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Posts Tagged ‘Wild Flag’

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Sunspots

Bob Mould revisits Workbook

Photo By Marc NorbergMarc NorbergI first got into Bob Mould in the early ’90s via Sugar, but quickly found myself seeking out his older works; obviously this included Hüsker Dü, but also his two late ’80s solo records Workbook and Black Sheets Of Rain which preceded his return to a band format. At the time they seemed like oddities, sounding neither like the hardcore-punk-pop evolution of the Dü years, nor the Alternative Nation-signifying roar of Sugar.

Rain was more characteristic of what people expected from Mould, built on layers of electric guitar and Mould’s angst-filled roar and probably not as well-regarded as it should be today because of some dated production values. Workbook, on the other hand, was filled with jangling 12-string acoustic guitar, cello and mandolin adornments, and major key melodies (though raging electric guitar and throat-shredding vocals also featured) – elements that would inform the next two and a half decades of his work, but as his first post-Hüsker Dü release, it must have been a head-scratcher. I took to it immediately – remember, for me 1991 was far more about Out Of Time than Nevermind – and Mould’s contribution to the seminal No Alternative AIDS benefit album in 1993 was also along those lines and one of my very favourites off that album.

All of which is to say as much as I love Bob when he’s perforating eardrums, as he’s been lately, I also totally dig his quieter stuff and I’m glad to see that Workbook is getting the respect that it deserves. It had already been announced that Mould would be marking the 25th anniversary of the release with a performance at Noise Pop next February where he’ll presumably – but not confirmedly – play it in its entirety. But Under The Radar now reports that the milestone is getting commemorated in somewhat larger fashion. A deluxe edition of the record – Workbook 25 – will be coming out on February 25 with the original album being accompanied by a second disc containing a b-side and a complete live show from the era. Granted, many of those bonus tracks appeared on the 1994 Poison Years compilation, but there’s still some unreleased goodies in there and isn’t it the thought that counts?

It’s a shame that the expanded slate of tour dates around its release don’t make it up here, but don’t forget that those Copper Blue recitals were only supposed to be a limited engagement and he toured that everywhere. So fingers crossed.

Video: Bob Mould – “See A Little Light”
Stream: Bob Mould / Workbook
Stream: Bob Mould – “Can’t Fight It”

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have a new video from Wig Out At Jagbags, out January 7. Look for them at Lee’s Palace on February 22.

Video: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Cinnamon & Lesbians”

Broken Bells have a new video from their next album After The Disco, out January 14. They play The Danforth Music Hall on March 3.

Video: Broken Bells – “Holding On For Life”

Pixies have put out a fourth video from their EP1, which should be the last because there are no more songs but then they’ve already released multiple videos for one of the songs so who knows, maybe they’ll milk it another decade before putting out EP2. They’ll be at Massey Hall on January 15 with their new bassist – no, newer – Paz Lenchantin, whom you may remember from A Perfect Circle and Zwan. Or not.

Video: Pixies – “Another Toe In The Ocean”

Rolling Stone talks to Robert Pollard about matters Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices. The new GBV record Motivational Jumpsuit comes out February 18.

Phantogram have come clean with details on their second full-length album, entitled Voices and coming out February 18. Pitchfork has details and a stream of a new song while Metro and AMNY have interviews with the band.

Stream: Phantogram – “Fall In Love”

NPR welcomes Superchunk to their World Cafe for a session.

Speedy Ortiz have released a new video from this year’s debut, Major Arcana.

Video: Speedy Ortiz – “No Below”

NPR has a KCRW session with Glasser.

Magnet talks to Will Sheff of Okkervil River about how he feels about having The Silver Gymnasium named their album of the year. What’s he gonna say? Maybe, “thanks – how about contributing to my Kickstarter to fund a short film video for ‘Down Down The Deep River’?” Maybe. Also, at Salon, Sheff talks about how he wish he knew as a kid that being nerdy would eventually be cool. Nerdy, yes, though being a touring musician, also helps.

Dazed and Confused has premiered the new video from Blouse’s second album, Imperium.

Video: Blouse – “A Feeling Like This”

Billboard Q&As Janelle Monáe, whom they have declared as Rising Star of 2013.

NPR has a World Cafe session with The Head & The Heart.

The Skinny talks to Janet Weiss about her current work with Quasi, the fact that Wild Flag is no more, and that a Sleater-Kinney reunion might be inevitable – as proven by the fact that they reunited to play “Rockin’ In The Free World” with Pearl Jam a few nights later in Portland.

