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Posts Tagged ‘S. Carey’

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Myth

Review of Beach House’s Bloom

Photo By Liz FlyntzLiz FlyntzIf we can regard Beach House literally as their namesake, which is to say as a holiday getaway, a reliably stolid place to escape from the real world, then the amount of adoration they’ve gotten for largely sticking to their skeletal formula through four albums now is understandable. Their fans don’t want them to reinvent themselves with each outing; they want that comforting blanket of Victoria Legrand’s narcoleptic vocals and whirring keyboard interwoven with Alex Scally’s languid slide guitar, and across their first two records – their 2006 self-titled debut and 2007′s Devotion – that’s almost exactly what they got, seasoned with some rudimentary percussion both electronic and organic.

The closest thing they’re ever likely to come to a revolution was with 2010′s Teen Dream, which managed to take a relatively huge leap forward with the production and songwriting, making interesting rhythms and pop hooks a front burner concern without compromising their core sound. A risk, perhaps, but one that paid off immensely in the form of their strongest and most critically and commercially successful work. So with that in mind, it’s not surprising that Bloom – out next Tuesday – opts to stay the course laid out by its predecessor. Surprises simply aren’t Beach House’s style.

Gorgeousness is, however. It took the aforementioned embrace of bigger sounds on Teen Dream to really make me appreciate Beach House – prior to that, I had to be in a very particular mood to listen to them for any period of time – and now they’re a band for all occasions. Having touring drummer Daniel Franz play on the whole of the record, a third member of the band even if he’s not formerly acknowledged as such, helps both ground and propel Bloom while Legrand and Scally do their thing in crafting the haunting textures and melodies that are the foundation of Beach House. And while we’re being literal about things, Bloom is an exceptionally appropriate name for this collection as there’s moments that simply burst outwards. To even suggest that the band be capable of this sort of dynamicism circa their debut would have seemed absurd, and yet just six years later, here we are – and without compromising their identity, no less.

It’s too early to say if Bloom is better than Teen Dream, but by the quantitative measure of how many times I’ve felt compelled to listen to it, it’s already well ahead. At worst, it’s as good as its predecessor and at best, its even better. In either case, it’s hard to imagine liking one and not the other and regardless of where you rank it relative to Beach House’s earlier output, despite really just being more of the same – or perhaps because of it – it’s excellent.

NPR has an advance stream of the new record and DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, The Orlando Sentinel, and Pitchfork have interviews with the band.

MP3: Beach House – “Myth”
Stream: Beach House / Bloom

Also streaming at NPR but two weeks ahead of release are The Only Place, the second album from Best Coast, and Passage, the debut from Exitmusic. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21 and Exitmusic have a NXNE showcase at Wrongbar on June 14.

Stream: Best Coast / The Only Place
Stream: Exitmusic / Passage

S. Carey’s new EP Hoyas came out this week – stream it at Stereogum and read interviews with Sean Carey about the record at The Leader Telegram and Volume One.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”
Stream: S. Carey / Hoyas

In concert announcements, Joe Pernice will stretch his legs and take a mosey to The Dakota Tavern on June 22, maybe play some songs.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”

Having sold out Lee’s Palace their last time through, Youth Lagoon will be at The Opera House on July 12 with Father John Misty, who still has to get through Monday night’s show at the Horseshoe before he can make a return engagement. Tickets are $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Youth Lagoon – “July”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

If part of Liars’ to-do list in preparation for the June 5 release of WIXIW was slate a North American tour, they can cross it off – they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on July 21, tickets $15. They can also check off releasing the first video from the new album.

MP3: Liars – “Scissor”
Video: Liars – “No. 1 Against The Rush”

Twin Shadow is also hitting the road in support of a new record – with Confess due out July 9, George Lewis Jr will be at Lee’s Palace on July 30 and 31, tickets $20.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Slow”

Merge has released a companion album to Crooked Fingers’ 2011 album Breaks In The Armor comprised of acoustic demos of the album. It’s out now and you can stream one of the tracks at Donewaiting.

