Archive for April, 2008

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Trouble In Dreams

Photo via Merge Records

I enjoyed reading this Catbirdseat piece about Destroyer and all the expectations that now seem to be following Dan Bejar around with the rise of The New Pornographers and the relative crossover success of Destroyer’s Rubies, not least of all because I am specifically one of those people who discovered Destroyer via The New Pornographers and Destroyer’s Rubies.

And while I actually do like “that nasal Bejar vocal delivery”, “his obtuse lyrics” and “his 7-minute compositions”, his latest Trouble In Dreams hasn’t quite grown on me to the degree I’d have liked, though it is making headway – one sinewy guitar line or flurry of dense lyricism at a time – and I’m giving it all the time it needs. I suspect that though they sort of sound like they should or even sometimes do, Destroyer records don’t really adhere to the standards by which I’m usually able to quickly form a personal judgment on whether I like a piece of music or not. Instead, I need to just listen and wait for themselves to reveal themselves. Rubies took me a good number of months, and it’s a more immediate listen than its successor, but when it finally clicked it was a pure delight. I’m still waiting on This Night, though I hear Your Blues is the pinnacle of the catalog. At this rate, I may be ready for it in a few years.

That Dreams still hasn’t fully integrated itself into my consciousness was one of the reasons I skipped last weekend’s tour stop at Lee’s Palace. That, and the fact that I saw them at SxSW and I had decided if I was going to go club hopping that night, it’d be to see Lucero at the Horseshoe (which I also didn’t do). I found that performance riveting, watching Bejar’s innate charisma doing battle with his obvious discomfort or disinterest at being on stage. But it sounds from Zoilus’ account of the show that the charisma is winning out, with the aid of great volume, and is effusive in his praise for the current touring edition of Destroyer. eye‘s review of the show is also positive, though I swear when I first saw it go online it only had one star rather than four… editorial error or intervention?

Anyway. Those are my random, ill-formed musings on Destroyer for this day. Those seeking more insightful materials are encouraged to check out Bejar interviews at The Independent Weekly and Express while eMusic has posted the results of their open Q&A between Bejar and his public. And head over to So Much Silence to grab an MP3 rip of the Destroyer side of the special, limited-edition Record Store Day 7″ that Merge released for last Saturday. Update: Radio Free Canuckistan has also weighed in with some Destroyer thoughts.

MP3: Destroyer – “Dark Leaves Form A Thread”
MP3: Destroyer – “Foam Hands”
Stream: Destroyer / Trouble In Dreams

Thanks to Melody for the note that Smoosh, in town opening both of Tokyo Police Club’s sold-out shows at the Opera House next weekend, will be playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on Friday, May 2. And that TPC in-store at Criminal Records the next day is no longer a solo acoustic set from David Monks, but the whole band plugged in.

These New Puritans and French Kicks will be at the Reverb on June 12 as part of NxNE. Via For The Records.

Reverb fetishists rejoice – The Besnard Lakes will be opening for My Morning Jacket on June 16 at the Kool Haus. They will also be warming things up for Swervedriver at Lee’s Palace a few days earlier on June 13.

Times New Viking are at the Horseshoe on July 1. They may be one of those bands that actually sounds quieter and clearer live, because lord knows they can’t possibly get any noisier or louder than they are on Rip It Off

MP3: Times New Viking – “DROP-OUT”
MP3: Times New Viking – “(My Head)/RIP Allegory “

That Kadane Brothers/Bottomless Pit show I was all agog about a couple weeks ago now has a venue – it’s going down July 14 at Sneaky Dee’s.

Filter features Sons & Daughters and WOXY has posted the Lounge Act session the band recorded for them at SxSW.

The AV Club offers a primer to the works of Elvis Costello.

NME reports that Howling Bells are in the studio working on album number two, hopefully to be released before the end of the year.

NPR has a World Cafe session from Tift Merritt available to stream.

The Black Angels tell Chart that they’re not so taken with games like Guitar Hero. Their new one Directions To See A Ghost is out May 13 and they play Lee’s Palace on June 26.

