Archive for July, 2011

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

"The Park"

Bon Iver covers Feist

Photo via YouTubeYouTubeThis has been shaping up to be a pretty solid year for fans of the more “adult contemporary” end of the indie spectrum. Last month, Bon Iver released their second album of swoony falsetto and heartbreaking romanticism in Bon Iver and after a good number of years of laying low, Feist just this week announced her new record Metals would be coming out on October 4. Between those two records, you’ve got your make-out and/or break-up soundtrack for 2011.

The two acts – or at least one of them and the other’s work – came together in Australian radio station triple-j’s studio back in 2009 when Justin Vernon, he who was and essentially still is Bon Iver, offered up a cover of Feist’s “The Park” as part of an interview and session. Now Bon Iver has done a lot of covers and most of them sound like, well, Bon Iver singing someone else’s song, but this one I liked quite a bit more as Vernon’s delivery enhances the not inconsiderable beauty that Feist crafted into the original.

Bon Iver plays a sold out show at the Sound Academy on August 8. Feist has announced a short US tour to coincide with the release of Metals; I would expect that a Toronto hometown show will come sometime around then as well – I mean, how can one not? In the meantime, you can paint your own version of the Metals album art at her Facebook because that’s almost as good. Obviously.

MP3: Bon Iver – “The Park”
Video: Bon Iver – “The Park” (live on JJJ)
Video: Feist – “The Park” (live)

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

CONTEST – White Lies @ The Phoenix – August 3, 2011

Photo via FacebookFacebookWho: White Lies
What: London-based gloomy gusses who, following the chart-topping success of their debut To Lose My Life, sought to prove they had more than just Joy Division albums in their collection. Ritual is evidence they also own some Depeche Mode.
Why: Immediately following Ritual‘s release back in January, the band played an undersized club show at The Mod Club to whip up excitement. For this return engagement, they’re playing a room a little more appropriately-sized.
When: Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto
Who else: Not sure if support has been announced or if I just can’t find it. Either way… surprise!
How: Tickets for the show are $27.50 in advance but courtesy of LiveNation, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see White Lies” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, August 1.

MP3: White Lies – “Death” (Crystal Castles remix)
Video: White Lies – “Holy Ghost”
Video: White Lies – “Strangers”
Video: White Lies – “Bigger Than Us”

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Passive Aggressive

The Radio Dept. no longer convincing anyone they hate touring

Photo via FacebookFacebookFor the longest time, conventional wisdom about The Radio Dept. said the Swedish three-piece hated to play live, preferring to record, throw out and re-record albums of gorgeously forlorn synth-pop in the safety and comfort of their studio. As such, I undertook a pilgrimage of sorts to New York two Summers ago to see them play what I assumed would be an incredibly rare show.

Even when their long-awaited third album Clinging To A Scheme broke them open to a much larger audience (relative statement but still) following its release last Spring, they seemed to be unwilling to capitalize on the interest, playing only some Asian and European dates in the Spring and another couple of New York shows late in the year. I seriously considered getting on a plane again but was tipped off that 2011 would be year that The Radio Dept became intimately acquainted with North America and indeed, they spent the first half of February traversing the continent and making their Toronto debut in front of a completely sold-out Lee’s Palace.

And then, against all expectations, they came back, playing The Horseshoe in late May. I missed that one on account of being in Europe but I’d like to think that the show was well-attended, perhaps with all the people who couldn’t get into the Lee’s show. Either way, it must have been at least full enough to justify a third go-around because that’s what we’re getting – a third Radio Dept. show in nine months, this one on November 17 at The Mod Club. It’s part of their largest North American tour yet, and if you need an reason beyond “why not”, then how about that first show was to promote Clinging, the second the Passive Aggressive compilation and this one… their vinyl reissues? I hope so, because Pet Grief has been sorely underrepresented in the shows I’ve seen… In any case – even though I won’t assume they’re any more dynamic a live act than in the past, I still highly recommend seeing them because the songs are still sublime and – wealth of recent appearances notwithstanding – who knows when they’ll be back?

The band are offering a recording of their set at Sasquatch this past May – including a new, untitled song – for free download.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “untitled new song” (live at Sasquatch 2011)
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Why Won’t You Talk About It?”
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “The Worst Taste In Music”
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”

Also filling out the November concert calendar a bit – mysterious British rockers WU LYF, whose name is an acronym for World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation and not meant to be shouted, have made a date at The Horseshoe for November 12 as part of a Fall tour in support of their debut Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. Spinner has an interview with the band.

MP3: WU LYF – “Summas Bliss”

And The Boxer Rebellion, who were here back in April, will graduate to The Opera House for their November 19 show in support of The Cold Still as well as their just-released live set Live In Tennessee.

MP3: The Boxer Rebellion – “No Harm”

Listen Before You Buy is streaming two sides of a new Frightened Rabbit tour EP, the tour in question being the one that brings them to the Molson Amphitheatre tonight.

