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Posts Tagged ‘Woods’

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Thick As Thieves

Widowspeak and The Auras at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangObjectively speaking, there’s not a world of difference between Widowspeak’s 2011 self-titled debut or the follow-up Almanac, released in January of this year. You can file them both quite comfortably under “the soundtrack to dreams of dusty country roads”, not too far from lazy but not inaccurate reference points Mazzy Star and Cat Power, but something about Almanac grabs me the way that Widowspeak, as much as I dug it, didn’t. And it’s not something as simple as they’re getting more dynamic or rocking out harder, as refresher listens to their debut confirm there’s no shortage of volume spikes amidst the sleepiness. There’s just something more present, more assured, in Almanac‘s grooves – like lucid dreaming versus wake-walking. Whatever it is, I love it, and so their show at The Garrison on Monday night – their first non-festival headline date in Toronto – was a must-go on my calendar.

Local support came from The Auras, signed to Toronto’s Optical Sounds and labelmates with B-17, whom I’d just seen just a few days earlier; if there’s some sort of shadow conspiracy to get me more attuned with the city’s psych-pop scene… then it’s working. Mind you, The Auras didn’t impress the same way that B-17 did, but they’re not really built to. Comprised of fresh-faced youngsters rather than scene veterans, they were a bit of a mish-mash visually – a mass of paisley, headbands, shaggy hair, tassels, and with half the six-piece band in sunglasses, all bathed in their a bring-your-own light show. Sonically, they felt more like a a psychedelic jam session, rotating through four lead vocalists and possessing more of vague mandate to sound like a more shambolic, polite Black Angels than a firm mission statement. Understand that this is not a complaint, but actually more a point of envy. Having a group of like-minded players to jam, gig, and record with sounds like the best thing ever, actually.

I saw Widowspeak twice last year – in the same room at NXNE and a few months earlier at SXSW – but this time there was a new rhythm section in place and a fifth member in the fold on guitar and keys. The heart of the band, however – Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas – were still there, ever front and centre. Opening with Almanac leadoff “Perennials”, the template for the show was quickly established – Hamilton serenely cooing into the mic while Thomas got to play the role of guitar hero, although he would have been more effective at it had his guitar not been the quietest of the three on stage; a little more volume would have helped his leads achieve the prominence they deserved and might also have quieted the reasonably-sized if disproportionately chatty crowd audience.

As the show progressed, the chatter either diminished or the genuinely interested moved up to the front – in either case, they were drawn in by the performance, which maintained the same basic rhythm through the better part of an hour, offering a good mix of Almanac and Widowspeak material though sadly omitting two of my favourite new songs, “Devil Knows” and “Spirit Is Willing”. They did shift gears slightly towards the end with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” – yeah, having Hamilton wrap her voice around it is a bit on the nose, but still gorgeous – and a keyboard-led “Thick As Thieves”, before closing with a relatively raucous “Ballad Of The Golden Hour” and “Harsh Realm”. An encore wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but Hamilton was enticed to come back out for a final number, a reading of “Limbs” done solo because the rest of the band didn’t know how to play it, and were also busy selling merch off to the side. A modest finale to a modest yet wholly enjoyable show.

Iamnosuperman and Good Times have interviews with Robert Earl Thomas and The Riverfront Times chats with Molly Hamilton while El Paso What’s Up talks to both.

Photos: Widowspeak, The Auras @ The Garrison – April 16, 2013
MP3: Widowspeak – “Ballad Of The Golden Hour”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Sore Eyes”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Gun Shy”
MP3: Widowspeak – “In The Pines”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Devil Knows”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
Video: Widowspeak – “Locusts”
Stream: The Auras / The Auras

Not necessarily enough show announcements this week to devote a post, but still a few things of note. Seattle’s Cave Singers will bring their new album Naomi – released last month – to town for a show at The Horseshoe on June 17, tickets $15. There’s a feature on the band at 85-26.

