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Posts Tagged ‘Noel Gallagher’

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Deep Wound

Swervedriver veer back into fast lane with new album

Photo by Gaz FailGaz FailFor a band that’s so intrinsically connected to the idea of powerful cars barrelling down the highway, Oxford’s Swervedriver have taken a pretty leisurely path since they reunited in 2008, touring fairly regularly behind old material but seeming to focus their creative energies on non-Swervies work; frontman Adam Franklin releasing three full-length albums with his Bolts Of Melody solo project including this year’s Black Horses, as well as one with Magnetic Morning, his project with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino. And while Toshack Highway hasn’t released anything since 2006, don’t discount Franklin returning to the project at some point in the future.

But for all of those releases’ merits, they’ve not been Swervedriver so it’s pretty exciting news that 2014 will finally see the band putting into gear with the release of a new Swervedriver album, their first since 1998′s 99th Dream. Now reunion albums are rightly regarded with suspicion – sometimes they’re great, a la My Bloody Valentine, but usually they’re passable at best and embarrassing at worst, but from just-released the first single – which they’re streaming along with the alternate version b-side, remixed by Ride’s Mark Gardener – their ability to meld great guitar riffs with catchy melodies remains wholly intact, and excitingly reminiscent of Raise, their 22-year old debut; it’s like dream-pop where the dream is of a muscle car going full tilt down the open road. Bring it.

The Feedback Society has an interview with Adam Franklin about both the new Bolts Of Melody record and the return of Swervedriver. And if you’re new to the band or haven’t been paying attention, a slew of live rarities – including complete on-stage versions of their first four albums – are available to download, gratis. Update: And now there’s a video.

Stream: Swervedriver – “Deep Wound”
Stream: Swervedriver – “Dub Wound”
Video: Swervedriver – “Deep Wound”

DIY talks to TOY about their new album Join The Dots, the title track of which they play in session for The Guardian. The album is out this week and they’ll be at The Horseshoe on January 14.

The Fly corners Cate Le Bon to play a video session for them. She’ll be at The Drake Underground on January 21.

Maxïmo Park have rolled out a second video from their new album Too Much Information, out February 3.

Video: Maxïmo Park – “Leave This Island”

The Fly has details on the new album from Bombay Bicycle Club, which will be called So Long, See You Tomorrow and be out in the UK on February 3.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Fanfarlo, taken from their forthcoming album Let’s Go Extinct, coming out February 11.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Landlocked”

London’s Let’s Wrestle return with their third album – a self-titled effort – on February 11 and they’ve permiered the first video from it at Noisey.

Video: Let’s Wrestle – “Codeine and Marshmallows”

Even though his latest album was the rather definitively-titled full-band affair Electric, It’ll be Richard Thompson solo and acoustic at Koerner Hall on March 6, just as when he dazzled there in September 2011. This time, though, he’ll have an opener with him and that’s none other than his son, Teddy Thompson.

Stream: Richard Thompson – “Good Things Happen To Bad People”

Intelligent Life hangs out with Guy Garvey of Elbow; their new album Carry Her Carry Me is out March 10.

What do you do if you’re releasing a single that appears in two different versions on your two current albums, one live and one studio? if you’re Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and the albums are Live At KCRW and Push The Sky Away, you record a third version. And then you premiere it at Rolling Stone. Cave and company are at The Sony Centre on July 31.

Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Higgs Boson Blues”

DIY have premiered a stream from Kate Nash’s new holiday EP Have Faith This Christmas. You probably know the song.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Silent Night”

Laura Groves has a new video for a Paul McCartney cover contributed to the Pun For Cover cover album; check it out via DIY.

Video: Laura Groves – “Waterfalls”

The Toronto Sun has an interview with and Stereogum a streaming b-side from Arctic Monkeys.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys – “You’re So Dark”

David Bowie has released another video from the bonus material on The Next Day Extra, though not for one of the new songs but again a remix – or an edit of a remix, to be precise, whatever that means.

