Posts Tagged ‘Old 97s’

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Never Know

The Wooden Birds release second album, migrate across continent

Photo By Leslie SissonLeslie SissonIt was a sad day in late 2005 when Austin’s American Analog Set called it a day, or it would have been if they had bothered to officially do so. They announced prior to touring their last (as in most recent, not final) record Set Free that it would be their final tour before a hiatus, and that while they didn’t have any plans to do anything else together, be it recording or playing or whatever, they weren’t ruling out the possibility. And they invoked the “not dead, only sleeping” clause at SXSW 2009 when they reconvened to mark the 10th anniversary of The Golden Band by playing the whole album at a day show I had the privilege of helping present.

But that special occasion aside, the band’s signature blend of shimmering vibraphone, humming Farfisa and dreamy guitarwork has been silent with frontman Andrew Kenny trading his Jazzmaster in for an acoustic guitar and lending his gentle vocals to a new band, The Wooden Birds. AmAnSet had been extremely consistent in sound and vision throughout their existence, so it’s not surprising that despite the change-up in instrumentation and addition of female vocals from sometime AmAnSet member Leslie Sisson, The Wooden Birds’ 2009 debut Magnolia could easily have passed as a new Analog Set record. It’s more earthy than ethereal, thanks to its simpler presentation, and less drifitly droning but if you were an AmAnSet fan, it’s hard to imagine not finding much to like about The Wooden Birds. Unless, of course, you were all about the vibes, in which case you may want to keep walking.

The Wooden Birds have set a June 7 release date for their second album Two Matchsticks and having passed us by on all tour dates in support of the debut, it’s exciting to see that the first North American dates finally include a Toronto date at The Drake Underground on July 10 – the first time back as bandleader for Kenny since November 2005 (he may well have been here as a member of Kevin Drew’s “Presents…” band). And while you might not guess it from listening to the records, The American Analog Set were always a fantastic live show thanks to the mesmerizing and hypnotic nature of their sound. I expect similar head trips from The Wooden Birds. Tickets for the show are just $12.00 in advance.

Samples from Two Matchsticks aren’t available yet, but there’s no reason to believe the new material strays too far from what surfaced on Magnolia. Update: One of the new songs is streaming at MTV Hive.

MP3: The Wooden Birds – “False Alarm”
Video: The Wooden Birds – “Hometown Fantasy”

There’s been no word of a follow-up to last year’s Goodbye Killer nor would I expect one, given the pace at which Joe Pernice works, but he’s taking the time out of whatever it he’s doing to play a show at The Dakota on May 6, tickets $20.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Jacqueline Susann”

That same evening, Peter Bjorn & John will warm up for their show at Lee’s Palace with an in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM. Admission is free with the donation of canned goods.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance”

With a new greatest hits compilation in Golden Greats, No. 1 just released, Sweden’s The Soundtrack Of Our Lives have made a date at Lee’s Palace for June 4. Tickets for the guaranteed rock spectacle are $18.50 in advance.

MP3: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Karmageddon”

His show at Lee’s last month apparently a roaring (or dead silent) success, Mark Kozelek is coming back for a pair of even more intimate shows – he’s at The Drake Underground on July 8 and 9, tickets for each show $24.50 in advance.

Video: Red House Painters – “24”

The National Post Q&As Joey Santiago of Pixies; they close out their two-night stand at Massey Hall tonight.

The Antlers are giving away an MP3 from Burst Apart, out May 10. They’re at The Mod Club on June 14.

MP3: The Antlers – “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”

Daytrotter has posted a session from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, in town at The Opera House on August 2.

I Am A Mermaid questions Stephin and Claudia of The Magnetic Fields about mermaids.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Sharon Van Etten’s homecoming show in Brooklyn this past weekend and Express Night Out has an interview.

Pitchfork has a feature interview with TV On The Radio.

The Baltimore Sun and Philly Burbs talk to Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, who have a new video from their new record Civilian. NYC Taper is also sharing a recording of their show in New York last week.

Video: Wye Oak – “Fish”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a recent Mountain Goats show while The Sound Of Young America has an interview with John Darnielle.

Hear Ya, Madison Eagle, Jam Bands, Blurt and Paste talk to Jason Isbell, whose new record Here We Rest is out now and who leads The 400 Unit into The Horseshoe on May 22.

