Archive for November, 2008

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

CONTEST – Oh No Forest Fires @ Rancho Relaxo – December 5, 2008

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangMost company Christmas parties stink. This is a statement of fact. At best, you can hope that you get more than your fair share of drink tickets and that someone, preferably not yourself, gets wasted and makes an ass of themsleves so at least you have something to talk about the following Monday besides how much the Christmas party stank.

So when you get the opportunity to hit up a holiday-themed soiree that’s pretty much guaranteed NOT to stink, you should pay attention. Case in point, the “Jingle Bell Hop” presented by Audio Blood and Two-Way Monologues at Rancho Relaxo this coming Friday night, December 5. It will feature Oh No Forest Fires, well-documented in these pages, pleading acoustic-rock from Hamilton’s Bass Lions and Barrie-based pop-smith Brett Caswell & The Marquee Rose. Certainly a better time than kissing the boss’s ass or placing bets in the layoff pool.

So courtesy of Audio Blood I’ve got a holiday prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to said show and a copy of Oh No Forest Fires’ The War On Geometry and Bass Lions’ More Than Islands on CD. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Jingle Bell Hop” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me before midnight, December 3.

MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “Swing And A Misdemeanor”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “We Fit Our Charm”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “It’s Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye”
MP3: Bass Lions – “Ransom The Sunset”
MP3: Bass Lions – “Funeral Shed”
MP3: Bass Lions – “Like Ashes In My Mouth”

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Hope Is Important

Idlewild contemplates next album, first album

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceJust a quick one today. When America goes on holiday, things slow waaaaay down and, apparently, I get stuck in Northern Britain.

Now free of record labels, Scotland’s Idlewild are taking the “cutting out the middleman” ethos to heart by going direct to their fans to finance their next record. As The Guardian reports, they’re soliciting pre-orders even before recording has commenced, and for the tidy sum of fifteen quid, fans can get a fancy edition of the CD when it’s released next Spring, a thank-you in the liner notes of said CD, access to 15 live downloads culled from their upcoming residency at King Tut’s in Glasgow where they’ll be playing all their albums in their entirety and a sense of immense self-satisfaction in the knowledge that they’ve supported the band in a more meaningful way than buying a t-shirt. Full details and the ability to partake are available at The album is still untitled – perhaps they’re coming up with a special “gold sponsor” package that allows the donor naming rights? Raffle off the cover art? I’m just having fun, I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all though fifteen pounds is a fair bit of cash.

In keeping in the “Don’t Look Back” theme of those King Tuts gigs, Drowned In Sound got frontman Roddy Woomble to ruminate track-by-track on their 1999 debut Hope Is Important, incidentally the only one of their records I don’t have.

Video: Idlewild – “When I Argue I See Shapes”
Video: Idlewild – “I’m A Message”
MySpace: Idlewild

This Is Fake DIY has a video session with Frightened Rabbit.

And keeping things Scottish a bit longer, Franz Ferdinand talk to The Guardian about one false start in seeking a producer for Tonight, which is out January 27 and will look like this. And congratulations to Stephanie, who won the tickets for next week’s show at Lee’s Palace. To the other billion people who entered, sorry!

Clash and The Indpendent talk to Glasvegas.

This Is Fake DIY reports that Maximo Park have completed recording their third album, but also that mixing and mastering still has to happen, so don’t look for it too soon.

And yeah, that’s it. Told ya.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

...And We Became Sunshine

Review of The Uglysuit's self-titled debut

Photo By Selena SalfenSelena SalfenSometimes stuff sits on my shelf for ages before I get around to listening to it, and all I can do is slap myself upside the head for having wasted time that could have been spent with that record. Such is the case with the self-titled debut from Oklahomans The Uglysuit – it was released back in mid-August, which implies that I probably got the promo sometime in early August, and since I only gave it an airing in the last few weeks, that’s like two and a half months lost.

