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Posts Tagged ‘Swell Season’

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

All's Well That Ends

Los Campesinos! release EP, return to North America, won’t stay down

Photo By Jon BergmanJon BergmanNot much stops Los Campesinos!. The Welsh troupe shook off the departure of two founding members – keyboardist Aleksandra last Summer and drummer Ollie almost exactly a year later – and have ploughed ahead, continuing to release new music at a ridiculous pace, including their third album Romance Is Boring earlier this year and just this week, following up with a new EP entitled All’s Well That Ends. And just last week, frontman Gareth took a header whilst stage-diving and despite suffering “a sprained wrist, ripped ear, mild concussion and a ‘lump on the head'”, finished the song and the gig.

One thing that they couldn’t plough through, however, was a volcano – namely Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull. Said geological entity’s disquiet this past Spring forced the band to scotch a number of North American dates as they sat in a Heathrow departure lounge instead of pogoing around east coast stages, but they’re aiming to make some of those up and more. They just announced a Fall tour which kicks off in one of the cities who lost a show – Toronto – but instead of the spacious Phoenix, where they were slated to play in April, they’ll instead be at the decidedly clubbier Wrongbar on October 8. Considering the new joint is less than half the size of the old joint, expect the $20 tickets to be gone fast when they go on sale at 10AM on Friday.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “There Are Listed Buildings”
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future”

Paste reports that Noah & The Whale have targeted a March 2011 release for their third album.

Mojo talks to Johnny Marr about his soundtrack work.

Spinner talks to Glen Hansard of The Swell Season about their upcoming projects, which include a Frames reunion and tour for him and a solo record from Marketa Irglova.

Spin talks to Klara S&omul;derberg of First Aid Kit, who will be in town at the El Mocambo on October 15.

Boston post-punk legends Mission Of Burma have booked a date at The Garrison on October 22. So far it looks like a one-off and not part of a tour, but considering they didn’t come up here for last year’s The Sound The Speed The Light and are making it up to us. Either way, if my records are correct, they haven’t been here since Fall of 2006 and while the reunion has been ongoing for some time, do not take them for granted and if you haven’t seen them, do so. End PSA.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3 Partyy”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Max Ernst”

Exclaim reports that Matt & Kim have given their next record a name and release date. Expect to hear a lot of Sidewalks when they play the Phoenix on October 29, as it will be in stores the following Tuesday, November 2.

Daytrotter has a session with The Depreciation Guild; they’re at the El Mocambo on October 4.

NPR is streaming a studio session with Stars. They will be at Massey Hall on October 23.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

For Almost Ever

Bill Fox to help Kelp Records celebrate 16th birthday

Photo via Last.FMLast.fmSo apparently there’s this guy – based in Ohio but sings with an affected British accent, played in a band with his brother for a while, has a habit of writing amazing pop songs and recording them onto 4-track cassette and is worshipped by those in the know. I’m talking, of course, about Bill Fox. Why, who were you thinking of?

I actually can’t pretend to be one of those aforementioned “in the know”, however. Prior to a few weeks ago, the first I’d heard of Bill Fox was via the first sample of Nada Surf’s forthcoming covers record, if i had a hi-fi, and “Electrocution” offered a terrific first impression – both of the Nada Surf record and the songwriting talent behind that song. And then a copy of his 1998 record Transit Byzantium was forwarded on to me by the folks at Ottawa-based Kelp Records, both for my own musical edification and by way of invitation to help them celebrate their 16th anniversary.

Apparently the traditional 16th anniversary gift is silver holloware, but who doesn’t have enough of that cluttering up their homes? Instead, Kelp – who has been and still is home to such acts as The Acorn, Hilotrons and Jim Bryson, is marking their 16th by throwing a series of parties in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, featuring Mr Bill Fox and a variety of Kelp friends and family. For my part, I’m pleased to be co-presenting the Toronto show which will take place on Wednesday, May 12, and feature sets by Andrew Vincent, Chris Page, Leif Vollebekk and of course, Bill Fox.

Obviously I cannot pretend that I’m anything resembling an old-school fan of Bill Fox or his old band The Mice, but my crash course in his story and works has been a wholly enjoyable one: The Mice are terrific scrappy power pop and Fox’s solo works more folkish and thoughtful but just as melodic. And so I’m happy to be able to associate my name with a Canadian label that’s been fighting the good fight for so long and a show that is no doubt bringing much happiness to those out there who ARE old-school Bill Fox fans. For a while Fox had dropped almost completely out of sight – his Wikipedia page more or less tells the tale – and while he’s now playing live more and his catalog is slowly being reissued courtesy of Scat Records, the man doesn’t really tour so this is, as they say, an opportunity.

