Posts Tagged ‘Amy Millan’

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Hot Tips

The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns and Jenny Omnichord at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were at The Garrison on Friday night and felt a sense of deja vu, it was with good reason. Though the occasion was the third anniversary party for Toronto label Out Of This Spark, you might have also been at the second anniversary party a year ago at The Tranzac which featured 3/4 of the same performers in The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers and Jenny Omnichord, or maybe the Evening Hymns release show in December, or perhaps at the Summerworks show in August which showcased The D’Urbervilles and Forest City Lovers, both separately and together. Maybe you were at one of these shows. Maybe you were at all of them. I was, anyways, and so trying to write this one up without overtly repeating myself is a bit of a challenge. But here we go.

As with last year, Jenny Omnichord (née Mitchell) was batting leadoff, armed with a couple of her namesake electronic instruments and a brace of odd and entertaining songs and banter. Her stuff was unapologetically twee and childlike, but also with a distinct streak of black humour running through them. Not necessarily the sort of stuff I’d listen to on my own, but as a way to kick off an evening, you could do far worse.

Following her were Evening Hymns, who’d crafted one of my favourite records of last year in Spirit Guides and while many artists spend their careers trying to capture the energy of their live show on record, the challenge of Evening Hymns is how to recreate the scope and grandeur of the album on stage. They came close at the record release show, but that required something like a dozen players and liberal use of smoke machines. This time out, they were a compact five-piece unit less concerned with recreating the songs as they were recorded than rendering them as best they could with what they had, and by and large it worked. While it was clear there was still some gelling necessary before they’d be at their best, all the parts needed to do these songs justice were in place – if this is the unit to take Spirit Guides on the road and out into the world, then it’s in good hands.

Much of the appeal of Forest City Lovers is their understatedness, and the way their melodic folk-pop insinuates itself into your mind subtly, rather than jump all about in your face. That said, it’s been quite nice to see them becoming more engaging and extroverted with each show and release of new music without losing those qualities – in particular, the two sides of their recent “Phodilus and Tyto” 7″ don’t even clock in at seven minutes, but offer a very exciting look at where their third album, currently being recorded, could be heading. Goodness knows they were the highlights of their live set, and considering the selections from Haunting Moon Sinking and The Sun And The Wind were no slouches, that’s saying something. The new record is easily one of the local releases I’m most looking forward to this year.

Considering how quickly frontman John O’Reagan’s Diamond Rings electro-pop solo project has taken off, it would be understandable if he opted to shelve the rock keep the eyeshadow on all the time. But happily, the man can multitask and The D’Urbervilles are wrapping up work on a new record and a number of new tunes were showcased in their set. Each time I see them, I further appreciate how they manage to evoke New Wave-ish/dance-rock touchstones without sounding like every other New Wave-ish/dance rock acts. Their set was short, punchy and would have been a fine cap to the evening and a testament to the quality of talent on the label, but they weren’t quite done yet.

As they did at the Summerworks show, the encore for the entire night brought Jenny Omnichord, Forest City Lovers and The D’Urbervilles out on stage together to perform one each of their songs in massive lineup-style. It wasn’t quite the prepared reimagining of the material as they’d done in August, but still good fun to see and hear regardless. And then they were done.

Narratives and Singing Lamb also have reviews of the show. Many of the performers are in action again over the next while – Forest City Lovers frontwoman Kat Burns is opening up solo-style for Asobi Seksu at the Drake on February 1, Evening Hymns are at the Music Gallery on February 10 as part of Wavelength 500 and The D’Urbervilles are opening up for Fucked Up at the Opera House on February 26.

Photos: The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns, Jenny Omnichord @ The Garrison – January 22, 2010
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Dragnet”
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Spin The Bottle”
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Hot Tips”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Scared Of Time”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Oh Humility” (live)
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Song For Morrie”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”
MySpace: The D’Urbervilles
MySpace: Forest City Lovers
MySpace: Evening Hymns

Speaking of Diamond Rings, the final seven copies of their split-7″ with PS I Love You – which with a “Best New Music” honorific for each of its sides may well be the bestreviewed piece of music in the history of Pitchfork, at least from a linear or temporal density perspective – are now up on eBay with new hand-screened arwtork and signed by the artists, and with proceeds of the auction going to Haitian relief efforts. Diamond Rings also has a couple of Canadian Musicfest showcases announced – March 11 at the Garrison and March 12 at The Silver Dollar – to go with their February 11 show at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse for Wavelength 500.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Facelove”

Pitchfork has details on the new album from Caribou, entitled Swim and due out April 20 – get the first MP3 in exchange for your email address.

