Archive for June, 2007

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

CONTEST – Marnie Stern @ The Silver Dollar – July 6, 2007

I like the bio for Marnie Stern at this year’s SxSW website, so I’m just going to crib it: “Ok. Let’s get this out of the way. Marnie Stern can shred. She’s a better guitar player than you, or me, or probably 99% of the people who have ever looked at a guitar.” Fair enough? And probably true, from the sounds of it. I heard the destroyed at SxSW and that was backed by an iPod – now she’s got a band including Zach Hill of Hella on drums, so face-melting is almost guaranteed. The Georgia Straight has an interview.

Stern will be in town this coming Friday for a show at the Silver Dollar in support of her debut album, In Advance Of The Broken Arm and courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for this show. To enter, shoot me an email at contests AT with “I want to see Marnie Stern” in the subject line and your full name in the email body. Contest will close at midnight, July 3.

MP3: Marnie Stern – “Every Single Line Means Something”
MP3: Marnie Stern – “Put All Your Eggs In One Basket”
Video: Marnie Stern – “Every Single Line Means Something” (YouTube)

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Vision Of Repair

So, as I write this – Thursday night – I’m kinda drunk. Work function. And while I’d normally just skip posting today on account of the aforementioned inebriation, I want to plug a show going on at Sneaky Dee’s tonight. The main act in question is Parts & Labor from le Brooklyn who have just released their new album Mapmaker on Jagjaguwar and you know what? It’s pretty smokin’.

Take some good, solid, anthemic rock songs in the vein of Husker Du or Archers Of Loaf and wrap them in a maelstrom of drums and keyboards and you’re in the ballpark. Seriously, it’s like a hurricane of insane, pedal to the metal percussion, synths and guitar and barked vocals and while I wouldn’t have though it’s my thing, I’m really enjoying this record and I bet the show will be pretty damned excellent as well. Not sure/kinda doubt I’ll make it myself, but if you’re looking for something to kick off the long weekend, it’s as good a choice as any.

Also on the bill are local acts DD/MM/YYYY, Varge and Etaion Shrdlu. eye has an interview with DD/MM/YYYY and I got a copy of their new record Are They Masks? last week. To be totally honest, I have no idea what to make of it. It’s dense and chaotic and shifty and mathy and shouty and most decidedly outside my musical wheelhouse, but also probably a good fit for playing with Parts & Labor. And I know nothing about the other bands on the bill. But Parts & Labor, yeah, worth checking out I think. Too bad I’ll likely be sleeping off a hangover…

MP3: Parts & Labor – “Fractured Skies”
MP3: DD/MM/YYYY – “White Lies”
MP3: DD/MM/YYYY – “Mr T Cereal”
Stream: Parts & Labor / Mapmaker
MySpace: Parts & Labor

Exclaim has a feature on Interpol and their new record Our Love To Admire, out July 10. Video for the first single below:

Video: Interpol – “The Heinrich Maneuver” (YouTube)

File under: strange but wonderful. The DL pits J Mascis against David Cross in Guitar Hero.

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Oh My God, Whatever, Etc. Etc. Etc.

Waaaaait a minute. Didn’t I, who have professed no love for much of anything Ryan Adams has done in the past half-decade or so, just run a post on the man last week? Well yes, but I wasn’t at all prepared for the enthusiasm with which the contest in that post was received and coincidentally, I’ve just been given another DRA-related prize to give away. So I am revising/amending/what have you the contest to accomodate.

It will work like this: the original contest for the Easy Tiger LP, CD and poster, open only to Canadians, will still close tonight at midnight. BUT all non-winning entries will automatically be carried over to this new contest, which is a fancy-pants Easy Tiger lithograph autographed by Ryan himself (check it out). And since this contest, which comes courtesy of Filter, will be open to residents of the United States as well, I’ll ask that entries follow the same criteria as before – leave me a comment on this post saying which Ryan Adams song is your favourite (and the album it’s from, to help vote tabulation). Whiskeytown compositions are also eligible. A winner will be selected from the combined entries from the first contest and this one, which will close at midnight, July 4. Please be sure to leave a valid or decipherable email address I can contact you at.

