Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Mumford & Sons’

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

(I Don't Mean To) Wonder

Neil Halstead rediscovers his distortion pedals, forms Black Hearted Brother

Photo via FacebookFacebookFor as long as he’s been out of Slowdive – and probably longer, if you consider how much a departure their electronic-ambient final record Pygmalion was – Neil Halstead has been hearing fans beg him to return to his electric, amplified roots as a shoegazing pioneer, never mind that everything he’s done in the past 20 years, from fronting the cosmic-country Mojave 3 to his current acoustic-folkie solo carer – has been in the opposite trajectory. And while for the longest time, he’d deflect live requests for Slowdive songs with “that’s another band”, on his last tour he finally relented and included versions of “Alison” and “40 Days” in the set, even bringing along a delay pedal for proper effect. This, combined with comments made last Summer that a Slowdive reunion wasn’t out of the question – even with Rachel Goswell basically retired from music – set hopeful shoegazing hearts a-flutter with the prospect that the previously unthinkable might happen and Halstead would want to make some bona fide noise again.

And indeed he does, just not in the way that people necessarily expected. I thank The Dumbing Of America for pointing me yesterday to Black Hearted Brother, a new band featuring Halstead and two friends with producer credits on Mojave 3 and Halstead solo records – Mark Van Hoen, ex of Seefeel and Nick Holton, apparently of something called Holton’s Opulant Oog. Some years in the making – and perhaps indirectly responsible for Halstead’s renewed interest in his old works – they’ve come together to create something loud, trippy, and tuneful, or at least that’s what the first song from the project – premiered at Spin – would imply. Their debut album Stars Are Our Home will be out on October 22, and on a thread on his own Facebook page, Halstead sounds genuinely enthused about the project and mentions that he hopes to tour behind it. Here’s hoping that if they do, they’ll have rehearsed a few Slowdive songs for the inevitable requests.

Stream: Black Hearted Brother – “(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder”

DIY, Digital Spy, and Gigwise chat with White Lies about their new album Big TV, out August 21. They play The Opera House on October 1.

Mumford & Sons have released a new video from Babel which aims to trigger crises of faith amongst those who hate their band but love actors Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte; Rolling Stone finds out how the clip came together. They play The Molson Amphitheatre on August 26.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Hopeless Wanderer”

Frightened Rabbit are streaming one of the three new tracks that will appear on their Woodpile EP when it comes out on September 1; Chicago Magazine and Red Bull Music also have interviews. They are in town at The Kool Haus on October 17.

Stream: Frightened Rabbit – “Default Blues”

Delorean are streaming another new track from their forthcoming Apar, due out September 10. They play The Horseshoe on October 17.

Stream: Delorean – “Destitute Time”

CHVRCHES have released a new video for one of their oldest songs; it will appear on their debut The Bones of What You Believe when it comes out on September 24. They play the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

Video: CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”

Anna Calvi has announced an October 7 release date for her second album, entitled One Breath. DIY has details and you can watch the trailer for the record below.

Trailer: Anna Calvi / One Breath

The Guardian has premiered a new PJ Harvey song written for the last British resident being held in Guantanamo Bay.

MP3: PJ Harvey – “Shaker Amaar”

MTV Hive has an interview with Belfast’s Little Green Cars, who’ve released a new video from their debut Absolute Zero since last we checked in.

Video: Little Green Cars – “Big Red Dragon”

M83 has somehow squeezed another video out of 2011′s Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, and if you live in the US you can watch it via Stereogum. Everyone else can, evidently, suck it. Thank goodness for people who know how to rip YouTube videos.

Video: M83 – “Claudia Lewis”

Sigur Rós, on the other hand, have turned to fans from anywhere to source Instagram video footage for their latest video from Kveikur.

Video: Sigur Rós – “Stormur”

BlipTV has a video session with Still Corners.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Toronto Urban Roots Fest Day Four

Belle & Sebastian, Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, and more at TURF 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith the first three days of the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest having gone swimmingly, certainly the fourth and final day – boasting inarguably the strongest lineup of them all – would be the best? Well it turns out “swimmingly” would be kind of the wrong word to use, but everything started out enough.