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Listen To The Math

Photo via Saddle Creek

When Tokyo Police Club released their debut mini-album A Lesson In Crime in 2006, I don’t think anyone expected that the Toronto-via-Newmarket quartet would get the mileage out of it that they did. But they somehow managed to parlay that 16 minutes into an impressive upward trajectory that would put them on major festival stages and late-night talk shows by 2007’s end. I think that might set a record for success-to-recorded minutes ratio.

But you can only ride that much material for so long, so in between relentless touring schedules the band has managed to piece together their first proper full-length in the just-released Elephant Shell. It breezes through 11 songs in an efficient 28 minutes – you can’t accuse these guys of not getting to the point – but never feels rushed. The new material is almost precisely what you’d expect from the band, staying close enough to the recipe that made A Lesson In Crime the success that is was – one part jaggy post-punk, one part high energy pop, a touch less frantic, a touch more melodic – while expanding their sonic palate just enough that you can’t accuse them of treading water. Nothing makes as immediate an impression as Crime‘s “Nature Of The Experiment” – “Your English Is Good” is a standout but that could simply be familiarity, as it was released as a single last year – but it’s all consistently solid. And more importantly, should give them enough material to go three or four years before having to put out another album.

Tokyo Police Club play two sold-out, hometown shows at the Opera House on May 2 and 3 and in addition, frontman Dave Monks will be doing an acoustic the band will play a fully electric in-store on the 3rd at Criminal Records on Queen West. As one of the bigger Canadian releases on the year there’s a lot of press around it including features from Chart, The Montreal Gazette, The Toronto Star, The Montreal Mirror, JAM, Canadian Press and also south of the border from The New York Daily News and Seven.

And, courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got two copies of Elephant Shell on vinyl to give away (and considering how long the whole album is, maybe it’s pressed at 45RPM). To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want the Tokyo Police Club” in the subject and your full mailing address in the body. Contest open to residents of Canada and will close at midnight, April 29. Also note that I Heart Music is giving away a copy of the album on CD as well.

MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “In A Cave”
MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Juno”
Video: Tokyo Police Club – “Tesselate”
Stream: Tokyo Police Club / Elephant Shell
MySpace: Tokyo Police Club

Also on the Tokyo Police Club itinerary is an appearance at this year’s Rogers Picnic, taking place on July 20 at Historic Fort York. Chart has the lineup which is a bit of a curious one, headlined by City & Colour, who are apparently big with the kids, a trio of acts cribbed from the Pitchfork Festival in Cat Power, Animal Collective and Dizzee Rascal (could they not get Jarvis Cocker in the package deal?) and rounded out by homegrown talent in TPC, Born Ruffians, Chromeo and The Carps. Tickets are $49.50 and go on sale today.

They (Tokyo Police Club) are also part of the massive lineup performing at this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest, taking place on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa from July 3 through 13. Acts are far too many to name, but they run the gamut from Feist to Brian Wilson, TV On The Radio to Calexico, Lucinda Williams to Metric. In other words, ridiculous. The Ottawa Citizen talks to the organizers about this year’s event.

Drowned In Sound talks to Lykke Li, who will release her Little Bit EP in North America May 6 and be at the Mod Club on May 11.

Aimee Mann talks to Paste about her new record @#%&! Smilers, out June 3.

Duffy has released a third video from Rockferry, which isn’t officially out in North America until May 13 but pretty much every record store I’ve been to has it for decidedly non-import prices already. She talks to MTV about the tears in the vid.

Video: Duffy – “Warwick Avenue”

The Daily Times, PopMatters and The Grand Rapids Press talk to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

The Tripwire features an interview with head Frightened Rabbit Scott Hutchinson.

Exclaim! reports that The Twilight Sad will release a new EP in Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did. It will feature four alternate versions of tracks from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters and two new ones, including a Daniel Johnston. It will be released on June 9 in vinyl and digital form. No CDs.

Also eschewing CDs is Elvis Costello, who this week released his latest album Momofuku on LP only. Billboard reports that the vinyl comes with a coupon for a digital download of the album that will become active on May 1, and then on May 6 the record will be released on CD for those of us Luddites still clinging to the digital age. The last one, not the current one.

