Posts Tagged ‘Swell Season’

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Blue Skies

Noah & The Whale and Robert Francis at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen Noah & The Whale made their debut Toronto appearance back in September of last year, I noted how effectively they were able to offset the inherent twee-ness of their debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down in a live setting simply by turning up the rock – not only did those songs survive being run through a distortion pedal, they actually benefited from it. That being said, the gig still only rated about an “all right” – they were a band who wrote some good pop songs and delivered them well, but I didn’t sense that certain something that implied they could be more than that.

Their second record First Days Of Spring certainly went a long way to changing that opinion. Both the emotional rawness of the subject matter and the spare, orchestral dressings were unexpected and certainly earned the band a re-think in these parts, so Saturday was dedicated to seeing them perform not once, but twice in Toronto. The first opportunity came courtesy an in-store performance at Criminal Records bright and early at noon – convenient for those with Hallowe’en plans that night but a bit of an ordeal for those unaccustomed to having to be doing anything, anywhere at that time on a Saturday. This apparently included the band, who looked a bit bleary-eyed as they got up to play in front of a fairly packed store of fans, including no shortage of under-agers who wouldn’t be able to attend the show later that night. Their set was short – four songs, I think – but sweet and highlighted by Spring‘s “Love Of An Orchestra”, which one would have expected to be the most difficult to translate live with just a five-piece band but which they managed to do quite well. This boded well for the full show.

A show for which I missed most of opener Robert Francis’ set, thanks to a mix-up regarding set times. The couple of songs I did catch from the Los Angeles native, who’s just released his second album Nightfall, sounded alright in the earnest, rock-radio singer-songwriter sense, but didn’t make me especially wish I’d arrived earlier. And it meant a shorter wait for Noah & The Whale and an earlier finish time, both of which were alright with me. In the spirit of the season, the band had invited fans to come dressed as their favourite dead celebrity and for their part, they took the stage in simple but suitably corpse-like whiteface makeup and perhaps intended to satisfy the dead celebrity part of the theme with the covers that opened their set. Certainly Buddy Holly (“Everyday”) and Jackson C Frank (“Blues Run The Game”) no longer walk amongst us, but it’s not clear how “You Are Always On My Mind” was supposed to fit the meme – Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson and Pet Shop Boys are all decidedly alive. Maybe they were going for Elvis? Hard to say.

Following that opening trick-or-treat, it was all Noah & The Whale. They began with “Give A Little Love” from Peaceful but the bulk of the show would be devoted to First Days Of Spring, and Noah & The Whale are obviously believers in the adage of every problem looking like a nail when all you have is a hammer. In this case, the nail being the question of how to recreate their songs effectively on stage and the hammer being, well, volume. Just as they were able to beef up the older material and avoid having their lunch money stolen with a heavier approach last time, they were able to recreate the sense of scale of the new material, if not the delicacy, by turning up. This is not to say they bludgeoned the songs, far from it. Instead they showed just how effective a guitar, piano, bass, fiddle and drums could be when properly and dynamically arranged. And just as the depth of emotion underpinning the songs helped First Days Of Spring transcend some of Charlie Fink’s barer, more awkward lyricism, it also made the noisier interludes of the show feel more cathartic than indulgent. So while the show had a quotient of angst, it was still primarily a fun affair – there was no “Five Years Time” but it’s saying something that even without playing their biggest song, Noah & The Whale didn’t leave anyone wanting.

Mix talks to Fink about the recording of the record, there’s a video acoustic session with the band at They Shoot Music and Spinner reports back from a screening of the film portion of The First Days of Spring in New York.

Photos: Noah & The Whale @ Criminal Records – October 31, 2009
Photos: Noah & The Whale, Robert Francis @ The Horseshoe – October 31, 2009
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “The First Days Of Spring”
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Twelves remix)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Yacht remix)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Love Of An Orchestra”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Five Years Time”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Shape Of My Heart”
Video: Robert Francis – “Nightfall”
MySpace: Noah & The Whale
MySpace: Robert Francis

Laundromatinee welcomes The Twilight Sad to their studios for an acoustic session. Acoustic Twilight Sad. Yes.