Video: David Bowie – “I’d Rather Be High” Venetian Mix (Wasted Edit)

Rolling Stone asks Noel Gallagher how his year was. He answers as only Noel Gallagher can.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Rock Steady

Review of Trans’ Red

Photo By Chris McAndrewChris McAndrewThough I already celebrated the existence of Trans – all-caps is about as excited as I get online, I’ll have you know – I only recently got a hold of Red, the first in a series of EPs from Bernard Butler – ex of Suede and, in an informal poll of me, greatest guitarist of the past 20-plus years – and Jackie McKeown of Yummy Fur and more recently 1990s, whom Butler was producing when they met and began jamming together.

And jamming is the correct word, rather than writing, because the four tracks that comprise Red are certainly more about their improvised musical interplay than the considered composition that one would presume from Butler, given his track record of crafting ornate and elaborate pop music. As reluctant as I am to use the band’s own words to describe them, the Can-meets-Television descriptor is pretty apt, as the most defining aspects of the band so far are their steady, almost motorik rhythm section and free-form yet melodic guitarwork, at its most Verlaine-Lloyd-ish in the extended “Jubilee”. Lyrics are pretty throwaway, mostly nonsensical riffs on a phrase, but they both add a punky snottiness – Butler’s vocals a far cry from the ’70s singer-songwriter earnestness of his solo albums – and anchor the proceedings in a pop idiom.

There’s no question that Trans is of niche appeal, and if Butler were not involved I’m not honestly sure how much I’d have paid attention though now that I have, I can honestly say its an enjoyable listen on its own merits (and also fun to jam to on guitar), and I look forward to the follow-up releases. And while it’s probably too early to hope it leads to phone calls to David McAlmont or Brett Anderson – don’t worry Fat Richard, your job is safe – anything that gets Butler a little out of the producer’s chair and back towards making his own music is worth celebrating.

Uncut prepares for a feature interview with a short history of the project, while The Quietus has a chat with both Butler and McKeown.

Video: Trans – “Jubilee”
Video: Trans – “Rock Steady”
Video: Trans – “Building No. 8″

Speaking of musical heroes in new contexts, New York Times has got an advance stream of Stars Are Our Home, the debut from Neil Halstead’s new project Black Hearted Brother; the album is out October 22 and North American dates are going to happen. PopMatters, for their part, asks twenty questions of Mark Van Hoen, none of them specifically about the new album.

MP3: Black Hearted Brother – “This Is How It Feels”
Stream: Black Hearted Brother / Stars Are Our Home

With her new album Arrows finally set for release next week on October 22, Polly Scattergood has made it available to stream via her Tumblr.

MP3: Polly Scattergood – “Wanderlust”
Stream: Polly Scattergood / Arrows

DIY interviews Los Campesinos! about their new album No Blues, due out on October 29.

Drowned In Sound gets in-depth with Kate Nash, Noisey gets her to reflect on the moment “Foundations” broke her (in the good way), and she’s just released a new video for “Fri-End?” from Girl Talk and plays an acoustic version in a video session for The Telegraph. She’s in town at The Phoenix on November 5.

Video: Kate Nash – “Fri-End?”

Stereogum chats with Charli XCX, who finally makes her local headlining debut at Wrongbar on November 9.

Though it won’t appear on Cupid Deluxe when it comes out November 19, any new music from Blood Orange – including this Babyface and Toni Braxton cover with Samantha Urbani of Friends – is only a good thing.

Stream: Devonté Hynes & Samantha Urbani – “Hurt U”

Frank Turner isn’t kidding when he says he loves playing Canada. After doing two shows here for TURF back in July, he’s back for a gig at the Sound Academy on December 3; tickets are $23.50 general admission and $37.50 VIP balcony.

Video: Frank Turner – “Oh Brother”

London pysch-kraut outfit Toy have announced the December 9 release of their second album Join The Dots, a follow up to last year’s solid self-titled debut. DIY has details and the title track from the album has been made available to stream.

Stream: Toy – “Join The Dots”

Hot Minute gets to know The High Wire, who will release a new album early in the new year.

The new video from Travis‘ latest Where You Stand could double as an iPhone 5S commercial because it was shot entirely on the mobile phone. Drowned In Sound has the premiere and with it, details on how it was done.

