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Posts Tagged ‘Weather Station’

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Ram Ram

Let The Deer Tracks guide you around NXNE this year

Photo By Sofia StolpeSofia StolpeNXNE-spotting happens on two levels: there’s the micro, where you pore over the year’s lineup and try to figure out how you’ll spend the four hopefully-warm nights in June club-hopping and seeing bands new and familiar; and there’s the macro, where you see how this year’s festival as a whole experience measures up against past years and assess how the event is trending as Toronto’s flagbearer in a world where cities are increasingly judged by the quality of their music festivals. Or at least, that’s how I look at things. I may well be a freak.

First, the bands my strongest recommendation for the fest because it’d have be strong enough to convince you to a) miss a whole hell of a lot of great stuff including part of that free Flaming Lips show and b) brave the shitshow that will be a closed-off Queen St. W as MuchMusic tools up for the Bieber-fied MMVAs the following night. But that said, I still think that seeing Sweden’s Deer Tracks would be worth it. The duo of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors craft the sort of eclectically airy, hybrid electronic-orchestral pop that might have you looking for the Morr logo on the spine (they’re actually on The Control Group, if it matters), but tied together and given both weight and lift by their buoyant melodies and harmonies. If I can be allowed to invoke some Scandinavian stereotypes, they marry the otherworldliness one would expect of Icelandic acts with the impeccable pop sense of the best the Swedes have to offer.

They’re in the midst of a three-part album cycle entitled The Archer Trilogy, Part 2 with the third part coming later this year. It’s kind of a shame that their tour is hitting during NXNE because had it been any other time of year, or even any other night or time slot of the fest, they’d be getting a lot more attention. But as it is, if you find your way to The Rivoli at 10PM on Saturday, June 16, I suspect it’ll be worth your time and effort. The Georgia Straight had an interview with them ahead of their Vancouver show earlier this week.

MP3: The Deer Tracks – “W”
MP3: The Deer Tracks – “Dark Passenger”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Meant To Be”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Tiger”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Fall With Me”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Fra Ro Raa / Ro Ra Fraa”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Ram Ram”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “Slow Collision”
Video: The Deer Tracks – “12sxfrya”

And the official though surely incomplete day-by-day, hour-by-hour, “hey you should maybe go to some of these” is as follows:

Tuesday, June 12
The Weather Station @ Kops/Lavish & Squalor, 4PM – Another highlight of this year’s CMF, Tamara Lindeman will play selections from her excellent All Of It Was Mine at this in-store before her official show at The Great Hall Lower Theatre at 10PM Wednesday night.
MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”

Wednesday, June 13
Army Girls @ Supermarket, 9PM – I can’t foresee a day when I won’t recommend you go see this Toronto duo, though hopefully soon enough my recommendation won’t be necessary – everyone will just know. They’re also at Jang Bang the afternoon of the 14th for a day show, The El Mocamobo at 10PM that night, and a day show in Trinity Bellwoods on Sunday afternoon at 3:45PM. And don’t be surprised if they add a few more appearances before the week is done – the benefits of traveling light and rocking hard.
MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”

Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground, 10PM – Virginia-based trio who make hazy, lo-fi pop that doesn’t care that Altered Zones doesn’t exist anymore. Their second album Correct Behavior will be out July 24.
Video: Eternal Summers – “Millions”

July Talk @ The Horseshoe, 10PM – Toronto punkabilly outfit who flat-out stole the show/fest at this year’s Canadian Musicfest; can they do it again? Don’t bet against them. They’re also at Lee’s Palace on Saturday night at 9:30PM.
M4A: July Talk – “Paper Girl”

Porcelain Raft @ The Drake Underground, 12AM – Pseudonym of New York-based Mauro Remiddi who crafted his debut Strange Weekend from a lifetime of globetrotting, sound-collecting and genre-defying. So what does he do for a follow-up?
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From The Heart”

Thursday, June 14
The Men @ Grasshopper Records, 3PM – New York band whose latest effort Open Your Heart sounds like the best of Sonic Youth and Mission Of Burma being mashed into your eardrums with extreme prejudice. A can’t-miss for the fest, and besides this in-store – if you haven’t heard of the store, consult The Grid – they also have official showcases Thursday night at The Garrison at 1AM and Friday night at Wrongbar at 12AM, and will also be appearing at the NXNEXPERIMENT BBQ on Friday afternoon.
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”