Two and a half months I could have spent basking in its sun-kissed, pastel-coloured, prog-adelic pop made up of sounds and styles all dear and familiar, yet combined so seamlessly and perfectly that you’d believe that they were invented for the sole purpose of crafting this record. Built on cascading guitars, majestic piano and keening vocals, The Uglysuit is epic in scale yet intimate in sentiment – an ornate and remarkably cohesive and unified record. It’s a suite of songs stretching and sprawling into one another, each one made up of even more miniature pop jewels, strung together like a necklace sparkling in the sun. And even when storm clouds gather – and there are points where things get loud and intense – the beauty remains, like watching thunderheads rumble over great plains.

Am I being overly effusive? Maybe. Probably. But The Uglysuit – a misnomer if ever there was one – is so welcoming and enveloping that it’s hard not to get swept up in it. This would be an astonishing record from anyone – the fact that it comes from a band this young makes it even more of an achievement. If you haven’t made its acquaintance yet, you now have no excuse. Beyond the first single and video, available to grab/watch below, Daytrotter posted up a session with the band last week. They were supposed to come through town last month opening for The New Year but that didn’t happen for whatever reason – here’s hoping that 2009 keeps them on the road and with a Toronto stop on the agenda. Rolling Stone also has a short profile.

MP3: The Uglysuit – “Chicago”
Video: The Uglysuit – “Chicago”

Matt Pond PA are celebrating (American) Thanksgiving by giving away a free EP lovingly entitled Freep. Sample the lead track or just grab the whole thing.

MP3: Matt Pond PA – “Hearts & Minds”
ZIP: Matt Pond PA / Freep

eye looks at the sudden and well-deserved boost given to the Rural Alberta Advantage by being selected by eMusic as their Featured Artists for the month of November. They’re playing tonight at Lee’s Palace with The Acorn and Ohbijou and are on at 9. If you’re going, go early! And note that in that eMusic link is an extensive interview where it’s clarified once and for all that only singer/songwriter Nils Edenloff has Albertan roots – the other 2/3 of the band do not. Mystery solved! Of course, I could have just asked them but where’s the fun in that?

Muzzle Of Bees reports that Jason Isbell will return with his second solo album on February 19 of next year, though it’s not technically a solo album anymore since it’ll be named for he and his band – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. Catchy.

Muzzle Of Bees also has an interview with Calexico’s Joey Burns, while Minnesota Public Radio is offering up a studio session with the band.

A man with a lot of names and a lot of positive press is making his Toronto debut early next year – Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson will be at the El Mocambo on January 14 in support of his self-titled debut, tickets $8.

MP3: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – “Buriedfed”
Video: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – “Buriedfed”

Pitchfork talks to AC Newman (Carl to his friends) about his forthcoming album Get Guilty!, out January 20. Did I link the first MP3? Can’t remember, too lazy to check. So here you go.

MP3: AC Newman – “There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve”

The Hold Steady have finally released the first video from Stay Positive, for the title track. The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Craig Finn.

Video: The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive”

The first single from A Camp’s Colonia is currently available to stream. The album is out February 2.

Stream: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”

Clash quizzes My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan about some of his favourite things.

NPR is currently streaming the whole of Neil Young’s forthcoming Sugar Mountain – Live At Canterbury House 1968 live set, which is going to be released next Tuesday. The first set of Archives is set for a January 27 release and Neil is at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.

Stream: Neil Young / Sugar Mountain – Live At Canterbury House 1968

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

CONTEST – Transmission 2008, Vancouver BC

Photo By Aigin LarkiAigin LarkiTransmission is an event held in Vancouver every year whose mandate is, in wonderfully business-y speak, to showcase “export-ready artists and business-ready professionals”. I don’t actually know what that means, but from a fan’s POV, it’s also an opportunity to catch a passel of acts from both Canada and abroad who are on the verge… of being exported, apparently.

