Archive for November, 2009

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Good Morning Midnight

Review of Fanfarlo’s Reservoir

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceWhat’s this, a review in almost-December of a record I’ve been talking about since March? Yes folks, welcome to the year-end doldrums where laziness/burnout combines with slow music releases/news for a perfect storm of stagger-to-the-finish-line posts. Hey, at least it’s not a list. Anyways, while I’ve talked about Fanfarlo at length throughout the year, a proper review of Reservoir hasn’t been amongst them. And that’s not right, because as will quite possibly/probably become clear when I do fall back on list-making, it’s been one of my favourite records of this year. Oooh, spoilers!

Reservoir is a record that simultaneously aims sky-high while feeling completely at ease and effortless. To the former point, the most obvious touchstones for the British outfit fronted by Swede ex-pat Simon Balthazar are Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel with perhaps some Beirut and Belle & Sebastian thrown in for good measure, so even if you’re just trying to be objecticvely descriptive of their sound – a grand and sweeping orchestral pop that’s equal parts wistful and whimsical – you’ve set some unimaginably lofty expectations.

And that’s where the second point comes into play; for all of its widescreen presentation, Reservoir has a distinctly comfortable if not intimate feel that sets it apart from Arcade Fire’s angst or Neutral Milk’s fantasticism. Balthazar’s voice has a warm, inviting timbre that’s perfectly suited to delivering his looping melodies and the band’s deft multi-instrumentalism buoy the compositions with brass, woodwinds, strings, saw and all manner of wonderful noisemaking toys. Fanfarlo write joyous, swelling anthems, but it’s a joy that seems derived from enjoying the simple things in life, like making music, rather than any grand statements about the state of the world. For all their sonic bigness, it’s on that personal level that Fanfarlo really connects.

Reservoir was originally self-released in February of this year, and since then has gone through any number of editions and iterations both in the UK and North America, from simple home-pressed CD through ornately packaged deluxe editions to super-discounted digital editions. It’s official North American release came via Atlantic Records in October and it’s on that major label push that they’re in the midst of an extensive North American tour. They stop in Toronto at the El Mocambo on December 15 and having seen them back in March at SxSW, I can testify that their live show actually eclipses the album for sheer wonderfulness. I imagine this’ll be the last semi-major tour to come through town for 2009 and can’t think of a better way to finish the year off.

Soundcheck has an interview with the band and there’s a wealth of self-recorded live performances to watch in the video section of their website.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “I’m A Pilot”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”
Video: Fanfarlo – “The Walls Are Coming Down”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Fire Escape”
MySpace: Fanfarlo

Drowned In Sound reports that Mew will release a live album on December 7 entitled Live At The Hollywood Palladium and recorded, curiously enough, at the Palladium in Hollywood, California back in September. They play the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Three Imaginary Girls and AUX.TV interview The Raveonettes.

Mum have recorded a Takeaway Show on a Paris bus and in a Paris park.

Rumoured for a while, the feature documentary on Blur, covering the years from the band’s origins through their 2009 reunion, is now a reality. No Distance Left To Run will make its theatrical debut on January 19, 2009; the trailer was just unveiled.

Trailer: No Distance Left To Run

Elly Jackson of La Roux talks to BBC about getting to work on album number two.

PopMatters investigates the topic of independent artists allowing their work to be used in ads, talking to The Dears, Bishop Allen, The Dodos and Petra Haden about their experiences on the matter.

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

"Say My Name"

The Hidden Cameras cover Destiny’s Child

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis one has apparently been sitting in my coffers since 2005, which means it dates back to well before the time that I had any tags on MP3s beyond, well, artist and title. But really, doesn’t the post title say it all? Assuming the time period is correct – which is no certainty – you’ve got a Mississauga Goddamn-era Hidden Cameras doing a live cover of Destiny’s Child, who were putting out their final album in Destiny Fulfilled, after which they’d be done for good (so far).

The Cameras version eschews the slinky, confrontational vibe of the original for something gentler and more celebratory, all dressed up in choirs and extended saxophone solo. Kind of at odds with the theme of the lyrics, but really not worth arguing over. I like it, and am glad to have finally gotten a chance to post it up – that chance being the end of the Cameras’ North American tour in support of this year’s Origin: Orphan, which wraps this Saturday night with a hometown show in Toronto at the Opera House.

As stated, Destiny’s Child is no more but Beyonce has done pretty well for herself as a solo artist. The Guardian declared her their artist of the decade and apparently she has one of the best videos of all time. The Winnipeg Free Press, The Gateway, Vue and FFWD have interviews with head Hidden Camera Joel Gibb.

MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “Say My Name”
Video: Destiny’s Child – “Say My Name”

Friday, November 27th, 2009

7 & 3 Is The Striker's Name

Paul Weller teams up with Kevin Shields for new single

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangComing via The Guardian, here’s an unexpected collaboration to wind out the week – Paul Weller has completed work on a new album entitled Wake Up The Nation and while a release date is still forthcoming, the first single from has been released and it features the fruits of a collaboration with none other than My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. “7 & 3 Is The Striker’s Name” pairs the Modfather with the godfather of shoegaze (Shields doesn’t have a catchy nickname that appropriately describes his stature) and while the tune is a bit out of Weller’s typical wheelhouse, it’s still pretty recognizable as him – even with Shields layering jet plane noises overtop.

The tune is is available to download for 99p via 7Digital, or you can just watch the trippy albeit Shields-less video. NB – The one on Weller’s own website has better audio and video quality than the YouTube one linked.