Though as per usual I missed the first few acts of the day, I was there in time to see Kurt Vile make his first local appearance in support of his new record Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, which has garnered pretty much universal acclaim, though I only go as far as saying I like it more than his last one. I’ve always found Vile’s stuff to be pretty same-y in that lightly psychedelic laid-back drone-pop way – an impression confirmed and amplified when I saw him at Pitchfork 2010 – but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s pretty pleasantly trippy. As with that show, this performance mainly had Vile in two modes – huge rug of hair draped over the mic stand while he sang, or huge rug of hair draped over his guitar while he soloed. His bandmates in the Violators did mix things up somewhat by adding mandolins and 6-string basses into the mix, and Vile was equally comfortable ripping leads on electric or acoustic, but a few noisey bursts aside, Vile was pretty content to just let the set mosey along at its pace and his fans were content to mosey right alongside him.

Photos: Kurt Vile @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Wakin’ On A Pretty Day”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “In My Time”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “The Creature”
Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Runner Ups”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Freak Train”

It was with some regret that I skipped Yo La Tengo’s stop at The Phoenix back in February in support of their latest Fade, but the confidence they’d put on a solid show couldn’t win out over the fact that I’d seen them play said solid show many times before – most recently in 2010 in Vegas at Matador at 21 – that I gave it a pass. Happily, their return for this festival meant that I’d still get to hear the new tunes, and not have to make any special effort to do so. Win! And as nice as it can be to hear Yo La Tengo stretch out live, there’s really something to be said for imposing strict time constraints on them; though they sounded quite the opposite of rushed, the blend of new songs – which sounded really terrific live, perfectly suited to the hazy afternoon – and old favourites done perfectly and without the excesses the band sometimes fall prey to, in some cases twice as “Autumn Sweater” came unravelled early on in the set with a blown amp fuse and had to be returned to later on.

NYC Taper has got the Yo La Tengo’s set from the Wilco-run Solid Sound fest a few weekends ago available to download. The Boston Globe, Metro, and Cincinnati CityBeat have interviews.

Photos: Yo La Tengo @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Nuclear War”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Don’t Have To Be So Sad”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Ohm” (tree)
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Before We Run”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Nothing To Hide”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Tom Courtenay”

I’d never given either Luke Doucet or Melissa McClelland much concern with their solo careers, so when they came together as Whitehorse I still didn’t pay any attention, at least until their second album The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss made it onto this year’s Polaris Prize long list. And while the adult contemporary-skewing roots-rock that’s the foundation of their sound isn’t normally what I’d be into (even if, phrased like that, you think it might) I found the record pretty enjoyable in a Steve Earle “chick song” sort of way, though rather slicker in execution; that’s why I expected that their live setup would involve a polished band comprised of session player types, not just the two of them and a garage sale’s worth of instruments and microphones. Okay, so the setup was meticulously arranged for exactly that DIY effect with telephone handsets and old-school shockmounted mics installed just so, but there was no faking the way the two built up the structures of each song by sampling acoustic instruments and looking stylish while doing it. They spent the first part of their set entrenched in their fortress of gear, but eventually strutted out to the front of the stage and sang together into a single mic armed just with guitar and bass. Straight, simple, and to their strengths.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald has a feature piece on the band.

Photos: Whitehorse @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
Video: Whitehorse – “Achilles’ Desire”

If you’re looking for writeups of either The Cat Empire or Xavier Rudd, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I spent their sets huddled under a leaky ATM tent hiding from the deluge that resulted when the skies opened up right around dinnertime. The rain eventually eased up, but not before turning the whole of the festival grounds into some manner of swamp. Not really an ideal setting for anything, let alone enjoying Neko Case’s set, but looked at another way, if there’s anything out there worth enduring this sort of weather for – after a short dry spell, the skies opened up even harder a couple songs in – it’s Neko Case.

When she was here last in December 2011 opening up for The National at the Air Canada Centre, the assumption seemed to be that if she was back on the road, then her new record – the long-awaited follow-up to 2009′s Middle Cyclone – must be close to being done. Not, as it turned out, so much. But nineteen months later, she was back and this time the new record – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – was done, locked, and loaded for a September 3 release. The set contained a few of those new songs, all of which sounded of the same high calibre of lead sample “Man”, and a solid tour of her repertoire – “Red Tide”, with its “I hate the rain” lyrics, was especially topical – and always-entertaining banter with backing singer Kelly Hogan. With the time she takes between records, it can be easy to forget just how amazing a talent Neko is; call her alt.country or folk-rock or jangle-pop or whatever you like, her voice and songwriting transcends all labels. And the only thing better than being reminded how good she is was the promise to return for another show sometime in the next six months. Ideally indoors.