Smith Westerns @ Gibralter Point, 5:30PM – We don’t see many acts being shipped in for one-off, non-festival parties but that’s what’s happening with this Noisey/Jansport to-do on the Toronto Islands where Chicago’s glam-garage punks will do their thing amongst what is sure to be tastefully-executed branding.
MP3: Smith Westerns – “Still New”

Boxer The Horse @ The El Mocambo Upstairs, 8PM – Scrappy guitar pop from Prince Edward Island that’s a happy blend of Plaskett and Malkmus; their second full-length French Residency was released back in March.
MP3: Boxer The Horse – “Rattle Your Cage”

The Seedy Seeds @ The Painted Lady, 10PM – Trio proves that smart pop can be fun and fun pop can be smart and good bands have come from Cincinnati since The Afghan Whigs. Their last record Verb Noun came out in early 2011 and it’s still turning out videos.
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Telephone The Constrictor”

Exitmusic @ Wrongbar, 10PM – Darkly cinematic electro-pop from a husband-and-wife duo based out of New York (but half-Canadian!). They were just here in May but have since released their debut full-length Passage, so hey – welcome back.
MP3: Exitmusic – “The Sea”

Cousins @ The Velvet Underground, 11PM – Halifax lo-fi garage-pop duo whose The Palm At The End Of The Mind is making friends and annoying neighbours everywhere. They’re doing a double-header Thursday night, with a 2AM show at The Annex Live.
Stream: Cousins / The Palm At The End Of The Mind

The Hundred In The Hands @ Wrongbar, 12AM – Los Angeles synth-rock duo whose new record Red Night arrives this Tuesday, just in time for the festival. Clash has a feature on the band and Hype Machine is streaming the album, though that metaphorical baton may get passed to another site once the album is officially out tomorrow.
MP3: The Hundred In The Hands – “Keep It Low”
Stream: The Hundred In The Hands / Red Night

A Place To Bury Strangers @ The El Mocambo, 1AM – Legendarily loud and strobe-happy New York industri-rock outfit who will be previewing their new record Worship, due out on June 26 and from which they’ve begun streaming another new song. Pity the band who’re supposed to be playing upstairs from them at the same time slot (that’d be Revolvers, who deserve better).
MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”
Stream: A Place To Bury Strangers – “And I’m Up”

Friday, June 15
2:54 @ Lee’s Palace, 9PM – British sister act bringing the spirit of dark, goth-gaze guitar-pop from the ’80s and ’90s back on their just-released self-titled debut. There’s interviews at Loud & Quiet and NOW and Daytrotter just posted a session.
MP3: 2:54 – “The March”

The Danks @ The Dakota Tavern, 10PM – Garage-y pop from the Two Hours Traffic family who’re getting an awful lot of mileage out of their 2009 debut Are You Afraid Of The Danks?, though apparently it’s just come out in the US so I guess they’re excused.
MP3: The Danks – “Die Young”

Hooded Fang @ The Silver Dollar, 10PM – One of Toronto’s premiere retro-pop fun factories in band form, their second album Tosta Mista is nearly a year old so they’ve surely got five or six more albums ready to go. They’re also playing The Horseshoe on Thursday night at 10PM.
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”

Útidúr @ The Gladstone, 11PM – Even if I didn’t simply like upping Icelandic acts (and writing out their wonderful accents), I’d be endorsing this Reykjavik collective because the big, Beirut-y/Fanfarlo-y orch-folk sounds of their debut This Mess We’ve Made is all kinds of charming.
Stream: Útidúr / This Mess We’ve Made

Friends @ Lee’s Palace, 11PM – Brooklyn outfit specializing in buzz of both the synth and hype varieties have just dropped their debut album Manifest! and will be looking to make Lee’s look like Bedford Station on a Saturday night. Vulture has an interview with singer Samantha Urbani and The Guardian has a stream of the album.
Video: Friends – “Mind Control”
Stream: Friends / Manifest!

