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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Davies’

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

How Darwinian

Review of Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune

Photo By Jonathan TaggartJonathan TaggartAs one of the most social media-savvy musicians in the country, it’s not unreasonable to say that Dan Mangan reads his own press and so he’s probably seen the phrases “everyman”, “coffee shop”, “roots-rock” and variants thereof in regards to his breakout 2009 record Nice, Nice, Very Nice many, many times. And while these descriptors were usually meant in most complimentary ways – one does’t make the Polaris shortlist on the back of negative press – his just-released follow-up Oh Fortune gives you the impression that he didn’t take those writeups as incentive to stay the course.

From the very first heavily-reverbed piano chords which open leadoff track “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” before giving way to strings, it’s clear that this record is built on a different game plan than its predecessor. Throughout, there’s plenty of elegantly orchestrated horns and woodwinds, but also feedbacking, layered, wall-of-noise guitars – often all side-by-side or on top of one another – and if that sounds like the complete opposite of what you’d have expected a Dan Mangan record to sound like, well I suspect that’s the point. This is not a record that can be pigeonholed as the work of a singer-songwriter or folkie; it’s brimming with full-on pop ambition and if Mangan had kept such lofty musical aspirations in check before, he’s certainly enjoying the artistic freedom that success engenders now.

But for all of that, as soon as the vocals come in it’s unmistakably a Dan Mangan record. Not having the most elastic voice becomes an pro rather than a con as it remains warm and comforting like a woollen blanket, delivering poignant and poetic lyrics that; another Mangan trademark still intact, if perhaps darker in tone this time out. And it’s Mangan’s voice and the words it carries that act as a sturdy, reliable centre amidst the swirling sonic proceedings; it’s as if between Very Nice and Fortune, Mangan was transplanted from the setting of a comfortable stool in his local into… well, it’s hard to say, exactly. The atmosphere of Fortune is consistent but difficult to pin down, also certainly part of the overarching strategy to head off preconceptions and expectations and forces the listener to consider the record on its own merits rather than what they figured a new Dan Mangan record would sound like.

It’s no small thing to shift gears or change lanes immediately after a breakthrough record; the temptation to stick to what worked – at least for the follow-up – must be immense, particularly when what worked was a time-tested, meat-and-potatoes sort of approach. So Mangan should be praised for going as conceptually far afield as he has on Oh Fortune without abandoning his core strengths and lauded for making it work so well. If it wasn’t clear from any of the above, Oh Fortune is an excellent record, expansive in scope yet efficiently delivered and both musically and lyrically rich. No, there’s nothing as immediate as “Robots” but in lieu of that degree of immediacy, you get songs that continue to reveal themselves over repeated listens. Oh Fortune confirms Mangan as one of this country’s best new songwriters and, as a bonus, forces those who’d seek to dismiss him as too conventional to find a new line of criticism. Maybe that he’s too tall. Because he’s pretty tall.

Southern Souls, The Vancouver Sun, The Winnipeg Free Press and Exclaim have interviews with Mangan and he chats with Rolling Stone about his just-released new video; there’s also three four videos from a full-album performance Mangan gave at the CBC presently online, with more to come. His Fall tour brings him to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses”
Video: Dan Mangan – “About as Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Post-War Blues” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune” (live at CBC)
Stream: Dan Mangan / Oh Fortune

Also out this week is Ohbijou’s Metal Meets. Exclaim and Toro talk to bandleader Casey Mecija about making the new record. They play a release show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on September 30.

Boasting a similar album title and gracing this month’s Exclaim cover is Feist; Pitchfork also has an interview. Metals is out October 4 and she plays Massey Hall on December 1. Update: And now the album is available to stream if you sign up for her mailing list. Preview the album AND get emails from Leslie!

