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Posts Tagged ‘Portastatic’

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

"A(nother) Salty Salute"

Everyone covers Guided By Voices

Photo By Michael LavineMichael LavineWhen Guided By Voices announced they were calling it a day back in Summer of 2004, I marked the occasion with a tribute cover of the week which basically consisted of me scraping together all of the GBV covers I could find and tossing them onto the internet (where they mostly came from in the first place). So it seems appropriate that as Guided By Voices have reunited and will play tonight as the grand finale of Matador at 21 in Las Vegas, I should bust out some/most of those same tracks to, again, mark the occasion.

And interestingly, many of the artists who are represented are also returning to active duty following long breaks. The Strokes, after an extended hiatus and countless solo projects, are back in the studio and Julian Casablancas has announced their fourth album will be released on March 11, 2011 though it’s doubtful anyone will actually try to hold them to that. Spoon have become one of the biggest and most reliable rock acts in indiedom, releasing Transference earlier this year and also appearing at Matador @ 21. For many years, Portastatic was Mac McCaughan’s primary creative outlet but now that Superchunk is back with Majesty Shredding. their first album in a decade – they too are celebrating their tenure on Matador in Vegas this weekend. Vancouver’s Salteens are putting out their first album in seven years in Grey Eyes, due October 12. Jimmy Eat World’s new record Invented is their first in three years; they’re at the Kool Haus in Toronto on October 17. And finally, Jon Auer’ Posies have just released Blood/Candy, their second post-reunion record but still first in five years.

Odds of any more Guided By Voices remain slim to none, but Robert Pollard will surely keep putting out at least a dozen records a year. Give or take.

MP3: The Strokes – “A Salty Salute”
MP3: Spoon – “Melted Pat”
MP3: Portastatic – “Echoes Myron”
MP3: The Salteens – “Motor Away”
MP3: Jimmy Eat World – “Game Of Pricks”
MP3: Jon Auer – “Gold Star For Robot Boy”
Video: Guided By Voices – “A Salty Salute” (live, 2007)
Video: Guided By Voices – “Auditorium/Motor Away”
Video: Guided By Voices – “Game Of Pricks” (live)
Video: Guided By Voices – “Gold Star For Robot Boy” (live)
Stream: Guided By Voices – “Echoes Myron”

Friday, January 8th, 2010

White Russian Doll

Lucky Soul release and annotate new video

Photo By Glen WilkinsGlen WilkinsWhile most peoples’ “most anticipated albums of 2010” lists read something like “Arcade Fire Interpol Strokes Fleet Foxes etc”, damn near the top of my list you’ll find A Coming Of Age, the sophomore effort from London’s Lucky Soul. Their 2007 debut The Great Unwanted, an irresistible piece of Motown/Northern soul-channeling pop glory, remains one of my favourite records of the past decade, so the follow-up has some mighty big shoes to fill but judging from the first couple of tastes, it’ll manage that just fine.

Last March brought the first single in the disco-fied “Whoa Billy!”, which was as good as anything on Unwanted if not better, and they’ve just released a video for their new single “White Russian Doll” – out in the UK on Monday – which brings a little bit (ok a lot) of Smiths into the mix. The clip was filmed on location in Berlin and features frontwoman Ali Howard dancing and karaoke-ing her way through the city, and Lucky Soul guitarist Andrew Laidlaw has put up a blog post detailing the mostly commando-style filming of the clip. That’s commando as in run-and-gun, on-location, no-permit; not as in rescue pre-teen Alyssa Milano from Dan Hedaya with lots of gunplay. Though that’d make for an excellent follow-up video.

A Coming Of Age is due out in March.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy!”
Video: Lucky Soul – “White Russian Doll”

Questions about whether The xx would be appearing with jj on the Toronto date of their North American tour – just two weeks before their already scheduled date supporting Hot Chip – have been answered by their booking agency and yes, indeed, Toronto gets a double-shot of The xx in just over a fortnight – April 4 at The Phoenix (apparently moved from the original venue of Lee’s Palace) with jj and again on April 20 at the Kool Haus with Hot Chip. Expect precise details on the show next week.

MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”

Paste talks to Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor about their new record One Life Stand, out February 2.

For Folks Sake has details on Laura Marling’s second album, entitled I Speak Because I Can and due out on March 1. Expect to hear lots of new stuff when she plays the Drake Underground on February 9.

Battery In Your Leg interviews The Joy Formidable, who are making their North American debut this weekend with a slew of shows in New York, none of which I will be at – a fact which saddens me. They are looking to have their first proper full-length out in the first part of 2010.