PopMatters 20 questions Nada Surf.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008


Photo via The Daily Swarm

The Daily Swarm brings word of My Bloody Valentine’s return to the US this September, the first confirmed date of which is an edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties, curated by Kevin Shields and headlined by MBV, the weekend of September 19 to 21 at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, New York. Pitchfork has the rather ridiculous lineup – there’ll eventually be 30 acts on the lineup, but the first salvo of performers includes Mogwai, Built To Spill, Thurston Moore and Low, to name but a few. I guess when Kevin Shields calls up and asks you to play, you say “yes”.

Considering that the news item explicitly states there are only going to be “6-8 US cities” on the tour, this locale – a seven hour drive from Toronto, if you were wondering – is probably as local as they’re going to get. A road trip is obviously in order, but there’s a catch – tickets go on sale this Friday, but there’s only going to be 3000 made available. That’s all. And considering this is also as local a show as New York City is going to get, your odds of scoring a ticket are pretty much one in a billion trillion squared. But if you’re somehow so fortunate as to get one, a three-day passes will run you $225 US plus booking fee and you’d probably want to partake in the accommodations made available via ATP as well. All this has already pretty much ensured I won’t be seeing MBV, and I’m actually okay with that. It’s not like it’s Ride or something.


In other festival news, the first batch of acts confirmed for this year’s Hillside Festival have been announced and some of the bigger names heading to the Guelph Lake Conservation Area the weekend of July 25 through 27 include Hawksley Workman, Hayden (with whom The Post has an interview), Cowboy Junkies and The Sadies. I had a great time there last year and will be watching with great interest as this year’s roster takes shape. Early bird tickets go on sale May 3 at 10AM and if you’re the dawdling sort, be warned that this is one of those festivals that would sell out before they announced a single act so if you’re on the fence, best err on the side of caution and grab yours fast.

And also, The Wombats have been added to day two of V Fest Toronto, September 6 and 7 at the Toronto Islands.

Billboard gives the rumour mill a big old kick-start by talking to Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements about the odds of a ‘Mats reunion – in short, better than you might think but still probably not too likely. The band’s first four albums were reissued yesterday and Spinner has assembled a best-of stream in case you’re not yet acquainted with the Minneapolis legends. PopMatters does the same, but in words.

Stream: The Replacements reissues

And whilst talking about streams of classic albums you need to hear, they’ve also got the latest double-disc reissue of Love’s towering classic Forever Changes, out yesterday. And let me just say that if you’ve never heard this record… you really have to. It’s amazing.

Stream: Love / Forever Changes

North Carolina’s Annuals will be at the Drake Underground on June 16 in support of their new EP Wet Zoo. They talk to CMJ a bit about the new release.

MP3: Annuals – “Sore”
Video: Annuals – “Sore”

An Aquarium Drunkard offers up an interview with Kathleen Edwards, headlining the Phoenix tonight.

PopMatters poses 20 questions to the mighty chin of Bruce Campbell.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Pumpkin Soup

Photo by Clare Nash

I’m somewhat late to the Kate Nash party, mainly because I disregarded the invitations last year that were embossed in gold script with, “the new Lily Allen”, on account of the fact that I didn’t care too much for the old Lily Allen. And while the snippets I heard from her throughout the latter half of 2007 were appealing, I didn’t investigate further and I skipped her show at the Mod Club back in January as my curiosity wasn’t enough to break the year-end/start moratorium on live shows I’d imposed on myself. But after hearing some radio session tracks, that curiosity finally got the better of me and I popped out to pick up a copy of her much-heralded debut Made Of Bricks and while it’s not making me kick myself for not getting into it sooner, I’m not regretting picking it up, either.

A good chunk of the record is rather delightful. The singles and the songs that stick to her strengths – namely the jolly, piano-led pop numbers that ruminate and rollick about relationships from the perspective of a modern 20-year old girl – deliver on the praise with which she’s lavished. Sometimes her lyrics stumble over their own cleverness, but they rarely feel disingenuous or contrived and they’re always mated to tremendously hooky melodies so like it or not, they’re going to stick. Interestingly, it’s when Nash tries to stretch out a bit stylistically – perhaps conscious of being pigeonholed as “smart-mouthed girl at a piano” – that things go off the rails. Sort-of electronic opener “Play” is aimless but thankfully brief, and the clumsy-on-all-levels “Dickhead” is the exception to the aforementioned rule. But one has to think that eventually, her artistic grasp will catch up with her reach and pigeonholes won’t be a concern.

