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Posts Tagged ‘Montt Mardie’

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I Gotta Tell Ya Fellas, This Is Pretty Terrific

Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man and The Balconies at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangPeople traditionally go to great lengths to avoid getting a lump of coal for Christmas but there’s something to be said for getting a big pile of rock for the holidays. And it was rock – and lots of it – on offer Saturday night at the Horseshoe for Jingle Bell Rock, an evening presented by promotions company Audio Blood Media and media partners aux.tv and Exclaim. The lineup featured four bands from the Audio Blood roster – Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man and The Balconies. The opener and closer were personal live favourites so even though I didn’t know the middle acts at all, odds were pretty good that it’d be a great show.

I’d seen The Balconies a couple times since they moved to Toronto from Ottawa and began gigging their asses off, and they’ve yet to deliver anything but a cracking good set. As always, the power pop of their self-titled debut was lean and lethal and the trio had energy and charisma to spare, rewarding those who’d had the foresight to show up early with a terrific set. I was recently asked in a sort-of poll for a UK website what my Canuck tip for 2010 was – I went with The Balconies, calling them “an inevitability” (do I need quotes to quote myself?). This show was a reminder of why. Their next local gig is January 6 at Supermarket.

From there it was into the, “…and you are?” portion of the night. Clothes Make The Man were certainly keeping in the rock theme of the night, perhaps moreso than any of the others. You had to feel for frontman Ryan McLennan’s vocal cords, so throat-shredding and raw was his delivery but even so, was still able to carry a melody and even convey some gentleness when called for. Which, honestly, wasn’t that often – the quartet was here to be loud and heavy and just tuneful enough. Mission accomplished.

Make Your Exit had a decidedly different mandate, playing the role of sensitive, jam-friendly collective for the evening. Their set was all grand arrangements, emotive melodies and layered harmonies – enough to put most of those around me into a collective swoon but leaving me largely umoved. Certainly I was able to appreciate the musical ability on display, objectively, but any grab for the heartstrings missed the target. Hey, win some, lose some.

Oh No Forest Fires were, as the kids say, made of win and provided just the jolt of energy I needed to make it through the remainder of the night. Led by frontman and human superball Rajiv Thavanathan, their gleeful, ADD-addled prog-punk had the band bouncing around the stage as the blew through material from their debut mini-album The War On Geometry which, in the spirit of the season, they were offering for free to anyone who asked for a copy. Also festive was their set’s finale, which saw the Horseshoe stage being swarmed by most/all the other bands and those who put on the show for a madcap Christmas medley of “Silent Night” and “Feliz Navidad” that would have made Jose Feliciano proud… assuming he’s secretly a musical anarchist. A fitting cap to a holiday celebration the way they all ought to be – sweaty and ear-bleeding.

Photos: Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man, The Balconies @ The Horseshoe – December 12, 2009
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “Robin The Boy Wonders”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “It’s Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye”
MP3: Make Your Exit – “Through The Winter”
MP3: Clothes Make The Man – “Telescopes”
MP3: The Balconies – “Serious Bedtime”
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”
Video: Clothes Make The Man – “Privy”
Video: Clothes Make The Man – “Singles Only”
MySpace: Clothes Make The Man

Since this has started out as a sort of holiday post, now’s as good a time as any to round up some of the many, many, many seasonal musical giveaways that seems to be popular right now. Lucky Soul have gathered all the artists on their own Ruffa Lane label to give away a Christmas tune. They’ve themselves done a cover of Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas”, Montt Mardié has discoed up Wham!’s “Last Christmas” while Swedish glammers Napoleon and London folkies Grantura offer original compositions. Lucky Soul’s second album A Coming Of Age is currently on target for a March 2010 release.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Lonely This Christmas”
MP3: Montt Mardié featuring Le Sport & Mr Suitcase – “Last Christmas”
MP3: Napoleon featuring Ali Howard – “Midnight Train to Arhus”
MP3: Grantura – “Holly”

Dean & Britta are giving away both sides of their 2008 Christmas single, a cover of Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” and “(S)He’s Coming Home” by The Wailers. And as an early Christmas gift to longtime fans, The Line Of Best Fit reports that all three Galaxie 500 albums will be reissued on March 22 of next year by Domino Records in deluxe CD format, each album featuring a bonus disc previously released by Rykodisc on its own, and on heavy 180-gram vinyl. More immediately gratifying these interviews with Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips at Ladygunn.

Anni Rossi is offering a special gift to those who sign up to her mailing list; Future Sounds reports said gift is an EP of Christmas tunes, one of which is “Silver Bells”.

MP3: Anni Rossi – “Silver Bells”

Jason Lytle is celebrating the holidays by giving away a free EP at his Bandcamp site.

Ear Farm has curated a terrific album of holiday tunes featuring artists such as Asobi Seksu, Sharon Van Etten and Julie Doiron, and is selling it for a paltry $5 with all proceeds going to benefit the Association to Benefit Children.

