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Posts Tagged ‘Wye Oak’

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Lost Boys And Girls Club

Rumours of a third Dum Dum Girls album are Too True

Photo By James OrlandoJames OrlandoOf all the throwback, garage-rock bands that surfaced over the last few years, it’s been Los Angeles’ Dum Dum Girls who’ve been most likely to both break away from the pack and out of the stylistic pigeonhole. Besides having by far the best visual aesthetic, formidable melodic sensibilities, and Dee Dee Penny’s uncanny Chrissie Hynde-alike vocals, they had songs that were more sophisticated than their peers’ by half. Penny made no efforts to hide her fondness for classic British indie rock or prevent their influence from imbuing her own compositions, and by doing so her slow, melancholic numbers are as stirring as the rockers.

As a result, the breadth of the Dum Dum Girls sound has grown immensely over the course of two full-lengths and a handful of EPs without ever abandoning their girl group in a garage roots and so the announcement of their third album, alluded to in a Stereogum interview last week, is exciting news to those curious what they’ll do next. The new full-length will be called Too True and be released on January 28 of the new year. Pitchfork has all the specifics that there are to be had right now, and there’s a first video available to watch.

Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Lost Boys And Girls Club”

Stereogum and NPR talk to Eric Pulido about stepping up to become Midlake’s new frontman. Their new album Antiphon is out this week and they’ve got a new video for the title track.

Video: Midlake – “Antiphon”

Wall Street Journal is streaming The Coincidentalist, the latest album from king of the desert Howe Gelb, which is out as of this week.

Stream: Howe Gelb / The Coincidentalist

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Sebadoh’s stop in New York last week; the band have also offered an interview to The Village Voice and made a new b-side available to stream via Stereogum. They’re going to be at The Horseshoe on November 8.

Stream: Sebadoh – “No Wound”

Albert Hammond Jr talks to PopMatters ahead of his solo show at The Phoenix on November 10. He’s also released a new video from the AHJ EP via Complex.

Video: Albert Hammond Jr – “Carnal Cruise”

Grizzly Bear are streaming another of the bonus tracks that will appear on the Shields: Expanded edition coming out November 12.

Stream: Grizzly Bear – “Listen and Wait”

Stereogum and Rolling Stone talk to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips about their new Peace Sword EP, out digitally now and physically on November 29. You can hear one of the new songs via Rolling Stone and check out an in-studio Tame Impala cover for good measure.

Stream: The Flaming Lips – “”
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Elephant” (Tame Impala cover)

Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are coming back to town for a headlining show in support of their new record The Speed Of Things on March 14 at The Hoxton; English electronic artist Chad Valley will open up.

MP3: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – “Vocal Chords”
MP3: Chad Valley – “Fast Challenges”

Wye Oak talks to Spin about the directions their third album, coming in 2014, is taking. Apparently that includes less guitars, which makes perfect sense since Jenn Wasner is such a terrible guitarist </sarcasm>.

Neko Case and company got in the seasonal spirit when recording a Hallowe’en Tiny Desk Concert for NPR; she’s also interviewed by The Boston Globe.

Rhett Miller talks to Rolling Stone about keeping it loud and loose on the next Old 97’s record and teaming up with some Decemberists for his next solo record. He also chats with Jambands.

And as for The Decemberists, Colin Meloy tells Rolling Stone he’s been writing new material for the band while attending to his solo pursuits.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River chats with Drowned In Sound.

The Rumpus interviews Dean Wareham.

Merge Records has announced details of their 25th anniversary subscription series, which will run throughout 2014 as the Or Thousands Of Prizes box set. And to mark the occasion (as well as the occasion of Hallowe’en last week), Superchunk have released a new Misfits cover.

Stream: Superchunk – “Children In Heat”

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Maybe That Was It

Dirty Projectors streams, stumps, Swing

Photo By Jason Frank RothenbergJason Frank RothenbergIt’s a matter of public record – or at the very least Google index – that I was no fan of Dirty Projectors’ last record Bitte Orca, even though objectively speaking it was obviously one of the albums of 2009. However, one of the nice things about a band as obviously talented – no way am I arguing that point – and creatively restless as they is that each new album is akin to a blank slate.