Photos: Neko Case @ Garrison Commons, West Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “Maybe Sparrow”
Video: Neko Case – “Furnace Room Lullabye”

Finally, with the rain seemingly past though the resultant mud pits remained, it was time for Belle & Sebastian. It’s remarkable how the mysterious mystique the band cultivated in their early years still persists to some degree, and even though they’ve toured North America behind pretty much every album this century, their live shows are breathlessly anticipated like once-in-a-lifetime unicorn herd migrations. Of course, those studio albums are fewer and further between than most would like – their last visit was October 2010 behind Write About Love – so with no new record on the horizon, the fact that they were still coming to town to play a show apart from the usual promotional cycle was actually unicorn-rare, and as is often the case when the artist doesn’t have anything specific they need to push, offered the promise of being a much more unique show.

That this wouldn’t be a typical show was confirmed from the opening number, as instead of one of their obvious (but still beloved) songs, it was the electronic instrumental b-side “Judy Is A Dick Slap”. Anyone who says they had that in the “what’ll be the first song?” pool without consulting previous set lists is lying. “I’m A Cuckoo” then let Stuart Murdoch properly take centre stage and show off his dance moves, slippery stage be damned, “Another Sunny Day” was rolled out as a musical anodyne to the weather, and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win earlier in the day saluted with “Stars Of Track And Field”. The catalog-hopping trajectory of that first salvo of selections delightfully carried on through the show, and while hardcore fans might suggest they could have gone for deeper cuts, I was more than happy to hear “The Model” and “Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner” dug out of the archives.

If it wasn’t quite a greatest hits set song-wise, it certainly was with their audience participation exercises. There was the girl brought onstage to read Isobel Campbell’s spoken word outro overtop “Dirty Dream Number Two” (she sang it, but whatever), the other girl who managed to fit a dance routine amidst playing Scrabble against the band onstage during “The Model”, the girl (sensing a trend? Oh, Stuart) who applied makeup to his face during “Lord Anthony”, the bevy of dancers brought onstage for “The Boy With The Arab Strap”… there was no lobbing of autographed footballs into the audience this time, but the rain probably would have washed the signatures off anyways. The between-song shenanigans might have taken up time that could have gone to another song or two, but you’d have had to be a serious grump to complain about the love-in vibe that they generated. And we should all count ourselves lucky that no one brought onstage insisted on singing one of her own songs. No, what we got was a joyous show that felt like a gift, wrapped a terrific inaugural TURF, and just about made you forget that you probably had trench foot. No mean feat.

The Huffington Post and Pittsburgh CityPaper have interviews with keyboardist Chris Geddes about the current tour and their plans to write their next record when it’s wrapped. The band’s new collection of b-sides and rarities, The Third Eye Centre, comes out August 27.

Photos: Belle & Sebastian @ Garrison Commons, East Stage – July 7, 2013
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Write About Love”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “White Collar Boy”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Blues Are Still Blue”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Wrapped Up In Books”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I’m A Cuckoo”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Step Into My Office Baby”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David” (70s version)
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Wrong Girl”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Legal Man”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “A Century Of Fakers”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dirty Dream #2″
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Lazy Line Painter Jane”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dog On Wheels”

CBC Music have got the Canada-only stream of the new Pet Shop Boys album Electric, out July 16. Americans can hit Pandora and Brits can use Rdio via The Guardian. They play The Sony Centre on September 25, and Spin, Huffington Post, and Metro have interviews with Neil Tennant about going indie on their latest record.

Stream: Pet Shop Boys / Electric

Fashion retailer Mr. Porter has an interview and fashion shoot with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party; their Nextwave Sessions EP is due out August 13.

