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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Harmer’

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Yall Know Me

Lo, the Shad event horizon draws nigh

Photo By Justin BroadbentJustin BroadbentOkay, so maybe the build-up hasn’t been that long. The specifics of Shadrach Kobango’s – that’s Shad’s given name, if you didn’t know – new record Flying Colours were only made official two months ago, but since then it’s reasonable to say that anticipation levels have gotten pretty high.

And not that there should have been any doubt, but Flying Colours is pretty great. Like his breakout 2007 album The Old Prince and its equally Polaris-shortlisted 2010 follow-up TSOL, Colours is chock full of fast rhymes, smooth beats, brilliant wordplay, and undeniable fun. One of Shad’s many gifts is how he’s able to rap so specifically about his own personal experiences as a Kenyan-born Rwandan immigrant and make them so universally inclusive. It doesn’t necessarily break any new ground relative to his other albums – at least not one that this not-especially-attuned-to-hip-hop ear can detect – but it’s just as good if not better, and that’s plenty.

An advance stream of the album intertwined with commentary from both Shadrach and CBC’s George Strombolopolous went up available to Canadian audiences at CBC Music, and if you’re not fond of the conversational podcast format a straight stream with accompanying text Q&A went live today. I believe both are geoblocked to Canada, though, so if you live outside the ten provinces and three territories, there had been some talk of a Soundcloud stream so be patient. Maybe read this feature piece at Exclaim in the meantime. Further, with his previously-announced October 19 show at The Opera House well and properly sold out, he’s announced a couple more Toronto-area live appearances in both the near- and long-term; to the former, there’s an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on the day of release – October 15 – at 7PM, and to the latter, he’s announced his biggest headlining show to date at The Danforth Music Hall on January 31, 2014, tickets ranging from $18.50 to $23.50 in advance. Shad’s going to be everywhere with this record – you may as well join him.

Video: Shad – “Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)”
Video: Shad featuring Saukrates – “Stylin'”
Stream: Shad / Flying Colours

NOW spends some time with Nick Thorburn of Islands, in town at The Garrison tonight, October 10.

The band themselves still aren’t saying much, but Rolling Stone has gathered quotes from others involved with the recording of Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor, which comes out October 29.

October 29 will also see the release of Moonface’s new album Julia with Blue Jeans On and so The Quietus is happy to host the first in a series of video sessions with Spencer Krug and a piano.

Bound, the debut from Ex-Forest City Lover leader Kat Burns’ new incarnation as Kashka, is coming November 5 and in addition to sharing an excellent first track from the album, she’s plotted out a Fall tour that has two Toronto dates; a solo record release show at The Dakota Tavern on November 6 and a (presumably) full band affair at BLK BOX come December 5. Update: As Ms Kat Kashka mentions in the comments, the Dakota show is as support for Sunparlour Players; the December 5 gig is the actual coming-out party. Plan accordingly.

Stream: Kashka – “Never Had It”

Pitchfork has a stream of the first sample from Destroyer’s forthcoming Five Spanish Songs and, indeed, it’s a song in Spanish; one of five that will be released on November 29. A solo Dan Bejar plays The Great Hall on November 9.

Stream: Destroyer – “El Rito”

Wes Marskell of The Darcys talks to Exclaim and NOW about their new album Warring and to Impose about having to deal with an unlicensed soundtrack appearance of the pornographic kind. They’re at The Adelaide Music Hall on October 11.

Exclaim has a video session with Basia Bulat, who plays three shows behind her new album Tall Tall Shadow at The Polish Combatants Hall this week, October 10 through 12.

July Talk explains to Exclaim why they’re re-releasing their just-released debut self-titled album on October 15 with four extra bonus tracks inserted into the original running order.

The Hidden Cameras have offered a taste of their new album AGE, due out early 2014, with a new video.

Video: The Hidden Cameras – “Gay Goth Scene”

Sarah Harmer talks activism and a new album with Exclaim while penning an op-ed about the her fight against the line 9 oil pipeline in The Grid.

Noisey has premiered the new video from Odonis Odonis.

Video: Odonis Odonis – “Are We Friends”

The Lowest Of The Low have announced the departure of founding guitarist/vocalist Stephen Stanley; it’s assumed by their not declaring the band is breaking up again that they’ll soldier on with guitarist Ron Hawkins and drummer David Alexander as the remaining original members; original bassist John Arnott left the band back in 2007 or so.

