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Posts Tagged ‘Ted Leo’

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Blame The Muse

Tanya Donelly’s Swan Song is anything but

Illustration By Louisa BertmanLouisa BertmanIt’s understandable if you’d thought we’d heard the last in the way of new music from Tanya Donelly. Output from the former Throwing Muse/Breeder/Belly frontwoman gone solo basically stopped with 2006’s recorded-live This Hungry Life, and when Spin went knocking in 2010, she revealed that following the birth of her second child, she’d embarked on a new career as a postpartum doula because, well, pretty much anything pays better than professional musician – even one with a CV as impressive as hers.

She didn’t go completely silent, though. Besides intermittently appearing on American Laundromat’s endless stream of tribute albums and compilations, she was heard in lovely form on in duet with Bill Janovitz on Buffalo Tom’s 2011 effort Skins, and this past May was seen as well as heard when she made an appearance on stage with The Breeders in Boston to sing on a couple songs. So pleasant surprises but hardly evidence of any sort of full-fledged return to making music.

But she has been making music; oh how she’s been making music. This week saw the release of the first volume in what she’s calling the Swan Song Series – a series of EPs being released every month for at least the next three months. The songs – which may or may not all be available to stream via Soundcloud right now – aren’t just home-recorded sketches, either; they’re fully-arranged and -produced songs with a host of guest contributors including Janovitz and The Magnetic Fields’ Claudia Gonson. They’re very much keeping in tone with her last couple solo records – lightly jazzy and sophisticated but immediately and directly melodic – and all impeccably lovely. Tanya Donelly is back and the world is a better place for it.

Video: Tanya Donelly – “Mass Ave”
Stream: Tanya Donelly / Swan Song Series

Vue Weekly has a cover story on Neko Case, who has made another song from The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to preview via lyric video. It’s out September 3.

Lyric Video: Neko Case – “Night Still Comes”

The Line Of Best Fit has details on the release of the second Boardwalk Empire soundtrack album, which will find the likes of The National and Patti Smith, amongst others, covering prohibition-era songs which will appear in the HBO series. The National’s contribution has been available to download for a while and Rolling Stone has a stream of Smith’s contribution. The album is out September 3, the new season of Boardwalk Empire begins September 8. Patti Smith plays Massey Hall on September 6. City Pages and Rolling Stone have interviews with The National, who have made one of the performances from their upcoming episode of The Artist’s Den available to watch.

MP3: The National – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”
Stream: Patti Smith – “I Ain’t Got Nobody”

Esquire has premiered a stream of the new song from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium. It’s out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Stream: Okkervil River – “Stay Young”

My Daily, BBC News, and Clash have interviews and NPR has a World Cafe session with Lissie, whose new record Return To Forever comes out September 10.

Creative Loafing and Consequence Of Sound talk to Speedy Ortiz, who’re in town at The Horseshoe on September 15 supporting Chelsea Light Moving.

Panic Manual talks to a pre-meltdown Father John Misty; a post-meltdown FJM returns for a solo show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 15.

Also at Esquire is a stream of the first sample of the new Head & The Heart record Let’s Be Still, due out October 15. They’re at The Danforth Music Hall on October 31.

Stream: The Head & The Heart – “Shake”

The Line Of Best Fit has good news and bad news for Midlake fans. The good news is their first album since 2010’s The Courage Of Others will be called Antiphon and is out November 5. The bad news is that singer and songwriter Tim Smith isn’t on it, having left the band. Guitarist Eric Pulido has stepped up as frontman and you can hear Midlake mk2 on the title track of the new album, which is available to stream.

Stream: Midlake – “Antiphon”

Savoir Adore have released a new video from their reissued Our Nature.

Video: Savoir Adore – “Regalia”

Pitchfork gets behind the scenes of Yo La Tengo’s last video from Fade and premieres the next one.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “Is That Enough”

John Vanderslice is streaming the A-side of a new 7″ single released earlier this week. On topic, Engadget gets a tour of his Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco.

Stream: John Vanderslice – “Song For Clay Miller”

Our Scattered Words and The Calgary Herald have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.

