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Posts Tagged ‘Palma Violets’

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Nightcall

London Grammar and Jaymes Young at The Great Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs noted in my review of their debut album If You Wait, London Grammar should be commended for countering any cynicism about their sound being a little too of-the-moment – add one part Florence and one part Daughter to two parts xx, bake for 45 minutes, serve smouldering – by applying it to solid, affecting songs that should resonate with the lovelorn for years to come while still leaving plenty of room to grow. It wasn’t quite enough to make them the Mercury Prize favourites that their champions expected – they didn’t even make the shortlist – but even without that accolade, their inaugural North American tour was doing quite well, thank you very much, with Friday night’s Toronto date quickly getting the upgrade from the originally booked BLK BOX to the more spacious and appropriately elegant Great Hall upstairs.

Support came from Seattle’s Jaymes Young, who for his well-crafted and performed songs, didn’t quite manage to transcend his reference points to the same degree. The vaguely yearning vocals over echoey guitar tones with electronic flourishes sounded like a distillation of 2013 indie, and as such remained largely anonymous. And using a slow, soulful cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” as an audience-rallying moment was an odd move, considering that most in attendance weren’t allowed to stay up until 11:30 when The Roxbury Guys were a thing on Saturday Night Live. But maybe that was to his advantage as undoubtedly some in the audience thought the song was his own and were impressed.

New bands get a bit of leeway with regards to their effectiveness as a live act, particularly when they’ve potentially gotten swept up in a wave of buzz that might short circuit their normal development curve as performers. Happily for all involved, London Grammar didn’t need to be cut this slack. I was pleasantly surprised they didn’t bring any additional players with them as the trio of guitarist Dan Rothman, vocalist Hannah Reid, and multi-instrumentalist Dot Major set up across the front of the stage and set to recreating the space and texture of their debut with just the tools at hand – guitar, keys, and loops while occasionally turning to bongos or a drum kit for extra dynamics. The de facto visual and aural focal point of the band, Reid would get a bit showier with her vocals in pushing the melodies around – somewhat surprising given how the album seemed to make an effort to keep things in check, but such excursions were relatively modest and didn’t detract from the proceedings; if anything, they demonstrated the impressive degree of confidence with which the band were operating.

And if they didn’t come to the stage with that confidence, the audience would have given it to them. In one of their many between-song asides to the crowd, they commented on their willingness to cheer at everything – an observation which was, of course, met with cheers. Their 45-minute set encompassed most of, but not all, of If You Stay, with the pairing of “Strong” and “Metal & Dust” as a powerful closing couplet, followed by a on-the-mark cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” as an encore. A solid performance that decidedly increased my appreciation for the band.

Metro, The Sydney Morning Herald, and entertainment.ie have interviews with London Grammar.

Photos: London Grammar, Jaymes Young @ The Great Hall – October 4, 2013
Video: London Grammar – “Strong”
Video: London Grammar – “Wasting My Young Years”
ZIP: Jaymes Young / Dark Star

The Guardian and MusicOhm talk to Anna Calvi about her new album One Breath, which is out on Tuesday and from which she’s just put out a new video.

Video: Anna Calvi – “Sing To Me”

Drowned In Sound meets Peace, who have two local dates next week on October 14 at The Mod Club and October 15 at The Danforth Music Hall, both in support of Two Door Cinema Club.

The Quietus has a stream of Tindersticks’ forthcoming anniversary album Across Six Leap Years, coming out next week on October 14.

Stream: Tindersticks / Across Six Leap Years

It’s a touch late to actually act on the information, but Consequence Of Sound reports that Neil Halstead will be recording a couple of shows in London later this month on October 23 and 24 for release as a live record, and amongst the promised “special guests” will be Rachel Goswell, which means that both Slowdive and Mojave 3 move ever-so-slightly into the “active” column” but more importantly, that Goswell is healthy enough again to perform again – even if it is just for a few songs.

