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Posts Tagged ‘Retribution Gospel Choir’

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

You're The Gold

Ken Stringfellow at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt seems ages ago, but early 2002 was still an era where the magazine was still a vital medium for music reviews and general discovery; I still clearly recall a live writeup in issue 49 of The Big Takeover wherein editor Jack Rabid gave Ken Stringfellow a glowing review for a show at New York’s Mercury Lounge on September 20, 2001, and how it served as a powerful musical anodyne for those in need of some healing just a week after the World Trade Center attacks. It was just a few paragraphs long but still stuck with me a good long time, and also led me to pick up Stringfellow’s second solo record Touched – an album that, had I been in the habit of publishing year-end lists at the time, almost certainly would have secured a spot.

Since then, I’d been waiting for a chance to experience the live show that had been described so vividly, but while Stringfellow has been through town a number of times over the past decade – either with R.E.M., The Posies, or The Disciplines – he never toured here behind either Touched or 2004’s Soft Commands. It was only with last year’s Danzig In The Moonlight did he plot out a comprehensive enough North American tour to make it to Toronto for his first ever solo show in the city, stopping in at The Drake Underground this past Tuesday evening.

The long wait didn’t translate into a lot of pent-up demand, unfortunately, with only a few dozen people making it out on a cold and snowy night to see a man with arguably one the most impressive indie-rock resumes of the past quarter-century. The small turnout turned out to be something of a benefit, however, as Stringfellow took advantage of the intimacy to create a genuine rapport with the audience and craft a truly memorable show. Had it been a fuller show, he might not have opened with anecdotes instead of songs, starting off by entertainingly describing his morning in Montreal and his weather-delayed trip down the 401, but turning more personal in mentioning that his son had just that morning been released from prison; indeed, as friendly and genial as Stringfellow was, he was clearly having a rare and intense day and was going to be working through some stuff with song.

He opened the musical portion of the show by stepping off the stage and playing un-miked in the round, his loud and clear tenor filling the room unaided, before eventually setting down the guitar and getting back on stage behind the keyboard, though still eschewing vocal amplification. He wasn’t above asking for a little company, though, moving some benches from the floor up onto the stage and inviting audience members to flank him whilst he performed. And oh yes, the performance.

While I’m sure many would have liked to have had a Posies song or two in the mix, the set was surprisingly satisfying for sticking to his solo material and Danzig in particular – as richly-produced and arranged as that album is, it was still somehow done justice by just Stringfellow alone (although he did locally-source a duet partner for “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”. “Superwise” was riveting, “Shittalkers!” searing, and an audience request for “History Buffs” fulfilled in jaw-droppingly gorgeous fashion. While the word usually connotes violence and/or screaming, Stringfellow was instead experiencing a catharsis through melody – culminating with Touched‘s “Lover’s Hymn”, and it was truly something to behold. A show I’d waited nigh on ten years for, and still worth it.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Stringfellow and American Songwriter has the new record available to stream.

Photos: Ken Stringfellow @ The Drake Underground – February 19, 2013
MP3: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”
Video: Ken Stringfellow – “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something”
Video: Ken Stringfellow – “Superwise”
Stream: Ken Stringfellow / Danzig In The Moonlight

NOW gears up for tomorrow night’s Solange show at the Danforth Music Hall by putting Ms Knowles on this week’s cover.

Chelsea Light Moving – aka Thurston Moore’s new band – is streaming their self-titled debut at NPR ahead of its March 5 release. They play Lee’s Palace on March 31.

MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Burroughs”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Frank O’Hara Hit”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Empire Of Time”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Groovy & Linda”
Stream: Chelsea Light Moving / Chelsea Light Moving

Nashville’s Caitlin Rose is streaming her new record The Stand-In at The Independent ahead of its March 5 release date. The Telegraph also has an interview with the country singer-songwriter, who plays The Garrison on April 5.

