Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Which Is Why

Lightspeed Champion is dead – long live Blood Orange

Photo By Devonté HynesDevonté HynesWhen it comes to his art, Dev Hynes is no stranger to abruptly shifting gears. His first band, the sophomoric dance-punk band Test Icicles called it quits in early 2006 just when they were starting to achieve some success, and Hynes would resurface a year later as a solo act operating as Lightspeed Champion. It’s that project that brought Hynes to the attention of most, thanks to the wonderful country-tinged debut, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge. This year’s follow-up Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You didn’t quite measure up, feeling overburdened by its more orchestral aspirations, but was hardly a failure. And surely album number three would be better?

Except there apparently won’t be an album three. Even before Life Is Sweet came out, Hynes began writing, recording and gigging under the guise of Blood Orange – it didn’t sound worlds removed from Lightspeed, but the one-man home recordings certainly pointed at it being an outlet for his funkier, more groove-oriented side. And according to this new interview at Interview, Hynes is putting Lightspeed Champion out to pasture and making Blood Orange his main creative outlet – a debut single will be out in January and a full-length will follow in the early part of next year, and that means the Van Dyke Parks-enhanced Bye Bye EP coming out on December 13 will be prophetically-titled.

I will miss Lightspeed – Lavender Bridge remains a favourite from the past few years – and am especially sorry I wasn’t able to see him at the Horseshoe this past Summer, but if Blood Orange is what it – and he – is going to be, then I’ll be there.

MP3: Blood Orange – “S’Cooled” (demo)
Video: Blood Orange – “S’Cooled”
Video: Blood Orange – “I’m Sorry We Lied”
Myspace: Blood Orange

Oxford Student talk to Stornoway, who will be a the El Mocambo tonight and have just released another MP3 from their lovely Beachcomber’s Windowsill by way of enticement.

MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”

BBC reports that Portishead are making plans for album number four and there are also rumours swirling that they’re intending to stage their first North American tour in forever next Fall. Fingers crossed.

The Yorkshire Post talks to David Gedge of The Wedding Present, who apparently lost bassist Terry de Castro as a member sometime in the Summer.

British Sea Power have released the first video from their forthcoming Valhalla Dancehall – out January 11 – and I can’t figure out if it’s playful, creepy, romantic or just plain weird. I am going to go with weird.

Video: British Sea Power – “Living Is So Easy”

NME reports that Editors think three studio albums are enough to justify releasing a box set, and will do just that in February of next year – Editors: The Complete Collection will consist of seven 12″ records (album-length or single is unclear) and seven CDs of b-sides, rarities and other Editors ephemera.

Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch’s diaries circa The Life Pursuit and Dear Catastrophe Waitress have been collected in book formThe Celestial Cafe will be released in early 2011.

MusicOmh talks to Duffy. Her new record Endlessly arrives December 7.

The Vaccines, who are apparently set to be the next big thing out of the UK, will be riding the buzz through a free show at the Horseshoe on January 18. The Guardian and Von Pip Musical Express have profiles of the band, which should give you all the background you need to make like you’ve been a fan, like, forever when you’re jammed into the ‘Shoe with all the other Anglophiles in the city.

MP3: The Vaccines – “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)”

Spinner chats with Kate Nash.

Monday, November 29th, 2010


The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThursday night’s bill at The Horseshoe was both a repeat and an inversion of a show at The Garrison last October – that show was an introduction of sorts for the newly-buzzy Toronto folk outfit The Wilderness Of Manitoba and a final show for a while from London, Ontario’s Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, who were coming off an extended tour and were turning their attention towards a new album. Thirteen months later, The Wilderness had converted their buzz into some genuine success on the back of their debut album When You Left The Fire while Olenka and company just released their new record And Now We Sing, which I was most eager to get my hands on.

