Archive for December, 2008

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Reflecting Off Of Your DVD

Wilco to release live concert DVD in Ashes Of American Flags

Photo via WilcoWilcoJust before everything shut down for the holidays, a dispatch arrived from Wilco HQ detailing some of the band’s plans for the new year. Some of it was already known, in particular that work has begun on album number seven and is targeted for a Spring release.

But they also let out a bit of new news, namely that they’ll be releasing their first official concert DVD in the new year. You may recall that the shows that went into the Kicking Television live set were supposed to be taped for a companion DVD but that was scratched because of dissatisfaction with the quality of things. Well they enlisted the talents of Brendan Canty and Christoph Green of Trixie Films, producers of the Burn To Shine video series and the Sunken Treasure Jeff Tweedy live DVD, to accompany them on their Winter 2008 tour and this time, the fruits of their labours have been deemed fit to release.

And so a DVD release entitled Ashes Of American Flags will hit stores sometime in February or March of next year. More details and previews coming in the new year, and it’s worth noting that the shows recorded for this set came immediately after the band’s five-night stand at the Riviera in Chicago where they explored every nook and cranny of the Wilco catalog – check out the set lists of a couple of the shows that will be part of the DVD, and get excited.

And Jeff’s son Spencer has a blog and, well, it’s more interesting than this one.

MP3: Wilco – “Ashes Of American Flags” (live on Austin City Limits)

Spin declares Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold as their “voice of the year”.

Wireless Bollinger interviews Death Cab For Cutie.

Sterogum is offering the first download from Malajube’s new album Labyrinthes, out February 10.

WOXY is offering a double-CD’s worth of free downloads comprising the best of their Lounge Act studio sessions, featuring acts such as Ra Ra Riot, The Kills, Okkervil River and Lightspeed Champion.

The Washington Post talks to Thao Nguyen, whom they declare one of their “best of 2008”.

Nickel Eye, aka Nikolai Fraiture, aka the bassist from The Strokes, brings his solo project to the El Mocambo on January 20. Low Vs Diamond accompany. Fraiture discusses the project with Billboard.

Dig For Fire has a video feature/interview with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Though The Long Blondes called it a day back in October, they still had a final farewell gift for their fans in the form of a Christmas song.

MP3: The Long Blondes – “Christmas Is Cancelled”

Frightened Rabbit contemplate various contemporary Christmas songs for The Guardian.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Fa La La La La La La La La

A Christmas mix

Photo va ICHCI Can Has Cheezburger?One thing I don’t understand is how all the songs and celebrations about how great Winter is are all tied to Christmas, and as such are over and done with just FOUR DAYS into the season. Leaving those of us in the northern climes, at least, with another three months of utter meteorological desolation and no pop cultural respite. What, I ask you, is up with that?


I’m on holiday for the next week and a half as of this afternoon – my first “Christmas vacation” in many, many years. I’m quite excited. I have big plans. I’m cleaning the apartment. Exciting. And so I’ll leave you with a hodge-podge of Christmas tunes I’ve collected over the years… most of which I’ve posted in years past, but hey – it’s only once a year and I don’t really make a habit of actively seeking out Christmas songs anyway. To be honest, they kinda bug me. Bah, humbug.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate, happy statutory holiday to those of you who don’t.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “The Man In The Santa Suit”
MP3: Raveonettes – “Come On Santa”
MP3: Jenn Grant – “O Holy Night”
MP3: Richard Hawley – “Silent Night”
MP3: Cocteau Twins – “Winter Wonderland”
MP3: George & Antony – “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight)
MP3: Velocity Girl – “Merry X-Mas, I Love You”
MP3: Ivy – “Christmas Time Is Here”

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Into The Chaos

Howling Bells and other anticipated 2009 releases

Photo By Ian WhentIan WhentCruising back over some of my past late-December posts, I found this one from 2006 wherein I made an appendix to the year-end list and enumerated some of the records that I thought had been unjustly ignored. And interesting, three of the four are getting ready to take another shot at getting some attention in 2009.

First, we’ve got the release of Radio Wars, the long-awaited (by me, anyways) second album from Aussies now based in the UK, Howling Bells. Their 2006 self-titled debut wrapped radio-ready rock in a widescreen dream-pop sweater, topped it off with some judicious twang and delivered it in Juanita Stein’s gorgeous croon. This is a woman who could sing the ingredients off a cereal box and make it sound sexy.

Needless to say, I have high expectations for record number two, the first taste of which the band are offering in the form of lead single “Into The Chaos”. It’s a bit too compact to be the grandiose return statement that I’d have liked, but the the way the punchy verses set up the swoony and woozy chorus is delicious. It’s being released as a 7″ and also as a free MP3 which you can get by signing up to their mailing list. Which you obviously should do.

