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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits’

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Day Two

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kathleen Edwards, Garbage, and more at Osheaga

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMy writeup of day one of Osheaga mentioned a few times how hot it was, but it bears repeating: it was hot. 40 Celsius with the humidity – that’s 104 Fahrenheit, my American friends – and not even much relief in the shade. Why is Friday’s heat relevant to Saturday’s recap? Because Saturday felt even hotter. And why is the heat relevant? I guess it’s not, really, but even days on I still feel like complaining about it. It was damn hot. But even though any rational person would have opted to stay indoors and air conditioned, tens of thousands still headed back onto Parc Jean-Drapeau in the middle of the St. Lawrence River for another day of music. In the heat.

And the earliest or most masochistic of those – your call – were there in time to see The Dø, arguably the best French/Finnish band going, do their thing to kick off the day. Having seen them on their previous to last visit to Toronto in Fall 2010 – their most recent visit being the night before – I remembered that their live experience was a much less eclectic one than you got from their records, focused more on their pop side. But there’s only so much smoothing out you can do for an outfit as artistically restless as they and throughout their set, their odder/proggier tendencies would manifest themselves in outros, jams, what have you. Singer Olivia Merilahti’s charisma works better as slinky than sweaty, but you take what you can get.

Photos: The Dø @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”
Video: The Dø – “Gonna Be Sick”
Video: The Dø – “Too Insistent”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “Playground Hustle”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”

Immediately following on the Mountain stage and way at the opposite end of eccentric was Canada’s sweetheart 2012, Kathleen Edwards, with the first set of the weekend that came with a simple, “yeah it’s hot so why not lay back and soak it in” vibe. Indeed, looked at it from a different perspective, it was rather the perfect place for Edwards’ earnest and genial sort of roots-rock, bolstered by the fact that she’s pretty hellaciously funny – case in point, her comment to the stage hand turning the fire hose onto the audience: “hey, hose guy you and me have a date in 20 minutes”. I don’t see her live enough to not need to be reminded of this, but I did have enough of a reference point to notice that Edwards seemed happier and more content up there than I’d ever seen her, particularly in her older material which was represented by the singles though she did turn to her breakout Voyageur for some deep cuts. I don’t usually expect happiness to translate into great art, but Edwards wears and uses it well.

Huffington Post Music has a feature piece on Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Asking For Flowers”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”

Following Edwards – though with enough of a break between to allow a water run – was Calexico, who thanks to their Arizona roots probably didn’t even notice the heat, and if they had something to say about the humidity, they politely refrained from doing so. And indeed, if any artist on the lineup made music that sounded beaten down and bleached by the sun, it was Calexico. The usually workaholic band had been relatively quiet since 2008’s Carried To Dust, focusing on some archival reissues before getting around to making a new record in Algiers, due out September 11. But their set didn’t worry too much about proving they’d been making new music – opening with “Crystal Frontier” circa 2001’s Even My Sure Things Fall Through, they were much more about creating a deliciously parched, mariachi-tinged atmosphere and maybe getting people thinking, “hey, this heat thing isn’t so bad”. Methinks they succeeded.

Photos: Calxico @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
MP3: Calexico – “History Of Lovers”
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Black Heart”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “Ballad Of Cable Hogue”
MP3: Calexico – “Service And Repair”
MP3: Calexico – “Frontera”
MP3: Calexico – “Spokes”
Video: Calexico – “Para”
Video: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”

Considering they were a local band whose last album Shapeshifter had been a real breakout record – it certainly got me onside after years of indifference – I was a little surprised that Young Galaxy had drawn a mid-day time slot on the festival’s smallest stage. But considering they’d spent much of 2012 writing and recording the follow-up to said record in Sweden – though their Rockethub campaign didn’t reach its target, they made it over anyways? – perhaps they wanted to ease back into the live thing. In any case, they weren’t helped out by the fact that the technical difficulties that plagued the acts I saw on the Forest stage on Friday persisted, the overall mix rather shoddy, or the fact that Young Galaxy have never been the best live act, but the vibrancy of the Shapeshifter material still came through. Interestingly, their live sound seemed more built on conventional instruments and less reliant on electronics than I remembered; it remains to be seen if this was just happenstance for this performance or if it marks another change in direction… the one new song they offered up didn’t stray far from the Shapeshifter formula but I wouldn’t assume what was heard onstage necessarily resembles that which came out of Dan Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio. I look forward to hearing it.