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ The Garrison, 12AM – Audaciously arty and yet visceral Montreal collective whose debut YT//ST will probably be celebrating a Polaris long list nomination by the time they take the stage. And odds are that’ll only be the beginning. They’ve also got an in-store at Sonic Boom confirmed though dates and times for those have still to be confirmed.
Stream: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / YT//ST

Widowspeak @ The Garrison, 1AM – Brooklyn quartet whose self-titled debut ahs made my long-term dreams of forming a country/shoegaze band and creating a genre called “bootgaze” utterly redundant. Thanks a lot, Widowspeak.
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”

John Maus @ Lee’s Palace, 1AM – Unintentionally controversial university professor and electro-classical composer whose last album We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves came out in the Fall.
MP3: John Maus – “Head For The Country”

Saturday, June 16
Brasstronaut @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 1PM – Vancouver prog-pop outfit whose second album Mean Sun came out just last month. They’re also at The Gladstone on Friday night at midnight and The Vancouver Sun, Spinner, NOW have interviews.
MP3: Brasstronaut – “Hollow Trees”

Zulu Winter @ Urban Outfitters, 2PM – A rare UK signing to Arts & Crafts, this Oxfordshire-bred band’s peppy, guitar-and-synth-laden debut Language – out June 19 – files nicely alongside the likes of Phoenix and Bombay Bicycle Club. In other words, “stuff the kids like”. They’ve also got evening showcases at The Rivoli on June 14 at 12AM and Lee’s Palace on June 15 at 2AM.
Video: Zulu Winter – “Silver Tongue”

Of Montreal @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 7PM – Veteran Athens, GA, Elephant 6 survivor psych-freaks who’d have made a mind-bending one-two punch with The Flaming Lips if someone hadn’t gone and booked Portugal. The Man between them. Pssh. Their latest Paralytic Stalks came out earlier this year.
MP3: Of Montreal – “Wintered Debts”

Robyn Dell’Unto @ The Cameron House, 8PM – Mississauga-based pop singer who impressed when guesting with Rose Cousins at The Rivoli last monthI’m Here Every Night came out in 2010 – I did, it’s fun. You should too.
Video: Robyn Dell’Unto – “Just A Bird”

The Flaming Lips @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9PM – If you need an introduction to The Flaming Lips then clearly you’ve gotten to this website by accident. Note that the allotted 20 minute set up time between the preceding act and theirs is ridiculous and I wouldn’t expect Wayne Coyne’s bubble walk to begin any earlier than 9:15. There’s Lips interviews at NOW, Spinner, and The Toronto Star, Coyne writes a piece about creativity for NPR, and while their Record Store Day-exclusive collaborative album Heady Fwends – amongst whom Erykah Badu no longer counts herself – will be getting a wide release June 26, The Lips are also planning a proper (?) studio album for release later this year.
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Fight Test”

Revolver @ The Gladstone, 10PM – A relatively late addition to the fest, the French pop outfit known for multi-part harmonies and cellos will be showing off their latest album Let Go, released back in March. The schedule also has them on at 1AM at The Painted Lady that same night, though it’s in conflict with another band’s set so…
MP3: Revolver – “Get Around Town”

The Lumineers @ The Horseshoe, 11PM – Denver-based trio whose self-titled debut has made them one of the alt.country/folk/roots stories of the year. The Horseshoe is kind of the perfect place for them.
Video: The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”

Limblifter @ The El Mocambo, 12AM – It’s not a festival without some kind of ’90s reunion; this year it’s Limblifter, which is several steps up from last year’s Rusty. Yes it is. Spinner talks to Ryan Dahle about getting the old band out of mothballs.
Video: Limblifter – “Tinfoil”

Bleached @ The Silver Dollar, 1AM – The three-night, garage-rock Silver Dollar residency is kind of a NXNE/CMF fixture now, and this year that honour goes to California’s Clavin sisters in Bleached. In addition to the Silver Dollar dates – the Thursday and Friday shows are at midnight, as opposed the 1AM slot on Saturday – they’re playing the Bruise Cruise the afternoon of the 16th, bringing the rock to the Toronto harbour.
Video: Bleached – “Think Of You”

Sunday, June 17
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9PM – Things are mostly wound down on Sunday but the traditional hip-hopping of the Yonge-Dundas mainstage continues with a little Wu-Tang flavour; Raekwon the Chef recently relocated to Toronto so there’s a hometown angle to this one as well.
Video: Raekwon featuring Ghostface Killah – “New Wu”

That’s just a handful – okay, a couple handfuls – of recommendations for the week; there’s certainly more to see and for more tips, check out these festival minisites at Spinner and NOW and the feature pieces at The Grid, The AV Club, BlogTO, and Hype Machine.

