Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

SxSW 2010 Night Three A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the evening over here.

Billy Bragg
– British agit-folk icon whose last album was 2007’s Mr. Love & Justice is presently busy with his Jail Guitar Doors program and tells Spinner that there may still be more Mermaid Avenue records to come.
Photos: Billy Bragg @ MWTX North Stage – March 19, 2010
MP3: Billy Bragg – “I Keep Faith”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Take Down The Union Jack”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Must I Paint You A Picture?”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Valentine’s Day Is Over” (live)
Video: Billy Bragg – “NPWA”
Video: Billy Bragg – “The Boy Done Good”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Sexuality”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Waiting For The Great Leap Forward”
Video: Billy Bragg – “You Woke Up My Neighbourhood”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Levi Stubbs’ Tears”
MySpace: Billy Bragg

Frightened Rabbit
– See notes from day one.
Photos: Frightened Rabbit @ NWTX North Stage – March 19, 2010

Man Man
– Philadelphia bizarro-rock troupe bring last year’s Rabbit Habits to Lee’s Palace on May 9.
Photos: Man Man @ NWTX North Stage – March 19, 2010
MP3: Man Man – “Top Drawer”
MP3: Man Man – “Black Mission Goggles”
MP3: Man Man – “10 Lb Moustache”
Video: Man Man – “Rabbit Habits”

Turbo Fruits
– Former members of Be Your Own Pet released their debut full-length Echo Kid in late 2009. Spinner has an interview.
Photos: Turbo Fruits @ The Music Gym – March 19, 2010
MP3: Turbo Fruits – “Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain”
MP3: Turbo Fruits – “Pocket Full Of Thistles”
Video: Turbo Fruits – “Volcano”
MySpace: Turbo Fruits

Real Estate
– New Jersey quartet have just released their self-titled debut, full of shimmering guitar pop. Nashville Scene and Spinner talk to frontman Martin Courtney.
Photos: Real Estate @ Klub Krucial – March 19, 2010
MP3: Real Estate – “Black Lake”
MP3: Real Estate – “Beach Comber”

Memory Tapes
– Dayve Hawk, armed with guitar and laptop, released his debut Seek Magic, filled with electro-gaze you can dance to. Spinner has an interview.
Photos: Memory Tapes @ Klub Krucial – March 19, 2010
MP3: Memory Tapes – “Bicycle”
MP3: Memory Tapes – “Graphics Remodel Edit”
MySpace: Memory Tapes

The Drums
– New Yorkers easily mistaken for Brits sing songs about California while wishing it were still the ’80s. Featured in stories at The Daily Record, X-Media and The Times.
Photos: The Drums @ Latitude 30 – March 19, 2010
Video: The Drums – “Let’s Go Surfing”
Video: The Drums – “Best Friend”
Video: The Drums – “I Felt Stupid”
MySpace: The Drums

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Three A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the day over here.

Twin Sister
– Brooklyn poppers were just declared one of “8 NYC Bands You Need to Hear” by L Magazine and are giving away their debut EP Color Your Life for freesies. Ear Farm has an interview.
Photos: Twin Sister @ Club DeVille – March 19, 2010
MP3: Twin Sister – “Dry Hump”
MP3: Twin Sister – “Ginger”
MP3: Twin Sister – “Nectarine”
MP3: Twin Sister – “I Want A House”
MP3: Twin Sister – “All Around And Away We Go”
Video: Twin Sister – “#6”
ZIP: Twin Sister / Vampires With Dreaming Kids
MySpace: Twin Sister

Nicole Atkins
– New Jersey singer has recruited a new band – The Black Sea – to back her on album number two, which is currently in process and is due out this year.
Photos: Nicole Atkins @ Club DeVille – March 19, 2010
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Maybe Tonight”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City”
MySpace: Nicole Atkins

Holly Miranda
– Former Jealous Girlfriend has just released her solo debut The Magician’s Private Library and will be at the El Mocambo on May 20 as part of a headlining tour of the northeast.
Photos: Holly Miranda @ Club DeVille – March 19, 2010
MP3: Holly Miranda – “Waves”
MP3: Holly Miranda – “Forest Green Oh Forest Green”
MySpace: Holly Miranda

Johnny Flynn
– English folksinger released the Sweet William EP last Fall as a stopgap before finishing album number two, entitled Been Listening and set for release on June 7 – details at NME.
Photos: Johnny Flynn @ Hilton Second Play Stage – March 19, 2010
MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Tickle Me Pink”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Leftovers”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Brown Trout Blues”
MySpace: Johnny Flynn

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


Spoon, Deerhunter and The Strange Boys at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs of Monday night, it had been four and a half years since I saw Spoon live and just over four years since I’d been to The Sound Academy (nee The Docks) for a show. One of these streaks I was anxious to break; the other I was not. To be fair, I only missed one of their Toronto shows – a 2008 appearance at the Kool Haus in support of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – but apparently that was the one where they officially crossed over to “rock star” status. That last time at The Phoenix in November 2005, it felt like a show for Spoon fans – this time, at a room three times the size but just as full, it felt more like the show was simply the place to be that night. That’s not intended with any snarkiness, just an observation.