Friendly Fires tell BBC they’re working on album number two and are targeting a May release date. Expect to hear some of the new material when they play the Phoenix on December 2.

JAM, The Toronto Star and The Boston Herald interview The Swell Season, who’ve just released a new video and are at Massey Hall tonight.

Video: The Swell Season – “Low Rising”

Paste talks to Sufjan Stevens, whom they credit with creating the best album of the decade. Oh I’m sorry, did I ruin the list for you? NPR also has a short feature.

Pitchfork has details on the next Spoon record, entitled Transference and out January 26. Britt Daniel talked to Spinner about what to expect from the new album.

The Antlers are featured in a downloadable Daytrotter session.

Loft Life gets a tour of the fabled Wilco loft.

A gentle reminder that Austin’s Ume, interviewed recently by The Brock Press, are in town tonight for a free show at the Horseshoe. They’re on at 10:50PM – be there and have your face rocked off.

Austin City Limits (the television show) is streaming videos of performances from their shows online – check out this one featuring M Ward and Okkervil River or this one with Andrew Bird and St. Vincent to get started. And yes indeed, those archives do go back.

A note to Canadians that the Beautiful Noise concerts that were recorded at the Berkeley Church in Toronto last Spring are now airing on SunTV on Saturday nights. Almost makes me wish I had cable so I could watch them.

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Keep Sakes

Sky Larkin and Peggy Sue at The Cameron House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere are many things to like about Leeds trio Sky Larkin, not least among them their wonderfully sweet and spiky debut album The Golden Spike, but what I think I like most is how much of a good time they’re clearly having. On record, on stage, in their videos, everything Sky Larkin is permeated with a genuine, unaffected sense of fun – no brooding angst or overamped giddiness, just the natural reaction to three friends in their early 20s getting to travel around the world playing rock music without the massive weight of expectation that some of their peers are carrying (ahemxxahem). How could they not be having fun?

The band were nearing the end of a North American tour when they rolled into the Cameron House in Toronto on Wednesday night, accompanied by fellow Brits Peggy Sue, who had the co-ed trio thing in common with their tourmates but not a lot else. Fronted by the wonderfully pseudonymed (presumably) Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex with Olly Olly Olly on drums, the outfit formerly known as Peggy Sue & The Pirates (perhaps the Pirates were taken by Pete) deal in a strain of folk that’s probably too off-kilter in instrumentation and arrangement for traditionalists yet not nearly weird enough for the 21st century hippie scene. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both Klaw and Rex have the sorts of voices that you’d normally find in soul music, rich and emotive with the right amount of rasp – they’re not equipped to create conventional folk music, even if they were inclined to do so. Their Lover Gone EP intrigued but was really too brief to get a proper handle on what they were about and while their set went a ways towards filling in the blanks, it also expanded the canvas of what they were doing enough that their net inscrutability remains unchanged. I guess I’ll just have to hear more to figure them out. I’m okay with that.

Sky Larkin don’t require nearly as much contemplation to understand – the nature of their scrappy guitar pop will be familiar to anyone who’s ever heard Sleeper or Sleater-Kinney and satisfies on an immediate and visceral level. I’d gotten to take in their live show at SxSW so I knew that the energy of the record more than translated in the live setting with the extra bonus of the fact that the band were genuinely hilarious on stage in their between-song banter. The between-banter stuff was pretty good too, with the trio turning in an energetic if a bit short set of highlights from The Golden Spike as well as their new (and free) “SMARTS” single. As befit a band that tours as much as they, they were superbly tight with frontwoman Katie Harkin effortlessly tossing off sophisticated guitar riffs and drummer Nestor Matthews literally beating his drum kit to death. A destroyed cymbal got some licks in of its own, though, inflicting a nasty bloody gash on Matthews’ hand which he insisted on playing through, finishing off the set’s last two songs with equal – if not extra – vigor. That is dedication. Sky Larkin will bleed for you.

