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Posts Tagged ‘Wavves’

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Entertainment

Phoenix, Hot Chip, Girl Talk, and more at The Grove Fest in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s been a narrative this Summer about Toronto’s music festival scene going through a sort of Renaissance, with events like Field Trip, TURF, Mad Decent’s Block Party, and Riot Fest establishing both the city’s niche in the greater festival hierarchy – solid second-tier, not-quite-destination events for under 10,000 people – as well as affirming Garrison Common at Fort York as the perfect venue for said events in terms of size and location (unless you live in one of the condos next door in which case too bad). This past Saturday’s The Grove Fest wasn’t originally part of this narrative when it was first announced back in March, being set an hour away in Niagara-On-The-Lake, but it was certainly of interest to festival-goers from the 416 what with an eclectic lineup drafting off those acts commuting between Lollapalooza in Chicago and Osheaga in Montreal, boasting acts like Phoenix and Hot Chip.

But while the multi-genre/demographic randomness of the performers was reminiscent of the Rogers Picnics of the mid-’00s – The Roots with the New Pornographers and Bad Brains? Animal Collective with City & Colour and Dizzee Rascal? – the Grove Fest quickly began to feel more like the chronically snakebit Virgin Fests of the same era. Barely a month after being announced, the festival was moved from Niagara to the aforementioned Garrison Common in downtown Toronto – no official reason was given though soft sales and local opposition are reasonable suspects – and three acts dropped off the bill, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, and Bob Mould presumably taking advantages of out clauses in their contracts to book their own, more lucrative shows or just not bother. And just when it seemed the dust had settled, Swedish electro-party duo Icona Pop dropped off the bill earlier this week for their own unannounced reasons. Disappointing? Definitely. Disastrous? Not necessarily; the remaining lineup was still solid and guaranteed to put on a good show, and if enough people still showed up – and one would think the number of complimentary tickets circulating would more than make up for those who demanded refunds – it would still be a fun time.

Arriving a couple acts into the day – apologies Nightbox and Young Empires, had things to do – it was heartening to see that there was already a solid turnout, less concerned with the drama leading up to the day than the entertainment to follow. But things still weren’t quite clockwork – I thought I had arrived just in time to catch Wavves, as per the schedule on the festival website, but instead it was brash Brit newcomers Palma Violets who took the stage – the only thing more head-scratching than the switch was that hardly anyone seemed to notice or care.

This was Palma Violets’ third visit to Toronto since January, and it was good to see that their heavy touring schedule between then and now – to say nothing of actually releasing an album in 180 – had produced solid returns. Ironically, the rough-and-tumble pub rock persona that seemed a bit put-on in an actual bar came across much better on a large festival stage. Bassist “Chilli” Jesson had the moves for getting the audience engaged and the girls shrieking down pat, making up for guitarist Sam Fryer’s distraction at having to play through an amp that was buzzing louder than his actual guitar signal. As their set closer, they invited local political pundit and former punk rocker Warren Kinsella to contribute vocals on a cover by his old band, The Hot Nasties. Pretty sure no one knew who he was.

Photos: Palma Violets @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Palma Violets – “We Found Love”
Video: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”
Video: Palma Violets – “Last Of The Summer Wine”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends

I’d pretty much confirmed that Wavves and their stoner-garage-surf-pop wasn’t really my thing after seeing the at NXNE 2010, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t still be impressed at how they’ve improved as an outfit since then. Now a four-piece, with a second guitarist backing up frontman Nathan Williams, the material from their just-out third album Afraid Of Heights sounded more polished and sophisticated than their older stuff, but without sacrificing any of their stoned/snotty attitude – the melodies that had always been there were just moved more to the surface, and the songs benefitted for it. Their set was probably too short for some – it was just right for me – but those who want more should be pleased that Wavves are back for a headlining show at the Opera House on September 29 and Williams will probably be happy to be back with better on-stage sound.

