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Posts Tagged ‘Sharon Van Etten’

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Sleeping Where I Fall

Chelsea Light Moving and Speedy Ortiz at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor two bands touring behind their debut albums, you don’t get much further apart in terms of backstory than Speedy Ortiz and Chelsea Light Moving. The former being a loud and brash quartet from Northampton, Massachusetts whose Major Arcana demonstrates an overt and emphatic appreciation for the sounds of American college rock in the 1990s, and the latter being the new outfit of Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, a man who in large part architected the styles which Speedy Ortiz are disciples of and whose self-titled debut affirms that whatever name he’s trading under, he’s not done building on them. Together at The Horseshoe on Sunday night – Speedy Ortiz’s first visit to Toronto and Chelsea Light Moving’s second, following a visit to Lee’s Palace in March – they were something of a dream double-bill for those who like their guitars to sound like jagged, angry weapons doing their damage in serrated melodies.

And they don’t especially need much time to do it. While it was a touch disappointing that Speedy Ortiz wrapped up their set after barely 20 minutes – 25 tops – but there was no complaint about how they utilized the time they did have. I didn’t think it possible, but their stage show made the Archers Of Pavement-saluting stylings of Major Arcana sound positively polite by comparison. Guitarist Matt Robidoux must have felt undermixed on the album because live he was turned up extra-loud, though not to the point of overpowering frontwoman Sadie Dupuis because she was just as loud and with Darl Ferm on bass their equal in the mix, the complexity and contrasts of their respective parts became impressively clear. Together, they replicated the sound of three different songs falling off a cliff into one another and somehow, implausibly, gelling into something lurchingly, chaotically greater yet still given a friendly, accessible face by Dupuis’ urgently laid-back vocals and off-kilter melodies. It’s not easy to satisfy completely while leaving them wanting more, but Speedy Ortiz did it – and efficiently, no less.

After spending over 30 years pushing musical boundaries and indulging his creative impulses in Sonic Youth, it’s unlikely anyone was really expecting Thurston Moore sound like anyone besides Thurston Moore with his new band. So while over the course of their hour-long set, Moore edged into the shadows at stage left as if to more equally share the stage with his bandmates, there really wasn’t hiding someone of his stature, both literally and figuratively. Chelsea Light Moving sound immediately familiar from the sinewy guitar lines to Moore’s languid vocals, but closer inspection reveals key differences with Sonic Youth. Chelsea are more direct – Moore’s melodic instincts are give full play – and also heavier, with Keith Wood not attempting to replicate any Lee Ranaldo-esque guitar interplay but instead often doubling Moore’s rumbling low-string riffs and washes of feedback; you might say Chelsea come across like Sonic Youth gone garage rock – less hypnotic or avant-garde, perhaps, but more visceral and primal.

Over the course of their hour-fifteen set – which Show opened and closed with a collage of pick scrapes and the string noises of Jazzmasters being played where they weren’t meant to be and included a song based on 16th-century poet John Donne’s “The Ecstasy” as well as a dedication of “Lips” to the “Toronto chapter of the Pussy Riot movement”, Chelsea Light Moving turned in a pummelling set that simultaneously scratched the itch that Sonic Youth fans had for the on-hiatus legends and rubbed salt in the wound that given the personal issues that underpin said hiatus, their return is no sure thing.

The Huffington Post and Artvoice have interviews with Thurston Moore and Lancaster Online with John Moloney of Chelsea Light Moving. Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis gives MTV Hive a guide to being a vegan on the road, Village Voice does some urban exploration with the band, and Epitonic has got a Saki Session available to download.

Photos: Chelsea Light Moving, Speedy Ortiz @ The Horseshoe – September 15, 2013
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Burroughs”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Frank O’Hara Hit”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Empire Of Time”
MP3: Chelsea Light Moving – “Groovy & Linda”
Video: Chelsea Light Moving – “Lip”
Video: Chelsea Light Moving – “Groovy & Linda”
Video: Chelsea Light Moving – “Burroughs”
Video: Speedy Ortiz – “Tiger Tank”

As for the other half of the Sonic Youth schism, Rolling Stone, San Diego City Beat, Stereogum, and Slate talk to Kim Gordon about her new musical project Body/Head and their new record Coming Apart, which was released last week.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Blouse’s set at the Captured Tracks fifth anniversary show last month. Their new album Imperium is out today.

