Posts Tagged ‘An Horse’

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The Bold Arrow Of Time

Tame Impala and Yuck at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe city’s music critics had to be a little disappointed upon arriving at the Phoenix on Sunday night and seeing signs informing them that Chicago’s Yawn had cancelled their appearance because of car trouble in Montreal – after all, had their set been anything less than impressive, the review would have written itself. But the opportunity to be simultaneously succinct and lazy still presented itself with London’s Yuck, not that it was needed.

I saw the quartet back at SXSW, where they were one of the festival’s buzz bands thanks to the made-in-a-world-where-Bandwagonesque-trumped-Nevermind melodic fuzz pop of their self-titled debut and, perhaps looking a little too firmly through the lens of a photographer, wasn’t impressed. For an outfit riding a surge of interest that most bands would give a limb for, they seemed exceedingly bored with the whole thing – and this was on the very first night of a week packed with shows. But that didn’t give them enough credit for how they sounded, which was pretty great – any perceived indifference didn’t apply to their playing, which mitigated any disappointment in their lack of stage diving.

In any case, it seems that the time on the road has done the band a lot of good in pretty much every department. They still seem to have a running contest amongst themselves to see who can look the most expressionless but there were a few earnest if awkward attempts at audience banter and in performance, they weren’t inanimate, allowing themselves to bob up and down with the beat or wander around the stage – singer Daniel Blumberg even contributing a few convincing screams where called for. Musically, the songs have evolved some from their recorded versions, incorporating extended musical segues or in the case of set closer “Rubber”, devolving into a sludgy dirge (meant in a mostly positive sense). But it’s the songs that are Yuck’s greatest strengths, so filled with hooks and melodies that owe much to the ’90s but are also timelessly pop. And unlike some of their distortion pedal fetishist contemporaries who use the noise to bury rather than buoy, Yuck sound almost hi-fi in their sonic clarity. Almost. But still plenty fuzzy.

Australian headliners Tame Impala also know their way around a pedalboard, as evidenced by last year’s psych-rock standout debut Innerspeaker, but clarity is not at the top of their mission statement. In wrapping frontman Kevin Parker’s voice in a distinctive echo-reverb, they effectively conjure up the ghosts of Barrett-era Pink Floyd but grafted onto big guitar and synth riffs and propelled by massive, grooving rhythms, Tame Impala are very much their own beast. Most importantly, though, they brings songs to the table – something that’s too often overlooked by acts in this particular niche of rock’n’roll, more concerned they are with sonic mayhem than actual substance. But armed with well-crafted, melodic and memorable songs, Tame Impala are the complete psych-rock package and even with just one album to their name, they set the standard.

And they put on a pretty terrific show, too. Their hour-fifteen long, encore-less set showcased their ability to marry hooks with grooves and jam without sounding jammy, always keeping focus and never losing the plot. A particular highlight was their cover of Massive Attack’s “Angel”, which introduced some darkness to their sound by maintaining the mystery and menace of the original. I’m also used to bands of their ilk performing in the dark and aloofly preferring to let their music speak for them and while they hardly busted out a light show, the oscilloscope on acid projected behind them offered some extra visual interest. The set was also punctuated with friendly banter, though it got a touch odd when they announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed (to confused applause) and dedicated buoyant instrumental “Jeremy’s Storm” to him, which they apologized for afterwards, lest anyone think it was in tribute. An odd and memorable moment in a show that was plenty memorable enough already.

Exclaim and NOW have reviews of the show and The Globe & Mail an interview with Tame Impala. The Boston Herald and have features on Yuck.

Photos: Tame Impala, Yuck @ The Phoenix – May 1, 2011
MP3: Tame Impala – “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds”
MP3: Yuck – “Get Away”
MP3: Yuck – “Georgia”
MP3: Yuck – “Automatic”
MP3: Yuck – “Daughter”
MP3: Yuck – “Coconut Bible”
Video: Tame Impala – “Expectation”
Video: Tame Impala – “Lucidity”
Video: Tame Impala – “Solitude Is Bliss”
Video: Yuck – “Get Away”
Video: Yuck – “Holing Out”

An Horse have just released their second album Walls and will be playing a free in-store at Criminal Records on May 15 at a time TBD in advance of their show at Mod Club the following evening opening up for Manchester Orchestra.

