Archive for February, 2010

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

"Dancing In The Dark"

Ted Leo covers Bruce Springsteen

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFrequently when picking covers for the week, I like to choose unexpected combinations of artists and tunes that might reveal heretofore hidden influences or depths of meaning. And sometimes, it’s just so obvious that you can’t NOT go with it. This is one of those times.

Ted Leo and Bruce Springsteen – both proud sons of New Jersey (okay Ted was born in Indiana but he grew up in the Garden State) and both amongst the hardest working – and maybe sweatiest – men in rock. Leo is a legend in indie rock circles, Springsteen a legend pretty much everywhere. So that a Boss cover or two is a regular occurrence in Leo’s live repertoire is not much of a surprise. Here’s a double-shot of Leo doing one of Springsteen’s most famous tunes which, as he succinctly puts it in the live solo recording from Pontiac, Michigan in December 2008, “needs to be rescued from its production values”. The second version is a live solo acoustic take from an indeterminate time or place.

Leo’s new album The Brutalist Bricks is out next week. Springsteen released Working On A Dream last year and is, amazingly, not currently on the road.

MP3: Ted Leo – “Dancing In The Dark” (live in Pontiac, MI)
MP3: Ted Leo – “Dancing In The Dark” (acoustic)
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “Dancing In The Dark”

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Cage The Elephant @ The Phoenix – March 10, 2010

Photo By Danny ClinchDanny ClinchSnotty Southern-fried garage-punk isn’t normally the sort of thing that I’d be into, but when it’s done as well and as energetically as youthful Kentucky outfit Cage The Elephant do it, it’s hard not to appreciate. I caught them a few years ago during NxNE 2007 and while they were honestly the band on the bill I wanted to see the least, they definitely impressed.

At that time, they were blowing up huge over in Europe but weren’t making much noise on their home continent – well now I guess their self-titled debut has caught on over here, because they’re back in Toronto for one of our festivals but rather than being sandwiched in a club-level showcase bill, they’re headlining one of the city’s big rooms. Their March 10 headlining show at The Phoenix is one of the kick-off shows for Canadian Musicfest, and will also feature As Tall As Lions and Morning Teleportation.

Admission for the all-ages show is $16.50 in advance or via CMF wristband, but courtesy of LiveNation, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Cage The Elephant” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 5.

OurStage has an interview with Cage The Elephant frontman Matt Shultz and Spinner and Daytrotter have sessions with the band from last year for you to watch and download, respectively.

Video: Cage The Elephant – “Back Against The Wall”
Video: Cage The Elephant – “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”
MySpace: Cage The Elephant

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Foreign Born and Free Energy @ The El Mocambo – March 9, 2010

Photo via MySpace MySpaceWe’d gotten off pretty clean so far here in Toronto with respect to Winter weather, but while it’s hardly a snowpocalypse out there the last couple of days, it seems our run of clean sidewalks and dry feet is finally done – with less than a month left, formally, of Winter. Help, however, is on the way. Not in the form of a renegade chinook somehow making it across the entire continent, but in the a pair of bands whose brand of upbeat, good times guitar pop could be just the thing to chase away the winter blahs – at least for an evening.

I’m talking about the double-bill of Los Angeles’ Foreign Born and Philadelphia’s Free Energy, who are traversing the continent on tour and will be at the El Mocambo in Toronto on March 9. Free Energy’s debut Stuck On Nothing will be available digitally as of that date with a physical release coming May 4. Foreign Born’s Person To Person hit the streets last year.

Tickets for the show are $12.50 in advance but courtesy of Live Nation, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be Foreign Born” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 5.

For more Free Energy, head over to Daytrotter for a downloadable session and RCRDLBL for another album track.

MP3: Foreign Born – “Vacationing People”
MP3: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”
Video: Foreign Born – “Early Warnings”
Video: Foreign Born – “Winter Games”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MySpace: Foreign Born
MySpace: Free Energy

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Efterklang @ The El Mocambo – March 6, 2010

Photo By Nikolaj Holm MollerNikolaj Holm MollerWord is that earlier works from Denmark’s Efterklang tilted much more towards the experimental than their just-released third effort and 4AD debut Magic Chairs. And though Magic Chairs is hardly a collection of 3-minute, radio-friendly pop songs – it’s filled with typically Scandinavian twists and turns – it’s suffused with enough rich melodies and sweeping orchestrations to make keep it rooted firmly in heart rather than head. If they were more cerebral on past works, they’re certainly looking to dial that down this time out.

Efterklang will bring their Magic Chairs to North America on tour next week and that includes a date at the El Mocambo in Toronto on March 6. Tickets are $10 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I have one pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Efterklang” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 3.

Drowned In Sound solicited a track-by-track annotation of the new album from the band and there’s a live performance available to watch at 4AD Sessions.

