Frank 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.