Video: An Horse – “Dressed Sharply”

Their commitments opening up for Foals completed as of this past weekend, Kiwis The Naked & Famous have set their own headlining date at Lee’s Palace for August 9, tickets $15 in advance. Blast has an interview with the band.

Video: The Naked & Famous – “Girls Like You”

Australia’s Sia and Denmark’s Oh Land are teaming up for a tour that brings them to The Phoenix on July 24, tickets $24.50 in advance. Sia’s latest We Are Born came out last year while Oh Land’s self-titled debut came out in March. The Los Angeles Times talks to Oh Land’s Nanna Øland Fabricius about her work.

Video: Sia – “Clap Your Hands”
Video: Oh Land – “Son Of A Gun”

Spin reports that Ida Maria is done with album number two and is even sharing a new tune from the record – look for Katla on June 7.

MP3: Ida Maria – “Cherry Red”

Italian radio show Maps has a downloadable radio session from Allo Darlin’, who will be at The El Mocambo on June 11.

MP3: Allo Darlin’ – “If Loneliness Was Art” (live on Maps)

Under The Radar is streaming the whole of the new Wild Beasts record Smother a week ahead of its May 10 release. Interview has an interview.

Stream: Wild Beasts / Smother

Mogwai talk to about their plans to release a new EP this Fall, tentatively titled Earth Division. The AV Club also has an interview with Stuart Braithwaite.

Rolling Stone declares Anna Calvi an artist to watch, and you can do just that as a recent show in Paris is available to watch in its entirety at ARTE. It should give you an idea of what you will see – and what I’ll be missing – when she’s at the El Mocambo on May 27.

Pitchfork talks to Stanley Donwood, the artist responsible for the artwork and packaging for Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs.

Aquarium Drunkard chats with Norman Blake of Jonny, who kick off their North American tour with two nights at The Drake Underground on June 3 and 4.

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Dragon Vs Dust

Review of The Megaphonic Thrift’s Decay Decoy

Photo By Magne SandnesMagne SandnesOriginality is an important trait, no question about that, but sometimes slavish imitation can be alright too, particularly when it explores a sound or style that’s not already been strip-mined to death and is done well. And so it is that Norway’s Megaphonic Thrift get a pass for their debut album Decay Decoy, released in Norway last Spring and due out in North America on March 8.

When I saw the band at SxSW 2010, their ’90s alt.guitar rock influences, in particular Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, were clearly audible even through the massive wall of sound and feedback. Despite the obviousness of what they did, I appreciated that they were able to effectively channel the melodicism of their forebears as well as their penchant for instrument abuse – often acts are so intent on the latter, they lose sight of the former.

If there’s any surprise about Decay Decoy, it’s how clean-sounding it is. Any shoegazing references that their live show might have encouraged must be put away when you hear just how much clarity and separation there is in the recording. Guitars still rage and shriek, but they don’t spill all over everything else and leave the bass, drums and vocals refreshingly unobscured. And with frontman Richard Mykleburst so high in the mix, one thing becomes very clear – this band loves Sonic Youth, specifically early DGC-era Sonic Youth, when they were at their poppiest. His voice is tighter and less drawl-y than Thurston Moore’s and bassist Linn Frokedal’s singing is far more polished than Kim Gordon’s ever was, but the dynamic between the two has more than a few echoes of alt.rock’s first couple – I’m guessing that’s not by accident. Nor did it just happen that “Candy Sin” sounds like a cover of “Silver Rocket” changed just enough to not involve the lawyers…

Understand that none of this is calling the band out or even criticizing them – they’re clearly comfortable broadcasting their influences and the thrill they’re getting out of making music like that which they love is obvious in the enthusiasm with which it’s done. Originality is good, but it really all comes down to the tunes and those, The Megaphonic Thrift have.

Subba-Cultcha has an interview with the band and Filter are sharing a track from the record.

MP3: The Megaphonic Thrift – “Candy Sin”
Video: The Megaphonic Thrift – “Acid Blues”

Rawkblog and QRO have interviews with The Radio Dept. while Oregon Music News at least tries to. The band are indeed returning for a show at The Horseshoe on May 29.

