Archive for January, 2011

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Catching A Tiger

Lissie at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne to file under silver linings: Lissie – or Elisabeth Maurus according to her Illinois driver’s license – was supposed to make her Toronto debut at the El Mocambo back in October in support of her debut album Catching A Tiger, but that show along with a string of others was cancelled just days before on doctor’s orders after she lost her voice. The make-up show, which went off on Monday night, had a new venue to go with the new date – the twice-as-large Opera House which still managed to completely sell out. Okay, maybe that’s not such a silver lining for those who would have preferred to see her in a more intimate setting, but if you were one of the 400 people who wouldn’t have been able to see her if not for the bigger room then you weren’t complaining.

The evening didn’t go off completely without a hitch, though, as tour support Dylan LeBlanc was held up at the border necessitating locals Bahamas to be parachuted in as openers. Not that I would have been there in time to see either of them anyways. Lissie, however, showed up precisely on schedule to the strains of the Twin Peaks theme and roaring applause – this may have been her first time here, but clearly she had an impressive local fanbase already. And though she’s technically still a new artist, she worked the room for the next hour and change like a seasoned veteran with years of performing under her belt.

I’d seen her perform at SxSW 2010 and was impressed with how good she was without having any sort of angle or gimmick – just a great voice and great country-rock songs. Tiger also impressed but introduced a little doubt with regards to the unexpectedly slick production values; the songs were still superb but the delivery seemed like it was trying a bit too hard, and unnecessarily. “Slick” was not an adjective that had any place in this show, however, as it was just Lissie, a lead guitarist and combination bassist/drummer on stage – it’s not physically possible to work any gloss into the proceedings with that configuration, so the evening was a welcome return to basics: Lissie, her songs and her hugely expressive and powerful voice – it was hard to believe just a few months ago she was at risk of losing it.

The hour-long main set didn’t fit as many songs in as you might have expected – there was lots of entertaining banter throughout – but the audience was adoringly rambunctious and demonstrated one of the perks of being an artist without a “hit” song; no one was here to hear the single and then head for the doors, they were here for the duration. Still, it can’t be ignored that for as good as her own stuff is, much of Lissie’s exposure came with her unexpected cover versions and after a moving “Oh Mississippi” to lead off the encore, she finished things out with her version of Kid Cudi’s “The Pursuit Of Happiness”… and not one of the songs I would have actually known (Metallica, Lady Gaga, Zeppelin). But still, a crowd-pleasing finish to a crowd-pleasing and excellent set.

Mountain XPress has an interview with Lissie.

Photos: Lissie @ The Opera House – January 24, 2011
MP3: Lissie – “Little Lovin'”
MP3: Lissie – “Everywhere I Go”
MP3: Lissie – “In Sleep” (live)
Video: Lissie – “When I’m Alone”
Video: Lissie – “Cuckoo”
MySpace: Lissie

Steve Earle will release a new record entitled I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive on April 26 and a novel by the same name on May 12. He talks to Billboard about the two and the themes of mortality that pervade them.

Explosions In The Sky have clearly decided that the sky is not exploding enough of its own accord and will thus release a new record in Take Care, Take Care, Take Care on April 26 to pick up the slack. Pitchfork has specifics.

The Chicago Sun-Times, Baltimore Sun and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have words with Liz Phair.

NPR interviews the reunited The Dismemberment Plan.

The Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Inquirer interview the reunited Jayhawks.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe with The Decemberists while Exclaim has made the band their cover feature this month. They play The Sound Academy on February 1 and just took The King Is Dead to number one on the Billboard albums chart.

The Antlers discuss the electronic direction of their next album with Pitchfork.

The Vinyl District goes record shopping with Nicole Atkins. Her new record Mondo Amore is out February 8 and she’s at The Horseshoe on February 26.

PopMatters, The Georgia Straight and Seattle Weekly chat with various members of Ra Ra Riot.

Nada Surf have put out a video from their Depeche Mode cover from their covers record if i had a hi-fi.

Video: Nada Surf – “Enjoy The Silence”

The release of Iron & Wine’s latest Kiss Each Other Clean has brought out the press, with Sam Beam interviews in Pitchfork, Drowned In Sound, Daily Utah Chronicle and The AV Club as well as a Take-Away Show at Le Blogotheque.

Spinner and Paste talk to John Vanderslice, who is marking the release of his new record White Wilderness by giving away a new MP3.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Piano Lesson”

Pitchfork reports that R.E.M. do not plan to tour behind their new record Collapse Into Now when it comes out on March 8. You can stream yet another new track from the record via one of those lyric video things at Filter.

