Posts Tagged ‘Adam & The Amethysts’

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Breaking My Heart

Review of Chains Of Love’s Strange Grey Days

Photo via Dine AloneDine AloneImpressing with a live show is one thing, but eliciting a similar positive response with a record, away from the energy the crowd and the volume of the PA, can be a good deal tougher. Vancouver’s Chains Of Love nailed the former and then some at NXNE last year, but despite one of the most impressive things about the show being that they obviously had good songs to go along with their crackling Motown-friendly, garage-soul sound and onstage charisma, I didn’t immediately assume that their debut album – whenever it arrived – would necessarily deliver the same punch.

Happily, said debut – Strange Grey Days, due out next Tuesday – doesn’t disappoint. At seven tracks and 20 minutes, it’s a bit slight – okay, a lot slight although the CD version appends both sides of last year’s “In Between”/”Breaking My Heart” single – but its an enjoyable ride. The fuzzy, faded sonic aesthetic feels authentic but thankfully doesn’t obscure the polished musicality of the band or bury Nathalia Pizarro and Rebecca Marie Law Gray’s sweet vocals. The record is decidedly front-loaded with the uptempo numbers are unquestionably the strongest numbers, but the momentum of those earlier tunes is more than enough to keep things moving and put the whole thing in the “win” column. When – not if – the outfit manages to really stick the slower numbers, they are going to be a force.

The album is currently available to stream in whole courtesy of Exclaim, and they’ve no shortage of local dates coming up – two showcases for Canadian Musicfest at The El Mocambo on March 23 at 11:30PM and March 24 at The Horseshoe at 9:20PM, and then they’re back on April 14 in a supporting role for Said The Whale at The Great Hall.

MP3: Chains Of Love – “In Between”
MP3: Chains Of Love – “Breaking My Heart”
Stream: Chains Of Love / Strange Grey Days

Speaking of Canadian Musicfest, Montreal’s Adam & The Amethysts have three shows during the fest: 8PM on March 22 at The El Mocambo, the afternoon of March 23 at Saving Gigi and 11PM on March 24 at The Drake Underground. They’ve released a new video from this year’s Flickering Flashlight to get y’all excited.

Video: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”

Rich Aucoin has only got the one March 24 appearance at The Indie Awards on the calendar for Canadian Musicfest, but he’s also released a new video from We’re All Dying To Live, this one all fancy and animated and such.

Video: Rich Aucoin – “P.U.S.H.”

We’ve been waiting so long for the debut full-length from Guelph disco-pop band The Magic – since NXNE 2009 for me, at least – but it’ll finally be here in June and based on the first sample track, it’s been worth the wait.

MP3: The Magic – “Door To Door”

One of Arcade Fire’s contributions to the Hunger Games soundtrack is now available to stream over at Entertainment Weekly. It’s out March 20.

Stream: Arcade Fire – “Abraham’s Daughter”

Kill Screen talks video games with Damian Abraham of Fucked Up.

Pitchfork reports that one of the many Record Store Day goodies coming on April 18 will be the very first vinyl pressing of Destroyer’s 2006 album Destroyer’s Rubies. Destroyer plays The Opera House on June 23.

The AV Club,, here, and Beatroute talk to The Wooden Sky.

Islands are interviewed by Torontoist, The Province, Calgary Herald, Beatroute, and Chart and play a video session for Exclaim.

Monday, February 6th, 2012


Bry Webb and Doug Tielli at The Music Gallery in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt probably amounts to some sort of Can-rock heresy, but I think I actually like Bry Webb on his own more than I ever did with Constantines. I fully acknowledge why many hold the Cons up as one of the greatest Canadian rock acts of the past however many years/decades/centuries – I’ve seen them live, I know what they were capable of – but the fact is, his solo debut Provider has captivated me more than any of the Cons studio releases ever did. The whys of it, I’ve already covered but it’s telling that even though I had opportunities to catch the Constantines a couple years ago one last time before they went on their indefinite hiatus, I never got around to it whereas when it was announced that Webb would be playing a couple of intimate shows at The Music Gallery on Saturday night to properly mark the record’s release – he technically debuted the new songs in December at Massey Hall opening for Feist – the early show went straight into the calendar.

