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Posts Tagged ‘White Rabbits’

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day Two

The Men, The Black Belles, The Seedy Seeds, and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWith most club-level festivals, some intense venue-hopping is par for the course and in a city with a downtown as spread out as Toronto, the logistics of getting from point A to point B in the allotted time can be an art form all its own. Unless you do things as I did on the Thursday night of NXNE and basically plant yourself at one intersection and let the bands come to you. This wasn’t an arbitrary decision, mind. Dundas-Ossington has gone from borderland outpost to hot spot in the past few years and between The Dakota, Painted Lady and Garrison, you can generally count on a good number of live music options on a regular night, never mind during a festival.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every option will turn out to be a good one. I feel like there’s some rule that says every time I got to a multi-band bill at The Garrison, one of them will be a solo guy with a keyboard and pedals who will try my patience. This time out it was Kentucky native James Friley, who operates as Idiot Glee, and while it wasn’t necessarily terrible, the Animal Collective-ish aesthetic of effected vocals, looped rhythms, and triggered noises doesn’t do anything for me when it’s done well – Idiot Glee wasn’t even interesting enough to be annoying. It just goes to show – what maybe works in a studio or even on record doesn’t necessarily do so live. Some things just aren’t meant for the stage.

Photos: Idiot Glee @ The Garrison – June 14, 2012
MP3: Idiot Glee – “Don’t Go Out Tonight”
Video: Idiot Glee – “Let’s Get Down Together”
Video: Idiot Glee – “I Want The Night To Stay”

The avoid a second Mac DeMarco set in as many nights, I then hopped around the corner to The Painted Lady where Cincinnati trio The Seedy Seeds were setting up, and their set of unabashedly quirky, geeky power pop was just the thing to pick me back up. They were armed with a kitchen sink’s worth of synths, banjo, acoustic, percussion, accordion – and on-the-fly instrument changes between them – to say nothing of the harmonies, but rather than allow it to become sonic clutter, it was all in service to the song and the melody. It was fun and danceable, even though the close quarters in the bar meant the band was doing the most dancing – though the burlesque dancer on the bar seemed to be moving to her own soundtrack.

Photos: The Seedy Seeds @ The Painted Lady – June 14, 2012
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Telephone The Constrictor”
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Verb Noun”
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “I Am The Conductor”
Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Drive Me To The Center”

Back at The Garrison, Mac DeMarco fans were clearing out and Grass Widow fans were filing in. I was neither, having heard nothing of the latter besides seeing some of the kerfuffle about that heinous Vice review (no linkbait biting, sorry) of their third album Internal Logic which was enough to reaffirm that I will never read Vice but didn’t persuade me to give the album a listen. In fact, only when they took the stage did I know they were a three-piece (the aforementioned piece tipped me off that they were all female) and only when they said they were from San Francisco did I know they were from San Francisco. I probably could have guessed the garage pop thing, though. The were exceedingly sloppy at first but got within the parameters of acceptable within a few songs, even flirting with charming at points. That sweet spot remained a moving target through their sets but it a few of their jams landed it quite effectively. Still not feeling like checking out the album, though.

Epitonic and The Riverfront Times have feature pieces on Grass Widow.

Photos: Grass Widow @ The Garrison – June 14, 2012
MP3: Grass Widow – “Time Keeps Time”
Video: Grass Widow – “Fried Egg”
Video: Grass Widow – “Shadow”
Video: Grass Widow – “Milo Minute”
Video: Grass Widow – “Give Me Shapes”
Video: Grass Widow – “Tattoo”

Nashville’s The Black Belles may have been another female power trio (they’d recently contracted from a quartet), but they couldn’t be more different from the band before them. Being a Jack White production, it was a foregone conclusion that they’d have a) a strong aesthetic – sheer black dresses, witchy velvet hats, sexy-goth makeup, check – and b) a classic rock vibe. Unfortunately, the Third Man association also meant that hooks and melody were a secondary concern to a) and b) and so while they looked good and sounded heavy, the songs didn’t have a lot of staying power. I’ve no doubt that their label associations will take them a long ways, but at some point they’ll need some tunes to back it all up.

Interview, The National Post, Spinner, and The Chicago Tribune have interviews with the band.

Photos: The Black Belles @ The Garrison – June 14, 2012
Video: The Black Belles – “Wishing Well”
Video: The Black Belles – “Lies”
Video: The Black Belles – “What Can I Do?”

