Posts Tagged ‘Ted Leo’

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The World (Is Going Up In Flames)

Charles Bradley has no time for dreaming; finally has time for Toronto

Photo By Kisha BariKisha BariIf you were to ask anyone at SXSW this past March what was the best thing they’d seen, odds are you’d have heard “Charles Bradley” in response; I certainly did. Like his Daptone labelmate Sharon Jones, the Florida-born, Brooklyn-based classic soul singer had travelled a long, hard road filled with false starts and personal tragedies, but with the release of his first full-length album No Time For Dreaming earlier this year and accompanying praise for both his recordings and performances, it seemed he was finally getting his due.

Or so I heard. I didn’t catch any of his sets in Austin and waiting for him to tour through Toronto – as I was certain he would considering he made appearances at Osheaga in Montreal and Sappyfest in Mount Allison in late July – proved fruitless. I had no doubt that the wide-eyed, breathless testimonials about the power of his shows was deserved, but I had yet to witness it for myself. Well as it turns out, I only had to wait the better part of a year – Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires have just announced a date at Lee’s Palace on February 11 of next year, tickets $22.50 in advance and on sale this Friday. Which is not to complain – after all, Bradley had to wait decades for his shot. A year’s not so bad. If you’re a fan of old-school soul – and everyone should be – you ought to be there.

MP3: Charles Bradley – “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”
MP3: Charles Bradley – “Now That I’m Gone”
Video: Charles Bradley – “Heartaches And Pain”
Video: Charles Bradley – “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”

The Smith Westerns are rolling into The Horseshoe on January 27, tickets $15 in advance. It’s unlikely they’ve got a new album finished and ready for sneak release, so assume this is continuing to support this year’s Dye It Blonde.

MP3: The Smith Westerns – “Still New”

Oklahoma’s Other Lives got a bit of a profile boost when they were announced as the openers for the first leg of Radiohead’s US tour this Spring, but seeing as how there’s no local date for that bill as yet, fans and the curious will be pleased to know that they’ll be in town at The Drake Underground on February 14, tickets $12.50. That’s a bit less than Radiohead tickets would cost, I think.

MP3: Other Lives – “For 12”
MP3: Other Lives – “Tamer Animals”
MP3: Other Lives – “Song Song”

With the final – presumably – R.E.M. release in Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 now out, it’s exit interview time. Michael Stipe explains the band’s decision to disband in conversation with Salon and CNN while Mike Mills chats with Billboard, Time, Spin, Consequence Of Sound, and Scotland On Sunday – he also talks to Spinner about Occupy Wall Street – and USA Today gets some quotes from all three members. Blurt, meanwhile, solicits testimonials from a range of artists and fans.

It’s not an official Neutral Milk Hotel video or anything, but this clip put together by Naomi Yang of Galaxie 500/Damon & Naomi is noteworthy if for no other reason than the song was, apparently, written about her.

Video: Neutral Milk Hotel – “Naomi”

The Stool Pigeon and Spinner talk to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls.

The Washington Post interviews Ted Leo.

Stereogum checks in with School Of Seven Bells to see how their first album as a duo is coming along. At least well enough to have a title – Ghostory – and ballpark release date of next Spring. Update: The record is out February 28.

Guitar Junkie, The Riverfront Times and Apes On Tape talk to Lauren Larsen of Ume.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Hysterical Strength

Review of St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy

Photo By Tina TyrellTina TyrellIt’s saying something when Annie Clark’s looks rank a ways down the list of things she has going for her as St. Vincent. If we’re keeping score, then you’d have to put her angelic, crystalline coo of a voice and virtuosic, elliptical guitar skills right at the top (though which of the two should come first is grist for hours of debate). And of course neither would be anything without her songwriting acumen, which nimbly treads the terrain between odd and accessible, between abstract and evocative.

But underpinning all of that, and what I’d put forward as her most important quality, is her restlessness, as showcased in fine form on her third album Strange Mercy. That constant desire – or maybe compulsion – to fill her work with idiosyncratic touches that range from quirky accents – such as the adorable vocal hiccups in opener “Chloe In The Afternoon” – to dissonent, square-waved guitar breaks, also in the same song. One can’t help wonder about her process, and whether she writes the pretty first and then deliberately takes it off-road, or if that’s simply intuits both halves as necessary parts of the whole. Was the wonderfully random and unabashedly ’70s prog guitar/synth line that closes out “Surgeon” a result of Clark stepping back and thinking, “you know what would be interesting here?” or more, “of course that’s the outro. Duh”.

Compared to the ambitiously orchestrated Actor, Mercy is more of a guitar-heavy affair, with the contrast between Clark’s sumptuous voice and her favoured abrasive guitar tones played up throughout. Some find Clark’s penchant for abruptly shifting gears or marrying brutality with beauty if just to see what happens off-putting, but that unpredictability is rather key to the experience. Like its predecessors, it’s a touch more cerebral and considered than I might like, but the way Clark is able to sound confessional and emotionally bare without sometimes seeming to reveal anything at all and always maintaining a distance is, I suppose, perfectly in keeping with the duality of St. Vincent. And whether you genuinely love what she does or are just fascinated by it, you can’t help coming back.