As for what I was saying earlier about how NXNE is faring as a festival, the fact that there’s many more day shows than even last year, which had more than the year before that, is an encouraging trend. We’re not yet seeing conventional venues opening up during the day, but the number of in-stores, parties in unconventional spaces, and just more stuff going on during the day before the official programme starts up – it’s all very encouraging and while those who seek to compare NXNE to its similarly-acronymed Texan cousin will still find it pales in comparison, it’s getting pretty damn good up here; all we need is a better infrastructure for tracking and disseminating information about them. There’s a list of officially-endorsed/recognized day shows at NXNE.com and BlogTO has rounded up some more events. And Unofficial NXNE is also good.

And if I’m allowed a bit of self-promotion, I’m one of the photographers with some work on display at the #Hashtag Gallery this week for Live @ NXNE, a photographic exhibition of NXNE artists, past and present. The exhibition runs till June 27 but the opening party thing is Tuesday night at 7PM. Drop by, have a look. If you like.

And remember – particularly if you’re planning on getting around via transit or taxi or otherwise street-bound vehicle, College St. is closed Friday and Saturday nights from Bathurst to Shaw for Taste Of Little Italy and Queen St. W is closed between Beverley and McCaul on Friday and Saturday nights to set up for the MMVAs.

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day Three

Housse de Racket, The Weather Station, Big Scary and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNeither of Toronto’s club-level music festivals do especially well at recreating the day show culture of the likes of SXSWNXNE obviously has the edge in this department on account of being in the Summer and not the trailing edge of Winter, but that’s not stopping Canadian Musicfest from trying, at least a little. Case in point, the Aussie BBQ that took over both floors of the El Mocambo on Saturday afternoon and offering a second (or third or fourth) showcase for many of the acts in town from Down Under. And while the “barbecue” end of things could stand with some improvement – somehow I don’t think that slightly undercooked sausages wrapped in a piece of white bread is how they do things in Canberra – the musical component did just fine.

I got there in time to see Husky, a foursome from Melbourne who had the fortune of arriving to the festival on the back of having just signed a deal with Sub Pop – the legendary Seattle label would be giving their debut album Forever So a North American debut on July 12. And though they don’t hail from the Pacific northwest, it’s not hard to see the outfit – named not for the dog or their size but for frontman Husky Gawenda – fitting in just fine with the more plaid-clad portion of the label’s roster. They take the ’60s beard-folk sound into ’70s, incorporating jazz, prog, and classical elements alongside their rich, three-part harmonies. Expect some Fleet Foxes references when the album comes out, for though Gawenda’s voice doesn’t soar like Robin Pecknold’s – it’s more of a warm blanket – the parallels are there.

Photos: Husky @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Husky – “The Woods”
Video: Husky – “The Woods”
Video: Husky – “Dark Sea”

Playing immediately after and upstairs was Teeth & Tongue, whom from press photos I’d assume were at least a duo but was in fact just transplanted New Zealander Jess Cornelius, her keyboard, and a bushel of electronically-crafted pop. The backing tracks were well-arranged to make things sound full without crossing the line into karaoke territory, and Cornelius kept the attention on her with a big voice that was impressive without being showy. Moody and just a bit shy of goth-y, I imagine Teeth & Tongue excel in a full band setup but still did quite well on her own.

Photos: Teeth & Tongue @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
Video: Teeth & Tongue – “Unfamiliar Skirts”
Video: Teeth & Tongue – “Sad Sun”
Stream: Teeth & Tongue / Tambourine

Next up were Perth’s Voltaire Twins, who may have been siblings – at least professionally, Jaymes and Tegan share the Voltaire surname – but were most definitely not identical twins; they couldn’t look less alike with her a pixie-like blonde and he a Michael Cera lookalike. But superficial nitpicking aside, they put on a fun and energetic set of electro-pop heavy on synths, percussion and hooks. The songwriting felt a bit shallow but this wasn’t sit, stare into your drink and ruminate music – it was bounce around tuneage and in that department, the band led by example – even when Jaymes lost power to his setup for half of the last song, he didn’t miss a step.

Photos: Voltaire Twins @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Voltaire Twins – “Animalia”
Video: Voltaire Twins – “Animalia”

I think a lot of people have pre-conceived notions about how a two-piece, guitar/drums band will sound – blame The White Stripes, I think – but Melbourne’s Big Scary refused to fulfill those stereotypes. Rather than bombast, they focused on tightly-arranged vocals and instrumentation with Tom Iansek moving from guitar to keys and Jo Syme holding down the kit and both singing rather soulfully. Their songs were earnest and full and covered territory from moody ballads through bluesy – but not blues – rockers.

