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Posts Tagged ‘Thermals’

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

NXNE 2013 Day Two

The National, Still Corners, Hayden, and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWish as we might, the day show still hasn’t quite taken hold of NXNE the way it has its heavyweight south by southwestern cousin, but there are things worth seeing and doing in the daylight hours if you look. And sometimes those things will take you to places like Urban Outfitters, who were hosting a honey of an in-store on the Friday of the festival. And sometimes, if you take the time to actually look at the address of the Urban Outfitters in question, you’ll get there on the first try, rather than use process of elimination, which is what I did. Aside: there are too many Urban Outfitters in this city.

Still, I made it to the correct Queen West UO location in time to see Florida’s Beach Day – cover boys and girls of my NXNE preview – setting up for the first of four shows they’d play in town this weekend. With their debut album Trip Trap Attack due the the following week – today, actually – they were primed to show off what they had to whomever would listen. And what they had was a fun and infectious retro-garage/surf pop sound that fit their name perfectly, though if you were to call them “Dum Dum Girls’ Little Archies”, you wouldn’t be wrong either. Besides the visual and stylistic similarities, singer-guitarist Kimmy Drake also has a Chrissie Hynde-like delivery not unlike Dee Dee Penny’s, and while their music doesn’t have the New Wave sophistication that elevates Dum Dum Girls above their peers, they do have a lot of youthful exuberance that also goes a long way. They play in an old style but do it like it’s brand new.

Photos: Beach Day @ Urban Outfitters – June 14, 2013
MP3: Beach Day – “Love Is Strange”
Video: Beach Day – “Beach Day”
Video: Beach Day – “Boys”

Following them from about as far as you could get, geographically and stylistically, were London’s Still Corners whose presence on the bill is what got me to take the day off work so as to be able to see them. It had been a long time since their local debut in October 2011 and neither their show a couple nights earlier opening for CHVRCHES nor their showcase that evening at The Horseshoe was logistically workable for me, so this was my best chance to hear Strange Pleasures live. Though the record’s ’80s-beholden, synth-heavy sound was quite a shift from the ’60s atmosphere of their debut Creatures Of An Hour, I’ve found myself liking it as much if not more. The band opted to not try and recreate their standard live show for the in-store setup, however, pre-apologizing if their messing with the set structure didn’t work as well as they hoped when they thought it up. They opened with three selections from Strange Pleasures with just band principals Tessa Murray on vocals and sequencer and Greg Hughes on guitar overtop some canned beats, the lushness of the new material’s recorded versions being traded in for some of the barer beauty more akin to the aesthetic of their debut, even when the rest of the band joined them for the remainder of the set. While they quite obviously weren’t unplugged, the performance had a similar intent with a greater emphasis put on Murray’s lovely vocals and allowing Hughes to show off some of his guitar chops. I do still wish I’d been able to hear the bigger, louder version of the show that those who saw their evening shows caught, but this was pretty special too.

The Boston Globe has an interview with Still Corners.

Photos: Still Corners @ Urban Outfitters – June 14, 2013
MP3: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”
MP3: Still Corners – “Fireflies”
MP3: Still Corners – “Eyes”
MP3: Still Corners – “Into The Woods”
MP3: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”
MP3: Still Corners – “Endless Summer”
Video: Still Corners – “Berlin Lovers”
Video: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”
Video: Still Corners – “Into The Trees”
Video: Still Corners – “Endless Summer”

After taking a few hours to tend to this and that – which is to say napping – it was off to Yonge-Dundas Square for the festival’s ostensible headlining act, and said act’s ostensible opener. That would be Hayden, a last-minute reveal given his appearance at Arts & Crafts’ Field Trip festival the weekend before, but not really a surprise considering their history together – Hayden Desser joined The National for a cover of his “Dynamite Walls” when they played The Phoenix in October 2007 and he also interviewed frontman Matt Berninger earlier this Spring. My own history with Hayden is pretty long as well – I first saw him at the Humanities Theatre in Waterloo back in 1996, and again opening for Juliana Hatfield at Guelph’s Trasheteria in 1998… but not since. To be honest, while I’ve always appreciated what Hayden did, I was never the biggest fan – his simple and genial brand folk-pop never quite resonated with me the way it did some, and this year’s Us Alone was the first of his releases I’ve listened to in almost forever (and I like it fine). But hearing those songs played out in the open air as the sun just began to set was really an ideal way to be reminded of the power of simplicity. Leading a trio and starting out on keyboards, he worked through an unhurried set of new tunes and old favourites – occasionally punctuated by a Crazy Horse-esque noise flourish lest you start to nod off – but mostly just comfortable and enjoyable. And hearing the songs with which he first garnered attention – Everything I Long For‘s “Bad As They Seem” and “In September” took be back the nearly 20 years since I first heard them, as well as appreciate how far his songwriting has evolved while staying in the same mould. And also that the throat-shredding gruffness he needs to affect for “In September” must really hurt.

