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Posts Tagged ‘Vaselines’

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Death Rays

Mogwai want to remind you of your own mortality and will do it in person

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickWith 2010 tasked largely to the production and promotion of Burning and Special Moves, their aural and visual live summation of their first decade and half of existence, Mogwai will enter 2011 with eyes pointed straight ahead. The Scots have released released details of their seventh studio album, which will carry the typically wonderful title of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. There really is something to be said for being a mostly-instrumental band who never has to sing their titles in a chorus or anything.

Their first record to be released in North America on their new label SubPop, it will be made available on February 15 over here while coming out the day before on their own Rock Action label in the UK. An extensive world tour will precede, coincide with and follow the record’s release, starting in the UK and Europe and making its way across the Atlantic for North American dates come April – Toronto gets our on April 26 when the band plays The Phoenix.

And apropos of nothing, besides the fact that it’s a Mogwai song, the new Batman movie has a title and it’s Hallowe’en this weekend … Batcat! LOL.

Video: Mogwai – “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead”

eMusic, PhillyBurbs and The Chicago Tribune have interviews with Teenage Fanclub.

Chart, eye and Clash talk to The Vaselines, who are coming to play The Horseshoe on October 30.

La Roux’s Elly Jackson tells Spinner she’s losing interest in the old synth-pop sound.

Matador has revealed details on and offered up the first MP3 from the forthcoming debut album from Brits Esben & The Witch; Violet Cries will be released in North America on February 7, a week after it’s out in the UK. I said after seeing them live in September that I’d wait to hear the record, when presumably they’d be operating with more structure, before deciding if I liked them or not. So here we will go.

MP3: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”

NME has details on the inevitable forthcoming deluxe edition of Mumford & Sons’ debut Sigh No More, the “deluxe” referring to the new accompanying live CD and DVD. It will be out in the Spring but apparently those who’ve already shelled out for the non-deluxe version – which is to say most everyone who would have wanted it – can download the bonus material for free. Details on how that’ll work forthcoming, I assume. Mumford & Sons play a sold-out gig at the Sound Academy on November 13.

Spinner interviews Damon Albarn, presently of Gorillaz but for all time of Blur.

NME reports that Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes, felled by a brain tumour last month, has already recovered enough to have reclaimed his (drum) throne by playing the band’s encore in Birmingham last Saturday.

Under The Radar and The University Observer talk to Two Door Cinema Club, who offer Drowned In Sound a guide to bands on how to “make it”.

The Von Pip Musical Express chats with Lisa Milberg of The Concretes. Their new record WYWH is out November 8.

John Eriksson of Peter Bjorn & John (he’s the John) gives Spin a status update on their next record.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Write About Love

Belle & Sebastian and Zeus at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s hiatuses and there’s hiatuses. The first being the sort where a group needs a break from one another to recharge their batteries, try out new things and eventually, return to one another refreshed and ready for another go; the latter being code for “we’ve split up but don’t want to field questions about so just leave us alone”. For whatever reason, though it was officially for reason the first, when Belle & Sebastian announced they were going on a break following 2006’s The Life Pursuit, I had the dread feeling that the truth was closer to reason the second. Why, I don’t know, but compilation albums and side-projects, however enjoyable on their own merits, don’t always bode well.

So joy was the best word to describe my reaction when word came this Spring that the band’s hiatus was as only as long as some band’s usual between-album gaps and were returning to the studio to record their eighth album. Clearly, I have some bias with regards to the fruits of those sessions – Write About Love, out this week – but I think that even the objective would admit that it’s as strong a record as any they band have released in the second phase (post-Fold Your Hands) of their career. For starters, it immediately adds two songs to any potential best-of career compilation; lead-off track “I Didn’t See It Coming” and first single “I Want The World To Stop”, both of which feature the band in absolute top form in terms of arrangement, musicianship, and the refinement of the Northern soul stylings that has defined their work since “twee” ceased being an appropriate descriptor.