Stream: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood” (acoustic)

Exclaim reports that some of The Mountain Goats’ early cassette releases from the early ’90s – The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, specifically – will be released on a single CD on June 26.

Fang Island have announced that their second album Major will be out on July 12; details at Spin.

Pop Etc have released a video from their self-titled debut, out June 12.

Video: Pop Etc – “Live It Up”

Explosions In The Sky have released a second video from last year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Postcard From 1952″

America Give Up has yielded another video from Minneapolis’ Howler.

Video: Howler – “This One’s Different”

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Mates Of State, off of last year’s Mountaintops.

Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”

The Magnetic Fields have released a second video from Love At The Bottom Of The Sea.

Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Quick!”

Interview talks to Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak, in town at The Garrison on June 15 for NXNE.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Of Montreal, in town for NXNE on June 16 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Artrocker and Drowned In Sound talk to A Place To Bury Strangers about their forthcoming album Worship, out June 26.

Red Eye and The Detroit Free Press talk to Andrew Bird, in town at Echo Beach on July 19.

Sharon Van Etten plays a video session for WBEZ; she’s at The Phoenix on July 31.

Pitchfork talks to Merrill Garbus and the director of the recent tUnE-yArDs video for “My Country”. She plays The Phoenix on August 1.

SF Weekly chats with John Vanderslice.

Reverb interviews Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

NPR is streaming a KCRW radio session with M. Ward.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Savoir Adore.

Ra Ra Riot talks to Spin about what they’ve got planned for album number three and to Grantland about their appreciation for hockey.

NPR has a WFUV session with Shearwater.

Spin gets a progress report on the next Dinosaur Jr album, due out later this Summer.

Greg Dulli takes The Skinny on a guided tour of The Afghan Whigs’ catalog.

Spin talks to Bob Mould about the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s Copper Blue and the single, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” in particular. Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that two of Mould’s ’90s albums – Bob Mould and The Last Dog & Pony Show – will be getting released as a three-disc set in the UK on June 18 with the third disc consisting of a live 1998 show.

The Atlantic reflects on the significance of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The AV Club has posted the fourth part of their look at the history of R.E.M..

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Tramp

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

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTwo records is not really a lot of data from which to plot a creative trajectory, but based on Sharon Van Etten’s first couple records, you could make some projections. Her 2009 debut Because I Was In Love was simple and spare, elevated above your standard singer-songwriter fare by Van Etten’s gorgeous bruise of a voice and her correspondingly confessional songwriting; 2010′s mini-album epic showed what she could do with backing players, offering a perfect set of songs that arced from the darkness, both in tone and theme, of “A Crime” to the aching and even hopeful “Love More” in just over half an hour. So when word came that she was working with The National’s Aaron Dessner on her third effort, one could reasonably assume that it would be even more polished – in the best sense of the word – than its predecessors.

Which is why, I think, that it’s taken me longer than expected to wrap my head around Tramp. It’s not immediately more focused than epic, instead retreating back into the sprawl and thematic shadows of Because I Was In Love; the album shifts gears from song to song, for instance bouncing from the rocking “Serpents” through the drifting “Kevin’s” into the sprightly “Leonard” and within the songs, she favours more elliptical than direct melodies. Anyone fearing that Van Etten would be going pop the third time out can rest easy. Once personal expectations are checked in favour of what’s actually been delivered, Tramp affirms itself as a solid showcase of Van Etten’s talents; muscular where strength is called for and gentle when all it needs is to softly support. As a record to break Van Etten out to a broader audience, I still think epic was better suited, but Tramp is clearly doing the job just fine. Lee’s Palace, where she played Tuesday night, is a good deal larger than The Drake which hosted her first/last headlining visit in April 2011, and it was well and truly sold out.

