Archive for June, 2011

Thursday, June 30th, 2011


Bjork is doing stuff. No one is quite sure what, but there’s a lot of it.

Photo By Inez van Lambsweerde & Vinoodh MatadinInez van Lambsweerde & Vinoodh MatadinRelatively quiet since 2007’s Volta, Bjork is finally back with a new album… I think. To be honest, the press releases around her new project Biophilia haven’t exactly been designed for quick parsing, and that’s because the album component of Biophilia is just that – a component.

There will be a conventional album, presumably available in CD and LP formats, that is due out this Fall – September 27 is the unofficial release date being bandied about. There will also be ten apps corresponding to the tracks fo the record to add interactive elements to the compositions – there’s no specifics on device or platform, but presumably Mac OSX and iOS and Windows will be supported, possibly/probably more. Touring will be done unconventionally, consisting of six-week residencies in eight different cities worldwide over a course of three years and taking place in intimate, in-the-round performance spaces and utilizing a range of custom-built instruments intended to recreate the sound and atmosphere of the apps. A feature-length documentary about the creative process behind the whole Biophilia experience will be released. The website has been redone and is now all trippy, though to be honest I’m not sure what to do with it.

Blurt has helpfully reprinted the full text of the press release, which should offer some more insight into what’s what. Pitchfork and Sterogum also have interviews with the artist which shed some light on what she’s doing and why. The first of the aforementioned residencies is already underway in Manchester, England – not sure where the other seven will be but I’m not putting money on Toronto, or even anywhere in Canada necessarily. But while we may miss out on that aspect of the Biophilia experience, we can still hear the songs – the first single is available to stream right now, and a Michel Gondry-directed video is forthcoming.

Oh Bjork, you so crazy.

Stream: Bjork – “Crystalline”

The Concretes have put out a new video from WYWH.

Video: The Concretes – “My Ways”

It’s funny – while Wild Beasts’ last record Two Dancers took me a while to warm to – though I did – their new one Smother I warmed to right away, despite it seeming to garner a more tepid critical response. Either way, looking forward to seeing them live for the first time on September 29 when they return to the Mod Club as part of a North American tour. Oxford Student has an interview with the band.

MP3: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
MP3: Wild Beasts – “Loop The Loop”
Video: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”

Though The Horrors machine is ramping up in anticipation of the release of Skying, Faris Badwan’s underappreciatedCat’s Eyes side-project has found the time to release a new video for a non-album cover of “The Crying Game”.

Video: Cat’s Eyes – “The Crying Game”

Following up the release of the first MP3 from their forthcoming debut album Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, Lanterns On The Lake have put out a video for the same song. The record is out September 19.

MP3: Lanterns On The Lake – “You’re Almost There”
Video: Lanterns On The Lake – “You’re Almost There”

GQ solicits a list of ten style essentials from Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye.

Drowned In Sound and DIY have features on Nick McCabe and Simon Jones’ post-Verve band The Black Ships. They’re giving away their first EP Kurofone in exchange for your email though forewarned – it’s a single 25-minute, 273MB WAV file. I’ve compressed it into something a bit more manageable for you because if you dig on early Verve, it’s worth a listen.

MP3: The Black Ships – “The Kurofone EP”

Donewaiting grapples with Let’s Wrestle, interview-style.

Octopus Windmill interviews Amor de Dias.

Australia’s Howling Bells have given their third album a title of The Loudest Engine and a release date of September 12. Details at Wears The Trousers.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


Mates Of State proclaim cuteness from Mountaintops

Photo via FacebookFacebookSometimes I wonder if Mates Of State get tired of being described with various synonyms for “adorable”, but if so they’ve no one to blame but themselves. Rather than release the black metal opus we all know they have in them, the husband-and-wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel continue releasing records of irresistibly sweet and catchy drum-and-organ power pop, a trend that seems set to continue with the September 13 release of Mountaintops, their first album of original material since 2008’s Re-Arrange Us; last year’s Crushes was a more than satisfying stopgap of cover versions.

The band have just released a video for the first single from Mountaintops and surprise surprise, both the tune and the clip are totes adorbs, and they’ve also announced a North American tour that rather ably covers the eastern half of the continent. The Toronto date, their first visit since kicking off the final V Fest in 2009, comes September 28 at The Phoenix with Suckers and Yawn as support – tickets $15 in advance.

Video: Mates Of State – “Maracas”

Ra Ra Riot will make their pretty much annual Fall visit to Toronto on October 6 with a show at Lee’s Palace, tickets $17.50 in advance. They’re also featured in a Bandstand Busking session doing their thing on London’s South Bank.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”

The Wooden Birds have released a new video for the title track of their second album Two Matchsticks. Revue and College Times talk to frontman Andrew Kenny, who leads the band into the Drake Underground on July 10.

