Archive for February, 2008

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

CONTEST – Deerhoof @ The Phoenix – March 5, 2008

Photo via Four Paws

So next week is Canadian Music Week and what’s more Canadian than having to bring in non-Canadian acts to add star power to a festival dedicated to promoting Canadian talent?

In this case, eye is sponsoring a night at the Phoenix on Wednesday, March 5 – the night before the citywide showcases get underway – and are balancing things out by having half the bill up and coming domestic talent, the other half exotic foreigners. The former consists of Ten Kens, recently signed to Fat Cat Records and Sebastien Grainger, formerly of Death From Above 1979 and getting held up at the border are Californians No Age and Deerhoof.

eye is also sponsoring this contest for the show that they are sponsoring. And thus I have a pair of passes – check that – VIP passes – to give away for this show. These VIP passes will get you access to VIP-designated areas like the parlour and the balcony wherein you will be able to partake in various VIP activities such as… well, I don’t know. You’ll have to report back on that. But if you wish to attend, send me an email at contests AT with “I want to hoof it to Deerhoof” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Do this before midnight, February 29 or your entry will turn into a pumpkin.

MP3: Deerhoof – “+81”
MP3: No Age – “My Life’s Alright Without You”
MySpace: Deerhoof
MySpace: No Age
MySpace: Sebastien Grainger
MySpace: Ten Kens

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

CONTEST – A Helmet Full Of Ritter

Photo by Shana Novak

While Josh Ritter is no stranger to these parts, it seems every time he comes to town for a show, it’s billed as a “special acoustic solo show” or something and is booked into a room much smaller than he’d probably normally play (note this is based on the sample group of his last two visits to Toronto. Which really isn’t all that many, though I suspect the streak runs longer than that. Either way, for my purposes, I’m going to say it’s been, oh, 50). Which is all well and good, I caught one of these special, solo shows last February, and it was as enjoyable and intimate experience as it was surely intended and Ritter’s an engaging enough performer to pull off the solo thing easily.

But while he may be a folksinger at heart, his records – particularly his rollicking 2007 release The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter – have a broader sonic reach than can be done justice by a guy with an acoustic guitar. They demand a band. And finally, with his current tour, Ritter is responding. He’s not only got a full musical backing on this jaunt, but he’s playing halls that won’t sell out the second after the show is announced, which isn’t to say that ditherers won’t be shut out but this time, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

Ritter’s historical conquistadors will pillage The Phoenix in Toronto on March 4 and courtesy of Sony/BMG Canada, I’ve got a bunch of stuff to give away in conjunction with the show. First off, two grand prize packs consisting of a pair of passes to the show as well as a copy of Historical Conquests on CD. And I have an additional three copies of the album on CD to dole out to runners-up/non-showgoers. Entry is as follows: shoot me an email at contests AT with “I wish to conquer history” in the subject line, your full name and mailing address in the body and also note if you would like to attend the show or just get a CD (residents of Canada only, please). This contest will close at midnight, February 28.

Anyone wishing to read the words of Ritter, check out interviews with The Montreal Gazette, The Calgary Herald, The Province, I Like Music and Female First. And the complete audio from a show from last year’s acoustic tour is available to download here.

MP3: Josh Ritter – “To The Dogs Or Whoever”
MP3: Josh Ritter – “The River” (live)
Video: Josh Ritter – “The Temptation Of Adam”
Stream: Josh Ritter / The Historical Conquests Of
MySpace: Josh Ritter

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

A Well-Respected Man

Photo by Frank Yang

I’ve been to a number of in-stores at HMV on Yonge St over the years, and as the store has undergone renovations and rearrangements, almost every time the stage has been in a different place and sadly, its diminishing place of prominence in the store is probably directly proportional to their emphasis on music. Case in point – last night’s in-store performance from the legendary Ray Davies, most famously of The Kinks. Though rather poorly publicized, word still got out enough that the upstairs was fairly packed by a half hour before start time, people jammed into the narrow aisles between CD racks around the makeshift performance area at the top of the stairs. There was no stage whatsoever and with the low-hanging signs from the ceiling and high-standing ads on the tops of the racks, sightlines were dismal. It was enough to make one think of the wonderful in-store space in the basement at Sonic Boom and weep, just a little.