The album was initially set for a February 9 release but that appears to have been pushed back to March 3, and even though they’re on a new label in Europe (Independiente versus Bell Union), there again appear to be no plans for a domestic North America release. Repeat talked to Juanita Stein back in September about a range of topics including their plans for album number two. And looking back at album number one for a moment, I had no idea they’d made so many videos from it.

Video: Howling Bells – “Low Happening”
Video: Howling Bells – “Setting Sun”
Video: Howling Bells – “Broken Bones”
Video: Howling Bells – “Blessed Night”
Video: Howling Bells – “Wishing Stone”
MySpace: Howling Bells

After a year marked mainly by solo projects, Trespassers William have regrouped and are planning to release album number four sometime in 2009. Details on the full-length are yet to emerge, but an EP entitled The Natural Order Of Things is due out in “late Winter”. They’re currently streaming a track off of it, “Sparrow”, on their MySpace and it manages to sound exactly like and unlike Trespassers William at the same time, which is really just what you want.

Far less promising in terms of concrete release details are The Radio Dept, who went from a hard release date of September 10 for album number three, Clinging To A Scheme, to a broad and vague target of sometime in 2009. Though I suppose I should be thankful we were at least able to get a single out of them this year.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “Freddie & The Trojan Horse”

There’s also a firm-ish release date for The Golden Spike, the debut from Leeds’ Sky Larkin – February 2. They’ve got a video full of shopping cart hijinks for their latest single, which Q made their track of the day and was released in the form of a wristwatch. Sort of. Not really.

Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”

I knew her as frontperson for Australian electronic-pop outfit Decoder Ring, but Lenka Kripac has since been putting together a surname-less solo career as Lenka. It’s pleasant and peppy pop stuff, and her voice still sounds sublime, but it doesn’t make me tingly the way that the title track off the last Decoder Ring album did… and still does. Lenka is hitting the road this Winter and will be at the Drake Underground on February 2, tickets $10.50. Decoder Ring are planning a new album for 2009.

MP3: Decoder Ring – “Fractions”
Video: Decoder Ring – “Fractions”
Video: Lenka – “The Show”
Video: Lenka – “Trouble Is A Friend”

Daytrotter has a session and Clash an interview with Noah & The Whale. I find it interesting in all the recent sessions with the band I’ve heard, they seem to be recasting all their songs in a decidedly different sonic space than the recorded versions on Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down – less shiny, more hazy. Either they’re moving in a different direction or they were completely stoned on their last North American tour.

They Shoot Music sessions up with The Futureheads.

Frightened Rabbit visit NPR’s World Cafe.

Spinner’s Interface has a session with Neil Halstead.

You can understand why I’ve been expecting Magnet, long one of my favourite music magazines, to go the way of Harp and No Depression and fold. After all – they used to be a bi-monthly but then went quarterly and have only put out two issues this year. Not really signs of life. But there’ll be at least one more issue – their Nick Cave-adorned 15th anniversary issue is out now, and more excitingly, they’ve updated their website to 21st century standards. Not only is it actually navigable, but they’re finally making content from the magazine available online (including RSS – paying attention, Blurt?). Of course, a cynic might suggest that they’re just preparing the groundwork to abandon the physical media realm, but for now I’m happy to not only have another website to poke around and waste time at, but a nice glossy magazine to accompany me on the subway. Okay Under The Radar, now it’s your turn to get your shit together.

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Go! Canada

Canadian Music Fest 2009 reveals initial lineup

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceWhilst perusing the current issue of eye, I noticed something on the full-page announcement of the Bloc Party show at the Kool Haus on March 14 – an image and url for something called Canadian Music Fest. As it turns out, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as I’d initially hoped – just a rebrand of the venerable Canadian Music Week festivities, but with the live showcases now being presented under a slightly different banner than the conference/business-y side of things.

But what was more interesting was the fairly extensive list of artists already confirmed to play CMF/CMW/whatever the weekend of March 12 to 14, and I’m especially pleased to see that London’s 6 Day Riot are coming back to town. They beguiled this past June at NxNE and should do much the same on the return engagement, though I hope they’re prepared for a decidedly different climatological experience this time around. They’ll be spending the first bit of the new year in the studio recording album number two, so I look forward to hearing some new material.

And on the domestic side – it is a Canadian music fest, after all – expect appearances from Basia Bulat, Chad Van Gaalen, Angela Desveaux, Gentleman Reg, Human Highway, Malajube, The Acorn and The Rural Alberta Advantage, amongst many others.