DIY goes behind the scenes of the new Los Campesinos! video, set to debut later this week. It’s taken from their new album No Blues, out October 29.

The Guardian has an extensive interview with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, who return for a show at The Kool Haus on November 5.

Stornoway will release a companion EP to this year’s Tales From Terra Firma – from which they’ve just released a new video – with the five-song You Don’t Know Anything, out November 12.

Video: Stornoway – “Farewell Appalachia”

DIY has confirmed details of Working Out, the debut album from London’s Arthur Beatrice. It’s out February 3 and they’ve released a first official video from the long-player.

Video: Arthur Beatrice – “Grand Union”

David Gedge has dusted off the Cinerama monicker under which he traded for several years between Wedding Present incarnations for occasional recent live shows, but has just issued the project’s first new release since 2002’s Torino with a tour-only 7″ with a new song and a live Disco Volante track recorded in 2012 – you can stream it and order the single below.

Stream: Cinerama – “I Wake Up Screaming”
Stream: Cinerama – “Unzip” (live)

Noisey talks to Yuck’s new frontman Max Bloom about having to become Yuck’s new frontman. DIY also has a feature interview.

Johnny Flynn lists off some of the influences that went into the making of his new album Country Mile for The Line Of Best Fit.

Billboard has an interview and video session with CHVRCHES.

Rolling Stone has premiered the new video from Palma Violets’ debut 180.

Video: Palma Violets – “Rattlesnake Highway”

Clash chats with Kele Okerke of Bloc Party.

The Skinny talks to Elena Tonra of Daughter.

Paste has an interview with Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys.

The Quietus talks about the history and state of pop music with Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who incidentally has a new book on the topic in Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Entertainment

Phoenix, Hot Chip, Girl Talk, and more at The Grove Fest in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s been a narrative this Summer about Toronto’s music festival scene going through a sort of Renaissance, with events like Field Trip, TURF, Mad Decent’s Block Party, and Riot Fest establishing both the city’s niche in the greater festival hierarchy – solid second-tier, not-quite-destination events for under 10,000 people – as well as affirming Garrison Common at Fort York as the perfect venue for said events in terms of size and location (unless you live in one of the condos next door in which case too bad). This past Saturday’s The Grove Fest wasn’t originally part of this narrative when it was first announced back in March, being set an hour away in Niagara-On-The-Lake, but it was certainly of interest to festival-goers from the 416 what with an eclectic lineup drafting off those acts commuting between Lollapalooza in Chicago and Osheaga in Montreal, boasting acts like Phoenix and Hot Chip.

But while the multi-genre/demographic randomness of the performers was reminiscent of the Rogers Picnics of the mid-’00s – The Roots with the New Pornographers and Bad Brains? Animal Collective with City & Colour and Dizzee Rascal? – the Grove Fest quickly began to feel more like the chronically snakebit Virgin Fests of the same era. Barely a month after being announced, the festival was moved from Niagara to the aforementioned Garrison Common in downtown Toronto – no official reason was given though soft sales and local opposition are reasonable suspects – and three acts dropped off the bill, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, and Bob Mould presumably taking advantages of out clauses in their contracts to book their own, more lucrative shows or just not bother. And just when it seemed the dust had settled, Swedish electro-party duo Icona Pop dropped off the bill earlier this week for their own unannounced reasons. Disappointing? Definitely. Disastrous? Not necessarily; the remaining lineup was still solid and guaranteed to put on a good show, and if enough people still showed up – and one would think the number of complimentary tickets circulating would more than make up for those who demanded refunds – it would still be a fun time.

Arriving a couple acts into the day – apologies Nightbox and Young Empires, had things to do – it was heartening to see that there was already a solid turnout, less concerned with the drama leading up to the day than the entertainment to follow. But things still weren’t quite clockwork – I thought I had arrived just in time to catch Wavves, as per the schedule on the festival website, but instead it was brash Brit newcomers Palma Violets who took the stage – the only thing more head-scratching than the switch was that hardly anyone seemed to notice or care.