Wild Beasts have a new video from their latest Smother. They play The Mod Club on September 29.

Video: Wild Beasts – “Bed Of Nails”

Black Book talks to James Blake, in town for a show at The Phoenix on September 30.

The first video from Ladytron’s new record Gravity The Seducer has been released. The album is out September 13 and they play The Phoenix on October 5.

Video: Ladytron – “White Elephant”

Drowned In Sound has a sit-down with Sons & Daughters drummer David Gow about their new record Mirror Mirror.

There’s a new live in-studio performance video available from Patrick Wolf, showcasing one of the numbers from Lupercalia.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Time Of My Life” (Live at The Pool Studios, 2011)

The National Post gets to know Anna Calvi.

I’m finally discovering the works of Hefner, though it’s about a decade too late to do anything with it in real time… but Artrocker reports that ex-frontman Darren Hayman has a new solo record entitled The Ship’s Piano out come October 11. Those who’ve followed his career through all its guises – is his solo stuff as good as Hefner? Not that I’ll have waded through all of Hefner’s back catalog anytime soon, but for reference.

Video: Hefner – “Good Fruit”

NME reports that Manic Street Preachers will mark their 21st anniversary with the release of the National Treasures singles compilation in October. It will supplant 2002’s Forever Delayed as the go-to compilation, not unreasonably since they’ve release four albums since then and the new comp will also include a new single.

Also coming in October – the 3rd to be exact – is a ridiculous Smiths box set entitled The Smiths Complete. On the plus side, it contains all the band’s official albums and compilations on CD and 180g LP, 25 7″s, a DVD, tonnes of posters and art, the whole thing has been remastered by Johnny Marr and it’s limited to an edition of 3000 so in owning it, you can impress the people on the internet who are impressed by this sort of thing. On the down side, its got nothing fans haven’t already bought several times over and in purchasing it, you continue to subsidize this nutjob. So yeah, your call. Details on the set at Pitchfork.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

White Are The Waves

Review of Papercuts’ Fading Parade

Photo By Chloe AftelChloe AftelWhilst at the closing sale for the now dearly departed Criminal Records this past weekend, I found amongst the remaining stock a copy of Papercuts’ latest LP Fading Parade. Already having the CD, I suggested a friend pick it up and when asked, not unreasonably, what it sounded like, I was at a loss and don’t think I came up with anything more articulate than, “it’s good” – hey, I don’t always think fast on my feet. Unsurprisingly, the sales pitch failed but happily, the album found a good home not long afterwards with another acquaintance. Having had a little more time to think on it though, I’d like to take another shot at the “what’s it sound like?” inquiry.

Papercuts were an unknown to me before Fading Parade, which is their fourth album but their Sub Pop debut so score one for the benefits of bigger labels. But all you really need to know about them is that a) they’re from San Francisco and b) they is essentially a he – one Jason Robert Quever – and his lovely and gentle pillow of a voice. Actually that’s too reductive. As central as Quevers’ breathy vocals are to the Papercuts sound, also crucial are the wistfully longing melodies he delivers with it and the sonic aesthetic that he surrounds it all with – an aesthetic built on reverbs precisely set so as to cushion all of the intricate instrumental arrangements but not obscure the detail and delicacy of it all.

Clearly atmosphere matters, but I still don’t quite get all the shoegaze namedrops that pop up in their press – if you were looking for English DNA in their sound, it’d look more Sarah Records than anything else. But if forced to come up with a single reference point, I’d probably go with The Shins, albeit less folksy and more elegantly baroque. Which now that I think about it, isn’t very Shins-y at all. Okay, how about this – Papercuts’ Fading Parade? It’s good.

The Line Of Best Fit welcomed Quever to their studio for an acoustic video session.

MP3: Papercuts – “Do You Really Wanna Know”
MP3: Papercuts – “Do What You Will”
Video: Papercuts – “Do You Really Wanna Know”
Video: Papercuts – “Do What You Will”

Dazed has an interview with Antlers while Wears The Trousers points to a studio video of the band performing “Hounds” with Nicole Atkins guesting on vocals.

Epitonic and Spectrum Culture talk to Erika Anderson of EMA.

Check out a track from Wild Flag’s forthcoming self-titled debut, due out September 13. They play Lee’s Palace on October 11.

MP3: Wild Flag – “Romance”

A new track from tUnE-yArDs’ WHOKILL is up for grabs and there’s also a KCRW session over at NPR. They play Lee’s Palace on September 24.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Powa”

Head over to Soundcloud to hear a three-track sampler of the new Ivy record All Hours, due out September 20.

The Mountain Goats have released a new video from All Eternals Deck.

Video: The Mountain Goats – “Real Estate Sign”

MPR has an interview with Fleet Foxes.

Exclaim talks to Eric Bachmann about the Archers Of Loaf reunion.

Bob Mould talks memoirs with eMusic.