Stereogum tracks the final days of the now-defunct Walkmen.

Monday, February 13th, 2012

No Time For Dreaming

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires and Little Barrie at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA better writer might be able to come up with some angle that relates the sudden one-day cold snap that hit Toronto on Saturday and the long-awaited, much-anticipated local debut by Mr Charles Bradley at Lee’s Palace, but sadly, all I can come up with is something like how it was cold outside but hot inside and that’s pretty weaksauce, so I’ll just move on.

A little surprisingly, support for this tour came from across the Atlantic in the form of English power trio Little Barrie, who were familiar to me as I’d written them up way back in 2005 and generally dismissed them but in a “not my thing” way rather than “this is terrible”. And while I don’t necessarily get the sense their sound has changed much over the years, seeing them play it became clear that what fails to impress on record can really wow in a live setting. Offering a pleasantly modern take on punk-infused blues-rock with a good, heavy groove and the right amount of guitar heroics delivered with what I think the kids call, “swag”, their set was loud, energetic and an ideal warm-up. If you’re seeking the future of rock, you’d be well-advised to look elsewhere; just fixing for a good time? Stick around. Their third album King Of The Waves hits February 25.

Even though he only released his debut album No Time For Dreaming last year and has been on most peoples’ radars for only about that long, Charles Bradley’s live shows are already something of legend, and what kind of legend doesn’t deserve a little build up? And so it was that before taking the stage, his 7-piece band The Extraordinaires got up and got down for a couple of instrumental tunes that showed off the band’s ability to groove – exceptional, if you wondering – and work the crowd up just a little more. Goodness knows the full house didn’t have to be asked to give a warm welcome to “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, but we were and we did as he strode onstage resplendent in a shiny red satin jacket.

Bradley is a fascinating performer. On the one hand, he had a deep bag of crowd-pleasing stage moves to draw on including some loverman disco dancing and impressive mic stand tricks. But on the other, his songs are filled with pain and hurt informed by a long, hard life that was only now giving him his due and all of that was etched onto every line of his face, every grimace, every bead of sweat and in every impassioned rasp of his voice. Dressing up emotional rawness in showy raiments created a strange balance of sorrow, spirituality and sex all infused with deep, old soul. And so of course the only rational response was to dance.

Amidst the selections from Dreaming, they included a couple covers which were highlights of the set – a sublime reading of Clarence Carter’s soul standard “Slip Away” and a deliciously funked up version of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold”. After an hour-long set, Bradley returned with his third costume change of the night and a stirring encore of “Why Is It So Hard?”, during which Bradley went into preacher mode and earnestly proclaimed his love for the audience, which was returned back to him five hundred-fold. As the band played him off into the audience for hugs and handshakes, that should have been the perfect finale but after a few minutes, Bradley returned to the stage looking deeply and genuinely grieved and offering some words having just been informed of the death of Whitney Houston earlier that evening. It was a sad postscript on a great night and a reminder that in this life, there will always be heartaches and pain.

The Globe & Mail, NOW, 77 Square, Isthmus, The Boston Globe, and hour.ca all have feature pieces on Charles Bradley. The Globe & Mail and NOW also have reviews of Saturday night’s show.

Photos: Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Little Barrie @ Lee’s Palace – February 11, 2012
MP3: Charles Bradley – “Heartaches & Pain”
MP3: Charles Bradley – “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”
MP3: Charles Bradley – “Now That I’m Gone”
Video: Charles Bradley – “Heartaches And Pain”
Video: Charles Bradley – “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”
Video: Little Barrie – “How Come”
Video: Little Barrie – “Surf Hell”
Video: Little Barrie – “Pay To Join”
Video: Little Barrie – “Love You”
Video: Little Barrie – “Long Hair”
Video: Little Barrie – “Free Salute”

NPR goes Craig Finn-crazy, posting both a Tiny Desk Concert where he plays two non-album songs and a World Cafe session. The Riverfront Times also has an interview and The Quietus solicits a list of his favourite albums.

Nada Mucho talks to Mitch Mitchell of Guided By Voices; note that though this was just posted last week, it apparently took place back in January right before the band cancelled their European festival dates, raising rumours that the band had again disbanded which were declared false. All of which is to say the drama at the end of the interview? Ignore it.

It’s video time with Eric Bachmann, in the form of a new one from Crooked Fingers taken from last year’s Breaks In The Armor and also a pile of vintage Archers Of Loaf clips, freshly digitized from VHS by Merge at YouTube. Vee Vee gets reissued next Tuesday.