NPR are streaming The Mountain Goats’ set from the Newport Folk Festival last month.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists visit The AV Club to cover The Ramones for their AV Club Undercover series.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Silver Age

Bob Mould and Now, Now at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangUnderstand that I am in no way, shape, or form complaining, but I was pretty surprised when it was announced that Bob Mould would be playing The Horseshoe this past Friday night. Not that one legendary artist doesn’t deserve a legendary venue, but considering that his profile arguably higher than its been in years thanks to a 2012 that included the 20th anniversary Sugar reissues and tour, the publication of his memoirs, and his best-received new album in some time with Silver Age, to say nothing of the fact that he hadn’t played Toronto in almost half a decade, I thought he’d have been booked into a larger room. At least something on the scale of Lee’s or The Mod Club, where he played the last two times through including the last time I saw him here at home in Fall 2005. But no, it was to be The Horseshoe and so unsurprisingly it was sold out and jammed and primed to go off.

Amidst the… older demographic that was gathered to see Mould celebrate his 30-plus year career, were a smattering of decidedly younger attendees who you could reasonably assume were here to see the opener. Minneapolis trio Now, Now – formerly Now, Now Every Children – have been through town a number of times, but usually attached to bills of a more pop-punk-emo persuasion. That’s why, despite having liked them for a few years, I’d only finally gotten to see them live at SXSW 2011 where I wouldn’t have to sit a half-dozen sets of tattoos and asymmetrical haircuts. Which is not to say that that’s not their natural scene – their thoughtful grunge-pop with downcast lyrics but delivered with big smiles is definitely of a genre – but thanks to Cacie Dalager’s terrifically emotive vocals and their sharp sense of melody, they’re also better than most of that genre and can definitely break to broader appeal. Their latest album Threads was both produced and released by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla, and his band’s path is one that, with a few lucky breaks and soundtrack placements, Now, Now could reasonably follow them down.

Local fans might have felt disappointed that last year’s Copper Blue tour, wherein Mould, bassist Jason Narducy, and drummer Jon Wurster played the whole of 1992’s seminal Sugar debut in its entirety, didn’t come to town – I was lucky enough to catch one of those shows at SXSW 2012 – but if anyone thought that meant he wouldn’t continue to lean heavily on one of his most-loved records… well they’d have been dead wrong. Mould could have exulted in the roaring response from the audience as he took the stage – it’d have been well-earned – but instead he and his band got straight to work, tearing through side A of Copper Blue in sequence with brutal efficiency. This accomplished two things – it got the audience further worked up into a sweaty lather and got those songs out of the way.

The next block of songs focused on Silver Age and confirmed that these compositions were, as many have pointed out, Mould’s most Sugar-like in years, their balance of melody and white noise existing quite comfortably alongside the older numbers. The new material also elicited more furious guitar soloing from Mould, perhaps him feeling these songs still had room to improvise whereas the Sugar songs were fixed for the ages. Silver Age properly serviced, Sugar material began creeping back into the set, first with a couple of unexpected songs from Beaster – I don’t know that I’ve ever heard any Beaster material live – and then “Your Favorite Thing” from the underrated File Under: Easy Listening.

Finally, inevitably, it was time to reach into the Hüsker Dü songbook for “I Apologize” and “Chartered Trips” before wrapping back in the 21st century with Silver Age standout “Keep Believing”. The first encore contained the only non-Silver Age selection from his solo repertoire – “Egoverride” from his 1996 eponymous effort – and one more Copper Blue selection in “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”, while the second encore deviated from their regular set by inviting local music scribe Sam Sutherland onstage to lead a quick and furious cover of The Viletones’ “Screaming Fist” before closing for good with another trifecta of Hüsker songs.

It was a pulverizing set start to finish – the 15 songs of the main set clocked in at under an hour – but with Mould’s glasses fogged and shirt soaked from the sweat and steam of the crowd and Narducy and Wurster somehow managing to match his energy joule for joule, there was no question they’d given their all. And it answered the question of why they played a smaller room than they probably could have – small space, huge pressure, massive explosion. Legendary.

NOW and Backstage Rider also have reviews of the show and The Sydney Morning Herald an interview. Mould is back in the region on August 3 as part of The Grove Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake.