This tour saw the band bringing two others on tour with them – one who surely benefited from being shown off in front of such-sized audiences and another that probably could have packed a respectably-sized room all on their own. The former of these were The Strange Boys, who hailed from Austin, Texas and proudly carried on that city’s tradition of psychedelic-garage rock. Granted, they weren’t overly trippy, preferring focused pop structures over sprawling jams and weren’t above injecting some twang into their sound, but their roots and skill at said stylings were clear. A little more energy or stage presence wouldn’t have been unwelcome, but still a solid start to the evening from a band making their first visit to Canada.

Deerhunter, on the other hand, were probably responsible for drawing no small percentage of the audience, if not just for themselves then for tilting the decision of whether to see Spoon in one the city’s least-favoured venues into the “yea” column. Though their psychedelic/shoegazing/pop affinities would make them seem the sort of thing I’d really be into, I had not listened to Deerhunter much before and certainly hadn’t seen them live. And now I wish I had, because their set was pretty superb – musically, they were far more direct (read: less wall of noise) than I’d expected, but with enough bludgeoning volume and droning excursions to keep it sufficiently trippy and the show itself was livened up with Bradford Cox’s space cadet stage banter, an unexpected stage invasion from one of The Black Lips (or perhaps expected considering that before they began the song, Cox dedicated it to his fellow Atlantans) and another guest appearance from Spoon’s Britt Daniel, who took over on guitar from Cox while the gangly bandleader engaged in some on-stage shenanigans I couldn’t actually see from my angle – see the eye review for specifics. As far as their recorded works go, I’ve only really spent time with Microcastle – further recommendations are welcome.

I don’t, however, need any help getting acquainted with the collected works of Spoon, having followed them attentively since 2001’s Girls Can Tell, and if there’s a downside to their consistently excellent output over this decade – hell, century – it’s that it can cause one to take them for granted a bit. Some have criticized this year’s Transference as being less focused than its pop-friendly predecessor Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, I – for reasons I can’t quite articulate – prefer it. Both sides of the argument would have been perfectly happy with Monday night’s set list, then, as it opened with Transference’s sublime closer “Nobody Gets Me But You” and drew heavily from both records – seven tracks from each – while also hitting most of the essential notes from all the other Merge releases, even going as far back as 1997’s Soft Effects for the unexpected, “I Could See The Dude”.

In total, they ran through an impressive 25 songs over an hour and forty minutes, aptly showcasing the band’s unique sound and dynamic. Britt Daniel – he of the scratchy voice and stabby six-string – is front and centre, dancing around the stage in his herky-jerky manner as if pulled uncontrollably by his guitar but the contributions of his bandmates can’t be overstated, even if they seem perfectly happy to stay in the background. Eric Harvey’s keys provided the melodic underpinnings that allow Daniel’s guitar lines to wander while he impossibly tight and just funky enough rhythm section of Jim Eno and Rob Pope were omnipresent on this night – possibly because the Sound Academy’s acoustics leaned way towards the bassy. And don’t get me started on the sightlines – it’s a sad situation when you find yourself pining for the environs of the Kool Haus.

In my comments from that Phoenix show in 2005, I noted that ‘I will have to amend my one-line synopsis on Spoon live from “they put on a good show” to “they usually put on a good show, but sometimes they put on a GREAT show”. If Monday was a proper indication of how far they’ve progressed as a live act in the past half-decade, then their work on stage is almost on par with in the studio and I’ll have to update my notes to read, “they put on a great show” – no qualifiers.

Westword, NOW, CBC, The Quietus, The Toronto Star, The Chronicle Herald,NPR, The Toronto Sun and The San Francisco Chronicle have feature pieces on Spoon. Spin has excerpted this month’s feature piece that puts Britt Daniel in conversation with Ray Davies and New York Magazine talks to him about the art of the set list. Chart, The Globe & Mail and Exclaim have reviews of the show. The Fly profiles The Strange Boys.