The Georgia Straight talks to Tony Dekker about his new solo record Prayer Of The Woods.

In hounour of the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s In Utero, Toronto’s Hand Drawn Dracula has compiled a tribute album to the record featuring some of the best and brightest of the local indie scene, including Fresh Snow, Odonis Odonis, Hooded Fang, and more. Stream it or download it in exchange for an email.

Stream: various artists / Milkin’ It

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

How Deep In The Valley

Sarah Harmer rallies rally for pipeline awareness

Photo By Afie JurvanenAfie JurvanenHer musical achievements are pretty much beyond reproach – both leading Weeping Tile and as a solo artist – but Sarah Harmer has become as well-known for her activism in recent years. In 2005, she helped form PERL – Protecting Escarpment Rural Land – to fight proposed development on the Niagara Escarpment, work which was reflected musically in her I’m A Mountain album and documented in the Escarpment Blues doc. The movement scored a major victory last Fall when a proposed quarry in the escarpment was denied. Now she’s seeking to draw attention to Line 9, a pipeline which currently carries conventional crude oil across Ontario and Quebec and which may be repurposed to also transport heavy crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands.

To draw public attention to their calls for further environmental assessment of the project, Harmer has organized Rock The Line, a free concert happening at Mel Lastman Square in North York this coming Sunday, October 6, starting at 2PM. Joining her will be Gord Downie & The Sadies – formidable on their own, fearsome togetherHayden and Guelph’s Minotaurs. A great show for any reason and an even better one for the cause behind it.

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Oleander”
Video: Gord Downie & The Sadies – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Hayden – “Rainy Saturday”

Basia Bulat is marking the release of her new album Tall Tall Shadow this week with a track-by-track walkthrough at Port Magazine, a video session at NOW, and a video for the title track premiered over at Bullett. She plays three nights at The Polish Combatants Hall on from October 10 to 12.

Video: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

Filter has a stream of Prayer Of The Woods, the solo debut from Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker, out October 8.

Stream: Tony Dekker / Prayer Of The Woods

The Darcys talk to Exclaim about their plans to release a 20-minute, Cormac McCarthy-inspired instrumental track and video series for every track on their latest, Warring. They play The Adelaide Music Hall on October 11.

In advance of his “electronic pop opera” performance at the Adelaide Music Hall that night – The Montreal Gazette saw said show at Pop Montreal last weekend – Murray Lightburn will play an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location on October 12 at 2PM.

MP3: Murray Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”

As the October 27 release date for Reflektor draws ever closer, Arcade Fire have revealed a few more new songs via a short film by The Creators Project.

Video: Arcade Fire / Here comes The Night Time

Loud & Quiet, The Link, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Edmonton Journal interview Braids. They play The Great Hall on November 10.

Under The Radar and The Georgia Straight talk to Catherine McCandless of Young Galaxy, who’ve released a new video from Ultramarine. They play The Hoxton on November 22.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Sleepwalk With Me”

Perhaps conscious that they haven’t actually played Toronto since Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO came out in early April – their CMF show happened a few weeks prior and their announced NXNE show never actually happened – The Besnard Lakes have announced a November 26 date at Lee’s Palace, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “People Of The Sticks”

Stereogum talk to Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham about their new record and Godspeed’s comments following their Polaris win last week. That seems like ancient history now, but if you wanted to read some well-reasoned responses to the kerfuffle (which align with my thinking, natch), check out pieces at Herohill, A Void, Radio Free Canuckistan, Liisa Ladouceur, and The Toronto Standard.

Dan Mangan drops some pretty high-falutin’ reference points in discussing his plans for his next record with Exclaim.

NOW has an interview and Chart solicits a list of recommended listening from Diana.

The National Post, Culture Map, and Beatroute interview Katie Stelmanis of Austra.

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Tall Tall Shadow

Basia Bulat steps into the Shadow for third record

Photo By Anna Groth-ShiveAnna Groth-ShiveOver the course of her first two records, Toronto’s Basia Bulat has crafted a musical persona built around folk-pop that can be as bare and affecting with the best of them, but really wins hearts when it’s upbeat and joyous and feels like a warm ray of aural sunshine. Assuming that her just-announced third album Tall Tall Shadow will simply offer more of the same, however, may be premature.