Woodpigeon has paid tribute to the passing of Kate McGarrigle with a cover of what is probably their most famous song to those of a certain generation who grew up watching NFB shorts – “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. Woodpigeon plays the Drake Underground on February 11 and have an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “The Log Driver’s Waltz” (live)

Celebrate the release of Basia Bulat’s new album Heart Of My Own today with a stunning performance of “The Shore” for Le Blogotheque’s Takeaway Shows, video sessions and interviews at Baeble Music’s Guest Apartment and interviews at The National Post, Canadian Press, Exclaim and Ca Va Cool.

Macleans has made available online the feature piece on Owen Pallett that came out of the multi-part interview posted at Radio Free Canuckistan last week. Pallett also plays cover boy of this month’s Exclaim, which I’ll link up when it goes up later today is live. He plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 8.

Southern Souls have posted a video session with The Balconies. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 10. talks to Joel Plaskett. He and the Thrush Hermit reunion are at Lee’s Palace on March 26 and 27.

Soundproof has an interview with Amy Millan, who is putting the solo thing on the back burner this year with both new Broken Social Scene and Stars records in the works.

Singing Lamb chats with Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija.

Those disappointed by the collateral damage from Fanfarlo’s canceled show last December will be pleased to know that the opener, Freelance Whales, will be joining the previously-announced Cymbals Eat Guitars tour and be at the El Mocambo on April 6. Express Night Out and The AV Club have features on the band, whose debut Weathervanes is getting a re-release on March 16.

And the best news of yesterday was that The National’s new album – previously rumoured to be entitled Shine but currently nameless – will be out in May and they’ll be on tour shortly thereafter with a Toronto date at Massey Hall on June 8. Massey Hall. This will be majestic. Ticket presale goes this morning at 10AM – your password is “bloodbuzz” – with tickets ranging in price from $32.50 to $53.50.

Friday, October 16th, 2009

1, 2, 3, Partyy!

Mission Of Burma keep the party going

Photo By Kelly DavidsonKelly DavidsonWhile another hugely influential ’80s Boston-bred band that many thought would never return to active duty may get more attention, Mission Of Burma have been much more productive in their second tour of duty, managing to tend to their legacy with proper reissues of Vs and Signals, Calls & Marches while adding to it with three impeccable albums in the past five years, the latest being The Sound, The Speed, The Light, released last week.

Like their other 21st-century releases ONoffON and The Obliterati, Sound is a collection of bludgeoning post-punk, all strangled vocals and razor-sharp guitar riffs on top of tunes that are just melodic enough to keep the pop-attuned such as myself interested, but angular enough to keep the listener off-balance and a bit uncomfortable. It’s really remarkable that after all this time, Mission Of Burma are still crafting records that can not only stand tall alongside those 25-year old classics but still sound utterly fresh and unlike anything else out there.

Blurt has an interview with basssit Clint Conley and Matablog notes that the city of Boston officially declared last Sunday “Mission Of Burma Day”. There was a proclamation and everything.

And because sometimes people forget they send me stuff and send it again, courtesy of Matador, I have an extra copy of The Sound, The Speed, The Light on CD to give away. If you want it, email me at contests AT with “I want Mission Of Burma” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest is open to anyone, anywhere, and closes in a week at midnight, October 23.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”
Video: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with White Rabbits, who have a date at the Horseshoe next Saturday night, October 24.

Spinner and The Santa Barbara Independent chat with Thao about her new record Know Better Learn Faster, from which a new video has just been premiered at Stereogum. Thao is currently on tour in support of the record and will be at the El Mocambo in Toronto on November 1. If you’re at any of the tour dates, and you should be, you’ll likely see a table from Oxfam there – Thao explains why.

Video: Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”

Paste gets to know Volcano Choir, whose principal Justin Vernon just put his last project Bon Iver on hiatus. But you can stream or download their last show for the foreseeable future at Radio Milwaukee.

NPR is streaming a session with Wye Oak.

The Georgia Straight and talk to A Place To Bury Strangers’ Oliver Ackerman. Their new album Exploding Head is out now and they’re at the Mod Club on October 27.

BlogTO, The AV Club, Vue and Uptown have interviews with Amy Millan.

NOW has a feature piece on Two Hours Traffic, who play an in-store at Soundscapes tonight at 5PM in advance of their proper show at Lee’s Palace. has debuted the new video from The Dears, but settle in – it’s a long one.