This was Palma Violets’ third visit to Toronto since January, and it was good to see that their heavy touring schedule between then and now – to say nothing of actually releasing an album in 180 – had produced solid returns. Ironically, the rough-and-tumble pub rock persona that seemed a bit put-on in an actual bar came across much better on a large festival stage. Bassist “Chilli” Jesson had the moves for getting the audience engaged and the girls shrieking down pat, making up for guitarist Sam Fryer’s distraction at having to play through an amp that was buzzing louder than his actual guitar signal. As their set closer, they invited local political pundit and former punk rocker Warren Kinsella to contribute vocals on a cover by his old band, The Hot Nasties. Pretty sure no one knew who he was.

Photos: Palma Violets @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Palma Violets – “We Found Love”
Video: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”
Video: Palma Violets – “Last Of The Summer Wine”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends

I’d pretty much confirmed that Wavves and their stoner-garage-surf-pop wasn’t really my thing after seeing the at NXNE 2010, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t still be impressed at how they’ve improved as an outfit since then. Now a four-piece, with a second guitarist backing up frontman Nathan Williams, the material from their just-out third album Afraid Of Heights sounded more polished and sophisticated than their older stuff, but without sacrificing any of their stoned/snotty attitude – the melodies that had always been there were just moved more to the surface, and the songs benefitted for it. Their set was probably too short for some – it was just right for me – but those who want more should be pleased that Wavves are back for a headlining show at the Opera House on September 29 and Williams will probably be happy to be back with better on-stage sound.

Photos: Wavves @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”
MP3: Wavves – “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”
MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
MP3: Wavves – “TV Luv Song”
MP3: Wavves – “Horse Shoes”
MP3: Wavves – “Mutant”
Video: Wavves – “That’s On Me”
Video: Wavves – “Afraid Of Heights”
Video: Wavves – “Demon To Lean On”
Video: Wavves – “Sail To The Sun”
Video: Wavves – “No Waves”
Video: Wavves – “Post Acid”
Video: Wavves – “Bug”
Video: Wavves – “King Of The Beach”
Video: Wavves – “So Bored”
Video: Wavves – “No Hope Kids”

As mentioned, the original Grove lineup was a commendably diverse one and it’s a unfortunate that when the dust settled, it was basically split into half guitar rawk acts and half electro-dance acts, and sandwiched in the middle was Earl Sweatshirt. For those not up on their hip-hop who’s whos, Thebe Kgositsile was claimed to be the most talented of the Odd Future crew and after releasing his debut Earl mixtape in 2010, was sent to a boarding school in Samoa until his 18th birthday and basically disappeared from sight… until he didn’t. At any rate, Sweatshirt is now firmly back in the public eye with a new album in Doris ready for release in a couple weeks on August 20. If his mother was intending to deter him from a music career, she clearly failed. And if you thought that an act whose setup should have only required a live mic and a laptop plugged into the PA would have had the easiest setup of the fest, you’d have been wrong. Technical issues delayed the start of Sweatshirt’s set by a good 10 minutes, or a third of his allotted time. They eventually got things going and Sweatshirt delivered a set from the edge of the stage, his delivery low-key but intense and his short songs wrapped in a fair bit of conversational banter. It felt more like an introduction than a proper set, but if there was one thing the Grove was getting right, it was keeping on schedule, so on things went.

The Los Angeles Times and MTV have feature pieces on Earl.

