Friday, April 28th, 2006

Thin Blue Flame

You may have noticed a sort of roots theme running through this week’s posts. This was both coincidental and by design, but what better way to finish up the working week with this – Wilco. Massey Hall. July 7. Tickets probably more than you’d care to pay but still somehow worth every penny. Presale for other Canadian dates begin at 10AM, May 3 though that may or may not include the Toronto show. There had been some concern earlier in the day when the announced date was July 8, which was already booked by Solomon Burke, but the schedule was fixed last night and the Toronto date was swapped with the London date. All is right with the world… and note that including the July 15 Ottawa show, that’s three Wilco shows within a 7-hours drive over the course of a week. Four in 8 if you include Montreal. Road trip, people.

Okay, apologies to Josh Ritter for bumping his headlining post down a couple paragraphs. I’d known Ritter’s name for some time on account of him having come through town countless times opening for the likes of Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards and The Frames (as well as his own show at the Mod Club a few weeks back), so much so that I may have even thought he was a local boy. Well he’s not, he’s from Idaho and he’s got far more going on for him than just apparently being a fine support act.

I received a copy of his well-received, just-released new album The Animal Years a little while ago and have been greatly enjoying the superb roots-rock contained within. To my ears, he combines some of the earthiness of Steve Earle with no small amout of Dylan-ish lyrical ambition, though arguably a stronger singer than both. While somewhat understated in tone, even when it rocks out, there’s a thread of politics and anxiety throughout that can be felt, even when the words are wrapped in metaphor and allegory. It’s a pleasant listen if you’re not really paying attention and a mesmerizing listen if you are.

Chart recently had a conversation with Ritter about some of the inspirations behind the new record and The Guardian talks to him about the albums political undercurrent. There’s lots of places to hear his music – you can stream the whole of The Animal Years here, befriend him at MySpace or just wade through the cornucopia of material at this fansite. And two of the strongest tracks from the album, including the epic-length centrepiece “Thin Blue Flame” can be grabbed below:

MP3: Josh Ritter – “Girl In The War”
MP3: Josh Ritter – “Thin Blue Flame”

Living With War is now streaming and you know what? It sounds good and Old Black sounds pissed. Which is also good. The New York Times has a conversation with Neil about the record.

The Riverfront Times profiles Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s. The band had to cancel their April 3 show in Toronto due to van problems, but will hopefully make it up here before too long. I can’t help noticing that they’re hooking up with Film School for a tour down the middle of America just two days after that band plays the Horseshoe… Would it have killed them to start that bill up just a little earlier? Via Largehearted Boy.

NOW talks to Elf Power about the easy paydays of getting songs in TV shows. Powerful Elves are at the Horseshoe on May 3.

James McNew of Yo La Tengo reveals to Pitchfork that their new album has a release date – September 12 – if not a real title. For the record, I have no problem with I Am Not Afraid of You, and I Will Beat Your Ass. None at all. Nor do I mind that McNew says the new songs are “short and upbeat”. The last couple records strayed a little too far into the quiet, drawn out territory to really thrill me. Here’s to the days of wonderfully eclectic albums rather than long, cohesive mood pieces.

And back at the ranch, Arts & Crafts continues to prove they’re more than the Broken Social Scene house label by expanding their international roster. The latest addition to the family is French act Phoenix, at least here in Canada. More deets at Filter.

np – Neil Young / Living With War

By : Frank Yang at 8:47 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Mike says:

    Awesome news about Phoenix! Their last show at The Opera House in Toronto was really good!

  2. Matt says:

    Girl in the War is such a fantastic song! It’s so good to see Josh Ritter starting to get his due!

  3. Jordan says:

    Speaking of the Ottawa Wilco show, any Toronto-centrists hanging out on this board may want to check the schedule for the Ottawa Bluesfest that the Wilco show is a part of. While most of these artists will no doubt be playing Toronto shows as well, some of you might prefer the experience of seeing them together, outdoors, with relatively reasonably priced passes. It’s probably the best music festival in eastern Canada again this year.

  4. Frank says:

    yeah, but come on. OTTAWA.

    The lineup for the Bluesfest is pretty smoking:


    it’s sort of a shame it’s spread out over two weeks, makes getting away for long enough to take it all in pretty tough. But if you were even just going for the second weekend, it’d be pretty sweet.

  5. suckingalemon says:

    ottawabluesfest has to have one of the best lineups of any festival in canada this year. the two weekend deal does make it harder, especially if you have to choose.


  6. yoti says:

    Heh, Metric at "Bluesfest". I guess no more strange than when I saw Sting there a few years back. Unless Bluesfest has cleaned up it’s act though since then though, expect lots of drunken muddy fields at some of the shows. The Sting concert was great though.

    As for Josh Ritter, make sure you check out his Hello Starling album. I saw him with Sarah Harmer, as you mentioned, when he was touring with songs from that album. He is such a great guitarist and lyricist.

  7. Culley says:

    This new album is great. I’m hoping to catch him on tour sometime this year. Just not sure if it’s going to work out.