Video: Paul Weller with Kevin Shields – “7 & 3 Is The Striker’s Name”

On the subject of My Bloody Valentine, both and CDWow has the long-rumoured, oft-delayed reissues of Loveless and Isn’t Anything available for pre-order with a January 4 on-sale date noted. Could these finally be coming out?

Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen submits to a Q&A with New York Magazine.

Spinner reports that Graham Coxon hopes Blur aren’t done for good, just for now.

Both eye and NOW welcome The xx to town for their first-ever Toronto gig at the Phoenix next Wednesday with Friendly Fires. Their second-ever Toronto gig is already scheduled for April 20 at the Kool Haus in support of Hot Chip. The Seattle Times also has an interview.

Also making their first visit to Toronto is The Big Pink, who are at the under renovation Lee’s Palace on Sunday night. NOW has an interview with the English duo.

Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine tells BBC that she’s preparing to start recording the follow-up to Lungs in January of the new year. In the meantime, the super-deluxe version of her debut is coming out next week and she’s released a second video for “You’ve Got The Love” which also functions as an advert for Stella Artois. But is a cool video first.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”

The Sydney Morning Herald chats with Patrick Wolf.

For a limited time, The Futureheads are giving away a free download of a song from album number four. No dawdling. Emirates Business has an interview with the band.

BBC talks to White Lies about their plans for recording album number two.

RockFeedback has an acoustic video interview and session with Sky Larkin.

Tom Campesinos of Los Campesinos talks Romance Is Boring, out February 1, with Drowned In Sound.

Highland News talks to Frightened Rabbit about recent lineup changes and their forthcoming record The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, out on March 1. A Daytrotter session with the band has just gone up; only old songs, though – no sneak peaks at new.

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


Malajube at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDifferent bands have different attitudes towards the in-store set. Some treat them like opportunities to strip down and get intimate with their audience (okay, that sounded much dirtier than intended but you get the meaning), others don’t seem so comfortable with the setting and obviously want to get their sets done as quickly as possible. Montreal’s Malajube, in town a day before their show tonight at the Horseshoe, treated their Wednesday night in-store at Sonic Boom like any other show – by plugging in and turning up. Way up.

Though they’ve been twice-nominated for the Polaris Music Prize and are arguably the best-known Francophone rock band in Canada, Malajube still manage to fly under the radar of many, or at least me. And yeah, it’s a language thing mainly – I tend to be a lyrics guy (post-rock instrumental acts aside) and knowing they’re saying something but not knowing what is a bit of a barrier to full and proper appreciation. Their live performances, however, do a good job of proving that not nearly a good enough reason to ignore them. After all, good rock music transcends linguistics and Malajube are nothing if not good – nay, great – rock. Theirs is a twisty sort of prog-pop whose complexity is overlook because of the melodies layered overtop, just as their heaviness might not be immediately noticed for the giddy and mischievous tone of their songs. But Malajube brought all those characteristics to the fore during their reasonably long, 8-song set that was split almost evenly between 2006’s Trompe-L’oeil and this year’s Labyrinthes.

While that mini-set was enough to satiate my appetite for the next while – a slow week for shows such as this is something to be treasured – anyone who didn’t make it out to the in-store and/or has never seen them live is strongly encouraged to hit the Horseshoe tonight for their show.

Photos: Malajube @ Sonic Boom – November 25, 2009
MP3: Malajube – “Porte Disparu”
MP3: Malajube – “Fille à plumes”
Video: Malajube – “Luna”
Video: Malajube – “Porté disparu”
Video: Malajube – “Ton Plat Favori”
Video: Malajube – “La Crabe”
Video: Malajube – “Étienne d’Août “
Video: Malajube – “Fille à plumes”
Video: Malajube – “Pâte Filo”
Video: Malajube – “Montréal -40°C”
Video: Malajube – “Le jus de citron”
Video: Malajube – “Le métronome”
MySpace: Malajube

Spoon have pushed ahead the release date of their new album Transference by a week – it will now be available on January 19, not the 26th as originally announced.

Headlights have released a new wonderfully animated and wonderfully sad video from album number three, Wilderness.

Video: Headlights – “Love Song For Buddy”

Loud & Quiet talks to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

The Line Of Best Fit compares the size of their acronym with A Place To Bury Strangers.

America is on holiday now and as such, I am rationing out what blog fodder I have to make it through the weekend. Just so you know.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

CONTEST – Forest City Lovers’ Phodilus and Tyto 7″

Image via Forest City LoversForest City LoversThough the names sound like they’re drawn from some grand and ancient Greek tragedy, Phodilus and Tyto (as in Tytonidae) are actually the genus names of bay owls and barn owls, respectively, and are also the title and a-side of the new single from Forest City Lovers. It’s the band’s first release since 2008’s beautiful Haunting Moon Sinking and while it’s only two songs, it more than demonstrates that the band is continuing to hone and refine their distinctive folk-pop and album number three, currently in production and due out next year, is sure to be worth the wait.

They just took delivery of Phodilus and Tyto on 7″ and also have it available digitally, and courtesy of the band I have one of the 7″s to give away. To throw your hat in the proverbial ring, email me at contests AT with “I love forests and cities and vinyl” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest open to anyone anywhere and will close at midnight, December 4.

While work continues on the new record, live shows are scarce but it seems they’re planning to head to Austin in March for SxSW. A little closer to now, a video for “If I Were A Tree” from the single will be out imminently and both sides are available to stream at the band’s MySpace.

MySpace: Forest City Lovers