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Posts Tagged ‘Sleepy Vikings’

Friday, June 10th, 2011

In Our Bedroom After the War

Stars schedule secret show, dig up demos

Photo via youarestars.comyouarestars.comThe promo and touring cycle for Stars’ last record The Five Ghosts – released just about a year ago – largely wrapped last Fall, just in time to take a break and allow Amy Millan to have her first child. The Montreal quintet are ready to get back into action, though, and are doing so not with a release of new material but of old. Specifically their previous-to-last album, 2007’s In Our Bedroom After The War, or more specifically the demos for said record. That’s what has just been released as The Bedroom Demos, available digitally in compressed or lossless forms. It’s also available to stream in its entirety right now.

No doubt some of these songs will be aired out in their finished forms when the band makes their appearance at Yonge-Dundas Square next Friday night, June 17, as part of NXNE’s centrepiece free shows. And they’ll almost certainly be on the set list when the band plays a secret show at a to-be-announced location in Toronto the following night, June 18. Uncovering the location of the show is a scavenger hunt of sorts with locations of QR codes with clues being teased out via Twitter. And if you don’t figure it out to make it onto the guest list, the show will also be livestreamed on aux.tv that evening, though access to the stream also requires some sleuthing for trivia answers. Hey, no one ever said life was going to be easy.

The Take interviews Torquil Campbell in advance of their NXNE appearance next week.

MP3: Stars – “The Night Starts Here”
Stream: Stars / The Bedroom Demos

Broken Social Scene have released a new, uber-violent video from last year’s Forgiveness Rock Record. They play Downsview Park on Canada Day, July 1.

Video: Broken Social Scene – “The Sweetest Kill”

NOW interviews No Joy, who’re at The Horseshoe on June 16 at 1AM as part of NXNE.

Paste has a series of video performances from The Wilderness Of Manitoba.

The Quietus talks to Fucked Up bassist Sandy Miranda. The band have two NXNE showcases – 8PM on June 16 at Yonge-Dundas Square and 1AM later that night at Wrongbar.

Hero Hill talks to Joel Plaskett about his EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations rarities comp, out Tuesday. Plaskett plays a free show at Metro Hall tonight at 8PM.

Rock Feedback interviews Dan Bejar of Destroyer.

Interview sends Win Butler of Arcade Fire to interview Alexander Skarsgard of HBO’s True Blood. Because why not, right?

CBC, NOW, Chart and The Montreal Gazette interview the authors of Have Not Been The Same, the Canadian indie rock document which celebrates its return to in-print status with a Weeping Tile show at Lee’s Palace tonight.

With her new record The Harrow & The Harvest set for a June 28 release, Paste reports that Gillian Welch has scheduled an extensive North American tour that includes a July 25 stop at The Phoenix in Toronto. The Press Democrat has an interview with Welch.

Quite pleased to see that Memory Tapes is taking the occasion of the July 5 release of Player Piano to finally tour up to Toronto, having scheduled an August 13 date at Wrongbar. The band which is essentially one Dayve Hawk is a far more engaging live act than you might expect, as I learned at SXSW 2010. There’s both an MP3 and video from the new record kicking around.

MP3: Memory Tapes – “Today Is Our Life”
Video: Memory Tapes – “Yes I Know”

The Sea & Cake will be in town at Lee’s Palace on November 5 in support of their latest effort The Moonlight Butterfly. The Chicago Tribune talks to Sam Prekop.

MP3: The Sea & Cake – “Up On The North Shore”

The Guardian interviews Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose new self-titled album is available to stream a couple weeks before its June 21 release. Bon Iver play The Sound Academy on August 9.

Stream: Bon Iver / Bon Iver

Under The Radar talks to Kelly Crisp of The Rosebuds about her comedy career. She and her band open up for Bon Iver at the aforementioned August 9 Sound Academy show.

Pitchfork talks to the director of TV On The Radio’s latest video from Nine Types Of Light.

