Posts Tagged ‘Old 97s’

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Arise, Watch

Buffalo Tom arise again

Photo via MyspaceMyspaceI don’t really participate in Twitter memes, but if I were to ride the one currently trending for #why90srocked, one of my contributions might be Boston’s Buffalo Tom. One of my favourite bands of that decade, their Let Me Come Over and Big Red Letter Day were two of the gateways that led me to the world of college rock (what the kids now mostly call indie) – jangly guitars, raspy vocals, big hooks all around, what’s not to like? Unfortunately they, like many of the acts of that era, didn’t find the underground to be especially profitable and eventually called it a day at the end of the 20th century when the responsibilities of real life came calling (frontman Bill Janovitz became and continues to be a realtor).

But like many of their peers, Buffalo Tom found a second act years later when they discovered their fans from back in the day were still there and so was their appetite for their music. I for one was thrilled to finally see them live not once but twice in 2007, both terrifically high energy performances with just the right amount of slop, and their comeback album Three Easy Pieces also stood tall alongside their past works. There were no disappointments here.

And I don’t expect any on their second post-reunion album, Skins. The Buffalo Tom formula isn’t necessarily a broad one, but it is deep enough to expect the veteran songwriters to be able to pull a dozen or so good tunes out of it every few years. Stereogum has the first MP3 from the album available to download, and though it starts out favouring the band’s more pensive side it builds quickly to a big rock breakdown, and Janovitz’s voice is unmistakeable. Consider the appetite whetted. Skins is out on February 15 of next year and The Alternate Side has an interview with Janovitz.

Grab the title track from their last record for a taste of their more pop-oriented side. Update: The new track is now available for anyone to disseminate. Yay!

MP3: Buffalo Tom – “Arise, Watch”
MP3: Buffalo Tom – “Three Easy Pieces”

Chunklet interviews Andy Earles, biographer of Husker Du and author of Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock.

Creative Loafing talks to Jon Wurster and City Pages to Mac McCaughan of Superchunk. They’re playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on December 9 at 3PM before hitting up the Sound Academy that evening opening up for Broken Social Scene.

The Vine interviews Doug Martsch of Built To Spill.

Rolling Stone reports that in addition to the reissues of Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow The Green Grass on January 18, the same day that a short tour kicks off at The Phoenix in Toronto, The Jayhawks will be releasing a new album under their proper name – previously a stumbling point – in the Spring of next year.

Magnet has gone archive-digging and come up with their 2002 feature piece on Wilco circa Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, arguably the most interesting period of their career.

Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller talks to Spinner about his love of hockey while bassist Murry Hammond chats with Metromix.

Conor Oberst will return to Bright Eyes for the first time since 2007 for The People’s Key, due February 15. Details at American Songwriter.

Interpol heads to Europe and does the press circuit with Metro, The Guardian and Drowned In Sound.

Spoon has collected the demos and alternate takes of songs that were posted to their website over the past couple years and are offering it for sale as the digital compilation Bonus Songs 2008-2009.

Yours Truly has a video session with S. Carey, in town at The Horseshoe on December 19.

The Fly has an acoustic session with Local Natives.

Spinner talks to Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg while the band talks about and performs the song “Warpaint” in session for The Guardian.

The Besnard Lakes have set a date at Lee’s Palace for January 29, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

Scots Biffy Clyro will bring their Mercury-shortlisted Only Revolutions to The Garrison on February 16, tickets $15 in advance.

Video: Biffy Clyro – “God and Satan”

Asobi Seksu will hit the road following the the February 11 release of their new record Fluorescence and stop in at The Horseshoe on February 27.

MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Trails”

Cold War Kids will be at Lee’s Palace on March 18 in support of their new record Mine Is Yours, out January 25. Tickets $20 in advance. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Spinner and The Hook have features on the band.

The Whig and Edmonton Journal interview Dan Mangan, who just recorded a World Cafe session for NPR.

San Francisco Weekly and Exclaim chat with The Sadies, who will be holding their annual New Year’s Eve throwdown at The Horseshoe on December 31.

Wolf Parade discuss their decision to take an indefinite hiatus with

Exclaim declares Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs as their pop/rock album of the year and talk to Win Butler about it.

The Dears are giving away a track from their forthcoming Degeneration Street over at Dangerbird. The record is out February 15.

