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Posts Tagged ‘Savoir Adore’

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Blame The Muse

Tanya Donelly’s Swan Song is anything but

Illustration By Louisa BertmanLouisa BertmanIt’s understandable if you’d thought we’d heard the last in the way of new music from Tanya Donelly. Output from the former Throwing Muse/Breeder/Belly frontwoman gone solo basically stopped with 2006’s recorded-live This Hungry Life, and when Spin went knocking in 2010, she revealed that following the birth of her second child, she’d embarked on a new career as a postpartum doula because, well, pretty much anything pays better than professional musician – even one with a CV as impressive as hers.

She didn’t go completely silent, though. Besides intermittently appearing on American Laundromat’s endless stream of tribute albums and compilations, she was heard in lovely form on in duet with Bill Janovitz on Buffalo Tom’s 2011 effort Skins, and this past May was seen as well as heard when she made an appearance on stage with The Breeders in Boston to sing on a couple songs. So pleasant surprises but hardly evidence of any sort of full-fledged return to making music.

But she has been making music; oh how she’s been making music. This week saw the release of the first volume in what she’s calling the Swan Song Series – a series of EPs being released every month for at least the next three months. The songs – which may or may not all be available to stream via Soundcloud right now – aren’t just home-recorded sketches, either; they’re fully-arranged and -produced songs with a host of guest contributors including Janovitz and The Magnetic Fields’ Claudia Gonson. They’re very much keeping in tone with her last couple solo records – lightly jazzy and sophisticated but immediately and directly melodic – and all impeccably lovely. Tanya Donelly is back and the world is a better place for it.

Video: Tanya Donelly – “Mass Ave”
Stream: Tanya Donelly / Swan Song Series

Vue Weekly has a cover story on Neko Case, who has made another song from The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to preview via lyric video. It’s out September 3.

Lyric Video: Neko Case – “Night Still Comes”

The Line Of Best Fit has details on the release of the second Boardwalk Empire soundtrack album, which will find the likes of The National and Patti Smith, amongst others, covering prohibition-era songs which will appear in the HBO series. The National’s contribution has been available to download for a while and Rolling Stone has a stream of Smith’s contribution. The album is out September 3, the new season of Boardwalk Empire begins September 8. Patti Smith plays Massey Hall on September 6. City Pages and Rolling Stone have interviews with The National, who have made one of the performances from their upcoming episode of The Artist’s Den available to watch.

MP3: The National – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”
Stream: Patti Smith – “I Ain’t Got Nobody”

Esquire has premiered a stream of the new song from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium. It’s out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Stream: Okkervil River – “Stay Young”

My Daily, BBC News, and Clash have interviews and NPR has a World Cafe session with Lissie, whose new record Return To Forever comes out September 10.

Creative Loafing and Consequence Of Sound talk to Speedy Ortiz, who’re in town at The Horseshoe on September 15 supporting Chelsea Light Moving.

Panic Manual talks to a pre-meltdown Father John Misty; a post-meltdown FJM returns for a solo show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 15.

Also at Esquire is a stream of the first sample of the new Head & The Heart record Let’s Be Still, due out October 15. They’re at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

Stream: The Head & The Heart – “Shake”

The Line Of Best Fit has good news and bad news for Midlake fans. The good news is their first album since 2010’s The Courage Of Others will be called Antiphon and is out November 5. The bad news is that singer and songwriter Tim Smith isn’t on it, having left the band. Guitarist Eric Pulido has stepped up as frontman and you can hear Midlake mk2 on the title track of the new album, which is available to stream.

Stream: Midlake – “Antiphon”

Savoir Adore have released a new video from their reissued Our Nature.

Video: Savoir Adore – “Regalia”

Pitchfork gets behind the scenes of Yo La Tengo’s last video from Fade and premieres the next one.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “Is That Enough”

John Vanderslice is streaming the A-side of a new 7″ single released earlier this week. On topic, Engadget gets a tour of his Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco.

Stream: John Vanderslice – “Song For Clay Miller”

Our Scattered Words and The Calgary Herald have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.