Photos: Bob Mould, Now, Now @ The Horseshoe – March 1, 2013
MP3: Bob Mould – “The Silence Between Us”
MP3: Now, Now – “Dead Oaks”
MP3: Now, Now – “Thread”
MP3: Now, Now – “School Friend”
MP3: Now, Now – “Neighbors”
MP3: Now, Now – “Roommates”
MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Everyone You Know”
MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Sleep Through Summer”
MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Cars”
Video: Bob Mould – “Star Machine”
Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Video: Bob Mould – “Egoverride”
Video: Bob Mould – “Slay/Sway”
Video: Bob Mould – “It’s Too Late”
Video: Sugar – “Gee Angel”
Video: Sugar – “Believe What You’re Saying”
Video: Sugar – “Tilted”
Video: Sugar – “Helpless”
Video: Sugar – “Changes”
Video: Sugar – “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Video: Hüsker Dü – “Could You Be The One”
Video: Hüsker Dü – “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely”
Video: Hüsker Dü – “Makes No Sense At All”
Video: Hüsker Dü – “Love Is All Around”
Video: Now, Now – “Dead Oaks”
Video: Now, Now – “Thread”
Video: Now, Now Every Children – “Friends With My Sister”

Caitlin Rose has marked the release this week of her new record The Stand-In with a new video, premiered over at Billboard. She plays The Garrison on April 5.

Video: Caitlin Rose – “Only A Clown”

Brooklyn’s The Men are the topic of conversations at Consequence Of Sound, The Village Voice, Spin, and Interview what with their new record New Moon coming out this week.

The new Son Volt album Honky Tonk, out this week, is available to stream in whole over at American Songwriter. Blurt, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and The Riverfront Times have feature pieces on the band.

Stream: Son Volt / Honky Tonk

Ra Ra Riot have premiered a new video from their latest Beta Love. They play Lee’s Palace tonight – March 6 – and are back on June 8 as part of the Field Trip fest at Fort York.

Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Dance With Me”

Drowned In Sound talks to Alan Sparkhawk of Low. They play The Great Hall on March 16 and The Invisible Way is out March 19.

The Dumbing Of America has an interview with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who are prepping for the March 19 release of their new album Specter Af The Feast by giving away an EP for the first single from their website. They play The Kool Haus on May 9.

Also at Dumbing Of America – an interview with Local Natives, who’re at The Phoenix on March 28.

The Black Angels are streaming a new song off their forthcoming Indigo Meadow, out April 2, with some supporting words at Rolling Stone. The new album brings them to The Danforth Music Hall on April 13.

Stream: The Black Angels – “Evil Things”

Even though The Flaming Lips have a new record in The Terror coming out April 2, Pitchfork wants to talk about their old albums, offering up a video oral history of The Soft Bulletin.

Steve Earle has released the first video from his forthcoming album The Low Highway, due out April 16.

Video: Steve Earle – “Invisible”

CBC Music talks to The Thermals, whose have a bunch of reissues out this week and a new record in Desperate Ground out April 16.

Billboard and Rolling Stone have features on Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their new record Mosquito, which comes out April 16.

Exclaim and Men’s Journal has questions for Jim James. He is at The Phoenix on April 24.

Saturday Looks Good To Me have announced details of their comeback album One Kiss Ends It All, out May 21, and made the first song from it available to stream.

Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Invisible Friend”

Consequence Of Sound has details on the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Green, which will come with the requisite remastering and second disc of period-correct live show. It’s out May 14.

Entertainment Weekly reports The Hold Steady will contribute a new song to the soundtrack of the upcoming season of Game Of Thrones. The show premieres March 31 and they play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Fort York on July 4.

NPR has a video session with Yo La Tengo, back in town at the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 7.

Spinner interviews Ted Leo on the occasion of Hearts Of Oak‘s tenth anniversary.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day One

Florence & The Machine, Sigur Rós, The Weeknd, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI had decided a little while ago that I was done with big, outdoor music festivals. My last go-around was Pitchfork 2010 – not even what could be considered a “big” festival in the grand scheme of things – and even then, I was really feeling the “I am too old for this”-ness of the experience. But two years is a long time, or at least long enough to forget those aches and pains, and so when the opportunity arose at the last minute to hit Montrél’s Osheaga – Canada’ biggest and last multi-day, all-day outdoor music fest – I said, “why not”. After all, I’ve done fests all over the US and even in Europe – to not have been to the one closest to home (aside from the late Toronto V’s) seemed silly, and this year they’d assembled a pretty impressive lineup by drafting off of Lollapalooza. And so I went.