This year’s edition takes place on two stages over two nights at the Storyeum in Vancouver’s Gastown next week on December 4 and 5. The lineup for the first night features Woodhands, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, Final Flash, The Pet Conspiracy, Pacifika, Wendy McNeill, Radio Radio and Winter Gloves. Those attending the second night will be treated to performances from The Hong Kong Blood Opera, Bison B.C., Beast, Elliott Brood, Courtney Wing, Alex Cuba and Wildbirds & Peacedrums.

Courtesy of Atomique Productions, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for each night. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to go to Transmission (night one or two)” and your full name and mailing address in the body and have these off to me by midnight, November 30. Vancouverites, don’t say I never do anything for you left coasters.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Kiss With A Fist

An Introduction To Florence & The Machine

Photo By Tom BeardTom BeardThe first time I heard of London’s Florence & The Machine was this past March at SxSW, when Rob from wandered over just before Emmy the Great’s showcase and said something to the effect of, “I just saw the greatest show ever. Florence & The Machine jumped into a fountain in the middle of her set, pulled someone in after her, climbed back out, got back onstage and kept playing”. I’m paraphrasing and thought he was exaggerating, but after seeing the video footage, I saw not.

And it’s fitting that I first heard of Florence (surname Welch) while seeing Emmy, because both are artists who’ve made an impression this year without benefit of a proper album. But while Emmy recordings, live and studio, have been relatively plentiful, the Florence & The Hype Machine pickings have been slimmer – basically just a handful of live tracks and covers to go along with her two officially-released singles thus far, “Kiss With A Fist” back in June and “Dog Days Are Over”, out next Tuesday.

But even based on just that limited sample, a couple things are obvious – one, she’s got some serious talent and two, she’s seriously batshit crazy. To the former point, her voice has both weight and power, equal parts aggressive and plaintive and capable of handling styles ranging from folk to theatre, blues to rock, whatever. To the latter point, most everything about her comes across as eccentric at least, and not just for her spontaneous fountain-jumping ways. Her songwriting showcases a girl who could generously (but affectionately) be described as “loopy”, a trait backed up by her videos. “Kiss” is a raw kitchen-sink stomp with gleefully violent lyrics that sound like they’ve come from the diary of a girl you should be afraid to meet (and yet still do) while “Dog Days” is a strummy, Summer-y bit of folk that builds into a technicolour soul-pop explosion. With those as reference points, there’s really no way to judge what her debut album will bring when its released in May 2009 of next year, but you can be damn sure it’ll be interesting.

The Guardian has an extensive profile on Florence.

MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Postcards From Italy” (Beirut cover)
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Girl With 1 Eye” (Live at London Calling)
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Hospital Beds” (Cold War Kids Cover, live)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”

NME reports that Blur – including Graham – will be getting together in the new year to rehearse and, as Damon Albarn puts it, “see if we’re into it”. Can you say “Coachella”? No? How about, “bagloads of money”? I knew you could.

The Quietus talks to Bloc Party’s Gordon Moakes about the joys of new fatherhood.

Frightened Rabbit are keeping a tour diary for Drowned In Sound. They’ve also gone to the trouble of making a video for their contribution to the second Guilt By Association covers compilation due out on February 17, a cover of ’90s UK dance outfit N-Trance.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Set You Free”

Spin has posted a portion of their interview with Elvis Costello from this month’s issue. His new talk show Spectacle begins airing on December 3.

Chart interviews Nick Cave.

Yeah they were just here, and they were just here before that, but M83 are coming back again – this time on January 23 at the Air Canada Centre, opening for The Killers. Yeah. The sound you hear are hordes of M83 fans not rushing to get tickets. There’s also a new remix of M83’s “We Own The Sky” by Maps available to download.

MP3: M83 – “We Own The Sky” (Maps mix)

Portishead have made a new video from Third.

Video: Portishead – “Magic Doors”

The Scotsman salutes Rough Trade Records on the occasion of their 30th anniversary.