Video: TV On The Radio – “You”

Mates Of State will release a new album of original material on September 13 and it will be entitled Mountaintops. Adorableness guaranteed.

Shortlist profiles Interpol.

Shortlist has a feature piece on The Strokes, who curiously still have not announced any significant tour dates for this year. I thought they’d be all over the Summer concert circuit.

Creative Loafing and The Tampa Tribune have interviews with Sleepy Vikings.

Friday, May 6th, 2011

These Days

Review of Sleepy Vikings’ They Will Find You Here

Photo By Kelley JacksonKelley JacksonHere’s a somewhat disturbing trend – bands of young’ns drawing influence from the music I grew up with, despite the fact that they probably weren’t even out of diapers when it was contemporary. Disturbing mainly in the fact that it implies I’ve crossed some sort of generational checkpoint and the cycle of influences is looping in on itself, as it does.

Case in point, Tampa sextet Sleepy Vikings, whose acquaintance I first made at NXNE last year. Despite making a non-stop 26-hour drive from there to here and playing their showcase half-dead as a result, they still impressed with their decidedly ’90s-vintage sound, all beautifully sullen jangle and fuzz. The only recordings they had to offer then were a three-song EP dubbed Ghost, but it certainly augured well for the future.

And the future is now – or more accurately, next Tuesday when their debut They Will Find You Here is released. It takes those three songs from Ghost – which remain the standout moments – and adds another half-dozen compositions that mostly reinforce what they’ve already proven excellent at. But what’s most remarkable about They Will Find You Here isn’t so much the music itself but the mood that it, as a whole, conjures. Led by singer Tessa McKenna’s subtle twang and Julian Conner’s rough harmonies, Sleepy Vikings evoke the sense of ennui and melancholy that’s one of the less-celebrated aspects of being young. They sound too resigned to be called angsty, even in their more fiery moments, but with that comes an honesty and vulnerability that would have been lost if delivered with more bluster.

I initially liked Sleepy Vikings because they sounded a lot like bands I used to – and still do – enjoy; now I like them because they remind me of things I used feel – though thankfully not nearly as much.

Orlando Weekly and therepubliq have band features.

MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Calm”
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Flashlight Tag”

am New York talks to Kip Berman of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, in town at The Opera House on August 2.

Spinner talks to Warpaint about the Interface session they’ve just posted.

The Kills’ Jamie Hince talks to Spinner and The Georgia Straight.

According to Pitchfork, Ted Leo will be recording a none-more-analog live set for Jack White’s Third Man Records next week, to be released on vinyl shortly thereafter.

Interview talks to The Antlers’ Peter Silberman about their new record Burst Apart, due out on Tuesday. They play The Mod Club on June 14.

Consequence Of Sound reports that the Soft Bulletin live shows that The Flaming Lips have been performing will produce a live album in the near future.

eye, The AV Club and Cleveland Scene interview Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal.

Simultaneously tending to both their their present and their past, R.E.M. has released another new video from Collapse Into Now while also revealing details of their next super-deluxe reissue set; next up is 1986’s Life’s Rich Pageant, which will be released in loaded-with-bonuses double-disc form on July 25. Interview has a talk with frontman Michael Stipe.

Video: R.E.M. – “Discoverer”

Fracture Compound interviews Superchunk.

It’s a J Mascis video bonanaza. In addition to a new official clip from Several Shades Of Why, there’s a set of in-studio performances over at Pitchfork.

Video: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Buffalo Tom’s recent visit to the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

In conversation with Hitfix, Zach Condon reveals that a new Beirut record should be out sometime this Summer. Presumably before they play two nights at The Phoenix, August 2 and 4.

Hitfix also gets the scoop on Matt Ward’s return to being M Ward – solo artist – rather than Him or a Monster.

Fleet Foxes have posted up another MP3 from the just-released Helplessness Blues. They’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean”

On May 31, My Morning Jacket will mark the release of Circuital that day with a live-to-YouTube concert at Louisvilleā€™s Palace Theater. The New York Times talks to filmmaker Todd Haynes, who will be directing the performance, as to what he’s got planned.