And all I’ll say about the record for the moment is that it’s really good, and that I will hopefully offer more thoughts on it in the future. It melds folk, country and pop with a touch of rock while sounding equally old world and new; not a description that necessarily makes it sound particularly unique, but Olenka Krakus’ distinctive, dusky voice goes a long way in establishing their personality. It was that voice that would carry her opening set this evening as she was playing without the Autumn Lovers and while members of The Wilderness sat in for a few numbers adding harmonies and atmosphere, I missed their string, horn and percussion contributions. That said, there was no denying that the solo configuration allowed the plaintiveness of her songs to come across even stronger and made for an affecting set of material new and old and including a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen”.

Montreal’s Leif Vollebekk drew the middle spot on the evening’s dance card and in contrast to Olenka, the usually-solo performer opted to bring a rhythm section along for this performance. Stylistically, he owes more than a little to mid-’70s Dylan – a fact he acknowledged with a cover from Blood On The Tracks – what with his penchant for conversational melodies that seem almost ad-libbed. This fit well with his rather random on-stage persona, and so while what he did wasn’t especially original – the one left turn was a looped and layered version of Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues” that ended up sounding like Vollebekk’s own stuff – it was delivered with enough style to be entertaining.

If I have a complaint with Wilderness’ When You Left The Fire, it’s that it’s too successful at creating an immersive, consistent mood. If you’re are craving what they do, then their gentle, prettily drifting, harmony-laden folk can be like manna, but if you’re not in the mood then it doesn’t have quite enough to keep one’s interest. Happily, in a live setting they don’t try to recreate the campfire ambiance of the record, balancing out the ethereal with earthiness and offering enough added energy and dynamics to make the performance engaging, no matter what your mood. With most every member rotating through a selection of instruments throughout the show, they ran through an hour-long set of material from Fire and their debut EP/mini-album Hymns Of Love And Spirits that managed to rouse and sooth, though seemingly more the former for some of the more excitable of the couple hundred people in attendance. I didn’t get the same jolt out of the show as they did, but still appreciated seeing one of the city’s up and coming acts continuing to take considerable strides forward.

NOW has an interview with The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Ottawa XPress talks to Leif Vollebekk while CJLO has audio and video from a radio session featuring he and Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon and Southern Souls has posted a video session with Olenka recorded across the street from the ‘Shoe the night of the show.

Photos: The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk, Olenka & The Autumn Lovers @ The Horseshoe – November 25, 2010
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: Leif Vollebekk – “Northernmost Eva Maria”
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “November”
MySpace: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers

In advance of their two sold-out shows at Lee’s Palace in support of the re-release of Shakespeare My Butt… on December 3 and 4, The Lowest Of The Low will be playing an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom on December 4 at 3PM. CTV has an interview with frontmen Ron Hawkins and Steve Stanley while Chart recounts the band’s history and importance.

MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Subversives”
Video: The Lowest Of The Low – “Eternal Fatalist”

More details on that upcoming December 16 Memoryhouse show at the Twist Gallery, reported on a little while ago, have come out – they’ll be headlining an evening called “Wintergaze” which will feature a lineup of the city’s finest dream-pop purveyors. In addition to the Guelph duo, there will be sets from Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning and Heartbeat Hotel (introduced back in July). Tickets are $10 in advance. And incidentally, Memoryhouse just released a new video.

MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Heirloom”

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Rebekah Higgs, who has been added as support for The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sold-out show at Lee’s Palace on December 16.

The Wild Honey Pie recorded a video session with Forest City Lovers on their recent visit to New York City.

NOW profiles Suuns.

CBC Radio 2’s Concerts On Demand is streaming in its entirety Stars’ show in Calgary at the start of the month.

Metro, The Guardian and The Independent talk to Arcade Fire’s Win Butler.

The Wolf Parade fansite has confirmed, via Dan Boeckner, that the rumours of Wolf Parade’s impending indefinite hiatus are true. Aside from a few live commitments next year, the band have no plans to reconvene or record a fourth album anytime soon. Fans will have to make do with one of their 4000 side projects, some of which they detail to Spinner.

The Toronto Star talks to Peter Moore about recording the Neil Young and Sadies cover of “This Wheel’s On Fire”, from the just-released Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration Of The Band.