Looking past Christmas – as in the day after – the Drake Hotel has released the lineup for their annual “What’s In The Box?” Boxing Week concert series. As always, cover is $5 and some of the performers helping make sure those of us still working through the last week of December are bleary-eyed and unproductive are The D’Urbervilles, By Divine Right, Pick A Piper and many more.

Also hosting a series of shows that week with a food drive angle is The Garrison – specifics are still forthcoming but a list of some of the bands participating has gone up over at Stille Post.

Toronto label Out Of This Spark will make the end of the holidays and return to the humdrum of the working week a little more bearable on January 22 when they hold their third anniversary bash at the Garrison. The bill will feature The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns and Jenny Omnichord – a lot like this year’s lineup.

Looking a little further ahead, New York synth-pop duo Phantogram will be at the Drake on February 20, tickets $10. Their debut full-length Eyelid Movies will be out on February 9 of next year.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Morning Benders will return to the Drake Underground, where they played in February, on April 14 as part of a North American tour in support of their new album Big Echo, out March 9. Tickets for the show are $11.50.

MP3: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”

Yeasayer, who are directing all their website traffic to the one specially set up for their new single “Ambling Alp”, will be at Lee’s Palace on May 1 in support of their new album Odd Blood, out February 9. Tickets $18. There’s an interview with singer Chris Keating at BBC Radio 1.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”
Video: Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Annus Horribilis

Chromewaves’ favourite albums of 2009

Image via WikipediaWikipedia

No two ways about it, 2009 sucked. Hard. It started badly with the demise of a relationship and despite my determination to pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps, only went downhill from there. The past twelve months have been marked by people moving on, moving away and passing away – not just my loved ones but those of people close to me. If there’s any silver lining to the huge, black cumulonimbus thunderhead that was this year, it’s that it’s over and I can only hope it’s not tempting fate to believe that things can only get better from here.

Ironically, though, it was a pretty good year for music. A lot of records I expected great things from met those expectations, some exceeded them by a wide margin and only a few disappointed. Picking ten to stand up and represent is always tough since what sounds like the best thing ever at any given time is wholly contingent on one’s mood. That said, as I’ve chewed on this list mentally over the past few months, a few records continue to bubble up to the surface as either played ad nauseum or hardly at all, for fear that the feeling of wonder around it might begin to dissipate.

Long-time readers may note an absence of some of the usual suspects who, despite putting out great records that if there existed some sort of absolute scale of measurement, might well be better than ones that made the cut, but never underestimate how much sway the element of surprise and discovery can have on one’s opinion. I can’t say that I’ll still endorse all of these records so strongly in a few years, or maybe even a few months from now but as of this moment, this is what it is. Alphabetized and unranked, as always.

And unlike past years where I spent an inordinate amount of time creating or commissioning artwork to accompany the year-end list, I’ve not gone to any particular trouble this year. Partly because though I’ve had some good/great ideas for visual treatments, I haven’t had the time to organize or execute them and partly because, well, 2009 doesn’t fucking deserve it. Maybe 2010 will get some sweet year-end loving but 2009? Begone.

(more…)

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Dancing Shoes

Montt Mardié delivers best-of and new album

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceWay back in my first post of the year, I gushed a bit about Sweden’s Montt Mardie and his first UK release, the Introducing ….. The Best Of compilation of his first two Swedish albums Drama and Pretender/Clocks. It was – and still is – a wonderful collection of lush and giddy throwback pop to any and every era of pop you can imagine. I wasn’t sure at the time if the album was actually out, and as it turned out it wasn’t – and still isn’t. It’s now set for a May 4 release in the UK but in the interim, Mardie hasn’t been idle.

He released his third proper studio album, entitled Skaizerkite, this week in Sweden. There’s both an MP3 and video for the first single but beyond that, being somewhat less than fluent in Swedish, information on this release is a bit hard to come by. I did manage to discern, however, that it’d cost me around $28 on import to get a copy of the album sent to me. Um, ouch. I’d forgotten the joys of buying imports. I think I will hold off just a bit on that one and hope that a less expensive option arises – after all, I’m still getting lots of mileage out of Introducing, even after so many months.

Here’s the aforementioned new track in audio and video form, and a crash course in his older material.

MP3: Montt Mardié – “Dancing Shoes”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “1969”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “New York”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Come On Eileen”
Video: Montt Mardié – “Dancing Shoes”
Video: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
Video: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
Myspace: Montt Mardié

Daytrotter has a session with Loney Dear, who will be at the Rivoli on May 8.

Spinner interfaces with Peter Bjorn & John. They have two local dates coming up – a headlining show at the Phoenix on April 25 and a support slot with Depeche Mode at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 24.

Clash interviews Fanfarlo, who being a British band fronted by a Swede, provide the perfect segue from the Swedish portion of the post to the British. I make my own fun. Shut up.