But enough dwelling on the negatives. I got there early enough to get a reasonable view, particularly after they raised the microphones from seated to standing height and when Davies appeared, coming up the stairs to grand applause, it became more about the hearing than the seeing and that, at least, HMV got right. Davies was broadcast loud and clear throughout the store as he rolled out songs from his new solo record Working Man’s Cafe. Now I’ll be the first to admit that my Kinks education isn’t nearly what it should be – I know the singles and have a few albums but have never really immersed myself in Kinks-ology. That said, Davies’ new stuff sounded pretty good – he’s still got a sharp eye for societal commentary – this time pointed at America – even if his pen is a little more plainspoken and direct, less razor witted, than it used to be and his gift for melody is definitely still intact and voice strong. In short, he’s still got it and the very brief performance – three new songs and one Kinks tune (no, not “Waterloo Sunset”, not “Victoria”, not even “Come Dancing”. Yeah, THAT one. Of course) – was a real treat from a living legend. And if you couldn’t attend or couldn’t see, he promised a North American tour coming up soon.

He recently told Billboard he still holds out hope for a proper Kinks reunion as was rampantly rumoured late last year and says about the same in this interview with Canadian Press.

Photos: Ray Davies @ HMV – February 22, 2008
Video: Ray Davies – “Lola” (live on Regis & Kelly)
Video: Ray Davies “In A Moment” (Live on Letterman)

Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, talks to the The Chicago Maroon.

Spinner has an Interface session with Nicole Atkins & The Sea.

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has got the audio of Wilco’s fifth and final night at the Riviera in Chicago this week available to share. The quality is pretty good, though I don’t think it’s the feed from the webcast because if it was, there’d be skips and stops all the way throughout. That was my experience, at least.

Though Gary Louris just released his first solo record Vagabonds (for which he’ll be in town at the Mod Club on March 30), Billboard reports he has another finished record in the hopper, this one a collaboration with his former bandmate in The Jayhawks, Mark Olson. Look for Ready For The Flood later this Summer or in the Fall.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian offers up a two-part interview with Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Drowned In Sound interviews The Gutter Twins. Saturnalia is out March 4 and while I hope to get a proper review together soon, I’ll just say that if you came of age in the ’90s and thought that Screaming Trees jamming with The Afghan Whigs would be the best thing ever… you will like this record. They’re at the Mod Club March 14.

New York Magazine talks to Matt Berninger of The National.

Asobi Seksu’s Yuki Chikudate talks to MusicOHM.

Billboard talks to Portishead’s Adrian Utley about the glacial creative process that brings Third on April 29, more than a decade after their last album.

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

All In The Mind

Photo via MySpace

Aside from a few typos here and there in the last little while, I think I’ve been pretty good about reporting things that can generally be considered factual. Accurate. Based in truth. Which pretty much goes against the basic ethos of blogging, does it not? So with that in mind, I will indulge in a little wild speculation and rumour-mongering, though even that has a basis in reality.

Yesterday morning, I got an email from a reader asking if I knew anything about a Verve gig at the Ricoh Coliseum on May 1. Obviously, I did not. I was then directed to a page at that did, indeed, indicate there was a show booked for The Verve at the home of the Marlies on International Workers’ Day and further, tickets were to go on sale tomorrow, February 23, priced at the reunion-correct range of $45-$55 (if memory serves). Because even though they were “Getting back together for the joy of the music”, that mortgage has gots to get paid. And I wish I’d taken a screen shot of it as I’d intended (before heading into a meeting) because, after a few more inquiries about it from various corners, it was taken down.

There was no listed promoter for the show, so I’ve got nothing to follow up on, but the timing works, considering they’re going to be at Coachella on April 25 and a flight back to England is probably cheaper from the east coast than the west. But the timing of that on-sale date implied that there was going to be a surprise, last-minute announcement either yesterday (obviously not) or today (we’ll see) or someone was completely off their nut. So, if you’re just hanging around online tomorrow morning around 10AM, try logging into Ticketmaster and see what you get. ‘Cause even if there’s no Verve tickets, you could always get some for Bon Jovi at the ACC. Come on – they’re playing with DAUGHTRY.

And then this morning, another reader email saying that inquiries had been made to the venue itself and they confirmed the show – Verve, May 1. So thanks to Greg and Scott for doing the leg work for me and unless whoever works the phones at Ricoh is a jokester, everyone who lives between Indio, CA and Toronto, ON and wants to see the Verve, cross your fingers for something to be announced for that last week of April. Don’t know if that on-sale date is still valid but it appears that it’s coming.

MP3: The Verve – “The Thaw Sessions”

Closer to the real world, The Daily Swarm was proven correct that Radiohead would be headling two of the three nights of All Points West so maybe their tip that My Bloody Valentine are coming to these shores in September have some legs? Because if The Verve are here in May, then their appeal as, oh, a V Fest headliner is obviously diminished but MBV… Oh wouldn’t the noise-averse residents on the island love that one.