Though those are the clear pinnacles of the record, there’s little in the way of weak spots or filler elsewhere – not something I’d say about any of their last few efforts. On the whole it sounds as though they’ve mellowed a bit and the token attempts to rock out – which never felt quite right – have been shelved in favour of more thoughtful moments that fit much better, not unlike a warm, worn cardigan. Stuart Murdoch’s experimenting with different female vocalists on God Help The Girl also carries over with the presence of Norah Jones on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” and actress Carey Mulligan on the album’s title track, both bringing something different from usual female vocalist Sarah Martin. Subjectivity demands that everyone has different things they’ll dislike or find wanting about Write About Love – too much of this, not enough of that, WTF Norah Jones – but what’s not up for debate is that eight albums on, Belle & Sebastian are finding ways to keep themselves sounding fresh and interested without tampering with their fundamental strengths and appeal and the world is a better place for it.

So with that out of the way, let’s get to Wednesday night at Massey Hall – the band’s first visit in four and a half years but my second time seeing them in under a fortnight. And while in Vegas their de facto openers were Spoon and Superchunk, and other cities on the tour have gotten Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines or Dean & Britta, Toronto got Toronto’s Zeus. This isn’t a complaint, per se – though ubiquitous on city stages over the past year or so in support of their debut Say Us, I’ve managed to have never seen them live before so though it wasn’t Dean Wareham playing Galaxie 500, it was one thing to check off my to-do list. And I’ll have to see them again, not because they blew me away but because I think I need to give them a second chance to make a first impression. For whatever reason, they weren’t sounding great up there with vocals off-key and noticeable instrumental flubs, and for a band who you could tell is normally super-tight vocally and musically – their ’70s-indebted radio rock style of songwriting demands it – the flaws were particularly conspicuous. Not that the band let it rattle them, if they even noticed – they were totally chilled out on stage and didn’t appear intimidated by the setting in the slightest. When they were on, which was most of the time, they were fine. I just suspect they’re normally a fair bit better.

Unlike Belle & Sebastian’s Vegas show where the band came out of the blocks at full speed, Tuesday’s show started from a standing stop. Leading off with Write‘s quietest number, “Read The Blessed Pages”, they followed up with the title track of the new record delivered with less energy than it deserved, leading me to worry that this might turn out to be a rare off night for both the support and headliners. But as the adage goes, “slow and steady wins the race” so it’s fitting that it was with beloved b-side “The Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner”, egged on by the most polite stage rush ever, the show found another gear and set course for greatness. That greatness was realized just one song later with “I Want The World To Stop” which was met with an enthusiasm that one rarely hears for a brand-new song – enthusiasm and dancing. The mass at the foot of the stage was a steady mass of bouncing and swaying and on stage, Murdoch had found his groove and was doing a sort of faux-running man dance, henceforth called “The Stu”, that he’d keep up for pretty much the rest of the show.

And for the rest of the night, it was highlight after highlight. The unexpected orchestral open to “Sukie In The Graveyard” where he pulled a dance partner out of the audience, the half-dozen dancers invited up for “Boy With The Arab Strap” including one girl who couldn’t have been more than 10 that invited herself onstage and stole the show, their well-intentioned butchering of a Kinks cover request, the tossing of Dollarama-sourced, forgot-to-be-autographed footballs into the audience, the wealth of non-album singles and b-sides in the set plus a half verse of “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song” in response to another request (until Stuart forgot the words)… it was simply bliss. Which is why it was strange to look around the balconies and galleries of Massey Hall and see people sitting placid and stony-faced through much of the show – the ovations that followed each song certainly made it sound like the sold-out house was loving it, but you wouldn’t know it by looking. Still, there’d be no staying in one’s seat when an unexpected read of “Simple Things” led into a glorious and technicolour “Sleep The Clock Around” – it was a blast of undiluted aural joy that carried over into the Sinister encore double-shot of “Judy and The Dream Of Horses” and “Me and The Major”. Any fears of a sub-par show from the slow start were beyond unfounded – anywhere Belle & Sebastian go, magic is sure to follow. It’s always nice to be reminded that one of the most important bands of your life are still vital and wonderful after almost 15 years at it. Did I already sort of say that? Well it bears repeating – Belle + Sebastian = love.