Photos: Sky Larkin, Peggy Sue @ The Cameron House – October 28, 2009
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Antibodies”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
Video: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
MySpace: Sky Larkin
MySpace: Peggy Sue

Clash has a short interview The xx, whose exhaustion-induced show cancellations haven’t affected this Fall’s North American dates opening up for Friendly Fires… yet.

Frightened Rabbit have given their third album a name – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks – and a target release date of March 2010.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

ChartAttack talks to Dog Day, who will be at the Horseshoe on November 5.

Great Lake Swimmers have released a new video from Lost Channels. They play a War Child benefit at the Dakota Tavern on November 5 and a show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on February 6 of next year.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”

Vue has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

FFWD reports on exactly what goes on at the mysterious Banff Centre, where both Woodpigeon and Basia Bulat are currently sequestered away being turned into unstoppable cybernetic killing machines honing their musical craft with an impressive team of mentors. CBC Radio 3 has also been checking in from the the Banff Centre and Woodpigeon has posted another song.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “For Norman Luxton”

Molina & Johnson (that’s Jason and Will) have released a second MP3 from Molina & Johnson, out November 3.

MP3: Molina & Johnson – “Almost Let You In”

Gigwise chats with Glenn Kotche of Wilco.

The Loyola Phoenix has an interview with Mountain Goats bassist Peter Hughes.

eye, The National Post, NPR, The Montreal Gazette, CNN and Spinner have conversations with The Swell Season, who have a date at Massey Hall on November 3.

The Raveonettes talk to The Georgia Straight.

Johnny Marr weights in on the subject of reunions with Spinner.

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Percussion Gun

White Rabbits, Suckers and The Balconies at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhite Rabbits have got it covered in the name-dropping department. Via TBD Records, they’re labelmates with a little British outfit called Radiohead and their critically-hailed second album It’s Frightening was produced by Britt Daniel, who sometimes moonlights in a band popular in some circles called Spoon. Yeah, the Brooklyn sextet have got plenty of ammo for cocktail parties, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you much about their actual music, does it.

Well the Britt Daniel part does, somewhat. It’s Frightening certainly borrows from Spoon’s dry, lean and punchy aesthetic and frontman Stephen Patterson’s voice does have a familiarly hoarse, wound-up quality, but dismiss them as Spoon-alikes at your peril. Not, like, “mortal danger” peril but “you’re missing out on a pretty great record” peril. Frightening kicks off with “Percussion Gun”, an intense bit of truth in advertising powered by the thundering tribal attack of the band’s dual drummers – one on a conventional kit, the other tasked with exponentially increasing the impact via big-ass toms. Add in Patterson’s aggressive piano (piano can indeed be aggressive) and howling vox and you’ve got not only one of the best opening tracks on any album this year, but maybe one of the best singles and videos. Translation, it’s impossible to not want to hear more of the record after that first salvo. And while It’s Frightening never quite reaches those heights again, it takes those same elements that make “Percussion Gun” such a blast and turns it into an undeniably solid record that crackles with energy that you just know would translate fantastically on stage. Toronto finally got a chance to find out if that was true on Saturday night when the band made their Hogtown debut at the Horseshoe with fellow Brooklyners Suckers in tow.