It was gratifying to see that the room was comfortably full for Shearwater, who despite having finally graduated to headliner status for their last visit in April 2010 and having just released their own exceptional record in Animal Joy, were back in the supporting role on this tour. Now I had seen Shearwater a dozen times or so in various incarnations over the years since first seeing them in this very room in May 2005, but had never seen them like this – quite literally. Despite having commented on how the rawness of Animal Joy could be attributed to stripping things down to the core trio of Jonathan Meiburg, Kim Burke and Thor Harris, neither Burke nor Harris were to be seen on this night – instead, Shearwater was Meiburg and four all-new faces; clearly, even long-time fans were going to have to check their expectations.

And even the longest-term Shearwater fan couldn’t have been prepared for what this incarnation of the band would be about. Past writeups of both their albums and live shows inevitably centered around the sense of mystery and atmosphere that they created, led by Meiburg’s soaring vocals. Now, that voice was more banshee than choirboy and the band – all electric guitars, keys and drums – was unrelentingly urgent and visceral. No two ways about it, Shearwater 2012 is a rock band and a great one – “You As You Were” was jaw-dropping and set-closer “Star Of The Age” was stirringly anthemic in a way that the album version only hinted at. The bulk of the nearly hour-long set drew from Animal Joy, but “Rooks” from Rook and “The Snow Leopard” and “Castaways” represented The Golden Archipelago well, coming even more alive with this band configuration. Make no mistake, both Harris and Burke were missed but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine wanting to hear the new songs played any other way than they had. If the night had ended here, it’d have been a triumph.

But it wasn’t the end; this was still Sharon Van Etten’s night, even if her performance was more of a gentle, hour-long come-down following Shearwater’s bracing set. She also fronted a different band from the one she brought through last Spring; Doug Keith remained a fixture on bass but the drummer – whose name eluded me – was new, I think, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Heather Woods Broderick was definitely new. What remained the same was the disarming charm that Van Etten brought to the stage with her smile and light banter, which helped balance out the emotional weightiness of her material.

With the exception of “Save Yourself” early on, the main set was made up exclusively of Tramp material, with Van Etten resisting requests for “Tornado” to rep Because I Was In Love but she did offer up a searing “Serpents” as a dedication to one audience member, being sure to clarify that “this is not about you but for you”. It has to be said that live, the material hung together better for me than it did on record – the blend of omnichord and harmonium on “Magic Chords” was, well, magical and using a triple guitar setup not for aggression but atmosphere on “I’m Wrong” and allowing that to bloom and gently settle into the set-closing “Joke Or A Lie” was pretty special. For the encore, it as back to the harmonium for a reading of “Love More” that made you really grateful that Broderick and her harmonies were now part of the band and then, to close out on an up note, they invited Shearwater back onstage for a cover of The Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You” that was raucous, sloppy and a great if unexpected way to finish the night.

The National Post also has a review of the show and the Toronto media welcomed Van Etten to town with interviews in Chart, The Toronto Standard, The Grid, The National Post, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Toro, and NOW and out of town, The Boston Phoenix says hello. Meanwhile, Blurt has a feature on Shearwater and Meiburg gives The Montreal Gazette a list of what he’s listening to these days and pens an essay on Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock for adequacy.net.

Photos: Sharon Van Etten, Shearwater @ Lee’s Palace – February 21, 2012
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”
MP3: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”
MP3: Shearwater – “Black Eyes”
MP3: Shearwater – “God Made Me”
MP3: Shearwater – “Castaways”
MP3: Shearwater – “South Col”
MP3: Shearwater – “The Snow Leopard”
MP3: Shearwater – “Rooks”
MP3: Shearwater – “Red Sea, Black Sea”
MP3: Shearwater – “Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five”
MP3: Shearwater – “White Waves”
MP3: Shearwater – “Whipping Boy”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
Video: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”

Peppy Los Angeles soundtrack fodder outfit Grouplove have made a date at Wrongbar for May 9, tickets $18. It’s part of a Spring tourNever Trust A Happy Song.