Want to hear some of the new My Morning Jacket record, Circuital? You can download the title track below, hear it played live on VH1 Storytellers via Pitchfork and stream another new tune over at Antiquiet. The record is out May 31 and they play The Kool Haus on July 11.

MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Circuital”

Pitchfork 3D – which is exactly what you think it is – has launched with a video session featuring Deerhunter.

BBC talks to Michael Stipe of R.E.M..

NPR is streaming the whole of Steve Earle’s new album I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive a week ahead of its April 26 release. Earle plays The Molson Amphitheatre opening up for Blue Rodeo on August 20.

Stream: Steve Earle / I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive

Spinner caught up with Rhett Miller of Old 97’s before their show in Toronto a couple weeks ago.

Spin, Clash and The Line Of Best Fit have features on Explosions In The Sky, whose new album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care comes out next week and is streaming in whole right now at Exclaim.

Stream: Explosions In The Sky / Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Memory Tapes will release a new album in Player Piano on July 4.

Crawdaddy interviews Liz Phair. has a video session with Warpaint while Relix offers an interview.

Spinner talks to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. Their new record Helplessness Blues arrives May 3 and they’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

January Hymn

The Decemberists and Wye Oak at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s a testament to the devotion of Decemberists fans that even the threat/promise of the Winter storm of the season/year/decade/century couldn’t deter them from making the trek down to the waterfront to see the Portlanders bring their recently-anointed number-one record in America The King Is Dead to town. I do, however, assume that most checked forecasts and confirmed that the storm wasn’t supposed to reach the 416 until around midnight, which is about when the band were estimated to be done. Or at least I did. I like me some Decemberists but I like me not driving into a frozen Lake Ontario due to whiteout conditions more.

At any rate, a nearly full house made it out for the show and luckily, so did the bands as they were coming from the opposite direction of the storm, though they’d already pre-emptively cancelled the following night’s performance in Royal Oak, Michigan and had accepted being snowed in in Toronto for at least a day. These should have been familiar environs for Baltimoreans Wye Oak, seeing as how this was their third visit here in the past 10 months. This time was intended as a preview for their forthcoming third record Civilian, due out March 8, and judging from the applause that net the duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner when they strode out onto the stage, it was evident that their regular visits had been successful at building a fanbase. And making good records has probably also helped. Another benefit of the steady touring is that they’ve become a much more confident live act. Certainly the amount of showmanship they can indulge in is limited by their configuration, but Wasner’s vocals were deeper and more dramatic than I recall – perhaps some lessons learned while touring with Shearwater – and when she stepped out for one of her many guitar solos, they were delivered more theatrically. And while Stack remained anchored behind the kit handling percussion and keyboard duties, the rhythms and tones he was pulling off simultaneously were nimbler and more complex. They managed to incorporate both new material and old into their set, which was cut extra short – about 20 minutes total – when Wasner’s new guitar amp gave up the ghost. Unfortunate, but still impressive and they promised they’d be back in April so they can make it up to us then.

The last time The Decemberists came to town, it was on the back of their folk-rock opera opus The Hazards Of Love and the live production was appropriately grandiose. But just as The King Is Dead represented a stylistic retreat to their folk-rock roots, their latest tour was a back-to-basics sort of affair. Not in a casual coffee house sense – Colin Meloy’s checkered shirt and Chris Funk’s jaunty cap were as much costume as anything they’d have worn on past tours – but without the need to adhere to a particular theme or narrative, they were freed up to, for the most part, showcase their best material from throughout their career.

That the evening would be a romp through their repertoire became clear from the very first song, when instead of spotlighting their latest effort, they opened with “Song For Myra Goldberg” from their second record Her Majesty. And while King would be well-represented over the course of the evening, making up nearly half the set, the liberal amount of back catalog favourites that comprised the other half naturally got the strongest response. One curious choice, however, was “Won’t Want For Love” from Hazards in which the lead vocals were handed over to touring Decemberist Sara Watkins (late of Nickel Creek). Not the strongest offering from the Hazards libretto to begin with, it was even odder out of the context of the record and Watkins’ voice, as clear and strong as it is, lacked the distinct character of Becky Stark on the original – all of which is to say it stood out from the rest of the set and not for the right reasons. Otherwise, selections like “The Crane Wife 3” and “The Sporting Life” were executed with aplomb, and the new songs sounded excellent alongside them.