Rounding out the bill and providing the local flavour were recent The Balconies, recently transplanted from Ottawa and already becoming live fixtures and certainly one of the better/best new bands in the city. They again proved this to be true with their opening set, showcasing their terrific energy, razor-wire hooky tunes and the dueling sibling vocals of Jacqui and Steve Neville. Though there were a couple technical and performance flubs, I’d still put this performance as even better than when I saw them in August in terms of delivery and charisma, implying that as good as they already are they’re just going to get better. And that’s a scary thing. Find out for yourself at their next local gig on November 5, again at the Horseshoe, opening up for Dog Day and Immaculate Machine.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Suckers for months – mostly in a breathless, “oh my god, have you heard?” context – but had managed to not familiarize myself with them right up until the quartet took the stage. And after they left, I wasn’t grabbing people around me at random, breathlessly asking, “oh my god have you heard Suckers?” because, well, if they were right there then they would have, but I was pretty impressed. To say they have a lot going on is an understatement – all four are multi-instrumentalists, changing up instruments between guitars, electronics, percussion and brass, often in the same song, and taking turns with their distinct vocals or harmonizing in a way that probably shouldn’t work but sounds fantastic regardless. And that sentiment largely applied to their music at large – a collision of sounds and styles ranging from rock to soul to pyschedelia to gospel that by rights, should be a multi-car pileup but instead becomes a ballet. Not everything they did tickled my ear, but it did make a unique impression.

To answer the earlier posed question, yes indeed, the energy of It’s Frightening does indeed come to life on stage – and then some. Their set was pretty much a non-stop barrel ride through their two records, delivered with ferocious energy and no small amount of sweat. The band’s precision and rhythmic power was astonishing and watching them perform gave an even greater appreciation for the band’s musicianship. In particular, guitarist Gregory Roberts should get more credit for his vocal contributions (or maybe he already does, just not from me) and his ability to double Patterson’s leads or harmonize, depending on what’s needed – it may seem like just another cog in a complex musical machine, but it’s really a crucial element. And Patterson, even seated at an electric travel upright piano (not just a keyboard) as he was for most of the set, managed to inject a lot of physicality in his performance and while unable to match his bandmates’ stage wanderings, did get to partake in some instrument swapping in strapping a guitar on for a couple of tunes. As expected, “Percussion Gun” closed out the main set was the highlight of the night, putting the crowd into mosh mode for a few minutes. I wouldn’t even say that it was a conscious decision, but as most were already in a constant state of dancing/bobbing from the insistent rhythms, when hit with the big song, there was only one place to go – into the people around them. The band returned for a couple more songs and called it a night, closing out a tremendously solid night of rock. Add the band’s first show in Toronto to the list of things they can brag about t their next cocktail party., Fazer, St. Louis Today and Seizure Chicken have interviews with White Rabbits.

Photos: White Rabbits, Suckers, The Balconies @ The Horsesehoe – October 24, 2009
MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
MP3: White Rabbits – “Kid On My Shoulders”
MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: White Rabbits – “Rudie Fails” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: Suckers – “It Gets Your Body Movin'”
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”
Video: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
Video: Suckers – “Easy Chairs”
MySpace: White Rabbits

Thanks go out to The Indie Files and Hero Hill for bringing to my attention Worauf wartest du?, a collaboration between Albertan folk singer Rae Spoon and German electronic artist Alexandre Decoupigny which is available to download – presumably with artists approval – over here. And also exciting is the news that Rae Spoon is undertaking a tour of eastern Canada starting in November with a stop at the Rivoli on November 11. You may recall I was quite taken with Spoon’s latest Superioryouareinferior – quite looking forward to seeing him live.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down”

More dispatches in song form from Woodpigeon, currently in the middle of their residency at the Banff Centre. Die Stadt Muzikanten is due out January 12.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Under, Behind & Between”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Whole Body Shakes”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Summer Side Of Life” (Gordon Lightfoot cover)

Gentleman Reg is putting out a new EP this Fall entitled Heavy Head. The six songs will be released digitally, two at a a time grouped by theme (covers, b-sides, remixes), starting on November 10 and be available as a complete package as of December 1. The Ontarion has an interview with Reg, who plays the Opera House in support of The Hidden Cameras on December 5.