Video: Grouplove – “Colours”

Mark Lanegan has taken a break from being a grim, gravelly voice for hire to release a new solo record in Blues Funeral that’s, well, probably grim and gravelly. He and band will be taking it on tour and stop in at The Mod Club on May 15, tickets $15 in advance, and there’s features at The Quietus and Exclaim.

MP3: Mark Lanegan Band – “The Gravedigger’s Song”
Video: Mark Lanegan Band – “The Gravedigger’s Song”

tUnE-yArDs is pretty sure people are still discovering and being wowed by last year’s WHOKILL, and so she’s going to give them another chance to hear it live – Toronto gets its third show for the album on August 1 at The Phoenix, tickets $20.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Powa”
MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”

Bon Iver has released a full 25-minute video session recorded for their European label wherein Justin Vernon and Sean Carey do Bon Iver-y things. And incidentally, Carey will release a new EP entitled Hoyas on May 8; his 2010 solo debut All We Grow was a gem, so if you dig what he does in the session, check his work out.

Video: Bon Iver / 4AD Sessions

Paste talks to Beth and Philip of Bowerbirds while Eater has some food-talk with violinist Mark Paulson. Their new record The Clearing comes out March 6 and they’re at The Garrison on March 27.

Kurt Wagner of Lambchop discusses the song, “If Not I’ll Just Die” with NPR; he also talks Mr. M with No Depression and The Telegraph.

Rolling Stone reports that the long-rumoured Mermaid Avenue, Vol III from Billy Bragg and Wilco will finally be coming out this year, just in time for the centenary of Woody Guthrie’s birth. It’ll be available either as part of the four-disc Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions with the first two albums and the Man In The Sand documentary film or on its own. More details on the release are available at Billy Bragg’s blog.

A second sample of M. Ward’s forthcoming A Wasteland Companion is now available to stream; it’s out April 10.

Stream: M. Ward – “Primitive Girl”

James Mercer of The Shins talks to Exclaim about their new album Port Of Morrow, due out March 20. The first video from said record was released a couple days ago and you can finally watch it online, after originally only being available as an iTunes download – free, sure, but annoying and I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, PR-speaking.

Video: The Shins – “Simple Song”

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

We Need A Myth

Review of Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far

Photo By Alexandra ValentiAlexandra ValentiIf Will Sheff has ever felt too predictable in what people expect from Okkervil River, he’s really got no one to blame but himself. Since their breakout 2005 record Black Sheep Boy, the band in which he’s been the only real constant has made a habit (okay, twice) of releasing literarily-inclined multi-volume sets with a very specific narrative and musical themes; Black Sheep Boy being a mythically-tinged folk-rock study of the Tim Hardin song and the 2007-08 season’s production of The Stage Names/The Stand Ins was his ruminations on fame and the rock’n'roll life set to a soundtrack appropriately indebted to classic sounds of the ’60s and ’70s.

It’s an approach that has worked, clearly; each of Okkervil’s releases has brought the band more and more acclaim and all have been favourites around these parts. But based on their new record I Am Very Far, it’s one that required a little shaking up. Or a lot. While time will tell if there’ll be a companion record released in the near future, those looking for an easy angle on what Very Far is about, thematically, will be disappointed – having essentially put novels and memoirs to song, Sheff has now assembled his short story collection with each of the record’s eleven songs standing self-contained, both lyrically and musically. And it’s on the latter point that I Am Very Far really stands apart from its predecessors.

With a markedly different lineup from their last recordings, it’s inevitable that Okkervil would sound at least a little different. But rather than simply accept those variances, Sheff has opted to exploit them and give the band a new sonic identity. His own perfectly imperfect vocals remain the most identifying trait, but everything around it is bigger and broader-sounding than ever before. This is easily Okkervil’s most produced record ever, but rather than the extra gloss that that usually implies, here it means density. Overdubs and extra players, musical styles heretofore unexplored – dig the almost disco-ish groove of “Piratess” – and crazy echos and reverbs pervade the record as does an almost manic (or maniacal) sense of relentless restlessness; its bloodshot energy is almost as uncomfortable to listen to as it is invigorating. Some might suggest that I Am Very Far is the band’s bid to break into the mainstream but I think that if that was their intention, they’d sound like they’d have gotten a little more sleep before pressing “record”.