For a lesson in balancing out heavy with hooks, you needn’t look any further than the night’s headliner – New York’s The Men and their latest Open Your Heart. If you wanted to hear many of those hooks this night, however, you would have been best served going home and putting the album on the turntable because the live show was an electrifying dose of punk rock thunder. The songs were there, but just as launching pads for the pure, aural adrenaline delivered via riffs, solos, and hollered vocals from any and all of their three lead singers. It’s hard to pick one thing out of the tumult to focus on, but recent addition Ben Greenberg – prior to March they didn’t have a bassist at all – would be a good one; running his bass through a guitar amp and pummelling chords, he was more third (albeit baritone) guitar than traditional bass, but was still the anchor, the ragged, jagged pulse of the band. How they did it before he joined, I can’t imagine. Unsurprisingly, their set was like a call to action for the moshing-inclined so despite trying to stick it out up front for as long as possible, I retreated to the back for the last few songs. With a few shows on their NXNE schedule, there were other opportunities to see them in probably less rowdy environs, but really – a dark, sweaty bar was really the only correct setting for this. Invigorating.

NOW, Paste, and 77 Square have features on The Men.

Photos: The Men @ The Garrison – June 14, 2012
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”
MP3: The Men – “A Minor”

The Toronto Star and NOW have features on A Place To Bury Strangers, themselves making a racket the Thursday night of NXNE although I wasn’t there.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with White Rabbits, who were also getting their NXNE on on Thursday night.

NPR is streaming the first new Beachwood Sparks album in over a decade – The Tarnished Gold – ahead of its release next week.

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Sparks Fly Again”
MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song”
Stream: Beachwood Sparks / The Tarnished Gold

Matador has finally confirmed details of the new Cat Power record, which will indeed be called Sun and be out on September 4, a week earlier than expected. The first track is available to download and The Stool Pigeon has posted up the full interview with Chan Marshall about the new record; it was only excerpted last week.

MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”

A touch short notice but if you’re around the Soundscapes area at 6:30PM tonight, pop in to catch an in-store from Michael Kiwanuka before he heads over to The Phoenix for his headlining show. BBC America and The Winnipeg Free Press have interviews with the singer.

MP3: Michael Kiwanuka – “Tell Me A Tale”

Weezer has reached another career milestone; they’re now playing casinos. They’ll be in the area on September 14 with a date at Casino Rama. I’m certain this is actually in Rivers Cuomo’s master plan.

Video: Weezer – “The Good Life”

And folks, the show announcement I’ve been waiting on forever is here – The Afghan Whigs at The Phoenix on October 3. I daresay that there’s not a band I’ve listened to more this year. Tickets are $35 and the presale goes Wednesday morning at 10AM, link and password at Collective Concerts. This. Will be. So. Good.

Video: The Afghan Whigs – “Crazy”

And some interesting exchanges of ideas on the whole topic of illegal music downloads, first from a 20-year old at NPR, then a rebuttal/open letter from David Lowery (Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven) at The Trichordist, and some points at both from Laura Snapes of Pitchfork/NME. Really worthwhile reading if just to remind yourself that this is still a thing and it still affects artists.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Sound Go Round

Dressy Bessy at Littlefield in Brooklyn

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf anyone were to ask – and really they’re not – this long weekend jaunt to New York was most definitely not a music trip. It was a shopping/eating/visiting/just getting out of Toronto trip, yes, but not a “music” trip as so many of my getaways tend to be. So that I ended up at shows the first two nights I was in town was purely mostly coincidence.

I mean, I hadn’t even thought about Denver’s Dressy Bessy in the better part of a decade. I saw them at The Horseshoe way back in 2002 circa Sound Go Round – pre-blog era, yo – but lost interest not long after that and they haven’t exactly fought their way back onto my radar, having not released an album since 2008′s HOLLERandSTOMP. But here they were, still together and getting ready to put out a series of singles this Summer, and here I was, in an apartment just a few blocks from Littlefield in Brooklyn and in town with friends who wanted to go. And so we went.