Panic Manual, Exclaim, BlogTO, Chart, NOW, The Globe & Mail and eye also have reviews of the show. San Francisco Weekly has an interview with Stuart Murdoch. With their Massey Hall appearance out of the way, Zeus have announced a show a little more their scale on December 3 at the Horseshoe.

Photos: Belle & Sebastian, Zeus @ Massey Hall – October 12, 2010
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Write About Love”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Take Your Carriage Clock And Shove It”
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Storytelling”
MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “White Collar Boy”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Blues Are Still Blue”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Wrapped Up In Books”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I’m A Cuckoo”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Step Into My Office Baby”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Jonathan David” (70s version)
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “The Wrong Girl”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Legal Man”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dirty Dream #2”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Lazy Line Painter Jane”
Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Dog On Wheels”
Video: Zeus – “How Does It Feel”
Video: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
MySpace: Belle & Sebastian
MySpace: Zeus

I really don’t mean to keep tying Isobel Campbell items with those of her former bandmates, but that just keeps happening. For example, halfway through the show last night I got word that she would be playing an in-store at Criminal Records on October 20 at 6PM, sans singing partner Mark Lanegan, before their show at Lee’s Palace that night. Washington City Paper has a short chat with Campbell.

Video: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – “You Won’t Let Me Down Again”

Clash and Houston Press talk to Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee of The Vaselines, respectively. They’re at The Horseshoe on October 30.

Johnny Flynn’s show at Lee’s Palace, originally scheduled for next Monday night, has been given a new date of November 14. Tickets for next week’s show are still good for the new date.

Travis frontman Fran Healy will bring his new solo record Wreckorder to the Mod Club on November 26, tickets $29.50.

Video: Fran Healy – “Buttercups”

British Sea Power have announced the title of their new record via YouTube. Look for Valhalla Dancehall – a BSP title if ever there was one – in January of next year.

Spinner talks to La Roux’s Elly Jackson about collaborations and Kanye.

The first video from Duffy’s new record Endlessly is out. The album hits stores November 30.

Video: Duffy – “Well Well Well”

Drowned In Sound meets The Concretes, whose new record WYWH is streaming at its own website in advance of its November 8 release.

Stream: The Concretes / WYWH

The Drums will warm up for their this Saturday’s (October 16) show at the Mod Club later that evening with an in-store down the street at Soundscapes at 7PM, possibly to give their still-new substitute guitarist as much practice as possible. eye has a list of five things you should know about the band and AM New York has a Q&A.

MP3: The Drums – “Down By The Water”

NPR is streaming a complete Deerhunter show from DC. They’re at The Opera House on October 19.

NOW talks to Blonde Redhead in advance of Sunday’s show at The Phoenix.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Whirlpool

Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss and Fjord Rowboat at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne might think that after last weekend’s three-day salute to the ’90s I’d be ready to get back to the 21st century, musically-speaking, but instead last Wednesday night turned the dial on the wayback-machine even further – Chapterhouse was in town. The North American leg of their reunion tour, which began in late 2009, was delayed from May until this Fall due to volcanic ash though the Toronto show was cancelled earlier for reasons unknown. Hogtown was back on for the new dates, however, and at a larger venue no less that was respectably filled. Clearly whatever reason nixed the original date wasn’t lack of interest.

For anyone with even a passing affection for the British shoegazing movement of the early ’90s, it was hard not to be interested – My Bloody Valentine aside, this was the only first-wave shoegaze band in recent memory to reunite, let alone play shows in North America, in well over a decade (if anyone wants to fact-check that statement, feel free). And while Chapterhouse weren’t as seminal – in my eyes/ears, anyways – as the likes of Ride, Slowdive or Lush, their credentials are indisputable and their debut Whirlpool an essential listen for the genre. Which is basically another way of saying, “if you are a shoegaze fan and Chapterhouse come to your town, you go”.

