Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Give Me Back My Heart Attack

Photo via Saddle Creek

There’s long-awaited, and then there’s long-awaited. And then there’s Some Are Lakes from Land Of Talk. Ever since first discovering the Montreal trio way back in June of 2006 and subsequently playing their debut mini-album Applause Cheer Boo Hiss pretty much to death, I’ve been waiting for the follow-up. And waiting. And waiting. But thanks to the nature of buzz, crafting their first proper full-length was constantly put off as the record was picked up in new territory after new territory and the band subsequently had to tour to support, rather than head back into the studio. Throw in some personnel changes – original drummer Bucky Wheaton left in Spring of 2007, his replacement Eric Thibodeau didn’t stick around too long and by the time it came to actually record, they had to enlist Andrew Barr of The Slip to handle drum duties – and you have the perfect scenario to never complete a record.

But they eventually did and it’s finally here – available now digitally and out in physical form on October 7. And for something that has been such a long time in coming, it’s awful familiar sounding. And yet not. To the former, there’s the simple fact that songs like “Young Bridge” and “Death By Fire” have been live staples for a while and also appeared in studio sessions and even though this is their first “official” release, they’re already like old friends. And to the latter, the choice of Mr Bon Iver – Justin Vernon – as producer has moved the band away just enough from the white-fuzz angst and intensity of Applause Cheer to merit a fresh look from those who thought they knew what Land Of Talk were about.

Liz Powell’s yearning voice remains unmistakable and her ability to craft evocative lyrics wrapped around elliptical yet memorable melodies is still omnipresent, but there’s more space and more patience in Some Are Lakes. It’s many miles from overproduced, but compared to the debut (with the exception of “Corner Phone” which is still all out to the wall), it’s considerably less needle-in-red throughout – an aesthetic that worked well for first impressions but probably would have offered diminishing returns if it had been maintained. There’s still moments of full-on rock out, but rather than ride the inherent energy of lo-fi recording, they utilize greater songwriting dynamics to get their point across. Lakes might make less of an immediate jackhammer first impression than Applause did, but it reveals some heretofore unrevealed thoughtfulness and sophistication that will surely serve Land Of Talk well in the long run.

The band are conducting a short headlining tour this week across Quebec and Ontario, culminating in a show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto this Saturday night before setting out across America as support for (and as a member of ) Broken Social Scene in October – and then doing a set of Western Canadian dates in November. Liz Powell talks to Chart and Queen’s Journal about her musical roots and to about the anxieties of being the new Broken Social Lady, at least for this tour. Soundproof also has an interview.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Corner Phone”
MySpace: Land Of Talk

The Boston Globe talks to Basia Bulat.

NYC Taper interviews John Darnielle of Mountain Goats.

I guess I missed the actual day (last Friday) but there’s a new song available from Lambchop’s forthcoming OH (ohio). The record is out October 7 and Kurt Wagner plays songs from it solo-style on October 6. New York Magazine has an interview.

MP3: Lambchop – “National Talk Like A Pirate Day”

Joseph Arthur will be at Lee’s Palace on November 1 in support of his new record Temporary People, out September 30. Watch the video and download the MP3 for the title track at Stereogum.

Eagles Of Death Metal bring their Heart On – out October 21 – to the Mod Club on November 13. Full tour dates at BrooklynVegan.

Billboard and Indy Week interview Mac McCaughan of Portastatic about both the Some Small History retrospective and the 20th anniversary of Merge Records.

Paul Westerberg talks to Newsday about the re-release of The Replacements’ final four albums are out on Tuesday.

So I’ve been toying with the idea of going to New York City again, just for kicks, but looking for the proper excuse, and while normally I’d consider the CMJ Music Marathon to be the exact opposite of a good reason, there’s two artists in attendance who had me pricing flights and hotel rooms for the second-last weekend in October – Emmy The Great and Lucky Soul. I’ve seen the former before but the latter, whom I tried unsuccessfully to get to Austin for SxSW this past Spring, are playing on the 24th at a Music Snobbery-sponsored show, and by god I’d get on a plane to see that. Unfortunately, it seems there’s not a hotel room to be found in Manhattan for under $300 a night and I’m sorry, I’m not quite hardcore about anyone enough to pay as much as it’d probably cost me to fly them up here and have them play in my living room. So net value of this paragraph? Uhhh… nothing.