Beatroute and ABC News talk to Gareth Campesinos! of Los Campesinos!, whose Romance Is Boring comes out January 27.

Reigning Mercury Prize winner Speech Debelle will make her Toronto debut at Wrongbar Revival on March 10 as part of Canadian Music Fst. Tickets are $15 in advance.

MP3: Speech Debelle – “Better Days” revox featuring Wiley
Video: Speech Debelle – “Better Days” featuring Micachu

List talks to Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison about The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. The new album isn’t out till March 16 but Stereogum has both their new single and its b-side available to stream right now.

PitchforkTV has a Tunnelvision video session with A Sunny Day In Glasgow, who are at the Garrison on April 2.

Beatroute and SF Station talk to Asobi Seksu about going acoustic on Rewolf. It’s unplugged they’ll be when they play the Drake Underground on February 1.

Filter gets to know Yo La Tengo.

The New York Times has a feature piece on Spoon. Transference is out on January 19.

Joe Pernice appears to be making good on his promise to play around town more often, as he’s scheduled a date at the Dakota Tavern for February 16. His show there in September was terrific, but I think I’m going to miss it in favour of seeing Editors and The Antlers at the Phoenix that same night. Which is funny, because last time I skipped seeing The Antlers at the Horseshoe in favour of Joe Pernice. Full tour dates and a new album update can be found over here.

Not sure what’s greater – Mac McCaughan and a children’s choir (okay, maybe not quite a choir) channeling Dan Bejar on a Destroyer cover by Portastatic, taken from the Make It Sound In Tune digital EP for charity, or the accompanying image by Ryan Catbirdseat over at MBV Music, where you can download the track.

And also great – all the illustrations accompanying Hype Machine’s 2009 zeitgeist list of artists. Amazing, every one.

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Hug The Harbour

Emma Pollock prepares second solo release

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickI’m not quite at the point where I can refer to Emma Pollock without adding “former Delgados frontwoman”, but it’s getting there and with the release of her second solo album The Law Of Large Numbers, we’re getting there. Her 2007 debut Watch The Fireworks was a wholly enjoyable balance of intimate folkishness and scrappy rock, a recipe familiar to Delgados fans, but more immediate and accessible than her more idiosyncratic former band. If the first taste of the new record is any indication, it’s still quite direct but perhaps more ambitious, sonically speaking.

Either way, the new record is due out March 1 and one thing that’s certain is it’s certainly good to hear her voice again.

MP3: Emma Pollock – “Hug the Harbour”

And I was going to add a little bit asking what happened to Pollock’s co-lead in The Delgados, Alun Woodward, but it turns out he didn’t disappear so much as I just didn’t look. Some cursory digging reveals he released his self-titled solo debut under the name of Lord Cut-Glass this past Summer, so that’s both Delgados voices accounted for, and the drums as well, as Paul Savage appears on Woodward’s effort as well as on Pollock’s first record – though not, apparently, the second. Which only leaves bassist Stewart Henderson as MIA, but considering his wanting to retire is what caused the band to dissolve in the first place, that’s not surprising.

MP3: Lord Cut-Glass – “Even Jesus Couldn’t Love You”
Video: Lord Cut-Glass – “Look After Your Wife”

Decoding Static interviews Polly Scattergood.

Muse drummer Dominic Howard tells Spinner that touring as support for U2 earlier this year was an educational experience. Look for some of those lessons to be put on display when they play the Air Canada Centre on March 8.

The Quietus interviews Hope Sandoval.

Wears The Trousers has a conversation with Sharon Van Etten, who is in town on February 6 opening up for Great Lake Swimmers at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Daytrotter is closing out the year with a session with The Daredevil Christopher Wright.

Interview does their thing with Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talks to Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. Their new album Transference is out January 19.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips names off some of this favourite records of the decade to Spinner. He also gives an interview to BBC6.

Their 20th anniversary year might officially end tonight, but Merge has at least one more goodie for the faithful – a new Portastatic digital EP featuring covers of other Merge artists, with proceeds going to charity.

And that’s it for this year. Have a safe New Years, everyone and – once more with feeling – fuck you 2009.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Sea Within A Sea

Review of The Horrors' Primary Colours

Photo By Tom BeardTom BeardI didn’t pay much attention to London’s The Horrors when the released their debut album Strange House in 2007 because, well, they had a bad name, worse stage names and looked ridiculous and I’m shallow like that. No apologies. A few years on and the name is still bad but the pseudonyms are gone and they look somewhat less ridiculous and have a new album out in Primary Colours in a couple weeks. And you know what? It’s interesting.