Post-City has a feature piece on Hayden.

Photos: Hayden @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 14, 2013
MP3: Hayden – “Old Dreams”
Video: Hayden – “Oh Memory”
Video: Hayden – “Rainy Saturday”
Video: Hayden – “Barely Friends”
Video: Hayden – “Where & When”
Video: Hayden – “All In One Move”
Video: Hayden – “Carried Away”
Video: Hayden – “Dynamite Walls”
Video: Hayden – “The Closer I Get”
Video: Hayden – “Bad As They Seem”

While the Yonge-Dundas Square mainstage of NXNE is fantastic in theory – free shows in the heart of the city with big names that help give a club-level festival a little major-league cachet – in practice it’s… less than fantastic. The built-in stage offers poor sightlines, made worse by the number of sponsors tents and beer cordons so that many in attendance are lucky to get some line of sight to one of the two video screens, never mind the stage. Add in massive crowds, many of whom are only there for something to do rather than actual fans and will think nothing of talking loudly through the whole set, and, well, maybe you’d be better off at the clubs. Unless, of course, the big-name headliner for this evening is one of your favourite bands of the past decade, in which case you suck up whatever complaints you might otherwise have and you see The National.

And if I thought that seeing them play an arena – albeit theatre-configured – in December 2011 was a headtrip, then seeing them in such a setting was just mental considering I still clearly remember our first meeting in March 2006 at The Horseshoe. Their environs were a touch amusing to the band, as well, with Matt Berninger commenting on the giant Beyonce H&M ads directly in his line of sight on the Eaton Centre, and Aaron Dessner noting the Blue Jays game was playing on another giant screen behind them. But they were here to do a job and do it they did.

Trouble Will Find Me lead track “I Should Live In Salt” set the tone for the evening, all stately melancholia, and certainly a far cry from the merry bedlam The Flaming Lips brought to the same stage the year prior. Even as their stages have gotten bigger, their show has remained pretty consistent – Berninger anchored centre stage, microphone gripped tightly, Dessner twins flanking him on guitars and the Devendorff rhythm section laying back and tending to business. The Dessners did alternately step out towards the audience whilst powering the band’s crescendos, but Berninger didn’t venture out to meet the audience until “England”. And while the public square is arguably the least acoustically favourable place they’ve played in the city, there was something special about hearing the likes of “Apartment Story” and “Fake Empire” ring out and off of the steel and glass surroundings.

The set naturally favoured Trouble and High Violet, but long-time fans were treated with “About Today” off of 2005’s Cherry Tree EP. Alligator has sadly gotten to the point of only being represented by the obvious “Abel” and “Mr. November”, though I will admit the latter takes on some new life when Berninger is now able to actually plunge into the crowd and be carried on the arms of, if not cheerleaders, then festival-goers. Having missed the end of their Air Canada Centre performance, their show-closing “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” was unexpected and powerful – pulling off an unplugged singalong can be difficult in a club or theatre setting; doing it on an outdoor urban stage? Nearly impossible. So of course they did, and with ease.

Some may grouse about the aforementioned problems of shows such as this and even used them as excuses to skip it, particularly knowing that the band will certainly return before long to do a proper ticketed show in a more personable venue. I took that as an extra reason to go to this show and appreciate its uniqueness, niggles aside. After all – R.E.M.’s free noon-hour show at the very same intersection in 2001 was also hardly an ideal concert setting, but it’s not one I’ll ever forget. I can’t say this one will be as indelible, all said and done, but for what it was, it was still great.

CBC Music and aux.tv have interviews with The National and NPR a World Cafe session.