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

CONTEST – Fembots @ The Music Gallery – September 26, 2008

Photo via Killbeat

I’ve been in enough “what are we called?” band meetings that I generally believe that as long as a moniker is memorable and not taken then it’s fair game. But when your mention brings to mind Elizabeth Hurley with machine guns poking out of her bra and not your music, then maybe it’s time for a rethink.

Or maybe you can take it as a challenge. Toronto’s FemBots have certainly been working hard enough to make the name theirs and theirs alone, having just released their fourth album of clattery junk-rock in Calling Out. And it’s not called junk-rock in regards to the quality of the music, but in its creation. The FemBots aesthetic is built largely on the use of found instruments and devices never intended to have a musical function – power tools, toys, what have you – but it’s never the focus. Regardless of how they’re built, their songs stand up as gritty and soulful ruminations on urban life. As much organic as mechanical, FemBots make roots music if said roots were nourished with used motor oil.

Chart has a brief interview with the band about the tools of their trade, and Hero Hill has a more expansive review and exclusive, non-album MP3 for grabs. The band are hitting the road and have a number of local shows on the slate, starting with an in-store at Soundscapes this Thursday, September 25, at 6PM, followed by a proper gig at the Music Gallery on Friday, September 26, and when they return from a cross-Canada tour another show at the Dakota Tavern on November 7.

And courtesy of Killbeat Music, I’ve got three prize packs to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the Music Gallery show this Friday night and a copy of Calling Out on CD. To throw your hat in the ring, email me at contests AT with “I want the FemBots” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes in a couple days – say midnight, September 23.

MP3: Fembots – “Good Days”

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Bare Feet On Wet Griptape

Photo by Marc Rimmer

The Chad Van Gaalen aesthetic is one that I’ve never been able to fully wrap my head around. Though the extremely tall Calgarian is obviously full of ideas and talent, the kitchen sink/everything goes approach that seemed to dominate his first two records didn’t quite jive with me. Though there were moments of shining pop glory that poked out of the lo-fi ramshackleness, I would have preferred things to be tidier. But that’s me.

On his new record Soft Airplane, things haven’t changed too much but I think I’m starting to come around or at the very least no longer wishing Van Gaalen would be something that he’s obviously not. It still sounds like he spent his advance trolling local garage sales for new noisemaking equipment rather than book time at the poshest studio in town, but the production has reached a comfortable state of mid-fi that retains the fingerprints of Van Gaalen’s quirky creative process while sounding fuller than past efforts. Soft Airplane is thirteen tracks of soft and gentle, singer-songwriter cores anchored by Van Gaalen’s high, tremulous voice, dispensed in a wide variety of ear candy coatings, from crunchy rock to shiny electronica to just plain odd sonic concoctions that only Van Gaalen knows what went into them. Getting frustrated with Van Gaalen’s musical ADD is a waste of energy – it’s far more interesting to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

Van Gaalen is in town on October 4, though the venue has been changed from the Mod Club to the El Mocambo. I had noted before that he’d be doing an in-store at Sonic Boom the following day, October 5, but I can’t seem to find anything to back that up so double-check with the store before heading down. Or surprise yourself. And courtesy of Killbeat Music, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away to said show along with a copy of Soft Airplane on CD or LP, your choice. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to ride the Soft Airplane” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body along with your preference for analog or digital media. Contest closes at midnight, September 30.

CMJ has an interview with Van Gaalen.

MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Willow Tree”
Video: Chad Van Gaalen – “Molten Light”
MySpace: Chad Van Gaalen

NOW, The Georgia Straight and The Boston Herald talk to Oliver Ackerman of A Place To Bury Strangers, playing tonight at Lee’s Palace.

Pitchfork has details on the Belle & Sebastian BBC Sessions comp mentioned yesterday, including the cover art, source of the tracks and a North American release date of November 18. And yes, it’s a two-fer.

The split 12″ between The Acorn and Ohbijou isn’t out till October 7 or thereabouts, but you can now preorder it as well as stream the whole thing (all four songs!) and download the cover of Ohbijou by The Acorn to hold you over. Their joint tour stops at Lee’s Palace on November 27 and The Acorn’s Heron Act collection is out September 30.

