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Posts Tagged ‘Murray Lightburn’

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

From Now On

Basia Bulat and Casey Mecija at The Polish Combatants Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen you reach a certain age and/or have blogged for a certain amount of time, the years do tend to blur together some. For example, I couldn’t believe that it was just four years between when I first saw a mostly-unknown Basia Bulat playing in a little basement tavern on Rue Saint-Denis at Pop Montreal 2006 and when I saw her last, with two acclaimed albums to her name, performing with the full Symphony Nova Scotia orchestra at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010; that, folks, is some kind of trajectory and velocity. And I also couldn’t believe that that show three years ago was the last time I saw her perform, having seen her more on the streets of Toronto than any stage.

The opportunity to turn that trend around came this past weekend with three intimate shows at the Polish Combatants Hall to mark the release of her third album, Tall Tall Shadow. It’s a record presented as something of a shift, being recorded in a legion hall in Toronto rather than the Hotel 2 Tango studios in Montreal that birthed the first two albums, and incorporating more electronic textures into her heretofore traditionally folk-based sound. None of this constitutes a reinvention and on initial listens, the listener is probably more occupied with welcoming the return of Bulat’s rich vocals delivering her first new material in almost four years than any of the sonic accoutrements. But if you’re listening for them, the shift in production aesthetic does indeed distinguish Shadow from its predecessors, as does the more sophisticated phrasing of her vocals, introducing new emotional shading into her work. Given that her first album came out when she was just 23 years old, a maturing over the course of her records is inevitable but to hear it captured so elegantly without losing the wide-eyed brightness that marked her earlier work is pretty special.

For each of the three nights of these release shows, a local solo artist was tapped to open and on the Friday night I was pleased to be able to see Casey Mecija, until very recently of Ohbijou and also one half of electronic pop project Warm Myth; it was a bill that took me way back to December 2007, where it was Bulat who was opening up for Ohbijou at Lee’s Palace. Opening up with the title track of Ohbijou’s final album Metal Meets, Mecija moved between intricately fingerpicked electric guitar, grand piano, and electronic loops and samplers – her sublime vocals gliding overop them all – and her too-brief set was an excellent reminder of just how good she is in whatever project she’s working on. While it’s sad that Ohbijou are no more, we should be thankful that she continues to make art for our ears.

If there’s any sort of downside to having seen Bulat perform so many times in the early part of her career – nine times from Fall 2006 to Summer 2008, by my Flickr count – it’s that my notions of what to expect from her shows were pretty fixed. So conversely, not seeing her live for a few years ended up being all kinds of great, not least of all because sometime between then and now, she’s started playing the autoharp standing up. Not that she was just standing; she was dancing and swinging as she led her band through the new songs, an impressive vivaciousness in her stage presence to go with her giddy sweetness of old. With her, as always, was brother Bobby on drums, Holly Coish on backing vocals and also now keys, and Alison Stewart on viola; new to the mix was Ben Whiteley of New Country Rehab on bass – hardly a stripped-down lineup but a far cry from some of those early shows where she seemed to have a veritable orchestra at her command (unlike the Halifax gig where she actually did).

In the live setting, the shifts in aesthetic were more pronounced and arrangements bolder, with Bulat spending as much time on keyboards and grand piano as the autoharp and when the picked up the guitar, it was an electric (semi-hollow; thanks) run through an actual pedalboard. This wasn’t in an attempt to “rock” – though I’ve never wished I’d brought earplugs to one of her shows before this one – but to have the tools to properly explore new territory. All little things, maybe, but nigh-unimaginable a few years ago and now perfectly reasonable.

Of the new material, Shadow closer “From Now On” received an especially gorgeous treatment, with Bulat on grand piano and Whiteley and Coish on backing vocals, topped only by the record’s emotional centre – the stark “Never Let Me Go” – in which her powerful voice was lifted by four-part harmonies to close out the main set. Many of the older songs were made fresh with re-arrangements and re-contextualization: on grand piano, “I Was A Daughter” sounded from the perspective of an adult reflecting on the past tense than a girl in the moment, while “Heart Of Mine” was completely re-cast with synths, drum pads, and vocoder for the moving parts. The encore brought things back home, though, with the hammered harp of “The Shore” perfect as is, and joyous “Before I Knew” a sublime show closer. Well, almost – the sight of Bulat standing onstage, wide-eyed and hands over her mouth before a standing ovation, was just that much better.