Tickets for the Toronto show are $10 in advance. Grab a free sampler of Kelp artists at Bandcamp.

MP3: The Mice – “Not Proud Of The USA”
MP3: The Mice – “More Than I Can Talk About”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”

Stereogum has premiered the new video from Born Ruffians’ forthcoming Say It, due out June 1. They play The Horseshoe on May 28.

Video: Born Ruffians – “What To Say”

The New Pornographers are streaming Together in its entirety at Exclaim, a week ahead of its May 4 release. They will be at the Sound Academy on June 15.

Stream: The New Pornographers / Together

School Of Seven Bells have finally put a release date on their second album, Disconnect From Desire. Pitchfork has the vitals on the new record, which will out on July 13.

Alison Mosshart of The Kills tells BBC 6 that their new record is more than halfway complete.

The Fly interviews James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, whose This Is Happening is out May 18 and who are at the Kool Haus on May 25. Slowly, but surely, I am starting to get LCD. It’s fun like parties, right? I get that.

Shout Out Louds are taking over the editors desk at Magnet this week as they gear up for their North American tour which brings them to the Mod Club on May 8.

Mew have released a typically weird new video from No More Stories.

Video: Mew – “Beach”

In concert news, the June 9 She & Him show has been moved from the Phoenix to the Sound Academy. I’m somewhat surprised at this, as the show has been sold out for well over a month and I figured if a move was in the offing, it’d have happened sooner. But so it is that Matt and Zooey will now be visiting in the most despised room in the city, but look on the bright side – it’s now all-ages so at least some of the 2000 more people who can attend won’t be very tall. And no, there’s no info on getting refunds because you have the new room. Sorry.

MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

Their free record release show last week having been a huge (crushing) success, Plants & Animals will be returning for a June 24 show at the Opera House; unfortunately this one you have to pay for. They’re featured in The Montreal Mirror, The Montreal Gazette, Chart and The Toronto Sun.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

Could one band who hasn’t been here in ages and another who just visited make up the bill of the Summer? When it’s The Flaming Lips and Spoon, maybe so. The pair will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 and considering the show starts at 6:45 and curfew is 11PM, it seems the Lips will finally be making up for their 15-minute V Fest set in 2006. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10AM and range from $52.50 for GA floors (and the privilege of being in Wayne Coyne’s bubble walk route) to $29.50 for lawns (unlikely he’ll make it up there but you never know).

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Powerless”
Video: Spoon – “Written In Reverse”

The Swell Season will be coming back to town on July 12 for a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, tickets $39.50 to $42.50. It sounds as though Glen Hansard is getting The Frames out of mothballs for their 20th anniversary, so this could be your last chance to see him in a quieter headspace, not to mention Marketa Irglova.

MP3: The Swell Season – “In These Arms”

Ween are coming to town – look for them at the Kool Haus on July 20, tickets $35. Is it wrong that this is my favourite Ween composition?

MP3: Ween – “Where’d The Cheese Go?”

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Leave Me In Love

An introduction to The High Wire

Photo via Anorak LondonAnorak LondonLondon trio The High Wire first got onto my radar over a year ago, as we were both headed to New York City for CMJ and while our paths would not cross – I believe their showcases were done before I even arrived – the samples I heard made a truly indelible impression. More than anything, they reminded me of my beloved Mojave 3 in the way they stitched together rootsy song structures with a threads of shimmering dream-pop, and also in the way that Tim Crompton and Canadian ex-pat Alexia Hagen’s voices intertwined overtop – the interplay was Halstead-Goswell-like, and you should know that’s not a compliment I hand out lightly. Add in touchstones like Mercury Rev and Spiritualized and there was really no way I wasn’t going to be entranced by this band.

Since my tastes always reflect the zeitgeist as a whole, I fully expected them to be one of the more talked-about bands of 2009. CMJ reports were positive and they were then tapped to open up in London for Coldplay at the end of 2008 so it certainly seemed that their ducks were getting in a row. In anticipation, I ordered up a copy of their debut album Ahead Of The Rain, released independently early this year, and waited for the buzz to build. And waited. Long story short (I could have added in a few dozen more “and waited”s), it seemed like the record and the band just disappeared. It certainly wasn’t for lack of quality, as Ahead Of The Rain delivered on much of the promise I had initially heard last year, rich in sun-kissed melodies and hazy yet substantial atmosphere. But with an online presence that was vague at best – I was a bit amazed I had managed to order a copy of the CD – I feared that they had simply gone away as nascent bands are wont to do. I revisited the album periodically throughout the year but The High Wire largely became out of sight, out of mind.