Daytrotter recently posted up a session with the band.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Scène des arbes – August 4, 2012
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Phantoms”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”

Back at the mainstage, it was soon time for Garbage. As much as I hate people who equate bands falling off their own radar with having ceased to exist at all, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten they’d released two albums this century; I thought this year’s Not Your Kind Of People had been their first record in much more than seven years. I wasn’t even really a fan back in the ’90s and had not paid any attention to the Toronto stop of their tour earlier this year, but festival math is different and in this setting, Garbage were a must-see for me if for no other reason than I never had before and I’d surely know a lot of the songs. After all, they weren’t a cult band by any measure, but genuinely successful across their first two albums and ubiquitous across radio and television. Not that any of that necessarily meant anything to much of the Osheaga demographic, who were probably in primary school when Garbage were at their apex, but I digress.

Boasting surely the most spartan stage setup of anyone at the festival – there was almost no gear onstage – they turned in a thoroughly polished performance befitting the 3/4 of the band who’re studio perfectionists and with frontwoman Shirley Manson responsible for providing any and all rawness, which she did with aplomb. Looking as fierce and confrontational as ever – and probably thankful they had an early evening timeslot for even SPF10000 sunblock couldn’t have prevented her paleness from spontaneously combusting at high noon – Manson prowled and strutted around the stage like she owned it; time hasn’t diminished her charisma, that’s for certain. Their tunes have also aged surprisingly well; though their electro-grunge pop sound is inseparable from its era, the hooks and melodies are forever. And I appreciated their seeing the Pretenders’ “Talk Of The Town” quote in the outro of “Special” – probably my all-time favourite Garbage moment alongside the hard-panned guitars on “Vow” – and raising it an extra few lines from “I Go To Sleep”. A nice moment in one of my unexpectedly favourite sets of the weekend.

The Montreal Gazette and Huffington Post have interviews with Shirley Manson and Rolling Stone analyzes her distinctive fashion sense over the years.

Photos: Garbage @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
Video: Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
Video: Garbage – “Tell Me Where It Hurts”
Video: Garbage – “Run Baby Run”
Video: Garbage – “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
Video: Garbage – “Bleed Like Me”
Video: Garbage – “Why Do You Love Me”
Video: Garbage – “Shut Your Mouth”
Video: Garbage – “Breaking Up The Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Cherry Lips”
Video: Garbage – “Androgyny”
Video: Garbage – “You Look So Fine”
Video: Garbage – “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
Video: Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Garbage – “Special”
Video: Garbage – “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Video: Garbage – “Push It”
Video: Garbage – “Milk”
Video: Garbage – “Stupid Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Video: Garbage – “Queer”
Video: Garbage – “Vow”

En route from the mainstages to the far end of the festival grounds, I made my first and only stop at Osheaga’s electronic stage in order to see Sweden’s Little Dragon. I was there well in time but the band were extra-late in getting set up and underway, thus limiting my time to get acquainted with them. I hadn’t really heard much from them before, but an elevator pitch of three Swedes fronted by a little Japanese girl while cranking out beat-heavy electro-soul was enough to get me interested. For the few songs I was able to stick around and with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano was all over the stage, dancing and going to town on her tambourine, they certainly delivered what I’d hoped for and did with a good deal more energy and ferocity than I expected. As I said, I’d have liked to stay and watch more, but I had a long-standing appointment to keep.

Fuse and Rolling Stone have feature pieces on Little Dragon.