Back to All Points West – couldn’t help but notice that Neil Halstead was amongst the performers, which brought hope that maybe he’d have his second solo album ready or there’d be more touring but as it turns out, he’s been touring with Jack “yes I’m really headlining these festivals get over it” Johnson in the UK and is probably part of whatever package that is. But either way, congratulations go to Neil on the impending twins. Now he and JLo will have something to talk about.

Still in the UK – Spiritualized’s new record finally has a title to go along with the May 19 release date – Songs In A & E. Which makes me thing of the Law & Order theme. There’s still no North American release date but one is promised, along with details of a world tour. Pitchfork has a track listing and more sundry details.

Did you know Ray Davies of The Kinks had an in-store at the HMV on Yonge St tonight at 6PM? No? Me neither, then I got pointed to this interview in NOW… and there you go.

Spinner quizzes Lightspeed Champion’s Dev Hynes about his all-time favourite graphic novels (sidenote – Black Hole is being adapted to film with a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and direction from David Fincher). Lightspeed Champion plays a free show at the Horseshoe on March 4 and as much as I’m looking forward to that, there’s a specific one of his many SxSW appearances that is circled on my calendar – Thursday March 13 at 2PM at the Urban Outfitters just north of downtown. Why? Because the 1PM slot on that day party is taken by Emmy The Great and if there’s any sort of justice, she’ll join him to recreate some of the wonderful backing vocals she contributed to Falling Off The Lavender Bridge. And though she doesn’t have a lot of her own stuff out there – no album, just some singles – what I’ve heard I quite like.

MP3: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”

Kate Nash, who began her North American tour in January with a well-received gig here in Toronto returns on April 28 for a show at The Phoenix. She also recently did a session for Spinner’s Interface.

Also just here but coming back, The Kooks will be at the Kool Haus on June 4 as part of a North American tour in support of Konk, out April 15.

That’s the same day that Saturdays = Youth, M83’s new record, hits stores. They’ve lined up a a North American tour which stops at the Mod Club on May 30. Their last visit here in April 2005 was the pinnacle of ridiculousness, even if more of it was canned than really should have been.

Swedes ahoy – El Perro Del Mar and Lykke Li are at the Mod Club on May 11. El Perro Del Mar’s From The Valley To The Stars is out April 22.

Chart and The Montreal Mirror talk to the Super Furry Animals, who were here on Wednesday night.

Just announced – A Fine Frenzy at Lee’s Palace on March 16 and Minus The Bear at the Opera House on April 1 with The Big Sleep and Portugal, The Man. Full dates at Pitchfork.

Mountain Goats in the media – John Darnielle counts off his five favourite Goats characters for eMusic, discusses characterization in his lyrics with The Village Voice and subjects to an interrogation from The Stranger. And NPR meets the world’s biggest (8-year old) Mountain Goats fan.

Rocky Mountain News and Aspen Times talk to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers while The Village Voice takes the worst song on their latest, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, to task. The Truckers are in town at the Opera House on March 19.

Spinner has the premiere of Tift Merritt’s new video from Another Country, out next Tuesday. She plays the El Mocambo on April 1.

Video: Tift Merritt – “Broken”

Will Sheff discusses fame and pretension with The Sydney Morning Herald. Okkervil River are at the Phoenix on April 9.

Gothamist interviews Matt Berninger, lead singer of The National. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on June 8 opening for R.E.M.. CNN profiles filmmaker Vincent Moon of Takeaway Show fame, who’s worked with both those artists.

Aversion reports that Wheat has released an ultra-limited edition single from last year’s Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square in “Move=Move” in a package chock full of bonuses and goodies.

MP3: Wheat – “Move=Move” (radio edit)

As predicted, an unofficial MP3 torrent of SxSW artists for this year is now available here. Thanks to DoneWaiting.

The Toronto Star looks at the phenomenon of “band glut” on the touring circuit, a consequence of every artist out there seeking to make their fortune on the road.

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Hot Freaks III: The Search For Hot Freaks II

Photo by Kristen Lidell

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate – we knew exactly where Hot Freaks 2 was. And the first one. And that’s where part the third will be as well – next month, coincidentally running at the same time as a certain music festival in Austin, Texas that shall not be named for we have no affiliation with that event whatsoever, at Club DeVille and The Mohawk (aka “the best bar in America”) on March 14 and 15 from noon till 6PM, across two venues and three stages – The Hot Freaks 3.

This edition is brought to you through the efforts of An Aquarium Drunkard, Daytrotter, Gorilla Vs Bear, Largehearted Boy, My Old Kentucky Blog, You Ain’t No Picasso and yours truly as well as the support of our generous sponsors at Zazzle, Insound, WOXY, Monolith Music Festival and the SIMS Foundation.

