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Posts Tagged ‘New Pornographers’

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.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Met Before

I am back in town. Chairlift are coming to town. Coincidence? Absolutely.

Photo By Tom HinesTom HinesSo Chicago was great, thanks for asking. Terrible weather forecasts came not to pass, though storms yesterday did wreak a little havoc on getting out of town. But that’s neither here nor there, and I am now here, not there. And here is a very short post to confirm that I am, indeed, still alive.

It’s not entirely clear to me what the mandate of the Soundclash festival coming to Harbourfront Centre in July is, but at least part of it is to bring Brooklyn electro-pop duo Chairlift to town for a free show on the Harbourfront mainstage on July 12 – I only realized I really dug their last album Something after they’d finished touring it – so it’s cool with me. That’s in addition to the Born Ruffians and Belle Game bill on the evening of the 13th, so if there’s a better place to hang out that weekend than on the lakefront, I can’t imagine what it is.

MP3: Chairlift – “I Belong In Your Arms”

If you didn’t know, the NXNE schedule is now live and should be your go-to for updates on who’s playing the festival, which kicks off June 12. One of the new adds worth noting is California’s We Are Scientists, who will anchor the Lee’s Palace lineup on June 14 and play Yonge-Dundas Square on June 15 at 4PM. Their last album was 2010′s Barbara but should be due a new record later this year.

MP3: We Are Scientists – “Impatience”

When you’re talking about Björk, some degree of strange is always implied, but that Californian experimental hip-hop outfit Death Grips will be opening for her at Echo Beach on July 16 is extra strange. Well, not when you consider Zach Hill and Björk are chums and collaborators, but musically? There’ll be some confused Björk super-fans up front that night, I wager.

MP3: Death Grips – “Spread Eagle Cross The Block”

The CNE circuit is usually reserved for family-friendly, throwback nostalgia acts, but it appears that The New Pornographers will be one of the performers at this year’s Ex, presumably playing the Bandshell on August 17. Shows are free with admission to the Exhibition.

MP3: The New Pornographers – “The Laws Have Changed”

Whilst on the topic of free (or free with admission) outdoor shows around the city, Plants & Animals and Cadence Weapon will be part of the Indie Fridays concert series at Yonge-Dundas Square on the evenings of August 23 and August 30, respectively.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning”

Because he doesn’t give a damn what you or anyone else thinks, Peter Hook and his band The Light will be in town on September 19 as part of his tour of complete album recitals of New Order’s Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies. It is worth noting, however, that The Hoxton is a good deal smaller than The Phoenix, where he first performed Unknown Pleasures in Fall of 2011. Tickets are $18 in advance, which isn’t bad to see a legend up close and personal.

Trailer: Peter Hook & The Light / Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies live

Brooklyn-based electronic/ambient artist Julianna Barwick will release her new album Nepenthe on August 20 and be in town at Double Double Land on September 26 to play songs from it.

MP3: Julianna Barwick – “Never Change”
Trailer: Julianna Barwick / Nepenthe

Laura Marling talks to Interview, The Age, NOW, and Spin about her new album Once I Was An Eagle, out next Tuesday, May 28, and streaming now at NPR. She plays 99 Sudbury this Saturday night, March 25.

Stream: Laura Marling / Once I Was An Eagle

The National released Trouble Will Find Me this week, and are thus the topic of feature pieces at The Grid – who send Hayden to interview Matt Berninger – as well as The Toronto Sun, Entertainment Weekly, Consequence Of Sound, Billboard, NPR, and The National Post. NPR also has a World Cafe session with the band, who headline NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 14.

Okay I’m going to go lie down now.

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Break The Spell

Rachel Zeffira at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough inconvenient and unfortunate in real terms, there was something appropriate about the fact that half of Rachel Zeffira’s first North American tour was canceled on account of visa issues. After all, her musical career only took the course that it did because of an overzealous British immigration officer refused her entry to the country, causing her to miss her an important music college audition. That all worked out for the best, of course, as it set her on the course to become half of Cat’s Eyes with Faris Badwan of The Horrors, and then the solo artist who dropped the stunning operatic/classical/indie genre-melding debut album The Deserters late last year in Europe, and this Spring in North America.