This recent flurry of activity has prompted me to revisit some of Adams’ back catalog and reminded me of just how brilliant Heartbreaker was. This isn’t meant as a point of comparison to his recent stuff, that’s a horse that no longer needs beating, but just as a comment on the album on its own. It really is magnificent. So it’s no surprise that of the informal poll I was conducting via the original contest, 32% of the favourite songs came from that record. 19% were from Gold (the double-disc edition), 19% from Whiskeytown, 19% from his 2005 troika and only 11% from what I’m calling the Demolition era (the four shelved records that made up that compilation, plus the Love Is Hell and Rock N Roll releases). Curious to see if this ratio changes much with additional entries… I’m guessing no.

And to round things out, an interview with The AV Club, a short feature on Adams from Exclaim! and a the interview that it was culled from. Spinner has a couple of exclusive live videos of Adams and the Cardinals performing a song from Easy Tiger and another from Cold Roses. Finally, the first video from Easy Tiger is for the most directly rocking track from the album, “Halloweenhead”. Yahoo has an exclusive on it for now and has protected the content by geographic region – if you’re in Canada, use the first link. If you’re in the US, use the second. If you’re in neither, well too bad – though Yahoo UK seems to have two more live clips from the same session – or at least the same room – as those Spinner vids and they’re not behind any kind of territorial restrictions so everyone can share and enjoy.

Video: Ryan Adams – “Halloweenhead” (for Canada)
Video: Ryan Adams – “Halloweenhead” (for USA)

What else we got… Wilco are in town on Saturday for a show at Massey Hall. Jeff Tweedy apologizes to NOW for being a grump in interviews, thanks eye for comparing them to Television, Nels Cline shares a guitar tip with Spinner and The Boston Herald takes a wander through Wilco’s discography.

Patterson Hood gives Paste an update on the new album from the Drive-By Truckers as well as working with soul legend Bettye LaVette. He also talks to Savannah Now about recent goings-on in the Trucker camp. Ex-Trucker Jason Isbell, meanwhile, talks to Commercial Appeal about his new record Sirens Of The Ditch, out July 10. He’s at the El Mocambo here in Toronto on July 24.

Shows via For The Records: John Vanderslice is at the Horseshoe on October 1 and The Raveonettes are at Lee’s on October 14. Vanderslice’s new record Emerald City is out July 24. There’s an MP3. You can get it below.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “White Dove”

Totally overslept this morning and if my cat hadn’t decided to walk on my head for a good half hour, I’d probably still be asleep. Good kitty.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

CONTEST – The Polyphonic Spree @ The Phoenix – July 5, 2007 & LP

There was a piece in the Chicago Tribune this week about how vinyl is making a comeback amongst music connoisseurs. Now this sort of piece that crops up every so often to bring warm fuzzies to analog-loving types, but there is truth to it if my contests are any barometer (which they’re really not). I’ve been giving away a fair amount of vinyl lately and here I am giving away some more.

Courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got a sweet Polyphonic Spree prize pack to give away to some lucky Toronto-dweller – a copy of the Dallas outfit’s latest album The Fragile Army on LP and a pair of tickets to their upcoming show at the Phoenix on July 5 (hence the Toronto-area restriction). To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see the Spree” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 1.

MP3: The Polyphonic Spree – “Running Away”
Video: The Polyphonic Spree – “Running Away” (YouTube)
Myspace: The Polyphonic Spree

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

See You In The Next One

Completely out of the blue yesterday morning and probably of interest mainly to people of my particular age and musical taste demographic was the news that The Verve were reuniting for shows in the UK this Fall and a new record for next year. My first reaction? Excitement. The Verve were one of the first bands whose heyday I got to experience in real-time, albeit only at the tail end with Urban Hymns, rather than as a back catalog discovery, and were crucial in bridging my musical tastes from straight-ahead Britpop to trippier, more psychedelic realms and my current shoegazing proclivities.