She’s not going electronic or anything – well, maybe a bit but not so much that the Canadian indie-rock rulebook demands she assume a new identity – but advance word is that Shadow still represents a significant change in modus operandi. Howard Bilerman, who produced the first two records, has stepped aside for Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury and Mark Lawson, who engineered The Suburbs; the piano was adopted as a primary composition instrument alongside or even over the guitar; a personal tragedy altered and informed the songwriting; and most importantly, Bulat challenged her own expectations about what she should or could sound like.

The fruits of this creative process can be heard in full when Tall Tall Shadow is released October 1, but the first of the new songs – the album’s title track – is available to stream now. Exclaim has more album details and an expanded Fall itinerary, with more North American dates being added to the already-announced hometown show at the Polish Combatants Hall on October 10.

Stream: Basia Bulat – “Tall Tall Shadow”

CBC Music has premiered the new video from Two Hours Traffic’s latest Foolish Blood. They have an in-store at Sonic Boom in The Annex tomorrow afternoon, July 27, at 5PM.

Video: Two Hours Traffic – “Magic”

NOW and CBC talk to the Peter Dreimanis half of July Talk while The Halifax Chronicle-Herald gets a word with creative foil Leah Fay. Their next local show is up at Downsview Park as part of Edgefest next week, on July 31.

Fractured Air interviews Tim Condon of Toronto’s new (neu?) Krautrock heroes Fresh Snow, who hold a record release show for their debut LP I at The Boat on August 8.

In conversation with Billboard, Neko Case offers an update on the next New Pornographers record, which is apparently almost done. You probably shouldn’t expect either her or Dan Bejar to be on hand when they play a show at the CNE Bandshell on August 17, though. Just in case you were.

American Songwriter has premiered the stream of another new track from the new Sadies record Internal Sounds, out September 17.

Stream: The Sadies – “Another Tomorrow Again”

The Daily Swarm and Sydney Morning Herald talk to Devon Walsh of Majical Cloudz, back in town on September 17 at Wrongbar.

Having made their mark over the last couple of years with one album far too long in the can before being let loose and another covering a ’70s prog-rock classic, Toronto’s Darcys are finally able to announce the release of an album that might actually represent where they are today. That record will be called Warring, it will be out on September 17, and courtesy of Spin, you can stream the first track from it right now or get it to download from the band’s website in exchange for a little social media juice.

Stream: The Darcys – “The River”

In conversation with Billboard, James Murphy offers his thoughts, as sorta producer, on the new Arcade Fire record. It’s out October 29 and Murphy, incidentally, is doing a DJ set at The Hoxton on September 6. If watching guys DJ is your bag.

Chris Murphy tells Exclaim that the next Sloan record will be that long-awaited, presumed-inevitable thing – a double-album with each side essentially a solo record for each member. There’s no firm release plans yet, but what is known is that Jay Ferguson’s side will be getting worn out first. No question.

Bronson Island have posted a video session dating to who knows when with the now on-hiatus Broken Social Scene performing a previously-unreleased song.

Video: Broken Social Scene – “Where’s Your Heart, Where’s Your Mind” (live on Bronson Island)

Damian Abraham of Fucked Up talks to Clash about his approach to performing live.

CBC Music has a Summer check-in chat with Sarah Harmer.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

No Cure For Loneliness

Bry Webb and Del Bel at 918 Bathurst in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure that the timing was just coincidence, but if Friday night’s Wavelength show at the Buddhist temple at 918 Bathurst featuring Bry Webb and Del Bel was meant as a last-minute bit of lobbying for my Polaris Prize ballot – long-list voting had opened that day – then I salute them. Well played. Though I’ve had a year to mull it over, there was very little actually locked down on my list of the top five Canadian “albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history”, and both Webb’s Provider and Del Bel’s Oneric were very much in the running.

I’d seen Del Bel at another Wavelength in January and Webb’s record release show in February, and while the live show is not supposed to have any bearing on the nomination process, this wasn’t going to hurt with keeping them front of mind. But this show was intended to mark Del Bel’s return from a couple weeks of Canadian touring and celebrate the release of their new single – a collaboration with Webb – and not to squeeze their way onto any Polaris ballots at the 11th hour. I think.

