Archive for May, 2008

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

CONTEST – Sloan @ The Tattoo Rock Parlour – June 10, 2008

Photo by Chris Butcher

It’s hard to believe there was ever a time where a new Sloan record every couple years wasn’t a forgone conclusion – remember the time they faked their own death to get out of their contract with DGC? – because the boys are back again with the follow-up to 2006’s epic-like-all-three-Lord Of The Rings-movies-in-one-sitting Never Hear The End Of It, the much more compact Parallel Play.

Though as ever, they’ve stuck to the power-pop meets classic rock recipe that’s served them so well for so long, there’s signs that the band aren’t letting themselves get creatively stagnant. Attractions-approved organs are a welcome addition to a few songs and songwriting wild card Andrew Scott mixes things up by trying his hand at garage rock (“Emergency 911”) and classic Dylan (“Down In The Basement”). Parallel Plays is definitely familiar terrain but not stale.

The record is out June 10 and the band are playing a special gig at the Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto that night to mark the occasion (19+, sorry). Tickets are going to be available through Sympatico’s portal but courtesy of Sony BMG, I’ve got ten (10) pairs of tickets to give away for the show. If you want to win, email me at contests AT with “SLOOOOOAAAAAN” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body (real, physical passes need to be sent out this time) and also tell me if you had to get a tattoo of a Sloan member (or already have one), tell me who and why. And where, if you think it’s pertinent. It’s a poll, of sorts. Contest will close at midnight, June 2.

Fans should also note that the band are doing a couple NxNE shows – they’re at the Mod Club on Thursday, June 12 at 9PM and then hoof it up to Lee’s Palace that same night for a 1AM nightcap. Exclaim says nice things about the new record and talk to Jay and Patrick about it.

MP3: Sloan – “I’m Not A Kid Anymore”
Stream: Sloan / Parallel Play
MySpace: Sloan

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Forever Again

Photo via SubPop

There are many days where I haven’t had the time to properly formulate a review for anything, nor is there anything especially newsworthy to contemplate. This is one of those days. But thankfully I have enough random linkage to fill out a post and thanks to Pigeon Row PR, I’ve got something interesting to lead with – namely a giveaway for passes to see the reunited Eric’s Trip at the Mod Club next Tuesday night, June 3.

The Moncton band, beloved by many, has been back together for a while but are also carrying on with their respective solo careers so gigs have been somewhat sporadic, making this local show an event of the special variety. I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show, and to enter the contest email me at contests AT with “I want to go on Eric’s Trip” in the subject line and your full name in the body. This one will run through the weekend and winners drawn after midnight, June 1.

Video: Eric’s Trip – “My Room”
Video: Eric’s Trip – “Stove”
Video: Eric’s Trip – “Viewmaster”

Wolf Parade won’t let loose their new one At Mount Zoomer for a few weeks yet – June 17 to be exact – but they’ve just released a second preview MP3 from it. They’re at the Kool Haus on August 9.

MP3: Wolf Parade – “Language City”

Metro talks to Destroyer’s Dan Bejar.

The hockey-themed vid for Kathleen Edwards’ newest single is now available for your grokking pleasure. The singer talks to The Calgary Herald, The Georgia Straight and Edmonton Sun.

Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”

PitchforkTV has a video interview with Feist because, well, it’s TV.

Billboard talks to Aimee Mann about @#%&! Smilers, due out next Tuesday. She plays the Kool Haus on August 28.

The Evening News chats with Josh Ritter.

PopMatters interviews Mark Eitzel of American Music Club.

Colin Meloy discusses the solo life with The Sun.

Pitchfork has a feature interview with Bon Iver, at Lee’s Palace on July 22.

Exclaim! poses questions to Emmylou Harris, who will be playing Massey Hall on June 18.

The AV Club discovers this guy called Bob Dylan.

The Dallas Observer profiles Will Johnson of Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel, both of whom will be releasing Dual Hawks on June 3. Fans won’t have to make any Use Your Illusion-style decisions about which one to get, though, as they’ll be released as a regular-priced, double-disc set. Of course, diehards will be also have the option of the deluxe edition which comes with a fancy-pants, 30-page booklet. Centro-Matic are at the Horseshoe on June 11.

MP3: Centro-Matic – “Quality Strange”
MP3: Centro-Matic – “I, The Kite”
MP3: South San Gabriel – “Trust To Lose”

Spinner gets some festival-going advice from Rogue Wave’s Zach Schwartz, which you can put to good use next weekend – June 7, to be exact – when they play Olympic Island alongside Death Cab For Cutie, Stars and Young Galaxy.

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James discusses his urge to be evil with Spinner and MTV, while the rest of the band chips in for this feature at Evil Urges is out June 10 and the band is at the Kool Haus a week later on June 16.

Minnesota Daily, The Georgia Straight and The Phoenix profile M83, who are at the Mod Club tonight.