Photos: Earl Sweatshirt @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Friends”
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Whoa”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”

It was easy to tell who the Gaslight Anthem fans were, because of all the acts they were the ones whose fans proudly wore their t-shirts, no doubt purchased at the many previous Gaslight Anthem shows they’d attended, including their show at the Sound Academy just last December. All of which is to say that the New Jersey outfit has clearly garnered a loyal fanbase over its seven-year, four-album existence. That said, this would be my first time seeing them and it’s kind of a shame that frontman Brian Fallon appears to be wearying of the E-Street allusions because likening them to a punk rock Springsteen is neither insult nor inaccurate, at least from a superficial, first-impression perspective. It was easy to see how the big, riff-fueld anthems of resolutely meat-and-potato rock’n’roll could engender such fan loyalty; it’s designed for rebellion, disaffection, and just being young. So while being an old person I didn’t necessarily feel it, I totally understood it. Kids, I was once like you.

Photos: The Gaslight Anthem @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Here Comes My Man”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Bring It On”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “American Slang”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Old White Lincoln”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Drive”

The setting for my previous and only Girl Talk experience couldn’t have been more different from this one, but even if there’s no comparing a 4AM set on the shores of the Mediterranean to a 7PM set in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, one thing was certain – it’d be a whole lot of fun. Bringing dancers from the crowd to fill out the stage while he kept the top 40/classic rock/hip-hop mash-up machine going, Gregg Gillis and company doused the audience in confetti, toilet paper, balloons, and good vibes. What’s to say? If you’ve seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you know exactly what it was. If you haven’t seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you should really see/go to a Girl Talk show.

The Stranger talks to Gillis about the art of the mash-up.

Photos: Girl Talk @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Girl Talk & Jim Jones – “Believe In Magic”
Video: Girl Talk – “All Day”

Some would argue that it was an injustice giving Hot Chip just a 40-minute set; surely with five albums of fantastic electro-pop to their name and a reputation for stellar live shows, they should have gotten a little more time in? Perhaps, in the original Grove configuration of two stages tag-teaming sets it could have happened, but as it was, they – like everyone else playing – was up against the clock. But if there was a positive side to this, it was that they opted to fill every minute of the time they were given with the hits – less the ballads – and nothing but. I’d last seen them in April 2010 behind One Life Stand – I missed last Summer’s tour for In Our Heads – so my data points aren’t complete, but I daresay I’d not seen the band be so energized and into the performance before – it was like they were more into putting on a show than just soundtracking the party. And so despite sound complaints – prevalent throughout the day but especially critical for Hot Chip’s set – partying did occur.

Tom Tom has an interview with Hot Chip’s (relatively) new drummer, Sarah Jones, formerly of New Young Pony Club. If you were wondering. I was.

Photos: Hot Chip @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Hot Chip – “Don’t Deny Your Heart”
Video: Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
Video: Hot Chip – “Look At Where We Are”
Video: Hot Chip – “How Do You Do”
Video: Hot Chip – “Flutes”
Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Pure Thought”
Video: Hot Chip – “Ready For The Floor”
Video: Hot Chip – “The Warning”
Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
Video: Hot Chip – “Colours”
Video: Hot Chip – “And I Was A Boy From School”
Video: Hot Chip – “Playboy”

The rise of Phoenix from likeable but hardly beloved indie-pop band to massive worldwide stars post-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and, with the release of this year’s Bankrupt!, top-tier festival headliners, has been fascinating to watch. There’s those who don’t believe the band deserve it and are akin to one-hit wonders hanging out at the rock’n’roll hall of fame – and it’s true, with their ascent built largely on the back of one massive album or, more specifically, a couple of massive songs, their path to the biggest poster font is markedly different from those legacy acts with decades-long careers, even if their best work is inarguably behind them. But what that also means is that Phoenix’s fans are young and thus far less jaded or weary of festivals – so yeah, with the band having been off the road and out of sight for more than a couple years, their base is excited and sure as heck buying tickets to see them. The onus, really, is on the band to prove that they belong there. And based on their pulverizing one-hour, Grove-closing set, Phoenix belong.