Great Lake Swimmers will play a special benefit show for War Child on November 5 at the Dakota Tavern, the very thing Sloan did at the same venue just last week. Tickets are $35 and available at Maple Music. They play a regular show at Trinity-St Paul’s on February 6 of next year.

NPR, Cleveland Scene and The San Francisco Chronicle talk to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard about their Kerouac project One Fast Move or I’m Gone, which is streaming at NPR.

Stream: Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard / One Fast Move or I’m Gone

Billboard talks to Gibbard’s Death Cab For Cutie bandmate Chris Walla about their contribution to the New Moon soundtrack.

Paste and Entertainment Weekly have interviews with The Swell Season. Strict Joy is out tomorrow and they play Massey Hall on November 2.

Apparently having still not paid off their ridiculous stage setup, U2 are extending their world tour and will be hitting Toronto for the third time in less than a year on July 3 at the Rogers Centre. Tickets on sale November 2.

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Cool Yourself

Review of Thao With The Get Down Stay Down’s Know Better Learn Faster and giveaway

Photo By Tarina WestlundTarina WestlundWhen I wrote up Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s last album We Brave Bee Stings And All back in August of last year, I gave it a net stamp of approval, with Thao Nguyen’s exuberant delivery and energy making up for my concerns about the tendency oof her voice to wander from pitch – certainly, that woozy enthusiasm was part of her charm, but I’m a bit of a stickler on that.

So I’m pleased to be able to report that the follow-up Know Better Learn Faster somehow manages to not set off those klaxons while not losing any of her distinctive character. No, it’s not that she’s discovered the joys of autotune but simply that the melodies on Know Better are less given to wander, the songs tighter and more focused and the album simply better. And amazingly, she’s done it while expanding the band’s sonic palette and without dialing down the enthusiasm. “Cool Yourself” is an upbeat, horn-driven pop gem while “When We Swam” is a coy and even slinky bit of doo-wop, and that only touches on the range of styles covered on the record, all delivered with the right balance of biting wit and sensitive underbelly. It’s be easy to miss out on the musical sophistication at work due to the raw and live production aesthetic and Nguyen’s strong presence up front, but repeated listens do bring those extra details and touches to the fore and enrich what’s already a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down are at the El Mocambo on November 1 and I’m excited that after a year and a half of near misses both here and at SxSW, I’ll finally be able to catch their much-praised live show for myself. Tickets are $12 in advance, but courtesy of Kill Rock Stars, REMG and Toolshed, I have three pairs of passes to give away to the show and for those who can’t go, two autographed copies of Know Better Learn Faster on CD up for grabs. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Get Down Stay Down” in the subject line and full name in the body. And note whether you’re gunning for the passes or the CD – the former are available to anyone who can get to the El Mocambo next Sunday night, the CD to residents of North America. Contest closes at midnight, October 28.

Paste and The Oregonian have interviews with Thao Nguyen.

MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Cool Yourself”
MySpace: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

Pitchfork has details on the forthcoming third album from Beach House. Teen Dream, the duo’s first for SubPop, will be out on January 26 and come with a DVD featuring a video for each song on the record.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews The Anters while BrooklynVegan gets Peter Silberman of The Antlers and Sharon Van Etten of Sharon Van Etten to interview each other.

Boise Weekly chats themselves up some Dodos.

Death & Taxes discusses matters of cosmic and civic importance with Sufjan Stevens.

Paste catches up with Nels Cline of Wilco.

Philadelphia Weekly talks to St Vincent’s Annie Clark, who has diligently been adding to her tour videos collection on her blog.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Patterson Hood available to stream.

Grant Hart, ex of Husker Du, will be at the Horseshoe on December 14 in support of his new solo record Hot Wax, tickets $10.50.

NPR expresses their acronym solidarity by streaming the whole of R.E.M.’s new live record Live At The Olympia in advance of its release this coming Tuesday, October 27.