The Guardian, Interview, Consequence Of Sound and The Village Voice have feature interviews with Clark, while 4AD Sessions and The AV Club have videos of some in-studio live performances and NPR is streaming her show in DC from earlier this week. She is at The Phoenix on December 15.

MP3: St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
Video: St. Vincent – “Cruel”

After bringing The Black Sea along with her in February to support Mondo Amore, Nicole Atkins returns for a solo show at The Drake Underground on December 3 – tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”

The Kills are also planning a return engagement as part of a Winter tour in support of their latest Blood Pressures, setting a date at The Kool Haus for February 7 of next year. Tickets $26.50 in advance. They’ve also released a new video from said record.

MP3: The Kills – “DNA”
Video: The Kills – “Baby Says”

After trickling out streams of most of the songs from their Long Live The King EP – another went up at The Huffington Post earlier this week – The Decemberists are streaming the whole thing at Spinner.

Stream: The Decemberists – “Sonnet”
Stream: The Decemberists / Long Live The King

Hey, you know that 24-hour Flaming Lips song? No? Well they recorded one, it’s called “7 Skies H3” and it’s streaming at flaminglipstwentyfourhoursong.com. And it’s also available for sale encased in one of 13 real human skulls for the reasonable price of $5000. Pitchfork has details and Flaming Lips completists have my sympathy.

The Columbia Free Times talks to Ted Leo.

Doug Martsch of Built To Spill updates Rolling Stone on the status of their next album. Which is not to say anyone should expect it soon, but it is – you know – coming.

Pitchfork reports that The Antlers will release a new EP entitled (together), comprised of some remixes, collaborative reinterpretations of songs and an XX cover. It’s out November 22.

It’s certainly not a reunion or a new album – I hold no hopes of either of those things ever happening – but there’s a bit of Luna news to report. Their last two albums and EP – which had the misfortune of coming out on fly-by-night labels – have been digitally reissued with a handful of bonus tracks added on. Details and an opportunity to grab a cover of Kraftwerk’s “Neon Lights”, taken from the Close Cover Before Striking EP, can be had at Full Of Wishes – yeah you have to give your email address for the download, but how much mail do you really expect to get from a band that’s been defunct for six years? There’s interviews with Dean Wareham at Polaroids For Androids and 130BPM.

The first official single from the new Guided By Voices album Let’s All Eat The Factory is now available to stream and will be available on 7″ come November 28. All 1:44 of it. The album is out January 1.

Stream: Guided By Voices – “Doughtnut For A Snowman”

Caithlin de Marrais – the former voice of Rainer Maria – will release her solo debut Red Coats on Tuesday and in advance, Magnet is streaming the whole thing.

MP3: Caithlin de Marrais – “Belong”
Video: Caithlin de Marrais – “Birds”
Stream: Caithlin de Marrais / Red Coats

Mates Of State have released a new video from their latest, Mountaintops, and Playback has an interview with the Jason Hammel half of the duo.

Video: Mates Of State – “Sway”

Exclaim reports that Brassland Records is celebrating their tenth anniversary with gifts – in the form of a free song a day, one of which is this early demo by The National. To get at the downloads, engage the label in some social media love via Facebook or Twitter – details over here.

Stream: The National – “High Beams” (demo)

Friday, May 6th, 2011

These Days

Review of Sleepy Vikings’ They Will Find You Here

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

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

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

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

Orlando Weekly and therepubliq have band features.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: R.E.M. – “Discoverer”

Fracture Compound interviews Superchunk.

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

Video: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

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

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

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

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

MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean”

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

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

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

MP3: Richard Buckner – “Traitor”

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

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

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Pow Pow

Review of LCD Soundsystem’s London Sessions

Photo By Ruvan WijesooriyaRuvan WijesooriyaThough James Murphy warned us even before This Is Happening was released last Spring, the LCD Soundsystem victory lap has run for so long and through so many gigs that the idea that the band as we know it is coming to an end in a little over a month – at a final Madison Square Garden show will apparently be attended solely by scalpers – is a bit surreal. But anyone thinking that that final LP was the last word from the band should definitely look for the London Sessions live postscript released digitally late last year and physically this year.

Recorded last Summer at south London’s Pool/Miloco Studios, the hour-long Peel Session-ish document functions both as a live album and best-of compilation. It captures the band sounding tight, lean and pretty much the peak of their live powers while running through a pretty good selection of their most essential tracks, adding occasional embellishments like the Joy Division-ish guitar parts on “All My Friends” and Murphy’s hilarious ad-libbed lyrics on “Pow Pow”, but largely staying true to the originals.

But rather than make London Sessions redundant, this faithfulness makes it all the more essential – those who only know the band from the albums might well assume that they’re a largely studio creation, but those who’ve had the privilege of experiencing them in a live setting know that they’re all hellaciously good musicians and Murphy is a completely riveting frontman, even though objectively speaking he doesn’t do much on stage. Even though there’s not the crowd noises and interaction you’d typically get from a live album, there’s still plenty of live-wire energy captured and the fact that the band are doing this off the floor – there are presumably no overdubs – makes London Sessions almost as essential a component of the LCD discography as anything else they’ve done.