Locals Fjord Rowboat know how that goes, but for them it was “if Chapterhouse comes to your town, you lend them your gear and open for them”. Which they did, and in return got to play an impressive show for probably a more receptive audience than they’ve ever had. I used Chapterhouse as a reference point their 2007 debut Saved The Compliments For Morning and that still holds for the just-released follow-up Under Cover Of Brightness, the band remaining faithful to the spirit of shoegazing while remembering, unlike many modern-day purveyors of the style, that what made the greats great was that underneath the layers of sound, there were solid songs. And in the interests of disclosure, I should mention that Fjord has two former bandmates in their number. High five!

I’d lived the Ulrich Schnauss experience twice before and thought I’d figured out the secret to appreciating his electro-ambient stuff – close your eyes. Then you don’t notice that the entire “live” set consists of Schnauss playing preprogrammed tracks off his laptop while adding keyboards overtop or mixing things in real-time, or at least I assume that’s what he was doing – I couldn’t actually hear anything changing in the mix as he clicked and fiddled. This time his set came with its own visual component – projections of European urban scenes, mostly looking as though they’d been filmed from a moving car, which held ones interest for a while but after they began to loop, one’s attention began to wander. By the end, I had a new way to enjoy Schnauss’ set – as a particularly cosmic soundtrack to a game of iPhone Civilization.

One of the first thing you notice about Chapterhouse is how young they all still look – all five are barely 40 (if even) and frontmen Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman still look remarkably boyish. This is less a comment on their skin care regimen than the fact that they were barely into their twenties (if even) when Whirlpool was released and so, returning to Toronto for the first time in nearly 20 years, they still seemed younger than many acts making their debuts. Also setting them apart from many other acts on the road today was the fact that they weren’t out trying to win over new fans or make a name for themselves – if you were there, you knew why and what you were going to get and were just happy to be there. This isn’t to suggest that the bar for performance was lowered at all, but any mistakes or less-than-perfection – and there was some, in the way of feedback (the bad kind, not the good kind), some awkward re-learning of songs onstage and a “Crystal” that wasn’t as tight or together as you’d want – were quickly and easily forgiven.

Instead, it was much easier to focus on the good. There was the seemingly endless rotation of my favourite guitars and the massive sounds the three guitarists coaxed out of them, including Simon Rowe whose status in Mojave 3 is as unclear as the band’s itself and who missed their last tour. There was their cover of The Beatles’ “Rain”, which got a pass on my usual “no Beatles covers please” rule, their pretty much perfect rendering of “Pearl” – more than making up for “Crystal” – and a set list that, while curiously light on their second album Blood Music, delivered almost all of Whirlpool and a selection of b-sides and rarities that they must have known would be appreciated by an audience of the faithful.

While they were hardly monsters of rock onstage, it was hard to imagine that their performances inspired the originally-derisive “shoegaze” label – sure, Rowe stood pretty much stock-still through the set but Sherriff and Patman moved around and hardly glanced at their feet. Of course, unlike many of their peers Chapterhouse have always been as much about the groove as the wall of sound, sometimes referred to as “baggy-gaze” and moving further towards dance and electronic sounds with Blood Music. None of which makes them sound any more contemporary, but no one was here for contemporary. We were here for 1990 and Chapterhouse brought it.

Prefix and The Faster Times have Chapterhouse interviews and Jess Barnett a conversation with Ulrich Schnauss. Exclaim and Panic Manual have reviews of the Toronto show.