Photos: Wavves @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”
MP3: Wavves – “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”
MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
MP3: Wavves – “TV Luv Song”
MP3: Wavves – “Horse Shoes”
MP3: Wavves – “Mutant”
Video: Wavves – “That’s On Me”
Video: Wavves – “Afraid Of Heights”
Video: Wavves – “Demon To Lean On”
Video: Wavves – “Sail To The Sun”
Video: Wavves – “No Waves”
Video: Wavves – “Post Acid”
Video: Wavves – “Bug”
Video: Wavves – “King Of The Beach”
Video: Wavves – “So Bored”
Video: Wavves – “No Hope Kids”

As mentioned, the original Grove lineup was a commendably diverse one and it’s a unfortunate that when the dust settled, it was basically split into half guitar rawk acts and half electro-dance acts, and sandwiched in the middle was Earl Sweatshirt. For those not up on their hip-hop who’s whos, Thebe Kgositsile was claimed to be the most talented of the Odd Future crew and after releasing his debut Earl mixtape in 2010, was sent to a boarding school in Samoa until his 18th birthday and basically disappeared from sight… until he didn’t. At any rate, Sweatshirt is now firmly back in the public eye with a new album in Doris ready for release in a couple weeks on August 20. If his mother was intending to deter him from a music career, she clearly failed. And if you thought that an act whose setup should have only required a live mic and a laptop plugged into the PA would have had the easiest setup of the fest, you’d have been wrong. Technical issues delayed the start of Sweatshirt’s set by a good 10 minutes, or a third of his allotted time. They eventually got things going and Sweatshirt delivered a set from the edge of the stage, his delivery low-key but intense and his short songs wrapped in a fair bit of conversational banter. It felt more like an introduction than a proper set, but if there was one thing the Grove was getting right, it was keeping on schedule, so on things went.

The Los Angeles Times and MTV have feature pieces on Earl.

Photos: Earl Sweatshirt @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Friends”
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Whoa”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”

It was easy to tell who the Gaslight Anthem fans were, because of all the acts they were the ones whose fans proudly wore their t-shirts, no doubt purchased at the many previous Gaslight Anthem shows they’d attended, including their show at the Sound Academy just last December. All of which is to say that the New Jersey outfit has clearly garnered a loyal fanbase over its seven-year, four-album existence. That said, this would be my first time seeing them and it’s kind of a shame that frontman Brian Fallon appears to be wearying of the E-Street allusions because likening them to a punk rock Springsteen is neither insult nor inaccurate, at least from a superficial, first-impression perspective. It was easy to see how the big, riff-fueld anthems of resolutely meat-and-potato rock’n’roll could engender such fan loyalty; it’s designed for rebellion, disaffection, and just being young. So while being an old person I didn’t necessarily feel it, I totally understood it. Kids, I was once like you.

Photos: The Gaslight Anthem @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Here Comes My Man”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Bring It On”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “American Slang”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Old White Lincoln”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Drive”

The setting for my previous and only Girl Talk experience couldn’t have been more different from this one, but even if there’s no comparing a 4AM set on the shores of the Mediterranean to a 7PM set in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, one thing was certain – it’d be a whole lot of fun. Bringing dancers from the crowd to fill out the stage while he kept the top 40/classic rock/hip-hop mash-up machine going, Gregg Gillis and company doused the audience in confetti, toilet paper, balloons, and good vibes. What’s to say? If you’ve seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you know exactly what it was. If you haven’t seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you should really see/go to a Girl Talk show.

The Stranger talks to Gillis about the art of the mash-up.

Photos: Girl Talk @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Girl Talk & Jim Jones – “Believe In Magic”
Video: Girl Talk – “All Day”

Some would argue that it was an injustice giving Hot Chip just a 40-minute set; surely with five albums of fantastic electro-pop to their name and a reputation for stellar live shows, they should have gotten a little more time in? Perhaps, in the original Grove configuration of two stages tag-teaming sets it could have happened, but as it was, they – like everyone else playing – was up against the clock. But if there was a positive side to this, it was that they opted to fill every minute of the time they were given with the hits – less the ballads – and nothing but. I’d last seen them in April 2010 behind One Life Stand – I missed last Summer’s tour for In Our Heads – so my data points aren’t complete, but I daresay I’d not seen the band be so energized and into the performance before – it was like they were more into putting on a show than just soundtracking the party. And so despite sound complaints – prevalent throughout the day but especially critical for Hot Chip’s set – partying did occur.