Video: The Wooden Birds – “Two Matchsticks”

Also with a new video is Justin Townes Earle, taken from Harlem River Blues. Interview, The Calgary Herald and Reno Gazette-Journal have interviews with Earle, who will be at The Horseshoe on August 26.

Video: Justin Townes Earle – “Slippin’ & Slidin'”

The Kills have a new clip from Blood Pressures.

Video: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow”

NPR has premiered the new video taken from DeVotchKa’s latest 100 Lovers.

Video: DeVotchKa – “The Man From San Sebastian”

Explosions In The Sky have released their first-ever video, taken from this year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. They play the Sound Academy on October 7.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Last Known Surroundings”

Wye Oak, who are opening up that EITS show, are featured in an acoustic video session at The Fly. There’s also interviews over at Glasswerk and Spoonfed.

The Santa Barbara Independent talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

NPR, Exclaim and JAM have feature pieces on Bon Iver, in town at The Sound Academy on August 8.

In the wake of their second Solid Sound Festival, Wilco have given their next album a name – The Whole Love – and both sides of their new 7″ comprising a new tune and a Nick Lowe cover are streaming around the internet, like at Exclaim. No release date more specific than this Fall has been announced yet. Update: And now it has – album out September 27, North American tour starts a couple weeks earlier with two nights at Massey Hall September 16 and 17. Details and album art at Exclaim.

Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus interviews tourmate Lauren Gurgiolo of Okkervil River for her own blog. The Georgia Straight and San Jose Mercury News chat with Okkervil frontman Will Sheff. catches up with Lauren Larseon of Ume, who release their new album Phantoms, due out August 30.

Blurt and NPR have interviews with Will Johnson of Centro-Matic about their new record Candidate Waltz. You can hear one of the new songs below and head over to IFC for an interview and the premiere of their new video.

MP3: Centro-Matic – “Only In My Double Mind”
Video: Centro-Matic – “Iso-Residue”

The Quietus has a stream and track-by-track annotation of Memory Tapes’ new record Player Piano, due out July 5. They play Wrongbar on August 13.

Writers On Process gets into the songwriting head of Interpol frontman Paul Banks.

Wayne Coyne discusses the many ongoing projects in Flaming Lips-land with The Quietus.

The Phoenix and Spinner talk Bug with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. PhillyBurbs gets a word with Lou Barlow.

The AV Club and New York Magazine interview Bob Mould. Which makes this as good a time to mention that Sugar’s Copper Blue was just reissued on 180g vinyl. This record is essential, people.

NYC Taper is getting their old-school indie rock on, offering recordings of recent New York shows from Guided By Voices and Archers Of Loaf.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

You Lived In The City

The Besnard Lakes welcome you to Pine Point

Photo By Jessica EatonJessica EatonThough they should be – and probably are – at work on their next album, a follow-up to last year’s The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, Montreal’s Besnard Lakes have put together a little something something that will not only slake their fans’ appetite for some new outer space-scale rock, but give them an excuse to get out of the studio and back on the road for a spell. On September 20, they’ll release You Lived In the City, a new 12″ EP that contains music the band prepared for the documentary film Welcome To Pine Point, which chronicles the short life of a town in the Northwest Territories.

As for the aforementioned tour, it will kick off in late September on the west coast and wind its way across the continent – largely in Canada but with some forays south of the border – before wrapping mid-October in Ottawa, though you have to think that there’ll be a hometown show to cap it off. Toronto gets our fix on October 13 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $20 in advance. And sweetening the deal, as though it needed sweetening, is the fact that Malajube will be opening up all dates – that’s two bands with four Polaris shortlist appearances between them – five if Malajube’s La caverne gets the nod in a couple weeks. Not bad.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”
MP3: Malajube – “Synesthésie”
Trailer: Welcome To Pine Point

Scenes From The Subrubs, the Spike Jonze-directed short film assembled to give Arcade Fire a music video and an excuse to re-release The Suburbs, is currently available to stream in its entirety over at The deluxe edition of The Suburbs is out August 2.

Video: Scenes From The Suburbs

Filter talks to Graham Van Pelt of Miracle Fortress. They play The Lower Ossington Theatre on August 12 as part of Summerworks. And speaking of Summerworks, the festival has run a bit afoul of the current federal government and had their funding cut; donations to help make up the shortfall are welcome (and tax deductible).

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with The Dears.

Their August 1 show in support of new album Sound Kapital presumably long sold out, Handsome Furs have added a second date at The Horseshoe for August 2, tickets $15 in advance. Exclaim has an interview.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “Repatriated”

The Corkman chats with Owen Pallett, who has two dates at the Phoenix – August 2 and 4 – opening up for Beirut.