Video: Travis – “Mother”

The Guardian has premiered a new video from Summer Camp’s just-released-in-North America self-titled effort.

Video: Summer Camp – “Two Chords”

British Sea Power have rolled out a new video from their latest album Machineries Of Joy. The Sunderland Echo looks into the inspiration for the song and clip.

Video: British Sea Power – “Monsters Of Sunderland”

Little Boots has premiered a new video from Nocturnes over at Nylon. CNet also asks Victoria Hesketh about her favourite smartphone apps.

Video: Little Boots – “Shake”

Boiler Room has a video session with CHVRCHES.

Under The Radar and FasterLouder talk to London Grammar.

Under The Radar (the New Zealand one) and Metro (the English one) have interviews with Anna Calvi.

Veronica Falls have decided to mark their upcoming Australasian tour with the release of a new song. Listen to said song now.

Stream: Veronica Falls – “Nobody There”

GQ declares Noel Gallagher one of its men of the year, presumably just to score an interview and get him to say batshit things. Mission accomplished.

For Folks Sake have an amiable little chat with Johnny Flynn.

Delirium On Helium talks to Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers.

Swedish electro-pop artist Elliphant has released a new video from what one assumes will be a full-length album someday.

Video: Elliphant – “Could It Be”

WNYC welcomes Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds for a session.

Wired talks music and technology with Björk.

Exclaim has details on the kidnapping drama that has prompted Spanish dance-pop band Delorean – who are fine now – to cancel their North American tour, including tonight’s date at The Horseshoe. The new date is February 20 at The Hoxton and the rest of the rescheduled tour dates can be had at Exclaim.

Phoenix’s episode of Austin City Limits is available to stream online for a limited time.

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Fresh

Summer Camp “Fresh”-en up for second album

Photo By Eleanor McDowallEleanor McDowallHaving gone high concept with their ’80s teen movie-evoking, fictional California community-set debut album Welcome To Condale, English retro-lectro-pop duo Summer Camp have been keeping relatively mum about what to expect from their forthcoming second album. It’s self-titled, so there’s not much to be gleaned there, and the trailer unveiled last month also didn’t do much besides offer a look around Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey’s flat, set to a surprisingly funky soundtrack.

That song has just been released as the first official sample of the new record by way of an uncommonly fun lyric video premiered at Gorilla Vs Bear. It’s a sweet disco-flavoured tune that happily and hopefully allays the reservations I had about Condale, specifically that all the ’80s-referencing would become more distraction than inspiration – they’ve got some ’70s in there now as well! I’ll happily take an album of great pop songs that aren’t necessarily about anything in particular; here’s hoping. Summer Camp is out on September 9.

Lyric Video: Summer Camp – “Fresh”

NME reports that The Vaccines will put out a new EP around the recently-released non-album single “Melody Calling”; it’s out August 12 and they play The Molson Amphitheatre supporting Mumford & Sons on August 26.

DIY and The Guardian talk to Kele Okereke about life in Bloc Party, with the former finding him dismissing the severity of the indefinite hiatus talk surrounding the release of their Nextwave Sessions EP on August 13.

Le Blogotheque has an Empty Spaces session and The Guardian a studio session with Franz Ferdinand, wherein they perform two of the songs from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. The album comes out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Under The Radar talks to Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian about their forthcoming rarities compilation The Third Eye Centre, out August 27.

Good news and bad news for those hoping Bat For Lashes would schedule some of her own headlining shows amongst the support dates for Depeche Mode this Summer; the good news is that yes she is, the bad news is that Toronto doesn’t get one – but Buffalo does, if you’re up for a road trip. She’s at the Town Ballroom on August 31 before opening up for Depeche Mode at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 1. And yeah, there is still an off day between Toronto and Montreal, so if you’re the finger-crossing type, commence or continue crossing fingers.

Despite having a new album in AM coming on September 10 that their fans would surely love to hear more from, Arctic Monkeys are doing a bit of trolling by streaming a new track that will not appear on the record. They play The Kool Haus on September 15.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys – “2013″

Under The Radar and Sticky talk to Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, whose debut album The Bones of What You Believe is out September 24 and who are at the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

Elvis Costello talks a bit about Wise Up Ghost, his collaboration with The Roots coming out September 17, with Mojo.