Tom Tom has an interview with Hot Chip’s (relatively) new drummer, Sarah Jones, formerly of New Young Pony Club. If you were wondering. I was.

Photos: Hot Chip @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Hot Chip – “Don’t Deny Your Heart”
Video: Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
Video: Hot Chip – “Look At Where We Are”
Video: Hot Chip – “How Do You Do”
Video: Hot Chip – “Flutes”
Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Pure Thought”
Video: Hot Chip – “Ready For The Floor”
Video: Hot Chip – “The Warning”
Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
Video: Hot Chip – “Colours”
Video: Hot Chip – “And I Was A Boy From School”
Video: Hot Chip – “Playboy”

The rise of Phoenix from likeable but hardly beloved indie-pop band to massive worldwide stars post-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and, with the release of this year’s Bankrupt!, top-tier festival headliners, has been fascinating to watch. There’s those who don’t believe the band deserve it and are akin to one-hit wonders hanging out at the rock’n’roll hall of fame – and it’s true, with their ascent built largely on the back of one massive album or, more specifically, a couple of massive songs, their path to the biggest poster font is markedly different from those legacy acts with decades-long careers, even if their best work is inarguably behind them. But what that also means is that Phoenix’s fans are young and thus far less jaded or weary of festivals – so yeah, with the band having been off the road and out of sight for more than a couple years, their base is excited and sure as heck buying tickets to see them. The onus, really, is on the band to prove that they belong there. And based on their pulverizing one-hour, Grove-closing set, Phoenix belong.

Starting a bit late on account of setting up their massive light show gear, their set opened with a blazing “Entertainment” and, perhaps wanting to prove they didn’t need to hold their biggest songs back, were onto “Lisztomania” by the third number. What’s interesting is that fundamentally, Phoenix’s live show hadn’t really changed since I last saw them in June 2009 – Thomas Mars still climbs the monitors, gladhands the audience, and basically gives it his all while his five bandmates are as tight as tight gets – but the scale of the presentation has been necessarily amped up and what impresses is how naturally they’ve grown with it. They don’t seem at all out of place in the big spotlight, on the big stage, and if anything, they look as though they’ve been there all along and were just waiting for everyone to catch up with them. Even with just an hour to work with, they crammed in a baker’s dozen songs – including “Sunskrupt!”, their amalgam of instrumental “Love Like A Sunset” and mostly-instrumental “Bankrupt!” – as well as a huge finale/reprise of “Entertainment” to close the show. Phoenix skeptics may have a point in the long term; Bankrupt! is a solid record but hasn’t reached Wolfgang-level heights, so come their next album, it’s no sure thing that Coachella, Lollapalooza, et al will be calling, but for now, in 2013, this is where they belong.

The Grid grabbed an interview with Phoenix prior to the festival.

Photos: Phoenix @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Phoenix – “Trying To Be Cool”
Video: Phoenix – “Entertainment”
Video: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Phoenix – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Phoenix – “If I Ever Feel Better”
Video: Phoenix – “Long Distance Call”
Video: Phoenix – “Twenty-One One Zero”
Video: Phoenix – “Run Run Run”

NOW, BlogTO, and The National Post also have reviews of the fest.

And so The Grove. While many aspects of the fest were well-conceived and seemed to be undone by pure bad luck, although that doesn’t excuse other issues with the event – poor communication, dodgy sound, expensive concessions – that promoters with the experience that Goldenvoice have (they do Coachella) should have avoided. It seemed that by show time, the organizers were just trying to keep their heads down and get it over with without anyone dying or losing more money and even if much of the audience weren’t actual paying attendees, they still deserved better. There’s no question that there exists an opportunity for a festival in Toronto on the same weekend as Lollapalooza and Osheaga – pretty much every band playing both will be driving down the 401 that August long weekend – but it’s hardly the no-brainer it might appear. Any event would be at the scheduling mercy of those two big players, and considering that both – especially Osheaga – counts a strong Toronto demographic in their attendees, there’s not a lot of incentive to make it easy for acts to play all three cities, not that it’s necessarily easy in the first place – logistics are a bitch. Still, I hope/believe that something will rise up to fill this niche – whether it’s The Grove, valuable lessons learned and ready for another round, or someone else who thinks they can get it right, we shall see. And if someone does try, they’d be well advised to consult The Grid‘s helpful roundup of some of the music festivals that have tried – and failed – to make it work in the 416. Man, this town.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Concert Pitch