One interesting facet of the evening was Colin Meloy’s punchy mood; usually his demeanour is akin to a charming carnival ringleader, so seeing him take some uncharacteristically acerbic jabs at some of the louder members of the audience at the start of the show was rather odd. His rough edges did smooth out as the set went on, though, and by the time they rolled into main set closer “16 Military Wives” with its audience participatory singalongs, he seemed to be his playful old self again. As such, the encore double-shot of “The Chimbley Sweep” and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” played like a greatest hits of Decemberists live antics. On the former, Meloy commandeered an audience camera to take a series of impromptu band portraits and then swapping places with drummer Jon Moen to allow him to… sing? Freestyle? Rant? I’m not sure, but it was pretty funny. And on the latter, they revisited the Chris Funk-directed whale devouring simulation I remember from their visit to the Phoenix way back in 2005. But hey, the classics never go out of style, right? And though by this point many had already headed home, there were enough who hung around to invite one more encore, King‘s lovely “June Hymn”. And with that, it was time to say goodnight and head out into the just-arrived storm front.

BlogTO also has a review of the show and City Pages talks to bassist Nate Query. The Decemberists also premiered a new song during a visit to kids’ television show Yo Gabba GabbaRolling Stone has the clip.

Photos: The Decemberists, Wye Oak @ The Sound Academy – February 1, 2011
MP3: The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”
MP3: The Decemberists – “The Engine Driver”
MP3: The Decemberists – “The Soldiering Life”
MP3: The Decemberists – “Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
Video: The Decemberists – “O Valencia”
Video: The Decemberists – “16 Military Wives”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Tain”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Soldiering Life”
Video: The Decemberists – “Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Bachelor & The Bride”

R.E.M. has premiered a video from their new record Collapse Into Now over at Pitchfork. The record is out March 8.

Video: R.E.M. – “Mine Smells Like Honey”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Mission Of Burma’s show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey last weekend.

Under The Radar interviews Sufjan Stevens.

Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold discusses their just-announced new record Helplessness Blues, due out May 3, with Rolling Stone.

Jayhawks record from Gary Louris, though nothing more concrete in the way of release date than the first half of this year.

The Wall Street Journal talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Paste catches up with Nicole Atkins, whose new record Mondo Amore comes out next week and who will play The Horseshoe on February 26.

Death & Taxes gets some insight into the low end on Telekinesis’ new record 12 Desperate Straight Lines, out February 15. They’re at The Horseshoe on March 6.

DeVotchKa have released a video for the almost-title track from their forthcoming 100 Lovers. It’s out March 1 and they’re at The Mod Club on March 30.

Video: DeVotchKa – “100 Other Lovers”

Old 97’s play a World Cafe session for NPR; they’re at The Horseshoe on April 6.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011


Wilco go off on their own, Jeff Tweedy goes it alone

Photo via FacebookFacebookThere’s been no news to report on with regards to the new Wilco album proper besides that it will be out in 2011, but there still a few very noteworthy items to surface lately. Firstly, what with their deal with Nonesuch expiring with 2009’s Wilco (The Album), the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the band have done what pretty much everyone expected and started their own label to release their next album. The marque will be called dBpm Records and will be distributed by the folks at Anti Records, so the band will be in control of their own destiny yet remain in good hands.

More immediately and of interest to those in the general northeast/midwest of North America, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is striking out for a handful of solo shows starting on March 22 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto. This will be the first time Tweedy has come here alone since an appearance at Trinity-St. Paul’s in 2001, a show I missed in favour of seeing the Toronto debuts of Doves and some flash-in-the-pans called The Strokes at The Opera House; a decision I simultaneously regret enormously and not at all. And whether I’ll be able to see this one is up in the air as I might still be in Austin post-SxSW on work when it goes down. Alas. Ticket info on the show is still forthcoming, stay tuned.

And of course a few weeks back it was confirmed that the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival would be returning for a second year at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts from June 24 to 26. No word on performers yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Wilco will be playing.

Wilco – doing it for themselves, yo.

MP3: Wilco – “What Light”

A slew more show announcements over the last few days – the latest addition to Sub Pop’s burgeoning stable of sensitive folk-pop artists from the Pacific northwest are Seattle’s The Head & The Heart, who released their self-titled debut last year and had it reissued digitally by the label earlier this year with physical re-release coming for April 16. They will be at The Horseshoe on February 24, tickets $10.50 in advance.

