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Monday, June 13th, 2011

I Am Very Far

Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus and Future Islands at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOkkervil River are probably pretty comfortable at the Phoenix now, this past Friday marking the band’s third straight show at the Toronto venue. But each visit was in a slightly different context – Spring 2008 as support for The New Pornographers, that same October marking their first swing at headlining the 1000-capacity room – and this show would be the gauge as to whether they had outgrown that scale venue and would be moving onto bigger stages. And indeed, the did sell it out but not without the help of a pretty impressive undercard.

Leading off was Baltimore trio Future Islands, who’d been getting attention at a pretty steady rate since the release of their second album In Evening Air last Spring. I can’t comment on the “post-wave” scene of which they’re apparently a part of, but what I saw was three regular joe-looking dudes taking the stage in a synth/bass/vocals configuration and while the former two went about their business in an understated manner, vocalist Sam Herring turned into a fascinating model of a frontman. Stalking and/or prowling the stage like a jungle gorilla, hes was all chest-slapping, arm-flailing and face-grabbing antics and yet carried himself with an odd sort of stateliness. The musical side was just as odd/interesting, coupling a distinctly glammy take on early ’80s post-punk vibe with vocals that were at times gutteral and others almost theatrically dramatic. I can’t say how much I really liked it but it was definitely interesting, and these days interesting goes a long way.

I’ll go see Okkervil River each and every time they come to town, whatever the room, but I won’t lie – having Titus Andronicus on the bill made this show extra exciting, being one of the bands that could easily steal a show out from anyone. Their show at Sneaky Dee’s in April 2010 still goes down in my books as one of the most intense and chaotic live music experiences in recent memory, and while it was slightly more controlled when I saw them later that summer at Pitchfork, it was clear that of all the club-level bands getting their moment on a big festival stage that weekend, Titus Andronicus were one of the few ready to deserve it.

This would be the band’s fourth show in Toronto in just over a year, each one was a sell out and rowdy as hell, but this was their first in a room larger than The Horseshoe and I’m sure Patrick Stickles was happy to finally be on stage high enough that he wouldn’t have to worry about fans falling or getting flung onto his pedalboard. And I was happy that there’d probably be less of a concentration of their own fans and I might get to enjoy their set without worrying quite as much about getting kicked in the head. And indeed, their set had less of the bedlam of past performances but it’s important to note that as their show went on and converts to the unrelenting lessons in history, rock and rage as documented on The Monitor were made, the chaos steadily increased – thankfully mostly on the other side of the room from me. This allowed me to note that the sonic mix had shifted somewhat from when I saw them last, working a little more piano into the mix and coming across with less punk fury and more rock’n’roll fun. Goodness knows guitarist/violinist Amy Klein was having fun up there – whether pogoing around the stage or going foot-on-monitor for some riffing, she was a ridiculous amount of fun to watch, and it’s not hard to imagine that before too long it will be her and her bandmates headlining rooms this size.

But for this night, the stage still belonged to Okkervil River. I noted in my review of their latest effort I Am Very Far that the band had shed some of the refinement that marked The Stage Names/The Stand Ins in favour of a more sonically adventurous approach and indeed, that aesthetic shift carried over to the live show. I’d commented in my writeup of their last Phoenix show that the band were simply too good now to recapture the anarchic spirit that marked some of thier earlier shows and while that’s still technically true, they took a pretty good shot at it.

Whereas the last few shows had been about how in control of their formidable musical powers Okkervil River now were, this time out there was again the sense of overreaching just enough to feel unpredictable. Sure there was the fact that Will Sheff was knocking over mic stands while roaming around the stage, but he’s always done that; what was new were some noisier indulgences like a mic dedicated to heavy echo effects for him to randomly sing into, the introduction of synths for extra aural chaos, extra-ripping guitar solos from Lauren Gurgiolo, to say nothing of the synchronized hand clap/finger snap dance moves with her and Sheff in “Piratess”. Rather than simply play a show, there was a sense that they wanted to put on a show.