Empire Of The Sun are bringing their intimate, stripped down live show to a stage near you

Photo via empireofthesun.comempireofthesun.comConsidering how much trouble it took epic Australian synth-pop duo Empire Of The Sun to make it to Toronto the first time – an August 2010 appearance at Echo Beach around their Lollapalooza set was nixed because of logistics and when the make-up show finally happened in September 2011, it was at the significantly smaller Sound Academy and still not especially well-attended – I didn’t really expect a return engagement if indeed a North American tour behind their second album Ice On The Dune even happened. After all, as big stars as they are back home, their profile in the northern hemisphere isn’t really on the same scale. But returning to North America they are, and the itinerary does indeed include a return to Toronto on September 9 at the probably much more appropriately-sized Danforth Music Hall, tickets running $30 to $35.

Given the almost five years since their debut Walking On A Dream came out and the fact that in The Sleepy Jackson, Luke Steele demonstrated an almost pathological stylistic restlessness, it’s somewhat surprising that Ice On The Dune treads much of the same ground as its predecessor. On a surface level, that’s all well and good as if you’re an Empire Of The Sun fan, you’re all about grandiose, danceable tunes with soaring choruses mated to astonishing visuals. But the similarities will naturally elicit direct comparison and you can’t help but feel that the formula is returning fewer dividends this time out. If they don’t mix it up a bit for album number three, it could become and issue but for now, it’s still enough to get the swordfish dancers out on the road and that’s all that really matters.

The Age has an interview with Luke Steele, while Wired reports that the collaboration with JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot studios that produced the extravagant, three-minute Ice On The Dune trailer, is just a prelude to a larger feature. And oh yeah, don’t forget they’re scoring Dumb & Dumber 2.

Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Alive”
Trailer: Empire Of The Sun / Ice On The Dune

Northampton, Massachusetts pop-punk – in the sense that they’re both poppy and punky, not that they belong on the Warped tour – quartet Potty Mouth will be at The Shop Under Parts & Labour on August 5, topping an $8, six-band bill that may well entice you underground to close out the August long weekend. Their debut Hell Bent is out September 17 and there’s features on them at Noisey and CMJ.

Video: Potty Mouth – “Damage”

Her duties supporting second album The Midnight Mass will bring Louise Burns to The Drake Underground on September 10 where she’ll also be supporting Lightning Dust. Tickets for that are still $12.50.

Video: Louise Burns – “Emeralds Shatter”

English newcomer and BBC Sound of 2013 longlister King Krule will be at The Drake on September 11 in support of his debut Six Feet Beneath The Moon, out August 24. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Video: King Krule – “Octopus”

Anyone who thinks that the garage-friendly triple bill of Wavves, Jacuzzi Boys, and King Tuff won’t be extra loud and unruly when it hits the Opera House on September 29 is probably wrong. But that’s kind of the point. Tickets are $19 and the full touring itinerary can be had over at Pitchfork.

MP3: Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”
MP3: Jacuzzi Boys – “Automatic Jail”
MP3: King Tuff – “Anthem”

New York gloomy gusses Crystal Stilts have a new album in Nature Noir coming out September 17 – stream a new song below – and will be at The Horseshoe on October 8 to play you songs from it. Tickets for that are $12.50.

Stream: Crystal Stilts – “Star Crawl”

With his once and maybe future Sonic Youth bandmate Thurston Moore there a little less than a month earlier with Chelsea Light Moving, Lee Ranaldo and his new band The Dust will be at The Horseshoe on October 11, tickets $16.50. Matablog says that the tour is in support of his new solo record, the follow up to 2011’s Between The Times & The Tides, but isn’t saying any more about that for the moment.

MP3: Lee Ranaldo – “Off The Wall”

English electronic duo Fuck Buttons celebrated yesterday’s release of their new album Slow Focus with the announcement of a North American tour that brings them to Wrongbar on October 16, tickets $12. Interview, The Guardian, Clash, The Fly, and The Quietus have feature pieces on the band.

