Archive for March, 2009

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

First Love

Review of Emmy The Great's First Love

Photo By Sam SeagerSam SeagerIt occurred to me that amidst the music media mayhem that is March and my not wanting to look too much like an obsessed stalker-fan (though I suspect the damage on that front was done long ago), I neglected to actually provide at review of Emmy The Great’s long-awaited debut album First Love after it was released way back in February.

But beyond the aforementioned factors, one of the reasons I didn’t feel compelled to write the record up was that it didn’t feel new, and thus didn’t strike that evangelical chord within me. As The Daily Growl, a much longer-time Emmy fan than I, alluded to in his review, we’ve been living with so many of these songs in so many live/demo versions for so long, that the notion that these are the “proper” and “final” versions of these tunes just don’t quite register. The sense of immediate familiarity is contributed to by the fact that the production on the record favours a very straight, live feel – this is not a complaint, they obviously know that the relatively unadorned approach utilizing the components of her live band compliments Emmy’s voice and lyrics best, and it when little bits of studio or instrumental flourish is dropped in – the synth bass in the coda of “Absentee” stands out in particular – it’s that much more striking.

But as it should be, Emmy’s voice and words are the centerpiece of the record – the former clear, understatedly expressive and with remarkable diction and the latter evocative, incisive and witty in a manner more melancholic than humorous. In the wrong hands, these ingredients could come across as overly precious or precocious but with Emmy, the sincerity of it wins out. It feels like a coping mechanism wherein the only way to deal with heartbreak is to describe it in as painstaking detail as possible and if you’re of that sort of personality, it resonates deeply.

About half of the record appeared on my own homemade Emmy mixes through the better part of 2008, and so I can’t say whether the reason the other half of the record hasn’t grabbed me as much as is because it’s not as ingrained into my DNA or if they’re actually just weaker songs. But even if the latter, the overall quality of the record is impressive and any record that boasts songs like “24”, “Easter Parade” and the title track makes for a worthy debut. Do I love the record? Yes, I do. Did it make my jaw drop? No, but that’s because my jaw was already there.

MP3s below are live or non-album versions, but the versions that I’ve played to death over the past year. Same for the “Easter Parade” and “MIA” videos.

MP3: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
MP3: Emmy The Great – “MIA” (live from Black Room Sessions)
MP3: Emmy The Great – “24” (live on Welcome To Our Show, January 2008)
Video: Emmy The Great – “First Love”
Video: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
Video: Emmy The Great – “MIA”
MySpace: Emmy The Great

Maps welcomes Noah & The Whale to their studios for an interview and session. Their new album The First Days Of Spring should be out in June and they play the Mod Club on April 27.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Mary” (live at Maps)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “My Door Is Always Open”

Exclaim has some info on forthcoming releases from Florence & The Machine. The A Lot of Love, A lot of Blood EP, which collects her singles so far on single 12″, is still due out on April 28 and her debut full-length, which has been given the title of Lungs, appears to set for a June or July release. She talks to BBC6 about coming up with the name for the record.

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan tells Gigwise that plans are afoot to make a musical-fantasy feature film (think Labyrinth) based on songs from her first album Fur & Gold, and that all that’s left is “to get the funding”. So yes, look for that to be coming to a theatre near you REAL soon. But first, listen to the live MP3 from the new album below. Then read these interviews at BBC and MTV. Then look for her new record Two Suns in stores next Tuesday. Then look for her to play the Mod Club on April 25 (with Lewis & Clarke as support – again). Then look for monkeys to fly. THEN look for the movie.

MP3: Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (live at Nimes)

Blurt celebrates Swervedriver and also offers a feature on frontman Adam Franklin, whose new solo record Spent Bullets is out today.

Though not a proper Take-Away Show, La Blogotheque has some pretty stunning – and of course stylish – live footage of Mogwai. They’re at the Phoenix on May 4. And note that Take-Away Shows mastermind Vincent Moon has started a blog.

Video: Mogwai – “Mogwai Fear Satan” (live)

Spinner loves Leonard Cohen, premiering a new video taken from his Live In London double-CD set, out today, as well as streaming the whole of that.