Photos: The National @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 14, 2013
MP3: The National – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”
MP3: The National – “Twenty Miles To NH (Part 2)”
MP3: The National – “Exile Vilify”
MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
MP3: The National – “Afraid Of Everyone”
MP3: The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
MP3: The National – “So Far Around The Bend”
MP3: The National – “Fake Empire”
MP3: The National – “90 Mile Water Wall”
MP3: The National – “Cold Girl Fever”
MP3: The National – “Son”
MP3: The National – “Beautiful Head”
Video: The National – “Sea Of Love”
Video: The National – “Demons”
Video: The National – “Exile Vilify”
Video: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
Video: The National – “Conversation 16”
Video: The National – “Terrible Love”
Video: The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
Video: The National – “So Far Around The Bend” (live)
Video: The National – “Mistaken For Strangers”
Video: The National – “Apartment Story”
Video: The National – “Abel”
Video: The National – “Lit Up”
Video: The National – “Daughters Of The Soho Riots”
Video: The National – “Sugar Wife”
Video: The National – “Son”

Exclaim has details on the new Scud Mountain Boys album, entitled Do You Love the Sun and out July 9 digitally and August 6 on vinyl.

Esquire talks the festival life with Father John Misty. He plays a non-festival at The Danforth Music Hall on August 3.

Rolling Stone talks to Tommy Stinson about the Replacements reunion which kicks off August 25 at Riot Fest in Toronto at Garrison Common.

The first song from the new Okkervil River album The Silver Gymnasium is now available to stream via lyric video. The record is out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Stream: Okkervil River – “It Was My Season”

The Quietus gets to know former Okkervil River-er and current Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg in his capacity as an ornithologist.

Beatroute chats with Explosions In The Sky, in town supporting Nine Inch Nails at The Air Canada Centre on October 4.

NPR has premiered the new video from Low’s latest, The Invisible Way, while Drowned In Sound has posted a video session and interview with the Minnesotans.

Video: Low – “Plastic Cup”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of The Mountain Goats show at the soon-to-be-late Maxwell’s in Hoboken a couple weeks ago.

NPR and SF Weekly talk to John Vanderslice about making his latest record Dagger Beach.

NYC Taper has a recording of an Antlers show in New York last week.

Beatroute gets to know The Thermals.

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Tomorrow Is Yesterday

An introduction to Field Mouse

Photo By Shervin LainezShervin LainezIf it were as recently as last year, I would be spending this post – hell, yesterday’s post – talking about how after arriving in Chicago last Saturday, I went almost straight to Beat Kitchen to see Laura Stevenson and Field Mouse play, on account of missing the Toronto show of their tour this past Tuesday because of this little vacation. But because I’ve grown as a person and am no longer spending all my time and energy trying to make it to shows and write about them, I have nothing to say about that show because I didn’t make it anywhere near the club, though I can’t say that I didn’t look up where it was and write it in my calendar. Just in case.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the acquaintance of either of the acts. Stevenson I wrote about way in August 2010 – her new album Wheel is plenty solid, by the way, fans of country-pop would do well to check it out – but Brooklyn duo Field Mouse have had but a passing mention here, and I’d like to give them a little bit more because if your musical tastes align with mine – and why would you be here otherwise – they’re worth a listen.

Their name brings to mind – or is maybe confused for – English twee-pop forebears Field Mice, but while there are some points of intersection, particularly in their facility with melody and dreamy texture, the singular edition of Rachel Browne (vocals, guitar) and Andrew Futral (guitars) is much less navel-gazing and their shoegazey roots give their sound some wonderfully shimmering bite without overwhelming their tunefulness. It’s a formula that’s all about balance, and Field Mouse get it right. With a discography limited to just a few singles right now, they’re prepping their full-length debut for release later this year and have released a new video – presumably from said full-length – via Spin and recorded a video session for BrooklynVegan; as always, don’t read the comments. But do, however, hope they keep touring and make their way back to town soon, ideally when I’m also in town.

MP3: Field Mouse – “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”
MP3: Field Mouse – “Glass”
Stream: Field Mouse – “You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom”
Stream: Field Mouse – “Happy”
Video: Field Mouse – “Revenge Is Yesterday”

WNYC has a stream of one of the new Savoir Adore songs that will appear on the wide-release edition of their latest Our Nature when it comes out on June 4.

Stream: Savoir Adore – “Beating Hearts

Pitchfork has rightly devoted one of their fancily-presented cover story in-depth features to The National, and The Irish Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and 680 News also have features. They play Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 14.

Spin has premiered a new song from Florida’s Beach Day, whose debut Trip Trap Attack is out June 18 and who are here for NXNE on June 15 with a show at Handlebar in Kensington Market. DIY has a feature.