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Jessica Lea Mayfield will be at the Drake Underground with Daniel Martin Moore on April 4, tickets $15.50. Her new record Tell Me is out February 11 and his latest In The Cool Of The Day came out last week. Full tour dates at Pitchfork. Mayfield was declared “New band of the day” by The Guardian a couple weeks back if you need a primer.

MP3: Daniel Martin Moore – “In The Cool Of The Day”

Lou Barlow’s got to hold some sort of record for active ongoing projects or reunions – in addition to his solo work and Dinosaur Jr – and you know The Folk Implosion would be back if he could find John Davis – he’s also reconvened Sebadoh what with the impending reissues of Bakesale and Harmacy and will be hitting the road this Spring. Exclaim reports that Bakesale will be out on April 4 in the UK with Harmacy following in the Summer, but North American release details are still unclear. What is clear is that the band will be at Lee’s Palace on April 6 and that tickets will run you $23.50. Gimme indie rock… reunions.

MP3: Sebadoh – “Dreams”
MP3: Sebadoh – “On Fire”

The Old 97’s will make up that cancelled show with Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond at the ElMo back in November by bringing the rest of the band along for a date at The Horseshoe on April 6. Teddy Thompson supports and tickets are $23.50 in advance. Denver Westword talks to frontman Rhett Miller.

Video: The Old 97’s – “Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)” (live)

Toronto’s Timber Timbre will release their second fourth record in the terrifically-titled Creep On Creepin’ On on April 5 and follow that up posthaste with a show at Trinity St. Paul’s on April 8, tickets $20. Details and further tour dates at Chart.

MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Ghost”

The Phoenix will be doubling as some kind of garage on April 16 when The Black Lips and Vivian Girls come to town. Tickets will be $18.50 and Pitchfork has the full tour itinerary. Black Lips have a new record due out this Summer while Vivian Girls’ third album Share The Joy is due out this Spring.

MP3: The Black Lips – “Short Fuse”
MP3: Vivian Girls – “Where Do You Run To?”

Oakland, Californians Hunx & HIs Punx will release their new album Too Young To Be In Love on March 29 and hit The Horseshoe on April 27; details at Exclaim.

MP3: Hunx & HIs Punkx – “Lover’s Lane”

French dance-pop queen Yelle will release her second record Safari Disco Club on March 29 and will be touring North America post-Coachella, including a May 4 date at The Opera House.

Video: Yelle – “Je Veux Te Voir”

New York’s Sleigh Bells and Brazil’s CSS are teaming up for a Spring tour that includes two nights in Toronto, May 16 and 17 at The Mod Club. The Prague Post interviews Sleigh Bells.

MP3: Sleigh Bells – “Infinity Guitars”
MP3: CSS – “Rat Is Dead”

With a new album complete and presumably out sometime this Summer, Australia’s Architecture In Helsinki are coming to town for a date at The Mod Club on June 11.

MP3: Architecture In Helsinki – “Heart It Races”

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Down By The Water

Review of The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeIt’s odd to think that a band’s most direct and tuneful album might turn out to be its most divisive, but were you to survey a cross-section of Decemberists fans, it’s unlikely that “convention” would come up as what they love most about the Portland band. After all, this is a band who made their name with sea shanties, drama club videos, multi-part prog-rock epics and full-blown rock operas – hardly the standard template for pop music success, and yet it’s served the band well as they’ve built progressively their eccentricities up, using their folk roots and pop smarts as mortar, culminating in 2009’s grandiose The Hazards Of Love.

So with nowhere further to go on that trip, it was inevitable that they’d dial it back some for their next effort but the degree to which The King Is Dead retreats is pretty remarkable. You’d have to go back as far as their 2001 debut EP 5 Songs to find a collection of songs as countrified, direct and simply adorned as these, and even then Colin Meloy’s penchant for period-costume characters and storytelling sets the two bookends of their career (thus far) apart. While he remains an erudite and wordy lyricist, his quirkier narrative inclinations take a step back to allow the band’s musicianship and songcraft carry the day. And start to finish, this is probably The Decemberists’ most tasteful and accomplished record to date, given extra weight from vocal contributions by Gillian Welch and notable for the absence of the one or two compositional experiments that seemed mandatory on past efforts.