So yeah, I’m giving their new one Swing Lo Magellan – which is out next Tuesday but now available to stream a week early – a fair shake, and happily it doesn’t sound nearly as fussy or overthought as Orca did. No, that’s not nearly an endorsement, but it’s a start. Give it a listen for yourself, and while you’re at it maybe read some of the feature interviews that bandleader Dave Longstreth has been giving out in advance of the record’s release. They’re on the cover of this month’s Exclaim with an additional feature, a Q&A to go with an album stream at The New York Times, back-and-forths at ArtInfo, NOW, The Irish Times, and MTV Hive, and a long piece at Pitchfork. He also talks to Interview about the Hi Custodian short film which will be released later this Summer and is meant to thematically accompany the new record. Odds of it being incomprehensible are good to great.

Dirty Projectors are in town this week for a show at the Danforth Music Hall on July 6.

MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Dance For You”
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Video: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Stream: Dirty Projectors / Swing Lo Magellan
Trailer: Hi Custodian

Eternal Summers were just here for NXNE, it’s true, but their new album Correct Behavior wasn’t nearly out then – July 24 is still a ways off – so it’s eminently logical that they’d schedule a return engagement after it was out, which is what they’ve done. They’re at The Garrison on August 7, tickets $11.

MP3: Eternal Summers – “Millions”

Phil Elverum isn’t a guy who seems to like to spend a lot of time on the road, at least not far from his Washington state home base. I could be mistaken but I don’t think he’s been through town since Fall 2008 in support of Lost Wisdom, his collaboration with Julie Doiron and Frederick Squire; his last time through as as Mount Eerie solo was May 2007 and he’s not been back since, despite having released a couple records since then. But if promoting one album isn’t quite enough incentive, apparently promoting two is – having put out Clear Moon back in May and with a companion album Ocean Roar set to come out September 4, he’s finally coming back to town – he’ll be at The Great Hall on September 10 with a full band in tow, tickets $15 in advance.

Stream: Mount Eerie – “Pale Lights” (excerpt)
Stream: Mount Eerie – “Lone Bell”
Stream: Mount Eerie – “House Shape”

You might think that with no less than four visits in 2011 – one headlining show in the Spring and three others supporting The Decemberists in February, Explosions In The Sky in October, and The National in December – that Wye Oak would have had their fill of Toronto for a while. Well apparently nine months is as long as they could wait because they’ve scheduled a show here at The Horseshoe for September 17, tickets $12.50. One assumes that with all that touring, they’ve not had time to write let alone record a follow up to last year’s Civilian, but if you’re hankering to hear something new there is a track they’ve recorded for an Adult Swim compilation that’s available to stream.

MP3: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
Stream: Wye Oak – “Spiral”

Over at The AV Club, Father John Misty record a lovely cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” for their Undercover series. Father John Misty are at The Opera House opening for Youth Lagoon on July 12.

Spin is streaming another tune from Fang Island’s new record Major, due out July 24.

Stream: Fang Island – “Seek It Out”

NPR has a World Cafe session from The Shins. They open up for The Black Keys at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 3.

Divine Fits – the new band from Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner and New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown – have announced that their debut album A Thing Called Divine Fits will be out August 28; stream the first track from it below.

Stream: Divine Fits – “My Love Is Real”

Rolling Stone has an interview with J Mascis about the new Dinosaur Jr album I Bet On Sky, the first single from which is available to stream. The album is out September 18 and they kick off their Fall tour in support of it with a three-night stand at Lee’s Palace on September 24, 25, and 26.

Stream: Dinosaur Jr – “Watch The Corners”

Pitchfork has details on the new End Of Daze EP coming from Dum Dum Girls End Of Daze on September 25.

Clash talks to Beach House, in town at the Kool Haus on October 18.

Spinner talks to Beachwood Sparks about getting back together for their first album in over a decade in the just-released The Tarnished Gold.

NPR welcomes M. Ward to their World Cafe for a session.

Drowned In Bells catches up with Sleigh Bells.