Opening up both sets was local fixture Doug Tielli, who came armed with just his voice and guitar; the former a slow, warm instrument with effortless falsetto, the latter a virtuosically-handled Stratocaster. Not much, but still plenty when wrapped around a half-dozen songs that ranged from country-western shuffles about cows to jazzy-yet-visceral croons to shimmering atmospheric pop and also a cover of Aretha’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. Short but sweet.

I’d actually seen Webb solo before back in December 2009 when he was operating under the guise of Harbour Coats. I don’t know how much, if any, of that material made it onto Provider but that show did affirm that Webb was as compelling a performer on his own as with a band. For this occasion, he again had a band – dubbed The Providers – but they were hardly a conventional setup, with Webb mainly on acoustic guitar and backed by an upright bass, lap steel and pedal steel. The configuration was an inspired one, evoking a heartbeat and blood flow while Webb gave his songs breath and spirit. Even though no one doubted that Webb’s vocals, known across Canada for their rough bark, could be just as affecting as a sigh, hearing it fill the church sanctuary on gorgeous and moving moments like “Asa” and “Persistent Spirit” was still revelatory. The heaviest moment of the night came with set closer “Ex-Punks”, wherein they were joined by a drummer to add enough hammering percussion that if you looked and listened close enough, you could perceive the ghosts of the Constantines hovering overhead; not invoked, but acknowledged. For the one-song encore, they offered a cover of The Mills Brothers’ “Smoke Rings” and sent us on our way and the ready themselves to do it all over again.

Mechanical Forest Sound has a recording of “Ex-Punks” from the show he’d like to share, and BlogTO has a review. NOW, The Guelph Mercury, The Toronto Star, Spinner, Brock Press, and BlogTO have profile pieces on Webb.

Photos: Bry Webb, Doug Tielli @ The Music Gallery – February 4, 2012
MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”
Stream: Bry Webb – “Undertaker”
Stream: Doug Tielli – “Deer”
Video: Doug Tielli – “Deer”

Paste has offered up a new download from the forthcoming Wooden Sky album Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, due out February 28. They play The Opera House on April 20.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Malibu Rum”

Almost a couple years on from its release, a new video from The Acorn’s last album No Ghost. Odd timing, but there’s never a bad time to be reminded of a great band and album.

Video: The Acorn – “Misplaced”

The schedule for this year’s Canadian Musicfest is probably still a ways off, but some showcases lineups are trickling out, including this Quebec-centric one at The El Mocambo on March 22, which will feature a super-solid lineup of The Dears, Martha Wainwright, Galaxie, and Adam & The Amethysts. Advance tickets are $20 or you can try your luck with a festival wristband, of which a limited number will be admitted.

MP3: The Dears – “Blood”
MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”
Video: Martha Wainwright – “You Cheated Me”
Video: Galaxie – “Piste 01”

PopMatters gets to know Dan Mangan, who will be in town to play the Indies at the Royal York on March 24.

Exclaim talks to The Darcys, who are at The Phoenix on March 1 opening for Bombay Bicycle Club and at Downsview Park for Edgefest on July 12.

A track from Rae Spoon’s new album I Can’t Keep All Of Our Secrets is now available to download. If you’re into that sort of thing. There’s also interviews at The Dalhousie Gazette and Beatroute.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Crash Landing”

Great Lake Swimmers are streaming a second selection from their new album New Wild Everywhere, due out April 3. They play The Music Hall on June 2.

Stream: Great Lake Swimmers – “Les Champs des Prog´lniture”

Pitchfork is streaming all of Fucked Up’s Chinese zodiac singles to date; that’s five so far, including the “Year Of The Tiger” one due out on February 21.