But for all the tumult that has obviously gone into making I Am Very Far, after a few acclimatizing listens, something quite beautiful emerges. The freedom gained from putting everything that defined Okkervil on the table with this record combined with Sheff’s already formidable skills as a songwriter, lyricist and arranger have produced the sort of album that I imagine most bands of a certain tenure long for; one that the more you thought you knew what the band were about, the more you’d be surprised by and which is like discovering one of your favourite bands again for the first time.

Spinner talks to Will Sheff and Pat Pestorius about making the new album. They play The Phoenix on June 10.

MP3: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
Video: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
Stream: Okkervil River / I Am Very Far

San Diego’s Crocodiles, whom I’d begun to think had some personal issue with Toronto for their never touring up this way, will make up for their absence in a big way for NXNE as they will play a three-night residency at The Silver Dollar over the course of the festival, June 17, 18 and 19, with a different undercard each night.

MP3: Crocodiles – “Sleep Forever”

Chicago emo/math-rock veterans Joan Of Arc have a date at The Garrison for August 5, ticket $12.50. Their new record Life Like is out today.

MP3: Joan Of Arc – “Love Life”

The best of news, the worst of news. With their self-titled album due out on June 21, Bon Iver have announced a Summer tour that brings Justin Vernon and company back to Toronto on August 8… to The Sound Academy. Well at least it’ll be warm. Tickets are $35 general admission, $45 VIP and go on sale Friday. Support will come from Vernon’s old bandmates The Rosebuds, who themselves have a new record out in Loud Planes Fly Low, out June 7.

MP3: Bon Iver – “Blood Bank”
MP3: The Rosebuds – “Second Bird Of Paradise”

New York singer-songwriter Lia Ices has announced a date at The Rivoli for August 9, tickets $12, and has also released a video for the title track of her debut album Grown Unknown. The Georgia Straight has a profile.

MP3: Lia Ices – “Daphne”
Video: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown”

The National have taken their two recent non-album releases – songs from the Win/Win film and Portal 2 video game soundtracks – and put them on a 7″ single for those who like physical things made of vinyl.

Sufjan Stevens talks to The Guardian about the nervous breakdown that informed The Age Of Adz.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of an Antlers show in New York from earlier this week. Their new record Burst Apart is out today and Pitchfork has an in-studio video performance of one the new songs with an assist from Neon indian. There’s interviews with the band at The Huffington Post, eMusic and Village Voice. They play The Mod Club on June 14.

The AV Club chats with Bon Iver drummer S Carey about his solo work.

Pitchfork talks to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. They’re at Massey Hall on July 14 and tonight’s show in Austin is going to be webcast live on NPR.

Richard Buckner fields questions from Aquarium Drunkard about his new record Our Blood, due out August 2.

PopMatters interviews Lissie, in town for a show at The Phoenix on May 28.

Death Cab For Cutie have released a second video from Codes & Keys, out May 31. They’ve got two local dates coming up – May 18 at The Phoenix and July 29 at The Molson Amphitheatre. Tickets for the latter will range from $29.50 to $49.50 and go on sale Friday at 1PM. Black Book talks food with Ben Gibbard.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Home Is A Fire”

NYC Taper has posted a recording of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s show at New York’s Webster Hall last week. The band are at The Opera House on August 2.

Beatroute interviews Explosions In The Sky.

Low steps into The AV Club’s Undercover studio and records a cover of Toto’s “Africa”, and damn if they don’t sound amazing.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips discusses the viability of gummy skulls as the next medium of music delivery with Billboard.