While there hasn’t been much to draw music fans to the Toronto Islands this Summer – no V Fest, no Olympic Island shows, just the Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder and Skydiggers free show on July 16 – Wavelength has put together a good reason to hop on the ferry for the weekend of August 13 and 14. That’s when the annual ALL CAPS! all-ages festival goes down, this year featuring performances from Julie Doiron, The Wooden Sky, Monogrenade, Steamboat, Muskox, Rich Aucoin, Dog Bus, More or Les, Evening Hymns, Moon King, Jennifer Castle and DD/MM/YYYY. And this is in addition to art installations, BBQs, general fun and frivolity and – get this – overnight camping on the island. Tickets and specifics still to come.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
MP3: Monogrenade – “Ce Soir”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
MP3: Rich Aucoin – “10,342 Cuts For The US”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Neverride”
MP3: DD/MM/YYYY – “Infinity Skull Cube”

Hooded Fang are not resting on their Polaris long-list laurels for their debut album Album; they’ve got a new album entitled Tosta Mista coming out July 26 – check out a couple new songs below and see them when they play the Lower Ossington Theatre on August 6 for Summerworks.

MP3: Hooded Fang – “ESP”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”

Sloan have taken their turn in the AV Club’s Undercover studio, covering Gary Numan’s “Cars”. There’s also an interview at BrooklynVegan.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Chad VanGaalen. Post City also has an interview.

Woodpigeon have put out a video from last year’s Balladeer: To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before and, via their blog, made a new song built off a poem by Marie Cecilia Ryan available to download. And head over to YouTube to see a set of live videos recorded in a disused London schoolhouse.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “The Way To Happiness”
Video: Woodpigeon – “Featherstone”

The Guardian contemplates the appeal of soft rock with Dan Bejar of Destroyer.

There’s a little photography-tilted interview with me over at Live In Limbo.

Monday, June 27th, 2011

My Aim Is True

Elvis Costello & The Imposters at The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf any artist has earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants, it’s Elvis Costello. And indeed, he’s taken full advantage of this creative liberty over his three-and-a-half decade career; starting as the “angry young man” coming out of the British punk scene and becoming, at various points in his career, a country crooner, jazz singer and pop classicist and all points in between, to say nothing of his forays into acting and television talk show host. And unlike some who’ve transformed their personas to match each artistic endeavour, Costello has always remained Costello – same glasses, maybe a different hat (okay, there was the Mighty Like A Rose beard). As said, the man does what he wants and offers no apologies for it.

And if he wants to resurrect a tour concept from a quarter-century ago, “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” wherein audience members choose the set list by randomly spinning a giant carnival wheel, then he’s going to do it – never mind that the original go-around with the wheel apparently didn’t go so well. Having been all of 11 at the time that went down, I obviously can’t comment on whether or not the criticisms of the tour were valid but considering that Costello’s two 1986 releases – King Of America and Blood & Chocolate – are basically my favourite of his records, so from my point of view circa ’86 he was on top of his game. And anyways, the idea of seeing Elvis for the first time in a decade or so playing songs pulled from throughout his career rather than to promote his last record National Ransom – which is fine and all, don’t get me wrong – sounded like a pretty good one. Which brings us to Thursday night at the rather posh Sony Centre For The Performing Arts.

Eschewing any support act for the evening, Costello and The Imposters – his backing band of the past decade or so which is basically The Attractions, his backing band of the past three decades with the exception of Davy Faragher replacing bassist Bruce Thomas – took the colourfully-decorated, playground-like stage shortly after eight, supported by a go-go dancer and hostess charged with selecting and escorting audience members to spin the wheel, typically attractive and well-dressed young women. Not that they were called on until a ways into the set; Costello and company set the tone themselves opening with a blistering “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (from Blood & Chocolate) and tearing through a set of classics that established that they were here to play. At that point, Costello introduced himself as Napoleon Dynamite – his alias that predates the movie by a good twenty years – and entered sideshow barker mode and the first audience member invited to take the Spinning Songbook for a whirl landed on Punch The Clock‘s “Everyday I Write The Book”, the first Costello song I ever recall hearing. Yeah, I’d say this was a good start to the night.

Offering a blow-by-blow of the more than two-and-a-half hour show would be futile, so I won’t bother; just look at the set list. In a word, the show was amazing. In a few more words, it was a joyous romp through Costello’s extensive songbook and a few others’, with covers and cribs of artists as diverse as The Beatles, Prince and Smokey Robinson peppered through the set. What it wasn’t, however, was a greatest hits set – there were hits a-plenty, yes, but still plenty of selections from Costello’s more recent, less chart-topping records, all of which served a purpose. “I Still Have That Other Girl”, from his Painted From Memory Bacharach collaboration gave him opportunity to roam the audience crooning, “Spooky Girlfriend” – leading off a block of four “girl”-themed songs thanks to a jackpot spin on the wheel – reminded that his 2001 return to form album When I Was Cruel really was a return to form and “Turpentine” off of 2008’s Momofuku allowed Costello to showcase his “little hands of concrete” on some absolutely ripping guitar solos.

