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Posts Tagged ‘Weakerthans’

Friday, August 16th, 2013

CONTEST – Riot Fest @ Garrison Commons – August 24 to 25, 2013

Photo By Daniel CorriganDaniel CorriganWhat: Riot Fest & Travelling Exposition
Why: Riot Fest that started as a Chicago-based punk event but has expanded to other markets, including Toronto starting last year. But of course this year, it’s really just the backdrop for the much-anticipated Replacements reunion and, if they don’t play a warmup show in Minneapolis over the next week or something, Toronto will be their first show in 22 years. Of course it’s not just The Mats – the second day of the fest is further stacked with Iggy & The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, and more. The first day of the fest features a bunch of bands who, hand to god, I have never heard of.
When: Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25, 2013
Where: Garrison Commons at Fort York in Toronto
How: Two-day passes for the festival are sold out though single-day tickets remain, but courtesy of Union Events, I’ve got a pair of weekend passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to go to Riot Fest” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, August 21.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
Video: The Replacements – “Bastards Of Young”
Video: Iggy & The Stooges – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Rocket From The Crypt – “On A Rope”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Give Up

The Postal Service and Mates Of State at The Air Canada Centre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough generally referred to as a reunion, the return this year of The Postal Service to active duty is unlike most others in that it’s to mark a very specific occasion – the 10th anniversary and reissue of their only album Give Up – and comes with absolutely no promise or expectation of carrying on after the occasion is past. And as much as people might think they want a second Postal Service record, I suspect that the truth is they don’t.

Much of the magic of Give Up is that it exists as a single specific point in space and time, and not just as the album where indie, emo, and electronica converged and created a template for countless artists to follow. It’s also special because it was the soundtrack for so many lives in 2003, and by not releasing a follow-up or even having The Postal Service really exist outside of the recordings, remained a snapshot of a moment trapped in amber. No one grew up with this band, or risked being disappointed by a subsequent effort that didn’t make them feel the way Give Up did. And by that same token, it’s a safe bet that no one who piled into the Air Canada Centre a decade later to finally hear these songs played live were remotely the same person they were when they fell in love with the band. And yet they came – not in nearly enough number to fill the theatre-configured arena, but enough to create a time-warped sense of community fuelled by excitement and nostalgia.

It would have been pretty funny and entertaining had Toronto drawn the Big Freedia card in the opening band rotation – the looks on passers by’s faces as they were introduced to the Sissy Bounce when she played Yonge-Dundas at NXNE 2010 is a fond memory – but I was more than happy to get Mates Of State’s first date of the tour. I hadn’t seen them since they kicked off Virgin Fest 2009, and while it’s unfortunate that there were about as many people on hand to see them this time as then – which is to say not a lot – they still put on a wholly enjoyable set, at least after getting over the shock of them playing as a four-piece, though there’s no denying that the extra dimension added by the supporting keys and guitar sounded nice, particularly the trumpet on “Rearrange Us” and “My Only Offer”. But the heart of Mates Of State remain Kori Gardner and Jason Hammell’s keys-and-drums-and-harmonies-and-adorableness, and though their recent work isn’t quite as sugar-giddy as the early stuff, it’s still got plenty of sweetness and remains delightful. I mean, how can you not love banter like, “That’s Kori, isn’t she hot?”. You can’t.

Given that The Postal Service didn’t even record Give Up as a proper band – their name refers to how Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello traded musical ideas via physical DAT – getting a guy on a laptop and another on guitar to translate live in as large a venue as an arena was surely no small task. So to fill things out, they promoted Jenny Lewis from backing vocalist to almost co-frontperson with guitar and keyboard duties, and enlisted Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds on glock and vox – certainly a fine ensemble, augmented by an acoustic drum kit on the stage for those moments when canned beats just wouldn’t do. And as to the problem of having only two sides of material to draw from, they naturally played the whole of Give Up, opening with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, as well as the four new/unreleased tracks from the anniversary edition, a Beat Happening cover, and the proto-Postal Dntel track “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” – making for a respectable-length set, all things considered.