Photos: Big Scary @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Big Scary – “Autumn”
Video: Big Scary – “Leaving Home”
Video: Big Scary – “Gladiator”
Video: Big Scary – “Mix Tape”
Video: Big Scary – “Tuesday Is Rent Day”
Stream: Big Scary / MixTape

At this point it was nice – and necessary – to take a little break from the live music, but the proverbial second wind arrived just in time to carry me down to Parkdale to see The Weather Station at The Drake Underground. I knew Tamara Lindeman as one of the newer members of Bruce Peninsula but also knew that her second solo album All Of It Was Mine was getting as much praise (if not more) than that band. And rightly so; though it’s a simple recording, it’s also intricately detailed both literally and metaphorically and the arrangements may be spare but they’re also meticulously considered. Both on record and on stage, where Lindeman played guitar or banjo and was accompanied only by lap steel, a couple backing singers and drums for a couple songs, it’s evident there’s tremendous depth to the songs and the space left around them just afforded a better view and when they ended suddenly, as they sometimes did, it’s because they said what they needed to and nothing more. A remarkable set and a remarkable record. Pitchfork has an interview with Lindeman, who plays The Mod Club on April 13 in support of Bahamas.

Photos: The Weather Station @ The Drake Underground – March 24, 2012
MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”

It was then down the street to Wrongbar for the last venue of the night and the festival. First up was Montreal five-piece The Breezes, who were a last-minute addition to the fest when Iceland’s Bloodgroup pulled out. My understanding is that the band have been somewhat… chameleonic in their musical stylings in the past, but it seems that they’ve settled – for the moment at least – on a classic guitar pop template for their sound. With their three lead vocalists, comparisons to Teenage Fanclub came to mind but are offered only with the caveat that The Breezes bring a little more swing to things and aren’t as brilliant as those Scots but that’s not really a slight – who is? They were genial performers despite the slim crowd in the early going, and really got most interesting towards the end of their set with some of their noisier or more experimental tendencies began to bleed into their songs. If they decide to shift gears again, that might be one way to go.

Photos: The Breezes @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
MP3: The Breezes – “Promethean Eyes”
Video: The Breezes – “Oceans”
Video: The Breezes – “Count To Eleven”

Having known Reg Vermue for some years and seen Gentleman Reg countless times, adjusting to his new identity as Regina Theegentlelady in Light Fires, his/her new project with Ohbijou’s James Bunton, has taken a little time. But that’s also because it’s taken a little time for it to coalesce from concept to execution and based on this show, it might be just about there. Though Reg/Regina’s vocals are still as distinctive as ever, their disco-ish electro is a far cry from the guitar-pop of Gentleman Reg and oh yeah, seeing him/her pulling off some fairly elaborate and aerobic dance routines to go with the songs – though climbing on top of two wobbly barstools to sing would not have topped my list of smart things to do – was also new. There’s only been a single released but an album is in the works, and if you’re waiting for more Gentleman Reg material, it might be a while – Light Fires would seem to be the priority right now.

Photos: Light Fires @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
Video: Light Fires – “Ten Feet Tall”

And finishing things off in grand fashion were Parisian duo Housse de Racket. Their elevator pitch would sound something like, “Phoenix meets The Strokes” and while that’s not wrong – their second album Alesia certainly has some of that eminently danceable guitar/synth-pop with that distinctive Gallic sheen to it – it wouldn’t have done the intensity of their live show justice. Pierre Leroux had synths at the ready but spent most of the show attending to – or abusing – his Telecaster while co-conspirator Victor le Masne dazzled with his heavy, yet nimble drumming. Not dancing was not an option, and while the room wasn’t nearly full – if this show had taken place outside a festival or if they’d been rightfully identified as one of the must-sees of the week rather than be overlooked, I wager at it’d have been at least 50% better attended – those there took advantage of the extra space to bust a move or two; you couldn’t not. With plenty of French charm, they worked the room like it was a much bigger crowd and by set’s end, having built up a real head of steam, were damn near heroic-sounding; a grand and dazzling end to the festival. The Georgia Straight has an interview with the band.