When I first saw Londoner Charli XCX back at SXSW, the buzz around here was very much in the embryonic stage – people were talking about her but with very little actual music released, it wasn’t entirely clear why they were talking about her. Her short, low-key, afternoon set in the front room of Red Eyed Fly didn’t do much to clarify that either though to be fair, it clearly wasn’t her ideal setting. Which isn’t to say that opening up a festival under the blazing sun and smothering humidity was her element, but it was certainly closer. With a drummer, keyboardist, and no shortage of backing tracks behind her, she led things off with an energized set of clubby electro-pop that went over well with the smattering of early birds gathering in front of the Parc Jean-Drapeau mainstage. Sometimes said backing tracks were more audible than the live instrumentation, but the balance of things eventually settled down and that Charli XCX had a strong voice, capable of conveying both playfulness and drama, was evident – she was no ingenue up there, and though her sound is very much for the kids, her respectable cover of Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” went some way to endearing her to the oldsters in the audience.

Digital Spy and Paper have interviews with Charli XCX.

Photos: Charli XCX @ Scène de la montagne – August 3, 2012
MP3: Charli XCX – “I’ll Never Know”
MP3: Charli XCX – “Valentine”
MP3: Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Video: Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Video: Charli XCX – “You’re The One”

Typically, bands playing festivals have to agree to a radius clause that prevents them from playing any other local shows for a certain amount of time. Australia’s Jezabels, on the other hand, were playing their second Montrél show in less than 24 hours having played a club show the night before for MMOI, an event running parallel/in conjunction with Osheaga tasked with putting a spotlight on specific acts from around the world. But if they were feeling the effects of the hectic schedule, it didn’t show. Already rising stars down under, they’ve been working hard at making a similar dent in North America on the back of their debut album Prisoner and though their set started over 10 minutes late due to soundchecking issues, they used the remaining time to showcase their stadium rock ambitions with frontwoman Hayley Mary’s soaring vocals and arm-waving choruses.

Zimbio has a feature interview with the band, and they’ve just announced a date at The Mod Club on October 24.

Photos: The Jezabels @ Scène des arbes – August 3, 2012
MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Video: The Jezabels – “Rosebud”
Video: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
Video: The Jezabels – “Endless Summer”
Video: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Video: The Jezabels – “Easy To Love”
Video: The Jezabels – “Hurt Me”

Following up on the same stage were California’s Dum Dum Girls, who were also plagued with technical problems – the first big cheer of the day went not for their retro garage pop, but when they were finally able to get bassist Malia James’ mic working. Still on the road for last year’s Only In Dreams but also in advance of their new EP End Of Daze, out September 25, they put on an energetic set that wasn’t too different from the times I saw them last year at NXNE and at SXSW – right down to the sweltering heat making their make-up run – but their harmonies sounded more up front this time and, oh – both Dee Dee and Malia changed their hair colours, if that’s the sort of thing you’re keeping track of. Though the myriad technical issues persisted through their set – at times there were as many techs on stage as band members – they soldiered through for a solid set.

Photos: Dum Dum Girls @ Scène des arbes – August 3, 2012
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “D.A.L.”
MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”

It seems I only see Franz Ferdinand at festivals – the last time being Toronto’s final V Fest in 2009 – but that’s okay, as they’re a fantastic festival band. The timing was a bit odd as there’s been no official word on a follow-up to 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, though a release sometime this year has been promised for a while and new songs have been trickling out in live sets. In any case, it’s probably safe to say that no one cared that there wasn’t a new record out because they wanted to hear the old stuff, which Franz delivered with gusto. Opening with “Dark Of The Matinée” and powering through basically non-stop disco-rock anthems before closing with, “This Fire”, theirs was the first set that made the day feel like it was entering prime time. There was one new song, thrown in for good measure and sounding for lack of a better description very Franz. Also new was Alex Kapranos’ moustache which, even with his formidable swagger, I don’t think he pulled off. Can’t win ’em all, guys.