Monday, March 26th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Day Four

The Roots, Bob Mould, Blitzen Trapper and more at SXSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were to ask me what I thought MOG did – and for the life of me I can’t imagine why you would – the best I could offer is that they excel at getting my exhausted ass out of bed early on the Saturday of SXSW to go line up at The Mohawk so I can stand around for hours on end. They did it last year with a bill of Smith Westerns, Wild Flag, Okkervil River and TV On The Radio (I didn’t stick around for Big Boi but most everyone else did) and this year, the promised headlining double-bill of Bob Mould playing Copper Blue and The Roots was too much to resist.

The lineup was great but that also meant the line up would be long, meaning that despite getting what was by my standards an early jump on the day, I didn’t get into The Mohawk until lead-off hitter Gary Clark, Jr. was already a little ways into his set. I wasn’t specifically familiar with Clark, but you didn’t need to read his Wikipedia page to know what he was about – the man was a modern/classic guitar hero in the Hendrix vein, blending blues, rock, soul and psychedelia into a lean, impressive package. Impressive not just for his chops, which were formidable, but because the man could also write a song, sing with feeling and inject his music with a genuine sense of urgency and excitement without being showy – no mean feat for a guitar slinger. I’ve always thought the best thing about Hendrix was not his guitar playing, but his ability to write a song; Clark gets that.

On average, my appreciation for The War On Drugs lasts for about 30 minutes; that’s why their in-store at Soundscapes last August was the perfect set for me to enjoy their spacey guitar jams and not get bored. Their set here was about 45 minutes and almost on cue, at about the half-hour mark the hypnotic effect of their really loud chill-out started to wear off. Until that point, it was quite a nice soundtrack for a sunny afternoon of standing around but still feeling like you’re going somewhere. But after that… well, email started getting checked.

Even so, they were an inspired one-two punch with Portland’s Blitzen Trapper, whose music shares a sense of quintessential American-ness, but theirs is a more wide-eyed and rambling take on it. It’s as though The War On Drugs take the highway while Blitzen Trapper opt to roam the woods. It’d been a while since I’d seen them live – way back when their buds in Fleet Foxes were just of opener status – but their recipe of big, Band-esque jams and extended guitar solos hasn’t changed too much. I have to say that while their albums tend to ramble a bit more than I’d like and haven’t managed to really get any staying power in my ears, they remain a good time live.

All of that was preamble, however, to what for me was the day’s main draw – Bob Mould playing Copper Blue. I’ve no doubt that most in attendance didn’t appreciate the significance of either the record or the fact that they were about to see it played live – even twenty years on from its release, not nearly enough recognize its rightful status as one of the best American rock albums of the ’90s – but those of us who did were, as the kids say, stoked. It was rightly billed as Bob and not a reunited Sugar, but Dave Barbe and Malcolm Travis had more than capable substitutes in Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster. Being a bit pinched for time, they wasted no time in getting set up and tearing into “The Act We Act” and if anyone ever wanted a picture of me losing my shit, that’d have been a good place to get it. Not that anyone would have expected it to, but age hasn’t slowed down or quieted Mould at all, with the recital running non-stop and even faster than the original recordings. Mould seemed to be having a good time of it, offering a few smiles when he wasn’t bellowing into the mic or unleashing hell via his old Stratocaster. A few glances around confirmed that most people weren’t really getting it, but for every handful of quizzical or bored faces, there was one in a state of ecstasy so that was good enough. It was a bit of a shame that they had to skip “Slick” due to time – hardly my favourite song but still part of the album – but having “Helpless”, “Changes” and “Hoover Dam” blasted in my face was as good as I’d hoped.