Del Bel’s set was structurally quite similar to the one in January – Webb’s guesting on the new single “No Cure For Loneliness” was obviously different – but better from the band’s point of view for having been road-tested the past weeks and better from mine for having had many more months to spend with Oneric. Some combination of the two points – probably more the latter – made it much easier to extract and appreciate the songs from their atmospheric cinematic-noir style, and as far as the performance went, the shifts in mood felt more natural and dextrous than before and while singer Lisa Conway still preferred to stand behind her bandmates while she sang, she had less of a wallflower air about her this time out, coming across more mysterious than just shy. Touring: it does a band good.

I don’t think Bry Webb has taken his band out on the road for any extended jaunts since Provider came out, but with over a decade of fronting Constantines before they went on hiatus to his name, he hardly needs the practice of getting in front of an audience. If there was an immediate difference between this night’s show and the one at the Music Gallery in the Winter, it was that Webb had found his guitar strap and was playing standing up although it still wouldn’t mean forays into the audience – electrical noise on stage kept him fairly rooted to one spot to avoid interference. It also featured a few new songs to augment the Provider material but the enlistment of Del Bel’s horns and drummer for a good portion of the set really gave things an extra kick to augment the more solemn, low-key tone of the material. And while Webb’s solo material exists a good distance from what the Constantines were about, there was a taste of the old band’s fire when Webb stepped up for a righteous lead break on “Low Life” which he dedicated to former bandmate Will Kidman. On the other hand, it was impossible to imagine the Cons covering Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze” as Webb and seven-ninths of Del Bel (two of whom, it should be noted, are also full-time Providers) did to end their main set.

There’s little question that Oneric and Provider are two of the finest releases to come out of Toronto/southern Ontario in the past year; this evening was strong proof of that. But would that be enough to get them on the Polaris long-list, short-lists, or my ballot for either? To the first two, I’ve no idea and to the last, well we’ll just have to wait and see.

NOW had both a preview piece on Del Bel for the show and a review of the show; Singing Lamb and BlogTO were also in attendance.

Photos: Bry Webb, Del Bel @ 918 Bathurst – June 1, 2012
MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”
MP3: Del Bel with Bry Webb – “No Cure For Loneliness”
Stream: Del Bel / Oneric

NPR is streaming a short film that Neil Young has made to coincide with the release of his new album with Crazy Horse Americana, out this week.

The June 12 release date of Synthetica not far off, Metric is ramping up the media cycle with a complete stream of the new record, a cover story in this month’s Exclaim, and a fans-only show on the day of release at The Opera House; details on how to win tickets will be available by hanging out on the band’s various social media sites.

Stream: Metric / Synthetica

Spinner and The Winnipeg Free Press talk to Japandroids about not breaking up. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 23.

Willamette Weekly and San Francisco Bay Guardian chat briefly with Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose previously Record Store Day-only vinyl edition of Destroyer’s Rubies is now available for anyone/everyone to own and spin.

Grimes has made another MP3 from her breakout album Visions available to download; she’s at Historic Fort York as part of the Full Flex Express on July 13.

MP3: Grimes – “Circumambient”

And speaking of shows at Fort York, I’ve made some jokes about how Toronto seems to be commemorating the bicentennial of the War Of 1812 with nothing but raves, but there’s now something a little more musically patriotic and family-friendly happening to mark the anniversary. On July 14, The Garrison Commons at Fort York will host a free show featuring performances from Sarah Harmer, Shad, The Rural Alberta Advantage, and Alex Cuba. Specifics are still forthcoming so keeping up with the Facebook page probably isn’t a bad idea.

MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”
Video: Sarah Harmer – “Almost”
Video: Alex Cuba – “Cabello”

Macleans talks to Don Pyle about the Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet reunion, which hits Lee’s Palace on July 14.

Exclaim and The Grid have feature pieces on Cold Specks and Exclaim also ups the ante with a video session. Cold Specks are at The Great Hall on August 8.

Daytrotter has a session and NOW and interview with Great Lake Swimmers, who will be at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 18 opening up for Blue Rodeo.

Leonard Cohen has added a second Toronto show at the Air Canada Centre for December 5, to go along with the December 4 one that is just about sold out now. Tickets range from $72.50 to $250 plus fees. And while you mull that over, check out Clash‘s liste of ten things you didn’t know about Lenny.

Their show at The Music Hall sold out and in the books, Patrick Watson has announced another Toronto date for December 6 at Massey Hall with The Barr Brothers supporting; tickets are $24.50 to $35.00 plus fees, on sale now. NPR also has a Tiny Desk Concert, PostCity and interview, and a second MP3 from Adventures In Your Own Backyard has been made available to download.