Photos: Franz Ferdinand @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Eleanor Put Your Boots On”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Jeremy Fraser”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Wine In The Afternoon”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “L. Wells”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Fallen”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Walk Away”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Do You Want To”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “This Fire”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Michael”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “The Dark Of The Matinee”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Darts Of Pleasure”

Abel Tesfaye – the Toronto-based R&B singer known professionally as The Weeknd – spent most of 2011 shrouded in mystery, eschewing interviews and overt publicity and riding his trilogy of mixtapes – House Of Balloons/Thursday/Echoes Of Silence – to huge acclaim and a place on that year’s Polaris Prize shortlist. But seeing as how internet acclaim doesn’t put food on the table, it was only a matter of time before Tesfaye stepped out of the shadows and onto the stage. Specifically, big festival stages like at Osheaga. Fronting a five-piece band and facing a massive crowd of enthusiastic fans, Tesfaye certainly didn’t come across as someone who would shy away from attention. Though he wasn’t a showy performer, he was charismatic and in great voice. It was interesting to see how big a smile he wore considering how dark a perspective he frequently writes from, but I suppose it’s hard to be glum when you’ve got thousands of people – many of them young women – screaming for you. His set went overtime with a drawn-out, vocally acrobatic version of “Wicked Games” and was one of the many points in the weekend when the tag-team setup of the Osheaga mainstages made for an interesting contrast, with half the crowd swooning and the other half, waiting for Florence & The Machine’s set to begin, stewing.

Photos: The Weeknd @ Scène de la montagnes – August 3, 2012
MP3: The Weeknd – “Loft Music”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Life Of The Party”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Zone”
MP3: The Weeknd – “House Of Balloons – Glass Table Girls”
MP3: The Weeknd – “What Do You Need”
MP3: The Weeknd – “D.D.”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Fall”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Birds (Part 1)”
MP3: The Weeknd – “High For This”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Initiation”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Wicked Games”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Montreal”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Outside”
MP3: The Weeknd – “XO/The Host”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Same Old Song”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Morning”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Rolling Stone”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Birds (Part 2)”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Heaven Or Las Vegas”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Knowing”
MP3: The Weeknd – “Coming Down”
Video: The Weeknd – “The Knowing”

Florence & The Machine could only been delayed, however, not denied. I regard it as a statement of fact rather than boast that I was on board with Florence Welch way early on, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Her first releases painted her as a sort of crazy art-rock eccentric with prodigious vocal gifts but seemingly no inclination to use them conventionally or consistently – which may and well have been the plan at first, but at some point it became evident that big, roof-rattling anthems would be better use for her talents to say nothing of more marketable. Her debut Lungs somewhat split the difference between the two directions, albeit with the older material polished up so as to not embarrass their siblings, but her second album Ceremonials was all bombastic singles with little use for variety or restraint, and it’s hard to argue with the success of that direction – fully half the album has been released as singles and she’s a massive star worldwide, as her marquee billing at festivals like this testified.

Though not the Friday closer, Florence certainly drew the largest crowd of the day and taking the ornately-decorated stage in a billowing blue dress, she was certainly up for the occasion. Sweeping from one side of the stage to other so as to not neglect anyone, the dramatic flourishes and stage moves I commented on at her Toronto debut in November 2009 have only gotten bigger in the interim (I’ve missed all her local shows since) but she tempers the grandiosity of the presentation with appreciation and affection for her fans and playful moves like leaping up and down onstage, heels be damned. It’s possible that it’s all rehearsed and routine, but from my vantage point up front, her huge smile was genuine. It was nice. And it may seem odd to say, but losing her voice as she did a couple weeks ago may have been good for Welch – a complaint I’ve had about her live performance before was that her vocal power would come at the expense of pitch – read: she was flat a lot – but this time out, she was demonstrating more restraint in her delivery, perhaps intending to save her voice but reaping the benefits of being more controlled, more in key, and more dynamic as a result. Whatever it was, even though I don’t necessarily count myself a big fan anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed her set. Some artists are made for festivals.

The National Post, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and The Globe & Mail have interviews with Welch.

Photos: Florence & The Machine @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Breaking Down”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Spectrum (Say My Name)”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Breath Of Life”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Never Let Me Go”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “No Light, No Light”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Shake It Out”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “What The Water Gave Me”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Heavy In Your Arms”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Cosmic Love”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Drumming Song”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”

To paraphrase Winston Zeddemore, when someone asks you if you want to see Sigur Rós twice in 72 hours, you say YES. So a couple days after seeing their blissful set at Echo Beach in Toronto, I was lucky enough to see Iceland’s finest once again. And as great as their Osheaga set was, it really made me thankful that I saw that Toronto show as it was nearly twice as long and far better-paced to allow the beauty of what they do to come through. In a festival setting and limited to a set time of just an hour, they had to dispense with most of the slower, more ambient parts of their show in favour of a more compressed, impactful set list. I appreciated that it wasn’t necessarily their own audience they were playing in front of – I’m sure many didn’t even know who they were – but I did hope that for those unfamiliar, their set would be a gateway of sorts to something magical and otherworldly. Judging from the chants of, “Justice! Justice” that grew from the other half of the mainstage area as their set drew to a close, that probably wasn’t the case. Alas.