But you know what? As great as that was, it wasn’t the highlight. Even if Bob had brought out Greg Norton and Grant Hart to play all of Candy Apple Grey, it’d have probably taken a back seat to The Roots. I have to say that I’ve never seen The Roots live, or listened to a Roots record, or even watched the Jimmy Fallon show. I don’t even follow Questlove on Twitter. You would be hard-pressed to find someone less familiar with The Roots than me, but even with all that their 90-minute show was one of the best things I’d seen in forever, and I’d just seen Bruce Springsteen less than 48 hours prior. Of course, in a sense that makes it easier – I can’t comment on what they played (though the cover quotes of Guns’N’Roses, George Thorogood and Led Zeppelin were obviously identifiable) but can describe the whole experience as an explosion of music where we were invited to dance in the fallout. It was a hip-hop show, a rock show, a soul revue all at once and a exhibition of amazing musicianship and showmanship throughout. Perhaps the most amazing thing was that as incredible as it was to be witnessing all this from up close, the band looked like they were the ones having the best time – you cannot fake the kind of joy that they were radiating. The performance went pretty much non-stop for about an hour fifteen before the rest of the band took a breather and Questlove and F. Knuckles invited DJ Jazzy Jeff – yeah, that Jazzy Jeff – onstage for a 3-man drum-off, before everyone returned for the big finish. The Roots. Holy shit. If the festival ended right there, I’d have been just fine with it

But of course it didn’t; one more night to go.

Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields talks to Kelly Hogan for The Chicago Reader (Hogan covers The Magnetic Fields amongst others on her new record I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, out June 5, details at Exclaim) and to LA Weekly. The Magnetic Fields are at The Sound Academy on March 30.

M. Ward’s new one A Wasteland Companion is up and doing the stream thing at NPR ahead of its release next week, April 3.

Stream: M. Ward / A Wasteland Companion

Paste is all about Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s, post a video session to go with their feature piece. The band are at The Garrison on April 5.

East Village Boys sends Michael Stipe to interview Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas while The Los Angeles Times, Dallas Voice, and San Diego City Beat don’t need to celebrity proxies. Perfume Genius is at The Drake on April 8.

DIY has details on The Flaming Lips’ contribution to this year’s Record Store Day exclusives – The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends celebrity collaboration album. Look for it (and probably not find it as it’s sold right out) on April 21.

Also coming out for Record Store Day are the first three Uncle Tupelo albums for the first time on vinyl since they were originally pressed back in the early ’90s (I assume – maybe they went straight to CD?). Until now, you could get Anodyne and the Anthology on wax, but not No Depression, Still Feel Gone or March 16-20, 1992 and also the literally-titled The Seven Inch Singles box set of four 7″ singles.. So this is good. Details at Exclaim.

Lower Dens are streaming a new track from their forthcoming Nootropics, out May 1.

Stream: Lower Dens – “Propogation”

S. Carey has posted a song from his new EP Hoyas to download. It’s out May 8.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”

Deer Tick are coming to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on June 11 in support of last year’s Divine Providence.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Miss K”

Drowned In Sound talks to James Mercer of The Shins and gets to know those who are now his bandmates. The Shins are at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

Blurt interviews Andrew Bird.

Pitchfork is streaming a new tune from Sharon Van Etten, the b-side to her “Leonard” single. The Georgia Straight and San Francisco Bay Guardian also have conversations with her.

Stream: Sharon Van Etten – “Life Of His Own”

Daytrotter has posted a session with Wye Oak.

Blurt profiles Of Montreal.

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 12th, 2011

Walk Off

The National, Neko Case, and Wye Oak at The Air Canada Centre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m not really sure how to frame this show. Arena-sized, indie rock summit featuring acts from three of the finest independent labels going? Victory lap capping an incredible 18-month run for one of the best bands, anywhere? Early Christmas gift? Yeah, I may go with that last one. And a surprise gift at that, because even though there’s little arguing about the strength of a bill featuring The National, Neko Case and Wye Oak, placing it in an arena – even one configured to one-third of its full size for a more intimate theatre setting – would give most people pause. After all, both The National and Case had just recently reached the echelon of acts who could play the rarified setting of Massey Hall and prove they belonged; even if they could draw more people, would the presumed trade-off in atmosphere and sound quality be worth it?

Of all of them, it was Baltimore duo Wye Oak who’d had the most experience punching above their weight class as far as venues were concerned. This would be their fourth Toronto show in the calendar year and the third as support for a much bigger act – that’d have been The Decemberists back in February and then Explosions In The Sky in October, both at the Sound Academy and both proving the band had no fear in playing to large audiences that were not necessarily their own. That wasn’t actually the case this time around, as the early set time meant that while the crowd was decidedly sparse, those who were there had made the effort to be there in time to see them play. And, as they’d done each time out, they wholly impressed with their confidence, dynamics, and songcraft – I’ve only listened to Civilian a moderate amount this year, but seeing them live three times this year have really made me appreciate how talented they are.