Trivia: The Thermals’ new video from Personal Life was shot on the now-unprocessable Kodachrome film. I did not know they made a Kodachrome movie film. Now I do. For all the good it does me.

Video: The Thermals – “Never Listen To Me”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011


The Joy Formidable Roar now over there, Roar later over here

Photo via TJFthejoyformidable.comProving that cliches are both true and false, Welsh trio The Joy Formidable are setting out to prove that good things do indeed come to those who wait but also that sometimes you can’t get too much of a good thing. To the former, there’s the fact that while those in the UK were able to celebrate “Big Roar Day” yesterday in honour of the release of their debut album The Big Roar, North Americans will have to wait until March 15 for the domestically-released edition. And while I appreciate the necessity of staggered release dates in different territories from a business point of view – there’s only so much press and promo a band is able to do in a given time frame – the fact that it’s so easy to get records irrespective of where you live (legally, of course) makes the notion that something is available elsewhere but not where you are hard to swallow. And don’t get me started on geoblocked videos… but I digress.

But the upside to the exercise in delayed gratification is the fact that the North American release will be accompanied by a North American tour, anchored by appearances at SxSW and Coachella, that brings them back to Toronto for their third date at The Horseshoe in less than a year on April 2, tickets $13.50. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago I was afraid I’d never get the chance to catch them live and nearly flew to New York on one occasion and rescheduled a work trip around making sure I was able to see them last May. Not that I’ve any complaint about their regular visits – both shows here were barnburners and I expect no less of this next one.

Virtual Festivals and Stereoboard have interviews with the band, while Rolling Stone declares them “Band Of The Week” and The Quietus has a video session.

MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”

Daytrotter has posted up a session with Little Boots.

Spinner learns the rather unsustainable source of Adele’s songwriting inspiration. Her second album 21 arrives February 22.

Arriving just a smidge to late to piggyback on last week’s tour announcement, Stereogum is streaming the whole of Esben & The Witch’s debut album Violet Cries a week ahead of its January 31 UK release and a bit longer ahead of the February 8 North American street date. Clash has also declared them a “band to watch”.

Stream: Esben & The Witch / Violet Cries

Also up for stream early is the debut album from Gorky’s Fanclub side-project Jonny. Well, early for North America – in another case of territorial differences, the self-titled effort is out in the UK next Monday but not until April 12 over here.

Stream: Jonny / Jonny

Lucky Soul get animated in the video for the final single to be taken from their terrific A Coming Of Age. The band are taking a bit of a break while Andrew and Ali have a baby then it’s back to work for record number three.

Video: Lucky Soul – “Upon Hilly Fields”

Patrick Wolf has released the first proper video from his forthcoming Lupercalia, a beach-frolicking little number shot in Santa Monica, California. The record is out May 23.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “The City”

Spin talks to Andy Bell and Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye about their debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding, which will get a North American release on March 1. I keep reporting on this for Andy’s sake. You know that.

MP3: Beady Eye – “The Roller”

Brett Anderson tells XFM he’d like to take a mulligan on the last Suede record, the eminently forgettable A New Morning. Where’s the positivity, Brett? This, of course, opens the question of a new record from the reformed band but first they’re going to reissue the whole of their back catalog – including A New Morning – with previously unheard rarities and participation in the archive diving from prodigal guitarist Bernard Butler but perplexingly there don’t appear to be plans for vinyl editions of any of the records. The band will also be diving into storage to dig up their “The London Suede” merch as they’re making their first trip to the US in probably at least a decade for an appearance at Coachella, though hopefully that’s not their only show on these shores. HINT HINT.

A British band who knows how to treat their audio/analogphile fans are Spiritualized, whom Exclaim reports are putting out their first two record Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase on vinyl later this month. And rumours persist that a new record will be arriving from Mr. Pierce/Spaceman before the year is out.

Having successfully brought the complete Ocean Rain to Toronto in October 2009, Echo & The Bunnymen will return with their first and fourth records Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here rehearsed and ready for recital on May 16 at The Phoenix, tickets $37.50. Full dates at Pitchfork.

Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Crocodiles” (live)

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Savage Night At The Opera

Review of Destroyer’s Kaputt

Photo By Ted BoisTed BoisSometimes you just get a hankering for some Dan Bejar, a need to ride that train of thought through station stops no one else’s visit and which moves at that distinctive languid-yet-mile-a-minute cadence. And while it’s possible to get one’s fix via with his mandatory three-songs per New Pornographers record or various side-projects, it’s Destroyer that offers the best, purest hit of Dan. The catch being that like one of his most obvious influences, David Bowie, you never know what form that hit is going to take from one record to the next.