Tone Deaf has and interview with Sebadoh on the occasion of the release of their new album Defend Yourself. It’s out today, they’ve got a new video from it, and they’ll be at The Horseshoe on November 8.

Video: Sebadoh – “I Will”

Stereogum talks to Mazzy Star about their new album Seasons Of Your Day, due out next week on September 24 but available to stream now at NPR. They’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on November 16.

Stream: Mazzy Star / Seasons Of Your Day

Filter, eMusic, and The Austin Chronicle talk to Will Sheff of Okkervil River. They play The Phoenix on September 27.

Rolling Stone and eMusic talk to Derek Miller and Alison Krauss of Sleigh Bells about their new record Bitter Rivals, which comes out October 8 and from which they’ve made a new song available to stream. They play The Phoenix on November 13.

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “You Don’t Get Me Twice”

of Montreal are streaming another new song from their forthcoming album lousy with sylvianbriar, out October 8.

Stream: of Montreal – “Belle Glade Missionaries”

Father John Misty has released a new video from last year’s Fear Fun; he’s in town solo-like at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 15.

Video: Father John Misty – “I’m Writing A Novel”

NPR has a World Cafe session with The Head & The Heart, whose new album Let’s Be Still comes out October 15. They’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

The Dismemberment Plan are streaming another new song from their reunion record Uncanney Valley, coming October 15.

Stream: The Dismemberment Plan – “Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer”

Janelle Monáe and The Electric Lady are the subject of features at Paste, Rolling Stone, The AV Club, Billboard, and Interview. Oh, and because it’s an awesome thing, stream her cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” below. She plays The Kool Haus on October 19.

Stream: Janelle Monáe – “I Want You Back”

Grizzly Bear are seeking to help out those with Grizzly Bear fans on their Christmas list with the release of expanded and b-sides versions of last year’s Shields on November 12. Warp has details on the editions, the former of which includes the original edition of the album and the latter of which is just the extras, comprised of b-sides, remixes, and demos – one of which you can stream below.

Stream: Grizzly Bear – “Will Calls” (Marfa demo)

Though they’re not saying anything about a new record, Phantogram have made a new song available to stream.

Stream: Phantogram – “Black Out Days”

Stereogum offers an oral history of The Wrens’ The Meadowlands on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

Q interviews Mac McCaughan of Superchunk, who’ve premiered a new video from I Hate Music along with interview at Blouin Artinfo.

Video: Superchunk – “Staying Home”

Deerhunter have released a new video from Monomania.

Video: Deerhunter – “Back To The Middle”

Low are streaming their Rihanna cover, which you can also buy with proceeds going to charity. Details at Pitchfork.

Stream: Low – “Stay”

Waxahatchee has released a new video from this year’s Cerulean Salt.

Video: Waxahatchee – “Misery Over Dispute”

NPR has a KEXP session with Sharon Van Etten.

The Guardian chats with Joey Burns of Calexico.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Caitlin Rose, recorded at End Of The Road fest in England.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Bracing For Sunday

While I was out… featuring Neko Case and things of an American nature

Photo By Frank YangEmily SchurSo yes, hi, I’m back. Flew in yesterday, have no idea what time it actually is or what time I think it is or what time I think it should be. But while Berlin and Stockholm were great, vacation is over and it’s time to unload the stuff I’ve been bookmarking but not posting in my absence. Most of it you’ve probably seen or heard already, but lemme get it out there anyways.

And why not start with Neko Case – her new record The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is out as of today and her secret show at The Dakota Tavern last Tuesday was very much one of the things I’m sad about missing though make no mistake, I was still happier where I was. Anyways, the always-quotable Neko sounds off on all sorts of subjects – not just music – at The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Drowned In Sound, Consequence Of Sound, NPR (and another), Maclean’s, Salon, The Toronto Star and The Grid.

As has become their MO, Pixies have sneak-released a new EP which appears to be untitled but which will probably colloquially be called Indie Cindy after the track for which they’ve also released a video. So maybe it was the now-departed Kim Deal who was the hold-up in releasing new Pixies material all these years?

Video: Pixies – “Indie Cindy”

NPR is streaming the new Okkervil River record The Silver Gymnasium, out this week, and American Songwriter and Consequence Of Sound have conversations with Will Sheff about it. They play The Phoenix on September 28.