Spin has got the backstory on a new Kate Nash song that’s been made available to stream; listen, read, help if you can. Nash plays The Phoenix on November 5.

Stream: Kate Nash – “Pink Limo Ride”

While they’ve not offered any specifics besides the fact that it’s done, Fanfarlo have made a track from their forthcoming third album available to download. DIY has the statement from the band about it.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Myth Of Myself (A Ruse To Exploit Our Weaknesses)”

Daytrotter has a session with Sky Larkin, who’ve got a new record ready to go sometime this Summer, or so they claim.

Despite having lost frontman Daniel Blumberg to a solo career as Hebronix, Yuck have offered a track from their second album which will be out later this Fall, and you know what? It’s pretty good.

MP3: Yuck – “Rebirth”

DIY talks to The Maccabees, who’re working on album number for with an eye towards an early 2014 release date.

David Bowie gets simple and a bit scary for the next video from The Next Day, and if you like your Bowie a little more vintage, Aquarium Drunkard points to a BBC documentary about the inception of Ziggy Stardust.

Video: David Bowie – “Valentine’s Day”

Johnny Marr has put out another video from The Messenger and is streaming a new, non-album track at Pitchfork for good measure.

Video: Johnny Marr – “New Town Velocity”
Stream: Johnny Marr – “The It-Switch”

Rolling Stone has premiered the newest video from The Joy Formidable’s latest Wolf’s Law.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Silent Treatment”

Little Boots is giving away a track from Nocturnes in exchange for an email and offering a live acoustic video of that same tune.

Video: Little Boots – “All For You” (acoustic)

Rolling Stone welcomes Editors to their studios for an unplugged video session. There’s also interviews with the band at The Sun, Digital Spy, Burton Mail, Londonist, and The Scotsman.

Fractured Air and Elle talk to Tracyanne Campbell and The News Observer to Gavin Dunbar, both of Camera Obscura.

Daytrotter welcomes Stornoway to their studios for a session.

In an interview with Under The Radar, Brett Anderson reveals why Suede are so reluctant to do any touring in North America and to which I say there’s no “London” here in Canada so get your skinny ass over here.

Interview sends Daniel Craig – yes, that Daniel Craig – to interview about Atoms For Peace and Radiohead.

The Independent talks to Noel Gallagher about his one-time sneaker addiction. Which apparently was a real thing.

Friday, October 26th, 2012

London Conversations

Saint Etienne and Snowblink at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo after a five year layoff, following the almost-simultaneous implosion of all my bands, I’ve begun picking up the guitar again on a regular basis. Mostly just messing around, getting my chops back in order and my calluses back, but certainly with more seriousness than I have in a very long time (though if anyone wants to start a band that sounds like The Afghan Whigs meets Catherine Wheel, get in touch). This is relevant because the last time Saint Etienne were here in 2002, despite the fact that two acts I liked – Dot Allison and Stars – were opening and that I actually did enjoy the one comp I had – Too Young To Die – I gave it a pass because I was certain that a synth/sample-only act – read: no guitars – would be boring to see.

But older and wiser, and having spent the past decade getting decidedly better acquainted with their work as well as their latest effort Words and Music by Saint Etienne, I was quite excited to make up for that missed opportunity on Wednesday night for the first show of their North American tour in support of Words & Music, whether they brought an orchestra or iPod for accompaniment. See, this is me growing as a music fan.

Opening act Snowblink more than supplied any six-string fix I might have needed. The duo of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman let their respective guitars, a Joe Satriani signature Ibanez (!) and Snowblink signature antler-laden SG for her, a homebrew Telecaster for him, merge to create a gentle, atmospheric rain shower of notes for Gesundheit’s birdlike voice to flitter through in running through selections from their new record, Inner Classics. The two got a bit of help from a third player on percussion and electronics and the audience as a bell section, but most of the magic came from the two Dans. And if you thought that Gesundheit’s vocals would be ill-suited to something as earthy as a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Fall To Pieces”, well they’d have proved you wrong.