MP3: Patrick Watson – “Words In The Fire”

BlogTO has the full lineup of this year’s Open Roof Festival, which pairs bands and movies for a night under the stars at the Amsterdam Brewery all Summer. You’ve got bands like Army Girls, Bruce Peninsula, and The Magic and films like Moonrise Kingdom, Charles Bradley: Soul of America, and Indie Game: The Movie – a bad time can’t be had (okay it can but it shouldn’t). Tickets for each night are $15.

Young Galaxy are releasing a new 7″ single tomorrow and the B-side is available to download courtesy of Stereogum. And if you liked what they accomplished on Shapeshifter working with producer Dan Lissvik electronically across the ocean, imagine what they could do working directly with him in the studio. If you’d like the see that happen, the band would like you to help out.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”

77 Square, Pioneer Press, City Pages, Isthmus, and Columbus Alive talk to Feist.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

NXNE 2011 Day Four

Horse Feathers, Louise Burns, Cults and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne perennial highlight – okay, for two years – of my SXSW adventures was throwing day parties where we could invite Japanese Action Comic Punk outfit Peelander-Z to wreak havoc. So it was nice to see that not only were the Peelanders in town for NXNE, but they had an all-ages afternoon show scheduled at Sneaky Dee’s on the Saturday.

I guess Toronto’s still getting used to the idea of having shows when it’s still daylight out, because the gig was only attended by a few dozen – including some kids in cute homemade Peelander t-shirts – but I suspect that even faced with an audience of one, Peelander-Z would give it their all (and make said individual very uncomfortable). The show was a little different from when they were here in September, with Peelander Pink a little more involved in the proceedings and a dance number at the end, but the chewy centre was classic Peelander with human bowling, band swapping and squid costume jump rope/limbo line amongst other shenanigans. Tonnes of fun, but I couldn’t help wondering how insane it would have been if they’d been put on at Yonge-Dundas Square, with its throngs of unsuspecting bystanders and eminently climbable stage. Maybe next time.

Spinner has a surprisingly coherent interview with Peelander Yellow.

Photos: Peelander-Z @ Sneaky Dee’s – June 18, 2011
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Tacos Tacos Tacos”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Rocket Gold Star”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Champion”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Panda Punk”
Video: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Ninja High Schooool”
Video: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Mad Tiger”

Bridging the day and night programming at Yonge-Dundas Square was uber-buzz band of the hour, New York’s Cults. I’d seen them last Summer when their hype was still more of the underground variety and been somewhat underwhelmed, appreciating the style of what they were doing and some of their songs but overall felt that they were still too green to be touring the continent. Fast forward a year and their self-titled debut is garnering decent reviews and me? Still not overly impressed. Their onstage presence is better, but Madeline Follin still looks uncomfortable as a frontwoman, though maybe she was just unaccustomed to such a large stage in daylight. In any case the songs were more fully-realized and the audience was certainly responsive though anyone looking for electricity would be left wanting. Don’t get me wrong – they’re fine and all, but I find the raves they’re getting disproportionate to what they’re actually doing. And once again, I would like to point out that sadly departed Saturday Looks Good To Me did the Motown/retro-pop revival thing SO much better and more interestingly not that long ago. Every Night, people. Every. Night.

NOW, New York Magazine and NPR have feature pieces on Cults.

Photos: Cults @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 18, 2011
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
Video: Cults – “Abducted”
Video: Cults – “Oh My God”

I encouraged everyone to make Louise Burns’ Saturday gig a must-see on their schedule, and considering that between that post and the show her debut Mellow Drama was also long-listed for the Polaris, I assumed that it’d be standing-room only in Supermarket’s back room and while a decently-sized crowd showed up, sitting or even lying down was also an option. This is what you get for being scheduled against DEVO, I guess. Still, Burns and her band The Moonshiners – five players including backing vocalist – impressed those who were there with a solid set that proved that despite the innate twang of her voice, pigeonholing Burns as a retro/rootsy-type artist is really insufficient – in fact the combination of Burns’ deftly melodic basslines and the dual chiming Telecasters had me drawing Smiths comparisons; I’ll wager anything that she’s got a healthy collection of ’80s Anglo-indie at home. I’ll also wager that Burns’ star will continue to rise over the coming months – excess elbow room at her shows will not be a problem.