Mumford & Sons have released a video for the title track of last year’s Babel. They’re at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 24.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Babel”

Hot on the heels of those advance streams, Franz Ferdinand have released the video for the sort-of title track of their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Right Action”

Exclaim and The Daily Beast interview CHVRCHES about their forthcoming debut album The Bones of What You Believe, out September 24. They play The Danforth Music Hall on September 15, and if you need something new and CHVRCH-y to listen to before then, there’s this Haim cover they recorded for BBC.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Falling” (Haim cover)

Manic Street Preachers have announced details of one of the two new records they’ve got in the can. Based on the title track, largely sung by the inimitable Richard Hawley, Rewind The Film is the largely acoustic album that had been previously mentioned; it’s out September 16 and more specifics on it can be had at DIY. James Dean Bradfield also talks to NME about the other album that’s been recorded alongside it, due out in Spring of next year.

Video: Manic Street Preachers w Richard Hawley – “Rewind The Film”

Veteran British folk-rock outfit The Waterboys are making their first return to town in some years to kick off a major North American tour; they’ll be here on September 17 at a venue to be announced, but last time through in 2007 it was at The Danforth, so presumably it’ll be somewhere similar.

Video: The Waterboys – “The Whole Of The Moon”

With their self-titled debut due out in September, up-and-coming UK outfit The 1975 will be at The Mod Club on October 13 as part of their first major North American tour.

Video: The 1975 – “Sex”

Belfast post-rock firebrands And So I Watch You From Afar and Oxford math-rock trio TTNG – formerly This Town Needs Guns before they thought better of it – are teaming up for a co-headlining tour that hits The Horseshoe on November 9, tickets $15.50. ASIWYFA released their third album All Hail Bright Futures this past Spring, TTNG’s second long-player 13.0.0.0.0 came out in January.

Stream: And So I Watch You From Afar / All Hail Bright Futures
Stream: TTNG / 13.0.0.0.0

The Skinny talks to Yannis Philipakkis of Foals.

Tone Deaf and Clash have interviews with Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

DIY wonders aloud something I’ve periodically wondered to myself – whither The Rumble Strips?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

One For The Road

Arctic Monkeys announce new album of Arctic Monkey songs, tour of Arctic Monkey shows

Photo By Zackery MichaelZackery MichaelWhen Arctic Monkeys went off and unveiled the video for a new single last week, it was just a matter of time until the specifics around the follow-up to their 2011 album Suck It And See would come to light. And now they have. The Line Of Best Fit has details about the new record, which will be simply titled AM – whether it’s in reference to the band or the half of the day is anyone’s guess – and will be out in North America on September 10.

And to further get their legions of Monkeys fans on this side of the Atlantic excited, following the European festival season -which includes a headlining slot at Glastonbury this weekend – they’ll be commencing a North American tour which kicks off in Toronto on September 15 at The Kool Haus. Tickets for the all-ages gig are $33.50 and go on sale this Friday.

The London Evening Standard has some words from frontman Alex Turner about the new record.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?”

Though original frontman Stuart Adamson passed away back in 2001, ’80s Scottish guitars-that-sound-like-bagpipes maestros Big Country have been reunited since 2010 with period-correct new frontman Mike Peters of The Alarm, and with the release of The Journey, their first new album in 14 years, are doing some North American tour dates – they’re in Toronto at Lee’s Palace on August 4, tickets $22.50.

Video: Big Country – “In A Big Country”

Despite being an avowed classic shoegazing fan – or maybe because I am – I don’t cotton to a lot of the current crop of purveyors of the style. Oakland’s Whirr, however, seem to do it right from the onomatopoeic monosyllabic handle through their sometimes hazy, sometimes pummelling, but always melodic sound. They’re heading out on tour in support of their latest album Pipe Dreams, and will be at the Silver Dollar on August 17, tickets just $8.50. I daresay you won’t find anything better to do that evening at that price.

Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Whirr / Pipe Dreams

Toronto-based Mumford & Sons fans who bought tickets to their Gentlemen Of The Road mini-fest in Simcoe, Ontario on August 23 and 24 expecting it would be their only local show might be a bit miffed to learn that the band have announced an August 26 show at The Molson Amphitheatre. Mind you, only The Vaccines and Bear’s Den are also joining them at this show, so if you were just as keen on seeing any of the other bands playing or just camping out in south-central Ontario, you’re still good. Or look at it as an opportunity to see them twice in a week. Or don’t, I dunno, I’ve lost interest. The band are doing some invite/presale thing to manage demand.