NOW finds out what’s going on in the world of Joe Pernice; home renovations, a new record due out this Fall, a possible/probable tour as Pernice Brothers and a solo show at the Dakota Tavern tonight.

Exclaim has details on the first new Richard Buckner record in five years; Our Blood will be out on August 2 and the first taste of what he’s been up to in that time is available to download.

MP3: Richard Buckner – “Traitor”

Old 97’s will follow up the release of last year’s The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1 with – wait for it – The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2 on July 5. Spinner talks to Rhett Miller about the record.

The Toronto Star, Houston Chronicle and The Daily Herald talk to Steve Earle. He’s at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

What's Up, Matador?

Matador turns 21, parties like it’s 1996

Photo By Michael LavineMichael LavineI think I spent my 21st birthday at the venerable Phil’s Grandson’s bar in Waterloo, Ontario, and while I feel obliged to point out to American readers that our age of majority (as far as drinking goes) is 19 so the 21st isn’t actually all that meaningful, I still spent it getting well and truly smashed. I won’t lie, It wasn’t classy.

Matador Records is looking to spend their coming of age in slightly glitzier environs. They offered some teasers earlier this year but yesterday made things official with an announcement that pretty much met any and all lofty expectations about what kind of party they might throw. Led by a reunited Guided By Voices – the most classic 1993 to 1996 Bee Thousand/Alien Lanes/Under The Bushes Under The Stars lineup no less – the three-day bender will take place in the Palms hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from October 1 to 3 and feature a who’s who of Matador artists, past and present. In addition to GBV (GBV!), you’ve got label stalwarts Pavement (who if they hadn’t already reunited might have had to for this party), Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, The New Pornographers, Yo La Tengo and Liz Phair (whose contract probably has a strict “first three albums only” clause) as well as acts like Sonic Youth, Spoon and Superchunk who might be better associated with other labels but who have OLE catalog numbers in their discographies. In short, for anyone who came of musical age with the golden age of college rock in the 1990s, it’s a dream lineup and then some. AND there’s gambling.

Full details about pricing and additional acts are coming next week, but if you aren’t at least taking a look at how much flights and hotels in Vegas for that weekend will run you, you must have stumbled across this site by accident. That said, my attendance is far from certain but damn if I’m not thinking hard about it.

MP3: Guided By Voices – “I’ll Replace You With Machines”
MP3: Pavement – “Gold Soundz”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
MP3: Spoon – “Mountain To Sound”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Cat Power – “The Greatest”
MP3: The New Pornographers – “My Rights Versus Yours”
MP3: Liz Phair – “Fuck And Run”

In talking to Aux.tv, Bob Nastanovich of Pavement throws cold water on the prospect of new material coming out of the current reunion.

The National stopped in for a performance at CBC’s Q when in town earlier this month.

Video: The National – “Terrible Love” (live on Q)

aux.tv and The Guardian interview Warpaint, who’ve got two local dates coming up – a headlining appearance on August 11 at Wrongbar and as support for The xx at Massey Hall on September 29.

Insound has posted a video session with The Hold Steady and are offering one track as a download in exchange for signing up for their newsletter. And in related news, the Hold Steady’s Toronto show on July 16 just got twice as intimate, having been moved from The Kool Haus to The Phoenix. All tickets still honoured.

David Bazan (formerly of Pedro The Lion) will be joined by The Mynabirds, aka Laura Burhenn (formerly of Georgie James) at Lee’s Palace on September 18. Tickets $12.50 in advance.

MP3: David Bazan – “Bless This Mess”
MP3: The Mynabirds – “Let The Record Go”
MP3: The Mynabirds – “Numbers Don’t Lie”

Lee’s Palace will host two of Kill Rock Stars’ finest on October 3 when Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu perform as part of a Fall tour.

MP3: Deerhoof – “+81”
MP3: Xiu Xiu – “Gray Death”

Australia’s Temper Trap will be in town at the Phoenix on October 5 – tickets $21.50 in advance.