Stream: Feist / Metals

Canadian Interviews is playing host to a tour diary from Bruce Peninsula. Open Flames is out October 4 but streamable now at Exclaim – they also have an interview and review – and they play an in-store at Soundscapes that evening, then a proper show at Lee’s Palace on October 27.

Stream: Bruce Peninsula / Open Flames

Their record release show for Tosta Mista safely in the books, Hooded Fang have announced they’ll play a free show at the Sanderson Branch of the Toronto Public Library (Bathurst and Dundas West) on October 1 at 2PM. They’ve also put out a new animated video.

MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”
Video: Hooded Fang – “Brahma”

Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange has been announced as support on the upcoming tour for CANT, the solo project from Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, as well as being part of his band, all of which means that he’ll be at The Garrison on October 21. And to mark it, a new MP3 from Coastal Grooves is available to grab courtesy of Stereogum.

MP3: Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”

J Mascis will be in town on November 4 as part of the Sleepwalk Guitar Festival taking place at The Great Hall all that weekend and ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd leads off the Saturday night bill followed by The Sadies. And if you were wondering just how “ex” Lloyd was with respect to Tom Verlaine and Television, this exchange documented at The Daily Swarm seems to indicate that bridges are pretty well burned. Tickets for each evening show are $25, all-day and weekend passes also available.

MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”
MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”

English songwriting legend Ray Davies has made a date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for November 25 in support of last year’s See My Friends though it’s unlikely any of his big-name collaborators will be joining him for these shows. Tickets are $49.50 and $69.50 plus fees.

Video: The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset” (live)

Young Galaxy have been added to the Austra show at The Phoenix on December 1, as well as the rest that tour. They’ve also released a new video from Shapeshifting, an animated sequel to the clip for “We have Everything”.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”

The War On Drugs are coming back to town, making a date for December 9 at The Horseshoe; tickets $13.50 in advance. The Washington Post and DCist have interviews and NPR a World Cafe session.

MP3: The War On Drugs – “Come To The City”

Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians and Said The Whale appear to be a winning combination as a second show has been added at The Phoenix for December 9, the one for the night before presumably just about sold out. Tickets are again $25 in advance.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Party In The USA”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”
MP3: Said The Whale – “Camilo (The Magician)”

Ryan Adams’ first show back in Toronto since Summer 2007 – he’s retired and come back out of retirement in the interim – will take place on December 10 at The Winter Garden Theatre; tickets are $45 plus fees, fan presale goes Thursday at 10AM and general onsale Friday, same time. His new record Ashes & Fire is out October 11; Exclaim takes a look back over his prolific career.

Video: Ryan Adams – “New York, New York”

Putting lie to my post in July when they announced it, The Radio Dept. have cancelled their entire Fall tour, which was to include a November 17 show at The Mod Club, “due to family related matters”. They hope to pick up again in 2012, perhaps even with some new material to share. Yeah, right.

Salon, Spinner, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, JAM, and aux.tv talk to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to Nels Cline and The Line Of Best Fit to Glenn Kotche. NYC Taper has a recording of their second of two Central Park shows available to download and CBC’s Q has a video studio session with the band.

Spinner talks to Ben Gibbard about the new Death Cab For Cutie video from Codes And Keys.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Stay Young Go Dancing”

Filter, The National Post and NOW have features on Girls.

Spinner talks to The Drums, in town on October 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM and a show at The Mod Club a little later that evening.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

See You Later

Field Music to tour with The Clientele

Photo By Ian WestIan WestLet’s be honest here. It’s a couple of days before Christmas and a four-day weekend – something that people of all faiths can agree is a good thing – and you’re probably not reading this. Goodness knows why I’m writing this. I mean, I could be watching Lost right now – after years of holding out, I’ve picked up all five seasons on DVD and am ploughing through them like a fat kid on Smarties. But seeing as how I’ll be enjoying said upcoming long weekend almost certainly sans blog, I should probably clear out whatever little bits and bobs I’ve still got on the plate today and tomorrow.