Photos: Little Dragon @ Scène Piknick Électronik – August 4, 2012
Video: Little Dragon – “Crystalfilm”
Video: Little Dragon – “Brush The Heat”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”
Video: Little Dragon – “Fortune”
Video: Little Dragon – “My Step”
Video: Little Dragon – “Never Never”
Video: Little Dragon – “After The Rain”
Video: Little Dragon – “Twice”
Video: Little Dragon – “Constant Surprises”

An appointment that dated back to March, when I got to within ten people or so of seeing The Jesus & Mary Chain in Austin at SXSW, but no closer. This was before they made it clear that they’d be on the road for much of 2012, mind, so being shut out and listening to them from the street felt extra painful at the time; needless to say, missing them again was simply not in the cards. Though if I had any fears about the Green stage being jammed before I got there, they were unfounded – the band may have been legends to many, but there weren’t more than a few hundred people gathered to see them close out the night, most of a certain generation and more than a few with kids in tow. No doubt a club show, as they’d sold out in Toronto the night before, would have better suited but this was what it was, and what it was was pretty great.

If you were to drop someone from the ’80s in front of the stage, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea who they were looking at – William Reid may have looked similar to how he did back then, albeit heavier-set, but Jim Reid’s wild shock of hair has long been traded for a rather office-looking cut and it’s hard to imagine the younger him wearing a red Flying Burrito Brothers t-shirt onstage as he did. The time-traveler might also ask why Phil King of Lush was there on bass. And just as they didn’t look like they once did, they didn’t entirely sound like they did either – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While still exceptionally loud, the white noise screech that was their signature circa Psychocandy was localized mainly to Reid’s guitar as opposed to across the entire sonic spectrum and the melodic pop polish that they’d achieved by the end of their recording career (1999’s Munki) was applied to all of their career-spanning set. And while the younger Reid may have looked rather more proper than he once did, his voice still had that Glaswegian sneer and the misanthropic spirit of his lyrics remained – it’s hard to sugarcoat a song like “Reverence”, after all.

We didn’t get to hear Jim Reid berate his brother for messing up at all as I’ve heard he’s done at other shows – some things never change – but he did apologize to the audience for forgetting the words to “Happy When It Rains” and forcing a start-over (the second time that day I’d heard a Scottish person sing about how they enjoy the rain, coincidentally). And while I’m sure they intended having Mad Men actress and Montréal native Jessica Paré come out to sing backups on “Just Like Honey” and cover Hope Sandoval’s parts on “Sometimes Always” as a surprise, the fact that she’d done the same at the previous Buffalo and Toronto shows kind of took some of the wow factor out of it. Unsurprisingly, that’s what most of the reviews of the show focused on but the real important take-away was that even if they never make a new record – and maybe we don’t even want one – The Jesus & Mary Chain still sound amazing and still don’t give a fuck. All hail.

Photos: The Jesus & Mary Chain @ Scène verte – August 4, 2012
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Love Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Cracking Up”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock’N’Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Sometimes Always”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Almost Gold”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Something I Can Have”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Far Gone And Out”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Teenage Lust”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Reverence”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Blues From A Gun”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Darklands”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “April Skies”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”

Some other things that you may want to know about… Cat Power has announced the North American tour dates in support of Sun, out September 4. She’ll be at The Kool Haus on October 20, tickets $34.50 in advance, and a second track from the new record is now available to download.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

Bob Mould is streaming the first single from his new one The Silver Age, out September 4. It sounds like going through those Sugar reissues reinspired him in the very best way, and if you’re unfamiliar with Mould’s extensive body of song but want to start investigating, The AV Club has a helpful beginner’s guide.

Stream: Bob Mould – “The Descent”

Rolling Stone has some details on the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Document, due out on September 25.

Paste, LA Weekly, and The Village Voice talk to Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross, who’ve just released a new video and download from their excellent new record Researching The Blues.

MP3: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”
Video: Redd Kross – “Stay Away From Downtown”

Circuital may be over a year old, but that doesn’t mean that My Morning Jacket can’t release a new animated, Galifianakis-powered video from it to coincide with their tour which brings them to Echo Beach next Wednesday, August 15.

Video: My Morning Jacket – “Outta My System”

Lower Dens also have a new video from Nootropics. There’s also interviews at DCist and The Village Voice.