Produced by Geoff Barrow, the Kraut-gaze sound that dominates things isn’t the most natural amalgam of sounds, but the resultant gritty, metallic dronescape works pretty well. It can get somewhat texturally monochromatic over 45 minutes, but they sensibly inject poppy pit stops like the title track at key points through the proceedings. Faris Badwan’s vocals are from the Peter Murphy/Richard Butler school of emoting but with a pleasantly raw quality that I wasn’t expecting – I thought he’d sound more theatrical or overwrought. The record hasn’t worked its way into heavy rotation by any means, but it also doesn’t make me not want to listen to it. That may sound like faint praise, but considering the amount of stuff that I hear that DOES make me not want to listen to it, it’s actually something of a compliment. I’ll be spending more time with it in advance of their show at the Phoenix on May 7 when they open up for The Kills.

You can spend some time with it now as Spinner is streaming the thing in its entirety. There’s also a rather grandiose video for the first single, which you can also download at their website in exchange for your email. Gigwise and NME both assembled track-by-track reviews of the record and NME also has a portion of a feature interview with the band.

Video: The Horrors – “Sea Within A Sea”
Stream: The Horrors / Primary Colours
MySpace: The Horrors

The third band on that Kills/Horrors bill, Magic Wands, have made a track from their debut EP Magic Love And Dreams available to download. It’s out May 25.

MP3: Magic Wands – “Black Magic”

Drowned In Sound has declared this week “Shoegaze Week”, and obviously I’m not going to argue. They kick things off by interviewing he whose song gave this site its name, Mark Gardener, formerly of Ride, and cover all the bases including THAT one, and the answer remains the same – “There is no plan to reform Ride at present and we’re all busy and very much involved in projects that we’re all doing now”.

Artrocker talks to Maximo Park about the making of their new album Quicken The Heart, which is due out May 12.

Jarvis Cocker has a new website, and I find the video there far more engrossing than any right-minded person really should. Look out for the “V”, Jarv! He also gives The Guardian the soundtrack of his life. His new record Further Complications is out May 19 and the first released MP3 sounds like this.

MP3: Jarvis Cocker – “Angela”

Wireless Bollinger interviews Andrew Innes of Primal Scream.

Black Book interviews Polly Jean Harvey.

The Daily Mail interviews Polly Scattergood, whose self-titled debut is out in North America on May 19. There’s various remixes of her new single “Please Don’t Touch” by The Golden Filter up for grabs at Pitchfork, Stereogum and Gorilla Vs Bear.

There’s a twopart interview with Super Furry Animals. The 48-minute doc to accompany their new album Dark Days/Light Years is currently streaming at Pitchfork.

Video: Super Furry Animals: Dark Days Light Years

The Citizen-Times converses with Barry Burns of Mogwai. They’re at the Phoenix on May 4.

New Pixies record this Summer? Maybe. Update: Not.

Au Revoir Simone have a new record forthcoming in Still Night, Still Light, out May 19, and have scheduled a tour to support, including a May 21 date at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Au Revoir Simone – “A Violent Yet Flammable World”

Portland acoustic pop duo Blind Pilot will be in town at the El Mocambo on June 12, tickets $10.50.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Go On, Say It”

That Passion Pit/Harlem Shakes show on June 16 is now confirmed – it’s happening at Lee’s Palace. Passion Pit have released a new video from Manners, out May 19, to celebrate their third attempt to play Toronto this year.

Video: Passion Pit – “The Reeling”

Apparently The Enemy are quite the deal back in Britain – their debut was #1 in the UK and has gone platinum there, their follow up Music For The People is out next week – but I don’t think I’d ever heard of them until the press release announcing their show at the Mod Club in Toronto on June 19 showed up in my inbox. Is this something I should be ashamed or or thankful for? I’m kinda leaning towards the latter. Tickets for the show are $18.50.

Video: The Enemy – “No Time For Tears”

Dave Lowery and Cracker are back, with a new album in Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey and a tour that now includes a June 23 date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, tickets $20.50.

Video: Cracker – “Yalla Yalla”

Dallas’ The Paper Chase are releasing a double album this year in two parts – the first half, Someday This Could All Be Yours (Volume One) – is set for release May 12 and they’ll play the Drake Underground on June 29, tickets $11.

MP3: The Paper Chase – “What Should We Do With Your Body? (The Lightning)”

Gibson Guitars deconstructs the ingredients of Wilco’s live guitar sound without any particular brand bias. Which is good for them, because I won’t be having anyone talking smack about Nels or his Jazzmaster.

NPR is streaming the whole of St Vincent’s new album Actor in advance of its official release on May 5. Annie Clark talks to Womens Wear Daily about her music and wardrobe.