Video: Fuck Buttons – “The Red Wing”

With a new album in On Oni Pond ready for a September 10 release, Philadelphia weirdos – meant in the most complimentary sense – Man Man have slated a Fall tour that brings them to The Horseshoe on October 18, tickets $18.50.

MP3: Man Man – “Knuckle Down”

English folk-poppers Noah & The Whale have announced the dates for their Fall tour in support of album number four, Heart Of Nowhere. They’re at The Phoenix in Toronto on October 19, tickets $25.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Lifetime”

Two good things about the announcement of a Shad show at The Opera House on October 19. One, it means that his next album Flying Colours will be out sooner rather than later, and two, it means that anyone who wants to see him perform no longer needs to go see him open up for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Echo Beach on August 2. CBC has a check-in with the rapper.

Video: Shad – “It Ain’t Over”

Seattle folkies The Head & The Heart have completed their second album, entitled Let’s Be Still and set for an October 15 release, and have put together a pretty extensive tour covering the eastern half of the continent. They’re celebrating Hallowe’en in Toronto with an October 31 date at The Danforth Music Hall – tickets $20 to $25.50 – and the very worthy Thao & The Get Down Stay Down will support.

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Down In The Valley”
MP3: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Holy Roller”

New York synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! will release their second album Dynamics on September 10, and to get people stoked – as the kids say – they’ve put out a video for a track already made available to download and will be hitting the road later this Fall, rolling into The Hoxton on November 6, tickets $16.

MP3: Holy Ghost! – “Teenagers In Heat”
Video: Holy Ghost! – “Teenagers In Heat”

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Strangers On The Street

It’s a veritable Two Hours Traffic jam of concert announcements. Yeah, that was bad. I know.

Photo By David BastedoDavid BastedoSo at this point I may as well just earmark Tuesday posts as concert announcement roundups, Mondays being the busiest day for tour-related press releases and also being the easiest to put together as I wait for a torrent of Bunheads to surface. Shut up, it’s a great show.

First up is Prince Edward Island’s finest power-pop band Two Hours Traffic, now with a slightly altered lineup – guitarist Alec O’Hanley left after 2009’s Territory and can now be found in Always, who’ve gotten a fair bit of ink around here – and a new album in Foolish Blood coming out February 19. Touring machines that they are, they hit the road almost immediately afterwards for a Spring tour that takes them from the Maritimes down to Austin for SXSW, then back up through Toronto for a Canadian Musicfest headlining showcase at Lee’s Palace on March 21, and then across the rest of Canada. Saskatchewan’s Rah Rah will accompany them for most dates of the tour.

Stream: Two Hours Traffic – “Last Star”
Stream: Two Hours Traffic – “Amour Than Amis”

Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes step in as the big draw at Lee’s Palace for the Friday night of CMF – March 21 – previewing their new album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO before it comes out April 2.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

March 22 is also the day The Indies – the festival’s bizarro mish-mash of awards ceremony no one really understands and musical bill of some of the fest’s biggest names playing abbreviated sets – goes down, but this year it’s at the Kool Haus rather than the ballroom of the Royal York hotel and the lineup is somewhat more coherent. Metric will headline and the undercard contains the likes of Diamond Rings, Yukon Blonde, The Wooden Sky, and Cadence Weapon. Tickets for that are $49.50. Yup.

MP3: Metric – “Artificial Nocturne”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Child Of The Valley”
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Conditioning”

When Portland’s Parenthetical Girls were last here in April, their series of Privilege EPs had yet to be completed, only getting compiled into 21-song box set form last Fall. On February 19, it gets recompiled into a concise, 12-track album of the same name and gives them an excuse to tour again, this time coming to Double Double Land on March 28.

MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”

Scottish indie-rock heroes The View will give their new record Cheeky For A Reason – out last Summer in the UK – a North American release on February 13 and have a date at Lee’s Palace on March 29 to promote it. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Stream: The View – “How Long”

Pitchfork brings Wavves news; specifically a new album in Afraid Of Heights coming March 26, a stream of a song from said new record, and tour dates in support of it including an April 5 date at The Horseshoe. Accompanying them on this tour are FIDLAR and Cheatahs, both of whom come with their own head of buzzy steam and equal facility for mangling the English language.