Stream: Caitlin Rose / The Stand-In

Entertainment Weekly have premiered another new song from New Moon, the new record from The Men. It’s out March 5.

Stream: The Men – “I Saw Her Face”

Pitchfork solicits a video session from Local Natives. They play The Phoenix on March 28.

Spin has a stream of the first sample from the forthcoming Rilo Kiley rarities compilation RKives, targeted for an April 2 release.

Stream: Rilo Kiley – “Let Me Back In”

How To Destroy Angels – aka Trent Reznor’s new post-Nine Inch Nails project – will release their debut Welcome Oblivion on March 5, but are streaming it right now at Pitchfork and have announced their Spring tour itinerary; the venue is still TBA but they’ll be in Toronto on April 25. Update: Spin says Sound Academy.

Stream: How To Destroy Angels / Welcome Oblivion

Exclaim has details on what’s next from John Vanderslice – a Kickstarter-ed new album called Dagger Beach which should be out this Summer, and a complete album cover of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs for those who help fund it.

Backstage Rider finds out what Dean & Britta have been up to, and that’s solo records. Dean has two coming out, one produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket and the other by Jason Quever of Papercuts, and Britta has one of her own in the works. So there’s no Dean & Britta on the horizon, but lots of Dean and Britta.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Retribution Gospel Choir’s Nels Cline-assisted show in New York last week.

Spinner and The Quietus get James McNew of Yo La Tengo on the horn to talk about their latest, Fade.

State engages in some straight talk with Mark Eitzel.

The 405 talks to Paul Banks.

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Keep Believing

Bob Mould leaves the Blue, brings the Silver

Photo By Peter EllenbyPeter EllenbyWhen Bob Mould looks back on his 2012, he should be able to reflect on a very busy and productive year. First, he released his memoirs See A Little Light – a very direct and enlightening, if somewhat dryly written, accounting of his professional and personal life over the past half-century, back in June. Shortly thereafter came the release of the complete output of his second most-important power trio in Sugar, which he’d also marked by playing the entirety of the seminal Copper Blue on tour throughout the year. And oh yeah, on top of all that, he released his first album of new material since 2009’s Life & Times in The Silver Age, rightly heralded as his strongest – and most all-out rocking – work in some time.

One thing Mould didn’t get time to do this year, though, was come north of the border to play some shows. It would have been great to have one of the Copper Blue shows up here, but it didn’t happen – which makes me feel extra-fortunate that I was able to catch on at SXSW, not that that does the rest of his Toronto fanbase much good. But while it seems improbably that 2013 will be as busy for Bob as 2012, he’s added a few more dates including his first local show since Fall 2009, on March 1 at The Horseshoe. Yes he could easily play a bigger room – which is why this will be extra-great. It won’t be a Copper Blue recital – he officially retired that in November – but one of the perks of having thirty years worth of material to draw from is that he can assemble a near-infinite number of different set lists and they’ll all be fantastic. Bob will bring the tunes, you bring the earplugs. Tickets for the show are $24.50, on sale tomorrow.

Another thing Mould has been doing this year? Turning to Kickstarter to fund a release of the See A Little Light: A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould concert film recorded in Los Angeles last November, wherein a collection of musicians including Dave Grohl, Britt Daniel, Craig Finn, and Britt Daniel came together to perform works from Mould’s entire career. Sound like something you’d want to see? Me too – so chip in if you can.

And finally – last thing – Mould is doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Monday, December 17, starting at 1PM. So if there’s something you’ve been wanting to ask him – that’s your chance.

Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Also hellaciously busy this year were Guided By Voices, with the reunited indie rock icons releasing fully three new albums in barely 11 months. So what do you do for an encore? As Tobin Sprout tells Ghettoblaster, one more album and an EP in January for sure, and maybe another album after that.

The Afghan Whigs, who set stages on fire (figuratively) with their reunion tour through much of this year, play a video session for NPR.