And then, around mid-November, I started to hear it. A faint, but definite buzz. An MP3 from a new album – Ahead Of The Rain‘s time had passed, apparently – followed by glowing profiles in The Guardian and Spinner… it seems like The High Wire’s time has come, if a year or so later than I’d expected. Their new record The Sleep Tape is set for a March 2010 release and based on the lead single “Odds And Evens” and other samples off their MySpace, they’ve fattened up their sound some but lost none of the sweetness that initially beguiled. Am I excited about this record? Yes, I would say that I am.

There’s recent interviews with the band at Subba-Cultcha and Amelia’s Magazine, wherein they reveal to be far less mysterious than I’d originally thought but just as lovely.

MP3: The High Wire – “Leave Me In Love”
MySpace: The High Wire

The Line Of Best Fit reports that UK folk trio Peggy Sue have signed to Wichita Recordings and will release their debut album Fossils And Other Phantoms in April 2010. A new song is available to anyone who signs up to their mailing list. An old song is available to anyone who clicks the link below.

MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Fanfarlo. So you know how I’d said that the only silver lining to Fanfarlo cancelling their show at the El Mocambo last night on account of a stolen passport was that I’d get to go see Blue Roses at the Drake instead? Well guess who canceled on account of a “massive passport problem”? Yeaaaaah. Maybe they can make up their dates together.

The Daily Growl is streaming “Goodbye England”, the new single from Laura Marling and offering downloads of live versions it and another new song from her next album. She’s at the Drake Underground on February 9.

The Times profiles Mumford & Sons, who will release Sigh No More on March 15 and play the El Mocambo a month earlier on February 15.

Se7en Magazine has an interview with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, whose The Winter Of Mixed Drinks will be out on March 16. Only five days before the start of the Spring of Jell-O shooters.

This Is London talks to Lily Allen.

Hot Chip’s Al Doyle talks to Spinner about the making of their next album One Life Stand, out February 9. They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20 with The xx, whose recent instore in Boston was recorded by Bradley’s Almanac and is now available to download.

Rolling Stone gets to know The Big Pink, who will be at the Mod Club on March 24.

Editors-in-chief Tom Smith brags to Spinner about being big in Belgium.

Portishead have released a new single is “Chase The Tear”, all proceeds from which will go to support Amnesty International.

Video: Portishead – “Chase The Tear”

The AV Club interviews Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant.

Billboard reports that Elvis Costello will release another vintage live record to follow up this year’s Live At The El Mocambo. Live at Hollywood High, a recording from Los Angeles circa June 1978, will be out January 12.

Spinner has an Interface session and Filter a feature on The Swell Season.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Show Me Something New

Shout Out Louds get back to Work

Photo via MergeMergeLast week, I was complaining that with the US holiday season, there wasn’t nearly enough blog fodder trickling out of the interwebs. This week, it’s like a deluge.

We begin wading through it all in Scandinavia, particularly Stockholm, Sweden, home of the Shout Out Louds. The quintet turned in one of the indie-pop highlights of 2007 with Our Ill Wills and are set to follow it up with the release of Work. For this outing, they’ve opted to not work with Bjorn Yttling, who manned the boards for Our Ill Wills and have instead enlisted producer Phil Ek, best known for his work with The Shins and Built To Spill, amongst many others. And if the band’s idea of adding an American accent to things means going for a drier, less shiny sonic approach without giving up any of the hooks, then judging from the just-released first MP3 and video they’ve succeeded.

Work is out on February 23 of next year and they promise to spend most of the year touring to support. They posted up a short video clip of the recording sessions back in September.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”

PopMatters interviews Anna Ternheim, who will be supporting El Perro Del Mar on her Winter 2010 tour including the February 21 date at the Mod Club. After her too-short set opening for Loney Dear at the Horseshoe in October, I had hoped she’d be back soon for a longer performance – wish granted.

MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”

Serena Maneesh are offering a taste of their new record, still untitled and due out in March 2010, by way of a Norwegian television session.

Clash gets a guided tour of Reykjavik from Mum.

DCist interviews Jonas Bjerre of Mew, who will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Chart talks to The Raveonettes.

The National Post profiles Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns, who are playing an in-store at 7PM at Soundscapes tonight and a full show at the Tranzac on Friday night.

Resonancity interviews Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula.

One of the great mythical unicorn-griffin-dragon hybrids of the indie rock world, the solo debut from Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, should become a reality on March 9 under the title of The Desert Of Shallow Effects… unless it doesn’t. Details at AntiMusic.

There’s still no North American release date set for Sigh No More, the debut album from Mumford & Sons, but considering they’re cobbling together a North American tour for February, including a February 15 date at the El Mocambo (tickets $12), mid-February seems like a reasonable guess.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”

Johnny Flynn, with whom Mumford & Sons made their Toronto debut last October, has put out a new EP entitled Sweet William, from which you can download a track, courtesy of Drowned In Sound.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”

The third member of that bill, Laura Marling, is still targeting a Winter 2010 release for her sophomore effort and will release the first single from album number two in “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” as a Christmas single on December 14.