Drowned In Sound have it that Mogwai’s next album will be entitled The Hawk Is Howling and be in stores September 22 in the UK, presumably September 23 in North America. It stands to reason that they’ll be previewing material from it when they play the Phoenix on June 30, but not necessarily – they could bust out Young Team in its entirety… the 10th anniversary deluxe reissue of their debut came out this week.

Adam Franklin discusses the Swervedriver reunion with The San Francisco Chronicle. That tour hits Lee’s Palace on June 13.

NME gets an update on the creation of the third Maximo Park record.

Paper, BBC and Exclaim! talk to Duffy, who appears to be having no problem reproducing her European successes on this side of the Atlantic.

Fields have posted some demos of songs slated for their second album up on their MySpace.

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Leviathan, Bound

Photo via MySpace

Prior to 2006, the line on Shearwater was that they were the gentler side-project to Okkervil River on account of the shared principals in Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff. Certainly, this wasn’t exactly correct as Shearwater had existed as long as Okkervil and it didn’t give the band the sufficient credit, as the songwriting on Shearwater records was often as good as anything that made any given Okkervil record – this was no cast-off clearing house. But as far as elevator pitches went, it was close enough.

And in 2006, everything changed. Firstly, Sheff withdrew from the band both to concentrate on Okkervil’s rising fortunes but also to allow Meiburg’s muse to stand on its own and after debating a name change, Shearwater would take everyone – even their long-time fans – by surprise with the release of Palo Santo. It was a dense and enigmatic thing, its brew of avant-garde folk and rock as beautiful as it was harrowing and easily one of the best and most challenging records released that year. And needless to say, one of the most overlooked.

But rather than allow Palo Santo to remain lost in the shuffle, it was given a second life by the band and their new home at Matador Records when it was re-released last year in partially re-recorded and fully remastered form as Palo Santo: The Expanded Edition, an exercise as eye-opening as the original record. It placed Palo Santo not as a defining statement, but a transitional piece. You could hear the band, honed by relentless touring, pushing at the creative boundaries of the songs that they’d already outgrown but weren’t quite prepared to leave behind.

Which brings us to Rook, their new album out June 3. Again, lineup changes were in effect as longtime multi-instrumentalist Howard Draper left the band, and again, the band have taken previous expectations – no matter how high they were set by past efforts – and transcended them. If Palo Santo was a record shrouded in mystery, Rook is a record that sheds that cloak to fully reveal itself and yet as much as you can take it in, it remains as inscrutable as ever.

Initial impressions are that it’s an even less accessible document than its predecessor, but as with Palo Santo, it does eventually come together in eminently satisfying fashion and the listener’s perseverance is rewarded many times over. Between the elegiac beauty of bookends “On The Death Of The Waters” and “The Hunter’s Star”, there are songs like like “Rooks” which are immediate but not to be mistaken for pop songs, instead making their impression by virtue of their drama and power, the relatively straight rock of “Century Eyes” and the sprawling and soaring drama of “The Snow Leopard”. Rook is unequivocally epic and grand with a deliberate if cryptic sense of purpose, and yet manages to clock in at under 40 minutes.

It’s tempting to suggest that Rook is the defining record for Shearwater, the album that will for years to come be held up as their watershed moment but considering that the only constant for the band in recent years has been constant metamorphosis, there’s no reason to believe that they could come up with something even greater the next time out.

Austin360 has an extensive feature on the band while Matablog presents a thoroughly unexpected use of Palo Santo‘s “Red Sea, Black Sea” that should absolutely be made the song’s official music video. Shearwater will set out on tour in a couple weeks and roll into the Horseshoe on June 23 with Frog Eyes and Evangelicals. There’s also some videos of Meiburg wearing his ornithologist hat whilst traipsing around the Falkland Islands here. Update: The whole of the album is now streaming on the band’s MySpace.

MP3: Shearwater – “Rooks”
MP3: Shearwater – “Leviathan, Bound”
MySpace: Shearwater

Daytrotter welcomes The Mountain Goats for a session featuring songs new, old and unreleased.

Pitchfork talks to Aaron Dessner of The National about their contribution to the forthcoming Red Hot indie-centric AIDS awareness compilation as well as goings-on with the band, who are currently on tour with R.E.M. and Modest Mouse, a bill which will be at the Molson Amphitheatre next Sunday, June 8.

San Francisco’s Film School are coming back to town for a show at Sneaky Dee’s on July 22. They’re still touring in support of last year’s Hideout, from which they’ve just released another MP3 and video. The Daily Iowan also has an interview.

MP3: Film School – “Compare”
Video: Film School – “Compare”

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008


Photo by Melissa Trott

That which gave Islands much of their cachet when they first showed up a few years ago – namely that they were the spawn of The Unicorns – actually put them behind the 8-ball for me. Namely because I didn’t like The Unicorns.