It’s just a short note but this update at The Clientele’s website stating that they’re almost completed their new album brightened my day – after all, it was posted in February so surely it’s done by now? Their last two records – 2007’s God Save The Clientele and 2005’s Strange Geometry – almost perfectly encapsulates the feeling of wandering aimlessly around London, which is to say my happy place. Can’t wait to get another dose of that.

MP3: The Clientele – “Bookshop Casanova”

Camera Obscura’s Carey Lander answers The Daily Growl seven questions about songs. My Maudlin Career is out April 21 and they play Lee’s Palace on June 27.

Still no release date for Charlotte Hatherley’s Cinnabar City – nothing more specific than September 2009, anyways – but there’s not one but two tastes already available. Dig it. And see her play someone else’s songs when she tours as part of Bat For Lashes this Spring. The Sunday Mail has an interview with Hatherley about her busy life.

MP3: Charlotte Hatherley – “Colours”
MP3: Charlotte Hatherley – “White”

Minnesota Public Radio welcomes Glasvegas to their studios for a session. Fazer has an interview.

Filter talks to PJ Harvey and John Parish about their album A Woman A Man Walked By.

Billy Bragg talks to Music Ally about matters such as royalties and digital artists rights.

Delayed so long that I assumed it wasn’t happening, the third and final volume of Club AC30’s Never Lose That Feeling shoegaze tribute albums is now out. It’s rather lighter on big names – which is to say there really aren’t any – but I enjoyed the first two volumes enough to want the full set. Thanks to A Good Day For Airplay for the tip-off.

Teen Vogue‘s Spring Music Preview features short interviews and photo shoots with the likes of Florence & The Machine and Ladyhawke. And for your information, I do not read Teen Vogue on a regular basis. I graduated to Vogue years ago.

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Names Not Forgotten

An introduction to Montt Mardié

Photo By David MagnussonDavid MagnussonIt seems rather fitting that the first post of this new year should be devoted to an artist who seems to have great difficulty in choosing a favourite year, musically speaking, so he’s opted to go with them all. Montt Mardié is the stage name of David Olof Peter Pagmar, a Swedish pop savant whose two albums – the 2005 debut Drama and the 2007 double-set Pretender/Clocks – were cherry-picked last year for the UK release Introducing… The Best Of.

While it may seem odd to have a “best of” for someone barely 25 years old and with just two albums under his belt, Introducing really does feel like a compilation of top singles from an artist who’s been at it far longer than he has. His compositions tend to be rooted in throwback ’60s pop style, grand and orchestrally-minded and full of wit and humour, but Pagmar doesn’t discriminate when it comes to digging through his record or movie collections for inspiration. Musical cribs from The Cure nestle alongside classic Brill Building song structures and quotes from Meatloaf. Lyrics reference Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Star WarsIntroducing is a glorious open house pop culture party, where everything is fair game and welcomed with love.

Though I’ve no hesitation to recommend Mardié to fans of fellow Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman, who makes an appearance on duet “Castle In The Sky”, there’s more that distinguishes the two than make them similar once you get into the “male singer-songwriter pop auteur” category. If Lekman is the droll, detached sophisticate, then Pagmar is his earnest and wide-eyed younger brother, too enthused about everything to worry about looking cool. Whether backed by a full band and/or orchestra or just his own home recordings, Pagmar delivers everything with breathless enthusiasm and frequently slips into a soulful falsetto that’s just imperfect enough to be endearing. And on the tracks where he’s accompanied by female backing vocals, it’s simply sublime. There’s no trace of irony here, just giddy devotion to the joys of pop music and it’s difficult to resist. In fact, why would you want to? If Peter Bjorn & John were the new face of Swedish pop for 2007 and Lykke Li was last year’s model, then I nominate Montt Mardié – who is currently at work on album number three – for 2009.

Peculiarly, the Swedish albums appear easier to find than the comp. In addition to Amazon.com appearing to have stock (see links above), both are available at eMusic. But if you’re keen to try the single-disc version, inquire with the good folks at Ruffa Lane, who put it out.

The Guardian declared Mardié their band of the day last June and basically described him as the second coming of Prefab Sprout – a title I can’t comment on because I know nothing of the first coming of Prefab Sprout.

MP3: Montt Mardié – “1969”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “New York”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Come On Eileen”
Video: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
Video: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
Myspace: Montt Mardié

Daytrotter closed out last year with a studio session from Bon Iver. Their new EP Blood Bank is out on January 20.

Bradley’s Almanac bids farewell to Dirty On Purpose, who played their final gig on New Year’s Eve, with a recording of their last show in Boston last October.

Filter talks to Mercury Rev’s Jeff Mercel.

20 Album Covers recreated in Lego – all I can say is that Lego men come with much more interesting accessory pieces than when I was a kid.