Whichever it was, the net result was a terrific show drawing from all their records from Black Sheep Boy forward in the expected proportions and with power substituted for some of the precision. The enthused – and tone-deaf, judging from the singalongs – audience may have helped contribute to the atmosphere, but proved to be a bit of a problem when Sheff went solo and acoustic for “A Stone”, proving you can’t rowdy up a crowd and then ask them to hush up when you need it. Old school fans got their fix with the encore as they went all the way back to Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See for “Westfall” before closing with the raucous, everyone-pleasing “Unless It Kicks”. Without a breakthrough hit or some other trajectory-altering event, it’s unlikely that Okkervil River’s next return to Toronto will see them graduating to the next tier of venue – that’d be the twice as large Kool Haus – but as long as they continue to play the Phoenix stage, they will continue to own it.

Will Sheff shares some thoughts on lyrics with Magnet in his capacity as producer for Bird Of Youth, who were playing guest editor of their website last week. The Wall Street Journal also has a talk with him about his current digs of Brooklyn, New York.

Photos: Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus, Future Islands @ The Phoenix – June 10, 2011
MP3: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Mermaid”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe”
MP3: Okkervil River – “The President’s Dead”
MP3: Okkervil River – “No Key, No Plan”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Black”
MP3: Okkervil River – “It Ends With A Fall”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Kansas City”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Red”
MP3: Okkervil River – “Westfall”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part One)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part Two)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
MP3: Future Islands – “Tin Man”
MP3: Future Islands – “Walking Through That Door”
Video: Okkervil River – “Wake And Be Fine”
Video: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
Video: Okkervil River – “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe”
Video: Okkervil River – “Girl In Port”
Video: Okkervil River – “For Real”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Future Islands – “Tin Man”

After a couple years apart, Two Gallants are back together and will be at The Drake Underground on September 9, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Two Gallants – “Las Cruces Jail”

Active Child – aka Los Angeleno Pat Grossi – will release his debut album You Are All I See on August 23 and follow it up with touring which includes a September 14 date at The Garrison. Tickets for the show are $12 in advance.

MP3: Active Child – “Body Heat (So Far Away)”

The South Carolina Times talks to Gary Louris of The Jayhawks; their new record Mockingbird Time arrives September 20.

Pitchfork, The New Zealand Herald and The Australian have interviews with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose new album Bon Iver, Bon Iver – making it technically not self-titled, just redundant – is out June 20. They play The Sound Academy on August 9.

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats chats with The Georgia Straight and Seattle Times.

Clash interviews Jim James of My Morning Jacket, in town at The Kool Haus on July 11.

Paste checks in with Darby Cicci of The Antlers, who are in town at The Mod Club tomorrow night.

Over at The Quietus, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips names off his top 13 albums of all time.

Colin Meloy clarifies rumours on the end of The Decemberists to The New York Times.

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Baby, I Grew You A Beard

CONTEST – Neil Halstead @ The Drake Underground – November 8, 2008

MySpaceMySpaceThe arc of Neil Halstead’s long and storied musical career taken him many places. He was both an architect of sonic cathedrals at the dawn of Slowdive’s career and a pioneer of electronic ambiance at its end, then with Mojave 3 he played the roles of country-rock and power-pop songsmith with equal facility. With his first solo album Sleeping On Roads in 2002, he took the soft-spoken folk balladeer that’s lain at the heart of his songwriting throughout it all and brought it to the fore, a place he revisits once again with the long-awaited and long-delayed follow-up, Oh! Mighty Engine.

And even though six years have elapsed between records, Halstead picks up largely where he left off. The spectre of a failed relationship that hung overhead during the making of Roads isn’t present here, which perhaps explains why the new record is brighter in tone than its predecessor. Even so, Engine is still spare and homespun, built in rich melody on a sturdy framework built of voice and acoustic guitar with gentle percussion, piano and electric or steel guitar accouterments where appropriate. It’s a format that suits Halstead well, as for all the soundscapes that he’s surrounded himself with over the years, he’s always been at his best when conveying a quiet, thoughtful intimacy. And for showcasing his strengths as a singer-songwriter, Engine is Halstead at his best.

As solid and enjoyable as Halstead’s solo output is, it’s not a substitute for the chemistry and magic that is Mojave 3. So it’s good to know that even with drummer Ian McCutcheon busy with his solo project The Loose Salute and Rachel Goswell continuing to recover from the ear-related illness that kept her from playing a larger role on Puzzles Like You, in this interview with AgitReader Halstead says that he hopes to begin work on a new Mojave 3 record before the year is out.