Stream: Beach Day – “Stay”

Exclaim has details on the new full-length from Crocodiles; Crimes of Passion is out August 20 and there’s a first track to hear courtesy of Stereogum. They’ll preview the album at the Adelaide Music Hall on June 17 when they support Japandroids.

MP3: Crocodiles – “Cockroach”

Chicago talks to Smith Westerns, who are streaming another new song from their forthcoming Soft Will. It’s out June 25 and they play Lee’s Palace on July 29.

Stream: Smith Westerns – “3AM Spiritual”

She & Him keep up the cutesy on the new video from Volume 3. They headline the first night of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 4.

Video: She & Him – “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”

Beatroute and The Georgia Straight have interviews and NPR a session with Yo La Tengo, playing the final day of TURF at Garrison Commons on July 7. DIY also has an interview with bassist James McNew about the reissue series for his Dump side-project.

Loud & Quiet and The Fly have features on Kurt Vile, also here for TURF day four at Garrison Common on July 7.

Merge has announced a deluxe reissue of the last, great lo-fi Mountain Goats album All Hail West Texas on July 23, which is great new if for no other reason as it gives these imaginary liner notes by comics scribe a reason to exist, if only online.

Because he never needs to rest, Ty Segall has announced an August 20 release of his next album, entitled Sleeper. Details on the release at Consequence Of Sound, trailer below.

Trailer: Ty Segall / Sleeper

Pitchfork has details on the new record from The Dodos, entitled Carrier and out August 27.

Stream: The Dodos – “Confidence”

Noisey talks to Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing, who have a date at The Kool Haus on September 21 supporting Local Natives.

The Journal News chats with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, in town at The Sound Academy on September 28.

Kevin Barnes talks to Rolling Stone about the next of Montreal record Lousy with Sylvianbriar, due out sometime this Fall.

Jim James tells Rolling Stone that My Morning Jacket plan to return to the studio to record their next record in October.

Rolling Stone Q&As Thurston Moore of Chelsea Light Moving, who’ve released a new video from their self-titled debut.

Video: Chelsea Light Moving – “Lip”

The 405 talks to Jon Ehrens and eMusic and City Paper to Jenn Wasner, who together are Dungeonesse.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an interview and Rolling Stone an acoustic video session with The Thermals, who’ve just released a video for the decidedly non-acoustic new single from their latest, Desperate Ground.

Video: The Thermals – “The Sunset”

Spin has an oral history of The Breeders’ Last Splash on the occasion of the record’s 20th anniversary.

And Mike Mills uses the occasion of the Green quarter-century reissue to tell Rolling Stone that when R.E.M. said no reunion, they meant no reunion. So no reunion.

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Sleepwalking

Deerhunter coming to town to play you songs, raid your mom’s closet

Photo By Robert SemmerRobert SemmerOn the list of ideal days on which to announce a tour itinerary, there’s not many occasions better than the day the album you’re actually going to promote goes on sale. And so yesterday, with the official release of their latest full-length Monomania, Atlanta’s Deerhunter have announced the itinerary for their Fall tour behind it. It’s an outing that brings them to The Phoenix in Toronto on September 12, and that leg of the tour also includes support from Marnie Stern, who herself released The Chronicles Of Marnia in March. Tickets for the show will run $20 in advance.

Also good to run on or around the release date of an album are feature pieces on them. And so, peruse these interviews with the ever-quotable Bradford Cox at The Salt Lake Tribune, MTV Hive, Pitchfork, and Interview. Marnie Stern is interviewed by The Washington Examiner, Soundcheck WNYC, MTV Hive, and Heeb.

Video: Deerhunter – “Monomania”
Video: Marnie Stern – “Immortals”

Also coming to town – chiptune champtions Anamanaguchi are going to be at The Hoxton on May 23, tickets $12. Their Kickstarted new album Endless Fantasy is out May 14.

MP3: Anamanaguchi – “Meow”

Los Angeles indie-R&B sibling duo Inc. have announced a North American tour that brings them to The Garrison on June 4. Their debut No World came out back in February.

MP3: Inc. – “5 Days”
MP3: Inc. – “The Place”

Also from LA but working a more electro-pop yet still soulful angle are Superhumanoids, who will be in town at The Drake on June 18. Yours Truly recently posted a video session with the band.