Video: Lower Dens – “Candy”

Tom Waits had everyone convinced last week that he’d be announcing his first tour in forever this week. He didn’t, he just released a new video from Bad Like Me. Never before has such a cool video been met with so much disappointment.

Video: Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”

Rolling Stone talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats about their new record Transcendental Youth. It’s out October 2 and brings them to The Phoenix on October 20.

Britt Daniel chats with Exclaim about his new band Divine Fits, his old band Spoon, and about his other new band, Spl:t S:ngle. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 and they’re at Lee’s Palace September 5.

Fang Island gives aux.tv a track-by-track walkthrough of their latest Major.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When No One's Watching

Craig Finn lets Full Eyes stream

Photo By Jeremy BaldersonJeremy BaldersonAt first, it’s hard to imagine what need there is for a Craig Finn solo album. After all, he gets to run roughshod over The Hold Steady records with as many words as he can manage to pair with their classic rock attack – has he really got a backlog of ideas that don’t fit that broad and welcoming template? As Clear Heart, Full Eyes, out next Tuesday but now available to stream in whole at NPR demonstrates, yeah he does.

It’s not as though any of these songs couldn’t have easily been made into Hold Steady numbers; Finn’s character-driven songwriting style is still immediately recognizable. But the mood is more thoughtful and the musical accompaniments chosen are simpler and slower – though not acoustic and strummy, it should be made clear – and allow Finn to occupy enough of a different timbre and cadence to clearly distinguish him from the manic character who fronts The Hold Steady. It’s the sort of record that fans will enjoy for its own merits but also make them appreciate the next Hold Steady record even more.

Clash gets into the literary inspiration that goes into his work while Pitchfork and Hitfix talk to him about going solo and what’s next for The Hold Steady.

MP3: Craig Finn – “Honolulu Blues”
Stream: Craig Finn / Clear Heart Full Eyes

School Of Seven Bells have revealed details of a Spring tour in support of Ghostory, out February 28. The Toronto date is May 2 at The Hoxton.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Lafaye”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “The Night”

Hospitality were just here last week but they’ve already scheduled a return date for February 29 when they’ll be supporting Tennis at The Horseshoe. Their self-titled debut is out January 31.

MP3: Hospitality – “Friends Of Friends”

Beirut have announced a July 19 date at The Sound Academy, part of a Canadian tour in support of last year’s The Rip Tide. Tickets are $35 general admission, $50 VIP.

Video: Beirut – “Santa Fe”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Real Estate, who play a sold-out show at Lee’s Palace this Friday. The Boston Globe and Montreal Mirror have interviews.

Nada Surf has made their new record The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy available to stream ahead of its release next week over at NPR. They play the Opera House on April 4.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
Stream: Nada Surf / The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

Stuff like iTunes sessions don’t typically get my attention, but one coming out on January 24 does – because a) it’s by Wilco and b) it’s all of eight songs long, picked from all throughout their existence and featuring a cover of “Cruel To Be Kind” with Nick Lowe. So yeah, maybe I’ll buy that. Details on the release at Consequence Of Sound, and there’s interviews with Jeff Tweedy at The Denver Post and Glenn Kotche at The Los Angeles Times.

The Stool Pigeon talks to Chairlift about their new record Something, out January 24 and followed by a show at The Horseshoe on March 28.

Stereogum checks in with Sharon Van Etten about the state of her new album Tramp, out February 7. She plays Lee’s Palace on February 21.

Opening up that show are Shearwater, who’ve offered up another track from their new one Animal Joy. It’s out February 14.

MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”

The first official preview of Sleigh Bells’ forthcoming Reign Of Terror is now available to hear. It’s out February 21 and they play The Phoenix February 18.

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

Another tune from the new Lambchop record Mr. M is available to download ahead of its February 21 release date.

MP3: Lambchop – “Gone Tomorrow”

The Boston Herald, Boston Phoenix, and Metro talk to Joe Pernice about the Scud Mountain Boys reunion tour, which kicked off this week in Boston and hits Lee’s Palace on February 25.

The Decemberists will be entering their hiatus in grand fashion, with the released of their first live album, the double-disc We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11). It will be out on March 13; Rolling Stone has specifics.