MP3: Efterklang – “Modern Drift”
Video: Efterklang – “Modern Drift”
MySpace: Efterklang

Friday, February 26th, 2010

And This Is What We Call Progress

Toronto in-store announcements galore, including The Besnard Lakes, The Balconies and Tinariwen

Photo By Chris GergleyChris GergleyOne of my very favourite developments in the Toronto music scene over the past few years has been the rise of the in-store performance – whereas not so long ago there were maybe just a handful a year, they’re now occurring all the time at most of the independent record stores in the city and featuring bigger and bigger acts. Not only is it giving fans the opportunity to see artists in an intimate setting, it’s also often the only chance for underagers to see them live. And while I’ve often bemoaned the lack of a day show culture during either of the two major music festivals during the year, in-stores have done a good job of adding that extra layer of excitement to the official proceedings, with most stores hosting at least a few events during the weeks of festivities.

And Criminal Records is doing a good job of keeping that trend going through this year’s Canadian Musicfest. In addition to the triple-bill of Aidan Knight, Dan Mangan and Hollerado on Saturday March 13, announced last week, they’ve landed The Besnard Lakes to perform on March 10 at 6:30PM, their first show post-release of their new record The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night the day before. Their official festival showcase goes the following night, March 11, at the Horseshoe at midnight. Jace Lasek of the band talks to The Fly, Chart and Exclaim about the new record, which is epic. But with the Besnards, epic kind of goes without saying.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

Further, their Friday night lineup will kick off at 5PM and feature locals faves The Balconies and Calgary’s Ghostkeeper. The Balconies’ official Canadian Musicfest show is at 9:20PM the Horseshoe on Saturday night while Ghostkeeper can be found on the 11th at Bread & Circus at 11PM and the 12th at The Garrison at 8PM.

MP3: The Balconies – “Serious Bedtime”
MP3: Ghostkeeper – “By Morning”

And a reminder that Kurt Vile is playing at Criminal tonight at 6:30PM. eye, and NOW have interviews.

Not presently hosting anything during CMF but also not being left out is Sonic Boom, who’ve got some different but exciting fare lineup next week. On March 3, time TBA, they’ll have Malian legends Tinariwen in the house and the next evening at 6:30PM, Tuvan throat singers Huun Huur Tu will perform. Admission is free with the donation of a canned good. Tinariwen will be at the Phoenix on March 4 and Huun Huur Tu will be at the Mod Club on March 5. The Province has a feature piece on Tinariwen.

Video: Tinariwen – “Lulla”

Soundscapes’ upcoming in-store schedule has only one entry, but it’s a good one – Zeus on March 6 at 6PM. They’re the co-cover boys of this month’s Exclaim, alongside sometime bandleader and tourmate Jason Collett, while Metro has a piece on Zeus alone. Both are at Lee’s Palace on March 10.

Filter has some initial impressions of Born Ruffians’ new album Say It, due June 1 on Paper Bag in Canada and Warp elsewhere – check out the first MP3 below. They’ve got a show at the Phoenix on March 14.

MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”

CBC, Vue, FFWD and The Gateway profile Basia Bulat.

PopMatters has not one but two interviews with The Hidden Cameras.

Singing Lamb chats with Gentleman Reg.

The Music Slut asks 8 questions of Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham. They play the Opera House tonight.

California girl Best Coast, recently named by Paste as one of the “Best Of What’s Next”, is hitting the road and has a date at The Garrison on April 13. We All Want Someone To Shout For has an interview with Beth Cosentino.

Los Angeles post-rockers Red Sparrowes are at The Garrison on April 17 presenting their new album The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer, which is out April 6.

MP3: Red Sparrowes – “Giving Birth To Imagined Saviors”

Dead Meadow have a date at Lee’s Palace on April 22. Their new record/soundtrack/film Three Kings is out March 23.

MP3: Dead Meadow – “I’m Gone”
MP3: Dead Meadow – “What Needs Must Be”

With the Sex Pistols reunion perhaps providing diminishing returns, John Lydon has kicked Public Image LTD back into gear. A North American tour has been announced and brings them to the Kool Haus in Toronto on May 7.

Video: Public Image Ltd – “(This Is Not A) Love Song”

Massive Attack are bringing their latest Heligoland across the pond for a North American tour which will kick off with two nights in Toronto at the Sound Academy, May 7 and 9. On the 8th, they will be going to Dave & Busters to play skee-ball.

Video: Massive Attack – “Paradise Circus”
Video: Massive Attack – “Splitting The Atom”

Thee Silver Mount Zion will take their new record Kollaps Tradixionales out on tour with a stop at Lee’s Palace on May 29, tickets $15.

MP3: Thee Silver Mount Zion – “I Built Myself A Metal Bird” (Live VIdeo Version)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will play the Air Canada Centre on August 25 with Crosby Stills & Nash. I’ve never seen Tom Petty live. I should do something about that. Their new album Mojo is due out this Spring.