MP3: The Acorn – “Steep”
Stream: Ohbijou / Acorn split 12″

Jaymay turns in a couple new songs in her Daytrotter session.

Daniel Hunt and Helen Marnie of Ladytron talk to Prefix.

Tuscon Weekly and The Houston Chronicle converse with David Berman of Silver Jews.

Ryan Adams will release a new album in Cardinology on October 28.

The Georgia Straight and Boise Weekly profile Ra Ra Riot.

Hercules & Love Affair are at the Opera House on October 18. Full tour dates at Pitchfork.

Video: Hercules & Love Affair – “You Belong”
Video: Hercules & Love Affair – “Blind”

England’s Foals are coming back to dispense some Antidotes – look for them at Lee’s Palace on October 24, tickets $15.

MP3: Foals – “Balloons”

Those who like their roots music on the creaky and creepy side will be pleased to know that O’Death will be at the El Mocambo on November 4. Paste has complete dates.

MP3: O’Death – “Lowtide”

Stars have added a second date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre – in addition to December 12, they will also be playing on December 13.

And FYI – next Thursday’s My Bloody Valentine show has been moved from one acoustically dubious venue – Ricoh Coliseum – to another – the Kool Haus. At least at 1/3 the size, it’ll feel that much more intimate. And deafening. Also note that this weekend’s MBV-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in New York will be streamed in its partiality at WFMU.

And tangentially, next Friday’s Gemma Hayes show at Supermarket was billed in the print ad in this week’s NOW as “…& Special Guests”. I’m not saying it means anything, but maybe I am.

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

2 Atoms In A Molecule

Photo via Noah & The Whale

Another day, another English “anti-” folk act coming to town soon. Today is dedicated to London quartet Noah & The Whale, who are on tour across North America and will be at the Horseshoe on Tuesday night for a free show (on at 10:50PM).

Calling them folk, no matter what the prefix attached, is actually a bit misleading. Though the tools of their trade – acoustic guitars, fiddles, ukuleles, etc – certainly fit the bill, if you could go with only one word in description of their debut album, it would have to be “pop”. Their debut album Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is a sunshine-y gem, whose buoyant hooks and melodies – to say nothing of Laura Marling’s angelic backing vocals – are the perfect contrast to Charlie Fink’s charmingly sad-sack lyrics, delivered in a matching deadpan voice but with a healthy dollop of humour.

Though their name is a nod to screenwriter/director Noah Baumbach and his film The Squid & The Whale, their aesthetic is much more in line with his frequent collaborator Wes Anderson, with a penchant for bright colours, costumes and whimsical videos. Some might find it all a bit too precious, but even when stripped of all the theatricality it’s hard to argue that songs like “Rocks And Daggers”, “2 Atoms In A Molecule” and the Saturn-soundtracking “5 Years Time” are insidiously catchy bits of songcraft. They may not quite offer the raw emotional depth or heft of some of their peers, but if you’re looking for someone to soundtrack a party or a college film project, look no further.

Fink talks to The Columbia Spectator about the logic behind playing three disparate venues in New York City and to the The Daily Free Press about the band’s origins. Music Snobbery also has an interview. Both Fink and Marling took part in a Black Cab Session a little while back and they also shot a Takeaway Show back in May.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Five Years Time”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Shape Of My Heart”
MySpace: Noah & The Whale

A band who knows a thing or two about being twee – Belle & Sebastian – still don’t seem to have much to report on the new album front but This Is Fake DIY reports that there’ll be a new collection of BBC session material coming out on November 17 and will include unreleased songs, early versions and the entire, oft-bootlegged 2001 Christmas show. Sounds like a double-set to me!

JAM talks to Verve bassist Simon Jones about the band’s unlikely reunion.

Doves give NME a status report on all things Doves. ETA for a new record is Spring of next year.

VBS has a video interview with Jason Pierce of Spiritualized in his dressing room, while The Portland Mercury and The Georgia Straight have regular interview features.

PitchforkTV invites M83 to rock out in the basement. M83 are in town at the Opera House on November 20.