And we’ll start with the Brewis boys of Field Music. Done with their respective side projects of The Week That Was, whom I liked, and School Of Language, whom I didn’t like as much, David and Peter Brewis have reconvened their original band and will release a new double album on February 16 entitled (Measure). And it will be followed up with North American dates as support on the final third of The Clientele’s upcoming Winter tour, which includes the March 19 show at the Horseshoe in Toronto. You know, the one I’ve been kvetching about missing. I won’t harp on that anymore, but even though I never liked Field Music nearly as much as some, the first samples from (Measure) sound pretty damn good and I’d have liked to have caught this bill. Alas. Tickets for the show are $14.

MP3: Field Music – “Measure”
Video: Field Music – “Them That Do Nothing”

Fact talks to director Saam Farahmand about his plans to make an audio-visual sculpture from The xx’s debut album while the band tells Spinner that they loves them some Beyonce. Hey, who doesn’t. The xx are back on April 20 at the Kool Haus in support of Hot Chip.

Black Book solicits some random facts about the band from Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar. The band also put up a video of themselves covering Low’s “Just Like Christmas”, recorded in their tour van whilst en route to a radio session for NPR.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Just Like Christmas” (Low cover)

Editors have released a second video from In This Light And On This Evening, which will have a North American release on January 19. They play The Phoenix on February 16.

Video: Editors – “You Don’t Know Love”

Frightened Rabbit drummer Grant Hutchison offers The Scotsman a holiday-themed poem. Frightened Rabbit’s The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is out March 16.

Rolling Stone talks to Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien about the decade that was.

Clash solicits some Christmas memories from The Horrors’ Faris Badwan.

The Big Issue has a quick chat with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Filter has a three-part conversation with Bad Lieutenant frontman Bernard Sumner. Congratulations go out to Heather, Caroline, Andrea, Brian and Jo who won copies of Never Cry Another Tear on vinyl.

The AV Club interviews Ray Davies.

The Times contemplates the future of the album as an artistic statement, looking to Bat For Lashes, Kasabian and Mastadon for input.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Show Me Something New

Shout Out Louds get back to Work

Photo via MergeMergeLast week, I was complaining that with the US holiday season, there wasn’t nearly enough blog fodder trickling out of the interwebs. This week, it’s like a deluge.

We begin wading through it all in Scandinavia, particularly Stockholm, Sweden, home of the Shout Out Louds. The quintet turned in one of the indie-pop highlights of 2007 with Our Ill Wills and are set to follow it up with the release of Work. For this outing, they’ve opted to not work with Bjorn Yttling, who manned the boards for Our Ill Wills and have instead enlisted producer Phil Ek, best known for his work with The Shins and Built To Spill, amongst many others. And if the band’s idea of adding an American accent to things means going for a drier, less shiny sonic approach without giving up any of the hooks, then judging from the just-released first MP3 and video they’ve succeeded.

Work is out on February 23 of next year and they promise to spend most of the year touring to support. They posted up a short video clip of the recording sessions back in September.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”

PopMatters interviews Anna Ternheim, who will be supporting El Perro Del Mar on her Winter 2010 tour including the February 21 date at the Mod Club. After her too-short set opening for Loney Dear at the Horseshoe in October, I had hoped she’d be back soon for a longer performance – wish granted.

MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”

Serena Maneesh are offering a taste of their new record, still untitled and due out in March 2010, by way of a Norwegian television session.

Clash gets a guided tour of Reykjavik from Mum.

DCist interviews Jonas Bjerre of Mew, who will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Chart talks to The Raveonettes.

The National Post profiles Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns, who are playing an in-store at 7PM at Soundscapes tonight and a full show at the Tranzac on Friday night.

Resonancity interviews Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula.

One of the great mythical unicorn-griffin-dragon hybrids of the indie rock world, the solo debut from Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, should become a reality on March 9 under the title of The Desert Of Shallow Effects… unless it doesn’t. Details at AntiMusic.