So that was the what it was; what about the how it was? In all, pretty good. They certainly did all they could to make it a visually engaging show, with Gibbard dipping into his Death Cab dance moves, Lewis strutting around like she owned the stage – and really, she did, in front of some slickly-lit stage sets and glowing backdrops. And even though he was restricted to his podium at the back of the stage dropping beats, Tamborello got to contribute vocals to “Sleeping In” – not great vocals, but whatever – and again Daft Punk vocoder-styled at the end of “Recycled Air”. The showiness of the performance worked on the upbeat numbers, but for my personal Give Up high point – the Ben Gibbard-Jen Wood duet “Nothing Better” – it felt to its detriment and out of character. On record, the singalong melody belies the dark sentiments of the lyrics, and the whole feels like a incredibly personal conversation you can’t help be eavesdrop in. Live though, with Lewis’ big sassy vocals in place of Wood’s weary originals, it felt more like a work of broad theatre rather than the intimate moment it should have been. This may be my complaint alone, but there it is.

Still, one down point amongst many high points isn’t bad at all. High points like Lewis’ big rock guitar solo to close out “This Place Is A Prison”, the nearly-deafening shoegaze treatment of “Natural Anthem” to close out the main set, the being reminded that the simple guitar line in “Such Great Heights” may well be one of the riffs of the century so far. By the time the show’s hour and fifteen running time was up, it was clear that this wasn’t a reunion meant to help you recapture your youth, or wherever you were in 2003 the first time you first heard “District” or “Heights”; it was intended to celebrate where you’ve gone in the ten years that have followed. Not for nothing, I think, was “Brand New Colony” the show closer and the final lyrics uttered, “Everything will change”. Because you can’t go back, but you can remember.

The Toronto Star, Huffington Post, and Exclaim also have reviews of the show, and The Toronto Star also has a show previewing interview.

Photos: The Postal Service, Mates Of State @ The Air Canada Centre – June 11, 2013
MP3: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
MP3: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
MP3: Dntel – “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Think Long”
MP3: Mates Of State – “Hoarding It For Home”
Video: The Postal Service – “Against All Odds”
Video: The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
Video: The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
Video: The Postal Service – “We Will Become Silhouettes”
Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”
Video: Mates Of State – “Palomino”
Video: Mates Of State – “Sway”
Video: Mates Of State – “Maracas”
Video: Mates Of State – “True Love Will Find You In The End”
Video: Mates Of State – “I Am A Scientist”
Video: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
Video: Mates Of State – “Get Better”
Video: Mates Of State – “Like U Crazy”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fraud In The 80s”
Video: Mates Of State – “Goods (All In Your Head)”
Video: Mates Of State – “Fluke”
Video: Mates Of State – “Gotta Get A Problem”

NPR has an interview and a Tiny Desk Concert with The National, who are at Yonge-Dundas Square for a free show tomorrow night, June 14. The Globe & Mail also has an interview with Matt Berninger.

Nylon is streaming Beach Day’s debut album Trip Trap Attack ahead of its release next Tuesday. As mentioned earlier this week, Beach Day are all over NXNE, playing Urban Outfitters Friday afternoon at 2, Handlebar Saturday night at 11, and a Kops instore Sunday at 6:30.

Stream: Beach Day / Trip Trap Attack

Kurt Vile has released a new video from Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. He and his Violators play the final day of TURF at Garrison Common on July 4.

Video: Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”

Neko Case has confirmed details of her new new album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, due out September 3. The first M Ward-powered taste is available to stream, there’s a sweet trailer to watch, and further details can be had at Pitchfork. She also plays the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Common on July 4.

Stream: Neko Case – “Man”
Trailer: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

The Village Voice talks to Yo La Tengo about the imminent closing of their Hoboken home away from home, Maxwell’s; The Province and Denver Post also have features. They’re here for TURF on July 4 as well.

PopMatters and NPR talk to Jason Isbell, in town at Lee’s Palace on August 2.

Beatroute has a quick word with Superchunk, whose new record I Hate Music is out August 20.