MP3: The Cave Singers – “Black Leaf”
MP3: The Cave Singers – “Swim Club”

California’s Rogue Wave are back with a new record in Nightingale Floors coming out on June 4, and are teaming up with Brooklyn’s Caveman, who just released their second self-titled album, for a Summer tour that hits The Mod Club on June 25, tickets $18.50/.

MP3: Caveman – “Easy Water”
Stream: Rogue Wave – “College”

Another bi-coastal bill will team Californian psych-pop outfit Woods, still working last Fall’s Bend Beyond, with New York ’90s indie rock revivalists Parquet Courts and their debut Light Up Gold for a date at The Horseshoe on July 17, tickets $15.50.

MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”
MP3: Parquet Courts – “Borrowed Time”

Los Angeles’ Julia Holter brings last year’s Ekstasis to The Drake on July 17, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”

Consequence Of Sound, Spinner, Vulture, and Spin talk to Thermals frontman Hutch Harris and PopMatters to drummer Westin Glass about their just-released new record Desperate Ground, and they also talk to The AV Club and Clash respectively about action movies. The Thermals are at The Horseshoe on May 21.

MTV Hive and Stereogum have features on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose new record Mosquito arrived this week.

Interview and The Victoria Times-Colonist talk to Sam Beam about the new Iron & Wine album Ghost On Ghost.

PopMatters, eMusic, Forbes, and Spin have features on The Flaming Lips and their new album The Terror.

The National Post talks to Steve Earle about his latest The Low Highway.

Ra Ra Riot is streaming the single they’ll be releasing for Record Store Day this Saturday via T Magazine. The Alternate Side also has a session with the band, who are here on May 25 at The Sound Academy supporting The Shins, then back for the Field Trip fest at Garrison Commons on June 8.

Stream: Ra Ra Riot – “All I Fear”

Stereogum has a stream of The Hold Steady’s contribution to this week’s Game Of Thrones closing credits, while Wired examines the intersection of the kingdoms of Westeros and the world of indie rock. The Hold Steady are here as part of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 6 at Garrison Commons.

Stream: The Hold Steady – “The Bear & The Maiden Fair”

NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert concert with Yo La Tengo, one of the names at the final day of the Toronto Urban Roots Fest at Garrison Commons on July 7.

Kurt Vile is also playing TURF Sunday; Noisey has an interview with him about being a rocker parent rocker.

Janelle Monáe dishes a bit to Billboard about her long-awaited second album The Electric Lady, due out later this year.

Stereogum have premiered the new video from Low’s The Invisible Way.

Video: Low – “Just Make It Stop”

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff has squeezed another video out of his Lovestreams side-project.

Video: Lovestreams – “There’s Video”

NPR welcomes Local Natives for a World Cafe session.

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Human Being

Review of Cat Power’s Sun

Photo By Stefano GiovanniniStefano GiovanniniIt seems counter-intuitive to not look forward to hearing an artist’s first album of new material in half a decade – the follow-up to arguably her best work, no less – but then things are rarely straightforward when you’re talking about Cat Power. With all respect to those who’d bestow the honour on You Are Free or Moon Pix, but The Greatest was as good as its title as far as I was concerned. It may not have been as musically adventurous or emotionally bare as some of her other works, but I found the document of an artist trying something new with the Memphis soul style and sounding so in her element irresistible.

So why fear for the follow-up? Well, there was 2008’s Jukebox, which took the aesthetic of The Greatest and applied it to a selection of classic songs and somehow ended up feeling utterly bloodless, with Chan Marshall seemingly falling into the diva trap of now being an impressive voice overemoting the words of others; it was like the feeling of comfort that permeated The Greatest had turned into complacency. Further, while the two shows I saw in 2006 in support of The Greatest were, with a few hiccups, outstanding shows that seemed to put Marshall’s reputation as a shaky live bet to bed, her appearance at the 2007 Rogers Picnic was uneven and uncomfortable and while she was certainly more together at Matador at 21 in 2010, that set didn’t really point to her leaving her Dirty Delta comfort zone anytime soon. In other words, my greatest fear for Sun, promised as far back as 2007 but only arriving next Tuesday, would that it would be an overworked, underwhelming rock’n’soul pastiche that showcased Marshall’s voice but shortchanged her songwriting. And I didn’t want to hear that happen.