And for Vaccines fans, NME is streaming a new song from the band so have at it.

MP3: The Vaccines – “Norgaard”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
Stream: The Vaccines – “Melody Calling”

You won’t find a better legend-to-intimacy ratio than this – as he did back in 2010, Robyn Hitchcock will be camped out at the Drake Underground on the evenings of September 3 and 4, telling tales and playing songs from his latest album Love From London and probably a few more. Tickets for each show are $21.50.

Video: Robyn Hitchcock – “Be Still” (rehearsal video)

It’s not being billed as anything as reductive as a Constellation Records roadshow, but fans of the Montreal label would be ill-advised to be anywhere but The Great Hall on September 5; that’s when Esmerine, Colin Stetson, Sandro Perri and Craig Dunsmuir, who despite working together before as Glissandro 70 are billing themselves as Dudasa 80, and Jerusalem In My Heart. Tickets for that are $15.

MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”
MP3: Esmerine – “A Dog River”
MP3: Jerusalem In My Heart – “Yudaghdegh Al-Ra3ey Aala Al-Ghanam”

I may have been wrong about Charleston roots-rock duo Shovels & Rope being added to the TURF lineup – they’re touring with Dawes, after all – but they are still coming to town. They’ll be at The Horseshoe on September 7 for their first-ever headlining show in support of O’ Be Joyful, tickets $16.50. Relix has a feature on the band.

Video: Shovels & Rope – “Birmingham”

New York synth-pop duo MS MR have to be pretty happy with their career trajectory, as represented by their touring history in Toronto – from supporting Jessie Ware at The Opera House in early April through a small club show of their own at Wrongbar in late May, and now a headlining date at The Phoenix on September 16, all behind their debut album Secondhand Rapture; tickets are $16.50, Danish singer opens. Full tour routing can be found at Exclaim and an interview with the duo at Glamour.

Video: MS MR – “Hurricane”

Portland instrumentalists Grails have set a date at The Drake Underground for September 18, tickets $12.50. Their last release was 2012′s vinyl-only Black Tar Prophecies Volume 5 split-12″ with Pharaoh Overlord.

MP3: Grails – “Almost Grew My Hair”

London-based Bastille, who topped the UK charts back in March with the release of their debut Bad Blood, will be looking to repeat some of that success stateside as they hit North America this Fall, including The Opera House in Toronto on September, tickets $16. Tone Deaf has an interview with frontman Dan Smith.

Video: Bastille – “Pompeii”

Australians Atlas Genius have already announced a return date for the Danforth Music Hall on October 4, tickets $22.50, even though their local debut at the Opera House just wrapped the other night. I guess their debut When It Was Now is doing pretty well. Support for that show will be Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

MP3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Skeletons”
Video: Atlas Genius – “Trojans”

Speaking of return engagements, British soulstress Jessie Ware has finally announced her follow-up to her local debut at The Opera House in April, and of course it’s at the much bigger and more reviled Sound Academy. She’s there November 6, tickets $25.

Video: Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”

Given that his star was already on the rise when I saw him at SXSW 2012, I’m surprised it’s taken Austin’s Gary Clark, Jr. this long to make it up here in support of his debut Blak And Blu, but when you’re as bona fide a singer-guitarist-songwriter as this guy – those “next Hendrix” compliments aren’t hot air – you’re in demand. In any case, he’s at The Danforth Music Hall on November 18, tickets $29.50.

Video: Gary Clark, Jr. – “Numb”

And from the upstart to the legend, Mavis Staples will be in town at Koerner Hall on February 7 behind her new album One True Vine, out this week and streamable in whole below, which sees the gospel singer tackle songs by Low, Funkadelic, Nick Lowe, and three Jeff Tweedy originals. Tickets for the show range from $40 to $95.

Video: Mavis Staples – “I Like The Things About Me”
Stream: Mavis Staples / One True Vine

And while my beat is mainly Toronto, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hamilton’s Supercrawl has announced its musical lineup for the weekend of September 13 and 14, and it will bring the likes of Yo La Tengo, Chelsea Light Moving, Fucked Up, Joel Plaskett, METZ, and many more to the streets of Steeltown. And oh, it’s free.