Stream: St Vincent / Actor

Magnet welcomes Superchunk/Portastatic/Merge-man Mac McCaughan into their guest editor’s seat this week with a Q&A about the return of the ‘Chunk and Merge’s 20th anniversary festivities.

The Guardian considers the current wave of female pop artists garnering success in the UK, including Ladyhawke, Little Boots and La Roux.

Friday, October 31st, 2008

No Soul

The Rumble Strips in Toronto

Photo ByFrank YangI’m going to have to stop using my line about any British band being able to fill a venue in notoriously Anglophilic Toronto… this past Wednesday night at the El Mocambo, The Rumble Strips were not only able to draw just a couple dozen people, they couldn’t even get their support act to show up.

Okay, in the case of tourmates Birdmonster, it was less the Rumble Strips’ fault than the border guards who wouldn’t let the San Francisco outfit into the country (I think this is at least the second time they’ve been turned away – a topic they address in a MySpace blog in a manner that pretty much guarantees they’ll never be let in…) but otherwise, I was perplexed as to why the low turnout. Sure, they’re not exactly NME darlings, but the horn-driven soul-pop of their debut Girls & Weather (reviewed here) is eminently likeable and it was hardly an expensive ticket. Was it the cold? Got news for you, Toronto, it’s only going to get worse. Wimps. I was out, and on my BICYCLE no less. Anyway.

But, as the sage show business advice goes, you play for the people who show up – not the ones who don’t – and so even to the thin house, The Rumble Strips weren’t going to phone it in. They did indeed bring it, albeit quietly at first. They led with a new song that was decidedly more sedate than anything you’d find on their debut, one of a few that would be scattered throughout the set and none of which were as immediate as the Girls & Weather material – which is as much of a commentary as I feel fit to make after a single live listen. Cue the more introspective sophomore effort? Everything else, however, was pure extroverted pop goodness.

Everything that makes The Rumble Strips distinctive on record – the horns, the hooks, Charlie Waller’s voice – somehow comes across even stronger live. The rhythm section sounds huge, with duties frequently divvied up between Matthew Wheeler on drums and bassist Sam Mansbridge on what they call “Rumble Drum” but is actually just the floor tom beat extra hard, and is super-tight. The horns… well another thing I’m going to have to stop saying is that I don’t like horns, because I loved theirs. In fact, all the band’s orchestrations and arrangements were impressive to witness. One strength that I hadn’t noticed on record but was quite evident on stage was their harmonies. Waller’s huge vocals – pitch perfect with loads of character – obviously take center stage, but three of the other four also quite ably stepped up to add their voices to the mix.

But above all else, they brought the songs. Each listen to Girls & Weather only makes me grow fonder of uptempo, feel-good, sad-sackery – with so many strengths and such personality, I am really astonished that they weren’t able to draw out more of the curious to go along with the converted who did show up. And though it’s damn near impossible to turn a room that’s only 5% full into a party, The Rumble Strips certainly tried.

Photos: The Rumble Strips @ The El Mocambo – October 29, 2008
MP3: The Rumble Strips – “Time”
MP3: The Rumble Strips – “Motorcycle”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Girls And Boys In Love”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Alarm Clock”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Motorcycle”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Oh Creole”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Time”
MySpace: The Rumble Strips

The Independent profiles Noah & The Whale, who will be returning to Toronto for a show at the El Mocambo on December 9.

The Quietus interviews A Place To Bury Strangers. NPR is streaming part of their CMJ set last week.

Pitchfork talks to Portastatic’s Mac McCaughan.

Austin360 asks three questions of Decemberists drummer Nate Query.

The Drive-By Trucker/Hold Steady-powered “Rock & Roll Means Well” tour kicked off last night, and while the November 11 show at the Phoenix is sold out, a small block of tickets was released earlier this week via Ticketmaster and at last check, were still available. And I’m still giving away a few pairs. The Courier-Journal profiles The Hold Steady, The Winston-Salem Journal talks to the Truckers and Nashville Scene and The Village Voice talk to them both.

Paul Westerberg reflects on the legacy of The Replacements for The Guardian.

NPR welcomes Okkervil River to their studios for a World Cafe session.

Exclaim! and Get Wokingham have interviews with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner.

An Aquarium Drunkard and The Colorado Springs Gazette interview members of DeVotchKa.

One of the Jonas Brothers interviews Elvis Costello for Rolling Stone.

The Grace Potter & The Nocturnals gig originally scheduled for the El Mocambo on December 10 now appears to be happening at Lee’s Palace.

Matador has made their Fall 2008 sampler available to download and it includes tastes of new and upcoming releases from Belle & Sebastian, Shearwater and Fucked Up.