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Posts Tagged ‘Whirr’

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Drain

Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, and Dilly Dally at The Silver Dollar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA glance at the sandwich board outside the Silver Dollar on Saturday night would shown a bill of bands with largely vague and generic names, yet if one were to have stepped inside and takn in the bill, they’d have found the appellations remarkably descriptive and appropriate.

I’d seen locals Dilly Dally a few years ago at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010, and despite the rough edges – or maybe because of them – I liked what I heard and was happy to have the opportunity to check in with them again, what with their not having especially blown up in the interim. What had transpired between then and now, however, was a dialing down of the early ’00s garage rock snottiness in favour of a heavier, jerkier Pixies-esque sound and songwriting style. So while still rather on the nose with their influences, their material was definitely more distinctive and, should a record finally emerge, it should be interesting and an aural salve for anyone who feared sullenly tuneful indifference was a thing of the past.

I don’t know if Toronto really had a former great shoegazing hope amongst all the bands operating, but they’ve certainly got a next one in Breeze. Looking and sounding the part of the first wave of the genre – Jazzmasters, check; shaggy curly hair and striped shirts, check – their songs were simply structured, unfailingly melodic, and struck the right balance of soft, dreamy vocals and churning guitars that wisely saved their really noisy moments for the instrumental breaks. There wasn’t any specific aspect of them that marked them as burgeoning superstars but as a unit they were really strong on fundamentals, their drummer as solid as he wasn’t flashy. Signed to local label Hand Drawn Dracula, they’ve only got a couple singles out at the moment but a debut album is forthcoming and for fans of the genre, worth keep an eye out for.

Philadelphia’s Nothing were the front half of the touring bill that was anchoring this show, and though I hadn’t heard them before, their name was a pretty good indicator of where they were coming from. While you could technically argue they were in keeping with the shoegazing theme of the evening, they were less about having sound wash over you than hit you like a brickbat. Though punishingly loud, they avoided sonic incoherence and if you paid close attention, were fundamentally tuneful under it all – a trait which became clearer the few times they turned the distortion down. I’m kind of amazed how different they sound on their last release, the Downward Years To Come 12″ EP, which is much more classically shoegaze in conceit and execution. Though as it turned out, that Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon wasn’t isolated to them.

The first sign that this Whirr set might not be what I was expecting was that as Nothing tore down and they set up, the grinding feedback that closed the former’s performance continued to reverberate through the club until they began playing. The second was that there was no sign of singers Alexandra Morte, who appeared on their Pipe Dreams and Distressor albums, or Kristina Esfandiari who appeared on this year’s Around mini-LP. Considering the female vocals are a huge part of the band on record – their being the softness that buttresses against the band’s waves of sound – it was a pretty big absence. Not that they’d have necessarily been heard anyways, since the guitars and drums were so loud that the vocals were rendered completely inaudible. Seriously, they could have been lip-synching or singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and you wouldn’t have known; given this, that Nothing’s singer jumped on stage to sing one song was kind of hilarious.

This is not to suggest the show lacked presence or impact; Whirr had a physicality onstage not often seen at shows of this ilk, with all five moving as though jerked by marionette strings or being impacted by the notes they were playing, but given that their ability to capture on record that My Bloody Valentine-esque dichotomy of sonic brutality and aural beauty is a huge part of the band’s appeal, that they’d choose not to indulge that at all was rather frustrating. An guitar line would occasionally surface that gave some indication of what song it was they were playing, but the live renditions were so far removed from the recordings – if the album versions were watercolours, live they were huge swathes of jet-black paint – that experiencing the show on anything but a purely visceral level was largely futile. And while that approach was satisfying in its way, it also got tedious after a while. I found it curious that the band would go through the trouble of writing, recording, releasing, and touring these songs only to opt to bludgeon them to death every night, but I suppose that’s their prerogative. I do hope, however, that some of the people who were impressed enough to buy records after their set take them home, put them on, and are confused by all the actual songs.

The Aquarian has a short interview with Whirr.