Well as it turns out, there was nothing to fear. Nothing. At. All. Marshall’s soulful rasp is as rich as it ever was, but there’s little trace of the gospel-blues singer that she wore a little too well. Sun is a wildly eclectic record, and even those who’ve kept up with Cat Power through her various creative phases may be taken aback by the introduction of electronic textures, programmed beats, and even some autotuning effects, but no one would dare dismiss this as genre tourism. It’s more as if Cat Power has been captured through a prism and refracted into a spectrum of musical colours – perhaps new and unfamiliar when taken in bits, but all still very much parts of the whole.

As tempting as it would be to make the new sonic direction the story of the record, or dwell on the remarkable fact that it was not only self-produced but that Marshall played virtually every instrument on the record, to do so would be to not focus on the most crucial aspect of Sun and that the songs are fantastic. The frailties of her early work have given way to a swaggering confidence that permeates everything; Marshall is focused, confident, and not only willing to take on anything, but determined to succeed. A closer examination of the lyrics reveals as much emotional honesty as she’s ever offered – after all, you can’t raise the sun without casting some shadows – but the darkness only adds depth, it never defines. Sun is an astonishing statement from Chan Marshall that shows that rather than banish the demons of her earlier work as The Greatest might have inferred, she’s utterly made them her bitches and put them to work.

The New York Times, News.com.au, and Spin have feature pieces on Cat Power and NPR is streaming Sun ahead of its release next week. She plays The Kool Haus on October 20.

MP3: Cat Power – “Cherokee”
MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”
Stream: Cat Power / Sun

Another stellar effort from a veteran performer out next week is Silver Age from Bob Mould; it’s also now available to stream along with an interview at Rolling Stone. The first video from said record also surfaced last week.

Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Stream: Bob Mould / Silver Age

To mark the release of the Divine Fits debut long-player A Thing Called Divine Fits this week, there’s feature interviews with Britt Daniel and/or Dan Boeckner at Consequence Of Sound, The 405, Interview, 680 News, Seattle Weekly, Pitchfork, The AV Club, and The National Post. Divine Fits play Lee’s Palace on September 5.

Also out this week was Nocturne, the second album from Wild Nothing. Accompanying that were features at eMusic, The Fader, Clash, DIY, Austinist, The Line Of Best Fit, and Paste. They’re at The Great Hall on September 18.

A goodly number of show announcements to get through. We’ll start with The Killers, because statistically speaking some of you must be fans, just as some of your must be human and others dancer. Their new record Battle Born is out September 18 and they’re at The Sound Academy on September 22, tickets $54.50. That seems undersized for them so I figure this counts as the “intimate club gig” before they return in a few months at the arena level.

Video: The Killers – “Runaways”

Presumably having sorted themselves out following the departure of bassist Jen Turner, Here We Go Magic will be at The Garrison on September 23 as part of a tour support of their latest record A Different Ship. Tickets for that are $12.50 in advance. Spin has a feature on the band.

MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Casual”

Having been through for festivals and as support, Exitmusic finally have their own proper headlining show in support of their debut Passage. They’re at The Horseshoe on October 1, tickets $10.50.

MP3: Exitmusic – “The Sea”

Californian psych-poppers Woods will have a new record in Bend Beyond out on September 18, and they’d like to play some of it for you. Be at The Garrison on October 2 if you’ld like that too; tickets are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Woods – “Wind Was The Wine”

There’s no measure by which this isn’t a strange tour, but it must make sense to someone. That’d be The Psychedelic Furs, The Lemonheads, and Juliana Hatfield, who will also be reprising her Ray-era bass duties in The Lemonheads. She’ll sort of have a new record to push in her self-titled cover album, a sort of companion piece to The Lemonheads’ last release, the all-cover Varshons. Wouldn’t it be weird if both their sets were all covers? Or maybe all Psychedelic Furs covers? Yeah I have no idea what this is, besides at The Danforth Music Hall on October 16. Ticket info still forthcoming.