And though Dressy Bessy were ostensibly the headliner on the bill over former Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn and his Miracle 3, they went on first – just as well since the day was beginning to catch up with me. The turnout was relatively light – perhaps some of their audience was peeled off by NYC Popfest, which this show could easily have been part of but wasn’t – but the band seemed bound and determined to have a good time of it regardless. Though they’re associated with the Elephant 6 scene and all the tweeness that can come with that, they were refreshingly loud and garagey/glammy in performance – I really wished I had earplugs – yet still bouncy and fun, with the energy of a band that doesn’t play much live but still really enjoys it. And as I remembered from that one time I saw them a decade ago, Tammy Ealom still has a curious relationship with the concept of pitch – her singing isn’t accurate, at least not with respect to the Western musical scale, but it is precise. It’s really kind of interesting.

Only stuck around for a little bit of Steve Wynn’s set – see above about being tired – but stayed long enough to a) hear Dream Syndicate’s “That’s What You Always Say”, which I know mostly from Luna’s cover, and b) acknowledge that Steve Wynn is a shit-hot guitarist. ‘Tis true.

Photos: Dressy Bessy @ Littlefield – May 19, 2012
MP3: Dressy Bessy – “Ringalingaling”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Hey Alice!”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Pretty Pleaze”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Automatic”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Anyone Can See”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Ease Me Down”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Dressed The Part”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Do You Whisper”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Roundabout”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “In Your Headphones”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Left To The Right”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Simple Girlz”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Shoot I Love You”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Ten Million Stars”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Electrified”
Video: Dressy Bessy – “Better Luck”

The Afghan Whigs have released their first single in a half-decade, a cover of Marie “Queenie” Lyons’ “See And Don’t See”, and have made it available as a free download. They kick off their 2012 reunion tomorrow night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom – if I were staying here one extra day, I’d have moved heaven and earth to get a ticket. Instead, I will go home and feed the cat.

MP3: The Afghan Whigs – “See And Don’t See”

The Alternate Side has a video session with White Rabbits, playing the Mod Club on June 14 for NXNE.

The first track from Major, the second album from Fang Island, is available to download. The record is out July 12.

MP3: Fang Island – “Asunder”

Having had to cancel last week’s show at The Horseshoe, Maps & Atlases have rescheduled for July 17, same venue. The New York Daily News and Courier-Post have interviews.

MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Winter”

DIY, Seattle Times, and Clash talk to Best Coast. They’re at The Phoenix on July 21.

Merge Records continues their duties as archivists of the ’90s with remasters and reissues of all of the Sugar albums. Copper Blue and Beaster will be collected as one double-LP/triple-CD set and File Under: Easy Listening on its own, both with attendant b-sides and live material. There will probably not be a more essential musical release this year, folks. They’re out July 24 and you can download live versions of three Copper Blue songs by Bob Mould earlier this Spring at Slicing Up Eyeballs.

Filter and The Telegraph have features on Sharon Van Etten, playing the Phoenix on July 31.

For No One has a video session and Drowned In Sound an interview with School Of Seven Bells.

Ardent Studios welcomes Shearwater for a video session and Under The Radar has a feature piece.

Spinner interviews Chairlift.

The Guardian has a feature interview with Beach House and The Line Of Best Fit points to where you can watch the whole of their record release show in New York last week.

Perfume Genius has made a non-album track that’s been showing up in live sets available to download.

MP3: Perfume Genius – “Rusty Chains”

The AV Club has posted part five of their R.E.M. timeline/retrospective.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Funtimes In Babylon

Father John Misty and Har Mar Superstar at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangCosmic questions: What makes an artist put a respectable if underappreciated solo career on hold in order to play drums for a band that’s sold hundreds of thousands of records and gone platinum in the UK? And what makes that same artist leave that band in order to not resurrect their former solo career but start a completely new one? Okay, the first one is kind of a no-brainer but the second one is more of a puzzle, one that Baltimore-born, Los Angeles-based Josh Tillman is uniquely positioned to answer. He was plugging away as J Tillman since 2005 before joining Fleet Foxes in 2008 to tour behind their self-titled debut and while he continued to release solo albums, following the end of the Helplessness Blues touring cycle he announced he was leaving the band – but not to go back to being J. Tillman; instead to begin being Father John Misty.