Photos: Spoon, Deerhunter, The Strange Boys @ The Sound Academy – March 29, 2010
MP3: Spoon – “The Underdog”
MP3: Spoon – “I Turn My Camera On”
MP3: Spoon – “The Way We Get By”
MP3: Spoon – “This Book Is A Movie”
MP3: Spoon – “Mountain To Sound”
MP3: Spoon – “Chips & Dip”
MP3: Spoon – “Idiot Driver”
MP3: Deerhunter – “Wash Off”
MP3: Deerhunter – “Rainwater Cassette Exchange”
Video: Spoon – “Written In Reverse”
Video: Spoon – “The Underdog”
Video: Spoon – “Don’t You Evah”
Video: Spoon – “The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine”
Video: Spoon – “I Turn My Camera On”
Video: Spoon – “Sister Jack”
Video: Spoon – “Jonathan Fisk”
Video: Spoon – “Small Stakes”
Video: Spoon – “Everything Hits At Once”
Video: Deerhunter – “Agoraphobia”
Video: Deerhunter – “Strange Lights”
Video: The Strange Boys – “Be Brave”
Video: The Strange Boys – “Woe Is You And Me”

The Line Of Best Fit and Montreal Gazette have interviews with Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater; The Gazette has also posted the full transcript of their interview. Shearwater play Lee’s Palace tomorrow night, April 1.

Also on the bill for that show are Wye Oak, who played a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

Daytrotter is featuring a session with Richard Buckner.

Paste reports that Tift Merritt will release a new record entitled See You On The Moon on June 1. The Fayetteville Observer has an interview with Merritt.

Pitchfork has details on Blitzen Trapper’s new album Destroyer Of The Void, due out June 8.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Heaven & Earth”

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is interviewed by The Miami Herald, Palm Beach Pulse and The Weekender while Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with the band.

The Fly talks to The National frontman Matt Berninger about their new album High Violet, out May 11. They play Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

LAist and The Dallas Observer chat with Ted Leo, who’s released a new video from The Brutalist Bricks. A Toronto show has also finally been announced – Ted and the Pharmacists will be at Lee’s Palace on June 26, tickets $15.

Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”

Spinner, Prefix and Blurt have features on the Drive-By Truckers, who bring their new album The Big To-Do to Lee’s Palace for two nights next week, April 6 and 7.

Their respective members have moved on to new projects for the time being, but that hasn’t stopped Monsters Of Folk from releasing a new video from their self-titled album.

Video: Monsters Of Folk – “Dear God”

Crawdaddy profiles John Vanderslice.

NPR is streaming the entirety of Joanna Newsom’s concert in Washington DC last week.

Under The Radar talks to School Of Seven Bells’ Alejandra Deheza about their new album Disconnect From Desire. She says it will be out this Spring; it now being Spring, I am less confident than her about this point – it will be out this year, though.

Phantogram have released a new video from Eyelid Movies. If you’ve been having trouble finding in stores in Canada, there’s a reason – apparently it’s not out here until April 6, their deal with Barsuk not counting north of the 49th? Don’t know, but it’s worth seeking out wherever you have to go to do it. Playtonic Dialogues has an interview.

Video: Phantogram – “Mouthful Of Diamonds”

Portland atmospheric electronicist Eluvium will be at the Drake on May 22 in support of his new album Similes; tickets $12 in advance.

MP3: Eluvium – “The Motion Makes Me Last”

tUnE-yArDs brings her much-feted (but not really understood by me) debut BiRd-BrAiNs to the Horseshoe on June 13 – tickets $12 in advance. I tried, really I did.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Sunlight”
Video: tUnE-yArDs – “Real Live Flesh”

Blurt, Pitchfork and Paul Westerberg – via The New York Times – eulogize Alex Chilton of Big Star.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

SxSW Night Two A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the night over here.

– Chapel Hill indie rock legends coming out of retirement with a new album later this year; Mac McCaughan talked to Under The Radar back in December about how that was going. McCaughan and guitarist Jim Wilbur will be in Toronto on April 7 to play at The Royal for the premiere of Passenger Side, a film in which Superchunk’s music appears – details at Exclaim, advance tickets over here.
Photos: Superchunk @ Cedar Street Courtyard – March 18, 2010
MP3: Superchunk – “Misfits & Mistakes”
MP3: Superchunk – “Never Too Young To Smoke”
MP3: Superchunk – “Rainy Streets”
MP3: Superchunk – “Becoming A Speck”
MP3: Superchunk – “Pink Clouds”
MP3: Superchunk – “Detroit Has A Skyline” (acoustic)
MP3: Superchunk – “Nu Bruises”
Video: Superchunk – “Mower”
Video: Superchunk – “Untied”
Video: Superchunk – “Driveway To Driveway”
Video: Superchunk – “Package Thief”
Video: Superchunk – “Art Class”
Video: Superchunk – “Throwing Things”
Video: Superchunk – “Precision Auto”
Video: Superchunk – “Fishing”
Video: Superchunk – “Watery Hands”
Video: Superchunk – “First Part”
Video: Superchunk – “Hyper Enough”
MySpace: Superchunk