Halstead is currently on tour across North America – finally Jack Johnson-free – and will be at the Drake Underground on Saturday night, November 8, for an early show (9:30 start). Anyone who saw him play at the Rivoli back in 2002 in support of Roads surely remembers how utterly magical that performance was and if this show even comes close to measuring up to that one, it’s going to be a special one indeed. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show – to enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Neil Halstead” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, November 6.

Apparently as part of this tour, Halstead has an agenda to visit NPR as many times as possible. Currently there’s two sessions available to stream – one at the World Cafe and one at KEXP.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Queen Bee”

Drowned In Sound reconsiders the musical oeuvre of Swervedriver, still isn’t overly impressed. The three albums in question will be re-released in North America on January 6.

Pitchfork has details on the debut album from head Swervie Adam Franklin’s current project, Magnetic Morning. A.M. will be out January 27.

Simon Jones of The Verve talks to Chart about why guitarist Simon Tong wasn’t invited to the reunion party.

Another Tong – Matt, of Bloc Party, gives an interview to Virgin Music. Bandmate Kele Okereke talks to Metro and The Edmonton Journal.

I wouldn’t normally bother noting anything that Norman Cook of Fatboy Slim gets up to, but when the second single from his new project The Brighton Port Authority features Emmy The Great front and centre, you have my attention. You can stream it at their MySpace or better yet, watch the video. Via Stereogum.

Video: The Brighton Port Authority featuring Emmy The Great – “Seattle”
MySpace: The Brighton Port Authority

EDP24 interviews Matt Urby of Noah & The Whale and Erockstar has a video interview with the band. They’re at the El Mocambo on December 9.

Scottish quartet Glasvegas, first considered in these pages last December, will begin their attempt to conquer North America the way they have the UK with the release of their self-titled debut on January 6. I picked up a copy on import a little while back, thoughts forthcoming. They’ll also be doing some touring over here in the new year, but no Toronto date as yet. They’ve also recorded a Christmas EP, which they talk to The Daily Record about.

Anyone see Wilco on The Colbert Report last week? I didn’t. Thankfully it’s viewable online in Canada on CTV and in the US at Comedy Central. Or you can just watch the clip of the new song they played.

Video: Wilco – “Wilco, The Song” (live on The Colbert Report)

Fleet Foxes are the subject of features at Rolling Stone and Filter.

Gotham Acme talks to Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste about the US election… which is today. How about that.

Speaking of election day, Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers has made available for free a new song written just after Bush II was re-elected. Hood has never been one to shy away from political statements, wearing his opinions on his sleeve… or his guitar.

JAM finds out why The Hold Steady always seem so dang happy. The Hold Steady and the Drive-By Truckers are at the Phoenix next Tuesday night.

Couple shows announced for the new year… on the same day. First you’ve got Annuals at the El Mocambo on January 24, tickets $10.

MP3: Annuals – “Confessor”
Video: Annuals – “Confessor”

And down Spadina at the Horseshoe, you’ve got buzzy band du jour, Passion Pit – tickets for that one are also $10.

MP3: Passion Pit – “Sleeyphead”
Video: Passion Pit – “Sleeyphead”

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Barbed Wire Kisses

“Do you remember the JAMC?”

If not, then Rhino’s series of The Jesus & Mary Chain DualDisc reissues, released last month, should help your recall – unless you’re really young in which case never mind. Prefix, Pitchfork, Paste and PopMatters have all taken the opportunity to revisit the Reid Brothers’ oeuvre (or most of it since the reissues don’t include swan song Munki) and since I’ve never been one for independent thinking, I’ve chosen to do the same. And yes, this post is brought to you by the letter “P”.

First off, a couple declarations of heresy: first, I don’t really like the Jesus & Mary Chain all that much and second, Psychocandy is my least favourite of ther five albums relevant to this discussion (and no, Munki wouldn’t have been it even if it qualified). While I appreciate the ultra-crap production is sort of the point with the early records, that doesn’t make them any less grating to listen to. And no, I don’t think that the remasters would help because even if I don’t like history it doesn’t mean that I support revisionism. It’s really only Psychocandy that hurts my ears – I remember the first time I heard it. I was in a friend’s car and we put it on the CD player – and the sound from the speakers was almost indistinguishable from the noise of the engine.