NPR are streaming The Mountain Goats’ set from the Newport Folk Festival last month.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists visit The AV Club to cover The Ramones for their AV Club Undercover series.

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Tomorrow Is Yesterday

An introduction to Field Mouse

Photo By Shervin LainezShervin LainezIf it were as recently as last year, I would be spending this post – hell, yesterday’s post – talking about how after arriving in Chicago last Saturday, I went almost straight to Beat Kitchen to see Laura Stevenson and Field Mouse play, on account of missing the Toronto show of their tour this past Tuesday because of this little vacation. But because I’ve grown as a person and am no longer spending all my time and energy trying to make it to shows and write about them, I have nothing to say about that show because I didn’t make it anywhere near the club, though I can’t say that I didn’t look up where it was and write it in my calendar. Just in case.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the acquaintance of either of the acts. Stevenson I wrote about way in August 2010 – her new album Wheel is plenty solid, by the way, fans of country-pop would do well to check it out – but Brooklyn duo Field Mouse have had but a passing mention here, and I’d like to give them a little bit more because if your musical tastes align with mine – and why would you be here otherwise – they’re worth a listen.

Their name brings to mind – or is maybe confused for – English twee-pop forebears Field Mice, but while there are some points of intersection, particularly in their facility with melody and dreamy texture, the singular edition of Rachel Browne (vocals, guitar) and Andrew Futral (guitars) is much less navel-gazing and their shoegazey roots give their sound some wonderfully shimmering bite without overwhelming their tunefulness. It’s a formula that’s all about balance, and Field Mouse get it right. With a discography limited to just a few singles right now, they’re prepping their full-length debut for release later this year and have released a new video – presumably from said full-length – via Spin and recorded a video session for BrooklynVegan; as always, don’t read the comments. But do, however, hope they keep touring and make their way back to town soon, ideally when I’m also in town.

MP3: Field Mouse – “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”
MP3: Field Mouse – “Glass”
Stream: Field Mouse – “You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom”
Stream: Field Mouse – “Happy”
Video: Field Mouse – “Revenge Is Yesterday”

WNYC has a stream of one of the new Savoir Adore songs that will appear on the wide-release edition of their latest Our Nature when it comes out on June 4.

Stream: Savoir Adore – “Beating Hearts

Pitchfork has rightly devoted one of their fancily-presented cover story in-depth features to The National, and The Irish Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and 680 News also have features. They play Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 14.

Spin has premiered a new song from Florida’s Beach Day, whose debut Trip Trap Attack is out June 18 and who are here for NXNE on June 15 with a show at Handlebar in Kensington Market. DIY has a feature.

Stream: Beach Day – “Stay”

Exclaim has details on the new full-length from Crocodiles; Crimes of Passion is out August 20 and there’s a first track to hear courtesy of Stereogum. They’ll preview the album at the Adelaide Music Hall on June 17 when they support Japandroids.

MP3: Crocodiles – “Cockroach”

Chicago talks to Smith Westerns, who are streaming another new song from their forthcoming Soft Will. It’s out June 25 and they play Lee’s Palace on July 29.

Stream: Smith Westerns – “3AM Spiritual”

She & Him keep up the cutesy on the new video from Volume 3. They headline the first night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 4.

Video: She & Him – “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”

Beatroute and The Georgia Straight have interviews and NPR a session with Yo La Tengo, playing the final day of TURF at Garrison Commons on July 7. DIY also has an interview with bassist James McNew about the reissue series for his Dump side-project.

Loud & Quiet and The Fly have features on Kurt Vile, also here for TURF day four at Garrison Common on July 7.

Merge has announced a deluxe reissue of the last, great lo-fi Mountain Goats album All Hail West Texas on July 23, which is great new if for no other reason as it gives these imaginary liner notes by comics scribe a reason to exist, if only online.

Because he never needs to rest, Ty Segall has announced an August 20 release of his next album, entitled Sleeper. Details on the release at Consequence Of Sound, trailer below.