Video: Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah” (live)
Stream: Leonard Cohen / Live In London

Also out today and streaming is Lost Channels, the new one from Great Lake Swimmers. Paste, The Georgia Straight and The Gauntlet have interviews with Tony Dekker, who will be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

Stream: Ghost Lake Swimmers / Lost Channels

And one last goodie from Spinner – an Interface Session with Neko Case. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

Monday, March 30th, 2009

CONTEST – Glasvegas autographed albums

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickSome folks have been complaining (jokingly, I hope) about the “Canada only” nature of some of my giveaways. Just for the record, this isn’t my restriction but based on the jurisdiction of the folks who’re giving the goods away – ie, Canadian labels, distributors, etc. You Americans want free stuff from me, complain to the American divisions of these labels. Not that I expect that makes it any more palatable, I suppose.

And here’s another dose. Anthemic Scots Glasvegas are in the middle of their North American tour which crosses the border later this week for shows in Montreal at La Tulipe on April 2 and in Toronto at the Mod Club on April 3. And while here, they’ll stop in at their label’s Canadian offices to put their signatures on some swag and, courtesy of Sony Music Canada, I’ve got some of that stuff to give away. Specifically, two copies of their self-titled debut on vinyl and one on CD, all for three lucky Canucks. Sorry America, but this is one of the perks of still being in the Commonwealth.

To enter, email me at contests AT with “Viva Glasvegas” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body, indicating whether you want the vinyl, the CD or you don’t care which just for the love of god give you something. Get that in to me before midnight, April 3. And in case you’ve made it this far without actually reading anything, contest is open to residents of Canada only.

But anyone can read these interviews with the band at Filter, The Daily Record and Metro. Yay you.

Video: Glasvegas – “Please Come Back Home”
Video: Glasvegas – “Daddy’s Gone”
Video: Glasvegas – “Geraldine”
MySpace: Glasvegas

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Son Of A Gun

The Vaselines get reissued, come to Toronto

Photo via SubPopSubPopMy head is kind of, uh, fried right now on account of my powering through and processing all of my SxSW photos this weekend, as those who are unfortunate enough to be RSS subscribers or Twitter followers and been deluged with update notices can attest. But the good news for everyone is that I am done and there are 46-odd photo galleries of artists I saw a couple weeks ago along with as many MP3 and video links for each as I could find. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out – please have a boo, or check out the Flickr set for a high-level view. And with what remains of my grey matter, I will try to cobble together some sort of blog post.

Starting with The Vaselines. You may know them as the Scottish band who existed just long enough to release a couple of EPs, one album, and exert a huge influence on one Kurt Cobain. I actually knew them better as the band that Eugene Kelly was in before Eugenius, but that’s neither here nor there. For many years, the The Way Of The Vaselines: A Complete History compilation from SubPop has been the first (and last) stop for those seeking to learn more about the outfit, but come May 5 there’s going to be a new final word. That’s the day they’ll replace the venerable compilation with Enter The Vaselines, a new double-CD/triple-LP collection that remixes much of and remasters all of Way and throws in a pile of unreleased extra material. Full tracklisting at Exclaim!.

But wait, there’s more! The band reunited last Summer for a few one-off and festival gigs, but appear to be ready to do more in order to promote the collection. Though they didn’t make it over for SxSW as they’d initially intended, they do still have their eyes on North America, or at least Toronto – they’ve got a date set for May 15 at Lee’s Palace, for which tickets will run $29.50. That’s pretty exciting, and I assume other dates for some sort of tour will be forthcoming soon.

Also on the reissue tip, dearly departed Guelphies Royal City are set to be compiled by the good folks at Asthmatic Kitty They’ll release Royal City on June 23, a collection of a dozen previously unreleased tracks that has been rumoured for over four years. Better late than never though, right? Magnet is also on board with the nostalgia, paying tribute to their second album Alone At The Microphone. Here’s one of the songs from the new comp, and a few older album tracks to remind of how good they were.

MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”
MP3: Royal City – “Bring My Father A Gift”
MP3: Royal City – “My Brother Is The Meatman”
MP3: Royal City – “Bad Luck”
MP3: Royal City – “I’m Taking The Train”
MP3: Royal City – “At Rush Hour The Cars”

Exclaim! reports that R.E.M. are giving the deluxe reissue treatment to their sophomore album Reckoning, planning a live release of their 2007 “Dublin working rehearsals” which preceded the release of Accelerate and getting to work on the follow-up to said record. No timelines for any of the releases has been provided, though.

A track from the new Bob Dylan album Together Through Life is available to download from his website through midnight (Eastern Daylight time) tonight. The album is out April 28.

Chart and See talk to Hylozoists frontman Paul Aucoin.

There’s an MP3 available from the new Super Furry Animals album Dark Days/Light Years, available digitally now and on CD April 21.

MP3: Super Furry Animals – “Inaugural Trams”

The California Chronicle talks to Dean Wareham.

Isis have a date at the Phoenix on June 7 in support of their new album Wavering Radiant, out May 5.

A few radio sessions available to stream – NPR with M Ward, who is at the Phoenix on April 27, and MPR welcomes AC Newman and another one with The Broken West.

BrooklynVegan has unveiled the lineup to this year’s All Points West festival, taking place just across the Hudson from Manhattan. It’s interesting to me mainly to give a better idea of what acts are doing the festival circuit this year and perhaps who we might expect at V Fest this year. This, of course, presumes that there will BE a V Fest in Toronto this year. The past three years, the headliners and first wave of acts had all been announced by now, and this year there’s been nary a peep – the website doesn’t acknowledge that it’s 2009 or try to build any sort anticipation and their social network pages are similarly silent. It’s almost like they’re trying to keep a low profile and hope no one notices they’re not there. I’ve asked around a bit and while no one has heard anything about V Toronto being cancelled, no one has heard anything about it actually happening either and I know just enough about goings-on on the business end of the fest to not take for granted that it’s happening. I hope I’m just being paranoid and they’re just hammering out some details to bring, oh, Blur and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to town but each day that goes by without an effusively-worded press release showing up in my inbox is, well, another day. But if anyone out there knows something, even a cryptically-worded message along the lines of, “Stop fearmongering! The rock is en route!” or “At least you’ll be able to see more films at TIFF this year”, one way or the other would be appreciated.

Update: And this is related-interesting – Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, which was branded last year as “presented by Virgin Mobile”, has confirmed dates for 2009 – July 30 and 31 “in they city” (presumably club gigs) and August 1 and 2 “on the island” (at Parc Jean-Drapeau). Perhaps they’ll siphon off some acts from APW? Perhaps I’m going to Montreal for the August long weekend? It seems Coldplay – and thus Elbow – are a lock for that one…

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

SxSW 2009 A/V – Echo & The Bunnymen

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEcho & The Bunnymen
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

Post-punk legends who will release a live orchestral recording of Ocean Rain in early May and a new studio album, The Fountain, in mid-2009
Show review

Photos: Echo & The Bunnymen @ Rusty Spurs – March 21, 2009
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Lips Like Sugar”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bring On The Dancing Horses”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Game”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Cutter”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bedbugs & Ballyhoo”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “In The Margins”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “On Top Of The World”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “People Are Strange”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Rust”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Seven Seas”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Stormy Weather”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “I Want To Be There When You Come”
MySpace: Echo & The Bunnymen

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

SxSW 2009 A/V – The High Dials

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe High Dials
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Veteran retro-psych rockers who’ve released four albums, the last of which was 2008’s Moon Country
Show review

Photos: The High Dials @ Rusty Spurs – March 21, 2009
MP3: The High Dials – “Killer Of Dragons”
MP3: The High Dials – “The Holy Ground”
MP3: The High Dials – “Our Time Is Coming Soon”
MP3: The High Dials – “Strandhill Sands”
MP3: The High Dials – “Fields Of Glass”
MP3: The High Dials – “Desiderata”
Video: The High Dials – “Fields In Glass”
Video: The High Dials – “My Heart Is Black”
Video: The High Dials – “The Holy Ground”
MySpace: The High Dials