Archive for April, 2011

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

CONTEST – Lykke Li @ The Phoenix – May 22, 2011

Photo by Roger DeckkerRoger DeckkerWho: Lykke Li
What: Swedish indie-dance-soul diva Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson has come a ways since closing one of our Hot Freaks stages at SxSW 2008 because, well, we couldn’t get anyone else. But we’ll call it prescience nonetheless.
Why: She released her second album, the darker, slinkier and all together better Wounded Rhymes at the start of March and having come through town at least three times – possibly more – in support of Youth Novels, you know more touring was inevitable.
When: Sunday, May 22, 2011
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto (all-ages)
Who else: Montreal’s Grimes will open things up.
How: Tickets for the show are sold out – she played the much larger Sound Academy last time through so no surprise there – but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to get some Lykke Li” in the subject line and your full name in the body and have that in to me before midnight, May 15.
What else: Having recovered from a bit of touring burnout, Lykke Li is back on the road with a new video to share.

MP3: Lykke Li – “Youth Knows No Pain”
MP3: Lykke Li – “Get Some”
Video: Lykke Li – “Sadness Is A Blessing”

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Good Fortune

Weeping Tile celebrate celebration of ’90s CanRock

Photo By Graham KennedyGraham KennedyCanadian music circa 2011 is doing pretty great; more plentiful, creative and respected at home and abroad than ever before. No doubt sometime in the not too distant future, someone will write a book about this 21st century musical renaissance that (mostly) put an end to having Bryan Adams and Celine Dion as our national ambassadors of song.

But this golden age didn’t just happen, and the crucial decade that laid the foundation for today was documented by local scribes Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider and Ian AD Jack in the 2001 book Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-1995, which documented the rise of Canadian music as it emerged from local scenes, college campuses and the underground in general to produce acts who are institutions today and inspired countless others to follow, such as Blue Rodeo, Sloan and The Tragically Hip and a slew of others familiar to me from my time as a university newspaper music writer and general nascent music obsessive.

I can’t actually go into detail about the book because, well, I haven’t read it. Originally released in 2001, it has been out of print for over half a decade (though yes the Toronto library has copies, shush now) but that unfortunate status is being rectified, just in time for the volume’s tenth anniversary. An expanded and updated second edition will be released on July 1 and if that’s not cause for celebration, then I don’t know what is. Okay, maybe Canada’s 144th birthday. But I digress.

A proper celebration of the occasion will be happening on June 10 at Lee’s Palace, and feature a terrific, period-correct bill. It’s led by the Cold Snap-era Weeping Tile, the Sarah Harmer-led outfit who occasionally break hiatus for special occasions like this, Wolfe Island 2007 or whenever Harmer feels like putting the folk-pop aside to make a righteous racket. Joining them are Guelph’s recently reunited jazz-rock heroes King Cobb Steelie and Kevin Kane, co-leader of Vancouver’s also recently-reunited Grapes Of Wrath and though he’ll be here with his solo career band, I’ll bet you can expect to hear some GOW tunes in the set.

The concert/book release announcement at Barclay’s Radio Free Canuckistan says that ticket information is still forthcoming but proceeds will be donated to Centre For Addiction & Mental Health. Read the book, see the show, support a worthy cause, bask in it all.

MP3: Weeping Tile – “Good Fortune”
Video: King Cobb Steelie – “Rational”
Video: Kevin Kane – “All The Things I Wasn’t” (live)

Ron Hawkins, whose Lowest Of The Low were possibly/probably the most important band for me in the era covered by Have Not Been The Same, will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on May 28 at 3PM to promote his new solo record Straitjacket Love. He’s also got two solo shows at Graffiti’s in Kensington on May 26 and 27 and a full-band residency at The Drake on June 22, 29, July 6 and 13. The Low are at Massey Hall on May 7.

NOW and The National Post chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage in advance of tonight’s show at The Phoenix. NOW have also got another Southern Souls-shot video with the band, this one a performance of “Barnes’ Yard”.

The Toronto Star and Toronto Standard talk to Malajube, in town for a show at The Horseshoe on Saturday night, April 30.

DIY welcomes Timber Timbre to the UK with an interview.

Dan Mangan gives Exclaim a sneak preview of his new record, which may be called Oh, Fortune and will likely be out come September. hour also has a chat.

NOW welcomes The Kills to Toronto, where they’ll play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Denver Westword has an in-depth conversation with John Vanderslice, who has a date at The Drake Underground on May 10.

Jason Isbell has conversations with Prefix and The Patriot-Ledger. He and The 400 Unit play The Horseshoe on May 22.

