Archive for August, 2008

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Sure Enough

Photo by Carolyn Desislets

For female artists, the shadow of Lucinda Williams looms large, and justifiably so – an artist could do far worse than to forge a career like hers, channeling toughness and tenderness through a world-worn rasp and masterfully evocative songwriting. No, being compared to Lucinda is no faint praise, assuming it’s justified. So it’s interesting that not one but two such artists would emerge from Canada in the last few years. The first would be Ottawa’s Kathleen Edwards, who has gone on to some considerable success evoking the rockier side of Lucinda, and the other is Montreal-based Angela Desveaux, who takes a more pop-oriented approach to things.

Like her 2006 debut Wandering Eyes, Desveaux’s new record The Mighty Ship is a well-considered balance of jangling, upbeat melodicism and pensive, downcast weepers, perhaps heavier on the atmospherics and with some welcome orchestral embellishments but hardly light years away. Though the recipe at work is a well-used one, it’s made exceptional by the six-string accentuation Snailhouse and Wooden Stars guitarist Mike Feuerstack (another parallel with Edwards is the savvy move of building her band around a shit-hot guitarist) and Desveaux’s own voice – a heartbreaking combination of sugar, twang and sigh – and her pen. Her songs manage to simultaneously emphasize her wide-eyed and optimistic youthful side as well as the experience of one who’s endured her own share of wear, weariness and heartbreak.

Leading up to the release of the record on September 9, Desveaux and band are playing a series of release shows in Ontario and Quebec and courtesy of Sonic Unyon I’ve got some stuff and passes to give away – three copies of the new record on CD and two pairs of passes to give away to either of the September 4 show at the Boat in Toronto or the September 5 show at the Black Sheep Inn in Ottawa. We’re talking three winners – one CD only, two CD and passes. To enter, email me at contests AT with either “I want the Angela Desveaux CD” or “I want to see Angela Desveaux in (name of city)” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest is open to anyone in Canada, though obviously for the shows you should be in the greater Toronto/Ottawa regions. Or really hardcore. Whichever. Contest closes at midnight, September 2.

Desveaux will also be opening up for The New Year on their Montreal and Toronto dates on October 14 and 15 respectively. Exclaim has an interview with her about her band and eating healthy.

MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Sure Enough”
MySpace: Angela Desveaux

Both eye and NOW get psyched for Tuesday night’s Silver Jews show at Lee’s Palace with interviews with David Berman. The Montreal Mirror also has a piece.

Paste catches up with Calexico’s John Convertino. Their new one Carried To Dust is out September 9.

An Aquarium Drunkard talks to Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb. proVisions is out on Tuesdsay.

Great Lake Swimmers will play a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square at 6PM on September 11 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. They have a non-free show at Lee’s Palace on October 25.

There’s more installments in Okkervil River’s covers project for The Stand-Ins, these ones featuring Jack Ladder, Bon Iver and Bird Of Youth. That’s more than half of them! The record is out September 9, they play the Phoenix on October 12.

Video: Bird Of Youth – “Pop Lie”
Video: Bon Iver – “Blue Tulip”
Video: Jack Ladder – “Starry Stairs”

Jolie Holland has a date at the Horseshoe on October 29. Her new record The Living and The Dead is out October 7.

Blurt talkst to guitarist Phil Wandscher and waxes nostalgic for Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac. In the present, Ryan Adams is releasing a novel as well as getting into blog-wars with Drowned In Sound.

The Miami New Times declares My Morning Jacket the best live band ever. Maybe.

Blurt goes record shopping with Jason Isbell.

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Plays To Please

Photo by Neal Franc

Logically, I should have run this yesterday in advance of the Final Fantasy show at the Danforth Music Hall last night… but I didn’t. Alas. But the information is still relevant and of interest, so here we go anyways. I last week mentioned that the Owen Pallet Experience was going to be releasing two EPs this Fall in lieu of the Heartland LP that he’d been working on – well details on said releases are now available.