If you do find yourself in a position to pose the above questions to Tillman, don’t be surprised if by way of an answer he just hands you a copy of Fear Fun, the just-released Father John Misty debut because it does, indeed, tell you why. Whereas the J. Tillman-branded material was pretty easily slotted as acoustic singer-songwriter fare, Fear Fun is nowhere near as easy to categorize. Suffused with ’70s-era country-rock vibes , it sounds as though Tillman gathered inspiration on his drive home from Seattle by routing through Bakersfield, the Laurel Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, and Reno, Nevada before pulling up in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. Gram Parsons’ “cosmic American music” quote gets trotted out a lot when describing music with a country-rock lineage but it applies to Father John Misty more than anything I’ve heard in recent years. Parsons would have approved of the album art as well, I think. In short, it’s not called J. Tillman because it sounds nothing like J. Tillman. Or Fleet Foxes, for that matter, though you can bet that was the hook for many/most of those who piled into the Horseshoe on Monday night for the band’s Toronto debut.

Support came from another Tillman, the unrelated Sean who himself had a few musical projects to juggle. I had seen him with Sean Na Na when they opened up for The Hold Steady in this same room back in 2006, but rather than showing off that project’s classic rock stylings, he was here as Har Mar Superstar and he was going to take off his pants. But that’s getting a bit ahead of things. Things started with Tillman fully-dressed – overdressed, really – and fronting a four-piece band that included Josh Tillman on drums but as their set progressed and their funk-soul groove gathered steam, he stripped down item by item until, by the final song of their set, it was just Tillman in his short, sweaty, paunchy glory clad only in a pair of briefs (and socks and shoes). Even a cursory bit of research about Har Mar beforehand would have revealed this was what they were about but even if you knew what was coming, it was still something to behold. Like with Sean Na Na it was almost a shame that Tillman’s onstage persona overshadowed the music – which was more than legit – but the net entertainment value was nothing to complain about. Though I wish there was more breakdancing.

Besides being a superb drummer and vocalist, Josh Tillman’s main contribution to Fleet Foxes was as the comic relief during their live shows – the guy was all kinds of funny from behind the kit. So while seeing him up front with no instrument in hand was a bit odd, you at least knew that there’d be no feeling awkward about being the centre of attention and really, you can’t keep presence like his behind a drum kit. Tillman was a litany of stage moves – shimmies, points, mic stand dancing – while leading his five-piece band through bigger, more rockier renderings of the Fear Fun material that emphasized the psychedelic aspects of the material. And of course there was the banter, which was random and hilarious and came with the added bonus of Tillman feeling extra punchy thanks to the Pitchfork review of his album earlier in the day, which despite being positive caused great offense. Towards the end of the show, Tillman mentioned that he had been “way too stoned” for the entire show – and the band passed around a lit joint as emphasis – and while that might have explained some of the the more out-there comments he made through the night, it made how tight and note-on their performance was even more impressive. Some folks may have came to the show as J. Tillman fans, most were probably Fleet Foxes fans but by the end of the show, they were all Father John Misty fans.

NOW also has a review of the show and Father John Misty already have a return engagement scheduled for July 12, when they open for Youth Lagoon at the Opera House.

Photos: Father John Misty, Har Mar Superstar @ The Horseshoe – May 14, 2012
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Cry 4 Help”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Power Lunch”
MP3: Har Mar Superstar – “Brothers And Sisters”
Video: Father John Misty – “This Is Sally Hatchet”
Video: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”
Video: Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Tall Boy”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “DUI”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Power Lunch”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “EZ Pass”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Brothers & Sisters”
Video: Har Mar Superstar – “Body Request”

I don’t really know who Jonathan Coulton is – I gather he’s big on/via the internet – but the fact that he’s touring with John Roderick of The Long Winters makes the fact that said tour includes a June 6 date at The Mod Club worth noting. As is the fact that we are well overdue for a new Long Winters record.

MP3: Jonathan Coulton – “Washy Ad Jeffy”
MP3: The Long Winters – “Pushover”

The NXNE schedule is due out any day now, but word of some of the bigger shows are coming out a little beforehand. Like that White Rabbits and Vacationer will be at The Mod Club on June 14. The Independent ran a feature on the band a few weeks back.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Heavy Metal”
MP3: Vacationer – “Trip”

Your festival wristband will also be good for admission to see A Place To Bury Strangers at The El Mocambo on (I believe) June 14, where they’ll be previewing their new record Worship, out June 26. The Stool Pigeon has an interview with the band about the new record.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “You Are The One”

Rolling Stone is offering for download a version of the title track from Guided By Voices’ next record Class Clown Spots A UFO from when it was a Robert Pollard song. Which it still is, technically. The album is out June 19.