The Bay Bridged is sharing MP3s from a session with Thao & Mirah, who bring their Thao & Mirah collaboration to Lee’s Palace on June 5. Oregon Music News and LA Weekly talk to the pair about working together, and yes – that is a Pat Benatar cover.

MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Folks” (live)
MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Love Is A Battlefield” (live)

Paste catches up with Alela Diane, who brings her new record Alela Diane and Wild Divine to The Rivolli on June 11.

Titus Andronicus’ new Garden State-tripping, New Jersey-celebrating video from The Monitor – almost enough to make you not make a beeline for Penn Station as soon as you land in Newark. Almost. AM New York has an interview with the band, who are in town at The Phoenix on June 10 opening for Okkervil River.

Video: Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”

Spinner sits down with David Lovering and Joey Santiago of Pixies while The Montreal Gazette talks to Santiago alone.

Toro and The Seattle Times talk to members of The Head & The Heart.

Spinner has a feature piece on Explosions In The Sky.

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

White Material

Tindersticks get box se(a)t at the movies

Photo By Richard DumasRichard DumasA number of words serve as accurate descriptors of Nottingham’s Tindersticks – “smoky”, “noirish”, “soulful” all work – but if you had to narrow it down to just one, then “cinematic” would be as good as any. Their ability to create, define and enhance an atmosphere or mood makes them an ideal choice to provide the sounds to moving pictures, and for French director Claire Denis, that’s what they’ve done. Tindersticks, either as a group or as individuals, have scored six of Denis’ films and now those soundtracks have been collected in a box set entitled, most descriptively, Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 and was released this week.

The lavishly appointed box consists of five discs (shiny plastic or black vinyl), some of the contents of which have never been released. And while I’ve not heard the whole set, the selections that I have heard are largely instrumental, though Stuart Staples’ distinctive croon does make some appearances, and lush, dark and gorgeous throughout; in other words, vintage Tindersticks. For most bands, a collection of film scores might seem like a fans-only curiosity but this set feels like as necessary a part of their discography as any studio record.

Filter and The Quietus talk to Stuart Staples about the art of scoring.

MP3: Tindersticks – “The Black Mountain” (from Lintrus)
MP3: Tindersticks – “The Children’s Theme” (from White Material)
MP3: Tindersticks – “La Rallye” (from Vendredi Soir)
MP3: Tindersticks – “Opening 35” (from Rhums)
Video: Tindersticks – scenes from Lintrus
Video: Tindersticks – scenes from White Material
Video: Tindersticks – scenes from Nénette et Boni
Video: Tindersticks – scenes from Rhums

The Aquarian and The AV Club talk to Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

The Fly reports that the Franz Ferdinand covers 10″ EP, wherein the Scots were reinterpreted by the likes of LCD Soundsystem and The Magnetic Fields and was one of the hot items for Record Store Day in the UK, will be getting a proper CD release on May 2. Probably still only in the UK but people can at least hear the whole thing, regardless of where they live, via Soundcloud.

Stream: various artists / Franz Ferdinand Covers

Clash interviews Roddy Woomble.

Interview talks to Guy Garvey and Music Radar to Mark Potter of Elbow.

The Music Magazine reports that former Oasis songwriter/guitarist Noel Gallagher is finished his solo debut and is targeting an October release. Meanwhile, The Irish Times talks to little brother Liam about his new outfit Beady Eye, which is at The Sound Academy on June 20.

NPR has got PJ Harvey’s pre-Coachella show in San Francisco available to stream or download while The Guardian has an extensive feature piece and video session. Two more video from Let England Shake has been released, with Spinner talking to director Seamus Murphy about the “Bitter Branches” clip.

Video: PJ Harvey – “Bitter Branches”
Video: PJ Harvey – “In The Dark Places”

Clash talks to Noah & The Whale.

Notion has one of those annoying Flash-based “ooh look it’s like a real magazine” interfaces but their feature on Patrick Wolf makes it kind of worth enduring. Wolf’s new record Lupercalia is due out June 20.

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the finale of British Sea Power’s recent North American tour while For No One has got a video session with the band up.

DIY converses with Those Dancing Days.

Ever wonder how long Daytrotter keeps sessions in the can? They just posted one with A Camp, who haven’t toured in almost two years.

PopMatters interviews the members of Junip.

Mashable has a video documentary and interview with Peter Bjorn & John, who’ve got a show at Lee’s Palace on May 6 and an in-store at Sonic Boom earlier that same evening.

Magnet Q&As The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, who are running roughshod over their website this week. They will do the same to Lee’s Palace on June 4.