Stream: Okkervil River / The Silver Gymnasium

Vice, Sowetan, Elle, The Belfast Telegraph, and Irish Times talk to Janelle Monáe about her new album The Electric Lady, out September 10. She plays The Kool Haus on October 19.

Sebadoh are streaming another new song from Defend Yourself, coming out September 17. They play The Horseshoe on November 8.

Stream: Sebadoh – “State Of Mine”

Pitchfork has details on Bitter Rivals, the third album from Sleigh Bells, as well as dates for the accompanying North American tour. The record is out October 8 and they’re at The Phoenix on November 13 with Doldrums supporting.

Video: Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals”

Los Angeles’ The Happy Hollows put on a great show when they were here for NXNE 2010, so word that they’re at The Silver Dollar on October 12 behind their new record Amethyst is not to be disregarded. Tickets for the show are a mere $8.50.

Stream: The Happy Hollows – “Endless”

Having gone without releasing new music in far too long, Dean Wareham has announced a new mini-album entitled Emancipated Hearts for October 15 release. You can stream the first song from it below and check out details at Pitchfork.

Stream: Dean Wareham – “Love Is Colder Than Death”

Brookyln’s The Men will release an acoustic 12″ EP entitled Campfire Songs on October 15, but don’t expect their October 20 show at The Horseshoe to be some cozy unplugged singalong. Unless it is.

Stream: The Men – “The Seeds” (acoustic)

Just here back in May, Laura Stevenson returns to The Drake on November 19 to support her new record, Wheel. Tickets are $13 in advance.

Stream: Laura Stevenson – “Slouch”

Having teased that they were working on multiple new records, Shearwater have announced the first of them. Fellow Travelers will be out November 26 and offers a novel spin on the covers record, with them reinterpreting songs by former tourmates whose ranks include St. Vincent, Coldplay, and Wye Oak. They’ve made a Xiu Xiu redo available for download, and Exclaim has full details.

MP3: Shearwater – “I Luv The Valley Oh!”

TV On The Radio haven’t revealed details of their next album but the have revealed a new video from it.

Video: TV On The Radio – “Million Miles”

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from The National, taken from this year’s Trouble Will Find Me.

Video: The National – “Graceless”

Yes I know I missed the first Replacements show in 22 years at last week’s Riot Fest, but at least I have these recordings from Mechanical Forest Sound and Bradley’s Almanac to fill me in on what I missed whilst filling my face with currywurst.

Tone Deaf talks to Calexico.

Sharon Van Etten premiered a new song by way of a video session at Pickathon; Spin has the clip.

And oh yeah, the blog turned 11 yesterday and for the first time in the past decade, I didn’t commemorate it with a post (though I did make a tweet). Last year’s decade-marking post still basically holds, and while I don’t know I’ve done a good enough job of slowing things down as much as I’d have thought, being able to take more than a week off as I just did and not freak the hell out seems like progress. So I’ll just say thanks for sticking around, and I’m still here, at least for now. Take that as you will, just not for granted.

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.

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Give Up

The Postal Service and Mates Of State at The Air Canada Centre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough generally referred to as a reunion, the return this year of The Postal Service to active duty is unlike most others in that it’s to mark a very specific occasion – the 10th anniversary and reissue of their only album Give Up – and comes with absolutely no promise or expectation of carrying on after the occasion is past. And as much as people might think they want a second Postal Service record, I suspect that the truth is they don’t.

Much of the magic of Give Up is that it exists as a single specific point in space and time, and not just as the album where indie, emo, and electronica converged and created a template for countless artists to follow. It’s also special because it was the soundtrack for so many lives in 2003, and by not releasing a follow-up or even having The Postal Service really exist outside of the recordings, remained a snapshot of a moment trapped in amber. No one grew up with this band, or risked being disappointed by a subsequent effort that didn’t make them feel the way Give Up did. And by that same token, it’s a safe bet that no one who piled into the Air Canada Centre a decade later to finally hear these songs played live were remotely the same person they were when they fell in love with the band. And yet they came – not in nearly enough number to fill the theatre-configured arena, but enough to create a time-warped sense of community fuelled by excitement and nostalgia.