MP3: The Temper Trap – “Down River”

There’s new music from Sharon Van Etten, via the soundtrack to the film The Builder. The DVD for the film will be released on July 27.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
Trailer: The Builder

Offering more proof to the theory that they’re incapable of doing anything that’s not adorable, Mates Of State have released a new video from their covers album Crushes. Actually it’s the second video from the record, the first was for this Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds tune, which isn’t so much adorable but isn’t trying to be. Anyways.

Video: Mates Of State – “True Love Will Find You In The End”
Video: Mates Of State – “Love Letter”

Each Note Secure talks to Free Energy, who’ve recorded an Interface session at Spinner.

Yours Truly has posted up a new video performance from The Morning Benders, in town to open for The Black Keys at The Kool Haus on August 3 and 4.

Pitchfork has got the first sample of The Thermals’ new record Personal Life, due out September 7.

MP3: The Thermals – “I Don’t Believe You”

Vampire Weekend talks to BBC. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 7.

Best Coast have released an MP3 from their much-buzzed forthcoming debut Crazy For You, coming July 27. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 25.

MP3: Best Coast – “Boyfriend”

Miami New Times talk to Tampa’s Sleepy Vikings.

NOW welcomes We Were Promised Jetpacks to the Horseshoe on Saturday night. Daytrotter has also posted up a session.

So this past Saturday night’s Thao/Mirah show at the Horseshoe was cancelled on account of burning police cars. The guys from These United States, who were slated to support, have some video of their trip to Toronto. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

NXNE 2010 Day One

Warpaint, Free Energy, Anaïs Mitchell and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNitpickers may choose to point out that this year’s edition of NXNE began on Wednesday with a handful of official shows, and even though I didn’t hit the streets until the following night, calling this post “NXNE Day 1” is factually incorrect. To those people, I say: silence, monkeys. Thursday was the first night of the festival with a full and proper schedule of events and, anticipating what would be my most intensive NXNE yet, not leaving the house until absolutely necessary seemed like a good idea.

But Thursday night eventually came as Thursday nights are wont to do and it was off to the first stop of the weekend, ye olde Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, where locals Dinosaur Bones were kicking off the evening’s programming. I’d seen them in Summer 2008 and while they were pretty raw then, I heard a lot of potential in their moody and atmospheric alt-rock sound. Fast forward a couple years and a goodly amount of local hype, and rather disappointingly that potential doesn’t seem to have been fulfilled. Their musicianship and on-stage presence is still commendable, but the songs just didn’t have the hooks or melodies to stand out. None of which is to say they couldn’t still come out and impress – they’ve still yet to release an album – but I didn’t come away with the same sense of anticipation that I did last time. Dinosaur Bones open for Plants & Animals at the Opera House on June 24.

Photos: Dinosaur Bones @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Dinosaur Bones – “NYE”
MP3: Dinosaur Bones – “Life In Trees”
Video: Dinosaur Bones – “Ice Hotels”

Philadelphia’s Free Energy didn’t have any trouble bringing the hooks – their debut Stuck On Nothing is all about the vintage-hued power pop, and the energy of the record translates perfectly on stage. Led by lanky frontman Paul Spangers, the quintet wore their classic rock affections on their sleeves (which were attached to Neal Adams-art Batman and Styx tour t-shirts) with a set that was full of big riffs and solos and wholly dedicated to having a good time. They’re like the Hold Steady if they were more interested in actually partying instead of just documenting the party. All that said, I didn’t find it quite as exhilarating as when I saw them the last day of SxSW but they clearly won over the rapidly growing crowd.