Stream: R.E.M. / Live At The Olympia

Uptown has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

Pitchfork reports that The Week That Was and School Of Language have officially been backburnered as the Brewis brothers have reunited as Field Music, and will release a double-album entitled Measure on February 16.

MP3: Field Music – “Measure”

And to help maintain the cosmic balance of British bands in active duty, The Rakes have announced they’re calling it quits effective immediately, thus scuppering their North American tour which was due to stop at the Mod Club in Toronto on November 9. It might have sounded a little like this.

MP3: The Rakes – “That’s The Reason”

The Scotsman interviews Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season. They are at Massey Hall on November 2.

The Hollywood Reporter says that The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn is working on the film adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s first novel, Fargo Rock City. It’s a pairing so perfect that when I first read it, I barely reacted – it was like, “well of course he is”.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I Was Only Going Out

Loney Dear, Asobi Seksu and Anna Ternheim at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs is becoming something of a tradition for me, I once again spent Thanksgiving this year at a show rather than with family (we got together earlier in the weekend so stop judging me), though it was with a sort of extended family – labelmates in Loney Dear and Asobi Seksu (both on Polyvinyl) and country(wo)men in Loney Dear and Anna Ternheim (all Swedes). Yeah, that’s sort of a stretch but whatever.

There’d been some vagueness about the precise order of the sets – the infamous co-headline situation again – but it was certain that Ternheim would be first up. I’d listened to a few of her records including her latest, Leaving On A Mayday, and her songs, filled with that distinctly Swedish sort of melancholy, were of the sort that could easily go from small and folkish to big and orchestral and still sound right. So I was curious to see which direction she’d take them in a live setting and the answer, of course, was both. She started her set in solo acoustic fashion, showcasing her stark yet evocative voice to the dead silent room (it wasn’t especially full, no, but still) and then brought out a keyboardist for the second song to accompany her while she set the guitar down. She was then joined by Loney Dear’s band for the remainder of her performance and as striking as she was on her own, the bigger sound definitely won the day. The extra players gave her a rhythmic backbone and more importantly, a sweeping, dramatic dynamicism that honestly didn’t come across on record. Her set was woefully short due to being held-up at the border and generally getting lost, but if you consider the purpose of opening sets as to surprise and tantalize for more, then it was mission accomplished.

The question of whether Asobi Seksu would close the show or not was an ongoing one since it was announced, at least between me and myself. On one hand, they probably had the larger fanbase than Loney Dear and in terms of pacing, their deafening strobe-powered attack would be more logically suited to sending people home in a daze. On the other, this was their third show in Toronto in just over seven months so that fanbase’s attendance might not be such a given, particularly on a holiday, and considering their next record Rewolf was an acoustic affair and one that they’d already performed live, perhaps they would be keeping things more low-key? As it turned out they were indeed on second and no, they weren’t intending to turn down. As such, their set was much like the one at the El Mocambo back in March, mixing up the older, poppier songs with the Hush material, which still hasn’t really won me over. So familiar, yes, but still entertaining and actually a welcome jolt of energy for the night.

I think I was too harsh on Dear John when I wrote it up way back in January. Yes, it doesn’t stray far, either sonically or songwriterly (that’s a word now), from Emil Svanangen’s previous works under the Loney Dear marque, but I’m seeing now that’s because he’s fixated on capturing one specific mood or theme in music and much of what he creates are attempts to perfect it. Thankfully, his elusive goal is the moment where angst turns into elation and the sense of uplift that results and he expresses it with orchestral pop music. Of course. This was Loney Dear’s first stop in Toronto in a couple of years and a make-up for a failed attempt to visit back in May when their van broke down en route. And while that show at Lee’s in June 2007 was hardly a sell-out, those who were in attendance remember it fondly.