Video: Crooked Fingers – “Our New Favourite”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Underachievers March & Fight Song”

The new Lambchop record Mr. M is now available to stream at NPR ahead of its official release next Tuesday. The Guardian and Nashville Ledger have interviews with head ‘Chop Kurt Wagner.

MP3: Lambchop – “Gone Tomorrow”
MP3: Lambchop – “If Not I’ll Just Die”
Stream: Lambchop / Mr. M

The Guardian chats with Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, whose new album Love At The Bottom Of The Sea is out March 6. They play The Sound Academy on March 30.

The Telegraph sits down with Wild Flag’s Carrie Brownstein.

Paste talks to Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

We Are Fine

Sharon Van Etten Tramp stamps the internet

Photo By Dusdin CondrenDusdin CondrenI’m not playing “firsties” here, but I’ve always known that Sharon Van Etten would go on to big things since writing up her debut Because I Was In Love back in October 2009, and following 2010’s excellent epic it seemed pretty clear that her third album Tramp – released yesterday – would be the one that would see her break out in a big way.

That said, I’m still surprised at just how much press coverage Van Etten has been getting with this album, beyond just record reviews – those have been pretty uniformly glowing, by the way. My own thoughts will have to wait as I’m still processing; you can expect impressions sometime around the writeup for her show at Lee’s Palace on February 21 – but for now, wade through feature interviews with the New Jersey native at and and all of The Washington Post, Nylon, Billboard, New York Magazine, eMusic, Spinner, Beatroute, Blurt, The AV Club, NPR – who also have a conversation with her specifically about the track, “We Are Fine” – and Pitchfork solicits a guest list.

And if you’d rather listen than read, check out a sampler of live and studio tracks collected over at Largehearted Boy, a stream of the album and new to download as of yesterday is a demo version of Tramp highlight “Serpents”.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents” (demo)
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
Stream: Sharon Van Etten / Tramp

Also on that February 21 bill at Lee’s is Shearwater and their new album Animal Joy is now streaming at NPR ahead of its release next Tuesday; there’s also a radio session with KDHX available to stream and an interview with Jonathan Meiburg at The Wesleyan Argus. And I’ll tell you this for free – you can file the show under, “gigs of the Winter” and the album under, “records of the year”.

MP3: Shearwater – “You As You Were”
MP3: Shearwater – “Breaking The Yearlings”
Stream: Shearwater / Animal Joy

Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s are prepping the March 20 release of their new record Rot Gut, Domestic and will be at The Garrison on April 5 to play some songs from it. Tickets are $11.50 in advance and you can preview the new material by way of the first video.

Video: Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s – “Prozac Rock”

Portland’s Horse Feathers – who were one of the unexpected highlights of NXNE 2011 – will be releasing a new album in Cynic’s New Year on April 17 and will be at The Horseshoe on April 29, tickets $10.50. If you like beautiful things, you should be there.

MP3: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”

Hospitality celebrated the release of their self-titled debut last week with a hometown show in Brooklyn and NYC Taper was there to record it. There’s also features on the band at The Village Voice and Capital, and a session and interview at The Alternate Side. They’re at The Horseshoe on February 29 opening up for Tennis.

And speaking of Tennis, their new record Young And Old is now available to stream at The Line Of Best Fit ahead of its official release next week.

Stream: Tennis / Young & Old

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a recent show by Blouse, who’re at The Garrison on May 5 opening up for Bear In Heaven.

DIY chats with Chairlift, hitting the Horseshoe on March 28.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Girls.

IFC is showing off a clip of St. Vincent’s recent appearance on Portlandia and also a performance from her 4AD Session, while Prefix points out a video session she recorded for CBC’s Q, presumably when visiting last December. And oh, there’s a new video from Strange Mercy to grok at. And speaking of Portlandia, CBC Radio 3 has an interview with Carrie Brownstein about working both Wild Flag and the show.

Video: St. Vincent – “Cheerleader”

Drowned In Sound, The Kansas City Star and Chicago Reader meet Craig Finn.

The Line Of Best Fit, Clash, Consequence Of Sound, and eMusic profile Of Montreal and their new album Paralytic Stalks.

The Wilco episode of Austin City Limits is now available to stream in full.

