Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
Two words you hate to use when talking about Smoosh are “novelty” and “adorable”. But it can’t be helped, and it shouldn’t always be interpreted as a negative. And if it’s taken as such, then the fact that when all is said and done, they’re a pretty terrific pop band no matter how novel their set-up or how old they are is all the more impressive.
They were in town at the end of last week wrapping up a tour in support of Tokyo Police Club and found the time to squeeze in an in-store performance at Sonic Boom to a smallish crowd. I’d been impressed when I first saw them in 2006 opening for Eels and now, a couple years later and decidedly more road-tested, they played with a good deal more confidence though I’m sure the store’s rec room vibe also helped put them at ease. Drummer Chloe is even more of an accomplished drummer now, and she was no slouch before, and keyboardist/singer Asya’s vocals are reaping the benefits of the adult lung capacity I mentioned last time I say them. And if there was a risk of them outgrowing the “pre-teen sister act” angle, they’ve addressed that with the addition of youngest sister Maia, all of ten years old, on bass. When was the last time you saw a band member skip on stage? Too adorable.
The performance encouraged me to revisit their last record, 2006′s Free To Stay. It’s a terrific little pop gem that’s youthfully exuberanct without being childish, yet casts an unexpectedly wistful and minor-key shadow and has a musical and melodic sophistication that’d be impressive for an artist of any age. They’re due to release their third record sometime this year and while it’s always interesting to see how artists mature from record to record, that’s even more so the case for them.
Photos: Smoosh @ Sonic Boom – May 2, 2008
MP3: Smoosh – “Find A Way”
Video: Smoosh – “Find A Way”
Wireless Bollinger, JAM and MTV talk to Death Cab For Cuties Nick Harmer, Chris Walla and Ben Gibbard, respectively, about Narrow Stairs, set for release next Tuesday. No one wants to talk to Jason McGerr. Poor drummers. They’re at Olympic Island on June 7.
Hot on the heels of the announcement of a new Radio Dept EP in Freddie & The Trojan Horse, due June 4, comes the official word on album number three, from which the single is taken – Clinging To A Scheme will be released on September 10. So very excited.
Also good news in the new release department – thanks to A Good Day For Airplay for tipping me that Gemma Hayes will release her third album The Hollow Of Morning in Ireland and the UK next week. I don’t expect there’ll be any sort of North American release for this one, so it’s just as well I’ll be in Dublin in a couple weeks and can pick up a copy that way. Where The Lions Weep has an interview with Ms Hayes about where she’s at these days.
Spinner gets some info on the next album from Antony & The Johnsons, The Crying Light, slated for a late 2008 release.
Female First and The Age meet Nicole Atkins.
The Independent profiles the boys of Nada Surf.
Honeysuckle Weeks, the new album from The Submarines isn’t out till next week but you can stream it in its entirety now. They’re at the Drake on May 24.
Stream: The Submarines / Honeysuckle Weeks
A few more show announcements of note – though just here in February, Nina Nastasia returns for a show at the Drake on June 20, this time accompanied by her collaborator on You Follow Me, Jim White of The Dirty Three. Tickets are $15.
MP3: Nina Nastasia with Jim White – “Jim’s Room”
Calexico are back on July 6 for a show at the much-smaller-than-their-usual-digs Mod Club, tickets $22.50, full Summer tour dates here. Presumably there’s a new record in the works – Garden Ruin was two years ago.
The Swell Season, riding their Oscar win, will return to town for a show at Massey Hall on September 20 accompanied by Bill Callahan. Full tour dates at Pitchfork, tickets for the Toronto show will run from $25.50 to $39.50 plus attendant fees.
And if you happen by the El Mocambo Friday night and see a massive lineup of people, those are the people who got Queens Of The Stone Age tickets. And if this is the first you’re hearing about it, you’re too late.
Monday, April 3rd, 2006
…And back to music. Most of this will be old to you if you’ve been tromping about the blogospher whilst I’ve been tromping about Nippon. But what can I say – I may be 12 hours in the future, but media remains 12 hours in the past. Or something.
Billy Bragg’s recent travels in America seem to have inspired his creative muse – there’s a couple new tracks circulating that are decidedly political and pointed in their content. Both are reworkings of classic tunes – “Bush War Blues” is an update of Leadbelly’s “Bourgeois Blues” and probably requires no further explanation, though Bragg’s new label Anti Records will tell you about it anyway. The other track is based off Bob Dylan’s “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” and concerns the death of Rachel Corrie, an activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting in the Gaza Strip and comes to us via The Guardian. Salon has some commentary on both tracks and an exclusive of their own, his seminal tune “A New England”, which you’ve surely heard before but can also stand to hear again. And for more free Billy Bragg downloads, including his still sadly topical “The Price Of Oil”, go here.
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Bush War Blues”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “The Lonesome Death Of Rachel Corrie”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “A New England”
As I hoped, Zoilus has expanded on the interview he conducted with Bragg for The Globe & Mail Bugmenot) a little while back, publishing the full text of it on his own website (and to which I’m happy to provide visuals for, taken at his recent Toronto gig. And finally, Exclam! has an interview of their own with him. Billy, not Carl. His Volume 1 box set came out last month, his Volume 2 box set will be out in October. Again, Billy. Not Carl.
Pitchfork has an interview with Calexico brain trust John Covertino and Joey Burns about their new album Garden Ruin, which will be out next Tuesday. There’s now a video for the first single “Cruel”, which you can view via Prefix.
Neko Case was in town last night. How was it? All I’ve got are features on the fox confessor from The Chicago Sun-Times, The Toronto Sun, City Pages, The Boston Globe and NOW.
In what must be one of the odder bills to come through town in recent memory, Eels will be at the Mod Club on June 17 with Smoosh. I’d like to see Smoosh, but have never been a fan of Eels. What to do what to do. Furthermore. Mary Timony will be at the Music Gallery on May 30. And in town tomorrow night? The Flaming Lips. NOW features these unknown Okies.
So what, I go away for a week and hell freezes over? No, I guess this is only the sixth sign. Armageddon will truly come when Bob Mould calls up Grant Hart and suggests some coffee house Husker Du action. The Replacements’ new song-sporting best-of comp Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was? will be out June 13 and the box set out next year sometime.
24 (last week’s): You know, when you go a couple weeks between episodes and get some perspective, you start to realize what a truly ridiculous show this is sometimes. Just saying. Anyway, so two high-ranking government officials in Walt and Audrey were having an illicit affair in a hotel and they used their own names? I like Edgar’s replacement. Yes I do… And it looks like SHE’S hot for Chloe too. Too bad she’s crazy. “The first rule of engagement is that you have a contingency plan”. Or six. Or seven. Thousand. Jack gets tasered and then some sweet Audrey action in the span of what, 15 minutes? And finally – the Kiefer Sutherland/Julian Sands showdown! Their steely gazes said it all – “You were terrible in The Cowboy Way!” “Two words, bitch! Boxing Helena!”
PS – this was set to go up yesterday, but I mis-entered the publish date… whoops.
np – Okkervil River / Black Sheep Boy