MP3: Robert Pollard – “Class Clown Spots A UFO”

State interviews Lower Dens, who’ve released a new video from Nootropics. They’re at Lee’s Palace on July 17.

Video: Lower Dens – “Nova Anthem”

DIY talks to Andrew Bird, who plays Echo Beach on July 19.

It being release week for Best Coast’s new one The Only Place, there’s plenty of press going around with Bethany Cosentino. Check out pieces at LA Weekly, The Guardian, Under The Radar, GQ, The Line Of Best Fit, and Vice. They play The Phoenix on July 21.

By the same token, lots of people are talking to Beach House about their just-released Bloom – people like The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Interview, and eMusic.

Loud & Quiet talks to Chairlift.

Daytrotter has a session with Shearwater and The AV Club an interview with Jonathan Meiburg.

Greg Dulli talks to The Village Voice and John Curley to Cincinnati.com about the Afghan Whigs reunion, which finally gets underway next week in New York.

NPR welcomes Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt for a WFUV video session.

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Hear It Is

Oh my gawd!!! …The Flaming Lips are free for NXNE!

Photo By J. Michelle Martin-CoyneJ. Michelle Martin-CoyneSo what are you doing June 16? Are you one of those so conditioned by years of Toronto Radiohead shows selling out in a heartbeat that you tripped over yourself getting tickets for their Downsview gig as soon as they went on sale, even though the new venue was over twice the size of the Amphitheatre and general admission? Or are you one of those conscious of the fact that this is a King Of Limbs tour and realistically speaking, they probably won’t be playing the stuff you like most and anyways that’s the day the reunited Archers Of Loaf are finally coming to town and there’s no place you’d rather be that night than The Phoenix? Or were you waiting to hear what NXNE had up their sleeves since that’s when the Yonge-Dundas Square mainstage traditionally hosts the biggest name of the fest playing for free? If you chose option c), then congratulations on wanting to make an informed decision. And I’m sorry to say that Radiohead is now sold out so all your strategizing was for naught.

But you’ve hardly lost out as NXNE finally announced their first batch of acts playing the festival this year, and the Saturday night mainstage headliners will be none other than The Flaming Lips. The Oklahoman psychedelic-rockers, last here in July 2010, will endeavour to transform Yonge-Dundas Square into a garish, technicolor assault on the senses… so pretty much what it is every day, but with a bubble walk. Kidding aside, it will be pretty exciting to see a lot of people who’ve presumably never seen the Lips perform (or even know who they are) witness one of the most ridiculous and entertaining live shows going. Laser hands! And hey – since Yonge-Dundas isn’t far from The Phoenix, you can technically do both The Lips and Archers Of Loaf. I will, anyways.

As for the other confirmed acts, there’s a pretty impressive collection of both buzz bands and veterans coming to Toronto the weekend of June 14 to 17 – certainly more than a few that I’ve either been waiting to see come to town or are quite curious about. And because I’m a big dork, as I’ve done the past couple years, I’ve tried to discern the when and where of as many showcases as possible based on tour routing, previous announcements, what have you. There’s not quite as much info floating around right now as in past years, but if you wanted to get a jump start on trying to resolve inevitable scheduling conflicts, it’s something. Of course, all of this is unconfirmed until the official schedule is unveiled and certainly subject to change – I’ll probably keep updating it until that happens, if just for my own reference – but my sources are credible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Hayes Carll, July Talk @ The Horseshoe
Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Bad Religion, No Use For A Name, Good Riddance @ Yonge-Dundas Square
White Rabbits, Vacationer, Nash @ The Mod Club
Bran Van 3000, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Violens, Hooded Fang @ The Horseshoe
The Men, Grass Widow, The Black Belles, Mac DeMarco, Gap Dream @ The Garrison
Young Magic, Purity Ring, Moon King, Exitmusic, The Hundreds in The Hands @ Wrongbar
The Danks, Vinyl Williams @ The Drake Underground
Bleached @ The Silver Dollar
Mean Jeans @ The Shop Under Parts & Labour
The Seedy Seeds @ The Painted Lady
Larry & His Flask, The Schomberg Fair @ Sneaky Dee’s