Photos: Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, Dilly Dally @ The Silver Dollar – August 17, 2013
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”
Stream: Whirr – “Drain”
Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Nothing / Downward Years To Come
Stream: Breeze – “Paradise (In a While)”
Stream: Breeze – “Repent”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Tip Toes”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Green”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Killing Time”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Candy Mountain”

Grantland, The AV Club, and The Fly talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, whose new album I Hate Music is out this week.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the low-down on the players replacing the missing Replacements at Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson’s side at Riot Fest at Garrison Commons on August 25.

Neko Case has made her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to stream a full two weeks ahead of its September 3 release via NPR.

Stream: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

USA Today has premiered the next performance video from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium, this one of which finds Will Sheff playing in the titular gymnasium of his old grade school. The record comes out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Video: Okkervil River – “Lido Pier Suicide Car” (live in the Silver Gymnasium)

Consequence Of Sound have a stream of another track from the new of Montreal album lousy with sylvianbriar, out October 8.

Stream: of Montreal – “She Ain’t Speakin’ Now”

Matablog has details on Lee Ranaldo’s new solo record; credited to Lee Ranaldo & The Dust, Last Night On Earth will be out on October 8 and you can stream the first track from it below. This offers some context to Ranaldo’s previously-announced date at The Horseshoe on October 11.

Stream: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust – “Lecce, Leaving”

Magnet spends some (a lot) of time with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. You can do the same when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre solo on October 15.

Pitchfork has a new sort-of performance video from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, whose co-tour comes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17.

We Talk You Die interviews new Midlake frontman Eric Pulido about their new record Antiphon, coming November 5.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with Yo La Tengo.

KCRW is streaming an acoustic studio session with The National.

NPR welcomes Mikal Cronin for a World Cafe session; Spoonfed also has an interview.

MTV Hive and Glamour talk to Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

One For The Road

Arctic Monkeys announce new album of Arctic Monkey songs, tour of Arctic Monkey shows

Photo By Zackery MichaelZackery MichaelWhen Arctic Monkeys went off and unveiled the video for a new single last week, it was just a matter of time until the specifics around the follow-up to their 2011 album Suck It And See would come to light. And now they have. The Line Of Best Fit has details about the new record, which will be simply titled AM – whether it’s in reference to the band or the half of the day is anyone’s guess – and will be out in North America on September 10.

And to further get their legions of Monkeys fans on this side of the Atlantic excited, following the European festival season -which includes a headlining slot at Glastonbury this weekend – they’ll be commencing a North American tour which kicks off in Toronto on September 15 at The Kool Haus. Tickets for the all-ages gig are $33.50 and go on sale this Friday.

The London Evening Standard has some words from frontman Alex Turner about the new record.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?”

Though original frontman Stuart Adamson passed away back in 2001, ’80s Scottish guitars-that-sound-like-bagpipes maestros Big Country have been reunited since 2010 with period-correct new frontman Mike Peters of The Alarm, and with the release of The Journey, their first new album in 14 years, are doing some North American tour dates – they’re in Toronto at Lee’s Palace on August 4, tickets $22.50.

Video: Big Country – “In A Big Country”

Despite being an avowed classic shoegazing fan – or maybe because I am – I don’t cotton to a lot of the current crop of purveyors of the style. Oakland’s Whirr, however, seem to do it right from the onomatopoeic monosyllabic handle through their sometimes hazy, sometimes pummelling, but always melodic sound. They’re heading out on tour in support of their latest album Pipe Dreams, and will be at the Silver Dollar on August 17, tickets just $8.50. I daresay you won’t find anything better to do that evening at that price.

Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Whirr / Pipe Dreams

Toronto-based Mumford & Sons fans who bought tickets to their Gentlemen Of The Road mini-fest in Simcoe, Ontario on August 23 and 24 expecting it would be their only local show might be a bit miffed to learn that the band have announced an August 26 show at The Molson Amphitheatre. Mind you, only The Vaccines and Bear’s Den are also joining them at this show, so if you were just as keen on seeing any of the other bands playing or just camping out in south-central Ontario, you’re still good. Or look at it as an opportunity to see them twice in a week. Or don’t, I dunno, I’ve lost interest. The band are doing some invite/presale thing to manage demand.

And for Vaccines fans, NME is streaming a new song from the band so have at it.