Trailer: Ty Segall / Sleeper

Pitchfork has details on the new record from The Dodos, entitled Carrier and out August 27.

Stream: The Dodos – “Confidence”

Noisey talks to Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing, who have a date at The Kool Haus on September 21 supporting Local Natives.

The Journal News chats with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, in town at The Sound Academy on September 28.

Kevin Barnes talks to Rolling Stone about the next of Montreal record Lousy with Sylvianbriar, due out sometime this Fall.

Jim James tells Rolling Stone that My Morning Jacket plan to return to the studio to record their next record in October.

Rolling Stone Q&As Thurston Moore of Chelsea Light Moving, who’ve released a new video from their self-titled debut.

Video: Chelsea Light Moving – “Lip”

The 405 talks to Jon Ehrens and eMusic and City Paper to Jenn Wasner, who together are Dungeonesse.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an interview and Rolling Stone an acoustic video session with The Thermals, who’ve just released a video for the decidedly non-acoustic new single from their latest, Desperate Ground.

Video: The Thermals – “The Sunset”

Spin has an oral history of The Breeders’ Last Splash on the occasion of the record’s 20th anniversary.

And Mike Mills uses the occasion of the Green quarter-century reissue to tell Rolling Stone that when R.E.M. said no reunion, they meant no reunion. So no reunion.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Echo Or Encore

Eleanor Friedberger leads this week’s batch of concert announcements

Photo By Roger KisbyRoger KisbyYou can probably blame the entire music industry’s post-SXSW hangover for this week’s roundup of concert announcements being a little late and a little lean. But there were still some. And here they are.

While I believe the official status of The Fiery Furnaces is that they’re a going concern, it’s pretty clear that the burner that they’re on is pretty far back. Since they finished touring 2009’s presciently-titled I’m Going Away, both Friedberger siblings have busied themselves in solo form. Matthew Friedberger released six full-lengths as part of his Solos series in 2011 and followed that with Matricidal Sons Of Bitches last Fall. Eleanor Friedberger, on the other hand, has worked at a relative snail’s pace, with only 2011’s Last Summer to her name, at least until now.

Her second solo venture will be out June 4 and entitled Personal Record, and while complete dates in support of it haven’t yet surfaced, it is confirmed that they’ll include a June 5 date at The Horseshoe, tickets $15 in advance. Exclaim has details on the record, for which there is a trailer and a first single to stream. You can also download a live version of the song, which was part of an Epitonic Saki Session a couple years ago.

MP3: Eleanor Friedberger – “Stare At The Sun” (live at Saki sessions)
Stream: Eleanor Friedberger – “Stare At The Sun”
Trailer: Eleanor Friedberger / Personal Record

I can’t that I’ve ever heard of On An On, but that they’ll have New York electro-pop sweeties Savoir Adore as support when they come to town for a show at The Drake on April 12 – tickets $14 – puts them on my radar. Savoir Adore will be re-releasing last year’s Dreamers on June 4 through their new home at Nettwerk Records with some bonus goodies

MP3: Savoir Adore – “Dreamers”
Video: On An On – “The Hunter”

With his new album Mala out now, Devendra Banhart has put together a North American tour to support. He’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on June 3, tickets $29.50 in advance. Banhart is profiled by The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, The Independent, and Magnet.

MP3: Devendra Banhart – “Baby”
Stream: Devendra Banhart – “Never Seen Such Good Things”

His last scheduled show in December 2010 was canceled at the last minute, but former Beta Band-er Steve Mason is trying again; with his new album Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time due out April 9, Mason has put together a North American tour that brings him to the Drake Underground on May 1, tickets $13.50. The Quietus and The Guardian have feature pieces on Mason.

MP3: Steve Mason – “All Come Down”

New York electro duo MS MR might be making their local debut on April 6 at the Opera House as support for Jessie Ware, but with their new record Secondhand Rapture coming out May 14, they’ve already booked their first headlining show. They’re back for a gig at Wrongbar on May 22.

Video: MS MR – “Hurricane”

British punk veterans The Stranglers are back with a new record in Giants on May 28, and will be in town at the Danforth Music Hall on May 31 to support.