The Grid, The Globe and Mail, JAM, and The Huffington Post all had conversations with Basia about the new record and release shows.

Photos: Basia Bulat, Warm Myth @ The Polish Combatants Hall – October 11, 2013
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Go On”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “In The Night”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Mossy Lungs”
Video: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”
Video: Basia Bulat – “In The Night”
Video: Ohbijou – “Niagara”
Video: Ohbijou – “New Years”
Video: Ohbijou – “The Woods”

With the release of Flying Colours as of today, CBC Music has turned the reins of their website over to Shad who is blogging up a storm with readables. And if you’d rather hang with Shad in meatspace, remember that he’s playing an in-store at Sonic Boom in the Annex tonight at 7PM, has a sold-out show at The Opera House on October 19, and returns to the Danforth Music Hall on January 31.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan have made another new song from their second album Uzu available to stream via Pitchfork, and also recently stopped in at the CBC for a Q video session. The album is out October 29 and they’ve scheduled a date behind it at The Garrison for November 6.

Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – “Windflower”

DIY has details on a new EP from No Joy entitled Pastel And Pass Out, which will be out on November 4. One of the new songs from the release is available to stream below.

Stream: No Joy – “Last Boss”

Beatroute and The Ottawa Citizen interview The Sadies about their latest album Internal Sounds. They get external with them at Lee’s Palace on November 15.

Dears frontman Murray Lightburn talks to aux.tv and The Toronto Star about his solo work.

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

How Deep In The Valley

Sarah Harmer rallies rally for pipeline awareness

Photo By Afie JurvanenAfie JurvanenHer musical achievements are pretty much beyond reproach – both leading Weeping Tile and as a solo artist – but Sarah Harmer has become as well-known for her activism in recent years. In 2005, she helped form PERL – Protecting Escarpment Rural Land – to fight proposed development on the Niagara Escarpment, work which was reflected musically in her I’m A Mountain album and documented in the Escarpment Blues doc. The movement scored a major victory last Fall when a proposed quarry in the escarpment was denied. Now she’s seeking to draw attention to Line 9, a pipeline which currently carries conventional crude oil across Ontario and Quebec and which may be repurposed to also transport heavy crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands.

To draw public attention to their calls for further environmental assessment of the project, Harmer has organized Rock The Line, a free concert happening at Mel Lastman Square in North York this coming Sunday, October 6, starting at 2PM. Joining her will be Gord Downie & The Sadies – formidable on their own, fearsome togetherHayden and Guelph’s Minotaurs. A great show for any reason and an even better one for the cause behind it.

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Oleander”
Video: Gord Downie & The Sadies – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Hayden – “Rainy Saturday”

Basia Bulat is marking the release of her new album Tall Tall Shadow this week with a track-by-track walkthrough at Port Magazine, a video session at NOW, and a video for the title track premiered over at Bullett. She plays three nights at The Polish Combatants Hall on from October 10 to 12.

Video: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

Filter has a stream of Prayer Of The Woods, the solo debut from Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker, out October 8.

Stream: Tony Dekker / Prayer Of The Woods

The Darcys talk to Exclaim about their plans to release a 20-minute, Cormac McCarthy-inspired instrumental track and video series for every track on their latest, Warring. They play The Adelaide Music Hall on October 11.

In advance of his “electronic pop opera” performance at the Adelaide Music Hall that night – The Montreal Gazette saw said show at Pop Montreal last weekend – Murray Lightburn will play an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on October 12 at 2PM.

MP3: Murray Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”

As the October 27 release date for Reflektor draws ever closer, Arcade Fire have revealed a few more new songs via a short film by The Creators Project.

Video: Arcade Fire / Here comes The Night Time

Loud & Quiet, The Link, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Edmonton Journal interview Braids. They play The Great Hall on November 10.

Under The Radar and The Georgia Straight talk to Catherine McCandless of Young Galaxy, who’ve released a new video from Ultramarine. They play The Hoxton on November 22.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Sleepwalk With Me”

Perhaps conscious that they haven’t actually played Toronto since Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO came out in early April – their CMF show happened a few weeks prior and their announced NXNE show never actually happened – The Besnard Lakes have announced a November 26 date at Lee’s Palace, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “People Of The Sticks”

Stereogum talk to Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham about their new record and Godspeed’s comments following their Polaris win last week. That seems like ancient history now, but if you wanted to read some well-reasoned responses to the kerfuffle (which align with my thinking, natch), check out pieces at Herohill, A Void, Radio Free Canuckistan, Liisa Ladouceur, and The Toronto Standard.