It would have been pretty funny and entertaining had Toronto drawn the Big Freedia card in the opening band rotation – the looks on passers by’s faces as they were introduced to the Sissy Bounce when she played Yonge-Dundas at NXNE 2010 is a fond memory – but I was more than happy to get Mates Of State’s first date of the tour. I hadn’t seen them since they kicked off Virgin Fest 2009, and while it’s unfortunate that there were about as many people on hand to see them this time as then – which is to say not a lot – they still put on a wholly enjoyable set, at least after getting over the shock of them playing as a four-piece, though there’s no denying that the extra dimension added by the supporting keys and guitar sounded nice, particularly the trumpet on “Rearrange Us” and “My Only Offer”. But the heart of Mates Of State remain Kori Gardner and Jason Hammell’s keys-and-drums-and-harmonies-and-adorableness, and though their recent work isn’t quite as sugar-giddy as the early stuff, it’s still got plenty of sweetness and remains delightful. I mean, how can you not love banter like, “That’s Kori, isn’t she hot?”. You can’t.

Given that The Postal Service didn’t even record Give Up as a proper band – their name refers to how Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello traded musical ideas via physical DAT – getting a guy on a laptop and another on guitar to translate live in as large a venue as an arena was surely no small task. So to fill things out, they promoted Jenny Lewis from backing vocalist to almost co-frontperson with guitar and keyboard duties, and enlisted Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds on glock and vox – certainly a fine ensemble, augmented by an acoustic drum kit on the stage for those moments when canned beats just wouldn’t do. And as to the problem of having only two sides of material to draw from, they naturally played the whole of Give Up, opening with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, as well as the four new/unreleased tracks from the anniversary edition, a Beat Happening cover, and the proto-Postal Dntel track “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” – making for a respectable-length set, all things considered.

So that was the what it was; what about the how it was? In all, pretty good. They certainly did all they could to make it a visually engaging show, with Gibbard dipping into his Death Cab dance moves, Lewis strutting around like she owned the stage – and really, she did, in front of some slickly-lit stage sets and glowing backdrops. And even though he was restricted to his podium at the back of the stage dropping beats, Tamborello got to contribute vocals to “Sleeping In” – not great vocals, but whatever – and again Daft Punk vocoder-styled at the end of “Recycled Air”. The showiness of the performance worked on the upbeat numbers, but for my personal Give Up high point – the Ben Gibbard-Jen Wood duet “Nothing Better” – it felt to its detriment and out of character. On record, the singalong melody belies the dark sentiments of the lyrics, and the whole feels like a incredibly personal conversation you can’t help be eavesdrop in. Live though, with Lewis’ big sassy vocals in place of Wood’s weary originals, it felt more like a work of broad theatre rather than the intimate moment it should have been. This may be my complaint alone, but there it is.

Still, one down point amongst many high points isn’t bad at all. High points like Lewis’ big rock guitar solo to close out “This Place Is A Prison”, the nearly-deafening shoegaze treatment of “Natural Anthem” to close out the main set, the being reminded that the simple guitar line in “Such Great Heights” may well be one of the riffs of the century so far. By the time the show’s hour and fifteen running time was up, it was clear that this wasn’t a reunion meant to help you recapture your youth, or wherever you were in 2003 the first time you first heard “District” or “Heights”; it was intended to celebrate where you’ve gone in the ten years that have followed. Not for nothing, I think, was “Brand New Colony” the show closer and the final lyrics uttered, “Everything will change”. Because you can’t go back, but you can remember.

The Toronto Star, Huffington Post, and Exclaim also have reviews of the show, and The Toronto Star also has a show previewing interview.

Photos: The Postal Service, Mates Of State @ The Air Canada Centre – June 11, 2013
MP3: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
MP3: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
MP3: Dntel – “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Think Long”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Hoarding It For Home”
Video: The Postal Service – “Against All Odds”
Video: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
Video: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
Video: The Postal Service – “We Will Become Silhouettes”
Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”
Video: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
Video: Mates Of State – “Sway”
Video: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
Video: Mates Of State – “True Love Will Find You In The End”
Video: Mates Of State – “I Am A Scientist”
Video: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
Video: Mates Of State – “Get Better”
Video: Mates Of State – “Like U Crazy”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fraud In The 80s”
Video: Mates Of State – “Goods (All In Your Head)”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fluke”
Video: Mates Of State – “Gotta Get A Problem”

NPR has an interview and a Tiny Desk Concert with The National, who are at Yonge-Dundas Square for a free show tomorrow night, June 14. The Globe & Mail also has an interview with Matt Berninger.

Nylon is streaming Beach Day’s debut album Trip Trap Attack ahead of its release next Tuesday. As mentioned earlier this week, Beach Day are all over NXNE, playing Urban Outfitters Friday afternoon at 2, Handlebar Saturday night at 11, and a Kops instore Sunday at 6:30.