Video: The Stranglers – “Mercury Rising”

Los Angeles electronic artist Baths will be in town at The Horseshoe on June 9 in support of his new album Obsidian, due out May 28. Tickets for that are $15 and you can stream a track from the new record below.

MP3: Baths – “Exit The Mine”
Stream: Baths – “Miasma Sky”

This week’s additions to the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest, running July 4 to 7 at Garrison Commons, are Dawes, Arkells, and Fitz & The Tantrums. And while Shovels & Rope aren’t in that list, they’ll be supporting Dawes on their Summer tour and will probably be officially added after their local date supporting Lucero at The Phoenix next week is in the books. One more round of major acts will be announced next week but if you’re planning to attend the fest a la carte, you should know the day-by-day breakdown of who’s playing when is already up. Single day tickets go on sale March 28.

MP3: Dawes – “If I Wanted Someone”
Video: Arkells – “On Paper”
Video: Fitz & The Tantrums – “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”
Video: Shovels & Rope – “Birmingham”

Another addition to the Summer of mini-fests in Toronto – July 12 at Downsview Park, you can get your bro on with a bill of Weezer, performing The Blue Album in its entirety along with other hits and favourites, Passion Pit doing those two songs that everyone likes as well as some others, and METZ confusing and frightening the early birds. Tickets for that are $82.50 in advance.

MP3: METZ – “Wet Blanket”
Video: Weezer – “Buddy Holly”
Video: Passion Pit – “Take A Walk”

Telekinesis have released a new video from their forthcoming Domarion, out April 2, and Benjamin Michael Lerner lists off some of his favourite things for Spin before playing an acoustic video session. They’ll be at The Horseshoe on May 12.

Video: Telekinesis – “Ghosts & Creatures”

Rilo Kiley have gone the home movie route for the video from their forthcoming rkives rarities comp, due out April 2.

Video: Rilo Kiley – “Let Me Back In”

The Black Angels talk to The Dumbing Of America about their new album Indigo Meadow. It’s out April 2 and they’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on April 13.

I don’t know why they called this a remix, because if it was a remix, I wouldn’t care. But what it is is a cover of the new Phoenix single by Dinosaur Jr, and it’s great. Thomas Mars talks to Spin a bit about why it exists. Bankrupt! is out April 23 and Phoenix are at The Grove Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake on August 3.

MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Entertainment”

Flavorwire talks to John Vanderslice about his crowdfunded new record Dagger Beach, which has been given a June 11 release date, and Rolling Stone has premiered a stream of one of the new songs.

Stream: John Vanderslice – “Raw Wood”

The Men have rolled out the first video from their new record New Moon. The Fly also has an interview with the band.

Video: The Men – “I Saw Her Face”

eMusic has an interview with Low.

Over at FasterLouder, Henry Wagons interviews Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

Ben Bridwell updates Rolling Stone on the status of the new Band Of Horses.

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.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Sun

Cat Power, Willis Earl Beal, and Xray Eyeballs at The Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEvery good thing you’ve heard about Cat Power live is true, and also a lie; the same goes for every bad thing. The reputation that Chan Marshall gained as a fragile, erratic performer over the first decade or so of her career may have seemed overstated to mythic proportions, but few have made great efforts to dispute it. I can’t speak from experience – though a modest fan since Moon Pix, I’d avoided seeing her in concert because of that reputation and reports from the Toronto shows I’d missed in that time seemed to bear out that I hadn’t missed much.

So it was with great surprise and pleasure that my first two Cat Power shows in Fall 2006 – an intimate solo show at Lee’s Palace and a full band performance at The Phoenix, both in support of The Greatest, were sublime experiences. The former had a few awkward moments though they were far outnumbered by the great ones, but the latter, powered by the Memphis Rhythm Band, was about as perfect as you could get. A subsequent show at the 2007 Rogers Picnic was far less assured – though she got the benefit of the doubt as that whole day was just weird – and the last time I saw her at Matador at 21, she again sounded great; any reservations were more about the continued absence of new material than the performance itself. So I was optimistic for her first Toronto show since early 2008 this past Saturday night, since it was coming in support of her game-changing and excellent new album Sun; surely the sass and confidence that went into crafting that record would translate live? It’d be a couple of support acts before we’d find out.