London Sessions was released on CD in late January and will be out as a double-LP on April 26. The Vine has an interview with James Murphy.

Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Pow Pow”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”

Billboard talks to Death Cab For Cutie bassist Nick Harmer about their new record Codes & Keys, due out May 31.

James McNew of Yo La Tengo discusses the band’s ongoing “wheel of fortune” tour with The Vancouver Sun.

Ted Leo talks about striking out on a solo tour with The Los Angeles Times.

Ra Ra Riot have released a new video from The Orchard. There’s an interview with the band at The Victoria Times Colonist.

Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Too Dramatic”

NPR solicits a Tiny Desk Concert from Local Natives.

The Black Keys are going to be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 7. Tickets $50. Fifty. Plus fees. Yup. Presale today at 10AM.

Video: The Black Keys – “Tighten Up”

Magnet Q&As Gary Louris of The Jayhawks in advance of turning over the editorial reins to he and Mark Olson this week.

NPR is streaming a studio session with Iron & Wine.

Washington City Paper talks to Mike Cooley and The Chicago Tribnue to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers. Their new record Go-Go Boots is out today.

Aquarium Drunkard has an interview with Lucinda Williams, who will be at Massey Hall on March 4 and 5 opening up for Levon Helm and promoting her new record Blessed, out March 1.

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Heavy Boots

Review of Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore

Photo via nicoletakins.comnicoletakins.comThat Nicole Atkins’ 2007 debut album Neptune City was a favourite in these parts is a matter of public record, but does that mean it was a perfect record? No, not at all. As a vocalist and songwriter, Atkins has never tried to hide her New Jersey roots or the classic rock, blues and country traditions that informed her formative years so drenching her first record in big, romantic orchestral arrangements was a gutsy case of trying something completely unexpected from the get-go. And by and large, it succeeded though it was more because of Atkins herself and sometimes despite the production choices.

So opting to strip things down for her second effort, the just-released Mondo Amore, might seem a little less creatively adventurous but hearing Atkins operating completely within her comfort zone and playing to her strengths more than validates the decision. The front half of Amore showcases the rock instincts that were sublimated on Neptune City, from the sinister and slinky leadoff “Vultures” through the countrified “Cry Cry Cry” and barrelling “You Come To Me” – some of the genre nods can be a little on the nose, but their energy more than makes up for it.

As invigorating as side one of Mondo Amore is, it’s the smouldering side two that really seals the deal, dimming the lights, raising the reverb and spotlighting Atkins at her wounded, torchy best. The compositions themselves wouldn’t have been out of place on Neptune City, but whereas a track like “Heavy Boots” might have reached its crescendo accompanied by legions of strings, Amore drives the emotional quotient home with cavernous piano and understatedly snarling electric guitar. There’s still plenty of drama on tap, but it’s delivered more naturally and thus more effectively – Amore is less theatre, more boozecan, and all the better for it.

The New York Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Palo Alto Daily News, Largehearted Boy, Spinner, NorthJersey.com, Blurt, Interview and BlogCritics all have features on Nicole Atkins. Her North American tour is underway and will make its way to The Horseshoe in Toronto on February 26. The whole of Mondo Amore is currently available to stream at Spinner.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Stream: Nicole Atkins / Mondo Amore

Conor Oberst discusses the new Bright Eyes modus operendi with Billboard. The People’s Key is out next week and they’re at The Sound Academy on March 13.

Pitchfork is streaming Okkervil River’s new non-album single “Mermaid” while talking to Will Sheff about their new record I Am Very Far, due out May 10. Sheff also takes Spin through the new album track by track.

Austin360 celebrates Shearwater drummer Thor Harris.

Buffalo Tom is making an acoustic EP entitled Bones available for free download from their website in advance of the release of new album Skins next week.

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with Local Natives.

The Telegraph profiles Drive-By Truckers, whose latest Go-Go Boots arrives February 22.

There’s a new MP3 from J Mascis’ forthcoming solo record Several Shades Of Why, out March 15. He’s at The Great Hall on March 11 for Canadian Musicfest.

MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

Oh hey it’s a new Kills video. Blood Pressures is out April 4 and they play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Video: The Kills – “Satellite”

Phantogram have released a new video from last year’s Eyelid Movies.

Video: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

Ahead of their show at The Horseshoe later that evening, Telekinesis will play an acoustic in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM on March 6. Their new record 12 Desperate Straight Lines is out next Tuesday.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Car Crash”

Magnet Q&As John Vanderslice, whom they’re letting play website editor for the week.

The final deluxe-ass Pavement reissue – that for Terror Twilight – will see the light of day sometime in November.

Eater talks food and drink with Ted Leo.

The Phoenix New Times interviews Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino while eye catches up with School Of Seven Bells. They’re both at The Sound Academy on February 15.

Exclaim reports the new TV On The Radio record has a name – Nine Types Of Light – and should be out this Spring.

And because for a short time yesterday people trying to get the new Strokes MP3 basically broke the internet, here it is. It sounds like The Strokes. Angles is out March 22.

MP3: The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”