Magnet and Filter Q&A Ray Davies.

Daytrotter has offered up a session with The Swell Season.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

God Knows I Had Plans

Review of The Mary Onettes’ Islands

Photo By Gunnar BjorlingGunnar BjorlingI am convinced that somewhere within the Labrador Records offices in Stockholm, there exists a magical machine that issues mandates to bands on the roster as to what their next albums must sound like. For example, The Radio Dept drew “Belle & Sebastian meets the Jesus & Mary Chain” for their debut and then “depressed Pet Shop Boys” for the follow-up and The Mary Onettes, it seems, were told to make their new record Puzzles sound like “the Shout Out Louds covering Echo & The Bunnymen”, though their official bio namechecks a-ha as well, and I don’t know that I’d argue that point.

This reductive one-liner approach isn’t intended to be dismissive because though I may poke fun at them for wearing their influences on their sleeves, they wear them like goddamn supermodels. Islands brims with grandly romantic songs built on shimmering guitar figures, swelling synths and soaring melodies and tempered by the distinctive Scandinavian melancholy that makes the best Swedish pop so delectable. Some of the numbers drift by, well-meaning if a touch anonymous, but the hits are bullseyes, particularly if you’ve a weak spot as I do for the sounds and styles that are their primary inspirations – “Puzzles” and “God Knows I Had Plans”, in particular, are clean sniper head-shots of awesome.

Frustratingly, like most of their labelmates, The Mary Onettes aren’t given to a lot of touring on this side of the Atlantic – they just wrapped a four-date jaunt in the eastern US which got some high profile attention but probably won’t be a precursor to more extensive visits in the future. I still maintain that a Labrador traveling caravan tour across North America with a pile of their bands on the bill would… probably lose a tonne of money, but certainly make for some great music.

Strange Glue has a song-by-song walkthrough of Islands from frontman Phillip Ekstrom. RCRDLBL has a second MP3 from the album available to download.

MP3: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
Video: The Mary Onettes – “Puzzles”
MySpace: The Mary Onettes

Coincidentally, labelmates Sambassadeur – whose one-line mandate could be “twee-folk Camera Obscura meets orch-pop Camera Obscura sometime in the ’80s” – have gotten a new record ready for a January 2010 release. The first MP3 from European is available to grab below.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Days”

Norwegian shoegaze/drone merchants Serena-Maneesh return after a five-year hiatus with a new album on 4AD in March 2010. I think I liked these guys alright – I recall their live shows were ridiculous but honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.

Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Drain Cosmetics”
Video: Serena-Maneesh – “Sapphire Eyes”

Though Editors won’t release their new album In This Light And On This Evening doesn’t get a North American release until January 19 of the new year, that’s not stopping the PR engine over here from getting started – Spin talks to frontman Tom Smith about the title track of the album while Spinner is streaming the whole record for a week.

Stream: Editors / In This Light And On This Evening

The Guardian has the premiere of the new Patrick Wolf video from The Bachelor, presumably the last single because 2010 is supposed to be the year of the sequel, The Conqueror! Pedestrian.tv has an inerview with Wolf.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Damaris”

Spinner goes behind the scenes of the latest Ladyhawke video for “Magic”. She talks to WA Today about the confusion/controversy arising from different countries wanting to lay claim to her success (born in New Zealand, started her music in Australia, now resides in Britain).

Video: Ladyhawke – “Magic”

I had to stop ragging on Joe Pernice for never playing any local shows since becoming a Toronto resident after his wonderful Dakota Tavern show in September and it seems the return to live local performance has stuck. Joe will be performing at the Music Gallery on Wednesday night along with D-Sisive and The Reveries as part of “Songs For Jesse Presley”, an art project named for Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother and co-presented by Zoilus, who has more information on the show.

The AV Club talks to The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard.

Some of you who’ve been visiting a while may recall a few years ago, I auctioned off a copy of Emily Haines’ super-rare first solo record Cut In Half And Also Double as a fundraising effort for Pat Spurgeon, drummer of Rogue Wave, who needed a kidney transplant. Not that Metric or Rogue Wave had anything in common, but it was the most potentially valuable music-related thing that I didn’t have any need to keep. I consider the efforts a success, netting $177.50 USD, and Spurgeon eventually had the necessary transplant and is feeling much better now. And he’s also the subject of a documentary film called D Tour, which follows Spurgeon in his search for a suitable transplant while continuing to live the rock’n’roll dream.

Trailer: D Tour