MP3: Superhumanoids – “Simple Severin”

Bear In Heaven have been announced as support for Wire for their July 10 date at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Bear In Heaven – “The Reflection Of You”

Following her triumphant local debut in February, there wasn’t much question that Solange would be back sooner rather than later. And just like that, she’s made a date at The Kool Haus on July 13, tickets $26.50.

Video: Solange – “Losing You”

Also subscribing to the Deerhunter model of “announce your tour the day your record comes out” are Savages, who accompanied yesterday’s release of their debut Silence Yourself with a brace of North American dates announced via Matablog; they’ll be back in Toronto on July 16 for a show at The Mod Club, tickets $16.50. Interview has a brief feature on the band.

Video: Savages – “Shut Up”

Australian songstress Lenka – she did that adorable song in Moneyball, that Aaron Sorkin film about baseball that you of course would remember adorable songs from – will be at The Drake on July 24, tickets $15. Her new album Shadows will be out on June 4.

Video: Lenka – “The Show”

Brooklyn’s Oberhofer haven’t released a full-length follow-up to last year’s Time Capsules II yet, but the Nostalgia EP that came out last month seems to be enough pretence to hit the road; they’re at The Garrison on August 1, tickets $11.50.

MP3: Oberhofer – “Dontneedya”

We’ve only just started gotten to enjoy Spring and/or Summer, but if you need a reason to look forward to Autumn, perhaps the double-bill of Toro Y Moi and The Sea & Cake – the former touring this year’s Anything In Return and the latter last year’s Runner – will do it. The solid double-bill will be at The Phoenix on October 27, tickets $20. The Independent has an interview with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick.

MP3: Toro Y Moi – “Saturday Love”
MP3: The Sea & Cake – “On And On”

That star-studded yet endlessly contentious Great Gatsby OST came out this week and has also been streaming at NPR. So if you want to hear what next year’s CD dollar bin – if such a thing still existed – sounds like, head on over.

Stream: The Great Gatsby original soundtrack

Pitchfork has an advance stream of the self-titled debut from Dungeonesse, due out next week on May 14.

MP3: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”
Stream: Dungeonesse / Dungeonesse

Vampire Weekend are a week out from the release of their new record Modern Vampires Of The City, and so of course it must be streaming. And so it is, at iTunes. They’re at the Sony Centre on May 16 and are the subject of feature interviews at Pitchfork and The New York Times.

Stream: Vampire Weekend / Modern Vampires Of The City

FVCKTHEMEDIA and CMJ have interviews with Laura Stevenson about her new record Wheel, which she’s in town to promote at The Drake Underground on May 21.

aux.tv, Blurt, Georgia Straight, and The Fly talk to Hutch Harris of The Thermals, coming to town to play The Horseshoe on May 21.

Paste has an advance stream of the new Saturday Looks Good To Me record One Kiss Ends It All, out May 21.

Stream: Saturday Looks Good To Me / One Kiss Ends It All

NPR has premiered the first video from Kurt Vile’s latest, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. He and his Violators play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.

Video: Kurt Vile – “Never Run Away”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have released a video for the title track of their latest, Mosquito.

Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Mosquito”

The Flaming Lips have a new video from The Terror – the NSFW caveat pretty much goes without saying, doesn’t it? – and there’s interviews at Stereogum, Loud & Quiet, and Bon Appetit.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “You Lust”

Janelle Monáe has released the first video from her next album The Electric Lady, due out later this year.

Video: Janelle Monáe w Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.”

NPR, Seattle Weekly, and Aquarium Drunkard talk to Caitlin Rose.

Blurt profiles The Men.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Low.

Pitchfork gets an update from the studio from Spoon. Who are in the studio.

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Thick As Thieves

Widowspeak and The Auras at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangObjectively speaking, there’s not a world of difference between Widowspeak’s 2011 self-titled debut or the follow-up Almanac, released in January of this year. You can file them both quite comfortably under “the soundtrack to dreams of dusty country roads”, not too far from lazy but not inaccurate reference points Mazzy Star and Cat Power, but something about Almanac grabs me the way that Widowspeak, as much as I dug it, didn’t. And it’s not something as simple as they’re getting more dynamic or rocking out harder, as refresher listens to their debut confirm there’s no shortage of volume spikes amidst the sleepiness. There’s just something more present, more assured, in Almanac‘s grooves – like lucid dreaming versus wake-walking. Whatever it is, I love it, and so their show at The Garrison on Monday night – their first non-festival headline date in Toronto – was a must-go on my calendar.