Photos: Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, Fjord Rowboat @ Lee’s Palace – October 6, 2010
MP3: Chapterhouse – “Pearl”
MP3: Ulrich Schnauss – “Passing By”
MP3: Fjord Rowboat – “Carried Away”
MP3: Fjord Rowboat – “Paragon”
Video: Chapterhouse – “Breather”
Video: Chapterhouse – “April”
Video: Ulrich Schnauss – “Medusa”
Video: Fjord Rowboat – “Carried Away”
MySpace: Chapterhouse
MySpace: Fjord Rowboat

Beatroute and The Boston Globe talk to The Vaselines; they’re in town on October 30 for a show at The Horseshoe.

The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Record and DCist have feature pieces on Teenage Fanclub.

NPR talks to Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian. He and his band are at Massey Hall tonight and their new album Write About Love is also out today – the promo TV talk show put together for the record is streaming at PitchforkTV and the performance of “I Want The World To Stop” from said programme has been excerpted as the first official video from the record.

Video: Belle & Sebastian – “I Want The World To Stop”
Video: Belle & Sebastian Write About Love

A track from Idlewild’s latest (and final?) album Post-Electric Blues has been made available to download to mark the album’s North American release today.

MP3: Idlewild – “Younger Than America”

Drowned In Sound has gone a little British Sea Power-crazy, what with the release of the new Zeus EP in advance of next year’s new full-length – they’ve commissioned a number of features from the band, including their top five UK castles, ten things they wish they hadn’t done, the joy of knitting and a guide to keeping amused on the road.

Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes takes to the band’s blog to thank fans for their support as he convalesces from surgery for a brain tumour while Clash talks to frontman Tim Burgess. A track from their new record Who We Touch has been made available to download.

MP3: The Charlatans – “Love Is Ending”

Barry Hyde of The Futureheads tells Spinner they’re planning on releasing an a capella record early next year.

The Fly has a first listen to the new White Lies record Ritual, due out January 17 in the UK.

A whole slew of new videos in the past few days from the other side of the Atlantic – let’s start with Kele, who has a new clip from his solo record The Boxer.

Video: Kele – “On The Lam”

Foals have rolled out a new video from their second record Total Life Forever.

Video: Foals – “Blue Blood”

Mystery Jets have a new short from this year’s Serotonin. eFestivals and MusicOmh also have interviews.

Video: Mystery Jets – “Show Me The Light”

6 Day Riot have a video for the first single from their forthcoming record On This Island, available in the UK on November 1.

Video: 6 Day Riot – “Take Me Out”

Oxford University’s Cherwell talks to Kate Nash, who has a new single to coincide with her North American tour. It kicks off later this month and includes a date at The Phoenix on November 13.

Video: Kate Nash – “Later On”

For whatever reason, the powers that be have decided that the UK video for La Roux’s “In For The Kill”, out for over a year, just won’t cut it for American audiences and have commissioned a new one. I guess their focus groups demanded more snakes, less cars.

Video: La Roux – “In For The Kill” (US)
Video: La Roux – “In For The Kill” (UK)

The Telegraph talks to Duffy, who releases her second album Endlessly on November 30.

Word is Johnny Flynn’s October 18 show at Lee’s Palace has been postponed until mid-November; all other shows on the North American jaunt, including the 19th in Montreal, appear to still be on, so no idea what the problem with T.O. is. Anyone else hear “Kentucky Pill” on last week’s Weeds? Of course not, because no one with any dignity should admit to watching Weeds anymore. Me, I just heard about it. On the Twitter. Yeah.

Spinner talks to Elvis Costello about his new album National Ransom, out November 2. You can download a track from the record at his website.

Norway’s Serena-Maneesh have rolled out a new video from S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor.

Video: Serena-Maneesh – “D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D.”