MP3: The Vaccines – “Norgaard”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
Stream: The Vaccines – “Melody Calling”

You won’t find a better legend-to-intimacy ratio than this – as he did back in 2010, Robyn Hitchcock will be camped out at the Drake Underground on the evenings of September 3 and 4, telling tales and playing songs from his latest album Love From London and probably a few more. Tickets for each show are $21.50.

Video: Robyn Hitchcock – “Be Still” (rehearsal video)

It’s not being billed as anything as reductive as a Constellation Records roadshow, but fans of the Montreal label would be ill-advised to be anywhere but The Great Hall on September 5; that’s when Esmerine, Colin Stetson, Sandro Perri and Craig Dunsmuir, who despite working together before as Glissandro 70 are billing themselves as Dudasa 80, and Jerusalem In My Heart. Tickets for that are $15.

MP3: Colin Stetson – “High Above A Grey Green Sea”
MP3: Esmerine – “A Dog River”
MP3: Jerusalem In My Heart – “Yudaghdegh Al-Ra3ey Aala Al-Ghanam”

I may have been wrong about Charleston roots-rock duo Shovels & Rope being added to the TURF lineup – they’re touring with Dawes, after all – but they are still coming to town. They’ll be at The Horseshoe on September 7 for their first-ever headlining show in support of O’ Be Joyful, tickets $16.50. Relix has a feature on the band.

Video: Shovels & Rope – “Birmingham”

New York synth-pop duo MS MR have to be pretty happy with their career trajectory, as represented by their touring history in Toronto – from supporting Jessie Ware at The Opera House in early April through a small club show of their own at Wrongbar in late May, and now a headlining date at The Phoenix on September 16, all behind their debut album Secondhand Rapture; tickets are $16.50, Danish singer opens. Full tour routing can be found at Exclaim and an interview with the duo at Glamour.

Video: MS MR – “Hurricane”

Portland instrumentalists Grails have set a date at The Drake Underground for September 18, tickets $12.50. Their last release was 2012’s vinyl-only Black Tar Prophecies Volume 5 split-12″ with Pharaoh Overlord.

MP3: Grails – “Almost Grew My Hair”

London-based Bastille, who topped the UK charts back in March with the release of their debut Bad Blood, will be looking to repeat some of that success stateside as they hit North America this Fall, including The Opera House in Toronto on September, tickets $16. Tone Deaf has an interview with frontman Dan Smith.

Video: Bastille – “Pompeii”

Australians Atlas Genius have already announced a return date for the Danforth Music Hall on October 4, tickets $22.50, even though their local debut at the Opera House just wrapped the other night. I guess their debut When It Was Now is doing pretty well. Support for that show will be Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

MP3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Skeletons”
Video: Atlas Genius – “Trojans”

Speaking of return engagements, British soulstress Jessie Ware has finally announced her follow-up to her local debut at The Opera House in April, and of course it’s at the much bigger and more reviled Sound Academy. She’s there November 6, tickets $25.

Video: Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”

Given that his star was already on the rise when I saw him at SXSW 2012, I’m surprised it’s taken Austin’s Gary Clark, Jr. this long to make it up here in support of his debut Blak And Blu, but when you’re as bona fide a singer-guitarist-songwriter as this guy – those “next Hendrix” compliments aren’t hot air – you’re in demand. In any case, he’s at The Danforth Music Hall on November 18, tickets $29.50.

Video: Gary Clark, Jr. – “Numb”

And from the upstart to the legend, Mavis Staples will be in town at Koerner Hall on February 7 behind her new album One True Vine, out this week and streamable in whole below, which sees the gospel singer tackle songs by Low, Funkadelic, Nick Lowe, and three Jeff Tweedy originals. Tickets for the show range from $40 to $95.

Video: Mavis Staples – “I Like The Things About Me”
Stream: Mavis Staples / One True Vine

And while my beat is mainly Toronto, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hamilton’s Supercrawl has announced its musical lineup for the weekend of September 13 and 14, and it will bring the likes of Yo La Tengo, Chelsea Light Moving, Fucked Up, Joel Plaskett, METZ, and many more to the streets of Steeltown. And oh, it’s free.