Photos: Housse de Racket @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
MP3: Housse de Racket – “Roman”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Chateau”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Roman”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Oh Yeah!”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Synthétiseur”
Video: Housse de Racket – “1-2-3-4”

And before I collapse into the weekend, which I need to do – writing up festivals is arguably more tiring than actually attending them – there’s some show announcements you should really know about.

Sweden’s We Are Serenades used to be called just Serenades but presumably they ran into some legal troubles on that front. In any case, it’s still Adam Olenius of Shout Out Louds and Markus Krunegard and their rather Euro-pop debut Criminal Heaven gets a North American release on April 17. In support, they’re putting together a North American tour and will be at The Garrison on May 14. They were one of the bands I wanted to but failed to see at SXSW, so I may try and hit this one up.

MP3: We Are Serenades – “Birds”
MP3: We Are Serenades – “Oceans”
Video: We Are Serenades – “Oceans”

One of the show announcements I’ve been waiting for all year is finally here. As Eric Bachmann promised last Summer, the Archers Of Loaf reunion is coming to Toronto on June 16 at The Phoenix as part of NXNE. Tickets are $24.50 in advance and go on sale today. Yeah I know you’ve bought Radiohead tickets. Your loss.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”

Nashville’s JEFF The Brotherhood – just here in February – are coming back for a show at Wrongbar on June 23, tickets $13 in advance.

Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Whatever I Want”

And I never listened to Swedish hardcore punks Refused back when they were still around – almost the definition of not my thing – but apparently they were big enough that their reunion tour can support not one but two nights at The Sound Academy, with OFF! – themselves sporting impressive punk credentials – as support. Those dates are July 22 and 23 and tickets are $35.99 in advance.

MP3: OFF! – “King Kong Brigade”
Video: Refused – “New Noise”

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Count The Clock In 2012

Wavelength announces lineup for 12th anniversary festivities

Photo via FacebookFacebookNestled amidst some concert announcements in a post last week were a couple of odd one-offs for No Joy and PS I Love You which were not part of any announced tour or timely promotional cycle. It didn’t occur to me to ask why, but just a little bit of thought would have made the answer obvious – Wavelength. The dates of their shows corresponded to the four-day weekend of the Toronto music series’ twelfth anniversary festival, and though neither of those acts is properly local – they hail from Montreal and Kingston, respectively – it makes perfect sense that they’d be invited to perform.

The rest of the lineup was announced earlier this week and as with every year it’s a doozie, occupying a different venue around the city each night and boasting a loaded and eclectic bill of bands. Tickets are available for each show or you can get a festival pass for $36, which is a bargain any way you look at it. They go on sale January 17 and the schedule shakes out as follows – for the “who they are / where they’re from / what they do”, head over to the Wavelength website.

Thursday, February 16 @ Parts & Labour: Metz, Odonis Odonis, Slim Twig, Man Made Hill, Eucalyptus ($10 advance)
Friday, February 17 @ Steam Whistle Brewing: Fucked Up, Bonjay, Catl, Silver Dapple, Hut ($17 advance)
Saturday, February 18 @ The Great Hall: No Joy , Sandro Perri, Nat Baldwin, Off The International Radar, The Weather Station ($12 advance)
Sunday, February 19 @ The Garrison: PS I Love You, Burning Love, Army Girls, Mötem, Most People ($10 advance)

MP3: Nat Baldwin – “Weights”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”
MP3: No Joy – “Hawaii”
MP3: Sandro Perri – “Love And Light”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Get Over”
MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”
Video: Bonjay – “Stumble”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Blood Feast”
Video: Off The International Radar – “Sans Olo”
Video: Silver Dapple – “(Pauses)”

Islands are going small for their tour in support of A Sleep & A Forgetting, due out February 14 – the Toronto date is February 28 at the tiny Music Gallery, tickets for that are $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”

Hot on the heels of the release of their self-titled debut, The Darcys have announced the release of their next album, a redo of Steely Dan’s Aja. The record will be available on January 24 and Rolling Stone has got the first MP3 from it available to download, while NOW asks drummer Wes Marskell, “why Aja?”. They play The Phoenix on March 1 in support of Bombay Bicycle Club and are also on the bill for Edgefest at Downsview Park on July 12.

MP3: The Darcys – “Josie”

The video surfaced at the end of last year, but the title track from Woodpigeon’s new For Paolo EP is now available to download.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “For Paolo”

Spinner spends some quality time chatting with The Wilderness Of Manitoba.

NPR is streaming the whole of Kathleen Edwards’ new record Voyageur ahead of its release date next Tuesday. She plays The Phoenix on February 11.