NPR is streaming a complete show from The Tallest Man On Earth.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Total Life Forever

Foals and Esben & The Witch at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m not going to suggest that there were stars – or planets, as the case may be – in alignment this week over Toronto but it did strike me as interesting that in the span of 72 hours, there’d be no less than four recent Mercury Prize nominees – and two winners – in town to play shows, three of them on Monday night alone. So while fellow 2010 shortlisters Villagers were at The Drake and 2007 champs Klaxons were at the Mod Club, Oxford’s Foals were at Lee’s Palace in support of their shortlisted new record, Total Life Forever (tonight’s xx show at Massey was number four, if you were wondering). And while I’m sure all the other artists made (or will make) solid cases for themselves as the cream of the current British and Irish musical crops, I’m pretty sure none of them managed to get quite as… angry, as Foals did. But more on that in a bit.

First were supporting act and subject of some modest buzz themselves, Brighton’s Esben & The Witch, who made people take notice when it was announced they’d signed to Matador for the release of their debut album next year. And if Matador was looking to up the interesting/odd quotient of their roster, then Esben certainly fit the bill. The lazy comparison – which I’m obviously not above – would be a more primal and primitive Portishead, and not just because of the gender makeup of the trio. By whatever instrumental means necessary – including all three beating the tar out of a single floor tom simultaneously – they focused on creating an unsettling and foreboding atmosphere over which Rachel Davies’ vocals – sometimes like a ghost, other times like a banshee – could ride upon. The songcraft wasn’t as sophisticated as I’d have liked or even as the recordings I’ve heard, but it was evident that it was intensity and not refinement that they were interested in conveying in performance. I’d have preferred a better balance of the two, but will wait to hear the record before firming up any opinions.

I’ve already admitted to being late to the Foals party, but even though it took me until Total Life Forever to appreciate the band, I’d always heard and believed that they put on an impressive live show. And their punchy, dancey math-punk is tailor-made for a great show – powered by a taut, ultra-tight rhythm section and steered by the dueling, palm-muted guitar symphonies of Yannis Philippakis and Jimmy Smith, they’re all about escalation and after about an hour or so of steadily building musical momentum – just about a set length, coincidentally – they’d be ready to explode and send everyone home exhausted and satisfied. I’ve no doubt that that was and is the Foals game plan, when all goes well. On Monday night, Toronto got to see what it’s like when things don’t go according to plan, and it’s actually better.

Playing in front of a completely sold-out house, things got off to a great start with the title track off Total Life Forever – the set was front-loaded with newer material – and the band playing so tightly, it was as though they were tied together by some invisible wire that kept them in perfect synchonicity but also allowed spontaneous outbursts of chaos with a swift, sudden tug. About mid way through, however, it became clear that Smith was having issues with his gear and the rest of band found themselves jamming on extended intros and instrumental passages as he and the guitar tech tried to sort it out. It seemed, from the audience’s point of view at least, that they had things sorted a few times but the look on Smith’s face to side stage made it clear that no matter what guitars, amps or cables they swapped out, things weren’t getting fixed. And while the equipment woes were technically all Smith’s, watching Philippakis while all this was going on was far more interesting.

Though on the surface he seemed to take it all stoically, it became clear that he was getting angrier and more on the edge of violence as things went off-script and was channelling said anger through his guitar; never missing a beat or a note but absolutely raging while remaining stony-faced. Fittingly, as the set progressed and the spikier Antidotes material surfaced, he began acting out; knocking over mics and stands, pounding the hell out of his floor tom, taking advantage of his wireless guitar lead to descend into the audience, climb onto the back bar, set his mic up and play from the far front corner of the room and generally express his frustration in every way he could while keeping the show going – they even came back for their encore – and not completely flipping out and destroying everything. The intensity was not lost on the crowd, who fed on it and reflected it right back at the band and helped ensure that despite the obstacles, the night was a triumph. Though if anyone after the show saw a bonfire in back of Lee’s consisting of a couple of sweet Gibson guitars and guitar amp heads… those might have been Foals’.

Panic Manual, Singing Lamb, Exclaim and Chart have reviews of the show while The Toronto Star has an interview with Foals.