Friday, November 19th, 2010


Memoryhouse finally done seeing the world, schedule dates at home

Photo via MyspaceMyspaceFor the better part of the year, I’ve been hearing about this Guelph duo Memoryhouse – another entrant in the increasingly fashionable he-she duo band configuration sweepstakes – and while I liked what I heard in passing of their hazy, languorous dream-pop, I figured I’d pay more attention around the next time they scheduled a local show. After all, they’re from Guelph. That’s like right over there.

And yet any time I saw tour dates posted throughout the year, they’d be touring and gathering accolades in far-flung places in Europe or around the US, never close to home. The closest they seemed to get was the Wolfe Island Music Festival in Kingston in August, and that wasn’t in the cards so I’ve waited. And waited. Not impatiently, mind you – I’m still in the curious stage more than anything else – but I’m still pleased to see that they’ve finally set a couple of live dates in and around Toronto before the year is out. There’s a December 2 engagement at E-Bar in Guelph, and more importantly a December 16 show at the Twist Gallery in Toronto.

Of course, that’s the same night that The Rural Alberta Advantage make their own long-awaited live homecoming at Lee’s Palace, so there’s no guarantee I’ll be availing myself of Memoryhouse’s show anyways. But their announcement did give me the incentive to go download their The Years EP – it’s free – and do up a little post. That’s really all anyone can ask for.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Troisieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Gian Lorenzo Bernini”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Bonfire”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
ZIP: Memoryhouse / The Years

Also originally hailing from Guelph are disco-pop ensemble The Magic, who will be playing a free show along with Maylee Todd at the North York Central Library tomorrow night, November 20, at 8PM. Get details on this and other goings-on at the Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise blog.

Director Spike Jonze has the director’s credit on Arcade Fire’s new video/short film for the title track from The Suburbs. Win Butler talks to Exclaim about potential retirement plans.

Video: Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

Soundproof talks to The Thermals.

Rhett Miller of Old 97’s talks to Spinner about getting permission from Bob Dylan to crib the melody from “Desolation Row” for one of his own songs.

Even though Retribution Gospel Choir’s latest 2 came out way back in January, SubPop has opted to release a second MP3 from it for giving away. Why ask why? The Minnesota Daily chats with bandleader Alan Sparhawk.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Workin’ Hard”

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sun and Oregon Music News talk to Blonde Redhead about their current tour and forays into electronica.

Spin declares Two Door Cinema Club to be breaking out. They’re at the Kool Haus on January 15 alongside Tokyo Police Club.

NPR is streaming a radio session performance from Elvis Costello while AOL Music has a video session with ol’ Declan.

Spin has got the video for the new collaborative single between Hot Chip and Bernard Sumner.

Video: Hot Chip & Bernard Sumner – “I Didn’t Know What Love Was”

A second MP3 from Blood Red Shoes’ second album Fire Like This is now up for grabs. The Prague Post has an interview.

MP3: Blood Red Shoes – “Heartsink”

White Lies have released a video for the first single from their second album Ritual, which is out January 18. They’ll be at The Mod Club on January 29.

Video: White Lies – “Bigger Than Us”

Sloucher interviews The Twilight Sad.

Creative Loafing checks in with Warren Ellis and The Wall Street Journal with Nick Cave of Grinderman.

Monday, November 8th, 2010

To The Grain

Junip and Sharon Van Etten at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith a wealth of options on the Toronto social calendar last Friday night, I rather feared that posting up Lee’s Palace might draw the short end of the stick. I didn’t know how much draw Junip would have, but I needn’t have worried. With their main attraction – frontman José Gonzalez – having not released a new record under his own name in some three years, there was apparently a good amount of pent-up appetite to see and hear him in any configuration.

Happily, this resulted in a good-sized crowd already in place for opener Sharon Van Etten, whom I will freely admit was the main draw for me just as she was when I saw her open for Megafaun at The Horseshoe back in April. Unlike that show, however, this time Van Etten was operating in a three-piece band format rather than solo, a change necessary to recreate the broader sonic palette of her gorgeous second album Epic. And though the full band format sounded glorious when Megafaun backed her for one song at the Horseshoe show, that she was only a few shows into the tour with these players was evident at times – mainly in the bassist and drummer playing too loudly and at the expense of the delicacy and nuance that’s essential to Van Etten’s songs. It’s a sensitivity that will no doubt come with time, but on this night at least the comfort level wasn’t where one would have liked. That said, the beauty of the songs still came through, particularly on the harmonium-led “Love More”, and by choosing to close her set solo and with a couple of audience requests from Because I Was In Love, her set ended on a beautiful note.