Stream: Kathleen Edwards / Voyageur

Austra has released a new video from the breakout Feel It Break, and if that’s not enough there’s also an interview and session at The Alternate Side to read and watch.

Video: Austra – “Spellwork”

Yours Truly has a video session with Grimes to share. Visions is out February 21 and she plays The Horseshoe on March 19.

NPR welcomes Kathryn Calder for a World Cafe session while The Province has posted an interview.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a recent Suuns show in New York.

The second single from Leonard Cohen’s new album Old Ideas is available to stream. It’s out January 31.

Stream: Leonard Cohen – “Darkness”

Monday, August 15th, 2011

In Your Light

Bruce Peninsula and Jennifer Castle at Summerworks in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBruce Peninsula’s Fire Sale comeback campaign, announced back in April, served many purposes. Besides helping to build anticipation for the band’s long-awaited second album Open Flames, out October 4, it re-established in no uncertain terms why they were one of Toronto’s most unique and promising bands before they were sidelined by medical drama in the late part of last year, but also served to introduce a considerably different lineup from the one that recorded their debut A Mountain Is A Mouth. Through its run, the Fire Sale took a scenic route through the songbooks belonging to themselves and others and much of the journey was documented on video, both in the studio and the street, and last Thursday night the trip brought them to the Lower Ossington Theatre as part of the Summerworks Music Series.

Leading off the night was Jennifer Castle, who used to perform as Castlemusic but opted to switch to her own name and apply that name to her latest record, Castlemusic. And it’s a name that’s had the fortune to be associated with some high-profile acts, with Castle having provided backing vocals to records from Fucked Up and when I saw her open for Constantines, for whom I saw her open back in May 2008. But anyone who based expectations of what she’d sound like based on her friends would have been way off base – rather than fist-pumping rock, Castle’s repertoire consisted of a spare folk-blues sound built on her somewhat stream of consciousness songs, delicately warbled vocals and a simple guitar style for which the found sounds of her Harmony hollowbody being handled – neck bends, string resonances and whatnot – were as essential as anything she played deliberately.

I’d seen Bruce Peninsula live a whole whack of times from their earliest days back in 2007 and around their debut’s release in early 2009, but it had been over two and a half years since we last crossed paths. So for that reason as well as myriad others, it was good to see the band again – numbering nine with some new faces in the mix – and frontman Neil Haverty front and centre looking hale and healthy for this, their second show following an extended break (the first was in June for NXNE).

Calling Haverty the frontman might not be quite correct, though, at least not anymore. Whereas on the Mountain material his gruff vocals still led the band, it was pretty evident from the new material and overall stage dynamic that the landscape of the Peninsula had changed somewhat. Not just in Mischa Bower taking more vocal leads, but the musical arrangements were more intricate and considered – even on the older material – and though it’s presumptuous to suggest that these changes come down to one new individual in a band this size, I was hearing a lot of Daniela Gesundheit’s work in Snowblink coming through. This wasn’t to say that the rough, elemental energy that so defined the band early on was completely tamed – Haverty still contributed some crowd-rushing and mic stand-abusing antics to the show – but they’re a much more refined-sounding collective now and I think they’re all the better for it.

NOW also has a writeup of the show. Their next hometown show comes October 27 at Lee’s Palace.

Photos: Bruce Peninsula, Jennifer Castle @ The Lower Ossington Theatre – August 11, 2011
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “The Swimming Song”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Powers”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Neverride”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Salesman”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Leaves”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “The Swimming Song”

BlogTO talks to one of the new Bruce Peninsulans, Tamara Lindeman, who will release Everything Was Mine, her second solo as The Weather Station, on August 16. She has a show at 720 Bathurst on the 19th and plays a Soundscapes in-store on August 30.

MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”

Rolling Stone has premiered the video for the PS I Love You starring Diamond Rings single “Leftovers”. PS I Love You play The Great Hall on October 1 while Diamond Rings is at The Mod Club on October 3.

MP3: PS I Love You (featuring Diamond Rings) – “Leftovers”
Video: PS I Love You (featuring Diamond Rings) – “Leftovers”

NPR is streaming the first single from Feist’s new album Metals, due out October 4. She plays Massey Hall on December 1.

Stream: Feist – “How Come You Never Go There”

The Telegraph talks to the Butler brothers in profiling Arcade Fire.