Starting a bit late on account of setting up their massive light show gear, their set opened with a blazing “Entertainment” and, perhaps wanting to prove they didn’t need to hold their biggest songs back, were onto “Lisztomania” by the third number. What’s interesting is that fundamentally, Phoenix’s live show hadn’t really changed since I last saw them in June 2009 – Thomas Mars still climbs the monitors, gladhands the audience, and basically gives it his all while his five bandmates are as tight as tight gets – but the scale of the presentation has been necessarily amped up and what impresses is how naturally they’ve grown with it. They don’t seem at all out of place in the big spotlight, on the big stage, and if anything, they look as though they’ve been there all along and were just waiting for everyone to catch up with them. Even with just an hour to work with, they crammed in a baker’s dozen songs – including “Sunskrupt!”, their amalgam of instrumental “Love Like A Sunset” and mostly-instrumental “Bankrupt!” – as well as a huge finale/reprise of “Entertainment” to close the show. Phoenix skeptics may have a point in the long term; Bankrupt! is a solid record but hasn’t reached Wolfgang-level heights, so come their next album, it’s no sure thing that Coachella, Lollapalooza, et al will be calling, but for now, in 2013, this is where they belong.

The Grid grabbed an interview with Phoenix prior to the festival.

Photos: Phoenix @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Phoenix – “Trying To Be Cool”
Video: Phoenix – “Entertainment”
Video: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Phoenix – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Phoenix – “If I Ever Feel Better”
Video: Phoenix – “Long Distance Call”
Video: Phoenix – “Twenty-One One Zero”
Video: Phoenix – “Run Run Run”

NOW, BlogTO, and The National Post also have reviews of the fest.

And so The Grove. While many aspects of the fest were well-conceived and seemed to be undone by pure bad luck, although that doesn’t excuse other issues with the event – poor communication, dodgy sound, expensive concessions – that promoters with the experience that Goldenvoice have (they do Coachella) should have avoided. It seemed that by show time, the organizers were just trying to keep their heads down and get it over with without anyone dying or losing more money and even if much of the audience weren’t actual paying attendees, they still deserved better. There’s no question that there exists an opportunity for a festival in Toronto on the same weekend as Lollapalooza and Osheaga – pretty much every band playing both will be driving down the 401 that August long weekend – but it’s hardly the no-brainer it might appear. Any event would be at the scheduling mercy of those two big players, and considering that both – especially Osheaga – counts a strong Toronto demographic in their attendees, there’s not a lot of incentive to make it easy for acts to play all three cities, not that it’s necessarily easy in the first place – logistics are a bitch. Still, I hope/believe that something will rise up to fill this niche – whether it’s The Grove, valuable lessons learned and ready for another round, or someone else who thinks they can get it right, we shall see. And if someone does try, they’d be well advised to consult The Grid‘s helpful roundup of some of the music festivals that have tried – and failed – to make it work in the 416. Man, this town.

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Vandals

An introduction to Arthur Beatrice

Photo by Richard Round TurnerRichard Round TurnerYou know what’s awful? Even though London quartet Arthur Beatrice have been on my radar for a little while now, I didn’t make the connection between their name and the late, great Golden Girl until about half an hour before writing this sentence. Not that it’s relevant in any way, I’m just amazed that I didn’t see it earlier.

Assumptions that the cheekiness of their name would imply a jokey band are sorely misplaced, though. Although evidence of their first two singles – “Midland” and “Charity”, released last year – have curiously been stricken from the internet, their just-released debut EP Carter, which is available to stream via Under The Radar, makes a strong first impression. It offers just three songs and a remix but strongly establishes their aesthetic, which evokes the danceability of ’90s British house but rendered with the instruments of vintage soul and the sultry boy-girl vocals reminiscent of The xx, though forgoing their icy detachment for something much more warm-blooded. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed formula for success, but if you were to try and come up with one, you could do much worse than theirs.

One assumes that a full-length album is in the works. Maybe those two redacted songs will resurface there?