The aforementioned cancelation left Thursday night’s performance at The Drake Underground in Toronto as her sole show on this continent; thankfully getting her into Canada wasn’t an issue as she originally hails from the Kootenays in British Columbia. Given that it was a relatively low-key debut and the buzz around her hasn’t yet really begun bubbling over into broader consciousness, I wasn’t sure how much of a production this show would be; entering the Drake and seeing the stage absolutely jammed with gear, the answer was clearly, “a pretty big one”. And though the audience wasn’t overly large, they were attentive and helped create a welcoming atmosphere for Zeffira’s first-ever visit to Toronto, as a performer or otherwise.

Though she surely could have impressed with just her soaring soprano, a keyboard, and maybe some choice samples, Zeffira fronted a seven-piece band with a three-piece mini-orchestra of cello, oboe, and trumpet, a drummer, and two backup singers – while she herself moved between keys, organ, and vibraphone. But really, the full band was the only way to do The Deserters justice – while the album isn’t especially busy, when it calls for a trumpet flourish or cello line, it demands it. And so while the extra players often sat quietly while Zeffira led the proceedings, when they were called on, you couldn’t imagine them not being there.

While reproducing the album arrangements was the strategy for much of the set, the massive organ which apparently took nine people to move into the Drake’s basement was used to give “Here On In” a decidedly gothier makeover, and the vibes – essential for “Waiting For Sylvia” – were also put to good use on a gorgeous cover of The Beatles’ “Because” alongside Zeffira and her singers’ harmonies. The show was a touch short, the main set wrapping at the 40-minute mark, it had the perfect grace note as Zeffira returned to the organ for the encore and played Cat’s Eyes swinger “Over You”. A nice treat for those of us who came to her solo work via that project and perhaps an enticement for newer fans to discover her other works, and a solid finale to an impressive if too-short debut.

Exclaim and NOW also have reviews of the show; The Globe & Mail, NOW, The Toronto Star also had interviews with Zeffira ahead of the show while The Village Voice did the same without knowing her New York show was canceled. Vogue also has an interview.

Photos: Rachel Zeffira @ The Drake Underground – May 2, 2013
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “Here On In”
Video: Rachel Zeffira – “The Deserters”
Video: Cat’s Eyes – “Face In The Crowd”
Video: Cat’s Eyes – “The Best Person I Know”
Video: Cat’s Eyes – “Over You”
Video: Cat’s Eyes – “Cat’s Eyes”
Video: Cat’s Eyes – “Love You Anyways”

Exclaim talks to Gold & Youth about their forthcoming debut album Beyond Wilderness, out May 14, which they also happen to have to stream. How convenient. They’re also playing Field Trip at Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: Gold & Youth / Beyond Wilderness

The Denver Post has a chat with METZ, coming home to Lee’s Palace on May 17.

Though she’s done promoting Visions, Grimes can still give her debut album Geidi Primes – conveniently reissued last year – a nudge by posting a heretofore unreleased video to her Tumblr.

Video: Grimes – “Venus In Fleurs”

For Folk’s Sake has an interview with Jonas Bonetta of Evening Hymns.

The Calgary Herald checks in with Carl Newman of The New Porongraphers, who are getting ready to head back into the studio to record a new record.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

We Are The Same

The Tragically Hip attempt something novel, plan Canada Day shows

Photo via Amazon.comAmazonYesterday was a pretty busy one as far as festival announcements went – the first acts for this year’s Pitchfork Festival, happening July 13 to 15 in Chicago’s Union Park, were revealed; Sled Island made a pretty compelling argument for visiting Calgary from June 20 to 23; and though an official announcement is still a little ways off, the fact that Florence & The Machine, The Walkmen, tUnE-yArDs, Black Keys and The Shins will all be passing through during the August long weekend gives you a good notion of who Osheaga will be bringing to Montreal.

All of which serves to remind that we here in Toronto are again a festival-free town, at least as far as big outdoor to-dos are concerned. Sure, we may get an Olympic Island show but those aren’t ever a sure thing, Hillside is reasonably local but keeps things pretty grassroots, and club-level stuff like CMW and NXNE don’t quite stir the same amount of excitement, though the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square during NXNE come pretty close. And yeah I know there’s stuff like Edgefest and Warped and HeavyTO, but those never interest me and are thus invalid. All of which is to say that for all the problems that it ran into over its four-year existence, I miss V Fest.

