Archive for October, 2006

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

CONTEST – My Brightest Diamond @ The Drake Underground – November 9

I’m almost out of stuff to give away for the next while. Almost. Bear with me.

Her press clippings may always start off by stating that she’s a member of Sufjan Stevens’ Michgan Militia/Illinoisemakers/whatever they call themselves next, but even without those connections, Shara Worden would be a name to remember. Or it would if she used her own name. But instead, she creates music as My Brightest Diamond. In my review of her new album Bring Me The Workhorse, I said, “Her cabaret and operatic influences are obvious but she neatly sidesteps any genre cliches and instead blends it all together to craft something quite new and different, yet still timeless. Lovely stuff” and I’m sticking with that.

She’s at the Drake Underground next week on November 9 (that’s Thursday) and courtesy of Against The Grain, I have three pairs of passes to give away. If you saw her perform as AwRY a couple years ago opening for Sufjan, you’ll know that she’s quite a riveting performer – this should be a good one. To enter, email me at with “I want to see My Brightest Diamond” in the subject line and your full name in the body. This contest will close at midnight, November 4. CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congrats to Makeda, Philip and Richard.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “Disappear”
MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “Something Of An End”
Video: My Brightest Diamond – “Dragonfly” (MOV)
MySpace: My Brightest Diamond

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

I Wanna Go Gator Around The Warm Beds Of Beginners

Damn near the top of my list of most anticipated records of 2007 is the fourth full-length from The National. Topping 2005’s amazing Alligator would be no mean feat but I’m confident it can be done. The band has been holed up in the studio working on the the record and are aiming to have it out in March of next year, but just took a little time off for a bit of touring to get back out amongst the living again.

Information Leafblower interviewed Matt Berninger for DCist last week and they discussed the new record, touring, day jobs and the band’s apocryphal vendetta against Washington DC. San Diego City Beat also took a few minutes to talk to the band’s frontman.

And if you’re jonesing for some new National material – even if it’s not all new – head over to So Much Silence, where Kevin has ripped the b-side from their 7″ single for “Abel” and posted it online to help sustain you until next year. Nerd Litter also offers some live video footage of some of the new material as well as some MP3s from a 2003 Black Session and for my part, here’s the song they contributed to the CD accompanying the June issue of The Believer.

MP3: The National – “Minor Star Of Rome”

Tangentially – Devastations are an Australian band often compared to The National and who are signed to Brassland, the label co-founded by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the aforementioned band. Conrad Standish’s vocals do indeed dwell in that same low, smoky regions as Matt Berninger and he has a similar way with an evocative phrase but the trio is more about the smoldering slow burn than their sort-of labelmates (both bands are on Beggars in Europe and The National used to be on Brassland in the US).

Their sophomore album Coal was released back in July and they’re currently on tour in North America with countrymen The Drones and New York’s Favourite Sons. That bill stops at the El Mocambo in Toronto this Saturday night, November 4. Sixeyes, a big booster of this band and co-sponsor of the tour has an interview with guitarist Tom Carlyon, who chooses to describe their sound as “tropical goth”. Hero Hill also scored some words with Carlyon.

MP3: Devastations – “Sex & Mayhem”
MySpace: Devastations

Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer of Oasis are booked for an acoustic show at the Danforth Music Hall for November 7 though Ticketmaster also makes mention of a film. But if you didn’t know about it and cared, you’re probably SOL cause that business is sold right out. Console yourself with this session Gallagher did for AOL’s Interface.

What better way to celebrate Hallowe’en than to stream the whole of Sufjan Stevens’ entire Songs For Christmas box set? It’s out November 21 but you can preorder it for cheaps at Insound. Tis the season!

Harold & Kumar 2 confirmed – BEST NEWS EVER.

Monday, October 30th, 2006

CONTEST – Micah P Hinson/Oakley Hall @ Lee's Palace, November 9

A double-bill of ultra-prolific artists hits Lee’s Palace on November 7. Both Micah P Hinson and Oakley Hall released two full-length albums this year, Hinson with Micah P Hinson And The Opera Circuit and The Baby & The Satellite and Oakley Hall with Second Guessing and Gypsum Strings.

In town for their third Toronto show in five months, Oakley Hall trade in ripping psychedelic country rock and are a terrific live act, while Hinson plies a rootsy, singer-songwriter craft though he can get noisy when it’s called for as well. And if that’s not enough, Bry Webb of The Constantines is opening up the night with a solo set.

That surely sounds like a recipe for a good show and courtesy of Against The Grain, I have three pairs of passes to give away so you can find out. Usual drill – email me at with “I want to see Micah Hinson and Oakley Hall” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest will close at midnight, November 3. CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congrats to Austin, Matthew and Chris.