No, I have to say my favourite JAMC album is Honey’s Dead, which incidentally is the one which consistently gets the lower reviews of the reissued works. Can’t really say why, maybe it’s just the brashness and attitude of it or the fact that it’s the first of their albums I got that I could actually hear the vocals. Objectively, then obviously Darklands and Automatic are better, but sentiment is a funny thing. The acoustic-y Stoned And Dethroned has some glorious moments but is far too long to be for the ages.

But these are all relative statements – as I said in the beginning, I rarely listen to my JAMC stuff. Their shadow might loom large over the last 20 years of British music (they were undeniably the proto-shoegaze band and the Reids could teach the Gallaghers a thing about brothers not getting along) but overall, I found them too rough around the edges and one-dimensional to really engage. But I am curious to those who’ve heard the reissues – how do the remasters sound? Did they mess with the sound? Or is the sound still a mess?

The reissues have stimulated a little blog activity as well – RBally posted a live JAMC set circa 1987 a few weeks ago and The Sound Of Indie dug up a video of an interview they did with The New Music waaaaay back in 1985. There’s also some videos YouTube-d in the PopMatters link above. Jim Reid continues to make music in Freeheat. What I’ve heard isn’t especially inspiring. Here’s a Psychocandy track and a Psychocandy cover by The Shins (whose new album has been pushed back to next year).

MP3: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
MP3: The Shins – “Taste Of Cindy”
MySpace: The Jesus & Mary Chain

Rhino also pays tribute to the late Arthur Lee. If you’re not familiar with Love, then take advantage of this sad event to learn a bit about Lee and his music – The AV Club has a lovely requiem and Chart has 12 reasons why Lee was cool. USA Today and The Los Angeles Times also have rememberences. If anyone asked me whether I was a Sgt Pepper’s or Pet Sounds guy, I’d probably say (or wish I said), Forever Changes. Lee and the reincarnated Love were supposed to come to Toronto way back in 2002, but had to cancel on account of border difficulties – namely Lee’s criminal record for firearms possession. I had always hoped that that would get sorted out somehow and I’d get the chance to see him play. Alas. Anyways, in tribute, here are some past Love covers that I’ve posted. If you’ve never heard them then do yourself a favour and find a copy of Forever Changes. I’m serious.

MP3: Billy Bragg – “Seven And Seven Is”
MP3: The Boo Radleys – “Alone Again Or”

Beth from Rock Paper Pixels interviewed Jay Ferguson of Sloan for BlogTO and got some insight into their new album Who Taught You To Live Like That? Never Hear the End of It, out September 19.

A fair number of concert announcements rolled out while I was away – let’s get caught up. The Strokes have been added to day two of the Virgin Festival – that’s September 10 – and Emily Haines will perform selections from her new solo album Knives Don’t Have Your Back at The Gladstone Hotel on September 12. The album is out September 26, full dates at Filter. Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear will be promoting their new album Yellow House, out September 5, with a show at the El Mocambo on September 23 (Full dates here).

Looking to October, Jenny Lewis will return with more Rabbit Fur Coat for a show at Trinity-St Paul’s on October 7 (full dates at Pitchfork) and Juana Molina, who played there in June, returns with Adem on October 12 to play the slightly less formal Supermarket. Mojave 3’s October 16 show will be at the Mod Club, not Lee’s as I originally speculated, Billboard previews Frank Black’s Fall tour which brings him to the Opera House on October 26 and The Hold Steady, who were just here last week (and about which they’ve blogged), have added a Toronto date to their Fall tour in support of Boys And Girls In America (out October 3) – they’ll be at the much cozier Horseshoe on October 28. Man, if they thought their Lee’s Palace show was the hottest one yet, wait’ll they see the ‘Shoe.

Newsarama is serializing Bendis and Oeming’s Powers, one of the best comic books on the market today. They’re posting one page a day from the first story, Who Killed Retro Girl? so if you need even more pop culture to distract you from important things, there you go.

np – The Hold Steady / Separation Sunday

Monday, May 15th, 2006


Time heals all. My two relatively minor regrets from my trip to Europe last Fall were missing shows by The National and Sigur Ros. Well lo and behold, eight months later both acts have returned to town – The National in March and Sigur Ros on Saturday night.