There’s still no North American release date set for Sigh No More, the debut album from Mumford & Sons, but considering they’re cobbling together a North American tour for February, including a February 15 date at the El Mocambo (tickets $12), mid-February seems like a reasonable guess.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”

Johnny Flynn, with whom Mumford & Sons made their Toronto debut last October, has put out a new EP entitled Sweet William, from which you can download a track, courtesy of Drowned In Sound.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”

The third member of that bill, Laura Marling, is still targeting a Winter 2010 release for her sophomore effort and will release the first single from album number two in “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” as a Christmas single on December 14.

Magnet and Filter Q&A Ray Davies.

Daytrotter has offered up a session with The Swell Season.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Wilco Love You, Baby

Wilco and Liam Finn at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen I reviewed Wilco’s latest Wilco (The Album) back in July, I alluded to the absurdly tight musical chemistry of current lineup and how that effortlessness could actually be perceived as a detriment to the band. The same can be said of the band in performance – yes, they are arguably one of the best live acts on the road today, but with that praise comes certain problems. Like say you’ve seen said band, oh, a dozen times or more in the past decade and a baseline of “amazing” has been established for their shows – it’s very difficult for proceedings to not take on an air of over-familiarity, no matter how good they might be.

The one glorious exception in recent years was the second night of last year’s tour in support of Neil Young at the Air Canada Centre, where an absent Glenn Kotche necessitated a rotation of replacement drummers who got to call the set list. This resulted in an unbelievably spirited and unpredictable set that reached further back into the band’s catalog than they’d gone in Toronto in many, many, many years and the thought of which still brings a goofy grin to the face. So the fact that the band were soliciting requests via their website in advance of the shows made me hope that there’d be a surprise or five in the offing last Thursday night, the second of their two-night stand at Massey Hall.

Support for both nights was Liam Finn, whose acquaintance Wilco made whilst participating in the 7 Worlds Collide project organized by Finn’s father, Neil. And while Finn the younger has surely inherited his father’s innate musicality, he chooses to express it in a decidedly different way than his pop’s perfect pop (sorry – could not resist). Instead, he and collaborator Eliza Jane Barnes – and Glenn Kotche on a few songs – created a garage-rock symphony of looped guitar, voice, drums and keys and augmented it with some hyperactive and acrobatic stage moves that for all their seeming chaos were perfectly choreographed and timed to never miss a beat or cue. It was something to see and hear, and extra points for catering to the city and venue with a cover of “Cinnamon Girl”. Anyone impressed with Finn’s set – and that probably included most who saw it – should note that he’s back in town on October 29 for a show at Lee’s Palace.

The thing about Wilco shows is that, as previously mentioned, you are basically guaranteed a stellar performance. The only variables are the set list and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Tweedy’s mood. He’s never been outright surly, but playfulness isn’t a given either so catching him in particularly good spirits, as he was this evening, was a treat. Granted, it wasn’t until halfway through the night that he even addressed the crowd with a simple, “how you doing?” but interaction only grew from there, as he let the audience handle vocals on “Jesus, Etc” (though sadly, not everyone seemed to remember the words) and then mugging it up through “Hummingbird”. Nothing hugely atypical, but he was definitely having fun with it.

As to the song selection, the set list for the Wednesday show had a few treats I was sad to miss including “Shot In The Arm” and “Can’t Stand It”, but hoped that meant at least that many older gems for Thursday night. Those hopes dimmed when, as the main set was reaching its conclusion, it became clear that they had not yet and were unlikely to play anything pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – at least not before the encore. Wilco (The Album) was well-represented, as was YHF and A Ghost Is Born – I hadn’t realized how long it’d been since I’d heard some of those tunes – but the much-anticipated catalog excavation wasn’t happening. What exactly had people been requesting? “Walken”?