Having made his perhaps most direct and “rock” work – a very relative statement – with 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies and followed it up with a record that explored similar if denser terrain with Trouble In Dreams, he’s now made a hard – or maybe that should be soft – left on Kaputt. Guitars remain present but take a back seat to billowing synths, soulful backing vox and slinky sax as the listener is invited into an ’80s-vintage discotheque/lounge as such things exist in the Destroyer-verse. In finding the groove, the record is less inclined to wander and even though a few tracks still exceed the five-minute mark and one, the previously-released “Bay Of Pigs” exceeds eleven, it feels like a much more focused record than past efforts.

Lyrically… well let’s be honest – trying to decipher a Destroyer record has always been somewhat an exercise in futility and Kaputt is no less opaque than its predecessors. But while a micro analysis of the words in play only lead to head-scratching, a more macro view reveals a consistently downcast tone and themes of broken romances, accusations and regrets. One is tempted to wonder if casting such motifs against the musical soundtrack more associated with coupling is a deliberate bit of irony on Bejar’s part or perhaps it’s just coincidence. Whatever his intent, with Kaputt Bejar has pulled off the difficult task of making a record that’s completely different from his past works and yet still classic Destroyer. Which is to say unique, fascinating and worth the time and effort it takes to comprehend.

Kaputt is out tomorrow and Destroyer’s North American tour hits Lee’s Palace on March 31. Pitchfork talks to Dawn Garcia, director of the wonderfully bizarre video for the album’s title track.

MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”
Video: Destroyer – “Kaputt”

Metric have released a video for their cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting To Fly” – it had shown up in some of Emily Haines’ solo live sets but I guess they decided to do a version with the rest of the band. And make a video

Video: Metric – “Expecting To Fly”

As The Dears ramp up to the February 15 release of their new record Degeneration Street, they’ve come out with a new MP3, a video and a chat with Spin and scheduled an in-store at Sonic Boom for February 17 at 7PM – admission free with donation of a canned good.

MP3: The Dears – “Blood”
Video: The Dears – “Omega Dog”

Guttersnipe News and The Calgary Herald have interviews with Sarah Harmer and CBC Radio 2 is streaming her show at Massey Hall last Fall.

Bruce Peninsula frontman Neil Haverty discusses his leukemia treatment with Exclaim; the C For Cure benefit show goes January 29 at the Music Gallery.

eye has an interview with Tokyo Police Club while The AV Club is offering a mashup between them and their current tourmates Two Door Cinema Club… because that’s what tourmates do. Mash. Tokyo Police Club will also be playing the just-announced Edgefest ’11 at Downsview Park on July 9 along with Rise Against, A Perfect Circle, The Weakerthans and more.

MP3: Two Door Tokyo Cinema Cub – “Breakneck Speed Can Work”

Exclaim and Spinner talk to Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham about his new gig as host of The Wedge (premiering this Wednesday) and his band’s new album/musical David Comes To Life, which is targeted for a May release.

Spinner chats with Nils Edenloff and Amy Cole of The Rural Alberta Advantage, whose new record Departing will be out March 1 and which has already yielded this terrific new video.

Video: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”

Exclaim reports that Basia Bulat will be teaming up with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for a performance at Hamilton Place Studio Theatre on February 3 – though similar in concept to her performance with Symphony Nova Scotia at the Halifax Pop Explosion, Owen Pallett has re-written the arrangements for this show to suit the philharmonic and the venue. Tickets for the show are $23 in advance and $25 at the door.

Clash declares Suuns to be a band to watch in 2011, and you can do just that when they play Sonic Boom on January 29 at 4PM and then open for The Besnard Lakes across the street at Lee’s Palace later that evening. The Concordian also has an interview.

The Toronto Star profiles Diamond Rings, kicking off his tour opening for Robyn at The Sound Academy on January 26.

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

"Waitin' For A Superman"

Iron & Wine cover The Flaming Lips

Image via YetiYetiAesthetically speaking, you don’t get much further removed than Iron & Wine and The Flaming Lips. The former being essentially a solo project for Sam Beam specializing in beautifully intimate homespun folk, and the latter being unabashed musical weirdos who delight in somehow delivering out-there artistic experiments in (mostly) accessible pop packages.

One point where they do intersect, however, is “Waitin’ For A Superman” from the Flaming Lips’ 1999 masterpiece The Soft Bulletin. It finds The Lips at their most stately and heartfelt and thus translates perfectly to the Iron & Wine delivery, as happened circa 2003 when Beam added his interpretation of it to his live sets. It’s interesting that of the two recordings I have of it – one captured live at the Amstel Festival in Amsterdam and the other a presumably home studio effort that appeared with the second issue of Yeti – that the live one has the higher audio fidelity, not to mention the added bonus of a little bit of cursing from Mr. Beam.