I don’t think it’s untoward to use Jose Gonzalez’s solo output as a reference point for Junip; the differences lie not in him or his songwriting but in what he surrounds himself with. Solo, it’s just that – Gonzalez, classical guitar, space and silence. With Junip and their debut Fields, those elements remain the centre but the addition of drums and keys, courtesy of Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn respectively, do allow the band to be its own distinctive thing. Live, the sound was expanded even further with the addition of a percussionist and bassist and if you were to compare Junip to an acoustic Zero 7, the English electronic outfit that introduced Gonzalez to much of his fanbase, you wouldn’t be wrong. Their set lasted only an hour but it felt much longer – in a good way – as they held the audience with their rhythmic, droning take on folk music. Understated but hypnotic, it sounded like Gonzalez being remixed live, his distinctive meditative vocals being utilized like another instrument in the mix. While I expect that many/most came to the show as José Gonzalez fans, they left as Junip fans. And hopefully Sharon Van Etten fans.

City Pages talks to Junip drummer Elias Araya while The Georgia Straight has an interview with Sharon Van Etten.

Photos: Junip, Sharon Van Etten @ Lee’s Palace – November 5, 2010
MP3: Junip – “Rope & Summit
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Junip – “Always”
Video: Junip – “Black Refuge”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MySpace: Junip
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

Sorry to everyone excited about that Rhett Miller & Murry Hammond acoustic show at the El Mocambo announced a few weeks ago – its been cancelled.

Husband-and-wife retro pop duo Tennis have made a date at the Drake Underground for December 8 to build up anticipation for their debut Cape Dory, due out on January 18. Check out their Daytrotter session from earlier this Fall.

Phantogram return to town for their fourth and probably final Toronto show of the year, stopping in at Wrongbar on December 11 – tickets $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Music Tapes are putting together a North American “Lullabies and Bedsides” tour that is eschewing conventional venues in favour of house shows and sleepover parties – check out Merge for details on how it’ll work, but the itinerary calls for a Toronto date on January 2 of the new year.

MP3: The Music Tapes – “Majesty”

Call it some coincidence, call it prescience, but barely a day after posting about goings-on in The Radio Dept. camp, the full dates for their 2011 North American tour were revealed. There will be much rejoicing when the reclusive Swedes make their Toronto debut at Lee’s Palace on February 7, 2011. Update: Pitchfork has the tracklisting of the Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 compilation coming out early next year.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”

The Tallest Man On Earth has released a video from his new Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP, out tomorrow.

Video: The Tallest Man On Earth “Love Is All”

Jonsi will release a live document of his 2010 solo tours on November 29; Go Live will include a CD and DVD and be available exclusively through his website. He talks to the Detroit News about creating his live show.

Trailer: Jonsi / Go Live

The Dumbing Of America and News Times chat with Bettie Serveert.

The Scotsman talks to Scotsman James Graham of The Twilight Sad.

Clash has an interview with White Lies, whose sophomore effort Ritual comes out January 18. They will be at the Mod Club on January 29 to promote – tickets $25.

Duffy discusses the dancier direction of her second album with Billboard. Endlessly arrives December 7.

Pulp are back. London or Barcelona. London or Barcelona. This must happen. Dates for both Wireless and Primavera are convenient as far as timing and holidays go, both are bloody expensive to get to, never mind accommodations, and either one might snooker my Japan plans for Autumn 2011… but, um, PULP. WWJCD?

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This Is The Scrunchyface Of My Dreams

Shearwater + Xiu Xiu = Blue Water White Death

Photo via Pitch PerfectPitch PerfectFor fans of a certain artfully raw and dramatic brand of indie rock, neither Jonathan Meiburg nor Jamie Stewart really needs an introduction. The former was a principal in Okkervil River and now fronts Shearwater, while the latter has been the creative force behind Xiu Xiu since 2002, and for the benefit of those familiar with one and not the other, their bands had toured together in recent years.

And now, they’ve made an album together. Over the course of a week earlier this year, Meiburg and Stewart came together in a studio to write and record and the result is Blue Water White Death – the name of both the project and the album. Presented in very spare sonic terms, it sounds very much like what you’d expect the offspring of Shearwater and Xiu Xiu to sound like, taking advantage of the fact that Meiburg and Stewarts voices are similar enough to sound like flip sides of the same emotional coin; Meiburg the powerful and Stewart the fragile. I didn’t really expect to like Blue Water White Death as much as I do, figuring my affection for Shearwater and disinterest in Xiu Xiu woulf cancel each other out, but these eight starkly beautiful and unsettlingly discordant songs are surprisingly compelling listening throughout.

