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Posts Tagged ‘Weeping Tile’

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Lights Go Up

Fucked Up comes alive

Photo By Daniel BoudDaniel BoudTo say that it has been an improbable year and a half since Fucked Up’s second album The Chemistry Of Common Life won the 2009 Polaris Music Prize would be a bit of an understatement. Beyond the long odds of a hardcore record by a band whose name is deemed unprintable by many media outlets earning the title of “best Canadian album” of the 2008-09 season, you have the band’s frontman – a big, bearded fellow with a penchant for stripping down to his shorts and smashing things on his head – becoming host of the resurrected Wedge on MuchMusic and de facto musical ambassador for Toronto across the country and abroad and the recent announcement that they’d be playing the Air Canada Centre as support for Foo Fighters. All pretty impressive accomplishments for a band whose genre of choice is by definition pretty underground and not really a common route to mainstream success.

Which makes it even more remarkable that rather than plateauing, Fucked Up may well be just getting started. Their new record David Comes To Life, out today, is one of the most-anticipated Canadian releases of the year and manages to not only meet those expectations, but exceed them. It’s billed as a concept album/rock opera and while I haven’t perused the lyrics enough confirm or deny its success in that department, I can report that whatever it’s about, David is an uplifting and invigorating pop record.

From the unrelentingly churning arena-sized riffs – maybe the ACC appearance isn’t so odd – to the backing vocals from Cults’ Madeline Follin and Jennifer Castle, David veritably bursts with melody and while Damian Abraham’s bellows still provide the most direct line to their hardcore roots, even he’s more intelligible and melodic than on past efforts. At eighteen tracks and 78 minutes, it’s still a lot to take in in a single sitting – I advise getting the vinyl for the respites that flipping sides/changing discs will allow – but any resulting exhaustion is matched by equal or greater exhilaration. I had to take peoples’ word for it that Chemistry was a great record – it didn’t quite connect with me – but with David Comes To Life, I will happily be the one spreading the word.

The Toronto Star, The AV Club, Consequence Of Sound, Spinner, Exclaim, The Globe & Mail, MTV and Pitchfork have feature pieces on Fucked Up while Toronto Standard puts Abraham in conversation with one of the other most recognizable faces in the Toronto music scene, Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew.

Fucked Up play two shows at NXNE on June 16, a free 8PM show at Yonge-Dundas Square and a 1AM nightcap at Wrongbar. The aforementioned Foo Fighters/ACC show is set for August 9.

MP3: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Ship Of Fools”
MP3: Fucked Up – “A Little Death”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”

Radio Free Canuckistan profiles Weeping Tile, who are headlining the release party for Have Not Been The Same at Lee’s Palace on Friday night. The National Post and Exclaim talk to Ian Jack and Michael Barclay, two of the authors on the tome about the ’90s Can-rock scene.

Best New Bands and The Montreal Gazette have interviews with Little Scream’ Laurel Sprengelmeyer, and if you missed it before, she backs up Sharon Van Etten at The AV Club Undercover on a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”. Little Scream have augmented their June 14 date at The Mod Club opening for The Antlers by scheduling a free in-store at Soundscapes down the street the previous night, June 13, at 7PM.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

Spinner talks to Land Of Talk frontwoman Liz Powell. They’re playing for free at Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE on June 17, their set starting at 8:30PM.

Spinner interviews Chad VanGaalen, who headlines the NXNE showcase at The Great Hall on June 18.

Beatroute, The National Post and The Georgia Straight chat with various members of Sloan about the band’s 20th anniversary. They’ve got two nights booked at The Mod Club for June 21 and 22.

Vancouver’s Japandroids are back, in person if not on record. There’s still no official word on a follow-up to 2009’s Post-Nothing beyond the fact that it’s out in 2012, but the fact that they’ve slated an extensive North American tour at least is evidence the duo are still, like, doing stuff. The Toronto stop is September 22 at Sneaky Dee’s and if you think that they’re probably too big for a venue that size… you’re probably right. Get a ticket for $12 when they go on sale Friday and make sure your insurance is paid up immediately afterwards.

MP3: Japandroids – “Younger Us”
MP3: Japandroids – “Heavenward Grand Prix”
MP3: Japandroids – “Heart Sweats”

Southern Souls has posted and acoustic session with Malajube.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Darken Her Horse

Review of Austra’s Feel It Break

Photo By Norman WongNorman Wong I never really liked Katie Stelmanis. I am not referring to the person – I don’t know her but I’m sure she’s lovely – but her musical project which, circa 2008 at least, was named simply for herself. In Spring of that year, I saw her twice in the span of a week and a bit and while I acknowledged that she was up to something interesting with her distinctive, operatic voice and skeletal synth-and-percussion backing, but it wasn’t doing it for me and as such, I didn’t pay much heed to her debut album Join Us. I did note, however, that her musical identity continued to publicly morph – for a while she was going just by her surname, and then adopted the guise of Private Life before changing once again to Austra. And while there’d always been a degree of local chatter about what she was up to, that’s when I heard people really begin to talk.