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Everybody's Changing

Veronica Falls and Cold Showers at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo this is the first time in nine years that I am NOT in Austin for SXSW; reasons for this are myriad, but the broad strokes can be inferred from this. So while this means rather than embarrassment of concert riches to choose from, my live music options amongst bands not deep in the heart of Texas were decidedly shallower, but still pretty great – after all, Veronica Falls were back in town.

It was at SXSW 2011 that I first made the acquaintance of the Anglo-Scottish quartet, proceeding to catch them at home and abroad, with their show at The Garrison last February the last show I caught in support of their self-titled debut, and just as well – as much as I loved the record, there was only so much mileage to be squeezed out of a single 36-minute collection.

That wasn’t an issue on Tuesday night when they returned to The Garrison with their second album Waiting For Something To Happen exactly one month old and still fresh and delightful. It strikes the perfect balance of keeping what made their debut a gem – the throwback ’80s-styled indie-pop exulting under moodily overcast skies – and improving it with catchier hooks, stronger vocals in all departments – melodies, harmonies, expressiveness – and just enough extra stylistic boundary-pushing. It was everything I would have wanted in a follow-up, and that it gave them excuse to come back to town was all the better.

Openers Cold Showers keep a pretty low online profile – it took more digging than it should have to establish they hail from Los Angeles – but putting a finger on their sound wasn’t nearly as difficult. Their dark, post-punk sound mines the territory of early Cure and Joy Division, but they manage to avoid sounding dismissively derivative. Built on a bed of muscular, mechanical drumming, prone to measured bursts of noise, and surprisingly melodic while maintaining a persistant broodiness. Not the most exciting, presentation-wise, but it sounded good.

It was funny to go back and re-read my writeup of last year’s Veronica Falls show at The Garrison because I noted the problems the band were having with their on-stage monitor mixes – funny because a year later, they still seemed to be having the same issues. But still, except for the drums sounding a bit overloud – more because of Patrick Doyle’s right foot than any sound reinforcement issues – the house mix sounded fine. Though hardly overly-polished on record, live they added an appealing extra layer of grit to the proceedings and were incrementally more energized than they were whilst supporting their debut; frontwoman Roxanne Clifford was bouncing around the stage, whipping her hair about, and even cracked smiles when not grimacing at the sound coming from their monitors. Having twice the material to draw from meant this show was nearly twice as long as their last visit, with the set list split almost evenly between the two records and for the encore, they acquiesced to a fan request for “Starry Eyes”, a b-side that pre-dated their debut. It would have been nicer to see more people on hand – I wouldn’t have put the attendance much more than who came out last year – but at least the fans were ardent.

Photos: Veronica Falls, Cold Showers @ The Garrison – March 12, 2013
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Teenage”
Video: Veronica Falls – “My Heart Beats”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Bad Feeling”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Beachy Head”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Cold Showers – “BC”

Spinner talks to Billy Bragg about his new album Tooth And Nail, in stores next Tuesday. He plays the Danforth Music Hall on May 3.

NOW talks to CHVRCHES in advance of their Canadian Musicfest-opening show at The Mod Club on March 20.

For Folk’s Sake and The Chicago Tribune have interviews with Richard Thompson, in town next week at Massey Hall on March 22 opening for Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.

British Sea Power have gone with the title track as the first video from their new record Machineries Of Joy, out April 1.

Video: British Sea Power – “Machineries Of Joy”

The Alternate Side has posted a video session with Jessie Ware. She makes her local debut at The Opera House on April 6.

British soul singer Laura Mvula – fourth on this year’s BBC Sound of 2013 poll – will make her local debut on April 20 at The Drake Underground in support of the just-released debut album Sing To The Moon. DIY has a feature piece.

Video: Laura Mvula – “Green Garden”

Johnny Marr offers DIY some thoughts on the likelihood of a Smiths reunion, and they’re not encouraging if you’re someone holding out hope for a Smiths reunion. Best just head to his show at The Phoenix on April 27 if you want to see Marr live.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Foals’ Holy Fire; the NSFW warning seems pretty much a given by this point. They play The Kool Haus on May 11.