Friday, June 15, 2012
Matthew Good, Plants & Animals, Eight And A Half @ Yonge-Dundas Square
2:54, Friends, Oberhofer @ Lee’s Palace
The Smoking Popes @ The Great Hall
The Sadies & Andre Williams, Reigning Sound, The Black Belles, The Coppertone @ The Horseshoe
Widowspeak, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Art Vs. Science @ The Garrison
The Men, Bass Drum Of Death, DZ Deathrays, The Death Set, Metz @ Wrongbar
Bleached, Parlovr, Hooded Fang, Goose Hut @ The Silver Dollar
Rah Rah @ The Dakota Tavern
Phèdre, Odonis Odonis, Beta Frontiers, Cartoons, Hellaluya, Hussy, Times Neue Roman @ Sneaky Dee’s
Brasstronaut, Útidúr @ TBA

Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Ceremony, Art Vs. Science, Oberhofer, Parlovr, Hollerado @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Archers Of Loaf, Metz @ The Phoenix
Catl, Young Empires @ The Horseshoe
Killer Mike, Death Grips, Ceremony, Doldrums, Trae Tha Truth @ Wrongbar
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ Sneaky Dee’s
Holly McNarland, The Deer Tracks @ The Rivoli
Limblifter, Shellshag, Our Brother The Native, Neon Windbreaker, International Zombies OF Love @ El Mocambo
Kontravoid, Automelodi, Bleached, Prince Innocence, Ell V Gore, Mac DeMarco, Cellphone, Dutch Toko @ The Silver Dollar
Sean Rowe @ The Dakota Tavern
WAZU @ The Painted Lady
Carnival Moon @ Czehoski
DJ Jonathan Toubin @ TBA

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah @ Yonge-Dundas Square

The full list of announced acts – including those without a venue or exact date that I can pin down – can be grokked over here but definitely catching my eye are Rival Schools and Porcelain Raft (June 14 or 15). Not a bad start at all, lots more to come.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
MP3: Ceremony – “Hysteria”
MP3: Death Grips – “Spread Eagle Cross The Block”
MP3: The Deer Tracks – “Dark Passenger”
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans”
MP3: Doldrums – “I’m Homesick Sittin’ Up Here In My Satellite”
MP3: Hollerado – “Americanarama”
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: Oberhofer – “Away Frm U”
MP3: Of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”
MP3: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Karmageddon”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
MP3: Andrew Williams – “Dirt”
Video: Bad Religion – “21st Century Digital Boy”
Video: The Black Belles – “What Can I Do”
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Fight Test”
Video: Friends – “Friend Crush”
Video: Ghostface Killah – “2getha Baby”
Video: Matthew Good – “Everything Is Automatic”
Video: Raekwon – “House Of Flying Daggers”
Video: 2:54 – “You’re Early”

And speaking of The Flaming Lips, their Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends album is out this Saturday for Record Store Day – if you can get your hands on one – and Wayne Coyne talks about it to The Huffington Post. They’ve also released a video from it – NSFW, of course. Lips don’t do clothes.

Video: The Flaming Lips and New Fumes – “Girl, You’re So Weird”

Electronic Anthology Project is the brainchild of Built To Spill’s Brett Netson wherein he takes songs from artists who aren’t especially electronic – like, say, Dinosaur Jr – and recreates them in synth-y, new wave style and actually makes it work. Of course it helps when you can get the likes of J Mascis to re-record some vocals for the project… The Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr will be released on CD for Record Store Day but you can stream the whole thing right now at Stereogum.

Stream: Electronic Anthology Project – “Tarpit”
Stream: Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr

Stereogum checks in with Jana Hunter of Lower Dens to see how things are coming on their next album Nootropics, out May 1.

Beach House are streaming another new song from Bloom, out May 15. It’ll be available on 7″ for Record Store Day this Saturday.

Stream: Beach House – “Lazuli”

Spin interviews Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, whose new record The Only Place is out on May 15. They play The Phoenix on July 21.

Though Mark Kozelek has a habit of booking and then cancelling shows, he’s planning to be in Toronto at The Great Hall on October 3 to promote the new Sun Kil Moon record Among The Leaves, out May 29. Tickets are $20 in advance and refunds will be available at the point of purchase.

MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “UK Blues”
MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “Carry Me Ohio”
MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “Sunshine In Chicago”

Exclaim reports that the second Guided By Voices album of 2012 – Class Clown Spots a UFO – will be out on June 21 and a third GBV album entitled Bears For Lunch should be out in November. Most prolific reunion ever?

That Nintendo-premiered new video from The Shins is finally available to watch online. They’re at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4 supporting The Black Keys.

Video: The Shins – “The Rifle’s Spiral”

Craig Finn tells Rolling Stone that The Hold Steady will begin work on a new record this Summer, but he’s not quite done with the solo thing yet – Paste has premiered a new video as part of a fundraising campaign for Big Brother/Big Sisters of America.

Video: Craig Finn – “Respective Coasts”

Spin chats with M. Ward.

Chart talks to Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws.

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Looking Through

Nada Surf at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNada Surf fly under a lot of peoples’ radars, remembered as that “Popular” band if they’re remembered at all, but they really do deserve credit for not only surviving the boom and bust of the ’90s alt-rock scene but putting together a fruitful second act of solidly tuneful albums of sensitive guitar pop while many of their contemporaries called it quits and are only returning to action now via the reunion track.

The seventh of which, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, was released back in January to follow up their 2010 covers record If I Had A Hi Fi and it follows the aforementioned template though with more volume and velocity than you might expect from them at this point. The band could probably get away with writing strictly sensitive, ballad-y material at this point but Astronomy shows that they can still turn up and rock a bit when they want to.

And just as they did in January 2008 when they were promoting their last album of new material, Lucky, they made time during a visit to Toronto to play an in-store at Sonic Boom. That occasion came during the advance press circuit and not the actual tour, so they were able to play a longer set at the store’s old location; this time, they were at the new Bathurst St. location offering what frontman Matthew Caws described as a condensed version of that evening’s performance at the Opera House. But while this equated to a shorter set, it also meant that the band were fully equipped to play. Sure, Caws still stuck to his acoustic and drummer Ira Elliot again forewent a kit for a rhythm box/stool, this time Daniel Lorca had his bass with him and their two touring players – Calexio’s Martin Wenk and former Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard – were on hand to fill things out in indie rock all-star style.

Their mini-set drew from all their records and they performed with the confidence and ease of a unit with little else to prove, content and grateful to be able to play for themselves and their fans. Some may point at them and declare them a band that’s had its moment and is far from fashionable, but there’s something to be said about no longer be beholden to the machinations of hype. Bands of the moment should count themselves lucky if they can eventually write a brace of songs as good as Nada Surf’s, let along have their longevity.

Hater High has a recording of the in-store to share while The Boston Phoenix and Billboard have feature pieces on the band.

Photos: Nada Surf @ Sonic Boom – April 4, 2012
MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
MP3: Nada Surf – “See These Bones”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Do It Again”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Blankest Year”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Blonde On Blonde”
Video: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”
Video: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”
Video: Nada Surf – “Whose Authority”
Video: Nada Surf – “Weightless”
Video: Nada Surf – “Always Love”
Video: Nada Surf – “Blankest Year”
Video: Nada Surf – “Inside Of Love”
Video: Nada Surf – “The Way You Wear Your Head”
Video: Nada Surf – “Firecracker”
Video: Nada Surf – “Popular”
Video: Nada Surf – “Treehouse”

The June 19 release date of The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do confirmed, the return of Fiona Apple continues with a full North American tour; Pitchfork has the Summer dates, which include a July 4 date at The Sound Academy in Toronto.

Video: Fiona Apple – “Fast As You Can”

Fast Company Create and Pitchfork talk to The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne about their forthcoming collaborations album Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends, due out this Record Store Day, April 21.

Father John Misty has released another track from the forthcoming Fear Fun, due out May 1. He plays The Horseshoe on May 14.

MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

There’s a new video available from White Rabbits’ latest Milk Famous. They’re interviewed at St. Louis Today, The Columbia Daily Tribune, and College Times.

Video: White Rabbits – “Temporary”

DIY has a feature piece on M. Ward, whose new album A Wasteland Companion is finally out tomorrow.

The Village Voice interviews Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Artrocker checks in quickly with Stephen Malkmus.

The Birmingham News talks to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.

The Toronto Star interviews Howler.

DIY has a video session with Craig Finn while CBS Sports talks to the Hold Steady frontman about his love of baseball. On a similar note, Rolling Stone talks to other musicians about their affection for America’s pastime.