Video: The Psychedelic Furs – “Love My Way”
Video: The Lemonheads – “It’s A Shame About Ray”
Video: Juliana Hatfield Three – “My Sister”

They are from Brooklyn, they are seventeen members strong, they are disco, they are Escort, their 2011 debut album was also Escort, I hear they were awesome at SXSW, and they’re at The Horseshoe on November 10. Tickets are $16.50 – that’s less than a dollar a band member!

MP3: Escort – “Starlight”

Yellow Ostrich are at The Garrison on November 12 in support of their second album Strange Land. $12 gets you in the door, full dates at Plug In Music.

MP3: Yellow Ostrich – “The Shakedown”

San Diego’s Pinback return with their first album in five years in Information Retrieved, and are touring in support. Said tour wraps up at Lee’s Palace on November 21, tickets $16.50.

MP3: Pinback – “From Nothing To Nowhere”

Rolling Stone has premiered the surprisingly dark new video from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Tempest. It’s out September 11 and the man hits the Air Canada Centre on November 14.

Video: Bob Dylan – “Duquesne Whistle”

Exclaimtalks to Lou Barlow about the new Dinosaur Jr album I Bet On Sky, out September 18. They play three nights at Lee’s Palace from September 24 to 26.

The first video from Band Of Horses’ forthcoming Mirage Rock is now available to watch. It’s out September 18.

Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”

Stereogum chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Their new record Transcendental Youth is out October 2, they play The Phoenix on October 20.

Benjamin Gibbard – you may know him as just Ben – has released the first sample of his forthcoming solo record Former Lives, out October 16. He plays The Danforth Music Hall on October 14.

MP3: Benjamin Gibbard – “Teardrop Windows”

Exclaim has details on a new release from Andrew Bird, a companion piece to this year’s Break It Yourself. Hands Of Glory is out October 30.

Sleigh Bells’ Reign Of Terror has yielded another new video.

Video: Sleigh Bells – “End Of The Line”

NPR welcomes Beachwood Sparks for a video session. LA Weekly also has a feature on the band.

The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, SF Weekly, The Pitch, Colorado Daily, and Boulder Weekly have interviews with Sharon Van Etten.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

CONTEST – Woods @ The Horseshoe – December 8, 2011

Photo By Ground ControlGround ControlWho: Woods
What: Californian rustic psych-pop outfit and namesake of the Woodsist label.
Why: They released their latest Sun & Shade back in May and were already here in July to support, but this is their first headlining date for it.
When: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Where: The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Wet Hair open. I don’t know anything about Wet Hair, sorry.
How: Tickets for the show are $13.50 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want Woods” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, December 6.
What else: To mark the holidays, the band have released a cover of Vince Guaraldi’s composition from the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack – grab it below.

MP3: Woods – “To Clean”
MP3: Woods – “Rain On”
MP3: Woods – “Christmas Time Is Here”
Video: Woods – “To Clean”

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Glass Jaw

Scud Mountain Boys route reunion tour to drop Joe Pernice off at home

Photo via Sub PopSub PopWhile far from the most earth-shattering reunion announcement by any popular measure, it was most pleasant and unexpected when word came last month that Scud Mountain Boys were getting back together for some shows in 2012. The Scud Mountain Boys, for those not in the know, were Joe Pernice’s first band of note, an alt-country foursome that evolved from the rockier Scuds and preceded the more pop-oriented and only slightly less sad-sack Pernice Brothers. Their tenure ran from 1991 to 1997 and three albums, the first two of which – Pine Box and Dance The Night Away – were collected as The Early Year and rounded out by the more fleshed-out production of Massachusetts, which pointed at the direction Pernice would follow in future endeavors.