They were also, I think, the first band I cared about that I got to see implode. I had vague ideas of going to see them in 1997 in Hamilton before guitarist Nick McCabe suddenly quit the band and was replaced by pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole (sidebar – I think the move to add Cole was inspired. There’s no guitarist who could have replaced Nick directly, but by going in a totally different direction they added a completely new texture that deflected comparisons and also, theoretically, sounded great. I’ve never heard recordings from Cole’s tenure – I’m just guessing). From that point, it was just a matter of waiting for the inevitable though they did wait till 1999 before officially announcing the band’s dissolution. McCabe had quit before, during the A Northern Soul era, and all respect to his then-replacement Simon Tong (who’s not part of this reunion) but without McCabe and his otherworldy guitarwork, it wasn’t The Verve and not continuing on as if they were was really for the best.

Chalk it up to that distinctly British phenomenon of a singer and guitarist whose chemistry makes them so much more than the sum of their parts, but also so volatile. Bowie/Ronson, Morrissey/Marr, Anderson/Butler, Brown/Squire, Albarn/Coxon, and that’s just off the top of my head. It makes for some brilliant music but after the inevitable interpersonal blowout, rarely do either parties achieve the same creative heights again. So consider McCabe – who has been almost completely dormant over the past decade (a couple of guest appearances notwithstanding) and Ashcroft, who got clean, discovered the joys (and paycheques) of toothless, MOR soft rock and is a long time removed from earning the nickname of “Mad Richard”. Is there really any reason to think that they can recapture the energy and chemistry of over a decade past? Is the fact that everyone (presumably) gets along now a positive sign or a warning of impending disappointment? Surely the interpersonal friction was a critical element of their magic? I have visions (nightmares) of this new album consisting of mid-tempo piano ballads, less a storm in heaven than a touch of fog in the suburbs… But this is happening whether I approve or not, will sell craploads of concert tickets and make everyone lots and lots of money. But maybe I’m just being cynical – after all, they do say they’re “getting back together for the joy of the music” and who am I to contradict?

So yes, after the initial shock and excitement of the announcement, emotions have settled down to mostly a state of wariness and trepidation. But as I listen to A Northern Soul for the first time in ages, as I download the Urban Hymns demos that I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has on offer and consider dusting off the guitar to jam along with “Catching The Butterfly”… yeah, okay. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Video: The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony” (YouTube)
Video: The Verve – “The Drugs Don’t Work” (YouTube)
Video: The Verve – “Lucky Man” (YouTube)
Video: The Verve – “Sonnet” (YouTube)
Video: The Verve – “History” (WMV)
Video: The Verve – “All In The Mind” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Verve

The AV Club gets Kele Okereke of Bloc Party to shuffle his iPod.

Chart has details on Calexico’s new instrumental record Tool Box, which will be available at shows and on their website and may well feature all the southwestern-sounding bits that were missing from Garden Ruin.

Filter offers first impressions of Rogue Wave’s forthcoming record Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, due out September 18.

Beach House discuss the direction of their second album with Pitchfork.

LullaByes has got the audio from Land Of Talk’s show in Dallas last week, a set chock full of new material. Via Largehearted Boy.

The Denver Post and Salt Lake City Weekly ask Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg to compare music and ornithology.

Filter has a conversation with Leonard Cohen.

Some more show announcements I missed in yesterday’s roundup, courtesy of Torontoist and For The Records – Liverpool’s Wombats, who I can only assume from their hair are the current band du jour across the pond, are at the Mod Club on August 11, The Black Lips will do damage to the Horseshoe on September 23 and The New Pornographers will be in town sometime around the third week of October – Beggars Canada’s tours page has the band playing on October 13 three different times in three different cities, but accounting for typos, it’s more likely they’ll be here around the 17th or 18th at the Phoenix on October 20th with Emma Pollock as support. The other question is will Dan and Neko still be with the band, as they will be for the already-announced September dates? Mysteries abound. Challengers is out August 21.