Radiohead have decided that working for the weekend isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and rather than release their new album The King Of Limbs tomorrow, as originally promised, they’ve turned on the download link for those who pre-ordered it as of right now. And they’ve released a new video. So those of you who were hoping to not have their Twitter/Facebook/RSS feeds turn into all Radiohead, all the time until tomorrow… sorry.

Video: Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”

eMusic has an interview with PJ Harvey, while The AV Club offers some suggestions on where to start for newcomers to her wildly varied career.

Ellie Goulding’s March 27 Canadian debut has been moved from The Great Hall to The Phoenix.

NPR talks to Adele, who follows the release of 21 next week with a show at The Kool Haus on May 18.

NME reports that The Horrors will be out with a new record in July of this year.

Sloucher talks to Esben & The Witch, who have a date at Wrongbar on March 11.

Spinner has an interview with Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite while Drowned In Sound has a couple pieces from Barry Burns. They have a date at The Phoenix on April 26.

Graham Coxon tells NME that while Blur are indeed playing together and recording stuff, fans shouldn’t expect anything to be released anytime soon.

Shugo Tokumaru’s Port Entropy – released this week and reviewed a few weeks ago – is now streaming in whole at Spinner.

Stream: Shugo Tokumaru / Port Entropy

Spin finds out where An Horse got their name. Their new record Walls is out April 26.

Friday, January 21st, 2011


Esben & The Witch descends on North America

Photo By Adam KolaAdam KolaSo when I saw Esben & The Witch at Lee’s Palace last Fall in support of Foals, I knew little about them beyond that they were from Brighton, that they commissioned a single decidedly creepy video and the that Matador Records would be putting out their debut album, which collectively was more than enough to get me to pay attention. Their set didn’t particularly showcase their songwriting skills, opting instead to spotlight their intensity and murkier, more primal tendencies, but it was compelling enough to get me to defer final judgement until I’d heard what they could do in a studio.

Happily, Violet Cries – out February 8 in North America – makes a good case for their ability to do more than just make a racket. Though they’re certainly capable of melodicism, pop songs are not necessarily their stock in trade – instead, the gothic, atmospheric tumult of their live show remains front and center but with much greater sonic clarity and emphasis on Rachel Davies’ dramatic vocals. It’s nothing like an immediate record and yet holds your attention and that’s about all you can ask.

The band has booked a Spring North American tour that will bring them back to Toronto during Canadian Musicfest and being added to a bill that already includes Anna Calvi and Memoryhouse… well, it looks like Wrongbar will be the place to be on the night of Friday, March 11.

The band have just released a second video from Violet Cries and yes, it too is creepy.

MP3: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Warpath”
Video: Esben & The Witch – “Marching Song”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Stornoway.

Clash and Spinner talk to former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, though if the BBC interview with bassist Mick Quinn is correct, that “former” qualifier won’t be in place for very long though he’ll have a solo record out soon, either way.

The List talks to Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. Their new record Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is out February 15 and they play The Phoenix on April 26.

Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch discusses his Celestial Cafe memoirs with Drowned In Sound while Matablog has announced the winner of the band’s Write About Love contest.

PJ Harvey talks Let England Shake with Drowned In Sound – the record is out February 15.

Clash has an interview with White Lies. They bring latest Ritual to the Mod Club on January 29.

Baeblemusic is streaming a live show from First Aid Kit while one of the covers they recorded for Jack White’s Third Man Records 7″ series is streaming now at NPR.

Rawkblog recounts a few choice reveals from a phone interview with The Radio Dept. Their Passive Agressive double-set is out next week and they’re at Lee’s Palace on February 7.

Australian duo An Horse will release their second album Walls in April – trade your email address for an MP3 at their website.

NPR has got a World Cafe session with Janelle Monáe available to stream. She’s playing The Indie Awards during Canadian Musicfest on March 12.

That Archers Of Loaf reunion show in North Carolina last weekend? There’s now more video and audio footage to enjoy.

Spin has got another new download from the new Buffalo Tom record Skins as well as a chat with Bill Janovitz and Chris Colbourn.