Rolling Stone has an MP3 from Threads, the new record for Minneapolis’ Now, Now. It’s out March 16 and they may or may not be opening for The Naked & Famous at The Sound Academy on April 5 – I’ve seen both that they are and aren’t.

MP3: Now, Now – “School Friends”

Rolling Stone has got an MP3 from the new Justin Townes Earle album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now available to download. The record is out March 27.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”

DIY profiles Howler, who are at The Drake Underground on April 5. They’ve also released a live session video recorded at the Rough Trade store in London.

Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck” (live at Rough Trade)

Wayne Coyne talks to Rolling Stone about a new The Flaming Lips record that will be made up of collaborations with other artists such as Bon Iver (who, let’s be honest, would probably agree to collaborate with anyone who asked) and which may be out as soon as April.

Lower Dens have announced a new record – look for Nootropics on May 1 – and also released the first MP3 from it, which is kind of great.

MP3: Lower Dens – “Brains”

DIY has a feature piece on Guided By Voices, who aim to release their second reunion album Class Clown Spots A UFO in or around May.

Ryan Adams has released a new video from Ashes & Fire.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Chains Of Love”

There’s also a new video from Death Cab For Cutie’s Codes & Keys.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Underneath The Sycamore”

aux.tv talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Dean Wareham gives an interview to Music Times Two and offers some thoughts on a Luna reunion (not likely, but not impossible).

Filter has a two-part feature piece on Tom Waits.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Breaks In The Armor

Crooked Fingers and Strand Of Oaks at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo, let’s see. Crooked Fingers were just here back in July – yeah, covered that. Oh, but in the interim, they also released a new album in Breaks In The Armor; covered that too. So was there really anything new to report out of Tuesday night’s show at the Drake Underground? Actually, yes.

To begin with there was opener Strand Of Oaks, who definitely merit discussion. I’d been familiar with the project of Pennsylvania singer-songwriter Tim Showalter for a little while – his 2010 album Pope Killdragon coming highly recommended from a number of directions – but hadn’t caught him live on any of his previous visits to Toronto. And I almost didn’t catch this one as he started his set at least 15 minutes earlier than had been scheduled, but walking into the Underground to the sounds of Showalter and his two bandmates weaving some mesmerizing space-folk, I was extra thankful that traffic had been light.

Pope Killdragon was an impressive work – lyrically rich and emotionally resonant – but despite pushing beyond the voice-and-guitar template, was a pretty stark-sounding affair. Live, with two guitars, a bass and a small army of technology at their respective toes and fingers for triggering and controlling a multitude of backing tracks, it was a much richer and haunting sonic experience with the songs being lifted up on a bed of echoes and swells. I’ve heard some comparisons made between Strand Of Oaks and Bon Iver; they’re fair, though with less falsetto and vocoder. If you dig what Justin Vernon does, do yourself a favour and investigate Strand Of Oaks. And if you don’t, well, check them out anyways.

July’s Crooked Fingers felt special in the way that performances that take place outside the regular touring cycle for an album often do; more experimenting, more deep cuts, more unpredictability. What with the band consisting solely of Eric Bachmann and Liz Durrett at that point, it was necessarily simpler in arrangement but still a stirring showcase for Bachmann’s career so far. This time out they were formally touring in support of Breaks and added a rhythm section for the occasion but rather than show off benefits of the extra hands right off, Bachmann stepped offstage as soon as he got there and into the audience to open with a gorgeous, unamplified “Man O’ War”. Plugging in, the band would showcase much of the new record alongside selections from the entirety of the Crooked Fingers catalog, all tweaked and subtly adjusted to sit perfectly alongside each other despite the broad stylistic shifts between the albums from whence they came.