Stream: Fucked Up / Chinese Zodiac singles

Consequence Of Sound reports that Neil Young’s getting back together with Crazy Horse may yield as many as two albums – the one called Americana is apparently already recorded and a second is in the works. Or, it being Neil, maybe nothing will actually come of this.

Whole lot of talking about Leonard Cohen in the wake of last week’s release of Old Ideas: The AV Club has a primer to his recorded works, Exclaim has assembled a timeline of his career, and Spinner and The National Post have both assembled panels of musicians to talk about the influence of the man and his music. Also, two more installments of the Old Ideas With New Friends covers series have surfaced, with The Guardian presenting Cults covering “Everybody Knows” and Pitchfork hosting Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox doing his take on, “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy”.

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

CONTEST – Adam & The Amethysts @ The Piston – October 5, 2011

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Adam & The Amethysts
What: Montreal pop classicists with ties to the likes of Miracle Fortress and Sunset Rubdown, but who are ready to establish their own name with the release of their second album Flickering Flashlight.
Why: To mark the October 4 release of the album, the band are playing a string of dates in Ontario, kicking off in Toronto
When: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Where: The Piston in Toronto (19+)
Who else: Toronto’s Pink Moth offers moral and musical support
How: Tickets for the show are available at the door but to make sure you’re covered, courtesy of Webster Media Consulting, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Adam & The Amethysts” in the subject line and your full name in the body and have that in to me by midnight, October 3.
What else: The album is up for stream over at Exclaim.

MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”
Stream: Adam & The Amethysts / Flickering Flashlight

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Scenes From The Suburbs

Arcade Fire wins the 2011 Polaris Music Prize; people bragging about predicting it just look silly

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangExecutive summary of this post: Arcade Fires’s third album The Suburbs did what everyone kind of expected and won the 2011 Polaris Music Prize last night, and with the $30,000 giant novelty cheque comes loads of praise and under-the-breath mutterings about how they don’t deserve it, though that’d have happened no matter who won. If you’re the sort of person who only looks at the scoreboard and pays no attention to the boxscores, then you’re done here. If you want the blow-by-blow about how it happened, well, I don’t have that for you either. I offered my own thoughts on the record’s deserving the prize when I put it at the top of my ballot but as with every year, what happens in the Grand Jury room stays in the Grand Jury room, guarded by the ghosts of masons and templars, but I can at least report on what happened at the gala proper.

Unlike last year’s rare ten for ten in terms of shortlisters showing up to perform, only six acts were available to take the stage this year. Arcade Fire and Colin Stetson had legitimate reasons for missing out, the former having just headlined Austin City Limits the night before and unable to do it logistically (though three of the band were in attendance) and the latter being in Los Angeles as part of Bon Iver’s touring band. No official reason was given for Destroyer’s Dan Bejar not being in attendance, let alone perform and even though The Weeknd had established themselves as actually existing and being able to perform a couple months earlier, Abel Tesfaye seems to have since decided it’s more fun being an urban legend than a real person.

And so we began with Ron Sexsmith, looking dapper in a red tuxedo jacket, led his full band through a couple selections from Long Player Late Bloomer. I daresay no one was especially blown away by the performance but that’s not Sexsmith’s thing – he’s in it for the long game and will be crafting fine pop songs years from now. Austra followed and though from the same neck of the woods – Toronto represent! – was at the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum, with a dramatic visual presentation to go the intense, operatic synth-goth sound of Feel It Break. The live show was about as impressive as I’ve heard it was.

Montreal’s Galaxie were up next and were an anodyne for anyone bemoaning the lack of straight-ahead rock in today’s music. For Galaxie and their nominated record Tigre et diesel were nothing if not straight-ahead rock, with lots of meaty, 70s-vintage guitar riffs and corresponding swagger. I continue to bear them a bit of ill will for calling themselves Galaxie 500 for so long but if you heard them, there’s no way you’d confuse them with the REAL Galaxie 500. Timber Timbre recital of a couple numbers from Creep On Creepin’ On was probably the biggest revelation of the night. I’d not seen them live since it was still a Taylor Kirk solo project hiding in the dark and here, they were a full 9-piece band with string quartet and the scale of sound they made were remarkable; there was no more hiding in the shadows, instead this was Timber Timbre standing proud and tall for all to see and hear and they would not be cowed by the light.