Photos: Foals, Esben & The Witch @ Lee’s Palace – September 27, 2010
MP3: Foals – “Spanish Sahara”
MP3: Foals – “Balloons”
Video: Foals – “2 Trees”
Video: Foals – “Miami”
Video: Foals – “Spanish Sahara”
Video: Foals – “This Orient”
Video: Foals – “Cassius”
Video: Foals – “Balloons”
Video: Foals – “Hummer”
Video: Foals – “Mathletics”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Marching Song”
MySpace: Foals
MySpace: Esben & The Witch

DCist, The Phoenix and The Miami Herald talk to Tim Booth of James, who will be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tomorrow night, September 30.

The Vaselines are the subject of a feature in The Big Issue; they have a date at the Horseshoe on October 30.

The Joy Formidable have released a video for the lead single from their debut album The Big Roar, due early next year. They’ll be at the Horseshoe on November 3.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”

Support for Kate Nash’s upcoming Fall tour – which includes a November 13 date at The Phoenix – has been announced as British folk trio Peggy Sue. The Daily Titan has a conversation with Nash.

Video: Peggy Sue – “Watchman”

Ryan Jarman of The Cribs talks to Spinner about the band’s upcoming hiatus.

The Guardian has an update on the condition of Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes and an optimistic timetable for his return to the band.

The Von Pip Musical Express talks to Jim Reid about the 25th anniversary of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut Psychocandy.

The Quietus wonders if anyone remembers Irish trio JJ72, who made some noise a decade ago. Former frontman Mark Greaney does, and talks to them about the band’s accomplishments.

Video: JJ72 – “October Swimmer”

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Today Never Ends

Teenage Fanclub and Rick Of The Skins at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs a genre/style/pigeonhole, power-pop is not one that traditionally gets a lot of respect. Though its primary qualities of melody and harmony are essential facets of pretty much every style of music that can be hyphenated with “pop”, in its undiluted, guitar-driven form it can be far too easy to do middlingly and incredibly difficult to do well. And so even when you’re a band that does it masterfully, as Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub have for over twenty years, you still might not have more to show for it than confirmed cult status, an unwaveringly loyal fanbase and gigs booked into incredibly intimate venues. Come to think of it, that’s not so bad at all.

The Toronto chapter of that fanbase was out in force on Wednesday night for the first of two shows at the Horseshoe kicking off the band’s first North American tour in five years, in support of their ninth album Shadows. Like its predecessors in their discography, it doesn’t mess with the Fanclub formula, instead further refining it such that while they sound dramatically different from the quartet that burst into the scene with Bandwagonesque, they’re still very much the same band; just older, wiser and more inclined to use a single, clean guitar line whereas once they’d have let rip with a solo. Some might complain that their songs have gotten slower and quieter with each subsequent release – and this is true – but when a band’s strengths were always a tunefulness and almost supernatural ability to craft a pop song rather than rock out and those strengths are still very much intact, well there’s really no grounds to complain at all.

Support for the first evening was Rick Of The Skins, an act I’d never heard of, and I expected my research to reveal them as some group of young upstarts who scored a plum opening slot. And indeed, I did find some positive reviews of their debut album Here Comes The Weekend – they just happened to be a decade old. The band’s story is unclear to me, but I gathered that they started out on the east coast, a fact borne out by their direct and occasionally primitive psychedelic pop sounds, and don’t really play regularly, evidenced by one of them commenting that this was “their fourth reunion”. Over a short set where all of them changed instruments almost every song and any rustiness – and there was their share – was made up for with enthusiasm.

Though they’d been touring throughout the Summer over in the UK, this was still the Fannies’ first gig of the tour and their first show in over a month and as such, a few hiccups were inevitable. These were limited to the occasional missed note or instrumental flub and corresponding grimace on either Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley or Gerard Love’s faces but rather than detract from the show, they gave it that extra bit of warmth. Not that the performance needed it – with a remarkably efficient 20 songs over 90 minutes, the Fanclub and their immaculate harmonies – up to five parts at times – were like a wonderful blanket of tunefulness that made any angst over having to wait a half-decade since their last visit evaporate. And while McGinley and Love were characteristically stoic through most of the set – though both cracked smiles at various points in the night – Blake did fine handling frontman duties on his own, cracking the requisite corny jokes and fielding requests and repartee from the audience.