The National Post has an interview.

Photos: Sigur Rós @ Scène de la montagne – August 3, 2012
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Gobbledigook”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Hoppípolla”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Popplagio / The Pop Song”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Staralfur”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Svefn-G-Englar”
MP3: Sigur Rós – “Nýja lagið”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Rembihnútur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Fjögur Píanó”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Varúð” (version two)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Varúð” (version one)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ég anda” (version two)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ég anda” (version one)
Video: Sigur Rós – “Ekki Múkk”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Við Spilum Endalaust “
Video: Sigur Rós – “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Gobbledigook”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Sæglópur”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Hoppípolla”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Glósóli”
Video: Sigur Rós – “(Vaka)”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Viðrar vel til loftárása”
Video: Sigur Rós – “Svefn-G-Englar”

And finally, there was Justice for all. At least all who were left. Though the ostensible headliners, the French disco-rock duo had a markedly smaller audience than Florence did but they were still legion and really, that just meant more room to dance. The pair set up atop/behind their signature wall of electronic consoles and wings of Marshall stacks – and giant glowing cross, yes – but from the angle up close it looked more ridiculous than impressive, with Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay looking like little more than severed heads sitting atop their setup. Certainly there was no way to see what they were actually doing up there, whether DJing records or playing Pac-Man, but no one seemed to care. They had a raging dance party to engage in, and rage they did. Justice provided an excellent soundtrack to ending a long, hot day of great music and also for walking to the subway.

The Montreal Gazette and NOW have interviews.

Photos: Justice @ Scène de la rivière – August 3, 2012
MP3: Justice – “On’N’On”
Video: Justice – “New Lands”
Video: Justice – “On’N’On”
Video: Justice – “Audio, Video, Disco”
Video: Justice – “Civilization”
Video: Justice – “Phantom Pt. II”
Video: Justice – “Stress”
Video: Justice – “DVNO”
Video: Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.”

And a few concert announcements that may be relevant to your interests. Just here in May, LA’s Grouplove are back in support of Never Trust A Happy Song for a show at The Phoenix on November 5, tickets $24 in advance.

Video: Grouplove – “Colours”

Aimee Mann has announced a Fall tour behind her new album Charmer, out September 18, and is bringing an expected tourmate with her – Ted Leo. I assume he’s leaving the Pharmacists at home for this outing and will be dialing down the punk a bit so as to not scare Mann’s audience, but it’s an interesting pairing. The Toronto show is November 6 at the Danforth Music Hall, tickets $27.50 and $32.50.

MP3: Aimee Mann – “Charmer”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”

After expressing surprise that Yeasayer were big enough to play the Sound Academy, as they were meant to on August 21, it appears that they in fact aren’t. On either count. Their new album Fragrant World is still out that day, but they’ll not be in Toronto until November 9 and it will be at the markedly smaller Danforth Music Hall. Anyone who says they are upset about the change in venue is lying and should not be allowed near small children.

Rachael Yamagata has made a date at The Mod Club for December 1, tickets $15. Her latest album Chesapeake came out last Fall.

Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Even If I Don’t”

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Vs The Greatest Of All Time

Archers Of Loaf at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen we left off yesterday, I was biking furiously across town to get from The Rivoli to The Phoenix for Archers Of Loaf. So why not roll this show into the festival coverage? Well, although some wristbands were granted admission and the premiere of the What Did You Expect? live Archers doc was one of the big gets of the NXNE film festival, this show wasn’t technically part of the festival and I am, if nothing else, a stickler for these sorts of things. And having waited this long for the show, delaying it just that much longer seemed appropriate.

Since the Archers reunited in early 2011 and were willing to make it a long-term thing, I’ve been waiting for a local date – a wait exacerbated by the fact that real life commitments for most of the band kept touring restricted to weekends. Hell, Eric Bachmann brought Crooked Fingers through town twice in 2012 without an Archers sighting; certainly not a complaint as I love me some Crooked Fingers, but one couldn’t help wondering if we were being slighted. And of course we weren’t, it just took this long to get the proverbial ducks in a row, and on this night – the busiest night of music in the city in recent memory – it was happening.