Leadoff hitters Xray Eyeballs may have hailed from Brooklyn, but their psychedelic garage rock sound was decidedly west coast in lineage. With guitarist O.J. San Felipe and bassist Carly Rabalais trading off lead vocals while laying down beds of fuzzy guitars, simple percussion, and whirring synths, their set wasn’t sophisticated but not amateurish, either. It wasn’t a new sound by any stretch nor was their take on it overly memorable, but decent enough for passing a half hour. Though a note to San Felipe – they’re called Straploks and you should look into them.

I’d heard many good things about Chicago’s Willis Earl Beal prior to his being a late but welcome addition as support for this tour – that he was a poet, a soul-singer, a visual artist, an eccentric, a philosopher, and a hell of a performer – but despite him having come through town twice already in support of his lauded debut Acousmatic Sorcery, I hadn’t had a chance to explore further and his being a late addition as support for this leg of the tour was welcome news. He took the stage not with a band but a couple of mannequins, and instead literally played to backing tapes – he had a reel-to-reel tape machine set up behind him, providing the musical backing for him to sing over.

And really, even if he’d brought a full orchestra with him, it’s unlikely anyone would have noticed as it was nigh impossible to take your eyes off of him once he got going. With a huge voice that could go from a soulfully supple to hitting like a sack of gravel, he sang like an avatar of manic desperation while pacing the stage and turning everything around him – the mic stand, the flag that had covered his tape machine, a folding chair, his clothes – into a performance prop and closing out with mic twirls whilst doing The Running Man. Using an artist as singular as Tom Waits as a reference point for any other performer is usually unwise as it’s far too high a bar for mortals to measure against, but for Willis Earl Beal? It’s both stylistically accurate and speaks to the man’s potential. Pretty much amazing.

That the intro music for Cat Power’s set was Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From The Storm” – it played twice, once when they band was scheduled to take the stage and again fifteen minutes later when they actually did – was telling. Just as Dylan has earled a reputation as a difficult live act, frequently inverting and rearranging his classic songs to the point of being unrecognizable, so to has Marshall taken to treating her songbook as raw material for crafting something new rather than as canon to be performed respectfully. Also unrecognizable was Marshall herself, following her band onstage in leather jacket and the short, spiky, blonde hairdo debuted in her video for “Cherokee” further punkified with shaved sides. That song opened the show, but rather than stay in character from the video and battle zombies, she instead did battle with the incense burning on stage, constantly fussing with it while singing and then turning her attention to the two mics set up for her – indistinguishable to the eye and ear – through “Sun”, and then the mic stands on “3, 6, 9”. To her credit, she mostly sounded alright while this was going on, if not as in key or articulate as one would like, but it was distracting to watch.

As has been typical for the past few years, Marshall eschewed guitar duties to concentrate on singing – and fussing – leaving her four-piece backing band to the music, and theirs was not an easy task. They had to give the songs enough structure so as to stay intact and relatively recognizable, yet allow Marshall the space to roam and improvise as she was wont to do. And this was where I saw where the crucial difference between this show and the Greatest show would be – in that setting, Marshall had to rein herself in to meet the supremely tight and professional standards of that veteran outfit, but here she was in charge and it was her players’ job to follow her, wherever she felt like going. While they stuck to the Sun material, things stayed fairly steady and onstage eccentrics aside – the incense/mic/stand fiddling and rambling banter persisted – the audience remained onside.

The middle portion of the set was probably more trying. A reading of the unreleased “Bully” found Marshall in her best voice of the evening to that point as being accompanied only by piano, being distracted wasn’t really an option, and from that she went into an almost operatic, dramatically backlit performance of Mexican icon Pedro Infante’s “Angelitos Negros” (a Jukebox bonus track), and then a half-speed, Moon Pix-skeletal version of “The Greatest” that traded almost all melody for a steadily building, almost ominous dynamic – an interesting interpretation, but perhaps not what an audience who’d been waiting over 10 minutes for something remotely familiar wanted.