Dan Mangan drops some pretty high-falutin’ reference points in discussing his plans for his next record with Exclaim.

NOW has an interview and Chart solicits a list of recommended listening from Diana.

The National Post, Culture Map, and Beatroute interview Katie Stelmanis of Austra.

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Hunting

While I was out… featuring The Darcys and things of a Canadian nature

Photo By Zach SlootskyZach SlootskyConsidering how much of the narrative around The Darcys’ first two records were focused squarely on the past – the band’s self-title inexorably tied to the band’s own turbulent history and their Aja cover album to their affection for Steely Dan’s work – it’s understandable that the promotional lead-up to the September 17 release of their new record Warring would be so eyes forward, full steam ahead.

Since its initial announcement at the end of July, they’ve released streams of two new songs and crowdsourced remixes, and last week they premiered a first video at Esquire followed yesterday by another new stream via Tumblr. A full album stream should surface next week sometime, but it’s already a sure thing that Warring is a dark and dramatic work that balances the progressive and accessible.

Further, they’ve announced a first batch of live dates in support of Warring and it includes a hometown record release show at the Adelaide Music Hall on October 11. Tickets for that are $20 and some are bundled with early release LPs available at stores around Toronto now – details here.

Stream: The Darcys – “Hunting”
Video: The Darcys – “The River”

Panic Manual conducts an exit interview with Ohbijou, who go on indefinite hiatus following a farewell show at The Great Hall on September 7.

NPR has an advance stream of The Weeknd’s new album Kiss Land, which is officially out on September 10. He plays three nights at Massey Hall on October 17, 19, and 20.

Stream: The Weeknd / Kiss Land

Southern Souls has a video session with Austra. They play The Phoenix on September 26.

Flare gets fashion spread-y with Carmen Elle of Diana and Basia Bulat, amongst other Toronto musicians. The former plays The Great Hall on September 26, the latter releases Tall Tall Shadow on October 1 and plays The Polish Combatants Hall on October 10 and 11.

Dears frontman Murray Lightburn will bring his just-released solo record Mass:Light to the stage at Adelaide Hall on October 12, tickets $15 in advance with a number of 2-for-1 packages improving the value proposition. The Take has an interview with Lightburn about the new record.

MP3: Murray Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”

Shad has released a new video from his forthcoming Flying Colours, which you can watch below and read (the lyrics) over at Rap Genius. The album is out October 15 and he plays The Opera House on October 19.

Video: Shad – “Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)”

Maritime singer-songwriter Rose Cousins has announced a North American tour behind last year’s still-wonderful We Have Made A Spark; she’s at The Dakota Tavern on October 17.

MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”

Exclaim reports that The Elwins are aiming to have their second album out by the middle of next year, but in the meantime are doing what they do second-best – the best being writing super-poppy tunes – and that’s touring their butts off. Amidst dates in Europe, the US, and the rest of Canada, they’ll play a hometown show at The Horseshoe on October 19.

Video: The Elwins – “Helpful Assistance”

Pitchfork talks to Yamantaka//Sonic Titan about their new album Uzu, coming out October 29.

Spencer Krug will release a new album as Moonface on October 29; the first song from Julia with Blue Jeans On is now available to stream.

Stream: Moonface – “Everyone Is Noah, Everyone Is The Ark”

Arcade Fire has posted a trailer for their next album Reflektor, which people are assuming they’ll hear a first and proper sample from on September 9 at 9PM, as per their marketing campaign. Pitchfork has specifics on what is known thus far. The album is out proper on October 29. Update: Consequence Of Sound has the dirt – “Reflektor” is the first single, the video is directed by Anton Corbijn, and the 12″ single of it will go on sale on September 9 at 9PM if you can find a record store that is open then.

Trailer: Arcade Fire / Reflektor

Having had to cancel his June 30 show at The Hoxton, Mac DeMarco has announced the make-up date for that show at the same venue on November 24. The Music has an interview with DeMarco.

MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Freaking Out The Neighbourhood”

After way too long, The Balconies have gotten their second album Fast Motions together and will have it out later this Fall; Ion Magazine has premiered the first video from it.