Moving the show from the Mod Club, where it was originally intended, to the Opera House may have turned out to be overly optimistic – the audience could have easily fit into the cozier room – but it’s possible that some of their hardcore middle-aged Anglophile demographic had been peeled off by the New Order show happening over at the Sony Centre. But those who were there were excited enough to make up for the elbow room, and when the four-piece Saint Etienne – the core trio plus backing singer – took the stage, Cracknell radiant in a sequined dress, feather boa, and huge smile, they were clearly just as happy to be there.

As expected, the live set up was with producers Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs in back of the stage, safely ensconced behind their keyboards and walls of technology, and Debsey Wykes off to the side with her mic and the only acoustic instruments of the evening – a cowbell and melodica – leaving most of the stage for Cracknell. And while there wasn’t literally a single, giant spotlight on her for the show, there may as well have been because even without much else going on on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off her; the elegant with a touch of coquette, glamorous yet grounded indie disco queen. From the opening synth beats of “Like A Motorway”, it was a near-perfect balance of hits and new material that focused on the upbeat over the torchy or ballady, turning the room into a time machine that carried the audience back to an era parallel to Britpop that was hip, stylish, and yob-free, to a romanticized London where you were 17 and the discovering music as a portal to another world – not unlike the experiences recounted in Words and Music opener “Over The Border”. It’s quite a feat to create such a vivid sense of nostalgia for a youth that wasn’t actually yours.

While my usual rule is that any electronic band would be better as a live band, it was no hardship to hear the songs done almost exactly as they were on record, given that extra dose of life by Cracknell and Wykes’ vocals and Wiggs and Stanley’s live keyboards overtop the sequences. Not many bands could make this sort of live presentation so enjoyable, but with a frontwoman like Cracknell and songs like theirs, Saint Etienne make it look effortless. I’m sure that there could be a wholly live incarnation of Saint Etienne that would be amazing to witness – “Sylvie” and “You’re In A Bad Way” would actually translate wonderfully – but it would probably require an absurd amount of players. This was more than fine as is.

After an hour long main set, they returned for a two-song encore that saw Cracknell botching the chorus in “I’ve Got Your Music”, but laughing it off and recovering wonderfully, before closing with a stellar version of “He’s On The Phone”. And despite an audience that really didn’t want to leave and demanded a second encore, that was the end. One could think about all the nuggets of perfect pop that we didn’t get to hear – “Hobart Paving”! “Hug My Soul”! – it was probably far better to focus on the goodness that we did get. Everyone seeing the band on their later dates, your in for a treat.

And if anyone wants to start a band that sounds like The Afghan Whigs meets Catherine Wheel meets Saint Etienne, get in touch.

Exclaim also has a review of the show and The Washington Post an interview with Sarah Cracknell.

Photos: Saint Etienne, Snowblink @ The Opera House – October 24, 2012
MP3: Saint Etienne – “Downey, CA”
MP3: Snowblink – “Unsurfed Waves”
MP3: Snowblink – “Black & White Mountains”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
Video: Saint Etienne – “I’ve Got Your Music”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Tonight”
Video: Saint Etienne – “How We Used To Live”
Video: Saint Etienne – “The Bad Photographer”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Sylvie”
Video: Saint Etienne – “He’s On The Phone”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Hug My Soul”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Like A Motorway”
Video: Saint Etienne – “I Was Born On Christmas Day”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Pale Movie”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Hobart Paving”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Who Do You Think You Are”
Video: Saint Etienne – “You’re In A Bad Way”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Avenue”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Nothing Can Stop Us”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Kiss And Make Up”
Video: Saint Etienne – “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
Video: Snowblink – “Goodbye Eyes”
Video: Snowblink – “Black & White Mountains”
Video: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”
Video: Snowblink – “Ambergris”

Under The Radar and Paste talk to Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes.

In conversation with The AV Club, Noel Gallagher dishes on how the solo thing is going and what’s up with his Amorphous Androgynous electronic side-project (very little).

Clash gets a look at the Joy Formidable library. They support The Gaslight Anthem at The Sound Academy on November 25 and release their second full-length Wolf’s Law on January 23.