This would be my third time seeing Sigur Ros at Massey Hall, though the first in three and a half years. I missed their legendary show at the Palais Royale in April 2001 but can still hold their show from September of that year, for which I was in the front row, as one of the most amazing musical experiences I’ve ever beheld. The second time in October 2002 was less impactful, but as I commented at the time – “how many times can a band change your life?” Well while Saturday night’s show wasn’t life-changing, it was very much life-affirming – and I mean that in a completely non-schlocky sense.

My night got off to a bit of a rocky start as I realized after settling into my seat that my camera battery was still happily charging at home. Thankfully I only live one subway stop from the venue so I made a mad dash home to retrieve it – unfortunately, this meant missing most of Amina’s set. I only caught about two songs total but what I did hear was pretty and tinkly like a fairy tale jewelery box. This wouldn’t be my only opportunity to see them perform though, as they were an integral part of Sigur Ros’ band as well.

I’m no good with song names on the best of days so I won’t even bother with Sigur Ros’ foreign and cryptic titles (witness the set list – thanks, Erik). Sufficed to say that the richly orchestrated, Amina-enchanced tracks from Takk somehow made the () material sound almost raw and stripped down – certainly not adjectives one would normally use to describe Sigur Ros. The contrast in emotional content between the material Agaetis Byrjun, () and Takk is far more evident in the live setting – it’s remarkable that albums as laboured over, meticulously recorded and arranged as theirs are, still pale in comparison to the power of the live performance. Not meant as a slight against the albums, but as a point of reference in trying to describe how amazing they are on stage.

The wonder isn’t just aural, either. The show opened and closed with the performers hidden by a sheer white curtain and backlit to create eerie silhouettes the height of the stage, but for the rest of the almost two hours, it was just eight slight young Icelanders against a massive backdrop of projections and lighting effects. The coreography of the visuals with music, though subtle, was amazingly precise – especially during “Smaskifa” off of the Sigur 1/Sigur 9-era single where the silhouettes of birds on a wire, seemingly coming and going at random, all flew away the instant the last note was struck. And if the projections weren’t your style, you could always just close your eyes and let your imagination do what it would with the soundtrack. The closing number, as I believe it was four years ago, was “The Pop Song” from (), and it was as epic, terrifying and tremendous as I could have hoped.

Yeah, using this sort of language to describe the show might seem a little over the top, but the band doesn’t take any half-measures in what they do, it’s only fair to do likewise. I can’t think of another act today that is capable of channeling such pure, universal emotionalism through music. Whether singing in Icelandic or Hopelandish, I’m actually thankful I don’t understand any of it – that way it means exactly whatever I want it to. And the whole show, top to bottom, sound, sight, everything – was just beautiful. And the only thing better than second row seats? Second row seats with no one sitting in the first row directly in front of you. Hence the absence of heads in les photos. I’m glad I made the dash home for the battery, the lighting made for some dramatic shots. To whomever paid for those seats but couldn’t be bothered to show up, I thank you and you missed a hell of a night.

Here’s the closing song of () and of the night – long, but if you haven’t heard it before you really should.

MP3: Sigur Ros – “Untitled #8 (a.k.a. popplagio / the pop song)”

New records coming our way this Summer – a long time coming, The Hidden Cameras’ new one Awoo will be in stores August 15. A couple of veteran UK frontmen will be releasing their first solo efforts – Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield will release The Great Western on July 24 in the UK and head Radiohead Thom Yorke has an album called The Eraser also due out July 11 – Billboard has details about that. And Luna’s The Very Best Of will be in stores on June 20, the same day as the Tell Me Do Miss Me documentary DVD. And as a footnote, congratulations to Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips who have a) completed work on their second album and b) gotten married.

Popmatters pays tribute to the late Grant McLennan.

The Cleveland Plains Dealer discusses the “emo” tag with Rainer Maria, in town at the Horseshoe tonight with Ambulette.

A most promising show will be going down at the El Mocambo on June 27 with DeVotchKa and Norfolk & Western. Both have just released new EPs – Curse Your Little Heart for the former, A Gilded Age for the latter. Also, The M’s have been tapped as support for the second half of Wilco’s Summer tour, including the July 7 Massey Hall show.