It’s been many years since I actually heard the Unicorns but I do remember it predated blogs, MySpace or anything else that made sampling easy. They had a website or something that offered some samples but the process of actually accessing them was not simple and I don’t know if they were deliberately not putting their best foot forward, but what I heard did not match up with all the accolades I was hearing… and so I put them out of mind. I didn’t take much notice when they split, nor when two of the three band members returned as Islands and even after seeing them live a couple times – and enjoying them – my initial Unicorns prejudice still clouded my opinions.

And so their new album Arm’s Way is actually the first recorded work from Nick Thorburn I’ve heard. I’ve done my best to approach it with a wholly open mind and that’s been made easier by the fact that the record brings to mind not The Unicorns, but Patrick Wolf. Like Wolf’s Magic Position, Arm’s Way is an epic exercise in prog-pop grandiosity, all sweeping strings and expansive songs and while Thorburn’s vocals are more anxious than arch, they share a theatrical delivery that suits the musical accompaniment. Tightly and immaculately arranged, it’s not at all what I would have expected from a band that I have more than once applied the adjective of “shambolic” and does raise the question of what their old-time fans, even the ones dating back to the Unicorn days, think of the new sound. On the downside, it’s a bit of an exhausting listen – overlong, at the very least – but better to be worn out from a long, interesting journey than from boredom, and Arm’s Way is far from boring.

Islands are at the Phoenix tomorrow night, May 29, hopefully in their new all-black stage uniforms. The all-white thing they were sporting in the past may have seemed like a good idea in theory, but when everyone in the band apparently has different laundry habits, it can end up being a dozen shades of off-white and just look a little sad. CMJ, Chart, This Is Fake DIY, eye and North By Northwestern have features on the band. And courtesy of ANTI Records, I have five copies of the new album to give away. To enter, send me an email at contests AT with “I want to rock, I want an Island” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest open to Canadian residents only and will close at midnight, May 31.

MP3: Islands – “Creeper”
Stream: Islands / Arm’s Way
MySpace: Islands

Sigur Ros were the news of the day yesterday, announcing that they’d release their next album Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust (or With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly for non-Icelandic speakers) in just a few weeks on June 24. They’re giving away an MP3 of the first single, the unfortunately-titled “Gobbledigook”, on their website for the low price of your email address. They’ve also got a nudity-filled video of the song available to watch on the site as well.

JAM, East Bay Express and Examiner talk to R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Inside Bay Area, North Bay Nugget and The Province to bassist Mike Mills about the working process behind Accelerate. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on June 8 and the episode of Austin City Limits they taped during SxSW apparently aired last week. If you missed it, you can see a clip of the performance below.

Video: R.E.M. – “Supernatural Superserious” (live on Austin City Limits)

M.I.A. tells JAM that following her visa issues with the US, a move to Montreal might be in the works. But first she’ll visit Toronto for a sold-out show at the Sound Academy on June 2. She also talks to The Calgary Herald.

The Tripwire has got a sample of the bonus disc that will accompany the June 10 reissue of Rob Dickinson’s Fresh Wine For The Horses – you know, the one consisting of acoustic redos of Catherine Wheel songs that is supposed to entice us to buy the record twice. Which we’ll do, of course, but perhaps wait until June 18 when Dickinson is at the Mod Club and can buy it from him in person. I’m pleased that it seems he’s gone to the trouble of doing properly produced recordings and arrangements of the songs rather than just plop a mic in front of himself and doing it live off the floor – “Crank” sounds terrific. FAZER also has an interview with Dickinson (thanks to the commenter below).

MP3: Rob Dickinson – “Crank” (acoustic)

Though not out until next week, Spinner is currently streaming The Futureheads’ new record This Is Not The World in its entirety, while Drowned In Sound parses the record from top to bottom with the help of the band. This Is Fake DIY has also got a video interview.

Stream: The Futureheads / This Is Not The World

Aversion interviews Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit.

Chart, Southtown Star, The Independent and The Los Angeles Times talk to members of Los Campesinos!.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

CONTEST – The Jealous Girlfriends @ The El Mocambo – June 3, 2008

Photo by Celesta Danger

I’ve gone on a bit in the past about Brooklyn’s Jealous Girlfriends and their terrific new-but-not-that-new self-titled album so I won’t rehash. Instead, I will remind you that they’re coming back to Toronto for the third time eight months for a show at the El Mocambo next Tuesday evening, June 3, in support of Sea Wolf. And you know, it just occurred to me that both acts on this bill are Hot Freaks alumni, Sea Wolf having played our SxSW party last year and The Jealous Girlfriends doing the deed this year. That’s kind of neat.

But also beside the point. Courtesy of the band and Last Gang Records, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for next week’s show. If you want a shot, email me at contests AT with “I want to see The Jealous Girlfriends” in the subject line and your full name in the body. This contest will close at midnight, Thursday evening – May 29 for those who like it spelled out.

Update: And oh hey – Daytrotter just put up a session with the band. Woot.

MP3: The Jealous Girlfriends – “Roboxulla”
Video: The Jealous Girlfriends – “How Now”