It having been a half-decade since she’d toured an album of original material through town, most were probably hoping to hear more catalog material but given how it was being presented, they were probably thankful whenever the set returned to Sun and more familiar if recent sounds. When Marshall finally strapped on a guitar for “Silent Machine”, it was both invigorating and frustrating – for those four minutes, her Danelectro was like a lightning rod that channeled everything the band could be into that slinky, sexy, slide riff and they were tight and focused like they’d not been the rest of the show. And of course, while that was the only song that Marshall would play an instrument and the indisputable high point of the show, they did raise their game for a powerful “Nothin’ But Time” and “Peace and Love”. Lest the momentum keep going, however, they went back to You Are Free for a sprawling, deconstructed “I Don’t Blame You”, before again pulling it together for a strong “Ruin”. For the show’s close of I think “Rambling (Wo)man” – I can’t be sure – a fan handed Marshall a bouquet of flowers which she spend most of the song distributing amongst her band and then tossing, flower by flower, into the audience. And continuing in a giving theme, gave away a t-shirt and all the lyrics sheets she had on stage before requesting – and receiving – a fan’s Charlie Chaplin t-shirt.

It was a nice moment and close to a show that was, even to die-hard fans and apologists, uneven and oft frustrating. Though Marshall seemed in good spirits throughout and any performance where she doesn’t halt a song midway through to complain about the monitors or just walk right off is a positive one, for as long as she’s been doing this she should be much better. She can be and has been. But perhaps for an artist for whom, “is she alright?” is always a legitimate question – a brace of cancelled promotional appearances before the start of the tour was cause for concern, as was her tweet from the inside of an ambulance the afternoon of the show – perhaps overt fan service by way of her song selections and arrangements is too much to ask. Perhaps it’s enough that she’s again making great records, and that your odds of seeing a good show – while still obviously not even – are much better than they once were. At least she’s trying.

NOW, The National Post, and BlogTO were also on hand for the show.

Photos: Cat Power, Willis Earl Beal, Xray Eyeballs @ The Kool Haus – October 20, 2012
MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”
MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
MP3: Cat Power – “Manhattan”
MP3: Cat Power – “Metal Heart”
MP3: Cat Power – “The Greatest”
MP3: Cat Power – “He-War”
MP3: Cat Power – “Nude As The News”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “Monotony”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “Blue Escape”
MP3: Willis Earl Beal – “White Noise”
MP3: Xray Eyeballs – “Crystal”
MP3: Xray Eyeballs – “Egyptian Magician”
Video: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
Video: Cat Power – “King Rides By”
Video: Cat Power – “Living Proof”
Video: Cat Power – “Lived In Bars”
Video: Cat Power – “He War”
Video: Cat Power – “Crossbones Style”
Video: Willis Earl Beal – “Monotony”
Video: Xray Eyeballs – “X”
Video: Xray Eyeballs – “Crystal”

Sufjan Stevens has made one of the songs from his upcoming Silver & Gold Christmas song box set available for download. The set’s not out until November 13 so think of it like that one gift that you were allowed to open on Christmas Eve. It’s just like that.

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Ding-A-Ling-A-Ring-A-Ling”

Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus talks to Consequence Of Sound. They’re at Lee’s Palace on November 27.

Clash and The Oklahoman meet Band Of Horses, in town at Massey Hall on December 5.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Grizzly Bear.

NYC Taper is sharing another The Mountain Goats live recording from last week.

Pitchfork talks to Sharon Van Etten about making her recent video for “Magic Chords”; Varsity just talks to her about whatever.

DIY has a feature interview with Savoir Adore.

The San Francisco Chronicle and CBC Music chat with Joey Burns of Calexico while The 405 also ropes John Covertino into their conversation.

NPR talks to Benjamin Gibbard.