And happening early, as it turned out. If they’d stuck to the posted set times there’d have been no problem but as I got into the venue, I could already hear the rumble of “Audiowhore” through the doors. Early? Who goes on early on a Saturday night? Well Archers did, clearly, though only just. The Vs The Greatest Of All Time selection was an unlikely opener, but it segued straight into arguably one of the best songs of the ’90s – “Harnessed In Slums” and we were off. A benefit of still being a sort of cult band was that most everyone in attendance was surely some degree of die hard fan and singles and deep cuts alike would be greeted with roaring enthusiasm, though obviously the likes of college rock classics as “Slums” and “Web In Front” got the mostly middle-aged crowd most rowdy.

After years of seeing Eric Bachmann fronting Crooked Fingers and only offering Archers material via stripped down, Finger-y arrangements, it was astonishing to see him cut loose in full rock fury; he’s a big guy who plays at a sort of gentle giant figure with Crooked Fingers but here, he came out swinging. Despite wanting to distance himself from his old band in the years that it was in mothballs and concentrate on what he was actively working on, it was obvious he was having a blast playing these songs the way they were meant to be played and with the guys he’d written them with. It was great to see, and his bandmates were still having a great time of it as well, even almost a year and a half into their second act. Matt Gentling in particular – who’d incidentally come through town in the Dignity & Shame incarnation of Crooked Fingers in 2005 – was a maniac onstage, striking poses while attacking his bass, contributing vocals, or just bantering with the crowd. Though I’m not sure what his “Sixteen Sixty Four” Maple Leafs-esque shirt was about…

The Archers were loud, tight, and relentless, inciting the audience to behaviour most probably hadn’t engaged in in oh, fifteen years or so, like moshing, stage diving, and crowd surfing though I have to question if it’s really crowd surfing if it’s just the same group of people carrying the guy around? Bachmann applauded the effort, anyways. And after the band closed out their encore with “Plumbline”, the audience did their best to coax them back out for a second encore – I’ve not seen a crowd so insistent that a show not end in forever – but alas, that would be it this time and possibly for all time.

The band have not made any commitment to carrying on after the final two albums in their reissue series – All The Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes – come out on August 7. It’s interesting that though their stature in the annals of ’90s indie rock is enormous, their influence is not so easily traced. Not many bands have managed to or even tried to replicate their particular balance of heavy and abstract yet visceral rock, so if they were to put out something new, it’d probably still sound singular and distinct. But that’s getting ahead of things – for now, I was just thankful that Archers were here, that they were great, and that Bachmann had deigned to play “Chumming The Ocean” in the encore of the last Crooked Fingers show since it wasn’t being heard on this night.

BlogTO, Radio Free Canuckistan, and NOW also have reviews of the show, while CBC Music, Beatroute, and Torontoist welcome the band back to Canada for the first time this century.

Photos: Archers Of Loaf @ The Phoenix – June 16, 2012
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Dead Red Eyes”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Underachievers March & Fight Song”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Lowest Part Is Free!”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Might”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Web In Front”

Paste has video of a Crooked Fingers set from SXSW back in March.

Mission Of Burma have made a second MP3 from their forthcoming album Unsound, out July 10.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Second Television”

Spin talks to Greg Dulli about the Afghan Whigs which makes its only Canadian stop on October 3 at The Phoenix. Stereogum has also taken it on themselves to enumerate the bands 13 “most vicious” songs.

DIY talks to Tobin Sprout about the already so-prolific Guided By Voices reunion, which yields its third album Bears For Lunch around November.

Consequence Of Sound, Philly Burbs, and Metro talk to Doug Martsch of Built To Spill.

Sun Kil Moon has released a new video from Among The Leaves; Mark Kozelek plays these songs and more at The Great Hall on October 3. Boxing Scene also has an interview with the man about the pugilist themes of his songwriting.

Video: Sun Kil Moon – “Black Kite”

Wayne Coyne talks about the new Flaming Lips record to Paste and Rolling Stone. It’s due out later this year.

Paste checks in with Ira Elliot of Nada Surf.