Stereogum has marked the 10th anniversary of The Strokes’ debut album Is This It by compiling Stroked, a tribute album to said record with contributions from the likes of Peter Bjorn & John, Owen Pallett and The Morning Benders, amongst others.

Their fire sale over and done with, Bruce Peninsula have finally come clean with details on their second album – Open Flames will be out on October 4, and will follow it with a Fall tour that includes a hometown show at Lee’s Palace on October 27. And if you don’t want to wait that long to see them and hear the new stuff – and why would you – remember they’re playing the Lower Ossington Theatre on August 11 as part of Summerworks.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”

Playing that same stage and festival on August 6 are Hooded Fang, who’ve marked the release of their second album Tosta Mista this week by talking to and Exclaim and streaming the whole album online.

Stream: Hooded Fang / Tosta Mista

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Walking On A Dream

Empire Of The Sun set out to conquer North America

Art by Aaron Hayward & David HomerAaron Hayward & David HomerThough it was only on the calendar for barely two weeks last Spring – it was cancelled almost as soon as it was announced due to scheduling issues with their Lollapalooza appearance – the prospect of an Empire Of The Sun show in Toronto clearly got some people excited. And why not – though not exactly household names in North America, the glam-synth-pop outfit led by Luke Steele, known to some for his other band The Sleepy Jackson, are veritable superstars in their native Australia thanks to their 2009 debut album Walking On A Dream and have a well-deserved reputation for spectacular live shows.

Predictably, the aforementioned cancellation – which would have seen them bring their elaborate show to the Sound Academy a year ago next week – came with many apologies and promises to try and make it up, promises which I didn’t especially expect to be kept. Not because they didn’t sincerely want to, but simply because it’s surely heinously expensive to do so and, as mentioned, they’re not a guaranteed draw over here. But I’m quite happy to have been proven wrong, as a number of US festival appearances are being leveraged into a proper North American tour which brings them to Echo Beach in Toronto on September 13, and really – a big open-air beachfront venue is a much more appropriate venue than the much-maligned shoebox on the docklands isn’t it? We haven’t had many festivals in Toronto this Summer, but if any show can help create that sort of grandiose spectacle, I’d say it’s this one. Tickets are $39.50 and go on sale Friday at 10AM.

Perth Now reports that Steele’s creative partner Nick Littlemore, who abruptly left the band a couple of years ago to join Cirque de Soleil, is back in the fold and will be touring with the band and in conversation with In THe Mix, Littlemore confirms that work has begun on album number two.

Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Half Mast”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Without You”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Walking On A Dream”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “We Are The People”

Also announced yesterday and pretty much at the complete opposite end of every possible spectrum from Empire Of The Sun, yet just as exciting for me, is the news that London’s Still Corners would be in town at the Drake Underground on October 25 as part of a tour in support of their debut album Creatures Of An Hour, due out October 11. I saw them at SXSW and even though they prefer to play in the dark or bathed projected vintage film images, their Broadcast-ish dreamy retro-gaze is delicious.

MP3: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”

Vivian Girls bring their third record Share The Joy to The Shop at Parts & Labour on September 16; they just released a new video from the album and Spoonfed has an interview.

MP3: Vivian Girls – “I Heard You Say”
Video: Vivian Girls – “Take It As It Comes”

As The Drums prep their second album Portamento for September 13 release, they’ve put together a North American tour that brings them to the Mod Club on October 1, tickets $16. They’ve just put out the first video from the new record.

MP3: The Drums – “Down By The Water”
Video: The Drums – “Money”

I’d been wondering when Austra would be staging a triumphant homecoming show, what with their last Toronto appearance being a record release party for Feel It Break, pre-Polaris shortlisting and worldwide praise. Well the answer is December 1 and it’ll happen at The Phoenix. Sentimentalist has an interview with Katie Stelmanis and the third and final performance of Austra’s video session for Room 205 is now up.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

Supporting Austra on that show will be Tasseomancy, also known as the Lightman twins, better known as Austra’s backing singers and formerly known as Ghost Bees; their debut full-lenght Ulalume is out August 30. Romy Lightman talks to Spinner about their new video from said album.

MP3: Tasseomancy – “Healthy Hands”
MP3: Tasseomancy – “The Darkest Of Things”
Video: Tasseomancy – “Heavy Sleep”

Timber Timbre, who worked on the aforementioned Tasseomancy record, have premiered a new video from Creep On Creepin’ On at IFC.

Video: Timber Timbre – “Bad Ritual”

BlogTO talks to Evening Hymns’ Jonas Bonetta about their next record Spectral Dusk, which is due out this Fall. They play the ALL CAPS fest out on Toronto Islands on August 13.

Also with a new video are Young Galaxy, taken from this year’s Shapeshifting.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”

And finally, the tease really didn’t last that long – Feist has announced her new album Metals will be out on October 4. Pitchfork has details and Spin has already had a sneak preview and is sharing their thoughts.