First up on September 21 is Spectrum, 14th Century and is a collaboration with Beirut consisting of five tracks of “fake field recordings” committed to tape in the Quebec outdoors. That’ll be followed on October 21 by Plays To Please, described as an orchestral tribute to the songs of Alex Lukashevsky of Toronto’s Deep Dark United. Obviously anyone expecting the Pallet to follow up He Poos Clouds with more looped violin was underestimating the randomness of his muse.

Both will be limited editions with 1000 copies made available on CD and another 1000 on 10″ vinyl. Stereogum has an MP3 from each release available to download and tireless Final Fantasy booster Zoilus has another Plays To Please track available to download. And for more background on the releases, check out the piece at Exclaim!. Toronto Life also has a profile on the man behind the band.

Land Of Talk have made the first sample of their forthcoming Some Are Lakes available to download. The title track of the album has been kicking around live for some time but it’s nice to hear a final, definitive version of the song – I wasn’t expecting the production to be so clean, though. It’s surprising, but nicely so. The record is out October 7 and they play Lee’s Palace on September 27. Tangentially – eye looks into Saddle Creek’s nefarious plan to annex Canada from Nebraska, one band at a time (including Land Of Talk). The Omaha World-Herald also considers the direction of the label.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”

You may have heard scuttlebutt about this year’s edition of the Vice Festival Ball – the same soiree that last year brought the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to town for a ridiculous gig at the Berkeley Church. Well the deets are as follows – Crystal Castles and The Juan Maclean will be at the Hart House on the University of Toronto campus on September 4 and admission (and booze) is free – you just have to RSVP at And I’ve been assured that the Hart House is a damn sight larger than the Berkeley Church so while it’ll certainly be packed, hopefully getting in won’t be quite as much of a drama as last year.

No Age are back for the third time this year with a show at Lee’s Palace on November 21.

Exclaim! has the very tall Chad Van Gaalen as their cover feature this month. He’s playing the Mod Club on October 4, doing an in-store at Sonic Boom on October 5 and releasing his new album Soft Airplane on September 9. There’s also a new video from the record.

Video: Chad Vangaalen – “Molten Light”

Filter talks to Paul Westerberg about The Replacements and their legacy. Sadly, Steve Foley – the band’s last drummer who toured with the band for their final album All Shook Down – passed away last weekend. Details at Billboard.

Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune talks to Aimee Mann, in town tonight at the Kool Haus.

Chart has details on who’ll be performing at the Polaris Music Prize gala at the Phoenix on September 29, aka all the stuff I’ll be missing whilst sequestered away in the grand jury room. Unlike past years, they’re apparently having all ten nominees perform at the show – seven live, three via satellite. How fancy! Remember, there’re still tickets to the gala to be given away. Never mind.

The Globe & Mail profiles Mathieu Saura, aka Vincent Moon, aka the guy behind Takeaway Shows.

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Quest For Glory

It’s turned out that V Fest lineup-spotting has been less engaging than I’d hoped. The first two waves of lineup announcements came in March and May, and the acts for the B-Live dance tent in July, but since then the expected final batch of names to fill out the lineup hasn’t appeared, and there’s just over a week to go.

So while there’ve been a few names quietly added to the lineup – Paper Lions, Matt Costa, Mark Robertson, Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, Songs From A Room – it now seems that what we’ve got is what we’ve got, and that’s a leaner lineup in terms of both star power and simple numbers. In 2007, there were eight bands per day on the main stages and nine on the third stage, whereas if things stay as is for this year, there’ll be just seven acts on the two big stages and six on the small one. They could simply give each band a longer set time, which makes sense as far as satisfying the fans who have bought tickets because presumably there’s someone there they want to see, but as someone who was hoping for a moderately big, 11th hour addition to the bill if just to make things interesting, I’m a bit disappointed.