NPR serves up a World Cafe session with Phoenix.

Tiny Mix Tapes contemplates the theological aspects of Nick Cave.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Everything Works

Review of Miracle Fortress’ Was I The Wave?

Photo By Andre GueretteAndre GueretteI have a confession to make; I lied to you. Or more accurately, I misled you. When I wrote up Miracle Fortress’ performance at Canadian Musicfest last month, I made it out that I was as in the dark about what Graham Van Pelt had in store for album number two as most everyone else, and that my insights were based entirely on the show. This was not true. In fact, I’d gotten advanced a copy of Was I The Wave? a week or so earlier but had to keep mum about it as word of its existence was still under wraps. I was thankful for the heads up, though, because otherwise my writeup of the two-man, laser-lit rave-down may well have amounted to, “well that was different”.

After all, Miracle Fortress’ debut Five Roses was an unexpected ’60s-via-’00s classic pop jewel that came out of nowhere to end up on the 2007 Polaris Music Prize short list despite being released barely a week before the eligibility period ended. Pretty high expectations are sure to follow a debut like that, so maybe it’s no surprise that rather than rush into a follow-up, Van Pelt turned his attentions to his other band Think About Life and let ideas for Miracle Fortress percolate for a few years.

It’s not unreasonable to call Was I The Wave? a sequel to Five Roses if it’s meant in the sense of a a part two picking up not where the original left off, bu twenty years into the future. Which in this case would bring things smack dab into the ’80s, and indeed Wave is unabashed in planting its stylistic flag in that most distinctive-sounding of decades. A delicious New Wave-y, synth-pop iciness pervades much of the record, both in the writing and arrangements of the songs and the textures used to render them. Danceable yet not at all disco, at points it’s reminiscent of the period where Joy Division transitioned into New Order and at others, it reminds me how proud I am of the “Depeche Shop Boys” reference I made in the live review. It’s all a bit alien at first, but with enough familiar touchstones to allow you to keep up.

About midway through – actually, precisely with “Spectre” – said iciness begins to thaw and some of the Five Roses warmth begins to shine through. The melodies become more buoyant, less guarded, and the album’s tonal balance begins tilting towards the human. But it’s the record’s ability to balance the synthetic and the organic – its cyborg nature, if you will – that makes it so exceptional. By the end of its not-quite 40 minute running time, it’s taken you back to the same magical pop heights as Five Roses but taken a completely different route to get there. Turns out all you needed was to trust Van Pelt to guide you.

Was I The Wave? is out now in Canada and will be out May 17 in the US. Exclaim has made Miracle Fortress their cover story this month, and have more talk time with Van Pelt in another shorter piece. The Montreal Gazette also has a feature piece. Miracle Fortress’ extensive touring itinerary takes them across Canada in the company of Shad through May, and then come June it’s eastern North America with Junior Boys, a tour with starts June 9 in Toronto at The Phoenix.

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Pitchfork is streaming the first single from the Junior Boys’ new record It’s All True, due June 14.

The Quietus and Spinner talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose debut Feel It Break is out May 17. They play Lee’s Palace two nights later for a hometown record release show.

The Wild Honey Pie has a video session with Snowblink, who have a date at The Music Gallery on June 16 as part of NXNE.

Bruce Peninsula continues their Fire Sale campaign to the Fall release of Open Flames, this time with a Daytrotter session.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a complete Rural Alberta Advantage performance from The Phoenix (in Austin) from SXSW and has a video interview chaser for good measure. The band are at The Phoenix (in Toronto) this Friday night.

Consquence Of Sound is streaming the third advance single from Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life, out June 7.

The Waterloo Record and Spinner profile Malajube, who have an April 30 date at The Horseshoe.

The Coast, The Sheaf, Here and The Telegram talk to Dan Mangan, who should have a new record out before the year is out.

This month’s Exclaim timeline feature follows the long and storied career of Sloan, which will soon include the May 10 release of The Double Cross, a May 14 in-store at Sonic Boom and – just announced – an extensive North American tour that includes their first non-festival/event Toronto show in ages, a June 22 date at The Mod Club. Either they’re grossly underestimating their draw (or I’m overestimating) or they want to create some serious demand for tickets.

MP3: Sloan – “Follow The Leader”

Also just announced – Yuck will warm up for their show at The Phoenix on May 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. Admission free, canned food donations encouraged.

MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”

Dum Dum Girls’ NXNE itinerary has been sorted out somewhat and it looks like a double-header – their booking agency notes that they’ll be playing both The El Mocambo and Lee’s Palace on June 17.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “Bhang Bhang I’m A Burnout”

Kurt Vile & The Violators return with Woods in tow for a show at Lee’s Palace on July 13.