Photos: Free Energy @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”
Video: Free Energy – “Bang Pop”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MySpace: Free Energy

The ‘Shoe was pretty much jammed by the time Los Angeles’ Warpaint took the stage, proving that I wasn’t the only one fully excited to see them perform. While the one show of theirs I caught at SxSW was intriguing but inconclusive, I’ve no such ambiguity about their Exquisite Corpse EP. It’s a hypnotic blend of dreampop textures and grooves that comes with just the right amount of unsettling, and on this night – perhaps helpfully far from the bright Austin afternoon sun – Warpaint delivered a set that captured all of the magic of the record and then some. Vocalists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman led things with their mesmerizing vocals and intertwined, dreamwalking guitars lines, but it was really the thundering rhythm section – Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass and Stella Mozgawa on drums – who propelled things ahead. Interestingly, their original drummer was actress Shannyn Sossamon (who is also Lindberg’s sister – double trivia!) and while her work on Exquisite Corpse was terrific, the sheer power of Mozgawa’s style brings so much more to the table. It’s as though the record floats on the surface of their sound, and the live show dives in deep. The result is intoxicating. After their set, anticipation for their full-length debut, due out this Fall, increased exponentially. Update: Warpaint will be back in town on August 11 at Wrongbar. Update 2: They will also be opening up for The xx at Massey Hall on September 29.

Photos: Warpaint @ The Horseshoe – June 17, 2010
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”
Video: Warpaint – “Stars”
Video: Warpaint – “Elephants”
MySpace: Warpaint

That marked the end of my tenure at the ‘Shoe, and then it was up to The Boat in Kensington for Sleepy Vikings. The six-piece arrived with practically no hype (except here) and played to maybe a dozen people but still made quite an impression. And not for their live show – it was sleepy to say the least, but they get a bye on account of having driven 26 hours straight from Tampa for the show – but for the strength of their songcraft and musicianship which even brink-of-death exhaustion couldn’t hide. They’re a big band but with a focused sound and sharp pop instincts that warrant dream, jangle and power descriptors and elicit comparisons to a moodier Velocity Girl (which explains my affection right there). They also gave away copies of their Ghost EP demo, which only contains three songs but more than confirms that these kids are on to something real and great.

Photos: Sleepy Vikings @ The Boat – June 17, 2010
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Calm”
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Flashlight Tag”

It was obviously too much to hope that Anaïs Mitchell might bring along either Justin Vernon or Ani DiFranco along to support her live they way they did on her last studio record Hadestown, the post-apocalyptic folk opera retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, but even solo Mitchell proved to be a more than captivating performer. Her set in the back room of Czehoski on Queen West only included a handful of songs from Hadestown but even without knowing the material, her delivery and charisma – not to mention the evocativeness of her songwriting – made it a wholly enjoyable performance. And a good way close out the night.

Photos: Anaïs Mitchell @ Czehoski – June 17, 2010
MP3: Anaïs Mitchell – “Flowers (Eurydice’s Song)”
MP3: Anaïs Mitchell – “Wait For Me”
MySpace: Anaïs Mitchell

Ed O’Brien tells BBC6 that the new Radiohead album is almost done. That there is the sound of the internet getting ready to break.

Shockhound and The Chronicle-Herald interview The xx. They’re at Massey Hall on September 29. Yeah, that’s still so weird to type.

Clash and Spinner interview Kele. The Boxer is out tomorrow and he’s at the Mod Club on July 29.

Spin profiles The Joy Formidable.

The itinerary for Teenage Fanclub’s Fall tour in support of Shadows has been made public and while the dream double-bill of them at Belle & Sebastian isn’t happening, Toronto still has plenty of reason to be excited – the tour kicks off here on September 22 and 23 with two dates at the Horseshoe! Spinner talks to Raymond McGinley about the band’s songwriting process.

MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”

The Clientele have announced that they’ll be releasing a new mini-album entitled Minotaur on September 6. One of the new tracks is streaming on their MySpace.

Let’s Wrestle have a new video for a tune which doesn’t appear on their debut In The Court Of The Wrestling Let’s, but a Record Store Day split 7″ with The Love Language.

Video: Let’s Wrestle – “I’m So Lazy”

Le Blogotheque Take-Away Shows with Mumford & Sons.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Frightened Rabbit.

NME checks in with Glasvegas on the status of album number two.