And oh yes, that third stage. It’s dubbed the “Oh Henry!” Stage and is tasked with showcasing up-and-coming Canadian acts, including the winner of a competition sponsored by the titular candy bar. But as dubious a setup as that might sound, there’s actually some decent talent appearing including London hip-hop artist Shad, whom I’d have thought as a Polaris Music Prize nominee might get invited to one of the big stages. Now as part of my duties as a grand jurist for the aforementioned prize, I’ve been listening rather closely to all ten of the nominated records including Shad’s The Old Prince, and while I don’t feel qualified to objectively discern good hip-hop from bad, I quite like this record – it’s got a nice flow and a lot of really clever wordplay – and like most everyone of a certain age, I like the just-released video for the almost sorta title track. Does that mean I’m going to be lobbying for it to win? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Back to V Fest – the lineup for the Oh Henry stage is as follows – Saturday will feature We Are The Take, Saint Alvia Cartel, Flash Lightnin’, Lights, Bad Flirt and The Waking Eyes while Sunday will have Winter Gloves, OPOPO, The Arkells, Rock Plaza Central, Shad and Secret Broadcast. On top of those I’ve collected names of a few more acts who, at least according to their websites or MySpaces, seem to think they’re playing V Fest – Jesse Krakow and Electric Touch… maybe you can busk? I dunno.

The schedule is promised soon, and that should answer pretty much everything though last year it didn’t show up until the Wednesday before, so things could remain ambiguous a little bit longer. But come on, you’re going just to hear “Wonderwall” and “Big Me” anyways, right? Right. And don’t forget I’m still giving away peripherally associated mobile phone accessories and CDs.

MP3: Shad – “I Don’t Like To”
MP3: Shad – “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”
Video: Shad – “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”
MySpace: Shad

JAM talks to Liam Gallagher of Oasis about his band, his brother, y’know – stuff. They kicked off their North American tour last night on the road to V. Dig Out Your Soul is out October 7.

Pitchfork reports that That Night A Forest Grew – the new EP from The Clientele previously mentioned here, is now available digitally at eMusic and will be out in physical form at a to-be-determined date. The Clientele played V Fest last year. They were great.

NME has news about Editors returning to the studio this Fall. They played V Fest last year. They were great.

PopMatters talks to Guy Garvey of Elbow. They should play V Fest this year. They’d be great.

Tiny Mix Tapes has a chat with Neil Halstead, manages to go five questions before broaching the subject of Slowdive. They also get updates on the state of Rachel Goswell’s health and Mojave 3 in general. He should play V Fest this year. He’d be great. Okay, I’ll stop.

The Irish Independent talks to Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine about the band’s Irish roots. The band are at the Ricoh Coliseum on September 25 (still giving away tickets!) and for a taste of what to expect, check out this video of the band’s recent performance in Japan. I daresay it sounds glorious.

Video: My Bloody Valentine – “To Here Knows When” (live at Fuji Rock Festival)

And for more reunited band live video footage, check out The Verve playing at the BBC Studios at Maida Vale. Forth came out this week and reviews are lukewarm.

Video: The Verve – “Love Is Noise” (live at Maida Vale)

Angry Ape reports that The Long Blondes will release a compilation of their early singles in a collection entitled Singles, set for release on October 20.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

CONTEST – Windsor For The Derby @ The Drake Underground – August 29, 2008

Almost forgot I had this to give away.

Maybe you saw my review from earlier this week of Windsor For The Derby’s new album How We Lost, maybe you clicked on one of the sample MP3s contained therein and maybe you liked what you heard. And maybe you were considering going to see them at the Drake Underground this Friday evening – August 29 – because even though it’s the start of the last long weekend of the Summer, you’ve got nothing to do. Maybe.

Well, courtesy of Against The Grain, I’m going to make that decision process a touch easier – I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show, and if you want ’em, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Windsor For The Derby” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, August 27th.