Local support came from The Auras, signed to Toronto’s Optical Sounds and labelmates with B-17, whom I’d just seen just a few days earlier; if there’s some sort of shadow conspiracy to get me more attuned with the city’s psych-pop scene… then it’s working. Mind you, The Auras didn’t impress the same way that B-17 did, but they’re not really built to. Comprised of fresh-faced youngsters rather than scene veterans, they were a bit of a mish-mash visually – a mass of paisley, headbands, shaggy hair, tassels, and with half the six-piece band in sunglasses, all bathed in their a bring-your-own light show. Sonically, they felt more like a a psychedelic jam session, rotating through four lead vocalists and possessing more of vague mandate to sound like a more shambolic, polite Black Angels than a firm mission statement. Understand that this is not a complaint, but actually more a point of envy. Having a group of like-minded players to jam, gig, and record with sounds like the best thing ever, actually.

I saw Widowspeak twice last year – in the same room at NXNE and a few months earlier at SXSW – but this time there was a new rhythm section in place and a fifth member in the fold on guitar and keys. The heart of the band, however – Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas – were still there, ever front and centre. Opening with Almanac leadoff “Perennials”, the template for the show was quickly established – Hamilton serenely cooing into the mic while Thomas got to play the role of guitar hero, although he would have been more effective at it had his guitar not been the quietest of the three on stage; a little more volume would have helped his leads achieve the prominence they deserved and might also have quieted the reasonably-sized if disproportionately chatty crowd audience.

As the show progressed, the chatter either diminished or the genuinely interested moved up to the front – in either case, they were drawn in by the performance, which maintained the same basic rhythm through the better part of an hour, offering a good mix of Almanac and Widowspeak material though sadly omitting two of my favourite new songs, “Devil Knows” and “Spirit Is Willing”. They did shift gears slightly towards the end with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” – yeah, having Hamilton wrap her voice around it is a bit on the nose, but still gorgeous – and a keyboard-led “Thick As Thieves”, before closing with a relatively raucous “Ballad Of The Golden Hour” and “Harsh Realm”. An encore wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but Hamilton was enticed to come back out for a final number, a reading of “Limbs” done solo because the rest of the band didn’t know how to play it, and were also busy selling merch off to the side. A modest finale to a modest yet wholly enjoyable show.

Iamnosuperman and Good Times have interviews with Robert Earl Thomas and The Riverfront Times chats with Molly Hamilton while El Paso What’s Up talks to both.

Photos: Widowspeak, The Auras @ The Garrison – April 16, 2013
MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Sore Eyes”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Gun Shy”
MP3: Widowspeak – “In The Pines”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Devil Knows”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
Video: Widowspeak – “Locusts”
Stream: The Auras / The Auras

Not necessarily enough show announcements this week to devote a post, but still a few things of note. Seattle’s Cave Singers will bring their new album Naomi – released last month – to town for a show at The Horseshoe on June 17, tickets $15. There’s a feature on the band at 85-26.

MP3: The Cave Singers – “Black Leaf”
MP3: The Cave Singers – “Swim Club”

California’s Rogue Wave are back with a new record in Nightingale Floors coming out on June 4, and are teaming up with Brooklyn’s Caveman, who just released their second self-titled album, for a Summer tour that hits The Mod Club on June 25, tickets $18.50/.

MP3: Caveman – “Easy Water”
Stream: Rogue Wave – “College”

Another bi-coastal bill will team Californian psych-pop outfit Woods, still working last Fall’s Bend Beyond, with New York ’90s indie rock revivalists Parquet Courts and their debut Light Up Gold for a date at The Horseshoe on July 17, tickets $15.50.

MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”
MP3: Parquet Courts – “Borrowed Time”

Los Angeles’ Julia Holter brings last year’s Ekstasis to The Drake on July 17, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”

Consequence Of Sound, Spinner, Vulture, and Spin talk to Thermals frontman Hutch Harris and PopMatters to drummer Westin Glass about their just-released new record Desperate Ground, and they also talk to The AV Club and Clash respectively about action movies. The Thermals are at The Horseshoe on May 21.

MTV Hive and Stereogum have features on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose new record Mosquito arrived this week.

Interview and The Victoria Times-Colonist talk to Sam Beam about the new Iron & Wine album Ghost On Ghost.

PopMatters, eMusic, Forbes, and Spin have features on The Flaming Lips and their new album The Terror.

The National Post talks to Steve Earle about his latest The Low Highway.