Drowned In Sound sends Emmy The Great to meet David Cross, who has just released a new comedy album in Black & Blackerer.

MP3: David Cross – “I Can’t Get Beer In Me”

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Flashlight Tag

NXNE 2010 preview and recommendations

Photo By Death Trap PhotographyDeath Trap PhotographyIf it’s mid-June and my lanyard collection has grown by one, it can only mean one thing – NXNE is again upon us. And that means this is yet another weekend I won’t get to indulge my fondest fantasy – to sit around and do nothing – and that it’s time for another dog’s breakfast of a festival preview post. It’s a little bit of my own schedule, a bit of what my schedule might be if not for what my schedule actually is, a bit of what’s piqued my curiosity and a bit of what I know will be worth seeing. Some of the more obvious big names are omitted – I am assuming everyone’s aware of the super-stacked, old school punk free shows at the Yonge-Dundas Square – so hopefully there’ll be something that people attending the festival might feel compelled to check out and people who aren’t going to be at the festival might also investigate.

Note that I didn’t include Wednesday or Sunday, which despite now feeling more like proper days of the festival rather than prologue and epilogue, still don’t offer enough choice to require choosing. If you’re going out either of those days, you know where you’re going. And previewing Wednesday on Thursday would just be silly. So for the next three nights, here’s some thoughts.

Thursday, June 17 2010

Old World Vulture (Rancho Relaxo @ 8PM) – I recommended seeing these rising local purveyors of surging instrumental post-rock back during Canadian Musicfest, and having heard their just-released self-titled debut EP, that endorsement goes double.
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Benny”

Free Energy (The Horseshoe @ 10PM) – A lot of the talking points around these Philly boys concern the fact that their debut Stuck On Nothing was produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, but what really matters is that it’s ’70s-styled arena-sized power pop with hooks to spare. They also play earlier in the evening at Yonge-Dundas Square at 6PM. The Line Of Best Fit has an interview and NPR is streaming a live show.
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”

Zeus (The Rivoli @ 10PM) – also all about the vintage-tint power pop, these local boys have steadily grown their following and their debut Say Us has them playing much larger rooms than the Rivoli – this could be your last chance to see them in such cozy environs.
MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”

Olenka & The Autumn Lovers (The Gladstone @ 10PM) – one of the acts I most sad to be missing, this London Ontario, Balkan-inflected folk-pop band thoroughly impressed when I saw them in November. I take solace in the fact that with their new album recorded, that more shows will be coming in the near future.
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Eggshells”

CALLmeKAT (NOW Lounge @ 11PM) – Spare and delicate electro-pop from Denmark courtesy of Katerine Ottoson, whom you can apparently just call Kat. Check out her NPR Tiny Desk Concert and video session for CALLmeKAT as well as this interview at Interview. She also plays Czehoski on Friday at 11PM.
MP3: CALLmeKAT – “Flower In The Night”

Warpaint (The Horseshoe @ 11PM) – one of my must-sees for the fest, I saw this LA quartet at SxSW and was intrigued, but quality time with the hypnotic dream-pop of their debut EP Exquisite Corpse has sealed the deal. Their debut full-length is due in the Fall.
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”

Sleepy Vikings (The Boat @ 12AM) – proof that randomly clicking on NXNE MySpace links can be fruitful (though it’s still mostly frustrating). This band, who is trekking up here all the way from Tampa, Florida, seems to be made up of all kind of stuff I like – jangly guitars that sometimes get noisy, sweet vocals and hooks a-plenty. Plus they’re playing when I had nothing else pencilled in – if that’s not fate, I don’t know what is.
MP3: Sleepy Vikings – “Calm”

Anaïs Mitchell (Czehoski @ 1AM) – Her latest album Hadestown is a folk-opera that translates the story of Orpheus and Eurydice to a modern setting and it’s actually kind of great. Very curious to see how she’ll render it live, though I’m not expecting Justin Vernon to show up to reprise his parts.
MP3: Anais Mitchell – “Flowers (Eurydice’s Song)”