It would be reasonable to assume that Alan Sparhawk would be focusing on Low next year, what with a new album in The Invisible Way coming out March 19, but no – his Retribution Gospel Choir will release a two-track, Nels Cline-starring third album entitled 3 on January 22, with some touring scheduled for the early part of the year. A warm-up for Low, I guess. Details on the release over here. And back to Low, there’s a mini-documentary film at BYUtv about the band’s 20-year history together.

NYCTaper has recordings of the first two nights of Yo La Tengo’s Hannukah shows at Maxwell’s this week. New album Fade is out January 15 and they’re at The Phoenix on February 9.

Funny Or Die has got a pretty damn funny video short featuring Cat Power singing to a class of second-graders while being Cat Power.

Josh Ritter has announced the return of Josh Ritter in both recorded and live formats. To the former, his new record The Beast In In Tracks will be out March 5 – stream a new song below – and to the latter, he’s announced a Spring tour that brings him to the Danforth Music Hall on April 16.

Stream: Josh Ritter – “Joy To You Baby”

Widowspeak have premiered a stream of another new song from Almanac over at Paste. The album is out January 22.

Stream: Widowspeak – “The Dark Age”

Also doing the preview stream thing is Ra Ra Riot; Entertainment Weekly brings you the second taste of Beta Love, out January 22. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 6 and there’s an interview with the band at The Shreveport Times.

Stream: Ra Ra Riot – “When I Dream”

Spinner chats with Christopher Owens about his solo debut Lysandre. It’s out January 15 and he plays The Mod Club on January 18.

PopMatters interviews Savoir Adore.

Chairlift are giving away an EP’s worth of demos for Something via Soundcloud.

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Choose To Play

Redd Kross have the Blues

Photo By Jon KropJon KropI don’t think anyone necessarily expected anything more from Redd Kross than what they’d been offering since reconvening after a decade apart in 2006. Which is to say sporadic live shows – mainly at festivals like NXNE 2008 – where they made their fanbase feel like they were teenagers again by way of their prototypical Californian bubblegum power-pop, as captured on classics of the genre like Phaseshifter and Neurotica. Nothing wrong with that, not at all.

But there’s also nothing wrong with taking a time-tested formula and whipping up another batch of what works so come August 7, Merge Records – who are taking their role as home for wayward ’90s rock acts seriously – will release Researching The Blues, the band’s seventh album and first since 1997’s Show World. It features the Neurotica-era lineup of Jeff McDonald, Steven McDonald, Robert Hecker and Roy McDonald and using the just-released title track MP3 as a reference, it’s pretty evident that the band are capable of sounding as snotty, riffy and hooky in their 40s as they did in their teens. Which is great.

The Los Angeles Times talks to Steven McDonald about taking the reunion from the stage into the studio.

MP3: Redd Kross – “Researching The Blues”

Their names may sound like they’re taken from a guidebook on how to name your band in a quintessentially nonsensical ’00s manner, but both of New York’s Bear Hands and Fort Lean come with a legitimate amount of buzz – so it could be worth heading to The Drake on July 25 to see them.

MP3: Bear Hands – “What A Drag”
MP3: Fort Lean – “Sunsick”

Speaking of veterans of the ’90s college rock scene – we were, try to keep up – Sebadoh is back in action, with plans to release a new EP this Summer, follow that with a North American tour that stops at The Horseshoe on August 20 and then release their first new full-length since 1999’s The Sebadoh early next year.

MP3: Sebadoh – “Skull”

Interview and Elle talk to Exitmusic, in town at Wrongbar on June 16 for NXNE. They’ve put out a video from their just-released debut Passage.

Video: Exitmusic – “The Night”

Also at NXNE and with a new video are A Place To Bury Strangers; here’s an interview with the band at NXNE, they’re at The El Mocambo on June 14, and their new record Worship is out June 26.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are One”

Daytrotter has a session with Father John Misty, back in town at The Opera House on July 12 opening for Youth Lagoon. There’s also features at The Dallas Observer and Creative Loafing.