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Down By The Water

Review of The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeIt’s odd to think that a band’s most direct and tuneful album might turn out to be its most divisive, but were you to survey a cross-section of Decemberists fans, it’s unlikely that “convention” would come up as what they love most about the Portland band. After all, this is a band who made their name with sea shanties, drama club videos, multi-part prog-rock epics and full-blown rock operas – hardly the standard template for pop music success, and yet it’s served the band well as they’ve built progressively their eccentricities up, using their folk roots and pop smarts as mortar, culminating in 2009′s grandiose The Hazards Of Love.

So with nowhere further to go on that trip, it was inevitable that they’d dial it back some for their next effort but the degree to which The King Is Dead retreats is pretty remarkable. You’d have to go back as far as their 2001 debut EP 5 Songs to find a collection of songs as countrified, direct and simply adorned as these, and even then Colin Meloy’s penchant for period-costume characters and storytelling sets the two bookends of their career (thus far) apart. While he remains an erudite and wordy lyricist, his quirkier narrative inclinations take a step back to allow the band’s musicianship and songcraft carry the day. And start to finish, this is probably The Decemberists’ most tasteful and accomplished record to date, given extra weight from vocal contributions by Gillian Welch and notable for the absence of the one or two compositional experiments that seemed mandatory on past efforts.

For most other bands, such a record would be an unqualified high-water mark but for The Decemberists it’s enough of a departure that the portion of their audience who love them for their idiosyncrasies might find it puzzling and/or disappointing – it’s not a perspective I necessarily agree with as the merits of The King Is Dead, irrespective of the rest of their catalog, are myriad, but it’s an understandable one. But for others who might have been turned off by the band’s indulgences in the past, it could be just the record they’ve been waiting for. Assuming that one waits for records from bands they’ve already been turned off of.

NPR, Billboard, The Wall Street Journal and MusicOmh have interviews with the band, whose record is out tomorrow and whose tour for the record commences next week – look for them at The Sound Academy in Toronto on February 1.

MP3: The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”

S. Carey chats with The AV Club and discusses his new video with Spin.

Video: S. Carey – “In The Dirt”

Mark Olson talks to NOW and Gary Louris to Spinner about the The Jayhawks reunion, which kicks off its tour tomorrow night at The Phoenix – the same day their deluxe reissues of Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow The Green Grass come out.

Daytrotter serves up a session with Iron & Wine, whose new record Kiss Each Other Clean is out next week.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Old 97s.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the “Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500” at Maxwell’s in New Jersey from last week.

There’s a new video from Buffalo Tom’s forthcoming record Skins, due out February 15.

Video: Buffalo Tom – “Down”

Peter Buck tells NME he thinks quite highly of R.E.M.’s new record Collapse Into Now; the world will judge when it comes out on March 8 (or a couple weeks earlier when it leaks).

The Denver Post and Denver Westword have interviews with Liz Phair.

Parts & Labor are sharing the MP3 for the title track from their new record Constant Future, due out March 8.

MP3: Parts & Labor – “Constant Future”

Undercover discovers the statute of limitations on talking smack about former bandmates is up, as evidenced by this interview with Paul Banks of Interpol. They’re at The Sound Academy on February 15.

Washington City Paper recalls the heyday of The Dismemberment Plan.

Dave Gedge of The Wedding Present takes to The Guardian to offer The Flaming Lips some advice on how to successfully release a single a month for a year – after all, they did just that back in 1992 and included a b-side for each, no less. Of course, they didn’t write a song meant to be played on four iPhones simultaneously… The Lips have them beat there.

And oh yeah, Archers Of Loaf got back together for the first time in over a decade in Carrboro, North Carolina on Saturday night and it doesn’t feel like a one-off. If this is why we shouldn’t expect a new Crooked Fingers record before the end of the year, well, that’s okay then.