Friday, June 18 2010

Christopher Smith (Bread & Circus @ 8PM) – His name might be eminently forgettable but his pure, clear voice and wistful songwriting make a lasting impression. His debut album The Beckon Call came out in May.
MP3: Christopher Smith – “Gently, Gently”

Neutral Uke Hotel (The Painted Lady @ 9PM) – Pretty much what the name implies – the songs of Neutral Milk Hotel re-interpreted on ukulele. I suspect it’s actually better than/less gimmicky than it sounds, not least of all because Shawn Fogel, who is behind this project, is also behind Golden Bloom and they’re great.
MP3: Neutral Uke Hotel – “King Of Carrot Flowers Pt 1”

The Happy Hollows (Lee’s Palace @ 10PM) – Slightly off-kilter but always smiling indie rock from Los Angeles. It sounds like the kind of loudness and brashness I’d need to make it through the night. Their debut Spells was released back in January.
MP3: The Happy Hollows – “Faces”

Best Coast (The Garrison @ 11PM) – One of the buzz bands of the fest, they’ve got the garage-sounding hook-heavy pop sounds of Summer that the kids like and will release their debut album Crazy For You on July 27. In addition to this show, they’re playing the Great Hall on Thursday night at 11PM and Wrongbar on Saturday at 2AM and if that’s not enough, their just-announced Fall tour brings them back to town for a September 25 show at Lee’s Palace.
MP3: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Rah Rah (Bread & Circus @ 12AM) – This Saskatchewan collective released their new record Breaking Hearts a couple weeks ago, and while the big boisterous band thing is getting a bit played out, it’s hard not to dig it when it’s done this well. They’ll also plan an in-store at Sunrise Records on Saturday at 5PM and at the El Mocambo on Sunday night.
Video: Rah Rah – “My Guarantee”

Rich Aucoin (The El Mocambo @ 12AM) – Rumour has it this Haligonian popsmith’s show here at the end of January made the blind able to see technicolours and the lame able to dance. Excessively high expectations? Maybe, but that’s what big pop ambitions like Aucoin’s will get you.
MP3: Rich Aucoin – “10,342 Cuts For The US”

Evening Hymns (The Dakota Tavern @ 12AM) – Spirit Guides was one of my favourites of 2009 and while I haven’t revisited it lately, the wooden-walled environs of the Dakota would be the perfect place to get reacquainted. NOW has an interview.
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”

PS I Love You (Lee’s Palace @ 1AM) – I meant to catch this Kingston duo at Canadian Musicfest in March, but didn’t, and with their self-titled debut EP ready to drop on July 13 I better take them in before they blow up because what they do is exactly what the kids like. At the moment, at least. NOW has a feature piece.
MP3: PS I Love You – “Facelove”

Gramercy Riffs (Bread & Circus @ 1AM) – Polished and punchy co-ed jangle-pop from Newfoundland – nothing especially groundbreaking but tuneful in a way that will always be welcome. They also play an acoustic set in Trinity-Bellwoods earlier in the day – exact time to be determined. Ask around.
MP3: Gramercy Riffs – “Call Me”

Murder Ford Monument (The Silver Dollar @ 3AM) – These Montrealers still sound a bit rough around the edges and wet behind the ears, but they’ve got the right combination of moodiness and drama to make the right impression. A shame that their late-night evocativeness has been taken too literally as far as their set time goes… maybe next time.