Interview talks to Jonathan Meiburg about the origins of the project and working with Stewart.

MP3: Blue Water White Death – “Song For The Greater Jihad”
Video: Blue Water White Death – “Grunt Tube”

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will bring their new self-titled album to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on December 7, tickets $15.

Video: Grace Potter & The Nocturals – “Paris (Ooh La La)”

Proving that there’s still no shortage of demand for things broken and/or social, Broken Social Scene have added a second show at the Sound Academy on December 10, tickets $30 in advance. Note that Superchunk don’t appear to be playing that second show, so they’ll only be performing on the 9th. The Courier-Journal talks to the ‘Chunk’s Mac McCaughan.

MP3: Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”

Former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason released his solo debut Boys Outside back in May and will be playing some select North American dates in mid-December to support; his tour wraps on December 20 at Wrongbar in Toronto. Wales Online has an interview and there’s a couple acoustic live tracks to download over at Domino.

MP3: Steve Mason – “All Come Down”
Video: Steve Mason – “Lost & Found”

Personal matters have forced Dum Dum Girls to cancel the remainder of their tour supporting The Vaselines, including Saturday night’s show at The Horseshoe.

eMusic and BBC have features on Warpaint. Their debut album The Fool was released this week.

Spinner talks to Rhett Miller of Old 97’s – he and bassist Murry Hammond will be playing songs from their new album The Grand Theatre Volume One when the pair play the El Mocambo on November 10.

Strange Powers, the documentary about Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields, will be making its Canadian premiere at the TIFF Lightbox on November 4. No idea if it’s a one-off or limited run, but if you want to see it on the big screen, you best set the evening aside and finagle tickets.

Trailer: Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Please Hold On While The Train Is Moving

Old ’97s to send Old ‘48.5 to Toronto

Photo By Piper FergusonPiper FergusonJust the briefest of posts today as I decamp for the east coast. If you want something more substantial, might I suggest a burrito.

It’s been a while since Dallas’ Old 97s have been in heavy rotation hereabouts – or any kind of rotation, if I’m being honest – but there was a spell back around 2004 or so when hardly a day went by that I didn’t listen to either Fight Songs or Satellite Rides multiple times. So while I haven’t heard their new record The Grand Theatre Volume One, just released last week (Volume Two will follow next Spring), I am intrigued by the fact that rather than include Toronto on their full Winter itinerary, they are sending Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond to town for an intimate-type show that could well be cooler than the full band setup. The show takes place on November 10 at the El Mocambo, tickets are $17.50 and go on sale Friday. There’s interviews with Rhett Miller at The Houston Press, Dallas Observer and Spinner and yeah, I busted out Fight Songs while writing this up.

MP3: Old 97’s – “The Grand Theatre”

Spinner talks to Ken Stringfellow of The Posies.

Pixies are giving away a free live EP at their website. Go. Free.

Spin and Limewire ask Liz Phair what she was thinking when making Funstyle, which was released with the Girlysound Tapes yesterday. You can hear the whole thing at Spinner and take home a track courtesy of Limewire. It’s… interesting.

MP3: Liz Phair – “My My”
Stream: Liz Phair / Funstyle

The Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Weekly talk to Isobel Campbell, in town today for an in-store at Criminal Records at 6PM on her own and then a show at Lee’s Palace later tonight with Mark Lanegan.

NME reports that Lightspeed Champion will release an EP of new material on December 13 entitled Bye Bye and that it’ll include a cover of The Beach Boys’ “Til I Die”, recorded with the aid of Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks.

NPR is streaming the video of Jonsi’s show in Los Angeles this past weekend.

Exclaim is streaming the whole of Diamond Rings’ debut Special Affections in advance of its release next Tuesday while Pitchfork has the latest single to download as well as a Guest List from John O. He plays The Garrison that same night.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
Stream: Diamond Rings / Special Affections

Chart talks to Murray Lightburn of The Dears.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor have added a fourth – and presumably final – show to their Toronto residency next Spring. They’ll offer up one more show at Lee’s Palace the evening of April 24, following that afternoon’s dry all-ages performance. Tickets are $20 and on sale tomorrow, but you can expect that the freaks fans who bought up tickets for the other three shows in short order will be going after these as well, so hesitate at your peril.