show? Yes, it was. Was the final set list the treasure trove of rarities that I’d probably unrealistically been hoping for? No, not even close to be honest, but we’ll always have the Being There suite from the ACC in 2008. I still love you, Wilco. See you next time.

And next time might be sooner than you think – the previously announced cross-Canada tour set for next February goes on sale this week. For southern Ontario, that’s February 23 at Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton, February 24 at Centennial Hall in London and March 1 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa – presales for all open at 10AM on October 21, which is to say tomorrow.

And note that media were allowed to shoot photos on night one but I had a ticket for night two, hence the photo sets from both.

Photos: Wilco @ Massey Hall – October 14, 2009
Photos: Wilco, Liam Finn @ Massey Hall – October 15, 2009
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
MP3: Liam Finn – “Plane Crash”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”
Video: Liam Finn – “Gather To The Chapel”
Video: Liam Finn – “Better To Be”
MySpace: Wilco
MySpace: Liam Finn

Billboard talks to Jay Farrar about One Fast Move or I’m Gone, his Jack Kerouac-themed project with Ben Gibbard. He also clarifies that his project with Nora Guthrie is not going to be another volume of Mermaid Avenue, but something different. Another track from the Kerouac record is available to stream at Stereogum.

Jason Molina talks to Pitchfork about Molina & Johnson, the collaboration with Will Johnson that has yielded the album Molina & Johnson, due out November 3. Will Johnson, incidentally, is also working on the aforementioned Nora Guthrie project with Jay Farrar. Everyone’s workin’ with everyone.

PitchforkTV hangs out in Oslo with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

The New York Times, Exclaim, Chartattack and BBC talk to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season, whose Strict Joy is out next week and who play Massey Hall on November 3.

MP3: The Swell Season – “Low Rising”

Sufjan Stevens’ expressway love letter The BQE is out today and streaming at Spinner. There’s a screening of the film portion on September 25 at Innis Town Hall at the University of Toronto. The Quietus also has an interview with Stevens.

Stream: Sufjan Stevens / The BQE

Prefix has an interview with Ray Davies.

Band Of Skulls have set a date at the El Mocambo for November 13. The Line Of Best Fit investigates the musical tastes of bassist Emma Richardson and Rolling Stone declares them a “breaking band”.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Blood”

Fanfarlo have finally released the dates of their North American tour and it includes a December 15 show at the El Mocambo! YAY – Christmas comes early!

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”

Blurt, The Independent and The Los Angeles Times have feature interviews with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, the last of which reveals the band have recorded a cover album of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon – and they proved it yesterday by performing “Eclipse” on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

NYC Taper talks to Darby Cicci of The Antlers.

Wye Oak give an interview to Tiny Mix Tapes.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong

White Rabbits pull MySpace session out of their hats

Photo By Lucy HamblinLucy HamblinRidiculous webhosting issues persist, so this one will be kept reasonably brief – who knows how long this window of opportunity of my site being up will remain. I’ve actually been told that the issues that’ve plagued the site for the past week or so have been resolved and am hoping that’s the case, but if’n you find that things are unbearably slow or down altogether, swing by my Twitter for all sorts of colourful cursing. Update: Right, issues are not resolved. Fuckity fuck.

While downloadable/streamable/watchable online sessions are becoming much more commonplace, MySpace Transmissions is setting themselves apart by not only making theirs available to download, but by providing the audio in wonderfully high-resolution 320kbps, a bitrate that the audiophile community refers to as “suh-weeeet”. Similarly, the streaming video is also happily smooth and clean. MySpace isn’t good for a whole lot these days, at least from a personal social networking sense, but if they can keep cranking out content like these, they’re welcome to stick around.

The latest session to go up comes from New York’s White Rabbits, whose It’s Frightening continues to worm its way into heavier rotation around these parts – just in time for their upcoming Fall tour which stops in at the Horseshoe in a few weeks on October 24 for a bill that also includes Suckers and The Balconies. Pure rock, guaranteed. The Aquarian has an interview with the band.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: White Rabbits – “Rudie Fails” (live on MySpace Transmissions)

Spinner and The Skinny talk to John Darnielle about The Mountain Goats’ new, Biblically-inspired record The Life Of The World To Come. The Mountain Goats were also on The Colbert Report the other night – Canadians can watch the ep at The Comedy Network, Americans at Colbert Nation. Everyone else, can’t help ya.

John Vanderslice performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

BlogCritics talks to Mikael Jorgenson of Wilco, who’re in town for two nights at Massey Hall next week, October 14 and 15. And to the rest of Canada, rejoice – the band have announced a cross-Canada tour for next February which will not include Toronto but will include Hamilton and London for those in Toronto not averse to a road trip.

Jason Molina and Will Johnson, masterminds behind Magnolia Electric Co. and Centro-Matic respectively, have teamed up for a roots-rock dream team creatively named Molina and Johnson and will release their equally imaginatively-named debut album Molina and Johnson on November 3.

MP3: Molina and Johnson – “Twenty Cycles To The Ground”

And speaking of imaginatively-titled side-project albums, The Retribution Gospel Choir, which features Alan Sparhawk from Low, will release their second album 2 on January 26 via SubPop. Details at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork says that former Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky’s long-awaited solo record will be out in March 2010. I’ve been waiting for this record for so long I’ve forgotten why I’ve been waiting for it. But I’m still keen to hear what he’s been up to in the past, what, 15 years?

Devendra Banhart will release his new album and major label debut What Will Be on October 27 and follow that up with a North American tour which brings him to Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 27.

Spinner has premiered one of the new videos that appears on Land Of Talk’s forthcoming Fun And Laughter EP, out October 27.

Video: Land Of Talk – “Troubled”

Two Hours Traffic will be playing an in-store at Soundscapes on October 16 at 5PM in advance of their show at Lee’s Palace that night. That night’s opener, Spiral Beach, is also in-storing it at Sonic Boom that night – their set starts at 7PM. Add in the Dan Mangan in-store at Criminal Records that night at 6PM, and you’ve got, well, a lot of free music for someone who’s swift on their bike or lucky with the TTC. And note that Soundscapes is having a 10th anniversary 10% off most everything sale this Saturday, October 10 (10/10, get it?).

Sloan will be playing a special benefit show at the Dakota Tavern (read: tiny) on October 19 with all proceeds going to War Child Canada – it may already be sold out by the time you read this, but tickets are/were available at Maple Music.

Spinner talks to Nick Cave about writing his new novel The Death Of Bunny Munro.