Truly, every selection was some degree of highlight but as good as it all was from note one, but as you’d expect from a veteran showman, he still saved the best for last. Closing the main set with an affecting “Shipbuilding” – I guess we were lucky no one spun that one earlier on – Costello took advantage of the break to change out of his suit coat, which was by this point completely soaked through with sweat, to change into something a little more checked and kitschy and play a couple of National Ransom tunes solo and acoustic and then into some gold lame jacket to lead the Imposters back onstage for the second encore. Not done yet, no sir. The wheel was brought back into play and though the results rigged just a bit, no one was going to complain about the Armed Forces/My Aim Is True/This Year’s Model suite of songs that ensued, including the most polite, middle-aged stage invasion you ever did see. “Pump It Up” segued into an unexpected partial cover of “Purple Rain” and following a stirring “Man Out Of Time”, they closed with “I Hope” from National Ransom.

What else can be said? It was a two-hour, forty-minute tour de force performance from one of the greatest pop songwriters of the last thirty years. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis Costello.

The Toronto Sun, The Globe & Mail, Lithium, The National Post and Torontoist also have reviews of the show.

Photos: Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts – June 23, 2011
MP3: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Radio Radio” (live at The El Mocambo)
Video: Elvis Costello & The Imposters – “Monkey To Man”
Video: Elvis Costello – “45”
Video: Elvis Costello – “13 Steps Lead Down”
Video: Elvis Costello – “Sulky Girl”
Video: Elvis Costello – “So Like Candy”
Video: Elvis Costello – “The Other Side Of Summer”
Video: Elvis Costello – “…This Town…”
Video: Elvis Costello – “Veronica”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “I Wanna Be Loved”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “The Only Flame In Town”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Let Them All Talk”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Everyday I Write The Book”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “You Little Fool”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Sweet Dreams”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Good Year For The Roses”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “New Lace Sleeves”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Clubland”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “New Amsterdam”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Possession”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Love For Tender”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “High Fidelity”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Accidents Will Happen”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Oliver’s Army”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?”
Video: Elvis Costello – “Radio, Radio”
Video: Elvis Costello – “Pump It Up”
Video: Elvis Costello – “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea”

So far this year, we’ve had visits from Duran Duran, Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark and now… The Human League? They’re going to be in town as part of a North American tour on September 18 at The Guvernment, ostensibly in support of new album Credo but let’s be honest – you know what you want to hear.

Video: The Human League – “Don’t You Want Me”

The Fader chats with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange; his debut under that name, Coastal Grooves, is out August 8.

NPR has posted a World Cafe session with James Blake. He plays The Phoenix on September 30.

Under The Radar has details on the debut album from London’s Still Corners; Creatures Of An Hour will be out on October 11 and the first MP3 is available to grab now.

MP3: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”

Glasvegas have released a new video from Euphoric Heartbreak.

Video: Glasvegas – “Shine Like Stars”

DIY chatted with Yuck whilst at Glastonbury this weekend.

NPR checks in with Ida Maria, whose new album Katla came out very quietly at the start of the month, at least in digital form. The record is streaming on her website right now.

Stream: Ida Maria / Katla

NPR has a profile of Nick Cave, whose rendering of The Zombies’ classic “She’s Not There” with Neko Case, recorded for this season’s True Blood soundtrack, is available to stream over at KCRW.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

"The River"

Crooked Fingers covers Bruce Springsteen

Image via MergeMergeWhy post a Crooked Fingers track when this Summer, all anyone is talking about with regards to one Eric Bachmann is the Archers Of Loaf reunion? Because said reunion isn’t coming to Toronto – at least not this Summer – and Crooked Fingers are.

The band, consisting of Bachmann and who knows who else this time out, were last heard from on last year’s Reservoir Songs 2. As the name implies, it was a sequel to 2002’s Reservoir Songs, both EPs of cover songs as interpreted by Bachmann and band. Some of the selections on the first volume – like the Prince and David Bowie/Queen tunes – were rather left-field but the Springsteen song? Not so much. Bachmann’s rasp is perfectly suited to The Boss’ tale of smalltown desperation, and if anything the sparer, banjo-led arrangement of the Crooked Fingers version makes theirs even more haunting.

Crooked Fingers will be at The Horseshoe on July 3 and no, I don’t think a couple of Archers requests would be out of line. Their new album Breaks In The Armor comes out in October. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band suffered a huge loss last week with the passing of saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Their last album was 2009’s Working On A Dream.

MP3 Crooked Fingers – “The River”
Video: Bruce Springsteen – “The River”