As memorable as the last show was, it was great to have the muscle of the rhythm section overtop the skeleton presented in the Summer this time out. Besides the obvious extra infusion of energy, the songs were able to loosen up and breathe more and Bachmann given the freedom to rock out more on guitar where he saw fit. The additional personnel also allowed them to explore more complex arrangements of songs – sure, it would/could have been simpler to arrange everything for two guitars, bass and drums and it probably would have sounded great, but you have to appreciate the creative choices such as Durrett’s more felt than heard keyboard contributions or the way that Bachmann started “The Counterfeiter” instrumentless and then jumped onto keyboards for the last verse while the bass carried the chords. Sure, that’s how it goes down on Armor, arrangements-wise, but watching it done live gives you a new appreciation for it all.

Just as they did mid-set in July, Bachmann and Durrett led off the encore with an intimate, unamplified “Your Control” and proved that there was an upside to a band as great as this playing criminally undersized rooms. On the other hand, the unscheduled guest appearance of a mouse running across the floor during “Lonesome Warrior” reminded that there’s something to be said for playing nicer venues as well. To close, Bachmann acquiesced to an earlier request and made the requisite Archers Of Loaf song in the set a beautiful “Chumming The Ocean”, a song I’d not heard before but won’t soon forget. It’s been a recurring theme through this year, what with the return of Archers Of Loaf and the new Crooked Fingers record, but man. Eric Bachmann. He should be on postage stamps.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an interview with Eric Bachmann.

Photos: Crooked Fingers, Strand Of Oaks @ The Drake Underground – November 8, 2011
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Typhoon”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Phony Revolutions”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Angelina”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Big Darkness”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Devil’s Train”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “When You Were Mine”
MP3: Crooked Fingers – “New Drink For The Old Drunk”
MP3: Eric Bachmann – “Carrboro Woman”
MP3: Eric Bachmann – “Lonesome Warrior”
MP3: Strand Of Oaks – “Bonfire”
MP3: Strand Of Oaks – “End In Flames”
Video: Crooked Fingers – “Let’s Not Pretend (To Be New Men)”
Video: Crooked Fingers – “New Drink For The Old Drunk”
Video: Eric Bachmann – “Man ‘O War”
Video: Eric Bachmann – “Lonesome Warrior”
Video: Strand Of Oaks – “Last To Swim”

Tom Waits has released a video from his new record Bad As Me.

Video: Tom Waits – “Satisfied”

The Quietus has a final interview with Michael Stipe of R.E.M., whose career-capping/ending compilation Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 is out next week. You can stream it in whole right now at NPR, including the two of three final new songs from the band. Over at Under The Radar, actress Kirsten Dunst explains how the screen test-like video for their last single, “We All Go Back To Where We Belong”, came about.

Stream: R.E.M. / Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage – 1982-2011

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy tells The Sun that they have a sense of humour. Because putting a camel in a party hat on their last album cover didn’t make that clear.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Ryan Adams. He plays the Winter Garden Theatre on December 10.

The Mountain Goats have given away a free unreleased track, just because.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Thucydides II:58”

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists and sister Maile talk to Salon about the benefits of a creative childhood.

Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn will release his solo debut, Clear Heart Full Eyes on January 24. Details at Tiny Mix Tapes.

Friday, October 28th, 2011

We All Go Back To Where We Belong

R.E.M. say goodbye with poet, actress proxies

Photo via REMREMHQYou can’t really call it a long goodbye – the announcement last month about the dissolution of R.E.M. was about as abrupt as they come, with no farewell tour or even a final show attached – but shortly thereafter they did announce a final release in the form of the Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 compilation which is set to come out November 15. And amongst its 40-song, career-spanning tracklist are the final three songs that R.E.M. will release, recorded after the Collapse Into Now sessions but before they knew that that album would end up being their last.

And from those three songs has come what is almost certainly R.E.M.’s last single – a gentle tune entitled “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” – but there’s no final video; there’s two. The clips, directed by Michael Stipe and Dominic DeJoseph, are about as simple as you get – single-take black-and-white screen test-style films of poet John Giorno and actress Kirsten Dunst as they listen to the song, presumably for the first time. It’s a nice, understated idea that Interview has a quick analysis of. Black Book also has some fun with the concept, trying to get in Dunst’s head during recording.