Video: Arthur Beatrice – “Carter”
Stream: Arthur Beatrice / Carter

Under The Radar talks to Palma Violets, who’re back in town August 3 as part of The Grove Festival lineup.

The Vaccines are streaming another new tune from their forthcoming Melody Calling EP over at NME. That comes out August 12 and they support Mumford & Sons at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 26.

Stream: The Vaccines – “Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down”

NME gets Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes to chime in on the whole hiatus/no hiatus thing following the release of their new EP Nextwave Sessions on August 13.

Stereogum have got the whole video of a show Franz Ferdinand played for David Letterman’s audience when they were on last week, and they’ve also released a new official video from the new record Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. It’s out August 27 and they play The Kool Haus October 24.

Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Love Illumination”

Rolling Stone declares Scotland’s synth-pop heroes CHVRCHES a band to watch and offers a live performance video as proof, while Gigwise has a two-part interview with the band. Their debut The Bones of What You Believe is out September 24 and they play the Danforth Music Hall on September 15.

Manic Street Preachers have made another track from their forthcoming album Rewind The Film available to stream; it’s out September 16.

Stream: Manic Street Preachers – “Show Me The Wonder”

Filter gets to know English newcomers Peace, who will support Two Door Cinema Club at the Danforth Music Hall on October 15.

Elvis Costello and The Roots have offered up the first official sample of their collaborative album Wise Up Ghost by way of video; the record is out September 17.

Video: Elvis Costello & The Roots – “Walk Us Uptown”

Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that The House Of Love will be playing a couple of intimate London shows in November for the purpose of releasing a live CD/DVD set next year.

Tone Deaf talks to Tom Smith of Editors.

Beady Eye hope to sway some of the generally unfavourable response to their second album BE with a new video full of nudity. Because everyone likes nudity, right?

Video: Beady Eye – “Shine A Light”

Alphabet Pony chats with Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots.

Interview talks to Johnny Marr.

The Daily Swarm has words with Savages guitarist Gemma Thompson.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Every Weekday

Camera Obscura defeats the slow news day with Desire Lines stream

Photo By Anna Isola CrollaAnna Isola CrollaWith yesterday being both Memorial Day in the US and a Bank Holiday in the UK, the internet was understandably reasonably quiet, at least from a music news perspective. If you covered, say, municipal affairs in Toronto, then it was far from it. But I digress.

If you were to have only one noteworthy item to lead off a post, however, you could do far worse than to announce that Scotland’s Camera Obscura have made their new long-player of elegant indie-pop Desire Lines – the first since 2009’s My Maudlin Career – available to stream in whole via NPR before its formal release date of next Tuesday, June 4. And the perfect accompaniment for that listening session would be these feature pieces on the band in The Scotsman and The List, and the knowledge that in just over a month’s time – July 4 – they’ll be in town opening up for She & Him on the first night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons.

MP3: Camera Obscura – “Fifth In Line To The Throne”
Stream: Camera Obscura / Desire Lines

Consequence Of Sound interviews Laura Marling as her new record Once I Was An Eagle is officially out in North America as of today.

Beady Eye have released a second video from their second album BE, due out in the UK on June 10.

Video: Beady Eye – “Second Bite Of The Apple”

CHVRCHES have rolled out another track that will presumably appear on their forthcoming debut album when it comes out this Fall. Which also means you will recognize one more song they play at The Hoxton on June 12. Counteract has an interview with the band.

Stream: CHVRCHES – “Gun”

Iceage explains to aux.tv why they’re not fascists, which really, is exactly what a fascist would say. They’re at The Horseshoe on June 15 for NXNE.

Spin, The Scotsman, and Liverpool Echo talk to Bobby Gillespie about the new Primal Scream album More Light – out now abroad and June 18 in North America – while The Guardian welcomes the band for an acoustic video session.