Those records are set to be reissued by Pernice’s own Ashmont Records sometime around December, along with a new disc of Scud-era rarities. And though the initial run of reunion dates were limited to the American northeast, a February 25 date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto was just added – presumably to allow Joe a quick cab ride home as the Boston native has been a Hogtown resident for over half a decade now. Tickets for the show will be $16.50, on sale this Friday. The Hollywood Reporter checks in with Joe Pernice to find out how the reunion, which started with a 3-out-of-4 member performance in Connecticut in August, came to be.

And for those who prefer their Pernice in Brothers form, a new album is also in the works and should be out in 2012.

MP3: Scud Mountain Boys – “Grudge Fuck”

The Decemberists are previewing a few tracks from their new Long Live The King EP, out November 1, by streaming a couple songs at New York Magazine and Paste. Colin Meloy has also reflected on his love of R.E.M. for Mojo and finally, congratulations to keyboardist Jenny Conlee whose breast cancer is in remission.

Stream: The Decemberists – “Foregone”
Stream: The Decemberists – “E Watson”

Titus Andronicus have released a video for the Nirvana cover they released for Spin‘s Nevermind tribute album.

Video: Titus Andronicus – “Breed”

Pitchfork is streaming the b-side to the Mazzy Star comeback single “Common Burn” while pointing out the a-side is listenable over at Amazon.

Stream: Mazzy Star – “Common Burn”
Stream: Mazzy Star – “Lay Myself Down”

If anyone wasn’t sure what Wilco’s position on the whole Occupy Wall Street movement was, this stream of a Woody Guthrie song they’ve posted on their website should clarify matters.

Stream: Wilco – “The Jolly Banker”

Meanwhile, NPR goes digging through their World Cafe vaults for recordings of the Uncle Tupelo family tree.

Californian psych-pop outfit Woods have made a date at The Horseshoe for December 8. Why on earth Californians would decide to visit Canada in December is beyond me, but they are. Tickets are $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Woods – “To Clean”
MP3: Woods – “Rain On”
Video: Woods – “To Clean”

A first sample of the reunited Guided By Voices is now available to download courtesy of Matablog – and it’s kinda great. Let’s Go Eat The Factory arrives January 1.

MP3: Guided By Voices – “The Unsinkable Fats Domino”

NYC Taper is streaming Savoir Adore’s show at Cake Shop as part of CMJ from last week.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Everything Works

Review of Miracle Fortress’ Was I The Wave?

Photo By Andre GueretteAndre GueretteI have a confession to make; I lied to you. Or more accurately, I misled you. When I wrote up Miracle Fortress’ performance at Canadian Musicfest last month, I made it out that I was as in the dark about what Graham Van Pelt had in store for album number two as most everyone else, and that my insights were based entirely on the show. This was not true. In fact, I’d gotten advanced a copy of Was I The Wave? a week or so earlier but had to keep mum about it as word of its existence was still under wraps. I was thankful for the heads up, though, because otherwise my writeup of the two-man, laser-lit rave-down may well have amounted to, “well that was different”.

After all, Miracle Fortress’ debut Five Roses was an unexpected ’60s-via-’00s classic pop jewel that came out of nowhere to end up on the 2007 Polaris Music Prize short list despite being released barely a week before the eligibility period ended. Pretty high expectations are sure to follow a debut like that, so maybe it’s no surprise that rather than rush into a follow-up, Van Pelt turned his attentions to his other band Think About Life and let ideas for Miracle Fortress percolate for a few years.

It’s not unreasonable to call Was I The Wave? a sequel to Five Roses if it’s meant in the sense of a a part two picking up not where the original left off, bu twenty years into the future. Which in this case would bring things smack dab into the ’80s, and indeed Wave is unabashed in planting its stylistic flag in that most distinctive-sounding of decades. A delicious New Wave-y, synth-pop iciness pervades much of the record, both in the writing and arrangements of the songs and the textures used to render them. Danceable yet not at all disco, at points it’s reminiscent of the period where Joy Division transitioned into New Order and at others, it reminds me how proud I am of the “Depeche Shop Boys” reference I made in the live review. It’s all a bit alien at first, but with enough familiar touchstones to allow you to keep up.