MP3: Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
MP3: Woods – “To Clean”

Their May 18 show at The Phoenix sold out pretty much immediately, Death Cab For Cutie have put together a Summer tour more in scale with their success – they’ll be at The Molson Amphitheatre on July 29 and accompanying them will be Frightened Rabbit. Death Cab’s new record Codes & Keys arrives May 31 and another song from it is streaming over at Soundcloud.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Okkervil River will be webcasting a live performance of their new record I Am Very Far via NPR tonight at 7PM ET. The record is out May 10 and they play The Phoenix on June 12.

R.E.M. has put out a new video from Collapse Into Now.

Video: R.E.M. – “Every Day Is Yours To Win”

The Fly welcomes J Mascis to their courtyard for an acoustic video session.

Exclaim has an interview feature with Fleet Foxes and Spin an in-studio video. Helplessness Blues is out May 3 and they’re at Massey Hall on July 14.

JAM talks to Jamie Hince of The Kills. They’re at The Sound Academy on May 1.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Sim Sala Bim

Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues; let them show you it

Photo By Sean PecknoldSean PecknoldWe’re a week out from the release of one of the most-anticipated records of the year – Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes – and as has become commonplace, the album is available to stream a week before it goes on sale at NPR. A couple of listens in and all the key ingredients that made the debut a smash are still in place: Robin Pecknold’s otherworldly voice, the ridiculously lush and immaculate harmonies, the blankets of reverb imported from some Pacific northwest mountaintop, but Blues also sounds more confident and dynamic than its predecessor, perhaps a sign that the songwriting is now more up to par up with the immense musical talents of the band. I liked but didn’t love Fleet Foxes and am cautiously confident that I’ll like the new record more. I am certain, however, that they won’t alienate any of their fanbase with it.

Exclaim and Spinner have conversations with Pecknold, the former about the process of writing the new record and the latter about the general awfulness of Myspace. Meanwhile, over at We All Want Someone To Shout For has a session the band played for BBC Radio 1 last week available to download and if you like Fleet Foxes but hate their songs, You Ain’t No Picasso has collected a decent-sized archive of covers they’ve performed.

Fleet Foxes are at Massey Hall on July 14.

Stream: Fleet Foxes / Helplessness Blues

Yours Truly has got a video session with The Head & The Heart which I’m sure is great, but can’t watch to confirm since it’s restricted to the US only… but they’re working on it, I’m told. In the meantime, read this interview at LAist.

Prefix talks to Charles Bissell of The Wrens about the state of their new record which will not actually be called Funeral and should be out someday. Maybe.

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy talks to both Spin and Rolling Stone about their new record which may but probably won’t be called Get Well Soon Everybody and may be out come September. Know what would be awesome? If Tweedy gave completely contrary information to both publications. But he didn’t. More certain, as Exclaim reports, is the first release on the band’s new dBpm label – a 7″ single due out sometime in July A-sided by new song “I Might” and backsided by a cover of Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label”.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Bright Eyes.

Spinner, Paste and Clash talk to Steve Earle about his just-released new record I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, acting and the Gulf of Mexico (song and region), respectively. He also sets up behind a Tiny Desk for NPR. Earle is at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 20.

PopMatters catches up with The Thermals on tour in Germany.

PO Box 607 gets to know Anna-Lynne Williams of Trespassers William about a new solo record coming out as Lotte Kestner and her new label Saint-Loup Records.

Blurt profiles Buffalo Tom while Bill Janovitz contributes a piece on being both rocker and realtor to Boston Magazine.

PopMatters tries to extract an interview from J Mascis.

The Chicago Tribune talks to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. They’re at The Opera House on August 2.

Comic artist and musician Jeffrey Lewis is in town for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and will be whiling away the evening by playing a solo show at The Dakota on May 8, tickets $10 at the door.

MP3: Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – “Slogans”

Back for like the third time in less than a year, Robyn is back on June 3 with this past Winter’s tourmate Diamond Rings in tow and they’re playing an actual new venue in Toronto. It’s called Echo Beach and it’s an approximately 4000-capacity general admission outdoor venue at Ontario Place, on the water, not far from the Molson Amphitheatre but far away in time. Tickets for the show are $39.50, on sale Friday.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”

New York’s Gang Gang Dance will have a new record out in Eye Contact on May 10 and be at The Horseshoe on July 10 to support.

MP3: Gang Gang Dance – “MindKilla”
Video: Gang Gang Dance – “MindKilla”