The Stool Pigeon talks to Bethany Cosentino and The Aspen Times to Bobb Bruno, both of Best Coast. They’re at The Phoenix on July 21.

Bob Mould tells The Quietus why the Sugar reissues – their three albums are being re-released in expanded and remastered form come July 24 – is being accompanied by a new incarnation of the Bob Mould band rather than a proper Sugar reunion, and it’s not because he, David Barbe and Malcolm Travis don’t get along.

Jim James talks to Rolling Stone about his plans for the next Yim Yames solo record. He will be with My Morning Jacket at Echo Beach on August 15.

Pitchfork talks to Mark Kozelek about the new Sun Kil Moon record Among The Leaves, out Tuesday. Kozelek still hasn’t canceled his October 3 date at The Great Hall.

Room 205 has posted the first installment of a video session with Blouse.

CNN interviews Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells, who have a new video from Reign Of Terror.

Video: Sleigh Bells – “Demons”

Retribution Gospel Choir have also got a new video, this one taken from their Revolution EP.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Maharisha”

NPR has begun checking in with Neko Case as she gets to work on her first new album since 2009’s Middle Cyclone.

Pitchfork has a stream of a new song from The National, taken from the Game Of Thrones soundtrack. Not sure how I feel about them taking up the banner for House Lannister.

Stream: The National – “The Rains Of Castomere”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day One

Aerials Up, Old World Vulture, Squarehead and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBack to back festivals! What a great idea. Just prior to heading out to engage with Canadian Musicfest’s 2012 edition, I took a look back at years past and noticed a couple trends – one, that I usually complain about the lineup (check!) and that as a result of not wanting to see the same old same old, I try to branch out and see new and unknown acts, usually from foreign climes, with little background and no guarantee of quality… with consistently mixed results. Would the class of ’12 fare any better? Let’s find out.

Toronto/St. Catharine’s quartet Old World Vulture didn’t really fit into the “unknown to me” category as I’ve been writing them up and recommending them since 2009 but this would actually be the first time I’d ever gotten around to seeing them live, so in that sense it was new. They were playing the upstairs of The El Mocambo, where I don’t think I’d set foot in nearly a decade – since the Blow-Up Britpop nights moved to other venues – and having undergone some renovations since then, it felt both unfamiliar and nostalgic. Not that that was either here nor there – Old World Vulture’s loud and heavy sound was about as far removed from The Wannadies as you were going to get and they were going to keep my attention firmly in the present. In a sense, it’s good that the post-rock genre is rather formulaic as it forces purveyors of it to find a unique angle; Old World Vulture set them apart with their synth leads, which were most interesting when evoking a ’70s sci-fi film vibe. Elsewhere, they were more reminiscent of mid-era Mogwai with less reliance on the loud-quiet thing and more on maintaining a steady, lumbering menace. I was glad to finally be able to tick “see Old World Vulture” off my to-do list.

Photos: Old World Vulture @ The El Mocambo – March 22, 2012
MP3: Old World Vulture – “J.R. Flood”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Trophy Lovers”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Bastard Engine”

It’s no short hop from the El Mo to The Drake, but I made pretty good time in hoofing it from A to B in order to catch Scottish collective Aerials Up make their Toronto debut. Looking at the band – a co-ed collective of happy young people brandishing an assortment of rock and orchestral instruments, you might think you know exactly what to expect: big, exuberant pop with multi-part harmonies and swells of strings bouncing off crunchy electric guitar… and you’d be about right. But even though they don’t add anything new to the style, they don’t make it feel any more played out thanks to their enthusiasm, charm, and likeable tunes. The turnout was decent enough for the gig though it was a bit hard to say how many were genuinely paying attention – even when exhorted by the band to stand up, some wouldn’t give up their seats. The Daily Record reports on some of the fundraising efforts the band undertook to afford to come over to Canada.