MTV Hive chats with Palma Violets, who’ve released a new video from their debut 180. They make their third local appearance of the year on August 3 at Garrison Commons as part of The Grove Fest.

Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends”

Thomas Mars of Phoenix – who are headlining The Grove Fest at Garrison Commons on August 3 – recounts the soundtrack of his life for The Guardian.

Consequence Of Sound and The Boston Globe talk to James Blake, who has been announced as one of the featured acts at this year’s Drake-assembled OVO Fest at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4. NPR is also streaming a complete concert in HD from DC recently.

By way of Elizabeth Sankey’s blog, Summer Camp report that their second album is done, with release details still to come.

The Daily Star reports that Manic Street Preachers will break their hiatus which began after 2010’s Postcards From a Young Man with two new albums, being recorded simultaneously – one mostly acoustic, the other mostly not.

Brett Anderson discusses the success of the Suede reunion with Drowned In Sound.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Frightened Rabbit.

MusicOmh interviews Victoria Hesketh of Little Boots.

NOW previewed Charli XCX’s visit last week with an interview, while Stereogum captured a Backstreet Boys cover in a video session. She also just released a new video from her debut True Romance.

Video: Charli XCX – “Take My Hand”

Rolling Stone grabbed a wide-ranging Q&A with Damon Albarn before Blur’s Coachella appearances last month where he reflects on projects past and future, including a new Blur record and his first solo album.

British Sea Power have rolled out a new video from their latest album, Machineries Of Joy.

Video: British Sea Power – “Hail Holy Queen”

Allo Darlin’ unveil a new song via a video session for BalconyTV.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with and The Georgia Straight a feature piece on Daughter.

Daytrotter has a session with Billy Bragg.

CBC Music got to know Iceland’s Of Monsters & Men before they played their festival this past weekend.

The 405 meets The Raveonettes.

The Fly has a feature piece on Denmark’s Vår.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

If You Leave

Daughter and Wilsen at The Great Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThings move quickly these days; this I know and understand, and yet it still manages to astound me sometimes. The ascent of London’s Daughter, for example. It wasn’t much over a year ago that the trio was still largely unknown, only getting on my radar by old-fashioned word of mouth and becoming one of my favourite discoveries of SXSW 2012. When they came around to make their Toronto debut last October – still a ways off from releasing their debut album or making any real promotional push – they still managed to sell out The Drake, albeit with the help of a fairly buzzy supporting bill. Still, that was a pretty good tip off that by the time the band returned on Tuesday evening, just a week after the domestic release of If You Leave, the only surprise would be not that they had sold out the much larger Great Hall, but that they hadn’t moved the show to even bigger environs.

Benefitting from the packed house were Wilsen, a band of Americans fronted by Englishwoman Tamsin Wilson who were really as good of a RIYL pairing for Daughter as you could hope to find. Their dark, atmospheric folk music came from a similar place as the headliners, but distinguished themselves with a tonally lighter touch, not to mention Wilson’s whistling skills and guitarist Johnny Simon Jr’s penchant for playing his guitar with coffee cans, tobacco tins, whatever. Unexpected and quite effective was a stately cover of Grimes’ “Oblivion”, and by the close of their 40-minute set, many new fans were made and a more than a few copies of last year’s mini-album Sirens were sold.

I don’t think I’m the only one who, to some degree, conflates a band’s sound with their appearance. In Daughter’s case, it’s hard not to compare their sound to frontwoman Elena Tonra’s appearance: beautiful, elegant, and demure, yet with an unquestionable strength and steeliness just under the surface. They’re traits evident throughout If You Leave, which bolsters Tonra’s gorgeous vocals and emotionally raw songwriting with Igor Haefeli’s billowing guitarwork and Remi Aguilella’s subtly powerful percussion to become something expansive, yet intimate. It’s an aesthetic that fits very well with that of their European label 4AD, and that’s the context in which I tend to think of them. In North America, however, they’re on Glassnote and if you’ve no idea what difference that makes, well I didn’t give it a second thought either, until Tuesday night.