Admission is free though you may note that there’s an RSVP form on the website that gets you… well, I’m not entirely sure. A name on a list that may or may not ever be checked ’cause when we’re full, we’re full.

And anyway, since talk is cheap, here’s the lineup.

Friday, March 14, 2008
(between-set DJ-ing by The Hood Internet)

The Mohawk (outside)
12:00PM – Nicole Atkins & The Sea / MySpace / MP3: “Maybe Tonight”
1:00PM – The Dodos / MySpace / MP3: “Fools”
2:00PM – Cadence Weapon / MySpace / MP3: “Sharks”
3:00PM – White Denim / MySpace / MP3: “Shake Shake Shake”
4:00PM – Blitzen Trapper / MySpace
5:00PM – British Sea Power / MySpace / MP3: “Waving Flags”

The Mohawk (inside)
12:30PM – Blair / MySpace
1:30PM – Ola Podrida / MySpace / MP3: “Cindy”
2:30PM – Cameron McGill / MySpace
3:30PM – Bowerbirds / MySpace / MP3: “In Our Talons”
4:30PM – Jason Collett / MySpace / MP3: “Out Of Time”

Club DeVille (Insound stage)
12:30PM – Evangelicals / MySpace / MP3: “Skeleton Man”
1:30PM – Crystal Castles / MySpace
2:30PM – Fleet Foxes / MySpace
3:30PM – Peter Morén / MySpace
4:30PM – Jens Lekman (MySpace / MP3: “The Opposite Of Hallelujah”

Saturday, March 15, 2008
(between-set DJ-ing by AmpLive)

The Mohawk (outside)
12:00PM – Bad Veins / MySpace / MP3: “Gold And Warm”
1:00PM – The Whigs / MySpace / MP3: “Right Hand On My Heart”
2:00PM – Film School / MySpace / MP3: “Lectric”
3:00PM – A Place To Bury Strangers / MySpace / MP3: “To Fix The Gash In Your Head”
4:00PM – Peelander-Z / MySpace / MP3: “Me Gusta Lucha Libre”
5:00PM – Islands / MySpace

The Mohawk (inside)
12:30PM – Frankel / MySpace
1:30PM – Le Switch / MySpace / MP3: “Tongue Tied”
2:30PM – The Acorn / MySpace / MP3: “The Flood, Pt 1”
3:30PM – David Bazan / MySpace / MP3: “Cold Beer And Cigarettes”
4:30PM – White Hinterland / MySpace / MP3: “Dreaming Of The Plum Trees”

Club DeVille
12:30PM – Lyrics Born / MySpace / MP3: “Hott 2 Deff”
1:30PM – The Jealous Girlfriends / MySpace / MP3: “Something In The Water”
2:30PM – Bodies Of Water / MySpace / MP3: “I Guess I’ll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess”
3:00PM – List Christee (Kevin Barnes DJ set)
3:30PM – White Rabbits / MySpace
4:30PM – Lykke Li / MySpace

I don’t know about you, but where I come form, we call that an ass-kicking lineup. I know that there’s more day parties at going on that week than you can swing a cat at, but we hold up. Yes we do. I’m already trying to figure out how to maximize time at both Jens Lekman and British Sea Power’s sets…

Some extra news you can use from our performers – Spinner has the premiere of Nicole Atkins’ new circus-powered video for “Maybe Tonight”. Will she bring the clowns along with her when she and The Sea open up Hot Freaks at noon on the Friday? Hope so!

Video: Nicole Atkins – “Maybe Tonight”

The Jealous Girlfriends will be in town April 7 at the Opera House opening for Nada Surf. Their self-titled new/old album is out May 6.

Crystal Castles are on the cover of NOW this week and at the Wrongbar tonight.

San Diego City Beat profiles British Sea Power, in town at Lee’s Palace on May 16.

Some less hot and freaky Sx-related bits: The Lemonheads well devote their set at Emo’s Annex on March 12 with a show in the “Don’t Look Back” vein, performing their classic album It’s A Shame About Ray in its entirety. Good pick, since if memory serves that album is about 34 minutes long – which is about the length of a Sx-set. It’s timed to coincide with a deluxe 2-CD/1-DVD reissue of Ray on March 25. Details at Harp.

SxSW Baby reports that there will be NO big-ass MP3 torrent of showcasing acts this year. At least not an official one. Five will get you six that someone will grab everything off the artist profiles and whip together a torrent in 3… 2… 1… now. Or soon.

I’ll probably start paying more attention to Sx happenings as the next three weeks whiz by – that schedule should be up any day now and some good though incomplete listings can be found at Free Yr Radio but Donewaiting should still be your go-to source for anything and everything Sx-related.