Stream: Beach Day / Trip Trap Attack

Kurt Vile has released a new video from Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. He and his Violators play the final day of TURF at Garrison Common on July 4.

Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”

Neko Case has confirmed details of her new new album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, due out September 3. The first M Ward-powered taste is available to stream, there’s a sweet trailer to watch, and further details can be had at Pitchfork. She also plays the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common on July 4.

Stream: Neko Case – “Man”
Trailer: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

The Village Voice talks to Yo La Tengo about the imminent closing of their Hoboken home away from home, Maxwell’s; The Province and Denver Post also have features. They’re here for TURF on July 4 as well.

PopMatters and NPR talk to Jason Isbell, in town at Lee’s Palace on August 2.

Beatroute has a quick word with Superchunk, whose new record I Hate Music is out August 20.

Stereogum has a video session with Wild Nothing. They open up for Local Natives at The Kool Haus on September 21.

Billboard gets some more info from Janelle Monáe about her new album The Electric Lady, coming in September.

Tiny Mix Tapes has an interview with Charles Bradley.

Dungeonesse have a new video from Dungeonesse; it is not called “Dungeonesse”.

Video: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”

Sharon Van Etten has released a stream of a new old song, originally released as part of a compilation CD for Esopus magazine in 2010.

Stream: Sharon Van Etten – “Esao Andrews”

Tiny Mix Tapes gets to know Caitlin Rose.

The National Post talks NXNE with Calexico; they were here last night.

And a couple noteworthy show announcements that missed yesterday’s cutoff – first, Blonde Redhead may not have the follow-up to 2010’s Penny Sparkle ready for release until early 2014, but they’re still doing some touring this year. They’ll be at The Adelaide Music Hall on July 15, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “Here Sometimes”

And also, Riot Fest announced their 2013 lineup last night, and it’s a doozy. We’ll ignore the August 24 acts for the moment because I have no idea who any of them are, but Sunday, August 25 will be headlined by the first Replacements show in 22 years. That’s right – Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson back together again as The Mats. And if that wasn’t worth your $50 ticket, the lineup ALSO includes Iggy & The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, and more. That goes down at, of course, Garrison Common. The Replacements, people. The Replacements.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
Video: The Replacements – “Bastards Of Young”
Video: Iggy & The Stooges – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Rocket From The Crypt – “On A Rope”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Canadian Musicfest 2013 Day Four

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Sharon Van Etten at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI had to think for quite a while about including this show under my Canadian Musicfest coverage. Although the festival would like you believe that Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ visit on Saturday night was as a festival headliner, everyone knew that this show had little to nothing to do with Canadian Musicfest and everything to do with the tour in support of their latest effort, Push The Sky Away; I don’t even know if any of the VIP wristbands promised access actually got in. However, as I’ve exempted shows from fest coverage in the past on account of their not being explicitly listed as performers, it seems only fair to have the inverse apply. Yes, these are the things I spend energy thinking about. Pity me. In any case, it was going to be a full house for The Bad Seeds’ first Toronto show since October 2008, and with this being the band’s first time at Massey Hall – arguably the most natural setting for them – it was bound to be a memorable one.

It’s been a joy watching Sharon Van Etten’s career trajectory over the past few years, from lightly-attended opening slots in Spring 2010 through graduating to headlining status a year later and then, last year on the back of Tramp, filling rooms like Lee’s Palace and The Phoenix. So while on paper, moving back to opener status might seem like a step back, when it’s at Massey Hall and opening for Nick Cave, it’s most certainly not. Performing as a guitar and drums two-piece, her compact five-song set – including a new one that was intended to be happy but still sounded mournful – was a fine introduction to her beautifully confessional songwriting for those unfamiliar with her and for those already won over, an affirmation that her gorgeous voice belonged in cavernous halls like this. Someday. Soon.

Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Massey Hall – March 23, 2013
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Give Out”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Kevin’s”
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”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “Magic Chords”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “Leonard”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”

Some have bemoaned the slow, stately pace of Push The Sky Away, wondering where the spit and fire that defined Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! and the two Grinderman records had gone. For my part, I think that that run of records – and you can probably include 2004’s Abbatoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus in there – as well as the departure of Mick Harvey following Lazarus and Cave’s work both writing and scoring films, pretty much guaranteed that Cave would get introspective next. And accepting that, it’s a gorgeous and immersive record, putting the focus on the content of Cave’s words – of which there are many – rather than the intensity of their delivery, and the Bad Seeds get to show off their atmospheric chops. Those fearing he’s gone soft would do well to remember that the band went ballad-heavy for a few records at the turn of the century before returning to the rock. Even if this current phase lasts beyond Sky, it almost certainly won’t be the last.

This show was also of significant contrast to the last Kool Haus performance; whereas that one was as lean and mean a rock machine as a seven-piece outfit could be, this one figured to be a more sophisticated affair, bolstered by a string section featuring members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Owen Pallett as well as the 19-piece Rose Avenue Junior Public School choir and backing singers Shilpa Ray and Sharon Van Etten. All were put to good use from the get-go as they opened with a smouldering five-song suite from Sky; slow, lush, and gorgeous but with the massive crescendo punctuating “Jubilee Street” offering a taste of what was to come. And indeed, when “Higgs Boson Blues” – arguably the centrepiece of Sky – faded out, Cave let out a snarling, “I wanna tell you ’bout a girl!” and the back catalog was open for business.

The menacing Nick Cave persona, heretofore kept in check with the slower material and informal chatter with the audience, was let off the leash and set to prowling the edge of the stage. A good portion of the floor seats had already rushed the front of the stage before the show began, and though security tried to stem the flow, Cave suggested they head to the bar and get a drink instead; after all, what’s a preacher without his congregation? The Bad Seeds played their part, as well, dressed like gentlemen assassins (the leopoard-skin lining of keyboardist Conway Savage’s suit jacket got a compliment from Cave) and Warren Ellis in the role of the loose cannon, whether abusing his violin or dancing/conducting the string section manically on “From Her To Eternity”. The children’s choir looked a touch unsettled by the intensity of the older material and were probably relieved to be sent off an hour into the show.

The remainder of the set was mostly obvious selections from throughout Cave’s repertoire, the sublime execution making up for the predictability of the selections, although the complete omission of Lazarus still rankles. The strings were used to beautiful effect on “Love Letter”, “The Mercy Seat” as harrowing an experience anyone could reasonably expect at a concert, and main set closer “Stagger Lee” an exercise in elegant mayhem. The choir returned to bolster an elegiac “Push The Sky Away” and a roaring “Tupelo” closed the night out. Having been at it with The Bad Seeds for almost 30 years, his reputation for incredible live shows is more than well-established, and yet he’s still able to send people into the night dazzled and dazed and not quite believing the show could be as good as it was. But it was. Oh, it was.

The National Post, Exclaim, BlogTO, and The Globe & Mail also have reviews of the show. The Toronto Star and NOW had feature interviews with Cave ahead of the show.

Photos: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Massey Hall – March 23, 2013
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “We No Who U R”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Midnight Man”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “More News From Nowhere”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Get Ready For Love”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Breathless”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Nature Boy”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Bring It On”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Love Letter”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with PJ Harvey – “Henry Lee”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue – “Where The Wild Roses Grow”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Red Right Hand”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Loverman”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Do You Love Me”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Shane McGowan – “What A Wonderful World”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “I Had A Dream, Joe”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Straight To You”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Weeping Song”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Ship Song”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Deanna”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Mercy Seat”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Singer”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Tupelo”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “In The Ghetto”

And some album streams to take us into the long weekend – Pitchfork has got an advance stream of The Black Angels’ new record Indigo Meadow, out April 2, and Philadelphia Weekly an interview with frontman Alex Maas. They’ll be at The Danforth Music Hall on April 13.

Stream: The Black Angels / Indigo Meadow

Hype Machine is hosting a stream of For Now I Am Winter, the new record from Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds. It gets a North American release on April 2.

Stream: Ólafur Arnalds / For Now I Am Winter

The Guardian is streaming the new British Sea Power album Machineries Of Joy. It comes out on April 9.

Stream: British Sea Power / Machineries Of Joy

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have rolled out the first video from Mosquito, out April 16. It features a lot of face-sucking.

Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”

Spin points to a stream of the b-side from The Strokes’ 7″ contribution to Record Store Day this year. If you think it sounds a lot like one of the songs on Comedown Machine, you’re not wrong.

Stream: The Strokes – “Fast Animals”

Clash talks to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, in town at the Kool Haus on May 9.