But hey, the field isn’t completely fallow – The Tragically Hip, as they often do, have announced a couple of multi-act shows in honour of the 200th anniversary of the War Of 1812 and Canada Day to take place at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-On-The-Lake on June 30 and Burl’s Creek outside of Barrie on July 1, respectively. Not in the 416 like last year’s Weezer co-headline bro-fest at Downsview, but as good as it gets for now. Joining them for both dates will be Death Cab For Cutie, The New Pornographers, and The Rural Alberta Advantage. I’m assuming Death Cab will play the Americans in the historical re-enactment of the Battle Of Beaver Dams. It’s not as mammoth a linuep as they’ve sometimes assembled for the country’s birthday, but it’s a solid one.

Tickets are $69.50 for either show and there will be a limited number of two-days passes for $99.50 for the extra patriotic. Details at thehip.com.

MP3: Death Cab For Cutie – “Photobooth”
MP3: The New Pornographers – “(Your Hands) Together”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”
Video: The Tragically Hip – “My Music At Work”

The Wilderness Of Manitoba will warm up for their trip down to Austin for SXSW and preview songs from their forthcoming second album with a show at The Drake Underground on March 8.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

Acknowledging that barely a fraction of their fanbase will get to see them at The Horseshoe on March 23 during Canadian Musicfest, Zeus have made a properly-sized hometown date at The Phoenix on June 9, tickets $15. Their second album Busting Visions is out March 27.

MP3: Zeus – “Anything You Want Dear”

Exclaim welcomes Grimes to the cover of their March issue. She’s at The Horseshoe on March 19.

Pitchfork has premiered the first track from PS I Love You’s sophomore effort Death Dreams, out May 8. They’re also playing Lee’s Palace on March 23 for Canadian Musicfest and Toronto Standard has a conversation with them and Diamond Rings, whose own second album is the process of being wrapped up.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes”

The Alternate Side welcomes Dan Mangan for a video session and interview. He plays The Indies at The Royal York on March 24.

Interview has premiered the first of a series of performance videos by The Wooden Sky showcasing songs from their new record Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, while Exclaim has an interview with the band in this month’s issue as well as an online piece about the other projects the band are pursuing, and The Link also has a chat. They’re at The Opera House on April 20.

Interview, CBC Radio 3, Montreal Gazette, and National Post talk to Plants & Animals about their new album The End Of That, from which they’ve just released a new video. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 21.

Video: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”

Metric have announced a June 12 release date for their new record, which will be entitled Synthetica. I suspect that some synths went into the making of this record.

The Line Of Best Fit, Exclaim, and Minnesota Daily talk to Memoryhouse about their debut full-length The Slideshow Effect, out now and sporting a brand-new video.

Video: Memoryhouse – “The Kids Were Wrong”

Islands have released a new video from A Sleep & A Forgetting while NPR has posted a World Cafe session and Exclaim, Blurt, JAM, and Seattle Weekly interviews with the band.

Video: Islands – “Hallways”

The Scotsman talks to Kathleen Edwards, who also gives Clash a peek at some of her literary influences. The Hamilton Spectator also has some questions for their former resident.

Uptown, The Calgary Herald, and Prairie Dog interview Calgary singer-songwriter Rae Spoon.

Happy Leap Day! It’s a great day to do things you normally wouldn’t… like lead a post with The Tragically Hip! Woo!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Racing Like A Pro

The National and Mumford & Sons officially graduate to arena rock status

Photo By Keith KlenowskiKeith KlenowskiJust to be clear: filling Massey Hall for two nights in a row is no mean feat. Not many bands can do it once, let alone twice, but when The National did just that last June in support of their breakout album High Violet, it felt like an arrival – the best and most natural setting for a band that had graduated from the bar circuit and were taking their rightful place in the city’s most hallowed room, hopefully for years to come.