Stereogum has a video session with Wild Nothing. They open up for Local Natives at The Kool Haus on September 21.

Billboard gets some more info from Janelle Monáe about her new album The Electric Lady, coming in September.

Tiny Mix Tapes has an interview with Charles Bradley.

Dungeonesse have a new video from Dungeonesse; it is not called “Dungeonesse”.

Video: Dungeonesse – “Nightlight”

Sharon Van Etten has released a stream of a new old song, originally released as part of a compilation CD for Esopus magazine in 2010.

Stream: Sharon Van Etten – “Esao Andrews”

Tiny Mix Tapes gets to know Caitlin Rose.

The National Post talks NXNE with Calexico; they were here last night.

And a couple noteworthy show announcements that missed yesterday’s cutoff – first, Blonde Redhead may not have the follow-up to 2010′s Penny Sparkle ready for release until early 2014, but they’re still doing some touring this year. They’ll be at The Adelaide Music Hall on July 15, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “Here Sometimes”

And also, Riot Fest announced their 2013 lineup last night, and it’s a doozy. We’ll ignore the August 24 acts for the moment because I have no idea who any of them are, but Sunday, August 25 will be headlined by the first Replacements show in 22 years. That’s right – Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson back together again as The Mats. And if that wasn’t worth your $50 ticket, the lineup ALSO includes Iggy & The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, and more. That goes down at, of course, Garrison Common. The Replacements, people. The Replacements.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
Video: The Replacements – “Bastards Of Young”
Video: Iggy & The Stooges – “Search & Destroy”
Video: Rocket From The Crypt – “On A Rope”
Video: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

"Bad Time To Be Poor"

The Weakerthans cover Rheostatics

Photo via ZuniorZuniorA lot of people were excited when Canadian indie icons Rheostatics announced that they were reuniting for a couple of shows to mark the 65th anniversary of Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern this week, and then a lot more – particularly those who missed out on tickets for those two shows – got excited when a third show was added to meet demand. Then all of them were disappointed when the shows were abruptly cancelled, presumed due to Martin Tielli’s long-running battle with performance anxiety, and disappointment turned to concern when producer and one-time Rheo (though not involved with this reunion) Michael Philip Wojoweda implied the reasons were somewhat darker than that.

I hadn’t planned to attend – best to let those three square feet of Horseshoe floor go to real fans rather than casual observers – but was disappointed because I was pretty keen to post this Rheos cover. It’s taken from a tribute album assembled by the folks at Zunior called The Secret Sessions, recorded in secret and released as a surprise rhetirement gift to coincide with the Rheostatics final shows in Spring 2007. It finds arguably one of the most Canadian of Canadian indie bands covered by maybe the next-most Canadian of Canadian indie bands, The Weakerthans; certainly they’ve got the most songs about hockey between them.

Then I decided, why not post it anyways if just to draw attention to the comp, which at five years old is probably a little under the radar these days. All proceeds from the sale of the tribute go to support the Daily Bread Food Bank, so why not take a bit of that ticket refund and treat yourself to some new takes on old Rheos songs by the likes of Weeping Tile, The Inbreds, Cuff The Duke, and more and support a worthy cause in this giving season.

And if you were going to those rheunion shows and now find a hole in your calendar, know that Rheos guitarist Dave Bidini has stepped up with his solo project Bidiniband to perform at The ‘Shoe the night of December 5; it’s a free show that promises lots of guest vocalists and probably no shortage of Rheostatics songs. It starts at 10PM.

The Globe & Mail has an article about how musicians – Tielli included – have battled with stage fright, with a sidebar from Jenn Grant about how she came to terms with her own fear of performing.