The last time Pixies were in town was for V Fest 2009 at The Molson Amphitheatre and it was notable for being their last non-Doolittle recital show until… who knows. Point being that the just-announced cross-Canada tour (with some US dates yes) which includes an April 18 stop at Massey Hall will be their Doolittle show… the appeal of which I’ve honestly never understood. In a regular set they play most of Doolittle anyways – after all, it’s not like they’ve been adding new material to their canon since getting back together in 2004. In any case, if you attend expect a completely polished, proficient and somewhat bloodless performance.

Video: Pixies – “Here Comes Your Man”

Portlanders YACHT have made a date at Lee’s Palace on May 2.

MP3: YACHT – “See A Penny (Pick It Up)”
MP3: YACHT – “So Post All ‘Em”

Nicole Atkins’ new record Mondo Amore is almost here – it’s out February 8 – and she’s turned to Kickstarter to help subsidize the upcoming tour, which includes a February 26 show at the Horseshoe. Those with deep pockets can get themselves some sweet-ass rewards, including living room shows, custom songs, haircuts and painted ukuleles. There’s also a video session with Nicole up to enjoy at Livestream.

Low will release their new record C’mon on April 12. Pitchfork has specifics.

Blurt talks to Decemberists bassist Nate Query. They’re at The Sound Academy on February 1.

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Gimme The Wire

Review of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ The Brutalist Bricks

Photo By Matias CorralMatias CorralIt gives me great comfort to live in a world where Ted Leo & The Pharmacists continue to put out records. When it comes to marrying punk fury with pop hooks and striking the right balance of lyrical cynicism and optimism, all served with a good dose of humour and via a relentless work ethic, there’s few better or more consistent. With the release of his newest record The Brutalist Bricks tomorrow, he cements that opinion even further into fact.

Like pretty much everything Leo has ever put out, Bricks is loud, punchy and pogo-friendly with a couple moments of acoustic thoughtfulness to punctuate proceedings, but within the frame of reference of his discography, it stands apart for a couple reasons. His last effort, 2007’s Living With The Living, was a sprawling effort both in length and stylistic forays and while you hate to suggest that ambition or experimentation are bad things, it didn’t have the impact or staying power as his prior works. And whether the follow-up is a reaction to that or not, Bricks is both tighter-sounding and more focused and possibly Leo’s most outright rocking effort since 2003’s Hearts Of Oak. It’s a comparison which makes it worth noting that Bricks is the first record to be recorded as a four-piece since Hearts, though once-and-again Pharmacist James Canty’s guitar is a decidedly more in-your-face presence on the new album than Dorien Garry’s keys ever were.

Stepping back to regain perspective, Bricks nestles quite comfortably alongside its fellows – if you were to randomly grab a Ted Leo record to spin and came up with this one, you wouldn’t be at all disappointed. It also won’t likely be anyone’s long-term go-to Pharmacists record – all in all, Hearts Of Oak and The Tyranny Of Distance remain his finest moments – but as a reminder that the world is a better place with Ted Leo in it and making music, it does quite nicely.

The Brutalist Bricks is streaming in its entirety over at Ted Leo’s MySpace and Spinner just posted an Interface video session with the band.

MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have To Die”
Stream: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / The Brutalist Bricks
MySpace: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

Annie Clark of St. Vincent tells Spinner about her contributions to Together, the new New Pornographers record, due out May 4.

Eater talks about the joys of being full of stomach with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

Headlights have released a new video from Wilderness

Video: Headlights – “Secrets”

Black Book talks to Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward of She & Him, who will release Volume 2 on March 23.

The Independent profiles Joanna Newsom, in town at the Phoenix this coming Saturday night, March 13.

Spinner talks to Ume about gearing up for this year’s SxSW.

If you, like me, are going to miss all three of Dan Mangan’s upcoming shows at Canadian Musicfest this week – Thursday night at The Great Hall, Friday night at The Courthouse and Saturday’s in-store at Criminal Records – take heart: he’s already scheduled a return engagement for April 22 at the Horseshoe, tickets $12.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”

Aussies An Horse are looking to make my first post of the year even more correct, having scheduled another Toronto show for April 26 at The Garrison. They’ll release Beds Rearranged, a remix EP of last year’s Rearrange Beds, on March 23.