Ra Ra Riot is streaming the single they’ll be releasing for Record Store Day this Saturday via T Magazine. The Alternate Side also has a session with the band, who are here on May 25 at The Sound Academy supporting The Shins, then back for the Field Trip fest at Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: Ra Ra Riot – “All I Fear”

Stereogum has a stream of The Hold Steady’s contribution to this week’s Game Of Thrones closing credits, while Wired examines the intersection of the kingdoms of Westeros and the world of indie rock. The Hold Steady are here as part of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 6 at Garrison Commons.

Stream: The Hold Steady – “The Bear & The Maiden Fair”

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert concert with Yo La Tengo, one of the names at the final day of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.

Kurt Vile is also playing TURF Sunday; Noisey has an interview with him about being a rocker parent rocker.

Janelle Monáe dishes a bit to Billboard about her long-awaited second album The Electric Lady, due out later this year.

Stereogum have premiered the new video from Low’s The Invisible Way.

Video: Low – “Just Make It Stop”

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff has squeezed another video out of his Lovestreams side-project.

Video: Lovestreams – “There’s Video”

NPR welcomes Local Natives for a World Cafe session.

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Born Innocent

Redd Kross and B-17 at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe weather may have been nigh-on dreadful last Thursday night, but it was going to take more than Winter’s last gasp to keep Toronto from venturing out to catch the long-awaited return of some colourfully-named Californians been pioneers at melding punk energy and pop sensibilities since adolescence. No, not Green Day at the Air Canada Centre, silly. I’m talking about Redd Kross at The Horseshoe.

Though they returned to active duty in 2006 following a decade’s hiatus, the Los Angeles-based band’s activity has been somewhat sporadic, though it did include a somewhat random but wholly welcome appearance at NXNE 2008. Only with last Summer’s release of the excellent Researching The Blues – their first album since 1997’s Show World – did the fully commit to being an active, creative concern and even then, thanks to Steve McDonald’s touring commitments as a member of OFF!, it took them this long to put together an east coast tour to support it. Though considering that a tour was never a foregone conclusion, complaining about the wait just seems petty.

Their lead-in act was locals B-17, a relatively new outfit whose members have been fighting the good fight in the Toronto club scene for years now. And while I never really kept up with any of those other acts – Action Makes, The Hoa Hoas, The Easy Targets – if they were anything up to the level of B-17, then I was missing out. B-17 offered an inspired mix of garage rock rawness, a steady Krautrock-hewn drone of a groove, and psychedelic trippiness. They were simultaneously relentlessly steady, thanks to Nick Kervin’s rock-solid drumming, and unpredictably explosive, usually detonated by Calvin Brown’s lead guitar, with guitarist Richard Gibson and bassist Clint Rogerson keeping things tuneful while trading lead vocal duties. It’s probably overly optimistic to think that their debut EP Wishing Won’t Make It So will break the band to any wider audiences than their previous projects reached, but for those for dig on what’s in B-17’s payload, it’s right on target.

When Redd Kross were here in 2008, I only had 1993’s power-pop masterpiece Phaseshifter as a reference point, but an unfamiliarity with the rest of the material didn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the show, so immediate and infectious is the riff-powered, glammy bubblegum rock they’ve perfected over a 30+ year career. This time out I also had Blues and 1987’s Neurotica in my system, though relative to the hardcore Redd Kross fans that made up most of the audience, I was still a newb in relative terms. Which was fine; we weren’t there to compare cred – at least I hope not – but to just have a good time. And if there’s one thing Redd Kross are about, it’s a good time. For all the descriptors and adjectives that get attached to rock’n’roll, “fun” isn’t one that gets used nearly enough, but there’s probably no better word to describe what’s being had both on stage and off at one of their shows.

The McDonald brothers’ devotion to an ideal of rock’n’roll of big riffs, hooks, and showmanship has been unwavering since they started the band at the ages of 15 (Jeff) and 11 (Steve), and is still evident in the look of glee on their faces as they perform. I was a bit surprised that guitarist Robert Hecker – a… distinctive visual presence in the band last time out and still part of the band when Blues was recorded – was absent (he no longer tours with them) but his replacement Jason Shapiro was more than up to the task of trading riffs with the elder McDonald and keeping the energy levels elevated.