MP3: Micah P Hinson – “The Leading Guy”
MP3: Micah P Hinson – “Jackeyed”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Lazy Susan”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Landlord”
MySpace: Micah P Hinson
MySpace: Oakley Hall

Monday, October 30th, 2006

If She Said We Partied Then I'm Pretty Sure We Partied

Some tips for anyone planning to dress up for Hallowe’en as Craig Finn of The Hold Steady – get a bowling shirt, a pair of glasses with thick, black plastic frames, drink as much as you sweat and lead your band through a seriously ass-kicking show at the Horseshoe this past Saturday night.

It’s a bit tough to come up with fresh things to say about The Hold Steady’s show since I used up all my good material when they played Lee’s barely three months ago. In the interim, they’ve released one of the year’s best and most acclaimed records in Boys And Girls In America and have also converted me into a huge fan. This time, they brought the same boundless energy that they had at Lee’s but when compressed into a club a helluva lot smaller, it became positively explosive. Though I don’t think it was sold out, it was hellaciously packed and the audience was as psyched as I’ve ever seen a Toronto audience – it was a veritable party pit up front. The band in turn fed off that enthusiasm and gave back to us in the form of pure rock awesomeness.

Also making a huge difference was being intimately familiar with their whole catalog this time around and being able to get right into the song from the first note. Of course, seeing them in three times in three months also meant that I was intimately familiar with some of their banter as well – Finn once again pulled out the Saint Barbara monologue before “Don’t Let Me Explode” but that’s okay, it was still great. Hell, everything was great. Though with the new album they’ve aspired to greater things and proved at at Lollapalooza that they can own a huge stage as well as a small one, there’s no denying that the band at their most potent in a crowded, sweaty bar. I don’t expect they’ll be playing anywhere that small again anytime soon, so dang that’s one to remember. If you’re anywhere near the remaining tour dates, do yourself a favour and get a ticket now. And Torontonians who missed them this time around or need another hit, note that they’ll be in Buffalo on December 13 – and what’s better than Buffalo in December? Nothing.

Along for the ride this time was fellow native Minnesotans Sean Na Na, who mine a similarly classic rock vein but from a more pop (think Cheap Trick) direction. It was alright but I preferred their between song banter which was an entertaining sort of deadpan, ironic arrogance. Considering that frontman Sean Tillmann’s other project as Har Mar Superstar involves him breakdancing in his underwear, I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of musical merit but was pleasantly surprised.

But seriously, if you’re going to dress up as anyone in the Hold Steady tomorrow, it’s got to be Franz Nicolay – all you need is the moustache, the rest takes care of itself.

Billboard talks to the band about the somewhat unexpected but totally deserved chart success of Boys And Girls while Tad Kubler fesses up to The Ottawa Sun about their uncool influences. MTV talks to them about Kerouac, The Detroit News about being a teenager, The Boston Herald about The Boss, Tiny Mix Tapes about fandom and Harp about signing autographs.

eMusic has an exclusive Boys And Girls bonus track available and the band’s interview/session with Minnesota Public Radio is now online to stream.

Photos: The Hold Steady, Sean Na Na @ The Horseshoe – October 28, 2006
MP3: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy!”
MP3: The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations” (live on MPR)
MP3: Sean Na Na – “Double Date”
MP3: Sean Na Na – “Grew Into My Body”
Video: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy!” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Hold Steady
MySpace: Sean Na Na

Harp discusses the joys of scoring films with Paul Westerberg while Richard Buckner tells them how much of an influence The Replacements had on him.

Pitchfork discusses The Crane Wife with The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy (another Replacements acolyte, if you need to continue the meme). NPR will also be streaming their show in Washington tonight at 9:30PM ET. Only three days left in the Decemberists contest!

np – DeVotchKa / How It Ends

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

CONTEST – Blood Meridian/Baby Eagle @ The Horseshoe – November 9

What’s next for people who like free stuff? A Blood Meridian/Baby Eagle prize pack from the good folks at Outside Music. For those curious, Blood Meridian are part of the Black Mountain extended family and Baby Eagle nest with The Constantines and I offered up thoughts on both here and here respectively.

Anyway, both Blood Meridian and Baby Eagle are playing at the Horseshoe on November 9 and I’ve got a prize pack for one lucky duck. It includes two passes to the show, a copy of the self-titled Baby Eagle CD, a copy of Blood Meridian’s Kick Up The Dust on your choice of CD or vinyl, if you swing that way, a Blood Meridian poster and a “Kick Up The Dust” 7″ single. Yee-haw.

Entry is easy. Email me at with “I want the Blood Meridian/Baby Eagle stuff” in the subject line and the name of your favourite Western film in the body. Contest closes at midnight November 3. Happy trails!

MP3: Blood Meridian – “Shit World”
MP3: Baby Eagle – “Some Things We Lose”
MP3: Baby Eagle – “Your Wounded Jaw”
Video: Blood Meridian – “Kick Up The Dust” (YouTube)
MySpace: Blood Meridian