Update: Dave Bidini has offered a couple clarifications on the cancellations: “MT said he cldnt do shows; we didn’t bail on him. and he never had history of perf anxiety with us.” Awkward grammar courtesy of Twitter.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Bad Time To Be Poor”
Video: Rheostatics – “Bad Time To Be Poor”

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Circumambient

Grimes’ Visions; let her show you them

Photo By Raphael OulletRaphaël OulletWho would have thought that the title of Canada’s queen of electro-pop would be such a contested one? Just last year, Toronto’s Katie Stelmanis-fronted Austra seemed to have the title locked down, having collected numerous accolades both at home and abroad for their debut album Feel It Break. And yet just a few months later, it’s Vancouver native and Montreal resident Claire Boucher who operates as Grimes that everyone is talking about, what with her new record Visions set for release next week.

Not that it’s a competition, of course, and beyond the superficial there’s not that much in common; Visions is Grimes’ fourth album (but her first for indie juggernaut label 4AD) so if it is indeed her breakout album – and the just-awarded “Best New Music” won’t hurt – it’s been a long time in coming. And her sunnier sound, defined by Boucher’s affection for both dream-pop and R&B and her infectious chirp of a voice, is rather a far cry from Austra’s darker, goth-indebted aesthetic and Stelmanis’ operatic vocals. So why draw parallels? Lazy writing, of course, and the fact that it’s nice to have someone at the ready to pick up the Canadian electronic flag and run with it while Austra lays low and recovers from a whirlwind year.

The Georgia Straight, The Washington Post, The Province, Exclaim, Pitchfork, Prefix, The Guardian, The National Post, and SF Station all have feature pieces on Grimes and NPR has Visions available to stream in its entirety. Grimes is at The Horseshoe on March 19 and you’re damn skippy it’s sold out.

MP3: Grimes – “Oblivion”
MP3: Grimes – “Genesis”
Stream: Grimes / Visions

It’s not a total dearth of Austra happenings, though – their recent jaunt to Australia has yielded this video of a radio session wherein they cover Robyn.

Video: Austra – “None Of Dem”

Southern Souls has an interview with The Elwins, who are celebrating the release of their debut And We Thank You this coming Tuesday with a new video premiered at aux.tv and an album stream at Exclaim. They play a record release show at the Burroghes Building on February 24 and will also look to chase your CMW hangover away with a set at Rancho Relaxo on March 25 at 11PM.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”
Video: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”
Stream: The Elwins / And We Thank You

Contra gets to know Army Girls. Their next show is March 10 at the Bovine Sex Club opening up for Carole Pope and they’re waiting to be scheduled in for Canadian Musicfest at the end of the month.

Cold Specks has announced details of her debut album, to be called I Predict a Graceful Expulsion and due out on May 22 on Arts & Crafts at home and Mute worldwide. A video for the first single has just been released and she will be at The Music Gallery on March 22 as part of Canadian Musicfest – a much better setting for her than The Phoenix, I’d say. This show is in addition to the already-announced June 2 appearance at The Music Hall opening for Great Lake Swimmers.

Video: Cold Specks – “Holland”

John K Samson talks to Exclaim about what’s in store for the next Weakerthans album, which he’ll get started on when he’s done being a solo act. Samson does the solo thing at The Great Hall on March 22.

Beat and Nine To Five help introduce Dan Mangan to Australia. He plays The Indie Awards at The Royal York on March 24.

Spencer Krug’s Moonface has announced the April 17 release of With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery, a collaboration with the Finnish band Sinai. The first MP3 sounds like this.

MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”

The new Miracle Fortress video from Was I The Wave? has premiered at IFC; a must-see for anyone who’s ever wanted to set Graham Van Pelt on fire.

Video: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Bry Webb gets into the end of the Constantines with Spinner.

Southern Souls chit-chats with Olenka Krakus of Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.

NPR has posted a World Cafe session with Kathleen Edwards.

It’s not the specifics of the new album Spectral Dusk that I’ve been patiently waiting for, but this unexpected Evening Hymns cover of a Trembling Blue Stars tune is pretty nice as well. Spectral Dusk is due out sometime in the Spring.

Stream: Evening Hymns – “If I Handle You With Care”

Torotonist, The AV Club, and NOW (in two parts) salute Toronto music showcase Wavelength on the occasion of its twelfth anniversary; the party goes all weekend.

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.