Kicking off with “Linda Blair” – the first song from their first album, Born Innocent – the band paid fairly equal due to the breadth of their catalog, personal highlights being Blues standout “Stay Away From Downtown”, non-album single “Switchblade Sister”, and a deliciously pummelling “Jimmy’s Fantasy” from Phaseshifter – one could easily forget that for as bubblegummy/poppy as Red Kross can be, they could also be as heavy as hell. Though the main se only clocked in at 50 minutes, the encore basically constituted a second set, running nearly another half hour and including a run-through of their original debut EP Red Cross, or so I was told. it was denoted as “E.P.” on the set list and though I didn’t recognize any of it, being fast, furious, and dedicated to the memory of Annette Funicello, it felt perfect regardless – kind of like the entire show.

Phawker has an interview with Jeff McDonald while The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, NOW, and Philadelphia Inquirer talk with Steve.

Photos: Redd Kross, B-17 @ The Horseshoe – April 11, 2013
MP3: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
MP3: Redd Kross – “Researching The Blues”
MP3: Redd Kross – “Ballad Of A Lovedoll”
Video: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
Video: Redd Kross – “Yesterday Once More”
Video: Redd Kross – “Jimmy’s Fantasy”
Video: Redd Kross – “Lady In The Front Row”
Video: Redd Kross – “Annie’s Gone”
Video: Redd Kross – “1976”
Video: Redd Kross – “Ballad Of A Lovedoll”
Video: Redd Kross – “Deuce”
Video: Redd Kross – “Blow You A Kiss In The Wind”
Stream: B-17 / Wishing Won’t Make It So

DIY talk to Hutch Harris of The Thermals about their new album Desperate Ground, out tomorrow, Apri l6. They play The Horseshoe on May 21.

The Guardian and NPR have feature interviews with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose new album Mosquito arrives tomorrow, April 16.

Pitchfork, Consequence Of Sound, Rolling Stone, Interview, and eMusic get into the heads of The Flaming Lips, whose new record The Terror comes out on April 16.

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine talks to Spin about their new album Ghost On Ghost, from which they’ve premiered a new video at NPR. The record is out tomorrow.

Video: Iron & Wine – “Joy”

Canadians can now stream The Low Highway – the new album from Steve Earle – at CBC Music. Non-Canadadians can now wait for a non-geoblocked stream to surface. Or just buy it when it comes out tomorrow. In the meantime, read these feature pieces at The Wall Street Journal and The Arts Desk.

Stream: Steve Earle & The Dukes (and Duchesses) / The Low Highway

Stereogum has a stream of The Men’s contribution to Sacred Bones’ Todo Muere Vol. 3 compilation, their contribution to this year’s Record Store Day exclusives going on sale this Saturday, April 20.

Stream: The Men – “B-Minor”

Following Titus Andronicus on on Twitter can be exhausting – Patrick Stickles does like to tweet – but also informative. For example, last week they tweeted what the album art for Local Business was actually supposed to look like as well as why it doesn’t, and also offered up a free download of out-of-print live album The Innocents Abroad. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace on May 2.

The Wall Street Journal has premiered a stream of another new track from the forthcoming She & Him album Volume 3, coming May 7. They play the Toronto Urban Roots Fest (TURF) at Garrison Commons on July 4.

Stream: She & Him – “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”

The Guardian gets to know Dungeonesse, side/solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, whose self-titled debut comes out May 14. A new track from it is now available to stream.

Stream: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”

Rolling Stone talks to The National about their new record Trouble Will Fine Me, which is out May 21 and from which they’re now streaming a second new song. They headline Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 14.

Stream: The National – “Don’t Swallow The Caps”

Bazan/Johnson/Kadane2-powered Overseas have premiered the first video from their self-titled debut at Paste. The album is out June 13.

Video: Overseas – “Ghost To Be”

Billboard finds out what’s going on with The Hold Steady, who will be at TURF at Garrison Common on July 6.

DIY interviews Kurt Vile, one of the acts closing out TURF at Garrison Common on July 7.

With the Afghan Whigs taking a breather, Greg Dulli talks to Billboard about the projects he’ll be tackling next, including a collaborative album with Steve Kilbey of The Church.

NPR has posted a video session with Caitlin Rose.

The Fly talks to Local Natives.

The Line Of Best Fit and Billboard have interviews with The Black Angels.

Soem reading for those of us whose hobbies include festival lineup-spotting: pieces on how Phoenix became this year’s go-to festival headlining act at Grantland and Stereogum, and Billboard speculates what Coachella was thinking making The Stone Roses one of the headliners for their opening night.