They’d already announced the title of their third album – Holy Fire – but further details on the new record Foals have emerged at The Quietus, most interestingly that it’s been produced by Alan Moulder and Flood, and will be out February 11.

Dublin’s Little Green Cars have celebrated the close of their North American tour – it wrapped here in Toronto on Monday – with the release of the official video for their current single. Their full-length debut is due out early next year.

Video: Little Green Cars – “The John Wayne”

Even though it seems like they’ve been touring and promoting Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming forever – it’s been a year – M83 have just released a video for the third single.

Video: M83 – “Steve McQueen”

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue have reprised their duet originally recorded for Cave’s 1995 Murder Ballads for Minogue’s new Abbey Road Sessions album, due out November 6 in North America. The track is available to stream and there’s an interview with Minogue about her quarter-century career at The Quietus.

Stream: Kylie Minogue with Nick Cave – “Where The Wild Roses Go”

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day Three

Friends, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, DIIV and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt was sometime on Friday that, in looking at my NXNE schedule, that I realized just how Pitchfork-y it all was and for that, I apologize. It wasn’t intentional, but there’s no arguing that the balance of stuff I’ve heard of/stuff I was curious about/stuff that doesn’t come through town all the time is pretty influenced by the online echo chamber.

But to be fair, the options amongst my usual go-to of acts from the UK and Scandinavia was frightfully lean this year; like I can count them on one hand. A consequence of the global recession, I suppose, but at least one of the acts who did make it over was 2:54. Their show kicking off the night at Lee’s Palace wasn’t far removed from when I saw them at SXSW but definitely better, both for my being familiar with the material and their having developed some more stage presence, frontwoman Collette Thurlow having traded her thousand-yard glare for some dramatic sway-dancing. I like but can’t claim to love their self-titled debut – they excel at atmosphere but the songwriting could be stronger – but they were tight and had an air of slight aloofness, and as one of the few British acts at the festival, they played ambassador well.

Londonist has an interview with the band.

Photos: 2:54 @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
MP3: 2:54 – “The March”
Video: 2:54 – “Creeping”
Video: 2:54 – “You’re Early”
Video: 2:54 – “Scarlet”

You probably didn’t need to be told that DIIV were from Brooklyn; just a look at their outfits and/or haircuts would have made that conclusion obvious. But assuming that meant they were going to be some unworthy, overhyped flavour-of-the-minute would have been a mistake. To be clear, they certainly sound very “now”, their shimmery jangle being very reminiscent of fellow buzz band Real Estate, but with more jump and less emphasis on vocals and more focus on creating a tight, airy groove. The initially claimed the were going to play their new album Oshin in its entirety, but the insertion of a “new song” mid set made that claim questionable, though I suppose that with the album not out until next week, they’re all technically new songs. Oh, and then there was the Nirvana cover that’s probably not on the record. In any case, their music was well-personified by their live show: the rhythm section kept their heads down and tended to business whilst the guitarist danced around like electrified marionettes.

Interview, The Line Of Best Fit, and NOW have features on the band, Spin gets to know their pet rat, and Oshin is streaming in its entirety right now over at Hype Machine.

Photos: DIIV @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
MP3: DIIV – “Sometime”
Video: DIIV – “Sometime”
Video: DIIV – “How Long Have You Known?”
Stream: DIIV / Oshin

The build-up around New York’s Friends started a good year ago, so by the time their debut album Manifest! came out a couple weeks ago, they were probably due some good, solid backlash. And while I haven’t heard the album, the live show certainly entertained for the 30-plus minutes they were on. They had far less reliance on electronics than I’d have expected – lots of percussion to with the guitar and bass, and less electro-pop than old school disco/funk. Frontwoman Samantha Urbani had presence to spare, offering a great impression of an ’80s pop diva with a simpler, more innocent kind of sexy. Her pipes were also good but her breathy-to-squeal move got formulaic pretty quickly. The same could be said for their sound as a whole – it’s pretty templated – but if you were looking for a band to soundtrack a dance party for this night, at least, you couldn’t do much better.