And those who were at the Horseshoe on this holiday Monday would likewise take away some warm memories of another wonderful show. Re-reading my review of the Lee’s show, I find myself at risk of repeating myself, but it bears repeating – Svanangen’s live band really took his songs to another level, deftly adding more bits of musical flourish and detail than four people with just two hands each really had any business doing in real time. And as such, they managed to recreate the richness of his compositions while still recasting and reconfiguring them enough to feel quite new. Particularly essential was backing vocalist Malin Stahlberg, who in addition to handling keys, guitar and percussion, sang most of Svanangen’s falsetto parts with more strength and bearing, and amazingly handled all of the tongue-twisting bridge of “I Am John” while Svanangen took the easy, “nah nah nahs”.

But as great as the band is, it’s still all about Svanangen. His permanently forlorn countenance is simultaneously at odds with yet perfectly suited for the sounds and songs he sings. Drawing material from across all his albums, the live setting proved a great equalizer for the production aesthetic of the recorded versions – the sparer arrangements of Sologne felt more fleshed out and Dear John‘s mechanical aftertaste was made more organic, settling in that sweet spot that was Loney, Noir. The performance was splendid from the get-go but the undoubted highlight was when Svanangen stepped out to the front of the stage, unamplified, and sang (I think) “In With The Arms” to the house. Now he doesn’t have the most powerful voice, so it’s perhaps a good thing that the crowd was modestly sized and thus easier to silence, but doing that, and backed with Stahlberg’s harmonies, was simply perfection. In all, they played nearly 90 minutes including two encores though at no point in between did Svanangen leave the stage – no point going through the formality, we were going to keep them playing for as long as possible. And thought it finally did end, obviously, all three of Loney Dear’s last records have been a steady soundtrack for the days since the show. It makes my angst into elation and that’s just what I need right now.

Bradley’s Almanac is sharing MP3s of a show in Allston, Massachusetts from the tour in May of this year. The Justice and The AV Club have interviews with Anna Ternheim.

Photos: Loney Dear, Asobi Seksu, Anna Ternheim @ The Horseshoe – October 12, 2009
MP3: Loney Dear – “Ignorant Boy Beautiful Girl”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “A Few Good Men”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Suzanne”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Familiar Light”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “New Years”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Sooner”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”
MP3: Anna Ternheim – “To Be Gone”
Video: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
Video: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Video: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
Video: Loney, Dear – “Saturday Waits”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Transparence”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Goodbye”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Today Is A Good Day”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Summer Rain”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Girl Laying Down”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Shoreline”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “To Be Gone”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “I’ll Follow You Tonight”
MySpace: Loney Dear
MySpace: Asobi Seksu
MySpace: Anna Ternheim

Headlights, who were left playing on their own at the Rivoli in May when Loney Dear’s van broke down, have released a new video from new album Wilderness.

Video: Headlights – “Get Going”

The Swell Season’s new record Strict Joy is streaming at NPR in advance of its October 27 release date. They play Massey Hall on November 3. The Khaleej Times has an interview.

Stream: The Swell Season / Strict Joy

Singing Lamb talks to An Horse, who’ve just released a Daytrotter session and are playing at the Sound Academy tonight in support of Silversun Pickups.

The National Post talks to Wilco’s John Sitrratt while The AV Club gets Jeff Tweedy to respond to some of the random stuff written about him on the internet. They play the second of their two nights at Massey Hall tonight.

Singing Lamb and Metromix interview Grand Archives, who have released a new video from Keep In Mind Frankenstein. They’re at the Mod Club tonight.

Video: Grand Archives – “Oslo Novelist”

The Quietus talks to Bob Nastanovich about the upcoming Pavement reunion and confirms it’s a one-off with no new material. It gets started in Aukland, New Zealand in March of next year.

Paste chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. And note that copies of The Life Of The World To Come via ThinkIndie will come with a digital 13-track album of demos for the record.

The Pitch has an interview with Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock. It’s weird that the drummer is officially not Steve Drozd, considering he’s an amazing drummer. But whatever.

Stereogum gets a progress report on the new Caribou record.

Mew have set a date for the Mod Club on December 6.