Not playing this fest but hopefully coming to town sooner rather than later regardless are Woodpigeon – they’ll be releasing Treasury Library Canada on February 3 and have made available an MP3 both from it and the companion/bonus album Houndstooth Europa. They’ve also made a new video.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Love In The Time Of Hopscotch”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Oberkampf”
Video: Woodpigeon – “A Moment’s Peace for Mary Christa O’Keefe”

Toronto-based label Out Of This Spark will celebrate its second anniversary with a show at the Tranzac on January 10 featuring their entire lineup, which is to say The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Timber Timbre and Jenny Omnichord. Admission is $8 with a canned food item, $10 without. And the same bill will be at the Albion Hotel in Guelph on January 16.

NME, Paste and Pitchfork talk to Win Butler about the new Arcade Fire film Miroir Noir, available now digitally and by the end of March as a DVD.

To mark the peculiar happening of “Halleleujah” placing both #1 and #2 on the UK singles charts this week (the former a cover of Jeff Buckley’s version of the song by some pop poppet, the latter Jeff Buckley’s version of the song), The Scotsman has a feature on Leonard Cohen and The Telegraph a list of the 20 most interesting things about the song that will pretty much ensure that Lenny’s financial troubles are a thing of the past.

Austin’s …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead will release The Century Of Self on February 17 and roll into Lee’s Palace on March 4, tickets $18.50.

That same day, February 17, Ben Folds is at the Kool Haus, $30.50 in advance.

Witch, who are notable largely for the fact that their drummer is one J Mascis, have a date at the Horseshoe on February 20. Tickets $10.50.

So Much Silence has graciously ripped an acoustic Hold Steady session at KEXP for your listening pleasure.

John Darnielle is offering up a handful of unreleased and really old Mountain Goats tracks for download in the spirit of the season in hopes you’ll “pay it forward”, as they say. If looking for a cause, may I suggest a donation to the Humane Society of Durham, which tragically burned down last week. Goodness knows they need the help right now.

Friday, December 19th, 2008

He Lives In A House, A Very Big House In The Country

The Guardian talks to the people who inspired famous songs

Photo via BlurBlurSo it seems the holidays are officially upon us. I know this because I skipped out of work early yesterday, and the streetcar was packed with people doing exactly the same thing. And as things everywhere wind down, so too will things around here. I’ll still post as long as there’s stuff to post about, but I intend to utilize the downtime to catch up on some reading, movie watching, shopping… real world stuff.

But I’ll wind out the week with this really interesting piece from The Guardian, wherein they talk to the people who served as inspiration for famous songs throughout the years. Like the guy who owned Blur’s “Country House”, the girl whom The Beatles said was “Leaving Home”, she whose name is “Geraldine” and is Glasvegas’ social worker and Patti Boyd, who both had something in the way she moved and also went by “Layla”. Worth a read, perhaps this afternoon between glances at the clock every few minutes, waiting for 5:00.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a variety of sessions that’ve gone online in the last couple days that are worth your while.

NPR gets Mercury Rev to record a session with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite. The Montreal Mirror and Chicago Reader have interviews.

Daytrotter has a Crooked Fingers set available to download.

Bandstand Busking gets Asobi Seksu to play a few songs, busker-style. Their new album Hush is out February 17. And digging through the archives also reveals similar sessions with The Acorn (session) and Frightened Rabbit (session). Nice.

MPR has Longwave over to play a few. They’ve got a new vid from new album Secrets Are Sinister and The Columbian has an interview with frontman Steve Schlitz.

Video: Longwave – “Shining Hours”

Stereogum’s Decomposed puts on The Uglysuit.

NPR talks to School Of Seven Bells.

The Age profiles Fleet Foxes.

I’d mentioned in my favourites of 2008 post that the Woodpigeon record which made the list was a limited release and currently unavailable, but that it’d re-released soon – as Exclaim reports, “soon” means February 3. On that day, Treasury Library Canada will be available again in regular retail outlets and come with a ten-track bonus disc entitled Houndstooth Europa. And if that’s not enough Woodpigeon for you, their next album Die Stadt Muzikanten will be released in the Fall.

Von Bondies have a date at the Horseshoe on February 13, full tour dates at Plug In Music. Their new album Love, Hate And Then There’s You is out February 3.

Part of Drowned In Sound’s year-end coverage has involved soliciting “best of year” picks from various artists including Sky Larkin, Shearwater, Frightened Rabbit and School Of Seven Bells, the results of which are available in three parts. Filter has also been collecting Top 10 lists from a slew of acts and compiling them at eRockstar.