MP3: Windsor For The Derby – “Maladies”
MP3: Windsor For The Derby – “Hold On”
MySpace: Windsor For The Derby

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Dying Is Fine

Photo by Doron Gild

As much as I’d like to find a completely different angle to discuss Ra Ra Riot’s debut full-length The Rhumb Line, it’s difficult to not address the topic of the death of drummer John Pike last year as his spirit permeates the whole record, from the dedication on the liner notes to the fact that he co-wrote many of the songs. Indeed, though drums on the record are handled entirely by Cameron Wisch, including the four of six songs from their self-titled EP re-recorded for the full-length, it’s notable that he’s not credited as an official band member.

Also interesting is that over the course of the record, it’s those older songs that still stand out the most, and that’s not just familiarity talking. They’re the most energetic numbers and also the ones that best capture the swirling wonder of their live show. This isn’t to suggest the newer material is lesser – that which was presumably written after Pike’s death may not be as immediate, but it’s just as effective at showcasing the band’s dense and detailed orchestral pop and certainly proves that even without Pike, there’s still plenty of creativity to tap into. But if you were looking to sell the band in one song, any of “Ghost Under Rocks”, “Each Year” or “Dying Is Fine” is where you’d go to seal the deal.

So rather than a progression from the self-title, The Rhumb Line feels more an expansion of that record – obviously the band wasn’t ready to move on without a proper toast to absent friends, and in that the record manages to simultaneously succeed as both a stirring debut and a poignant memorial.

Rolling Stone features the band as one to watch for 2008 and if you want to watch them – which I highly recommend – they’re at the Horseshoe next Thursday night, September 4. And, courtesy of Outside Music, I’ve got one pair of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Ra Ra Riot” in the subject line (yes I used that last time I gave away passes to their show what of it) and your full name in the body and have that in to me by midnight, September 1.

Update: Also check out the band doing some live sessions at Pitchfork, Stereogum, BrooklynVegan and My Old Kentucky Blog.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year” (EP version)
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Ghost Under Rocks”
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MySpace: Ra Ra Riot

JAM finds out what Aimee Mann has against smilers. Be sure to greet her with stoic, stony faces when she plays the Kool Haus on Thursday night.

Bend Bulletin talks to Glenn Kotche of Wilco about their massively expanded set list and their 50-state initiative. They’re at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 opening up for Neil Young. I will simply not get tired of writing that. Everyone get tickets alright? I’ve got seats in section 104, row 16. I think those are good.

Filter profiles The Kills.

As My Morning Jacket tours through Texas, Dallas News and Austin 360 score interviews with the band, who’ve just released a new video from Evil Urges.

Video: My Morning Jacket – “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt 2”

Pitchfork reports Mountain Goats will be releasing a tour-only double-7″ EP for when they hit the road this Fall, but those unlucky enough to not be on the sched – including us – will be able to grab it digitally via a novel new “pay what you want” model.

Athenians Dark Meat will be returning to town for a show at the Drake Underground on September 25. If you need a reason to attend, just check out this concert photo at Spin. Seriously, how much fun does that look? And the idea of that spilling over into the chi chi environs of the Drake… priceless. Full tour dates at Pitchfork.

MP3: Dark Meat – “Freedom Ritual”

You can currently stream the whole of Matthew Sweet’s new album Sunshine Lies. Now it’s true that Sweet’s output has become somewhat less than essential in recent years – still decent enough but not really a patch on his older material – but anytime he pulls up the right supporting cast as he does this time with the likes of Ric Menck and Richard Lloyd, it’s worth taking note. OC Register talks a bit to Sweet about the new record.

Stream: Matthew Sweet – “Sunshine Lies”

Chart talks to Liz Powell of Land Of Talk, who play Lee’s Palace on September 27 and release Some Are Lakes on October 7.

The ever-wonderful Merge records turns 20 next year and are marking the occasion with SCORE!, a subscription series of 14 CDs of Merge goodies curated by a variety of famous people and whose proceeds will go to charity. Pre-orders begin in September, delivery in January 2009. Details at Pitchfork.