Saturday, June 19 2010

Valleys (The Drake Underground @ 8PM) – Atmospheric yet jagged folk-pop from Montreal that wanders into the dark parts of the woods that you were told never to go into – I’m going to miss this set but they’re already on my “see them the next time they’re here” list. Their debut album is Sometimes Water Kills People.
MP3: Valleys – “Silent Woods”

Savoir Adore (Sneaky Dee’s @ 10PM) – Despite the rustic overtones of the title of their debut In The Wooded Forest, this Brooklyn co-ed duo’s synth-pop feels entirely made for the city; specifically going out and dancing.
MP3: Savoir Adore – “Bodies”

The Grates (Wrongbar @ 10PM) – This Aussie power pop trio led by the hyperactive Patience Hodgson are as close to a sure thing for a good time as you’re going to find anywhere. When I saw them at SxSW 2009 they had a rhythmic gymnastics demonstration in the middle of their set. For example.
MP3: The Grates – “Burn Bridges”

The Hoof & The Heel (The Drake Underground @ 10PM) – This Montreal pop outfit’s name is familiar enough that I’m sure someone has told me that I need to hear them at some point in the not-too distant past. And now that I have, well that list that I added Valleys to a few entries above? It just got one longer. Something tells me I’m going to regret not being at this showcase.
Video: The Hoof & The Heel – “Fireworks”

Golden Bloom (Czehoski @ 11PM) – Shawn Fogel of Neutral Uke Hotel’s main gig is splendid power pop reminiscent of golden age, Bennett-powered Wilco. I got to their last album Fan The Flames too late to see them at NXNE last year. Hope to not repeat that mistake this year.
MP3: Golden Bloom – “Doomsday Devices”

Jane Vain (The Drake Underground @ 11PM) – Apparenyly Jamie Fooks has dropped “The Dark Matter” from her band name, but as long as she’s still making smoke-filled pop noir, then it doesn’t really matter what she calls herself. As long as she puts out a new record soon.
MP3: Jane Vain & The Dark Matter – “C’mon Baby Say Bang Bang”

The Craft Economy (Neutral Lounge @ 11PM) – It’s been a few years since I saw The Craft Economy but there’s no reason to think they’re not still keeping the flame of fun and dancey New Wave synth-pop burning bright. All their recordings are available for free via torrent on their website.
Video: The Craft Economy – “The Crash, The Wagons, The Dying Horses”

Avi Buffalo (Lee’s Palace @ 12AM) – The absurdly young and absurdly talented crew from Southern California will give Toronto plenty of chances to discover them and their self-titled debut, which is definitely worth discovering. In addition to this full-band gig, songwriter Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg will play a solo set at the Great Hall on Friday at 9PM and they’ll be back on August 3 supporting Blitzen Trapper at the Opera House.
MP3: Avi Buffalo – “Remember Last Time”

The Gin Riots (The El Mocambo @ 1AM) – And since it wouldn’t be a music festival for me without at least a little Brit-rock in the equation, these Londoners owe more than a little to The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, but when you’re coming from this school it’s less about originality and more about attitude and these guys have enough of that to be worth a look.
MP3: The Gin Riots – “In The Bedroom”

Some other NXNE lists and guides are available from JAM, who have a list of acts to see, Chart has list of strange acts and another of best bets, Paste tries to make their American readers wish they were in Canada, Spinner, who itemize other things to do in Toronto beyond live music and NOW a general guide to how to do the festival. Spinner also talks to festival organizers about the event’s 16-year history.

Zunior is offering a free downloadable sampler of the artists playing the NXEW showcase at the Gladstone tonight.

And while I deliberately left out most of the acts playing Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend, they’re obviously getting a lot of the media attention. Case(s) in point: Spinner, CTV and NOW catch up with John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X, whose Thursday night show at Yonge-Dundas Square will mark the LA punk legends’ first show in Toronto in some 20 years.

NOW talks to Jay Ferguson of Sloan, who are headlining the Friday night programme at Yonge-Dundas Square.

The National Post and NOW Q&A The Raveonettes, who are the penultimate act at Yonge-Dundas on Saturday.

Hellbound talks to the legendary Mike Watt about handling bass duties in the even more legendary Iggy & The Stooges, who are headlining Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday night, while NOW scores an interview with Iggy himself.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band, who are playing Yonge-Dundas on Sunday at 7PM, will play an in-store at Criminal Records that afternoon at 4PM.

And oh my god that took much longer to write up than I was expecting. And now I’m pretty much too tired to do any of the festival.