Nash is headlining the NME Awards tour across North America featuring a lineup chock-full of NME favourites such as herself and, uh, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players… yeah, weird bill… Anyway, they’re going to be at the Phoenix next Monday night, April 28. And while the show is sold out, courtesy of Filter sister publication Ragged, I’ve got one prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show, a copy of Made Of Bricks on CD and a copy of the latest issue of Ragged autographed by the cover artist. That’s Kate Nash, if it wasn’t clear. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Kate Nash” in the subject line (what, I can’t come up with wacky subject lines all time) and your full name and mailing address in the body. And do it before midnight tomorrow, which is to say Wednesday night.

Express, The Boston Globe and Filter all have features on Kate Nash and NPR is streaming a recent World Cafe concert.

MP3: Kate Nash – “We Get On” (live at the BBC)
Video: Kate Nash – “Foundations”
Video: Kate Nash – “Mouthwash”
Video: Kate Nash – “Pumpkin Soup”
MySpace: Kate Nash

Nash friend and collaborator Billy Bragg releases his new record Mr Love & Justice today and after being less than enthused about his recent solo records, I’m happy to say it’s a solid album. He’s working with a full band but the arrangements are kept relatively austere, and while he’s a little less lyrically barbed than he was as a younger man, he’s still got plenty to say. has a conversation with the Bard of Barking and Spinner is streaming the whole of his new record this week. Note that there’s two editions of the album being released – the regular version and a deluxe edition that comes with a second disc featuring the entire album played by Billy, solo. He plays the Harbourfront Centre – presumably with band – on June 17.

Stream: Billy Bragg / Mr Love & Justice

Jarvis Cocker tells NME there’s plans to release a new solo record before the end of the year.

Chart talks to Rob Dickinson about his latest project… which is the same as his old project. No, not a resurrection of the Catherine Wheel but a revisit to his 2005 solo debut Fresh Wine For The Horses. On June 10, he will re-release the record with newly-recorded versions of some of the songs and bundled with a second disc, entitled Nude, that will feature a half-dozen re-recorded Catherine Wheel songs. Anything new from Rob is good news, even if it’s old, but man – how about some new material…?

Video: Rob Dickinson – “Oceans”

NME reports that The Pipettes have lost 2/3 of their frontwomen, what with RiotBecki and everyone’s secret girlfriend Rosay having left the band. Their polka-dot dresses will now be filled by two new singers known only as Ani and Anna. How will this effect the group? We’ll have to wait and see how they look – er, sound – before passing judgment.

Neu! interviews The Long Blondes, in town at Lee’s Palace on May 22.

Sons & Daughters have released a new video for the title track of This Gift.

Video: Sons & Daughters – “This Gift”

PopMatters talks to Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey about the band’s just-released sixth record, Diamond Hoo Ha.

PopMatters also considers the discography of The Jesus & Mary Chain and their career-long attempts to top their debut, Psychocandy.

Happy Earth Day. Go hug a planet.

Monday, April 21st, 2008


Photo by Frank Yang

In hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have seen as fitting if a tonne of people had showed up. American Music Club spent the whole first phase of their career as the quintessential critically acclaimed and commercially ignored band, and unlike some of their brethren who’d managed to parlay reunions into (profitable) victory laps of sorts, AMC seem to have managed to pick up right where they left off, turning out terrific records and having them overlooked by pretty much everyone. But then that’s how things seem fated to go when you’re the patron songwriters of the eternally bummed, which is to say, Mark Eitzel.

A handful of people had trickled into Lee’s Palace on Thursday night when opener Mark Wilson, down from Ottawa, took the stage. A few times in his set he thanked the audience for being so quiet, but that was less due to respect than being in absentia. Still, those who were there were silent for that’s what was needed to appreciate Wilson’s delicate, crystalline chamber folk. Wilson blended a fragile, airy voice reminiscent of Chris Garneau with an atmosphere like Great Lake Swimmers, accompanied by tasteful and understated electric guitar and cello.