Except clearly, they weren’t done. A year and a half on from their last album’s release, though a couple of high-profile singles released over this Summer as well as plenty of touring have kept them front of mind, The National have gotten big enough that their next North American tour will bring them to the Air Canada Centre on December 8. Granted, it will probably be the approximately 5200-capacity theatre configuration, which is about the same size as their Massey shows held, but still – it’s a remarkable thing (and a depressing thing for those who hate arena shows). The band are apparently conscious of the fact that their fanbase may not be especially keen on seeing them play such a large room, so they’ve sweetened the deal via the support acts – joining them for this show will be none other than Neko Case and Wye Oak. Yeah, that ACC isn’t looking so unappealing anymore, is it? Tickets range from $43.50 to $59.50 plus fees and presale goes Wednesday morning, public onsale Friday.

Express Night Out chats with bassist Scott Devendorff while NME gets the Dessner twins on camera talking about this and that, including their next record.

MP3: The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
MP3: Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”

By the same token, people were incredulous when Mumford & Sons sold the hell out of the Sound Academy last Fall – hadn’t they just played Lee’s Palace that February? – but indeed, they were really that popular and now it seems they’re even more popular. Again, it’s probably the theatre configuration, but that doesn’t change the fact that when Mumford & Sons hit the Air Canada Centre on October 25, they’ll have taken their bluegrass-pop anthems arena-scale. And just to prove it’s not a fluke, they’re doing the same thing down the 401 in Hamilton when they play Copp’s Coliseum the following night and then Montreal’s Bell Centre the night after that. Maybe their quickie Canadian tour is just them trying to catch some hockey games? Tickets for both Ontario shows are $34.50 and $49.50 plus fees.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Certainly not on the same scale of “really” but still a bit surprising is Coeur de Pirate making what I think is her first regular and proper club show in Toronto at a room the size of The Mod Club on November 11. I assume this means that her new album Blonde, out November 8, will be getting a hefty push to get folks interested before then. Tickets for the show are $21 in advance and they’ve released a little trailer for the new record.

Trailer: Coeur de Pirate / Blonde
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Comme des enfants”

The Rural Alberta Advantage, on the other hand, seem to have settled quite comfortably into The Phoenix as their home away from home while at home – November 17 will be their third show in a row there, I think. Don’t think there’s any particular occasion for this show besides, well, why not? Tickets are $20 in advance.

MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”

Zeus will be at Lee’s Palace on November 24, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”

Formerly operating as Harbourcoats, former Constantines frontman Bry Webb has decided to go with his own name for his solo debut Provider, which will be out on November 15. And he’ll be introducing the songs live in a pretty daunting setting – he’s opening for Feist at Massey Hall on December 1.

And finally, as far as show announcements yesterday go, Tokyo Police Club will be rolling into The Phoenix on December 8 leading a Can-rocking bill that also features Born Ruffians and Said The Whale. Tickets for that are $25 in advance. Northern Star chats with TPC drummer Greg Alsop.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Party In The USA”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”
MP3: Said The Whale – “Camilo (The Magician)”

Pitchfork has an interview with Carl Newman of The New Pornographers, who’ve put out a new video from last year’s Together.

Video: The New Pornographers – “Up In The Dark”

Also with a new video is Diamond Rings, from Special Affections. He’s at The Mod Club on October 3.

Video: Diamond Rings – “You And Me”

Exclaim has got a new track from Ohbijou’s forthcoming Metal Meets, out September 27. They play Trinity-St. Paul’s in honour of its release on September 30 and PostCity chats with bandleader Casey Mecija about the new record.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”

Pitchfork has a stream of Kathleen Edwards’ first new material in a while which will be released on 7″ on September 27 and oh yeah, features contributions from some guy who goes by Bon Iver.

Stream: Kathleen Edwards – “Wapusk”

The Line Of Best Fit chats with the sisters of Tasseomancy, whose record release show for Ulalame happens at The Great Hall on October 20. They also open up for Austra at The Phoenix on December 1. And speaking of Austra, a new b-side is available to stream, which is noteworthy because it’s kind of as good as their a-sides, and Prague Post has an interview with Katie Stelmanis.

Stream: Austra – “Identity”

The new Memoryhouse EP The Years has been available to stream for a while before its release today, but Drowned In Sound has sweetened their stream with track-by-track commentary from the band.

Southern Souls has an interview with Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon.

Canadian Blast chats with The Wilderness Of Manitoba.

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show filmed in Toronto with Little Scream.

Rockerzine chats with Sloan bassist Chris Murphy.

Under The Radar and The Victoria Times-Colonist interview Handsome Furs.