Photos: Aerials Up @ The Drake Underground – March 22, 2012
Video: Aerials Up – “I Am”
Video: Aerials Up – “Superglue”

It was then a streetcar ride down Queen to get to The Rivoli where the Irish showcase had been chugging along all night. I arrived in time to see Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake get started, I thought their moody, ambient approach promising – vocalist Daniel McAuley certainly had a falsetto that you could build impressive things around. But within a few numbers it became clear that their songs were not going to coalesce into more coherent songs, and instead would remain sketches more interested in allowing the vocals to roam than offer a memorable listening experience, the extended breaks between songs fiddling with the laptop not helping matters either. A few pieces did possess enough structure to offer optimism about the future and there’s no question they’re in possession of some impressive instruments to work with, but they really need some melodies.

Photos: Cloud Castle Lake @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
Stream: Cloud Castle Lake – “A Wolf Howling”

On the other hand, Dublin’s Squarehead were pretty much as advertised: a scrappy power pop trio with garage-y and punkish tendencies It did take a few songs for the expected raucousness to kick in – they seemed to need a little time to warm up – but their acceleration was steady and by the end of their set, they were getting pretty punchy up there. A fun and tuneful set that made up somewhat for the fact that I didn’t get home till 2:30AM and all the SXSW recovery that I’d been stockpiling through the week was basically all squandered.

Photos: Squarehead @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
MP3: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Video: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Stream: Squarehead / Yeah Nothing

Nada Surf will warm up for their show at The Opera House that evening with an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 4 at 6PM. The Seattle Times has a chat with frontman Matthew Caws.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”

Nebulously-named buzz band the praise for their new record Open Your Heart into town for two shows – June 14 at The Garrison and June 15 at Wrongbar. And if you intuit from the timing and frequency that this’ll be for NXNE, you get a cookie.

MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”

Pitchfork reports that Mission Of Burma will release a new album entitled Unsound on July 9; the first single is available to stream now.

Stream: Mission Of Burma – “Dust Devil”

If you didn’t download that mixtape they offered last week or just want to hear the one new song, Titus Andronicus’ contribution to a split 7″ with Diarrhea Planet is now available to stream.

Stream: Titus Andronicus – “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus”

Retribution Gospel Choir have release a video from their new EP The Revolution/.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “The Stone (Revolution)”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a Bowerbirds show in New York last week and Gapers Block an interview.

Prefix interviews M. Ward.

Paper talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent/. She has a couple of collector-interest releases coming up – a 7″ with two new tracks for Record Store Day on April 21 and a deluxe edition of Strange Mercy called – wait for it – Stranger Mercy that comes with a DVD of her 4AD Sessions and attendant promo videos on May 8.

Magnet and The AV Club talk to James Mercer of The Shins, who will be paying a visit at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

The National Post and Chart talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. Their show at The Phoenix now in the books, their next visit will come April 27 and 28 at The Air Canada Centre opening up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

All Our Summer Songs

Saturday Looks Good To Me decides Saturday still looks pretty good, reforms for new album and tour

Photo via PolyvinylPolyvinylUsually when an interesting press release shows up in my inbox, the contents show up ad nauseum in my RSS, Twitter, Facebook, whatever over the next few hours – such is the nature of the press cycle in the digital age. But one of the best pieces of news over the last few days, at least for me, hasn’t yet found its way into the internet echo chamber, and that’s the anouncement of the return of Saturday Looks Good To Me.

Not that I’m entirely surprised; the Ann Arbor, Michigan outfit never quite set the world on fire despite producing two nearly perfect records of Motown/Northern Soul revivalist pop in 2003’s All Your Summer Songs and 2004’s Every Night and had been basically in drydock since the release of 2007’s Fill Up The Room. Songwriter Fred Thomas and vocalist Betty Marie Barnes regrouped in 2010 as Mighty Clouds and released one decent self-titled effort but remained largely under the radar.