Pitchfork talks to author Jesse Jarnow about his book Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and The Rise of Indie Rock, the new book about Yo La TengoYo La Tengo and the rise of indie rock.

Stereogum gets into a turntable.fm session with Ted Leo and talks tunes.

JAM and Beatroute get a moment of Craig Finn of The Hold Steady’s time for some questions.

Stereogum and The Los Angeles Times check in to see what Liz Phair is up to.

Paste has premiered a new video from Mates Of State; it’s a Guided By Voices cover taken from the Science Fair charity compilation coming out July 3.

Video: Mates Of State – “I Am A Scientist”

Interview has premiered the new video from Savoir Adore, whose new album Our Nature will be out this Fall.

Video: Savoir Adore – “Dreamers”

Bowerbirds have released another new video from The Clearing.

Video: Bowerbirds – “Sweet Moment”

Spin have premiered a new video from and Interview has a chat with Best Coast. They’re at The Phoenix on July 21.

Video: Best Coast – “The Only Place”

Consequence Of Sound talks to Munaf Rayani and Nashville Scene and Red And Black to Michael James of Explosions In The Sky.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Better And Better

Calexico, Grizzly Bear, and The Antlers ready new albums

Photo via Anti-AntiJust as yesterday offered a flurry of tour announcements, today we’ve got a few pretty high-profile artists offering details on new albums; two from artists who have been away for some time and one from an act that’s barely taken a moment to breathe.

First, you’ve got Tuscon’s Calexico. They’ve kept fans appeased with the Road Atlas compilations of previously tour-only material, but no one’s forgotten it’s been some time since they released 2008’s Carried To Dust – almost four years to the day by the time their new record Algiers is released on September 11, their first for Anti- what with their long-time label Quarterstick having folded in 2009.

The band already have a full slate of Fall tour dates lined up, but they’re mostly all in Europe – fear not, though, the chances they won’t be rolling through so soothe your soul with the sounds of the desert soon enough are slim to none. And in the meantime, there’s a new video that offers the first sample of the new album to savour.

Video: Calexico – “Para”

It’s been three years since we last heard from Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear and their breakout Veckatimest, and while their break has been well-earned and peppered with solo projects, news that their new album will finally be out on September 18 should please many out there. And while it doesn’t yet have a name, it does have a first track available to stream and a world tour to support it; Toronto can look forward to hearing those harmonies fill Massey Hall on September 26; tickets are $45.89 – fees included – and go on sale Friday at 10AM. Album details and full tour dates can be had at Exclaim.

Stream: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

I don’t think anyone was necessarily expecting to hear from The Antlers anytime soon – they released Burst Apart just over a year ago and even just released a final single from it in the UK at the end of April. But clearly taking a break isn’t for them, as they’ve announced a new release – also their first for Anti- – entitled Undersea due out on July 24. No samples or specifics yet, but there is a website and a trailer. Update: Pitchfork reports that Undersea isn’t a full-length, but a four-song EP.

Trailer: The Antlers / Undersea

The final two installments in the Archers Of Loaf remaster and bonus-laden reissue program – All The Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes – will be released simultaneously on August 7; a track from the latter has been made available to download. While it’s great that these editions will finally be out, one hopes that this doesn’t mark the end of the Archers Of Loaf reunion… They’re at The Phoenix on June 16.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Dead Red Eyes”

Bob Mould talks to Clash about the Sugar years, the recorded output of which will be re-released on July 24.

The whole of The Afghan Whigs’ set at Primavera Sound in Barcelona last weekend is available to watch in quite-good audio and video. And if you want to further pretend you were in Spain for the festival, WFMU has audio streams of many of the sets from the first two days; one assumes the third day will be forthcoming.

Video: The Afghan Whigs @ San Miguel Primavera Sound – May 31, 2012

The sixth and final part of The AV Club’s retrospective look at R.E.M. is now up.

Ted Leo writes for Spin about a youth informed by the musical works of Rush.

NPR has a World Cafe session with The Magnetic Fields.

Daytrotter has posted a session with Eisley.

The final installment of Room 205’s video session with Blouse is now up.

Spinner chats with Bethany Cosentino and The Dallas Observer with Bobb Bruno, both of Best Coast. They’re in town at The Phoenix on July 21.

Guitar World talks six-strings with Lauren Larson of Ume. There’s also an interview at Houston Press.