Video: The Dears – “Saviour (Then Disclaimer)”

They Shoot Music has posted a video session with Pink Mountaintops.

Holy Fuck have been added as support for Phoenix at the Sound Academy on December 5. Is that enough to persuade y’all to go down to the Sound Academy? Didn’t think so.

Paste‘s list of the 15 best TV shows canceled before their time basically reads like a litany of my favourite shows of the past decade or so. It’s official, I am the television kiss of death. Look out, Bored To Death – you’re on notice.

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Good Ol' Boredom

Built To Spill and Disco Doom at Lee's Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen it comes to bands doing multi-night stands, I’ve come to the wholly unscientific conclusion that given the choice (ie – all shows are announced simultaneously and not only after one has sold out) that the last night of the run is the one to hit. The band isn’t tired from travel, any sound issues will have been sorted out (one hopes) and the looseness is conducive, in theory, to a more exciting or unpredictable show. There’s more chance, in other words, of the band “leaving it all on stage”, as the kids say. And so for Built To Spill’s two-night engagement at Lee’s Palace this week, a repeat of their first-ever visit to Toronto in July 2007, I opted to hit the second night. It figures that everyone else I knew who was going went to the first.

The media as well, judging from the reviews that were circulating the day of my show. And though the verdict was generally positive, it seemed as though the thumbs up was a qualified one, which I could understand. Having seen them twice before, I knew they could offer up guitar-driven transcendence but were also at risk of extended, aimless jamming. But it’s exactly that fine balance of noodly meander and pop focus that makes Built To Spill so great, so I was looking forward to the show regardless.

Openers for the tour were a Swiss act – when was the last time I saw a Swiss band? – called Disco Doom and to the literal minded, no they did not sound like disco nor doom. What they did sound like was a band tailor-made to appeal to fans of Built To Spill who also have a fondness for fuzzy, early ’90s shoegaze influences. They had it all – whispery boy-girl vocals, fuzz-laden guitar lines and pretty much no stage presence at all. They also sort of had songs… nothing that sticks in the memory after the fact, but everything felt good, for what that’s worth. Their set-closing extenda-jam went over well with the rapidly filling audience, and of course it would. If you were looking for 500 people in Toronto who appreciate a good extenda-jam, this is where they’d be.

No one expects a lot of chit-chat from Built To Spill. Or at least they shouldn’t. These are guys who prefer to let their fingers do the talking, coaxing out insanely convoluted and intertwined yet unfailingly melodic lines out of their guitars, and so when what seemed like a final pre-show soundcheck with frontman Doug Martsch and drummer Scott Plouf turned into a jam of “Three Years Ago Today” from their 1993 debut Ultimate Alternative Wavers, well, that seemed perfectly natural. And though the band had just released their latest album – and best in some time – There Is No Enemy the day before, the set list would show it no favouritism, instead touching on every one of their records before it was all over. And comparing it to the previous night’s set, it’s obvious that choosing one night over the other was futile, at least as far as song selections went – only one tune, the Canada-saluting “Hindsight” from the new record, was repeated. If you’re a Built To Spill fan and want to be sure to hear your favourite song during a multi-night stand, be prepared to shell out.

Performance-wise, the first half of the show was a bit snoozy in delivery, the extended tuning breaks and set discussions between selections doing nothing to help maintain the modest energy generated during the actual songs. Guitarist Brett Netson tried engaging in a bit of banter, but mostly the band worked in silence, eyes on their tuners. With “Conventional Wisdom”, however, it seemed like the band spontaneously discovered another gear and gunned it – well, relatively speaking. It didn’t suddenly become a Metallica show, but someone or something definitely kicked them in the sun and made a pretty good show into one that was staring greatness in the face, so it felt like a disappointment when they closed out the set after just over an hour, following a wicked “Virginia Reel Around The Fountain”. Here they were just hitting their stride and they were calling it a night? Sure there was an encore, but how much can you do with the encore? A lot, as it turns out. Though Martsch initially promised just a couple songs, they kept going, ultimately trotting out four more tunes and extending to almost the two-hour mark, much of that an epic-length, appropriately named “Stop The Show” to wrap it up. Not quite the marathon 27-minute “Randy Described Eternity” they served up last time, but still dizzying. I now understand why they do the multi-night thing. It’s not necessarily because they want to do intimate shows or they’ve got the massive fanbase to justify it, but to play all the songs they want to would otherwise take upwards of four hours.

Flavorwire, The Maneater, The Boston Herald and The Cornell Sun have interviews with Doug Martsch.