Video: The Balconies – “The Slo”

Evening Hymns have premiered a new video from last year’s Spectral Dusk at Clash.

Video: Evening Hymns – “Arrows”

Baeble Music has a videos session with Stars.

Noisey talks to Valleys.

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Crying My Heart Out

Young Galaxy offer up deluxe shade of Ultramarine

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

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

Stream: Young Galaxy – “Crying My Heart Out”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stream: The Darcys – “Muzzle Blast”

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

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

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

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

Video: Louise Burns – “Emeralds Shatter”

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

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

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

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

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

New House

Hear the (very near) future of Canadian music today, featuring Diana

Photo By Laurie KangLaurie KangA disproportionate number of intriguing Canadian indie releases scheduled for the 20th of August means a disproportionate number of intriguing Canadian indie advance streams the week prior to the 20th of August. And perhaps the most intriguing of these is Perpetual Surrender, the debut album from Toronto’s Diana, an outfit that barely existed a year ago and only started to gather notice locally last Fall, thanks to their connections to Destroyer – keyboardist/saxophonist Joseph Shabason was part of the Kaputt band – and Army Girls – frontwoman Carmen Elle’s main gig prior to this.

But clearly the time is right for ’80s-vintage, soft-focus synth-pop that sounds simultaneously luxurious and dissatisfied because Diana (sorry, won’t indulge the all-caps) are making impressive waves both at home and abroad and signing to esteemed label Jagjaguwar for the latter territories. They’ve opened for Fucked Up and Tegan & Sara, and went from being the undercard on one of the hottest shows at CMF to themselves being one of the big draws at NXNE. And while I will confess to feeling a slight bit of disappointment in Perpetual Surrender, that’s only because it delivers exactly what Diana has promised, and not anything more. That should be more than enough for most, though, and if Diana turn out to be Toronto’s new musical ambassadors to the world for the next while, hey – I’m okay with that.

Perpetual Surrender is streaming now at Pitchfork. They play The Great Hall on September 26.

MP3: Diana – “Born Again”
Stream: Diana / Perpetual Surrender

Just as predicted, Braids have made their new record Flourish//Perish available to stream ahead of its release next week, also via Pitchfork. And also as predicted, I’m enjoying it considerably more than I did their debut, so that’s something. Exclaim has an interview with Raphaelle Standell-Preston about the departure of keyboardist Katie Lee; they’re this month’s cover story, which should be online soon. And those attending their November 10 show originally scheduled for BLK BOX should note that it has moved upstairs and will now take place in The Great Hall proper.

Stream: Braids / Flourish//Perish

Pitchfork didn’t get the advance stream of Sarah Neufeld’s solo debut Hero Brother, though – that went to The Quietus. Exclaim talks to Neufeld about work outside Arcade Fire and she’s playing guest blogger at Elle this month, offering thoughts on touring, yoga, and other stuff. She plays The Drake Undergound on August 22.

MP3: Sarah Neufeld – “Hero Brother”
Stream: Sarah Neufeld / Hero Brother

Murray Lightburn has doubled down on Exclaim to get the word out on his solo debut Mass:Light; they’ve got both an interview feature on the Dears frontman but also the complete album stream.

MP3: Murray Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”
Stream: Murray Lightburn / Mass:Light

CBC Music talks to Kathryn Calder about A Matter Of Time, the documentary film about ALS at which she and her mother are at the centre, as well as what’s going on with her next solo record and the new New Pornographers album. She should be with the Pornos when they play the CNE on August 17.

The Georgia Straight and Beatroute interview Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz. They play Wrongbar on September 17.

The Irish Examiner talks to Katie Stelmanis of Austra about life on the road. She leads them into The Phoenix on September 27.

If you thought The Polish Combatants Hall was an awfully small room for Basia Bulat to mark the October 1 release of her new record Tall Tall Shadow, you’d be correct. An October 11 show has been added to the previously announced October 10 date, tickets for both are $20.

Stream: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

Seeing as how in recent years, Great Lake Swimmers has ceased being a straight-up alias for frontman Tony Dekker and become a proper band, it makes sense that he might seek to go solo. And so he has, announcing an October 8 release date for his first record under his own name and performed entirely by himself, Prayer Of The Woods. Exclaim has details.

Relix has a video session with Hayden.

Gold & Youth play a video session for Exclaim.