MP3: An Horse – “Postcards”

Caribou have announced a massive world tour to go along with the April 20 release of Swim. Toronto can catch them on May 3 at The Phoenix.

Video: Caribou – “Odessa”

Vancouver disco duo Fan Death will bring their debut EP A Coin For The Well to Wrongbar on May 21.

MP3: Fan Death – “Cannibal”

PopMatters pays tribute to the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse while Blurt reprints an interview with him regarding the Dark Night Of The Soul project, which will finally see an official release this Summer. Hopefully the almost-completed last Sparklehorse record will eventually see the light of day as well. So immensely saddened by Linkous’ untimely passing.

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Gold Rush

Review of Basia Bulat’s Heart Of My Own and giveaway

Photo By Jenna WakaniJenna WakaniSince first seeing her in a little basement pub at Pop Montreal 2006, it’s been a real treat watching Basia Bulat’s career blossom. 2007 saw her gig relentlessly – I saw her a half-dozen times and wasn’t even really trying – and release her debut Oh, My Darling to much acclaim both at home and abroad and earn a place both in my favourites of the year and the almost-as-prestigious 2008 Polaris Music Prize shortlist. As debuts go, it yielded a pretty good narrative and so it’s not surprising that the follow-up, Heart Of My Own, takes what worked best and builds on that.

Whereas Darling has it’s share of bigger, more orchestrated numbers, it was evident that the songs had started out more homespun, and a few of them simply grew into something more grandiose. it’s notable that rollicking single “In The Night” didn’t appear on the initial European tracklisting but would be regularly held up as a high point in reviews of the North American edition. Heart follows that trajectory, clearly benefiting from the constant touring as a full band, with all the instruments, voices and ideas that came with it.

Utilizing many of the same players and again recorded under producer Howard Billerman’s auspices, Heart maintains the sweetness of Darling, but delivers it with considerably more sophistication, exuberance and sass. The rhythms, arrangements and textures at play are all considerably more complex without sacrificing any of the simplicity that’s at the heart of Bulat’s appeal. That sense of growth also applies lyrically – where Darling‘s protagonist was very much the ingenue, Heart finds her older and wiser; not necessarily more cynical, but certainly more experienced. Oh, My Darling was the first, impressive step from an artist with a clear vision of the sort of folk-pop she wanted to create; Heart Of My Own offers no creative left turns, just a determined, confident stride forward. It’s simply what comes next.

Bulat talks to Spinner about finding inspiration in the Canadian north and gives an in-studio interview and performance for The National Post.

Heart Of My Own is out on January 26 and Basia Bulat has a show at Trinity-St. Paul’s this Saturday night, January 16. Tickets are $20 in advance but courtesy of Secret City, I have a pair of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Basia Bulat” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, January 13.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Go On”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
MySpace: Basia Bulat

Suitcase Orchestra and Chart talk to Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon. Die Stadt Muzikanten is out tomorrow and they play the Drake Underground on February 11.

Great Lake Swimmers are keeping a tour blog of their ongoing trip to China at Spinner. They play Trinity-St. Paul’s on February 6.

Beatroute chats with An Horse. They play an in-store at Criminal Records on January 20 at 6PM.

Sadly, the Charlotte Gainsbourg show at the Phoenix January 26 announced just last week has been cancelled. No reason has been given and other dates on her North American tour still appear to be a go, so one can only surmise that there’s a conflict with something else, or she has a hate-on for Toronto. Her new record IRM is still out that day and The Guardian has an interview.

The Mountain Goats are featured in PitchforkTV’s “Cemetery Gates” video session this week.

Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs talks to Variety about her soundtrack work on Where The Wild Things Are.

Shout Out Louds singer Adam Olenius discusses their new album Work, out February 23, with Spinner.

Bjork’s recent concert film Voltaic, documenting shows in Paris and Reykjavik, will be getting a theatrical screening in Toronto on January 22 at the Acacia Centre, formerly the Golden Classics Cinema in Chinatown. Tickets are $10 in advance at Soundscapes, Queen Video and online.