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

All We Grow

S. Carey and White Hinterland at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTo the person who said they’d hoped S. Carey would play a Bon Iver cover at the Horseshoe on Sunday night – really? Though to be fair, I can understand it – without the angle of Sean Carey also being Justin Vernon’s drummer, there might well have been far fewer people in attendance, and that’d have been a shame as Carey’s solo debut All We Grow is a jewel of a record on entirely its own merits. But even if they didn’t know that in advance, by that point in Carey’s set – nearing the end – any right-thinking person would have been so taken by the performance that they shouldn’t have even been able to muster a “Bon who?”

That should probably say “performances” – plural – because opener White Hinterland was pretty terrific as well. I’d only listened to Casei Dienel’s stuff in passing before, but clearly I’ve been missing out. With Shawn Creeden alongside her, Dienel crafted a set that was earthy and organic despite hardly utilizing a single acoustic instrument. Using keys, samples and loopers, Dienel would subtly loop and layer her birdlike vocals into a swirling cloud of folktronica that had more than a hint of Lykke Li-like sultriness. She also offered up a cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” (how I was able to recognize the song without ever having actually heard it, I do not know) before bringing out S. Carey to back her on a couple of songs, a favour which she would later return. I know I have a copy of her latest album Kairos kicking around somewhere… I really need to find it.

If White Hinterland’s set was an exercise in making something wholly organic-sounding out of inorganic instruments, S. Carey’s was a study in rendering a studio-crafted record entirely live. We All Grow is a record rich with layered sounds, clearly indebted to late-era Talk Talk, and I certainly wouldn’t have expected all of them to be recreated live… so I was very pleasantly surprised when they were. Fronting a five-piece band and sticking mainly to keyboards, Sean Carey led his bandmates through one of the simply prettiest hours of music I’ve experienced in recent memory. Be it the immaculate four-part harmonies or the masterful musicianship of all hands with through the gentlest atmospheric moments or the crashing crescendos, they sounded amazing and the only time the only thing greater than enjoying the moment was anticipating how they’d do the remaining pieces from the album justice. I appreciate this sounds a touch overly effusive but it really was lovely, and perfectly capped in the encore when Dienel came out contribute vocals to their cover of The Notwist’s “Consequences”. Just oh so pretty.

Photos: S. Carey, White Hinterland @ The Horseshoe – December 19, 2010
MP3: S. Carey – “In The Dirt”
MP3: S. Carey – “In The Stream”
MP3: White Hinterland – “No Logic”
MP3: White Hinterland – “Dreaming Of The Plum Trees”
MP3: White Hinterland – “Chant de Grillon”
MP3: White Hinterland – “Icarus”
Video: White Hinterland – “No Logic”
Video: White Hinterland – “Amsterdam”
Video: White Hinterland – “Icarus”
Myspace: S. Carey
Myspace: White Hinterland

Pitchfork and The Telegraph have interviews with The National while NYC Taper is sharing a recording of their set opening for Yo La Tengo during their Hannukah residency at Maxwell’s at the start of the month.

My Old Kentucky Blog interviews Nicole Atkins – her new record Mondo Amore arrives January 25 and she will be at The Horseshoe on February 26.

Interview talks to Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes about the rocking direction of their next record The People’s Key, out February 15 and the first MP3 from which is available in swap for an email over at Pitchfork. They’re at the Sound Academy on March 13.

aux.tv chats with Ra Ra Riot.

Spinner chats with Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was still waiting for Minnesota’s Now Now to make up their cancelled Summer 2009 date; good news is they’re finally making it here on February 13 for a show at the Mod Club, bad news is it’s part of a large bill of emo-punk-pop acts that I’d rather not have anything to do with (Hellogoodbye, Gold Motel, You Me And Everyone We Know) so yeah, maybe next time.

MP3: Now Now – “Neighbors”

Rocky Votolato and Matt Pond (presumably solo, sans PA), will be teaming up for a Spring tour that stops in at the Drake on March 23.

MP3: Rocky Votolato – “Red River”
MP3: Matt Pond PA – “Starting”