Photos: Louise Burns @ Supermarket – June 18, 2011
MP3: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”
MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

The final night of NXNE had no shortage of high-profile shows sure to draw big crowds and fill up early. Which is why I opted to avoid all of them and camp out in the cozy underground shelter of The Dakota Tavern to wind out the festival. Traffic woes – even on a bike – meant it took longer to get from A to B than it should have, but I still made it in time to catch most of the Smoke Fairies’ set. The London-based duo play English folk with American blues undertones built around haunting haunting harmonies and intertwined guitar lines; though quite young, they made a convincingly old sound. In between songs from their new record Through Low Light And Trees, they offered stories about being stoned on Nyquil, disturbing Ben Mulroney and visitng island petting zoos. Entertaining? Rather.

Photos: Smoke Fairies @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Living With Ghosts”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Hotel Room”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Frozen Heart”

I didn’t know much about the next act, Portland’s Horse Feathers, save for that they were on Kill Rock Stars and presumably decent. That would prove to be the understatement of the festival. The quartet, led by singer-songwriter Justin Ringle put on a jaw-droppingly beautful showcase of dramatically orchestrated country/folk music, the dexterity of which was remarkable for the delicacy of the arrangements. There was no way that something so intricate should have carried so much weight, and yet it did. A pity it wasn’t quite breathtaking enough to shut up some of the talkers who insisted on jabbering throughout the set, but even they couldn’t ruin the performance. Easily one of the discoveries of the festival and you can bet I now own a copy of last year’s Thistled Spring.

Photos: Horse Feathers @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Thistled Spring”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Drain You”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”

North Dakota’s Secret Cities were the main band that I had wanted to come to The Dakota to see, but by this point I’d rather forgotten that. Their set, showcasing their new record Strange Hearts, did a good job of reminding me of that fact. The recorded versions of their songs happily exist in a fuzzy, mid-fi state, reminiscent of the heyday of the Elephant 6, but live things have a more necessary clarity and considerably more volume, thanks to clattering double drums, layered vocals, and hooks a-plenty. A melange of almost every pop styling imaginable, they ably offset proggier inclinations with a genial goofiness and general all-around charm.

Photos: Secret Cities @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Secret Cities – “The Park”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Boyfriends”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Luv Crime”
MP3: Secret Cities – “On Holiday”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Bright Teeth”
MP3: Secret Cities – “PG Pt 1”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Pink City”
Video: Secret Cities – “Always Friends”
Video: Secret Cities – “Pink City”

And closing the festival out were locals New Country Rehab who, as their name might imply, were a pretty much down-home country band who didn’t need a festival as an excuse to play a honky-tonk like The Dakota. Opening with a cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper”, they took an obvious respect for traditional country, infused with some fresh energy to say nothing of ridiculous musicianship and stopped just short of entering alt.country/country-rock territory. Just enough to get the people dancing, which they most surely did. I stuck around long enough to enjoy their take on Creedence’s “Effigy” and then called it a day/night/festival. THAT’S IT.

Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: New Country Rehab @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: New Country Rehab – “Angel Of Death”

As I wrap up this year’s NXNE coverage, a few pre-festival interviews that I missed earlier, all courtesy of Torontoist – this one with The Balconies, this one with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers and this one with Snowblink.

Details on the first official Memoryhouse release from SubPop have been revealed, and it’s not going to be their debut album. Instead, their debut EP The Years has been rerecorded, remixed and remastered and had a couple extra tracks added on; it will be given wide release on September 13, presumably pushing their proper debut album back until 2012.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Modern, Normal”

Ohbijou have announced details of their third album, entitled Metal Meets and due out on September 27. Exclaim has details and a teaser video.

NPR welcomes The Rural Alberta Advantage to their studios for a World Cafe session while Metro offers up an interview.

Chart talks to Jay Ferguson of Sloan.

There doesn’t look like there’ll be any Olympic Island concerts this year, but a just-announced free show from Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder and Skydiggers on July 16 on Centre Island is nothing to shake a stick at. It’s part of Parks Day, presented by Parks Canada, and is – as mentioned – free. Your tax dollars at work!

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Captive”
Video: Serena Ryder – “Little Bit Of Red”
Video: Skydiggers – “I Will Give You Everything”

The Boot talks to Neil Young about his just-released archival release A Treasure.