For a man who’s earned something as a reputation for being moody and mercurial, Mark Eitzel was in remarkably cheerful form as he led the latest incarnation of American Music Club – only he and guitarist Vudi remain the only constants from the first era to the present – onto a Toronto stage for the first time in something like a decade and a half. He prefaced set opener “The Decibels and the Little Pills” with some background on the song and thus set the tone for the first part of the set, which drew heavily on the band’s post-reunion records, this year’s The Golden Age and 2004’s Love Songs For Patriots. While some songwriters risk dispelling some of the magic of their songs by explaining them, Eitzel’s anecdotes only served to enhance and though I’m sure many were anxious to hear the more classic material, the choice to focus on the new material – all executed marvelously – only served to reinforce my opinion that their new records stand up to anything the band has ever put out, and considering how highly I regard those albums, that’s saying something.

But those who had waited so long to hear something from California or Mercury were not to be disappointed. With “Western Skies”, the band opened up the back catalog and though I’m sure they’d have had to play every song they’d ever written to satisfy everyone, what they did play hit almost all the right notes. “Revolving Door” was majestic and “Blue And Grey Shirt” beautifully desolate, but “Hello Amsterdam” sounded over-sloppy and under-rehearsed. All was forgiven, however, with the set closer. For whatever reason – maybe because they declined to play it in Chicago in 2004 – I assumed that “Johnny Mathis’ Feet” was one of those songs that they never played anymore, but when Eitzel picked up the acoustic guitar and strummed those open and slightly out of tuned chords, when his huge, resonant voice belted out the chorus, I swear I swooned just a little and my list of things to experience before I died got one item shorter.

For the encore, they turned in a raucous “Wish The World Away” that came across about as well as its San Francisco companion “Hello, Amsterdam” but for the finale, they acquiesced to the one audience member who had yelled, “Play anything from Everclear!” and with just Eitzel and Vudi on stage, closed with a gorgeous “Jesus’ Hands” and sent the small but devoted crowd out into the night. I don’t know if American Music Club will ever come back to Toronto. I don’t know if will ever see them play again. But if I don’t, then that’ll be okay. Because I’ll have this.

Photos: American Music Club, Mark Wilson @ Lee’s Palace – April 17, 2008
MP3: American Music Club – “All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco”
MP3: American Music Club – “I Know That’s Not Really You”
MP3: American Music Club – “All My Love”
MP3: American Music Club – “Another Morning”
Video: American Music Club – “Johnny Mathis’ Feet”
Video: American Music Club – “Wish The World Away”
Video: American Music Club – “Electric Light”
Stream: American Music Club / The Golden Age
MySpace: American Music Club
MySpace: Mark Wilson

The San Diego Union-Tribune and LAist welcome Tift Merritt to California.

The Toronto Star profiles Kathleen Edwards, in town at the Phoenix on April 23.

My Morning Jacket have let loose the title track from their next album, Evil Urges, due out June 10. They’re at the Kool Haus on June 16. Crawdaddy measures Jim James up against Neil Young because… well, I guess they were bored.

MP3: My Morning Jacket – “Evil Urges”

Pitchfork interviews She & Him’s Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

My regret about not being around for The Submarines’ show at the Drake Underground on May 24 is now amplified by the fact that Headlights will also be on the bill. All fans of great pop music, be there. Their new one Honeysuckle Weeks is out May 13.

Also out May 13 is Directions To See A Ghost, the new one from The Black Angels. They’ve got a tour booked to support and will be at Lee’s Palace on June 26 with The Warlocks. Oh, Lee’s is going to smell funny that night, yes it most certainly is.

MP3: The Black Angels – “Doves”

And thanks to Dave for the info that The Black Keys will be at The Phoenix on August 3. The duo were featured in the final issue of Harp.

Anyone who had tickets to see Cut Copy, Black Kids and Mobius Band at Lee’s Palace on May 9 take note – the show has been moved to The Phoenix. Anyone who didn’t have tickets to see Cut Copy, Black Kids and Mobius Band… you can now get some if you want. Cut Copy are also featured in Spinner’s Interface right now and Prefix has an interview.