But anyways – back to the presser. Basically, it announced that Thomas had reconvened a new version of the band with long-time bassist Scott DeRoche, Ryan Howard (with whom he formed City Center in SLGTM’s downtime) and new singer Carol Gray for a Spring tour (though no local date), a re-release of All Your Summer Songs on heavy vinyl for Record Store Day and a new album due out in the Fall. There’s no guarantee that it will reach the greatness of their earlier records – the constantly shifting lineup doesn’t always gel and sometimes Thomas’ more experimental urges can be to the detriment of the songs, but I’m optimistic nonetheless. If you’re unfamiliar with them, do get acquainted – there’s MP3s and full album streams below, and a sampler mix over at Soundcloud.

MP3: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Make A Plan”
MP3: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “The Girl’s Distracted”
MP3: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Until The World Stops Spinning”
MP3: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “The Sun Doesn’t Want To Shine”
MP3: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Meet Me By The Water”
Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me / Every Night
Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me / All Your Summer Songs
Stream: Mighty Clouds / Mighty Clouds

The Drums, with Brooklyn’s Craft Spells in tow, will make a return engagement on April 27 at The Phoenix – tickets $17.50 in advance – part of another tour in support of last year’s Portamento. They’ve also just released a new video from said record and sat for an interview with The Daily Record.

MP3: The Drums – “Down By The Water”
MP3: Craft Spells – “You Should Close The Door”
Video: The Drums – “Days”

Baltimore’s Future Islands will bring last year’s On The Water to The Horseshoe on May 3, tickets $11.50 in advance.

MP3: Future Islands – “Before The Bridge”

With a new album in Always ready for release next Tuesday, Xiu Xiu have announced a Spring tour with Vancouver’s Dirty Beaches that brings them to Lee’s Palace on May 12, tickets $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Xiu Xiu – “Hi”
MP3: Xiu Xiu – “Hi” (acoustic)
MP3: Dirty Beaches – “Lord Knows Best”

If you’re thinking, “wait – their March 14 show at The Air Canada Centre doesn’t happen for another two weeks”, you are correct – but that hasn’t stopped The Black Keys from announcing another Toronto date for August 4 at the Molson Amphitheatre, this time with The Shins. Tickets for that will be $35 and $60 in advance. What can you say – their El Camino just keeps going and going; The Shins can only hope Port Of Morrow has remotely the same momentum when it arrives on March 20 – The Quietus has an interview with James Mercer about the new record.

MP3: The Shins – “Know Your Onion!”
Video: The Black Keys – “Gold On The Ceiling”

DIY and The Daily Tar Heel interview Bowerbirds, whose new album The Clearing, is out next week. They play The Garrison on March 27.

Paste and The Quietus profile Andrew Bird, whose new album Break It Yourself is out Tuesday. You can watch a video performance of one of the new songs at PitchforkTV.

In conversation with DIY, Howler reveal they’ve already begun work on the follow-up to America Give Up; they’ll showcase that first album at The Drake on April 5.

The AV Club has got the artwork and tracklist for the Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions box from Billy Bragg and Wilco, as well as the official release date of April 21.

Ben Curtis of School Of Seven Bells talks to Spinner and picks some of his favourite records for The Skinny. They’re at The Hoxton on May 2.

The Retribution Gospel Choir is in a giving mood, offering a new EP entitled The Revolution for free download from their website in exchange for an email address.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “The Stone (Revolution!)”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Sharon Van Etten’s New York show this past weekend, while Blare and The Calgary Herald have interviews.

Clash has a feature piece on Real Estate.

Toronto Standard has an interview with yours truly about the topic of blogging in advance of a panel I’m on this Friday evening for the Toronto Music Industry Association, also on the topic of blogging. I will be fielding any questions about anything except blogging.