Let’s Wrestle
– London trio whose debut In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s has just been released in North America and will be at the Horseshoe on April 18 in support of Quasi.
Photos: Let’s Wrestle @ Cedar Street Courtyard – March 18, 2010
MP3: Let’s Wrestle – “We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon”
Video: Let’s Wrestle – “I Won’t Lie To You”
Video: Let’s Wrestle – “We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon”
Video: Let’s Wrestle – “I’m In Fighting Mode”

Radar Brothers
– Former Medicine guitarist Jim Putnam returns with The Illustrated Garden, another collection of languid, atmospheric guitar pop.
Photos: Radar Brothers @ Cedar Street Courtyard – March 18, 2010
MP3: Radar Brothers – “Horse Warriors”
MP3: Radar Brothers – “On The Line”
MP3: Radar Brothers – “Warm Rising Sun”
MP3: Radar Brothers – “Papillon”
Video: Radar Brothers – “Brother Rabbit”
Video: Radar Brothers – “When Cold Air Goes To Sleep”
Video: Radar Brothers – “On The Line”
Video: Radar Brothers – “Papillon”
MySpace: Radar Brothers

She & Him
– Duo of M Ward and Zooey Deschanel just released their second album of classic AM-era pop in Volume Two and will play a sold-out show at The Phoenix on June 9. NPR, Exclaim and Spinner have interviews.
Photos: She & Him @ Cedar Street Courtyard – March 18, 2010
MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
Video: She & Him – “In The Sun”
Video: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
MySpace: She & Him

Marina & The Diamonds
– British chart-topper seeks to conquer America with a new EP in The American Jewels laying the groundwork for the May 25 release of her full-length debut The Family Jewels on May 25. She talks about her song “I Am Not A Robot” to Wales Online and is interviewed by Paste.
Photos: Marina & The Diamonds @ Lambert’s – March 18, 2010
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “Hollywood”
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “I Am Not A Robot”
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “Mowgli’s Road”
Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “Obsessions”
MySpace: Marina & The Diamonds

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Two A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the day over here.

Freelance Whales
– New York twee-popsters whose debut Weathervanes is being re-released on April 13, will be in town twice over the next while; at the El Mocambo on April 6 with Cymbals Eat Guitars and May 8 at the Mod Club with Shout Out Louds. NPR has a World Cafe session with the band, The San Francisco Examiner an interview and they’re keeping a tour diary over at Spinner.
Photos: Freelance Whales @ Eastbound & Found North Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: Freelance Whales – “Generator 2nd Floor”
MySpace: Freelance Whales

Diamond Rings
– Toronto electro-glam solo artist is prepping his debut full-length Special Affections for release later this year.
Photos: Diamond Rings @ Eastbound & Found South Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Wait & See”
MySpace: Diamond Rings

– Austin power trio continue to spread the word of last year’s Sunshower EP while working on a full-length follow-up.
Photos: Ume @ Eastbound & Found North Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”
MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”
MP3: Ume – “Wake”
Video: Ume – “The Conductor”
MySpace: Ume

– Los Angeles quartet will follow up last year’s Exquisite Corpse with a debut full-length due out later this year. Spinner has an interview.
Photos: Warpaint @ Eastbound & Found North Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”
Video: Warpaint – “Stars”
Video: Warpaint – “Elephants”

Slow Club
– Sheffield duo whose giddy folk-pop debut Yeah, So? just got a North American release after coming out last Summer in the UK.
Photos: Slow Club @ Eastbound & Found South Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”
Video: Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”
Video: Slow Club – “Because We Are Dead”
Video: Slow Club – “Me & You”
Video: Slow Club – “Trophy Room”

The Morning Benders
– San Francisco quartet whose latest Big Echo shows they’ve discovered the joys of noise and drama to go with their unerring pop sensibility. They play the Drake Underground on April 14; Express Night Out and The San Francisco Examiner have conversations with the band.
Photos: The Morning Benders @ Eastbound & Found North Stage – March 18, 2010
MP3: The Morning Benders – “Promises”
MP3: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Damnit Anna”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Boarded Doors”
MySpace: The Morning Benders

Here We Go Magic
– New York outfit led by Luke Temple will release their new album Pigeons on June 8; download the first MP3 from Secretly Canadian. They play Lee’s Palace on April 27.
Photos: Here We Go Magic @ Eastbound & Found North Stage – March 18, 2010
Video: Here We Go Magic – “Fangela”

– Spanish electro-poppers bring their Summer-y new record Subiza – out already in the UK and out in North America on June 8 – to the Phoenix on April 3 in support of Miike Snow.
Photos: Delorean @ Eastbound & Found South Stage – March 18, 2010
Video: Delorean – “Stay Close”