About midway through – actually, precisely with “Spectre” – said iciness begins to thaw and some of the Five Roses warmth begins to shine through. The melodies become more buoyant, less guarded, and the album’s tonal balance begins tilting towards the human. But it’s the record’s ability to balance the synthetic and the organic – its cyborg nature, if you will – that makes it so exceptional. By the end of its not-quite 40 minute running time, it’s taken you back to the same magical pop heights as Five Roses but taken a completely different route to get there. Turns out all you needed was to trust Van Pelt to guide you.

Was I The Wave? is out now in Canada and will be out May 17 in the US. Exclaim has made Miracle Fortress their cover story this month, and have more talk time with Van Pelt in another shorter piece. The Montreal Gazette also has a feature piece. Miracle Fortress’ extensive touring itinerary takes them across Canada in the company of Shad through May, and then come June it’s eastern North America with Junior Boys, a tour with starts June 9 in Toronto at The Phoenix.

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Pitchfork is streaming the first single from the Junior Boys’ new record It’s All True, due June 14.

The Quietus and Spinner talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose debut Feel It Break is out May 17. They play Lee’s Palace two nights later for a hometown record release show.

The Wild Honey Pie has a video session with Snowblink, who have a date at The Music Gallery on June 16 as part of NXNE.

Bruce Peninsula continues their Fire Sale campaign to the Fall release of Open Flames, this time with a Daytrotter session.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a complete Rural Alberta Advantage performance from The Phoenix (in Austin) from SXSW and has a video interview chaser for good measure. The band are at The Phoenix (in Toronto) this Friday night.

Consquence Of Sound is streaming the third advance single from Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life, out June 7.

The Waterloo Record and Spinner profile Malajube, who have an April 30 date at The Horseshoe.

The Coast, The Sheaf, Here and The Telegram talk to Dan Mangan, who should have a new record out before the year is out.

This month’s Exclaim timeline feature follows the long and storied career of Sloan, which will soon include the May 10 release of The Double Cross, a May 14 in-store at Sonic Boom and – just announced – an extensive North American tour that includes their first non-festival/event Toronto show in ages, a June 22 date at The Mod Club. Either they’re grossly underestimating their draw (or I’m overestimating) or they want to create some serious demand for tickets.

MP3: Sloan – “Follow The Leader”

Also just announced – Yuck will warm up for their show at The Phoenix on May 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. Admission free, canned food donations encouraged.

MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”

Dum Dum Girls’ NXNE itinerary has been sorted out somewhat and it looks like a double-header – their booking agency notes that they’ll be playing both The El Mocambo and Lee’s Palace on June 17.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”

Kurt Vile & The Violators return with Woods in tow for a show at Lee’s Palace on July 13.

MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Woods – “To Clean”

Their May 18 show at The Phoenix sold out pretty much immediately, Death Cab For Cutie have put together a Summer tour more in scale with their success – they’ll be at The Molson Amphitheatre on July 29 and accompanying them will be Frightened Rabbit. Death Cab’s new record Codes & Keys arrives May 31 and another song from it is streaming over at Soundcloud.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Okkervil River will be webcasting a live performance of their new record I Am Very Far via NPR tonight at 7PM ET. The record is out May 10 and they play The Phoenix on June 12.

R.E.M. has put out a new video from Collapse Into Now.

Video: R.E.M. – “Every Day Is Yours To Win”

The Fly welcomes J Mascis to their courtyard for an acoustic video session.

Exclaim has an interview feature with Fleet Foxes and Spin an in-studio video. Helplessness Blues is out May 3 and they’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

JAM talks to Jamie Hince of The Kills. They’re at The Sound Academy on May 1.