Video: Foals – “Late Night”

GQ has an interview with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, who’ve just released a crowdsourced new video from Four. They’ll play Garrison Commons at Fort York as part of Field Trip on June 8.

Video: Bloc Party – “Truth”

The Fly has a feature piece on one of the possible saviours of British guitar rock, Peace; they’re in town on June 15 as part of NXNE.

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Pet Shop Boys have already completed a follow-up to last year’s Elysium; Electric will be out in June and of course there’s a trailer.

Trailer: Pet Shop Boys / Electric

The Vaccines have rolled out a new clip from their second album Come Of Age. They’re sort-of in town on August 24 in Simcoe taking part in the Mumford & Sons-led Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover fest. Mumford & Sons also have a new video from their own second record, Babel.

Video: The Vaccines – “Bad Mood”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Whispers In The Dark”

TOY have rolled out another new video from their debut, TOY.

Video: TOY – “My Heart Skips A Beat”

The Twilight Sad has made a new song from the No One Can Ever Know sessions available to stream.

Stream: The Twilight Sad – “Tell Me When We’re Having Fun”

PopMatters chats with Patrick Wolf.

Consequence Of Sound and Blurt talk to Robyn Hitchcock about his new record Love From London.

Over at Talkhouse, Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg has an excellent essay/review about David Bowie’s new record The Next Day and the evolution of Bowie’s voice through the decades.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Disco Damaged Kid

A check-in with Polly Scattergood

Photo via mutemuteEnglish singer-songwriter Polly Scattergood’s 2009 self-titled debut may have been an indulgent, precious, and overdramatic work that sounded very much like the diary entries of a 22-year old put to music, but it was also impressively assured for the same reason, assuredly declaring “this is who and what I am right now” and doing it by way of sophisticatedly melodic electro-pop and expressive vocal work. Even if it didn’t do it for you, it was hard to deny that it heralded the arrival of a new talent with much potential that merited attention as it grew and matured.

The follow-up will arrive sometime this Summer, but a couple samples have already been released to both remind listeners of what she’s about – four years is an eternity to be away these days – and show how far she’s come. Two tracks aren’t quite enough to judge the latter point, but they’re both solid tunes and as far as getting me to revisit the debut and remember to pay attention to when the album finally comes out? Mission accomplished.

MP3: Polly Scattergood – “Wanderlust”
Stream: Polly Scattergood – “Disco Damaged Kid”

MTV Hive interviews Foals about Holy Fire, out next Tuesday.

7Digital and The 405 chat with Veronica Falls about their new record Waiting For Something To Happen and DIY gets a track-by-track walkthrough of the new album It’s out next Tuesday and they play The Garrison on March 12.

Spinner talks to David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick about new album The Next Day, out March 12.

Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES have announced a March 26 digital release for their first North American EP Recover, and are streaming the lead track from it. They play The Mod Club on March 20 as part of Canadian Musicfest.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Recover”

The House Of Love have released the first single from She Paints Words In Red by way of video. Getting quiet excited for this record as well as the fact that international shipping on the limited-edition vinyl was four pence.

Video: The House Of Love – “A Baby Got Back On Its Feet”

The Line Of Best Fit debuts the new single from Little Green Cars by way of video session; they play The Drake on March 28.

DIY and The 405 interview Frightened Rabbit, who have put out a new video from the just-released Pedestrian Verse. They play The Phoenix on March 31.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Today’s Cross”

The Skinny and MusicOmh interview Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable while Aritzia asks her which five songs she wished she’d written. The Joy Formidable are at The Phoenix on April 12.

Anyone wondering why it’s taken Mumford & Sons so long to bring 2012′s Babel to town can blame their decision to eschew conventional touring in favour of their Gentlemen Of The Road events. Southern Ontario finally gets our turn, though, as they’ve announced a “stopover” for the weekend of August 23 and 24 in Simcoe, Ontario on the shores of Lake Erie, a little under two hours outside of Toronto. There will be two days of music with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Dan Mangan amongst those playing the Friday The Old Crow Medicine Show, Hey Rosetta!, and The Vaccines as well as Mumford themselves on Saturday with more acts to be announced. Two-day passes run $109.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
Video: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Home”

NPR has posted a video session with Bat For Lashes.

Neil Halstead drops in at Daytrotter.

The Phoenix interviews Peter Hook.