Blurt has a feature piece on Friends and The Line Of Best Fit a Bands In Transit session.

Photos: Friends @ Lee’s Palace – June 15, 2012
Video: Friends – “Mind Control”
Video: Friends – “I’m His Girl”
Video: Friends – “Friend Crush”

At this point it was goodbye Lee’s, hello mad dash across town to The Garrison. And while I made pretty good time if I do say so myself, I still needed to brandish the priority pass to jump the queue for Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. I already explained how their debut YT//ST improbably found its way onto the number two slot on my Polaris Prize ballot, but it probably counts as remarkable that they did so without my having seen their live show. Not that live performance is supposed to influence our voting, but it’s hard to imagine not being influenced by such an elaborate production. And with the costumes, the Kabuki paint, the stage dressings, they arguably had the most going on onstage at the fest for a band not named Of Montreal or The Flaming Lips.

And yet for all that they put into it, there was a refreshing lack of pretence from the band. They set up their gear and props like anyone else, and the cognitive dissonance of hearing them finish an intense, thrash/operatic passage and then ask for monitor adjustments was pretty funny. In performance, though, they were all business and deadly serious – there was no irony detectable, and I don’t even know if allowing themselves to dance a bit during “Hoshi Neko” even counts as breaking character; it’s a pretty danceable song. It was a unique, breathtaking performance that left you dazed and feeling like you may have just joined a cult. And you may be right.

Killscreen Daily talks to band principals Ruby Attwood and Alaska B about the influence of video games on their music.

Photos: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan @ The Garrison – June 15, 2012
Video: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – “Hoshi Neko”
Stream: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan / YT//ST

Following that show was going to be tough and topping it impossible, so it’s probably a good thing that New York’s Widowspeak don’t even attempt to blow you away with theatrics or spectacle. Their sleepy country/dreampop had the perfect sort of late night vibe that didn’t quite come across during their mid-afternoon set at SXSW. It wasn’t all aural narcolepsy, though – the guitars got a little more aggressive than I expected and downright heavy at points, but despite wielding a mean axe, Molly Hamilton’s voice smoothed it all over. Those asking for more vocals in the mix slightly missed the point – she’s at her best as a honeyed whisper you have to lean in to hear. And though the audience seemed a bit restless – understandable if they were still on a Yamantaka come-down, they were largely appreciative. As they should have been.

Photos: Widowspeak @ The Garrison – June 15, 2012
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Gun Shy”

A brace of new videos coming at you from across the pond – first there’s Summer Camp with a murderous clip for the title track of their forthcoming EP Always, out July 10. You can also hear it in French, if that’s your thing.

Stream: Summer Camp – “Always” (French)
Video: Summer Camp – “Always”

Richard Hawley has released a video from his latest album Standing At The Sky’s Edge, out August 28 in North America.

Video: Richard Hawley – “Down In The Woods”

The Guardian talks to Charles of Slow Club about getting Daniel Radcliffe to star in the new video from Paradise.

Video: Slow Club – “Beginners”

Noel Gallagher goes the guest celeb route for the new clip from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; Mischa Barton! Remember her?

Video: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Everybody’s On The Run”

Kate Nash has put out a new video for a non-album track that was apparently written and recorded in under 24 hours. Who’d have guessed.

Video: Kate Nash – “Under-Estimate The Girl”

And a few more show announcements over the last few days: John K Samson returns to get intimate – and all-ages – for a show in support of Provincial at 918 Bathurst on September 6, tickets $25 in advance.

Video: John K. Samson – “Longitudinal Centre”

San Fransico folkers Vetiver return to The Horseshoe on September 14, tickets $15 in advance. They’re still working last year’s The Errant Charm.

MP3: Vetiver – “Wonder Why”

Bluegrass all-stars Punch Brothers will be at The Phoenix on September 28 as part of a Fall tour, admission is $19.50. Acoustic Guitar has a feature on the band.

Video: Punch Brothers – “Kid A” (live)

The Besnard Lakes have been tapped to open up all three nights of Dinosaur Jr’s Lee’s Palace residency on September 24, 25, and 26. Tickets for each night are $34.50.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “And You Lied To Me”