MP3: FIDLAR – “Got No Money”
Stream: Wavves – “Demon To Lean On”
Stream: Cheatahs – “The Swan”

The release of Jim James’ solo debut Regions Of Light And Sound Of God is upon us next Tuesday – February 5 – and with that comes and advance stream courtesy of NPR,interviews courtesy of Rolling Stone, CBC Music, and Exclaim, and a North American tour – dates courtesy Pollstar – that includes an April 24 stop at The Phoenix, tickets $26 in advance.

Stream: Jim James / Regions Of Light And Sound Of God

British “can we not call it dubstep” electronic artist James Blake will have a new album out later this year, but first comes a Spring tour built around Coachella that brings him to the Danforth Music Hall on May 4. Tickets $25 in advance.

MP3: James Blake – “To Care (Like You)”

Even though they were here just in December, Marina & The Diamonds have made a return engagement in support of second album Electra Hart and will be at the Sound Academy on May 23 as part of a Spring tour with support coming from next big thing Charli XCX. Tickets for that show are $28.50.

MP3: Charli XCX – “Glow”
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “How To Be A Heartbreaker”

Crystal Castles also aren’t waiting long to play another local show, but they live here so it’s a little less of an undertaking. Following their release show for III back in November – from which they just released a new video – they’re back at the Sound Academy on June 8 and those tickets are $28.

MP3: Crystal Castles – “Wrath Of God”
Video: Crystal Castles – “Sad Eyes”

Washington DC punk/hardcore legends Bad Brains put out a new record in Into The Future late last year, and will be here on June 13 at The Phoenix to play some songs from it. And probably some old ones. Almost certainly some old ones. Tickets $30.50.

MP3: Bad Brains – “Pay To Cum”

The Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark reunion continues apace, with a second 21st century album – English Electric – due out April 8 and an accompanying North American tour confirmed. They’ll be at the Danforth Music Hall on July 11, advance tickets $35.

Video: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – “If You Leave”

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Until I Am Whole

New album news from (Mountain) Goats, and (Band Of) Horses, and (Grizzly) Bear(s) – oh my!

Photo By DL AndersonD.L. AndersonA veritable deluge of new album information came across the desk in the last day or so, though it could well have been delivered in a box of animal crackers.

First and least expectedly – at least I wasn’t expecting one – is a new Mountain Goats album entitled Transcendental Youth due out on October 2. There’s no sample track yet – not even one of those album trailers that are de rigeur these days – but instead and arguably better are a couple of essays about the album, one by John Darnielle, and another by way of the official bio by John Hodgman.

You can see the full album art over at Exclaim and, as something to listen to and keeping with the animal theme, a track from their 2000 album The Coroner’s Gambit.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Baboon”

Having teased that it was coming but not offering much in the way of specifics, Band Of Horses have spilled the beans on album number four, to be entitled Mirage Rock and due out on September 18; it certainly gives some context to their show at Echo Beach on August 15 opening up for My Morning Jacket. Pitchfork has some specifics and the first video from the album is available below.

Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”

And while Grizzly Bear had gone so far as to not only confirm a release date for their next record – also September 18 – and book a tour – Massey Hall on September 26 – they’d been coy about the actual title of the record until now. It’s going to be called Shields and you can see the album art and track listing over at Gigwise.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

And while I’m not a fan, it’d be kind of ridiculous to not note that Animal Collective have a new one entitled Centipede Hz; it’s out September 4 and the first single is available to stream.

Stream: Animal Collective – “Honeycomb”

Ty Segall isn’t named for any kind of animal but he works like a mule; Pitchfork has details on his third album of the year – Twins is out October 9, giving some context to his show with Thee Oh Sees at The Hoxton on September 26.

San Diego garage-poppers The Soft Pack have announced a couple dates at The Garrison on October 9 and 10 as part of a tour in support of their second full-length Strapped, due out September 25. The first single is available to stream.