Also in the farewells and remembrances category, here’s a piece I’ve written for The Iceberg’s “A Song and A Memory” series about one of the most pivotal songs/albums/bands in my life. R.E.M. has also posted up some thoughts about it. Synchronicity!

Finally, JAM has recounted a chat Mojo had with Mike Mills in which he says to not expect a Michael Stipe solo project soon or ever.

Stream: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong”
Video: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” (John Giorno version)
Video: R.E.M. – “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” (Kirsten Dunst version)

Spin gets Matthew Sweet to look back and reflect on the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend.

Exclaim has put Tom Waits on their cover this month.

The Decemberists appear to be ready to stream the whole of their new EP Long Live The King in piecemeal form before it comes out on November 1. Two more tracks from it have been made available to stream at Stereogum and Rolling Stone.

Stream: The Decemberists – “I 4 U & U 4 Me”
Stream: The Decemberists – “Burying Davy”

Memory Tapes have released a new video from Player Piano; The Daily Princetonian has a quick interview with Dayve Hawk.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Offers”

The National have released a new MP3 for their contribution to If a Lot of Bands Play in the Woods…, a covers/remix album of The Philistines Jr’s 2010 album If A Band Plays In The Woods. The connection between the two being the fact that Philistines Jr counts one Peter Katis among its number, and Katis has produced a crapload of great bands, many of whom also appear on the record. It’s out November 1 and there’s more details at Pitchfork. And yes it’s kind of a treat to hear Matt Berninger sing about cats. The National are at The Air Canada Centre on December 8.

MP3: The National – “Twenty Miles To NH (Part 2)”

Also on that bill are Wye Oak, whose Jenn Wasner offers a songwriting lesson and video performance to The AV Club’s “One Track Mind” feature.

Nola.com, The Dallas Observer, The Phoenix New Times, and Offbeat talk to Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag.

Pitchfork has a video session with The Antlers, The Daily Tarheel and Daily Free Press have interviews.

GQ talks to Jim James of My Morning Jacket as part of their music issue.

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Answer

CANT, Luke Temple and Blood Orange at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne of the shifts in the music industry over the last few years has been the evolution of bands as brands (google it, it’s a phrase) with as much, or more, equity being place in an artist’s name and identity as with their work. So it was interesting to hit up The Garrison on Friday night for a triple bill of acts who were quite consciously not trading under their more successful brands – there was one side project, one solo project and one complete re-brand.

First up and most enticing to me was Blood Orange, the new project from one Devonté Hynes. Though only 26, he’s already established a track record for building up projects and then walking away, disbanding the NME-championed punk rock Test Icicles in 2006 then putting out two records of ambitious, Americana-influenced pop as Lightspeed Champion before deciding to make his funk-soul side-project his main gig. Coastal Grooves, his debut as Blood Orange, came out earlier this Fall and as much as I was sad to see Lightspeed Champion retired, it’s hard to argue that Blood Orange is as good a showcase for Hynes’ talents as there’s ever been. The irresistible melodies of Lavender Bridge and to a slightly lesser degree, Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You are largely intact but they’re now driven by deep, slow jam grooves and ripping guitar solos and more mature songwriting themes.

It’s the sort of record that could and perhaps should be done justice live with a full band, but instead Hynes stayed true to the home studio aesthetic of the project and took the stage with just himself, a sequencer and his guitar. It wasn’t much but it was more than enough as two songs into the set, Hynes moved the mic stand into the audience and played most of the rest of his set in the round, only interrupting the sequence of souful vocals and guitar shredding to hop back on stage to adjust his pedals and/or sequencer and right back to getting down. Maybe the best thing about it was how nonchalantly Hynes went about his business, as though a solo set that surely required considerable thought and preparation to sound to full was no big deal at all, and occasionally throwing in a bit of flash like a knee slide or tossing his guitar in the air and catching it without missing a beat. He capped it off with an extended, Prince-worthy guitar solo back onstage complete with behind-the-head riffing and once the backing track ended, he was up and out, at least for now. No big deal.