Photos: Built To Spill, Disco Doom @ Lee’s Palace – October 7, 2009
MP3: Built To Spill – “Hindsight”
Video: Built To Spill – “Conventional Wisdom”
MySpace: Built To Spill
MySpace: Disco Doom

NPR is streaming last night’s Dinosaur Jr show in Washington DC – something to hold you over until they finally come to Toronto to play the Phoenix on January 21 of next year. The Washington Examiner talks to Dino drummer Murph.

Minnesota Public Radio is streaming a studio session with Yo La Tengo. There’s interviews with the band at AZ Central, The Denver Post, The Standard and Decider.

In honour of their reunion, which now includes a them-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in May in the UK to go with their four nights in Central Park in September, PitchforkTV is streaming the Pavement documentary/live film The Slow Century for a week.

Video: Pavement: The Slow Century

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff talks to The Golden Gate X-Press and mentions that an album they made with Roky Erikson will be out early next year. Erikson is playing Lee’s Palace on October 28, but don’t expect Okkervil to be along as his band for that – the fact that The Sadies are opening that show up pretty much guarantees they’ll be his band.

The Sadies will also be playing with R&B legend Andre Williams at the Horseshoe on November 19, tickets $15.

NOW talks to Amy Millan, who is playing the Mod Club next Wednesday, October 14. Congratulations to Patrick and Janice, who won the passes to the show.

QRO has an interview with Emil Svanagen of Loney Dear, who will be at the Horseshoe on Monday night. Congratulations to Thierry and Bruce, who won the passes to the show.

And speaking of winning passes, here’s a doozie of a contest though it’s not mine. The folks at Against The Grain and Rootmeansquare, who put on many/most of the awesome shows in the city and who are responsible for most of the ticket giveaways I have, are officially joining forces (in a corporate sense) starting next year and as such, are looking for a new name and are soliciting your help in coming up with one. In their words, “Think MUSIC, art, alternative, indie, new wave, cool but not retro, etc.” If your suggestion inspires them or is chosen as their new identity, you will win “ONE YEAR OF FREE CONCERT TICKETS (+ 1) to all ATG, RMS, H-Shoe Tavern, & Lees Palace shows (non-transferable)”. That, friends, is a shitload of concerts. The letterhead they write the guest lists on will essentially have your name printed on it. So put those thinking toques on and send you ideas to with “BUSINESS NAME” in the subject line. Go!

Still not convinced my hosting isn’t going to go kack as soon as regular traffic loads ramp up. Not much I can do about it until I’ve gotten all my files and data backed up, which is hard to do when your site is inaccessible, let me tell you. Hoping to have this all sorted out within a week or so, though, so thanks for sticking around. Assuming you’re sticking around.

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

CONTEST – Amy Millan @ The Mod Club – October 14, 2009

Photo via Amy Millanamymillan.comOne thing you can’t say about Amy Millan is that she’s lazy. In addition to co-fronting one of Canada’s most popular indie bands and playing a key role in another – Stars and Broken Social Scene respectively, if you’ve been asleep the last six or seven years – she’s done a good job of establishing herself as a proper solo artist, having just released her second album this Summer in Masters Of The Burial.

A mixed bag of originals and borrowed tunes, it shines a brighter light on Millan’s strummier, country side and while it does show she’s got some good taste in covers, tackling compositions from Richard Hawley, Death Cab and Weeping Tile, she doesn’t bring much new to the table and nor does she make the case for striking out on her own for good anytime soon.

But it does give her an excuse to pick up the acoustic and play some shows a good deal more intimate than anything she gets to do with either of her bands, so that’s good news for her fans. She kicks off an extensive North American tour at the Mod Club in Toronto on October 14,. Tickets are $15 in advance, but courtesy of Rootmeansquare, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to master the burial” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 8.

There’s an interview with Millan at the Kingston Whig-Standard.

MP3: Amy Millan – “Bury This”
Video: Amy Millan – “Bury This”

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009


Venice Is Sinking doing alright with new EP, video

Photo By Ian DarkenIan DarkenSomething I learned yesterday – I wasn’t able to get by on three hours of sleep when I was young, I sure as hell can’t do it now. Blogging isn’t so easy when your brain has the consistency of porridge, so I’m thankful that there’s been a pile of new videos, sessions and streams amassing in my drafts folder which I can hopefully distill into some sort of post.