Stream: The Soft Pack – “Saratoga”

And shifting gears to some more concert announcements: After selling the hell out of Lee’s Palace back in April before their debut Boys & Girls was even out – the show was a week after the release date but every ticket was gone weeks before then – Alabama Shakes are coming back for a gig at the much more spacious Kool Haus on October 2, tickets for that $26.50 in advance. Full Fall dates over at Pollstar.

MP3: Alabama Shakes – “I Found You”
MP3: Alabama Shakes – “You Ain’t Alone”
MP3: Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”

Of all the band hats that he has to choose from, Conor Oberst has decided to hit the road as Conor Oberst for a show at Massey Hall on December 8. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10AM and run from $39.50 to $60.50.

MP3: Conor Oberst – “Danny Callahan”
MP3: Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”
MP3: Desaparecidos – “The Happiest Place On Earth”

Major, the second album from Fang Island, is streaming over at NPR ahead of its official release on July 24.

MP3: Fang Island – “Sisterly”
MP3: Fang Island – “Asunder”
Stream: Fang Island / Major

The title track of Matt & Kim’s next album Let’s Go – release date still to be determined – is now available to download.

MP3: Matt & Kim – “Let’s Go”

NPR and The New York Times have interviews with James Murphy, who reveals that LCD Soundsystem may not be quite completely dead just yet. But close. And then, luggage. The LCD doc Shut Up And Play The Hits is back in Toronto for a couple screenings next week at The Bloor Cinema, on July 18 and 19.

As promised, Luna’s seminal 1992 album Bewitched is getting its first-ever pressing on vinyl this Summer. It’s out August 21 and is limited to an edition of 2000, so it’s a good thing you can pre-order it now.

MP3: Luna – “Tiger Lily”

A Heart Is A Spade asks a few quick questions of Peggy from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

The Shins have a new video from Port Of Morrow. They open up for The Black Keys at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

Video: The Shins – “It’s Only Life”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Sharon Van Etten, who’s in town at the Phoenix on July 31.

PopMatters talks to Ira Elliot of Nada Surf.

Rolling Stone and The Boston Globe talk to Mission Of Burma about their new record Unsound, out now and streaming in full at Spinner.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Second Television”
Stream: Mission of Burma / Unsound

The Village Voice talks to Eric Bachmann of Archers Of Loaf.

PopMatters interviews Eisley.

Spin has posted their latest cover story on Cali power couple Best Coast and Wavves and thrown in a photo shoot gallery for good measure. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Been Listening

Johnny Flynn and Evening Hymns at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure it was only coincidence, but the fact that Mumford & Sons sold out the 3000+ capacity Sound Academy the night before Johnny Flynn was slated to play a solo date at Lee’s Palace made for some interesting parallel drawing. The two toured together – along with some girl named Laura Marling who’s gone on to do some stuff – a couple Autumns ago and Flynn headlined all of their Toronto debuts at the dinky Rivoli back in October 2008.

Not that playing Lee’s is any small potatoes – some great careers never got to rooms much bigger – but one can’t help but ask why the former have skyrocketed to fame while the latter hasn’t. It could be because Mumford and co may work with the musical implements of folk and bluegrass, but their songs are unabashedly emotive, arena-sized anthems and I’ve heard more than a few people express surprise that they’re British rather than American. Flynn, on the other hand, ploughs a more traditional folk furrow in his music, more given to character-driven narratives and steeped in Englishness in both form and content. Not that these distinctions likely mattered to the hundreds of predominately female fans gathered at Lee’s on Sunday night – I’ll wager that most were at Mumford the night before and just as excited to be here.

Support for the evening came from Toronto’s own Evening Hymns, operating as just a two-piece. Their debut Spirit Guides had fallen out of rotation somewhat since finding its way onto my year-end list for 2009, but this show did a tremendous job of reminding me why I was so won over by it in the first place. At past shows, I’d noted that expansive sounds captured on the record worked better live the more hands they had on deck. So it was quite the pleasant surprise that the stripped-down configuration of principal Jonas Bonetta on guitar and keys, Sylvie Smith on bass and divine backing vocals and some looping pedals were able to turn some choice selections from Spirit Guides, a promising new composition and a cover into maybe the most affecting Evening Hymns show I’ve seen yet. Particularly ingenious was the way Bonetta pulled off “Mountain Song” solo, building rhythms and guitar parts via looper and then turning to the keyboard – loaded with all manner of patches and samples – to pile on the sounds that it would have otherwise taken a small orchestra to pull off. Judging from the tremendously appreciative audience during their set and the number of people wandering around with Spirit Guides LPs afterwards, I’d say Evening Hymns made more than a few new fans that night in addition to reaffirming old ones.