Luke Temple, best known for fronting Brookyln’s Here We Go Magic but recently returned to his solo roots for this year’s Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care wasn’t even going to try and top the Blood Orange show. Performing as a two-piece with Natalie Bergen on bass and keys, his set had a casual, almost ad-libbed vibe and the material more country-ish overtones and certainly not as refined as Here We Go Magic’s prog-pop. You got the sense that Temple wasn’t especially impressed with the lack of attention being paid by the chatty audience but to be fair, his low-key approach and material didn’t offer a lot of reason to.

Audience attention was no problem for CANT, the side-project from Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor. Now I’m more of a Grizzly Bear respecter than admirer, but I was surprised how much I genuinely enjoyed Dreams Come True, the CANT debut which came out last month. It still has the meticulousness that marks his main band’s work, but its R&B angle feels looser, more dynamic and more immediately soulful. Live, Taylor led a four-piece band that included Dev Hynes on guitar and the two would spend the set swapping instruments and enduring electric shocks as they did so due to bad grounds. But no pain, no gain and for the better part of an hour, Taylor and co ran through an enjoyable set of Dreams material, offering Taylor a chance to show off his pipes and Hynes to further showboat on guitar a little more. Grizzly Bear has always gotten a great reception in Toronto and this show proved that Bear cub projects were also wholly welcome, with Taylor telling the wildly applauding fans at the show’s end that this had been the best show of the tour. I’m inclined to believe him.

The Pitch, Metro, The Daily Cardinal and The Dossier Journal have interviews with Chris Taylor while NOW talks to Dev Hynes.

Photos: CANT, Luke Temple, Blood Orange @ The Garrison – October 21, 2011
MP3: CANT – “Be Around (Rough Cutz)”
MP3: Luke Temple – “Ophelia”
MP3: Luke Temple – “More Than Muscle”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Dinner”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Sutphin Boulevard”
MP3: Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”
Video: CANT – “Believe”
Video: Luke Temple – “More Than Muscle”
Video: Blood Orange – “Sutphin Boulevard”
Video: Blood Orange – “Dinner”
Video: Blood Orange – “S’Cooled”
Video: Blood Orange – “I’m Sorry We Lied”

The Sun and Newsweek talk to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, whose new record Ceremonials is streaming over at Pretty Much Amazing in advance of its release on November 1.

Stream: Florence & The Machine / Ceremonials

Drowned In Sound are streaming the cryptically-titled A Frightened Rabbit EP, which is in fact a free EP from Frightened Rabbit, available to download over at Grabtrax. Quad News also has a chat with Scott Hutchinson.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Scottish Winds”
Stream: Frightened Rabbit / A Frightened Rabbit EP

The Fly sets up a Summer Camp in their courtyard and records a video session. The duo’s debut Welcome To Condale arrives November 8.

Billy Bragg tells The Sabotage Times it’s time for bands to get political again. He also weighs in on matters political with The Scotsman and The Irish Times.

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers talks to NME about the band’s plans following the release of their National Treasures compilation next week; look for a break and then a reinvention.

Pitchfork, The Telegraph, Shortlist and Billboard talk to Noel Gallagher about his High Flying Birds, which come to roost at Massey Hall on November 7 and 8 and at record stores November 8.

Meanwhile, little brother Liam is sounding a bit conciliatory in talking to Rolling Stone, telling them that he’d be open to an Oasis reunion in 2015 or so. Uh huh.

The Sabotage Times talks to Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris about the transition from being Joy Division to New Order.

The Irish Independent talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent, in town at The Phoenix on December 15.

New Wild Flag video!

Video: Wild Flag – “Electric Band”

The New York Times profiles Tom Waits ahead of the release of Bad As Me on Tuesday.

The Pittsburgh Tribune, Red & Black and American Songwriter talk to Matthew Sweet on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend and the release of his new record Modern Art.

And sadly, Titus Andronicus just got a little less awesome with the announcement that Amy Klein, aka Amy Andronicus, aka the most ass-kicking embodiment of rock’n’roll going, announced that the shows at Halifax Pop Explosion this weekend were her last with the band, as she’s going to be concentrating on other projects from here on. Update: Patrick Stickles has posted his own thanks and farewell to Amy.