And putting aside past prejudices to give Feel It Break, her debut as Austra, a listen I could understand why. Stelmanis’ most distinctive characteristic has always been her voice but it needed the proper context. Obviously I didn’t think the classical/medieval/gothic atmosphere of her eponymous project worked, unless unsettling was what she was going for, but in giving Austra a sleek, synth-heavy, New Wave/80s-industrial personality, she’s found a winning formula that balances mystery and experimentalism with melody and accessibility.

It’s interesting how so much of what makes Austra was already there three years ago, including percussionist Maya Postepski, but now with the addition of ex-Spiral Beach bassist Dorian Wolf and a greater focus on making the songs danceable and memorable, it all sounds completely fresh and new. Okay, perhaps that’s not the most accurate way of putting it since what Stelmanis’ was doing in her self-titled days was technically far more original, but giving Austra its more familiar-sounding reference points has inarguably made her better. Enough so that you can consider me convinced, which is honestly not something I ever thought I’d be saying. Back in 2008, when people around town were talking about how great Katie Stelmanis was, all I could say was, “really?”. Now, when people everywhere are talking about how great Austra is, all I can say is, “really”.

Feel It Break is out next Tuesday, May 17, and Austra plays a hometown record release show a couple nights later on May 19 at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”
MP3: Austra – “The Beat And The Pulse”
Video: Austra – “Lose It”
Video: Austra – “The Beat And The Pulse”
Stream: Austra / Feel It Break

Bruce Peninsula have released installment three in their Fire Sale series; a Pentangle cover that you can both listen to and watch. Open Flames is out in the Fall.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”

Southern Souls serves up a video session with Woodpigeon, who in turn have made MP3s of a recent show in Turin, Italy available to download.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Knock Knock” (live in Turin)

Spinner has an interview with The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Nils Edenloff and has also premiered another Southern Souls-produced live video, this one for “Tornado 87”.

Beatroute and The Vancouver Sun talk to Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre.

Wood & Wires has posted a couple of basement session videos from The Darcys.

Beatroute, The Winnipeg Free Press, Uptown and The Leader-Post talk to Graham Van Pelt of Miracle Fortress, while aux.tv gets him to unplug for a Camera Music performance. He may be similarly unamplified (or not) when he plays an in-store at Soundscapes this Friday, May 13, at 4PM. He’s at The Phoenix with Junior Boys on June 9.

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Chart talks to Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham about the inadvertent bloodletting that occurred at a recent show, which you can watch for yourself thanks to the magic of YouTube. Exclaim also reports that the band have put up a mixed tape – as in an actual cassette – of Fucked Up rarities, tracks from friends and side-projects and whatnot – for sale in their webstore. Their new album David Comes To Life is out June 7.

The Balconies are finally back with some new material; while a release date for their second album is still forthcoming, a new 7″ a-sided by “Kill Count” will be released on June 14, just ahead of their June 18 NXNE showcase at Sneaky Dee’s.

The Fly invites The Dears into their courtyard for an acoustic session. The notoriously self-serious band also paid Funny Or Die a visit.

With the release this week of The Double Cross, the twentieth anniversary of Sloan is well underway. Blurt has a feature interview with the band, Chart has unearthed a bunch of interviews with the band over their long career and the first of ten tribute videos wherein actors, musicians and general celebrities reminisce about what Sloan has meant to them has been released – so far, there’s “First Heard Sloan” and “Favourite Sloan Song”. They play an in-store this Saturday at Sonic Boom at 4PM and the Mod Club on June 22.

Chad Van Gaalen’s new record Diaper Island is streaming in whole at MuchMusic in advance of its official release next week. He plays The Great Hall on June 18 as part of NXNE.

Stream: Chad Van Gaalen / Diaper Island

Pitchfork has more details on the forthcoming Scenes From The Suburbs CD/DVD set from Arcade Fire. It will be out on August 2.

Exclaim talks to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Manuel Manuck about his various ongoing projects, including the Godspeed reunion and his forthcoming solo record High Gospel, out May 24.

Ticket info for the Weeping Tile/King Cobb Steelie/Have Not Been The Same book release I mentioned a couple weeks back has been revealed – advance tickets will be $18, on sale tomorrow, with proceeds going to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health.