If by most standards Evening Hymns’ setup was minimalist, Johnny Flynn made their stage setup look like Pink Floyd’s. Appearing with just a resonator guitar and without his band The Sussex Wit, he proved himself to be one of the rare performers who can hold an audience’s attention for a full set with just their voice, guitar and songs. And banter. Between songs, Flynn was understated and charming, offering stories from tours past and present, and during the songs he was even better. Playing necessarily stripped-down versions of songs from his debut A Larum and the just-released follow-up Been Listening, he found enough range in what was at his disposal to do justice to the material and excusing the absence of the horns and drums which buoy the recordings. It didn’t come without cost, as singles “Kentucky Pill” and “Barnacled Warship” were conspicuously absent from the show – presumably too difficult to pull off alone – but “The Water” still sounded great even without Laura Marling’s harmonies and had he been playing with a band, you probably wouldn’t have had fun moments like when his voice cracked in the middle of “Shore To Shore”, necessitating a mid-song pause and apology before continuing. It was the sort of episode that underlined the intimacy of the show, but that said it’ll be nice if the next time Flynn returns, it’s with band in tow. And maybe at a room on the same scale as his peers, like the Sound Academy (kidding – no one wants to see anyone at The Sound Academy).

The AV Club talks to Johnny Flynn.

Photos: Johnny Flynn, Evening Hymns @ Lee’s Palace – November 14, 2010
MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Kentucky Pill”
MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
Video: Johnny Flynn with Laura Marling – “The Water”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Barnacled Warship”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Kentucky Pill”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Tickle Me Pink”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Leftovers”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Brown Trout Blues”
Myspace: Johnny Flynn
Myspace: Evening Hymns

I think some kind of universal concert announcement embargo expired yesterday because show news was coming fast and furious, making 2011 something to look forward to. In chronological order:

It will be a very different Concretes at The Horseshoe on January 17 than the band that was there last in May 2006. The date is part of a North American tour in support of their disco-powered new record WYWH, which frontwoman Lisa Milberg talks to Spinner about. Tickets for the show are $15 in advance, Class Actress supports.

MP3: The Concretes – “All Day”
MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”

That previously mentioned Decemberists date has been confirmed as part of an extensive tour in support of their new record The King Is Dead, due January 18. And yes, come February 1, the faithful will have to trek down to the Sound Academy to see them. See kids, this is what happens when you like bands – they get big and popular. You’ve no one to blame but yourselves. But as an extra incentive, Wye Oak are opening, and they’re lovely.

MP3: The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”

Jim Bryson will be at Lee’s Palace on February 4 with The Weakerthans backing him up as they do on his new record The Falcon Lake Incident. Tickets for the show are $17.50 in advance.

MP3: Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans – “Wild Folk”

The reigning prom king and queen of California stoner garage pop – Wavves and Best Coast – have made good on their promise to tour together next Winter. Look for them at The Phoenix on February 6; Snacks the cat will DJ between sets.

MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
MP3: Best Coast – “Something In The Way”

Wire are back. Both on record, with their new record Red Barked Tree due out January 11, and live, with a North American tour that kicks off April 1 at Lee’s Palace. Tickets $22.50.

MP3: Wire – “Dot Dash” (live at CBGB)
MP3: Wire – “3 Girl Rumba” (live at the Roxy)

Lykke Li has released a video for the new single she’s been giving away, and has also slated a Spring tour that includes a May 22 date at The Phoenix, which is interestingly 1/3 the size of the room she played last time she visited.

Video: Lykke Li – “Get Some”

Brian Wilson will bring his as-advertised album Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin to Massey Hall next Summer, on June 18; tickets will range from $55 to $85.