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

"Moonage Daydream"

The White Stripes cover David Bowie

Photo By Patrick PantanoPatrick PantanoThe White Stripes’ affection for all things old – from toy cameras to Tesla coils – is well-documented, and that affection obviously extends to their own music. Their first three records The White Stripes, De Stijl and White Blood Cells have been out of print on vinyl in North America since 2005, and for an avowed analogphile as Jack White, that simply cannot stand. So as of this Tuesday, they’re going to be reissued on his own Third Man Records label with all the care and attention that you’d expect.

This live recording predates even their 1999 debut, coming from a 1997 gig at the now-defunct Gold Dollar in their native Detroit. It’s interesting to hear them turn their lean aesthetic to one of David Bowie’s glam-rock anthems, not to mention hearing Jack White perpetuating the falsehood that Meg White was his little sister. But my favourite part of the recording comes before the song even starts, when a woman in the audience comments that White, “sounds like a weirdo”. Lady, you have no idea. Nor do you know how much bragging you’ll be doing that you were at this show, where they were clearly completely unknown, in a decade’s time.

Inactive since 2007, Jack White has recently hinted that he and Meg might get back together to make a new White Stripes record in 2011. As established a couple weeks ago, David Bowie continues to be busy being David Bowie and not making music.

MP3: The White Stripes – “Moonage Daydream”
Video: David Bowie – “Moonage Daydream”

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Audio Blood Holiday 2 Night Stand @ The Rivoli – December 10 and 11, 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Night one: Make Your Exit Sandman Viper Command, Charlotte Cornfield; Night two: The Balconies, Clothes Make The Man, Teenage Kicks – plus special guest headliners each night
What: Local management/PR folk Audio Blood continue their tradition of making all their artists wear Santa hats and play Christmas carols* over two nights at a local venue, with everyone getting together onstage for an a capella encore reading of Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” as the encore**
* this is not true
** this is also probably not true but would be kind of awesome if it was
Why: ‘Cause it’s the holiday season. Duh.
When: December 10 and 11, 2010
Where: The Rivoli in Toronto (19+)
How: Tickets for each night are $10 in advance and two-night passes $15 (available here), but courtesy of Audio Blood I’ve got a prize pack consisting of a a pair of passes for each night, a show poster, and Exclaim t-shirt and assorted swag (they’re co-presenting) and CDs from The Balconies and Make Your Exit. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want an Audio Blood holiday” in the subject line and your full name, mailing address and t-shirt deets in the body. Contest closes at midnight, December 5.
What else: Audio Blood have assembled a mix tape of all the acts performing for you to download and enjoy. Grab the tracks individually or the ZIP below.

MP3: Make Your Exit – “Through The Winter” (BARTEL remix)
MP3: Sandman Viper Command – “Yo Bobcat”
MP3: Charlotte Cornfield – “The Colour”
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: Clothes Make The Man – “Cruisin'”
MP3: Teenage Kicks – “Shook Our Bones”
ZIP: Audio Blood Holiday Mix 2010

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

CONTEST – Broken Social Scene @ The Sound Academy – December 10, 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Broken Social Scene
What: They’re that band from Toronto. You know the one. You probably know someone who’s been in the band. You may have even been in the band yourself. Very few people in this city are more than three degrees removed from Broken Social Scene.
Why: Ostensibly they’re still touring behind this year’s Forgiveness Rock Record but these two-night hometown stands in December are pretty much a tradition now, whether or not there’s a record to promote. Toronto loves Broken and Broken loves Toronto and as Kevin Drew will probably say about 40 times over the course of their set, it’s all about the love.
When: Friday, December 10, 2010
Where: The Sound Academy in Toronto (all-ages)
Who else: Still to be announced
How: Tickets for the show are $31.50 in advance but courtesy of Canvas Media, I’ve got one prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show, a Broken Social Scene t-shirt and a copy of their 2004 odds-and-sods compilation Bee Hives on CD. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want my Social Scene Broken” in the subject line and your full name, mailing address and t-shirt gender/size in the body and have that in to me before midnight, December 5.

MP3: Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Meet Me In The Basement”