The Timber Timbre experience was emblematic of why these Polaris galas are so great – in the months leading up to it, there’s inevitably bands you dismiss or make jokes about because you don’t believe they’ll win or even belong on the short list, but to see them in this sort of setting and doing their thing it’s very difficult to not understand and appreciate how, even if they’re not your thing, they’re almost always great in their way. Braids, whose Native Speaker I never warmed to, almost made me want to reassess my opinion of them in that manner – in fact with their first song, they had me with their obviously impressive musicianship and complex songwriting. But by their second number, those feelings of “this is so pretty” were equaled if not surpassed by feelings of, “this is so so so long”. That said, their focus is much sharper than it was when I last saw them live, so in a few years/records I may well be on board. But not yet.

This left Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! to close things out. Contrary to their last gala appearance in 2009, the band eschewed the massive orchestral presentation that people equate with their sound and went with the core six-piece configuration to showcase a couple songs from Seeds. Their earnest compositions were pretty and pleasant, but felt more polite than passionate – many swear by their grand, heartfelt pop but it just doesn’t really connect with me… but two Polaris shortlist appearances in as many albums certainly speaks to them doing something right.

With the performances done, all that remained was to give Arcade Fire another major award to go with their Grammy, Juno and BRIT. Unlike past years, where the announcement of the winner usually resulted in at least some gasps and/or confused looks, this year’s announcement was met with applause and nods – either in agreement that the right call had been made or in resignation that none of an electronic witch, avant-garde saxman or leisure-suited poet could derail the Suburbs-sized freight train. Represented by Win Butler, Richard Reed Parry and Jeremy Gara, they were gracious winners who encouraged young bands to create greater works than they had and invited them to come record at their studio, into which they hinted that at least some of the winnings would get invested.

And so the record that was both the surest thing and the longest shot come out on top and in the process, dismantled the Polaris’ growing reputation as something of a contrarian prize. Everybody wins. Especially Arcade Fire.

For more non-performance shots from the gala and Arcade Fire press conference, check out my Flickr.

Photos: Polaris Music Prize Gala 2011 @ The Masonic Temple – September 19, 2011
MP3: Austra – “Lose It”
MP3: Braids – “Lemonade”
MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”
MP3: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”
MP3: Colin Stetson – “Fear Of The Unknown And The Blazing Sun”
MP3: Timber Timbre – “Black Water”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Party & The After Party”
Video: Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
Video: Galaxie – “Piste 01”
Video: Ron Sexsmith – “Late Bloomer” (live)

The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star and National Post ran some pre-gala Polaris pieces on the topics of citizenship and eligibility for the award, the Arcade Fire’s chances and the process and nominees and whatnot, respectively. And peeking over across the Atlantic, The Line Of Best Fit had a three-parter examining each of the shortlisted records and an interview with prize founder Steve Jordan.

Also posted prior to last night – Spinner asking Katie Stelmanis of Austra what they’d have done with their winnings and Exclaim, BlogTO and Spinner finding out how being shortlisted has affected Colin Stetson.

The Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight talk to 2010 Polaris winners Karkwa.

The Georgia Straight, The Portland Mercury and Backseat Seattle talk to Young Galaxy as they tour over to the west coast.

Stool Pigeon talks to Chad VanGaalen. He’s at The Mod Club on October 28.

Pitchfork has an interview with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew wherein he reveals the band are going on a hiatus after their last few shows of the year are done. Whether this means another deluge of “Broken Social Scene Presents” solo records is unclear.

The New York Times talks to Feist about her new record Metals, out October 4. She plays Massey Hall on December 1.

State interviews Alexei Perry of Handsome Furs.