For most other bands, such a record would be an unqualified high-water mark but for The Decemberists it’s enough of a departure that the portion of their audience who love them for their idiosyncrasies might find it puzzling and/or disappointing – it’s not a perspective I necessarily agree with as the merits of The King Is Dead, irrespective of the rest of their catalog, are myriad, but it’s an understandable one. But for others who might have been turned off by the band’s indulgences in the past, it could be just the record they’ve been waiting for. Assuming that one waits for records from bands they’ve already been turned off of.

NPR, Billboard, The Wall Street Journal and MusicOmh have interviews with the band, whose record is out tomorrow and whose tour for the record commences next week – look for them at The Sound Academy in Toronto on February 1.

MP3: The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”

S. Carey chats with The AV Club and discusses his new video with Spin.

Video: S. Carey – “In The Dirt”

Mark Olson talks to NOW and Gary Louris to Spinner about the The Jayhawks reunion, which kicks off its tour tomorrow night at The Phoenix – the same day their deluxe reissues of Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow The Green Grass come out.

Daytrotter serves up a session with Iron & Wine, whose new record Kiss Each Other Clean is out next week.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Old 97s.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the “Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500” at Maxwell’s in New Jersey from last week.

There’s a new video from Buffalo Tom’s forthcoming record Skins, due out February 15.

Video: Buffalo Tom – “Down”

Peter Buck tells NME he thinks quite highly of R.E.M.’s new record Collapse Into Now; the world will judge when it comes out on March 8 (or a couple weeks earlier when it leaks).

The Denver Post and Denver Westword have interviews with Liz Phair.

Parts & Labor are sharing the MP3 for the title track from their new record Constant Future, due out March 8.

MP3: Parts & Labor – “Constant Future”

Undercover discovers the statute of limitations on talking smack about former bandmates is up, as evidenced by this interview with Paul Banks of Interpol. They’re at The Sound Academy on February 15.

Washington City Paper recalls the heyday of The Dismemberment Plan.

Dave Gedge of The Wedding Present takes to The Guardian to offer The Flaming Lips some advice on how to successfully release a single a month for a year – after all, they did just that back in 1992 and included a b-side for each, no less. Of course, they didn’t write a song meant to be played on four iPhones simultaneously… The Lips have them beat there.

And oh yeah, Archers Of Loaf got back together for the first time in over a decade in Carrboro, North Carolina on Saturday night and it doesn’t feel like a one-off. If this is why we shouldn’t expect a new Crooked Fingers record before the end of the year, well, that’s okay then.

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Home For Christmas

Herohill wishes you a very Hall & Oates Christmas

Image via AmazonAmazonThis is probably going to be it for the holidays, so I’ll leave it with a salute to the folks at Herohill, who’ve fulfilled a Christmas wish I didn’t know I had by assembling a tribute album to Hall & Oates featuring a slew of independent Canadian artists including Rae Spoon, Milks & Rectangles, Ox and more. A lot of the names might not be familiar but there’s talent in that there lineup and the material is tops, and there’s more to come – another batch of Can-con covers is coming sometime in January.

Yeah, I grew up listening to Hall & Oates and, as this collection and the Bird & The Bee tribute album Interpreting The Masters from earlier this year have proven, I still do. On my annual Boxing Day record store trawl this weekend, I will be crate digging for a copy of Private Eyes and/or H2O, yes I will.

Switch Mode talks community with Ohbijou’s Ryan Carley.

Conor Oberst goes over some of the science fiction influences on The People’s Key, the next album from Bright Eyes, with Spinner. The album is out February 15 and they play The Sound Academy on March 13.

MP3: Bright Eyes – “Shell Games”

There’s now a video trailer for R.E.M.’s new record Collapse Into Now, due March 8, and while the formula of veteran acts and special guests usually equals artistic calamity, the advance word on this record continues to be very good. Here’s hoping.

Trailer: R.E.M. / Collapse Into Now

Daytrotter have served up a session with Old 97’s, who should be making up their cancelled Miller/Hammond show in October with a full-band show at The Horseshoe sometime in the Spring. Keep an ear open. And in the meantime, read these interviews with Murry Hammond at American Songwriter and Rhett Miller at CNN.

NYC Taper has followed up last week’s post of The National at Maxwell’s in New Jersey with another set of recordings from the same show – for the whats and the whys, read the post and grab the tracks.

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Sharon Van Etten and another one with Janelle Monáe.

And that should do it. See you sometime next week. Safe holidays. Seacrest out.