I’d actually forgotten that Neko’s last headlining show in Summer 2009 was at Massey Hall; I’d caught her decidedly more cozy show a few months earlier at Trinity-St. Paul’s and that evening of magic was enough to keep me going for some time. Quite some time, as it’d turn out, since Neko hadn’t released anything since 2009’s Middle Cyclone, keeping busy with The New Pornographers’ touring schedule and this set of shows being at the invitation of The National rather than having anything new to promote. And while she didn’t exactly dress up for the occasion – jeans and a hoodie, thanks – she still brought her full band (with Calexico’s inimitable John Covertino on drums) and her A-game. Despite an erratic mix that often put Paul Rigby’s guitar ahead of Neko’s vocals, she was still able to make use of the expansive space to soar and remind those who needed reminding of just how powerful a performer she was. Amidst the set laden with old favourites, Case previewed a couple of new songs which will presumably be going onto a album – both continuing on in the country-pop hybrid vein in which she’s found her stride – as well as a gorgeous cover of The Awkward Stage’s “We Dreamt Of Houses” that I genuinely hope makes it onto the record. And, of course, there was plenty of joking around with longtime foil Kelly Hogan, frequently at Rigby’s expense. It doesn’t seem quite accurate to be welcoming Neko back when she hasn’t really been away and she hasn’t got a new record yet, but still. Welcome back.

When The National played two nights at Massey Hall last June, it felt like a pinnacle of achievement for the Cincinnati by way of Brooklyn five-piece; a room to match the stately sophistication of their sound and presumably their new home in Toronto for years to come. But those shows came at the very start of the cycle for High Violet and even long-time fans such as myself couldn’t predict how much bigger the band would get over the next year and a half. And while it’s true that the Air Canada Centre wasn’t nearly sold out, even in the theatre setup, there were still considerably more people in attendance than Massey could have contained so the upgrade in venue wasn’t so much hubris as necessity.

For anyone who was at those Massey shows, it may be hard to imagine a better National performance than those. They may have just scored a #3 album but as one of the first performances in support of High Violet, they still carried an enormous weight of expectation on their shoulders. But rather than buckling under the pressure, they used it as fuel and turned in the best show of theirs I’d seen to date (and I had seen them lots). As it turned out, the key phrase there was “to date”.

Their set began not onstage but backstage, as handheld camera footage from the green room was projected onto the backdrop and showed the band and entourage clowning and lounging around for a few minutes – hardly the gloomy crew that some might infer from their music. And after a few minutes of that, they rallied the troops and began navigating the labyrinths of the ACC, eventually striding off the screen and onto the stage. I’m sure other bands have done similar entrances before, but to do something so overtly anti-mystique to open their biggest show in the city seemed a bold move.

As they did that first night at Massey Hall they opened with a slow burn in “Runaway”, perhaps seeking to establish a more intimate vibe in the arena which, while well-filled in the stands, had room to spare on the floor. The set followed a similar trajectory through their catalog as last year’s show, favouring the last three albums but reaching right back to their self-titled debut for “Son”, sonically renovated just enough to fit well alongside its more recent brethren. And really, the broad strokes of what constitutes The National live experience haven’t changed too much since those first shows at The Horseshoe; there’s obviously better stage production, lighting, and Matt Berninger isn’t likely to give up his suits for Cincinnati Bengals t-shirts anytime soon. But ultimately it’s about Berninger alternately meditating at the mic or roaming the stage while the Dessner twins flank him interweaving guitar parts and the Devendorf rhythm section hangs back and keeps things together. Even Berninger’s random bursts of violence – typically against mic stands – have always had a certain zen serene-ness at their core.