Bruce Peninsula are sharing a track from their forthcoming album Open Flames, out October 4. They play an album release show at Lee’s Palace on October 27 and are interviewed by The Record.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “In Your Light”

Elliott Brood are marking the September 27 release of their new album Days Into Years with an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location that evening at 7PM. Their proper hometown show doesn’t come until November 18 at the Phoenix so if you want to see ’em, be there with some canned goods to donate.

MP3: Elliott Brood – “Northern Air”

NOW has an interview with Rebekah Higgs, who will have a Sunday night residency at The Drake Underground throughout the month of October – that’s five shows on each of the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th – admission $7 each.

MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Gosh Darn Damn”

Hour has a feature piece on Montreal’s Adam & The Amethysts, whose Flickering Flashlight is out October 4 and available to stream at Exclaim. They’ll be at The Piston to celebrate with a show on October 5.

MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”
Stream: Adam & The Amethysts – “Flickering Flashlight”

The Wooden Sky are going to be previewing material from their follow up to If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone with a short Fall tour that includes a hometown stop at The Dakota Tavern on October 19, tickets $15 in advance. The new album won’t be out until next year but the band will have a tour EP available at these shows to tide fans over.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Bit Part”

Shout Out Out Out Out have made a date at The Great Hall on October 27.

Video: Shout Out Out Out Out – “Coming Home”

Baeblemusic has video of a live set from Suuns recorded way back at SXSW; they’re at The Garrison on October 2.

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Gosh Darn Damn

Rebekah Higgs has songs, streams, shows, videos

Photo By Rob FournierRob FournierFive years is no small amount of time with regards to most things of a human scale, but for an artist following up a promising debut album, as Halifax native Rebekah Higgs was for her 2006 self-titled effort, it’s an extraordinary wait. But Higgs wasn’t idle in that time releasing a mini-album of heavily synthesized dance music as Ruby Jean & The Thoughtful Bees in 2009, and now with that itch scratched – at least for now – she’s finally back with her second pop album, Odd Fellowship.

Like its predecessor, it’s filled with charming and gently bouncy folk-pop with flashes of a rockier heart, complimented by a light but integral electronic sheen and a few sound experiments. It doesn’t necessarily mark out new territory for Higgs but its stronger songwriting and production do imply a greater self-confidence in covering that terrain. Assuming there’s not a half-decade layoff between each release, Higgs still has plenty of time to stretch out creatively.

The album is out August 23 and to coincide with the release, there’s all kinds of stuff making its way onto the internets. In addition to a downloadable MP3, there’s a new video that’s premiered over at and you can stream the whole album over at Exclaim. And while you’re there, you can see a bunch of September tour dates covering the eastern half of the country, including a September 15 date at The Rivoli in Toronto.

MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Gosh Darn Damn”
Video: Rebekah Higgs – “Drunk Love”
Stream: Rebekah Higgs / Odd Fellowship

British Columbian meat-and-potato rockers Yukon Blonde will be releasing a new four-song EP entitled Fire/Water on September 20 and will be touring like mad to promote it; look for them at Lee’s Palace on October 14, tickets $11.50 in advance.

MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”

Polaris shortlisters Hey Rosetta! have added a second show at The Phoenix the day before their first, now playing on November 23 as well as the 24th, tickets again $20 in advance.

MP3: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”

Montreal’s Adam & The Amethysts have finally announced specifics about the release of their second album; Flickering Flashlight will be out on October 4 via the folks at Kelp Records, and they’re offering a first taste of the album for download. You can also hear some of the new material when they play The Tranzac on August 25 – admission is pay-what-you-can.

MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”

Aside/Beside talks to Evening Hymns songwriter Jonas Bonnetta about his new record Spectral Dusk, due out later this Fall.

Fucked Up have released a new video from David Comes To Life.

Video: Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”

The Grid has an interview with Colin Stetson, who will be at The Drake on August 23 but won’t be performing at the Polaris Gala on September 19 due to touring commitments with Bon Iver.