A new installment of the Old Ideas With New Friends video series is now up, with Mountain Goats man John Darnielle covering Leonard Cohen’s “The Smokey Life” over at Consequence Of Sound.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Back To The Grave

Review of Howler’s America Give Up

Photo By David McCrindleDavid McCrindleA rumour that will undoubtedly surface over and over again over the next few months about Minneapolis young toughs Howler is this – drummer Brent Mayes is the scion of one Prince Rogers Nelson. Even if it were true, it would be irrelevant as future-funk is the furthest thing from Howler’s mandate as you can get. The fivesome face unabashedly backwards in time, staring straight at the ’50s rock and ’70s punk – in particular the garages and dive bars across America where rock’n’roll was being cultivated.

And if they do it all through the lens of the ’00s and in particular The Strokes, well that’s fair game as well. The band are absurdly young – frontman Jordan Gatesmith is all of 19 years old – and Julian Casablancas and his gang are probably as much a part of the classic rock canon to them as Elvis or The Ramones. This isn’t in any way to suggest that Howler will be taking their place amongst the aforementioned anytime soon, if ever. Though their debut album America Give Up has plenty of rough energy and enthusiasm and some immediately likeable tunes but loses some points for striving a bit too hard for some nebulous “authenticity”, particularly when Gatesmith tries to ape Casablancas’ more throat-shredding moments; they fare better when they sound more relaxed and like a bunch of kids having a good time. Still, they manage to stay on the right side of the ledger by keeping the tempos up, guitars loud, hooks sharp and running time short – under 32 minutes and they’re done.

Unsurpisingly, Howler are already critical darlings in the UK – The Guardian has a profile piece on the band. America Give Up is out next Tuesday and streaming in whole at NPR. They play The Drake Underground on April 5.

MP3: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck”
Video: Howler – “Back Of Your Neck”
Video: Howler – “Told You Once”
Stream: Howler / America Give Up

Not so long ago, Crocodiles were super-conspicuous for their absence from Toronto stages – now they’ve practically moved in as they’re back for their third show in eight months (sixth if you count all three NXNE gigs), playing Lee’s Palace on February 23. Tickets are $13.50.

MP3: Crocodiles – “Sleep Forever”

Chairlift’s new record Something will be out on January 24 and they’ll follow that up with a show at The Horseshoe on March 28 – tickets $12.

MP3: Chairlift – “Sidewalk Safari”

North Carolina’s Lost In The Trees continue to work 2010’s All Alone In An Empty House, returning to town again for another date at The Drake Underground on April 6, tickets $11.50. Update: Their new record A Church That Fits Our Needs is out March 20 and NPR is streaming the first song.

MP3: Lost In The Trees – “All Alone In An Empty House”
Stream: Lost In The Trees – “Red”

Amidst a lineup of some of the biggest – and loudest – names in indie rock of the past two decades, not many expected the delicate piano songs of Seattle’s Perfume Genius to stand out, but inexplicably, it did. Now with a second album in Put Your Back N 2 It ready for a February 21 release, Mike Hadreas will hit the road with it and stop in at the Drake Underground on April 8. Tickets for that are $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Perfume Genius – “All Waters”

Real Estate have rolled out a new Scharpling-directed video from Days. They’re at Lee’s Palace on January 20.

Video: Real Estate – “Easy”

Pitchfork has another MP3 from Of Montreal’s forthcoming Paralytic Stalks, out February 7.

MP3: Of Montreal – “Dour Percentage”

Clash talks to Eric Bachmann and Mark Price of Archers Of Loaf. The Vee Vee reissue is out February 21.

White Rabbits have announced a March 6 release date for their new record Milk Famous. You can grab the first MP3 at their website in exchange for an email address.

The Shins have released a stream of the first tune from their new record Port Of Morrow, out March 20.

Stream: The Shins – “Simple Song”

Memory Tapes have put out a new video from Player Piano.

Video: Memory Tapes – “Trance Sisters”

Village Voice interviews Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak.

Billboard chats with Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag and other stuff.

I don’t know if this video for Wilco’s “The Whole Love” is technically official, but seeing as how it was directed by Spencer Tweedy – son of Jeff – it’s at least officially acknowledged.

Video: Wilco – “The Whole Love”

PitchforkTV has a video documentary on The Flaming Lips’ masterpiece The Soft Bulletin.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Hotel Plaster

Nicole Atkins at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA little into her show at The Drake Underground on Saturday evening, Nicole Atkins mentioned that this was her first-ever solo show in Canada, and that performances of this format were usually reserved for more casual one-off performances back home in New Jersey during the holidays. Indeed, though Ms Atkins has been no stranger to Toronto stages since releasing her debut Neptune City back in 2007, she’s always been accompanied by some iteration of her band The (Black) Sea. I’d have to go back to SXSW 2007 to recall the last time I saw her in a stripped-down acoustic format (also the very first time overall), and even then she was backed by a hastily-recruited drummer and second guitarist because The Sea had gotten lost en route.