And we’ll begin with Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking, who’ve got a new video, stream AND MP3 to share, all in honour of their just-released EP Okay. As previously reported, it’s a single, a tribute and outtakes record, all in one. The title track comes from their lovely AZAR album from earlier this year, two tracks are covers of San Francisco artist Okay and the final two are alternate versions of AZAR tracks. Like the parent album, Okay is wistfully orchestrated ambient pop, forlorn even when it’s trying to be cheery. Venice Is Sinking does glumness exceedingly well. They do have a playful side, however, as the boot camp-themed video for “Okay” demonstrates. And a penchant for gunplay.

In addition to the new EP, the band have completed album number three – a mostly live recording due out sooner rather than later – and have begun writing album number four. Considering how this band seems to get better with every new thing they put out, their newfound prolificness can only bring good things.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Compass”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
Stream: Venice Is Sinking / Okay

Yo La Tengo have also done the “rock band boot camp” thing in video before – witness the classic “Sugarcube” clip – but have just put out an awesome video of another sort – a Takeaway Show. Yo La Tengo are at the Opera House on October 3.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”

A Place To Bury Strangers have released a video from their new album Exploding Head, due out October 6. They have a date at the Mod Club for October 27.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “In Your Heart”

They Shoot Music recorded an acoustic performance from The Dodos, who released Time To Die last week and will be at Lee’s Palace on October 17. There’s interviews with the band at Austinist and Click Music.

Telekinesis have finally gotten themselves a proper website and play a Tiny Desk Session for NPR to mark the occasion. Okay, the two probably have nothing to do with each other. Or this video of them performing at the Merge XX festival this Summer.

St Vincent has released a new video from Actor.

Video: St Vincent – “Marrow”

Paste, Taipei Times and The Los Angeles Times interview Monsters Of Folk, whose self-titled debut was released this week and a new video to go along with it. They play Massey Hall on November 2.

Video: Monsters of Folk – “The Right Place”

BrooklynVegan interviews Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, who have a new video from Embryonic, out October 13. The response to the new recordseems pretty split between a return to genius form and further evidence of their irrevocable decline. Which is it?

Video: The Flaming Lips – “I Can Be A Frog”

This week was pretty crazy for new releases, and so there’s plenty to stream over at Spinner – or at least there is if you’re not in Canada. Hereabouts, their Polaris promotion is still up so all the links shunt to streams of the short list but I’ve been told that’s going to change sometime today so Canucks, check back. Assuming that’s accurate – you’ve got Hope Sandoval & The Warm Intentions’ second album Through The Devil Softly which they’ll bring to the Mod Club on October 7 – she gives an interview to The Georgia Straight, White Water, White Bloom from Sea Wolf, who’re at Sneaky Dee’s on October 9 and Amy Millan’s second solo record Masters Of The Burial, for which she has a date at the Mod Club on October 14 – ChartAttack also has an interview.

Also out, streaming and coming to town this Fall are Girls whose debut album Album will receive an airing at the El Mocambo on November 10 and who are featured in a “Don’t Look Down” video session at PitchforkTV, J Tillman’s new one Year In The Kingdom which brings him to the Horseshoe on November 11 and Origin: Orphan from The Hidden Cameras – their hometown show will take place at the Opera House on December 5.

Stream: Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions / Through The Devil Softly
Stream: Sea Wolf / White Water, White Bloom
Stream: Amy Millan / Masters Of The Burial
Stream: Girls / Album
Stream: J. Tillman / Year in the Kingdom
Stream: The Hidden Cameras / Origin: Orphan

Also with a new record out this wee but sadly not coming to town any time soon are Early Day Miners, whose latest is The Treatment. There’s a feature piece on the band at Blurt.

Stream: Early Day Miners / The Treatment

In And Out Of Control isn’t out until October 6 but The Raveonettes are already streaming it for all to hear at their MySpace. They’re at the Phoenix on October 22 and there’s interviews with the band at Paper and Billboard.

Stream: The Raveonettes / In And Out Of Control

City Sonic talks to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers about how his daily commute influenced some of his early songs.

A couple of days before she takes the Horseshoe stage – Thursday, September 24 in support of The Antlers – it’s been announced that Holly Miranda has signed with XL Recordings to release her debut solo album early next year. I’ve been tracking her solo career since early this year and am pleased to see that her record will not only be coming out but will be properly promoted, but I wonder what to make of the fact that the press release mentions nothing about her band The Jealous Girlfriends… hopefully nothing. A video session with said band went up at FreqControl earlier this Summer.

Exclaim reports The Weakerthans will be releasing a series of 7″ singles saluting their home province on Manitoba starting on October 30.