Glassnote may not have the history and personality of 4AD, but they do know how to reach the Mumford & Sons demographic. And when, midway through the set during “Landfill”, much of the room loudly sang along with “I want you so much/but I hate your guts”, did I realize that this was a Mumford audience – surprisingly young, definitely excitable, and preferring to experience the music as a boisterous community. Tonra’s songs might be delivered like a private and intensely personal conversation, but they were being shouted and cheered back. It wasn’t necessarily off-putting – okay a little – but it certainly recontextualized my experience of the songs; rather than enveloping me completely, they now needed to act as a sort of barrier to shut out the background noise.

Tonra herself may have seemed taken aback by the intensity of their reception – her “thank you”s were almost inaudible squeaks – but seemingly happily so. Opening with Leave closer “Shallows”, Daughter sounded as brilliant as ever, mixing material from the album with selections from the Wild Youth and His Young Heart EPs. The band was bolstered by a utility player on bass, guitar, and keys, but even with those extra hands, the show had no shortage of instrument swapping; their sound might be skeletal, but it’s arranged precisely and impeccably so.

Only during “Winter” were the band really knocked off their game, as The Great Hall’s lighting rig seemed to pick up a poltergeist, going from black to blinding and causing Tonra to crack up several times (Haefeli was visibly less amused), though to their credit they finished the song, even though ditching would have been totally understandable, and both stage lights and band pulled it back together to wrap up the set with a crashing, cathartic “Home”. A satisfying show, but one that left me wondering if I’d choose to see them again next time in an inevitably bigger room, or if staying home, alone, with the curtains drawn and the record turned up might not be more the Daughter experience I’d prefer.

Photos: Daughter, Wilsen @ The Great Hall – May 7, 2013
MP3: Daughter – “Love”
Video: Daughter – “Still”
Stream: Wilsen – “Dusk”
Stream: Wilsen – “Anahita”

Soundcheck WNYC is streaming a radio session with Little Boots, while Consequence Of Sound has an interview.

Sweden’s Club 8 are streaming another new song from their forthcoming album Above The City, out May 21.

Stream: Club 8 – “I’m Not Gonna Grow Old”

Cheers to Frightened Rabbit for keeping alive the tradition of releasing their singles as proper EPs with b-sides and bonus tracks and the like. Case in point – the next single from Pedestrian Verse will be Late March, Death March, and DIY has details on the EP for it that’ll be out on June 4.

The Guardian asks Romy from The xx about her experiences playing festivals; they play a sorta-fest at Downsview Park on June 6 with Grizzly Bear.

Stereogum has premiered a new track from Swedish electro act Kate Boy, who are making their Toronto debut at Wrongbar on June 9.

Stream: Kate Boy – “The Way We Are”

Interview has a feature on Palma Violets, who were just here last week but are back August 3 as part of the Grove Fest at Garrison Commons.

The Alternate Side has an interview and session with Phoenix, who are headlining the aforementioned Grove Fest on August 3.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, who’ve premiered their new video from Push The Sky Away – recorded at their Los Angeles concert this past March – at Rolling Stone.

Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Mermaids”

David Bowie has released the video for the title track of his latest The Next Day, and proves not only that he can still cause plenty of controversy, but that he’s got much cooler friends than pretty much everyone else.

Video: David Bowie – “The Next Day”

Ólafur Arnalds has a new video from For Now I Am Winter, and NPR is streaming a live concert by Arnalds wherein he and an orchestra performed the whole of the new album live in New York earlier this Spring.

Video: Ólafur Arnalds – “Only The Winds”

Stereogum has premiered the new video from The Mary Onettes’ latest Hit The Waves.

Video: The Mary Onettes – “Don’t Forget (To Forget About Me)”

A Music Blog, Yea has an interview with Mystery Jets.