The call for backing players is a reasonable one as both her records – Neptune City and this year’s Mondo Amore – are pretty produced affairs, but it’s key to remember at her core Atkins is a folk/blues-rooted singer-songwriter and has had more than her share of experience performing with just her guitar, voice and songs. That’s all she brought with her on this evening and it was more than enough. Well, those and some hilarious anecdotes; for serious, the evening could have just been her sitting there – no guitar – and telling stories and it would have been worth the price of admission. But yes, she sang too.

Brassy set opener “Maybe Tonight” set the tone for the night, which is to say it wouldn’t be a quiet, navel-gazey affair. She promised that the set would mostly be country versions of her songs – and indeed, “Cry Cry Cry” was extra honky-tonky-ish – but most songs retained their basic stylistic personalities and there were a fair number of what she called the “sad bastard” songs, but even those were delivered with energy and conviction thanks to her room-filling voice. The set was all over the place as far as where it drew from, covering both albums, the rarely-heard title track of her debut Bleeding Diamonds EP, a new song entitled “Call Me The Witch”, and covers of Leadbelly, Benji Hughes and Cotton Mather (about whom she spilled the beans regarding an upcoming reunion at SXSW). After complimenting the audience on how quiet and attentive they were all night, she invited all to join in on “The Way It Is” and for the show closer and in what’s becoming a bit of a Drake tradition, came offstage to play “Neptune City” in the audience with everyone singing along.

Make no mistake, I loved both the widescreen, ornate presentation of Neptune City and the rawer, rockier Mondo Amore but if for her third record Nicole Atkins decides to peel things back to little more than what we saw on Saturday night, I’ve no doubt it’d be just as sublime.

Hater High was also in attendance and has the whole show recorded and available to download; it all sounds great but the banter prior to “Hotel Plaster” is especially worth hearing. The Free Lance-Star also has an interview.

Photos: Nicole Atkins @ The Drake Underground – December 3, 2011
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vitamin C”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Maybe Tonight”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City”

The Quietus talks to Janet Weiss of Wild Flag.

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert with tUnE-yArDs.

The Quietus interviews both Erika Anderson of EMA and Nika Roza Danilova of Zola Jesus.

Kind of an odd bill, but together The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys get to cross “go on an arena tour of North America” off their to-do lists. They’re at the Air Canada Centre on March 14 – presale goes December 6 at 10AM, public onsale on December 9. The Black Keys’ new album El Camino is out Tuesday.

Video: The Black Keys – “Tighten Up”
Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Suck It And See”

Austin 360 talks to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

The second Archers Of Loaf reissue – Vee Vee – has an official release date of February 21, and The AV Club has all the salient info. And they’ve also got Eric Bachmann doing a
One Track Mind performance and interview for “Web In Front”. Meanwhile, Bachmann puts his Crooked Fingers hat on to chat with Creative Loafing and The Phoenix New Times.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”

The first official single from Guided By Voices’ reunion record Let’s Go Eat The Factory is now available to download, all 1:44 of it. It will probably take you longer to read this interview with Bob Pollard at The AV Club than to listen to the song.

MP3: Guided By Voices – “Doughtnut For A Snowman”

Loud & Quiet interviews Ryan Adams, in town at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 10.

Blurt talks to Britta Phillips of Dean & Britta about being the voice of Jem (of Jem & The Holograms) back in the ’80s while Listgeeks chats with both her and Dean Wareham. And over at Captain’s Dead, they’ve got a downloadable recording of the “Plays Galaxie 500” set they did at Primavera in Barcelona back in May.

The Daily Beast talks to Michael Stipe and Mike Mills about the end of R.E.M..

Charles Bradley has released a new MP3 from No Time For Dreaming. He and his Extraordinaires are at Lee’s Palace on February 11.

MP3: Charles Bradley – “Heartaches & Pain”

Wye Oak stops in by Berlin Sessions for a video session. They open up for The National at The Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Dum Dum Girls.

Spin points out that Sleigh Bells’ website has been highjacked by a trailer for what is presumed to be their new album. It’s called Reign of Terror and it’ll be out when it’s out.