The set leaned heavier than one might have expected on Shadows – bands at this point in their careers tend to make more concessions to the “greatest hits” type of show – but the new material made up over a third of the set and sound about as good as any of the more classic material. It’s been said but bears repeating – though they’re not as prolific as they once were, when Teenage Fanclub releases a record, it’s going to be a good one. As for the rest of the set, it was packed with glorious, sing-along pop gems from throughout their career, focusing on the late ’90s glory days of Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain with a few later works added in for good measure. “The Concept” may have been the only representative from Bandwagonesque but was done perfectly with McGinley showing he could stomp the fuzz pedal and rip a solo when the occasion called for it and both he and Blake would get the chance to show off their chops on “Everything Flows”, which closed out the show pretty much perfectly. Certainly there were several sets worth of material that didn’t get aired – not a single tune from Thirteen made the cut – but I’m sure they were saving some favourites for the second night (which would surely have a lot of repeat patrons) and the selections they did choose to play were pretty much beyond reproach. They may not release records or tour as often as their fans would like, but when they do, they do it right.

Panic Manual and Chart also have reviews of the show. hour.ca talks to Norman Blake about his move from Scotland to Kitchener, Ontario.

Photos: Teenage Fanclub, Rick Of The Skins @ The Horseshoe – September 22, 2010
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Baby Lee”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “It’s All In My Mind”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “Dumb Dumb Dumb”
MP3: Teenage Fanclub – “What You Do To Me”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “I Don’t Want Control Of You”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Ain’t That Enough”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Hang On”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “What You Do To Me”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “The Concept”
Video: Teenage Fanclub – “Star Sign”
MySpace: Teenage Fanclub

Spinner interviews The Vaselines about their first new record in forever, Sex With An X. They’re at the Horseshoe on October 30.

Drowned In Sound, The Liverpool Echo and State have feature pieces on Manic Street Preachers while NME finds out why Tim Roth graces the cover of their new record Postcards From A Young Man. It’s out next week.

British Sea Power’s Scott Wilkinson talks to Spinner about their new album, as yet untitled but due out in January 2011, and the Zeus EP which will precede it on October 4. The title track from said EP is available to download now.

MP3: British Sea Power – “Zeus”

Elbow’s Guy Garvey gives NME a status update on their new record, due out next year.

eye, NOW, Chart and The Montreal Mirror have interviews with Foals, who have released a new video from Total Life Forever and will be at Lee’s Palace on Monday night.

Video: Foals – “2 Trees”

The Los Angeles Times and NPR talks to The xx; they’re at Massey Hall on September 29.

There’s a second video out from Johnny Flynn’s second album Been Listening gets a domestic release on October 25. He plays Lee’s Palace solo on October 18, tickets are $12.50 in advance.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Barnacled Warship”

Paste declares Stornoway amongst their “best of what’s next” – they play the El Mocambo on November 30.

Tricky has scheduled a date at the Mod Club for December 12. His new record Mixed Race is due out October 5.

Video: Tricky – “Murder Weapon”

M.I.A. has a new video from /\/\/\Y/\ and it comes with its on URL and everything.

Video: M.I.A. – “Story To Be Told”

The High Wire have a new video from their gorgeous record The Sleep Tape.

Video: The High Wire – “Pump Your Little Heart”

New York Magazine talks to Kele about his impending move to New York City.

And the cause of Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes’ on-stage collapse last week and subsequent cancellation of the band’s North American tour has been revealed as a brain tumour. Pete Salisbury, ex of The Verve, will sub in for their Fall tour commitments while Brookes heals. Best wishes for a full recovery and return to good health.