The encore opened with “Wilco (The Song)” and the next song opened with a drum beat that was so familiar but hadn’t been heard in so long – “Misunderstood”. Hello, Being There, it’s been a while. Liam Finn and Eliza Jane Barnes were then invited out to join the band on “California Stars” and as they left, I noticed a stage hand ushering someone else onto the side of the stage. Another special guest, Ms Leslie Feist. Tweedy dryly noted, “I think she’s from around here” to great applause before they performed the (Album) duet, “You And I” – a good reading of a song that’s a favourite from the new record, but not as transcendent as I’d hoped. But that transcendent moment would come a couple songs later with A.M.‘s “Casino Queen”, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen them play and which they absolutely tore to pieces. C’mon Jeff, you can’t tell me that wasn’t insanely fun to play? It was certainly a blast to hear. Bust out the old stuff more often! They had time to finish off with, “I’m A Wheel” and then it was a wave and goodbye.

Was it a hell of a show, just like pretty much every other Wilco show? Yes, it was. Was the final set list the treasure trove of rarities that I’d probably unrealistically been hoping for? No, not even close to be honest, but we’ll always have the Being There suite from the ACC in 2008. I still love you, Wilco. See you next time.

And next time might be sooner than you think – the previously announced cross-Canada tour set for next February goes on sale this week. For southern Ontario, that’s February 23 at Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton, February 24 at Centennial Hall in London and March 1 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa – presales for all open at 10AM on October 21, which is to say tomorrow.

And note that media were allowed to shoot photos on night one but I had a ticket for night two, hence the photo sets from both.

Photos: Wilco @ Massey Hall – October 14, 2009
Photos: Wilco, Liam Finn @ Massey Hall – October 15, 2009
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
MP3: Liam Finn – “Plane Crash”
Video: Wilco – “What Light”
Video: Wilco – “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”
Video: Wilco – “Box Full Of Letters”
Video: Wilco – “I Must Be High”
Video: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”
Video: Liam Finn – “Gather To The Chapel”
Video: Liam Finn – “Better To Be”
MySpace: Wilco
MySpace: Liam Finn

Billboard talks to Jay Farrar about One Fast Move or I’m Gone, his Jack Kerouac-themed project with Ben Gibbard. He also clarifies that his project with Nora Guthrie is not going to be another volume of Mermaid Avenue, but something different. Another track from the Kerouac record is available to stream at Stereogum.

Jason Molina talks to Pitchfork about Molina & Johnson, the collaboration with Will Johnson that has yielded the album Molina & Johnson, due out November 3. Will Johnson, incidentally, is also working on the aforementioned Nora Guthrie project with Jay Farrar. Everyone’s workin’ with everyone.

PitchforkTV hangs out in Oslo with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

The New York Times, Exclaim, Chartattack and BBC talk to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season, whose Strict Joy is out next week and who play Massey Hall on November 3.

MP3: The Swell Season – “Low Rising”

Sufjan Stevens’ expressway love letter The BQE is out today and streaming at Spinner. There’s a screening of the film portion on September 25 at Innis Town Hall at the University of Toronto. The Quietus also has an interview with Stevens.

Stream: Sufjan Stevens / The BQE

Prefix has an interview with Ray Davies.

Band Of Skulls have set a date at the El Mocambo for November 13. The Line Of Best Fit investigates the musical tastes of bassist Emma Richardson and Rolling Stone declares them a “breaking band”.

MP3: Band Of Skulls – “Blood”

Fanfarlo have finally released the dates of their North American tour and it includes a December 15 show at the El Mocambo! YAY – Christmas comes early!

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”

Blurt, The Independent and The Los Angeles Times have feature interviews with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, the last of which reveals the band have recorded a cover album of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon – and they proved it yesterday by performing “Eclipse” on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

NYC Taper talks to Darby Cicci of The Antlers.

Wye Oak give an interview to Tiny Mix Tapes.