Sloan and Will Currie & The Country French have collaborated on digital 7″ single (is that not a contradiction in terms?) that they’re offering for free download. Details and virtual art/liner notes available here. Patrick Pentland talks to JAM and according to Pollstar, they’ve got some upcoming dates as support for none other than… Lenny Kravitz. Yeah, that won’t be weird at all. The Toronto date is October 22 at the Air Canada Centre.

MP3: Will Currie & The Country French + Sloan – “Push Pins”

If you’ve been wondering just who these Everest guys who’ve been tapped to open up for Neil Young and Wilco at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5 – and all of Neil’s dates – are, Filter makes the introduction.

Prefix tallies up the ten best albums to spin out of the dissolution of Uncle Tupelo.

USA Today meets The National.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River discusses Stand Ins with The Montreal Gazette and The Vancouver Sun. They’re at the Phoenix on October 12.

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Brown Trout Blues

Photo via Lost Highway

With Laura Marling covered in yesterday’s post, let’s now turn our attention to the other co-headliner of the “Fee Fi Fo Fum Tour” wrapping up at the Rivoli on October 4 – Johnny Flynn. The 25-year old, who just released his debut in A Larum, is either a Shakespearean actor with a musical side-gig or a musician who moonlights as a Shakespearean actor, but is a rare talent whichever way you look at it.

With his band The Sussex Wit and armed with mandolins, banjos, cellos and spoons, Flynn cuts a more traditional-sounding path than his musical peers, and as such is perhaps a little less accessible from the indie-pop world than, say, Noah & The Whale but in a world where The Decemberists can achieve as much as they have, it’s hard to imagine Flynn and company will be discriminated against for their faithful approach to folk music.

On A Larum – a term from old English for “alarm” and used frequently in Shakespeare’s stage directions, if you needed some context – the material veers from thoughtful, almost mournful ballads to more rollicking fare that wouldn’t be out of place pouring out of an old English public house on a Saturday night. Tying them together is Flynn’s strong, authoritative voice and densely poetic and evocative lyrics – early Dylan is a lofty but not inappropriate reference point. Though tourmate Marling is currently getting the bulk of the attention from media types, they and audiences will ignore Flynn at their peril.

WNYC and NPR are both offering up sessions with Flynn and his band while For The Records helpfully points out that he will also be playing an in-store at Criminal Records at 5PM on October 4, in advance of the Rivoli show. As mentioned yesterday, the Rivoli is mighty small so those of you who hesitate to get tickets, this may be your best bet to catch him.

Video: Johnny Flynn – “Tickle Me Pink”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Leftovers”
Video: Johnny Flynn – “Brown Trout Blues”
MySpace: Johnny Flynn

Nick Cave discuss inspiration and Los Angeles with The Los Angeles Times. Cave, in addition to coming to with the Bad Seed on October 1 at the Kool Haus, intends to release his second novel as well as score the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Metro talks to Will Sheff of Okkervil River about the joys and pains of touring. They’re in town at the Phoenix on October 12.

QRO talks to Kelly Crisp of The Rosebuds, who will release Life Like on October 7.

Video: The Rosebuds – “Life Like”

There’s a second MP3 now available from Land Of Talk’s forthcoming Some Are Lakes. The album is out October 7 and they’re playing Lee’s Palace on September 27.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “Corner Phone”

Daytrotter welcomes Ra Ra Riot to their studios for a session.

Pitchfork reports that the security hijinks at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis last month so enraged Ted Leo that he quickly recorded an EP entitled Rapid Response that’s now available for download with all proceeds going to Democracy Now and Food Not Bombs.

Lucinda Williams has also put together a digital-only protest song EP entitled Lu in 08, scheduled for release on October 28 – one week before the US elections. Details at Billboard. Lucinda is at Massey Hall on October 11 and releases Little Honey on October 14.

Pitchfork interviews Shudder To Think’s Craig Wedren.

PopMatters interviews Joey Burns of Calexico, in town at the Phoenix on November 18.

Tiny Mix Tapes has a phoner with Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite while Express Night Out talks to John Cummings and you can now stream their new record The Hawk Is Howling in advance of its release next Tuesday at their MySpace. Remember, I’m giving away Mogwai goodies including passes to their show at the Phoenix on September 24.

Stream: Mogwai / The Hawk Is Howling

Wireless Bollinger talks to Frightened Rabbit front Scott Hutchison. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 21.