Billboard talks to Amy Millan about making Honey From The Tombs, out May 30. She reveals there’ll be touring to support in the Fall before heading back into the studio to work on the new Stars record, hopefully for a Spring ’07 release. She’s playing a special album release show June 10 at the Mod Club, Fembots supporting.

Last night was the final episode of The West Wing, and I am sad. I’ve watched the show faithfully since its inception seven seasons ago, and is – I believe – the longest relationship I’ve ever had with a television program. Despite a shaky fifth season in the wake of creator Aaron Sorkin’s departure, the series finished incredibly strongly and actually left me wanting them to carry on with the Santos administration but am probably glad they’re not. Always leave them wanting more, right? The final episode had many nice touches, not least of which was Martin Sheen’s brief scene with real-life daughter Renee (“Tell your mother I’ll see her soon”) – that was sweet. But man, especially after watching the repeat of the pilot before the final episode? I miss John Spencer. Read some farewells to the series from The San Jose Mercury News, The Chicago Sun-Times, the BBC and The Washington Post. Yeah, it may have been just a make-believe White House, but compared to what we’ve got today… What was that about Karl Rove?

np – The M’s / Future Women

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Melody Freaks

The new Velvet Crush album has very quietly been released. Parasol has copies of Stereo Blues on sale for $12 to everyone in the world except for folks in Japan – apparently the Crush still has a record deal there, so they’ll have to wait till the label decides to release it proper. Though the band is still comprised mainly of Ric Menck and Paul Chastain, the new record also features a slew of guest performers. Hopefully this will be a bit livelier affair than 2002’s Soft Sounds, which was quite pretty but too languid overall. They hope to tour in support either in late Autumn or early Winter, possibly with Matthew Sweet along for the ride on guitar. Folks, it doesn’t get more pop than that.

Everyone who fell in love with The Wrens’ The Meadowlands and has been trying to hunt down the band’s earlier material without paying extortionist eBay prices gets a little bit of good news with the announcement that their Abbott 1135 EP from 1999 will be getting a re-release this October expanded with extra tracks to album length. That’s great, but what about their first two records, Secaucus and Silver? Well the rights to those records are the property of their old label, abhorrent Creed-peddlers Wind-Up Records, who refuse to revert the rights back to the band. Why? Cause they’re fuckers. So if you want to see justice done, I suggest writing a letter to the Wind-Up powers-that-be to cajole and persuade the to see the light and do the right thing. To get you started, I’d suggest opening with something like, “Dear Asswipes; Give the Wrens back their music or I will come down there and cut you. I swear I will. I’m a crazy man. Sincerely, blah blah blah”.

The new Interpol album has been titled Antics and will be out out on September 28. Rejected potential titles included Shenanigans, Hijniks and Wacky Escapades. Tracklisting at Matador Records.

The Toronto Star profiles Wilco and becomes the first article in ages to not mention Jeff Tweedy going into rehab. Instead, Vit Wagner draws heavily on Greg Kot’s Learning How To Die in considering the argument that Wilco are America’s Radiohead. Not available online is a sidebar offering an album-by-album comparison of the two bands’ careers.

Some shows coming to the Horseshoe – country chanteuse Carolyn Mark holds a CD release party for The Pros And Cons Of Collaboration on August 27 and Austin’s instrumental anarchists Explosions In The Sky will blow the shit out of the club on October 11. With loudness.

Now Michael Moore things that Fahrenheit 911 can save Canada’s elections as well as the US’. Well, he certainly has a high opinion of himself and he seems to not be aware of the fact (sad or not) that no one who’s planning on voting for the right in either of our countries is going to see his film, so his impact on the outcomes will be, uh, nothing. Further on the topic of Mr Moore, Roger Ebert succinctly articulates my beefs with the man, his tactics and how he may be doing more harm than good. From Heart Murmur.

Not much going on this weekend, which suits me just fine. I’ve been stuck in ‘go’ mode for a couple of weeks now which is really wearing me out. I need some decent ‘sit around and do nothing’ time to get it all together again.

np – The Olivia Tremor Control / Music From The Unrealized Film Script “Dusk At Cubist Castle”