And some Can-con love across the pond; Drowned In Sound takes a look at what’s happening musically in Toronto right now and The Line Of Best Fit have released their sixteenth (16th) Oh! Canada compilation of downloadable goodness.

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Good Fortune

Weeping Tile celebrate celebration of ’90s CanRock

Photo By Graham KennedyGraham KennedyCanadian music circa 2011 is doing pretty great; more plentiful, creative and respected at home and abroad than ever before. No doubt sometime in the not too distant future, someone will write a book about this 21st century musical renaissance that (mostly) put an end to having Bryan Adams and Celine Dion as our national ambassadors of song.

But this golden age didn’t just happen, and the crucial decade that laid the foundation for today was documented by local scribes Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider and Ian AD Jack in the 2001 book Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-1995, which documented the rise of Canadian music as it emerged from local scenes, college campuses and the underground in general to produce acts who are institutions today and inspired countless others to follow, such as Blue Rodeo, Sloan and The Tragically Hip and a slew of others familiar to me from my time as a university newspaper music writer and general nascent music obsessive.

I can’t actually go into detail about the book because, well, I haven’t read it. Originally released in 2001, it has been out of print for over half a decade (though yes the Toronto library has copies, shush now) but that unfortunate status is being rectified, just in time for the volume’s tenth anniversary. An expanded and updated second edition will be released on July 1 and if that’s not cause for celebration, then I don’t know what is. Okay, maybe Canada’s 144th birthday. But I digress.

A proper celebration of the occasion will be happening on June 10 at Lee’s Palace, and feature a terrific, period-correct bill. It’s led by the Cold Snap-era Weeping Tile, the Sarah Harmer-led outfit who occasionally break hiatus for special occasions like this, Wolfe Island 2007 or whenever Harmer feels like putting the folk-pop aside to make a righteous racket. Joining them are Guelph’s recently reunited jazz-rock heroes King Cobb Steelie and Kevin Kane, co-leader of Vancouver’s also recently-reunited Grapes Of Wrath and though he’ll be here with his solo career band, I’ll bet you can expect to hear some GOW tunes in the set.

The concert/book release announcement at Barclay’s Radio Free Canuckistan says that ticket information is still forthcoming but proceeds will be donated to Centre For Addiction & Mental Health. Read the book, see the show, support a worthy cause, bask in it all.

MP3: Weeping Tile – “Good Fortune”
Video: King Cobb Steelie – “Rational”
Video: Kevin Kane – “All The Things I Wasn’t” (live)

Ron Hawkins, whose Lowest Of The Low were possibly/probably the most important band for me in the era covered by Have Not Been The Same, will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on May 28 at 3PM to promote his new solo record Straitjacket Love. He’s also got two solo shows at Graffiti’s in Kensington on May 26 and 27 and a full-band residency at The Drake on June 22, 29, July 6 and 13. The Low are at Massey Hall on May 7.

NOW and The National Post chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage in advance of tonight’s show at The Phoenix. NOW have also got another Southern Souls-shot video with the band, this one a performance of “Barnes’ Yard”.

The Toronto Star and Toronto Standard talk to Malajube, in town for a show at The Horseshoe on Saturday night, April 30.

DIY welcomes Timber Timbre to the UK with an interview.

Dan Mangan gives Exclaim a sneak preview of his new record, which may be called Oh, Fortune and will likely be out come September. hour also has a chat.

NOW welcomes The Kills to Toronto, where they’ll play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Denver Westword has an in-depth conversation with John Vanderslice, who has a date at The Drake Underground on May 10.

Jason Isbell has conversations with Prefix and The Patriot-Ledger. He and The 400 Unit play The Horseshoe on May 22.

The Bay Bridged is sharing MP3s from a session with Thao & Mirah, who bring their Thao & Mirah collaboration to Lee’s Palace on June 5. Oregon Music News and LA Weekly talk to the pair about working together, and yes – that is a Pat Benatar cover.

MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Folks” (live)
MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Love Is A Battlefield” (live)

Paste catches up with Alela Diane, who brings her new record Alela Diane and Wild Divine to The Rivolli on June 11.

Titus Andronicus’ new Garden State-tripping, New Jersey-celebrating video from The Monitor – almost enough to make you not make a beeline for Penn Station as soon as you land in Newark. Almost. AM New York has an interview with the band, who are in town at The Phoenix on June 10 opening for Okkervil River.

Video: Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”

Spinner sits down with David Lovering and Joey Santiago of Pixies while The Montreal Gazette talks to Santiago alone.

Toro and The Seattle Times talk to members of The Head & The Heart.

Spinner has a feature piece on Explosions In The Sky.