So what made this show so exceptional? Despite the scale of the room, it still felt surprisingly personal thanks to the exceptional sound – yes, the ACC sounded loud and clear and great, believe it – and a band that were clearly feeling loose, confident and chatty, not to mention honed to razor-sharpness from near-constant touring through shows and festivals even bigger than this over the past 18 months or so. Augmented as is now the norm by a couple of horn players, they turned out more powerful and dynamic versions of “Squalor Victoria”, “Slow Show” and “Conversation 16” (dedicated to the cannibals of Cincinnati and not zombies, as I’d always assumed) than I’ve ever heard before deciding the space in the general admission needed to be addressed. After an energized “Abel”, Berninger strode into the stands at house left and invited everyone down into the floors; the other sections of the ACC needed no such personal invitation and as the band tore into “Sorrow”, every aisle was overflowing with fans upgrading their seats. Eventually the floor filled up and Berninger was forced to ask those left behind to return their seats to keep the aisles clear (in direct contradiction to his earlier, “Fuck safety! Health is lame!” pronouncements). But the task of getting the previously over-respectful crowd worked up and extra-energized was done.

Which made it the perfect time to invite out hometown hero Owen Pallett to guest on one of two new songs premiered earlier in the day for CBC Radio, “I Need My Girl”, and then assist on perhaps the most epic version of “England” heard in this city to date. No word of lie, save for the club-level intensity of those first Horseshoe shows, this was the best I’d ever seen them. So why did I skip out on the encore, leaving as set closer “Fake Empire” echoed off the arena walls? Tell you tomorrow. But about today, all I can say that as The National head back to New York for a series of shows that close the books on High Violet, they do so as not only one of the best bands going, but still seemingly with unlimited potential… but if, on their next return to town, they’re again at the ACC rather than two nights at Massey, don’t let the venue put you off. Just be sure it’s the theatre and not the full arena – everything has its limits.

NOW, The Toronto Star, Examiner.com, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Sun, and BlogTO also have reviews of the show. The National Post has an interview with Matt Berninger while Scott Devendorf takes The Grid through the anatomy of their set list. And to hear those new songs the band unveiled on CBC that morning, head over to Q for streams.

Photos: The National, Neko Case, Wye Oak @ The Air Canada Centre – December 8, 2011
MP3: The National – “Twenty Miles To NH (Part 2)”
MP3: The National – “Exile Vilify”
MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
MP3: The National – “Afraid Of Everyone”
MP3: The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
MP3: The National – “So Far Around The Bend”
MP3: The National – “Fake Empire”
MP3: The National – “Son”
MP3: The National – “Beautiful Head”
MP3: Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone”
MP3: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
MP3: Neko Case – “Hold On, Hold On”
MP3: Neko Case – “Star Witness”
MP3: Neko Case – “If You Knew”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
Video: The National – “Exile Vilify” (1st Place)
Video: The National – “Exile Vilify” (1.00000000001th Place)
Video: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
Video: The National – “Conversation 16”
Video: The National – “Terrible Love”
Video: The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
Video: The National – “So Far Around The Bend” (live)
Video: The National – “Mistaken For Strangers”
Video: The National – “Apartment Story”
Video: The National – “Abel”
Video: The National – “Lit Up”
Video: The National – “Daughters Of The Soho Riots”
Video: The National – “Sugar Wife”
Video: The National – “Son”
Video: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”
Video: Neko Case – “Maybe Sparrow”
Video: Neko Case – “Furnace Room Lullabye”
Video: Wye Oak – “Holy, Holy”
Video: Wye Oak – “Fish”
Video: Wye Oak – “Please Concrete”

The Antlers step into The Guardian‘s studio to describe and demonstrate how they wrote their song, “Parentheses”. They also chat with DIY and NYC Taper has a recording of their show at Webster Hall on Saturday available to download.

Austinist talks solo works and baseball with Craig Finn, whose solo debut Clear Hearts Full Eyes is due out on January 24.

Benjamin Curtis takes Spin behind the themes of the new School Of Seven Bells record Ghoststory, due out February 28.

Filter gets to know Real Estate, who’re playing Lee’s Palace on January 20 of the new year.

Janelle Monae tells Back To Rockville that she has a big 2012 planned, with two completed albums in the can and ready for release next year and grandiose touring plans to go with them.