The new Iron & Wine record Kiss Each Other Clean will be out on Tuesday; 17 Dots and NPR have interviews and NPR ups the ante with a Tiny Desk Concert. The Flaming Lips have ambitions to release a new song every month in 2011 among other experiments and collaborations – Wayne Coyne maps them out for Spin.

MP3: Iron & Wine – “Waitin’ For A Superman”
MP3: Iron & Wine – “Waitin’ For A Superman” (live)
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Waitin’ For A Superman” (live on Jools Holland)

Friday, January 21st, 2011


Esben & The Witch descends on North America

Photo By Adam KolaAdam KolaSo when I saw Esben & The Witch at Lee’s Palace last Fall in support of Foals, I knew little about them beyond that they were from Brighton, that they commissioned a single decidedly creepy video and the that Matador Records would be putting out their debut album, which collectively was more than enough to get me to pay attention. Their set didn’t particularly showcase their songwriting skills, opting instead to spotlight their intensity and murkier, more primal tendencies, but it was compelling enough to get me to defer final judgement until I’d heard what they could do in a studio.

Happily, Violet Cries – out February 8 in North America – makes a good case for their ability to do more than just make a racket. Though they’re certainly capable of melodicism, pop songs are not necessarily their stock in trade – instead, the gothic, atmospheric tumult of their live show remains front and center but with much greater sonic clarity and emphasis on Rachel Davies’ dramatic vocals. It’s nothing like an immediate record and yet holds your attention and that’s about all you can ask.

The band has booked a Spring North American tour that will bring them back to Toronto during Canadian Musicfest and being added to a bill that already includes Anna Calvi and Memoryhouse… well, it looks like Wrongbar will be the place to be on the night of Friday, March 11.

The band have just released a second video from Violet Cries and yes, it too is creepy.

MP3: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Marching Song”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Stornoway.

Clash and Spinner talk to former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, though if the BBC interview with bassist Mick Quinn is correct, that “former” qualifier won’t be in place for very long though he’ll have a solo record out soon, either way.

The List talks to Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. Their new record Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is out February 15 and they play The Phoenix on April 26.

Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch discusses his Celestial Cafe memoirs with Drowned In Sound while Matablog has announced the winner of the band’s Write About Love contest.

PJ Harvey talks Let England Shake with Drowned In Sound – the record is out February 15.

Clash has an interview with White Lies. They bring latest Ritual to the Mod Club on January 29.

Baeblemusic is streaming a live show from First Aid Kit while one of the covers they recorded for Jack White’s Third Man Records 7″ series is streaming now at NPR.

Rawkblog recounts a few choice reveals from a phone interview with The Radio Dept. Their Passive Agressive double-set is out next week and they’re at Lee’s Palace on February 7.

Australian duo An Horse will release their second album Walls in April – trade your email address for an MP3 at their website.

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Janelle Monáe available to stream. She’s playing The Indie Awards during Canadian Musicfest on March 12.

That Archers Of Loaf reunion show in North Carolina last weekend? There’s now more video and audio footage to enjoy.

Spin has got another new download from the new Buffalo Tom record Skins as well as a chat with Bill Janovitz and Chris Colbourn.

The last time Pixies were in town was for V Fest 2009 at The Molson Amphitheatre and it was notable for being their last non-Doolittle recital show until… who knows. Point being that the just-announced cross-Canada tour (with some US dates yes) which includes an April 18 stop at Massey Hall will be their Doolittle show… the appeal of which I’ve honestly never understood. In a regular set they play most of Doolittle anyways – after all, it’s not like they’ve been adding new material to their canon since getting back together in 2004. In any case, if you attend expect a completely polished, proficient and somewhat bloodless performance.

Video: Pixies – “Here Comes Your Man”

Portlanders YACHT have made a date at Lee’s Palace on May 2.

MP3: YACHT – “See A Penny (Pick It Up)”
MP3: YACHT – “So Post All ‘Em”

Nicole Atkins’ new record Mondo Amore is almost here – it’s out February 8 – and she’s turned to Kickstarter to help subsidize the upcoming tour, which includes a February 26 show at the Horseshoe. Those with deep pockets can get themselves some sweet-ass rewards, including living room shows, custom songs, haircuts and painted ukuleles. There’s also a video session with Nicole up to enjoy at Livestream.

Low will release their new record C’mon on April 12. Pitchfork has specifics.

Blurt talks to Decemberists bassist Nate Query. They’re at The Sound Academy on February 1.