Posts Tagged ‘Art Brut’

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Freedom Of Choice

Are we not men? We are the NXNE 2011 lineup

Photo via WBWarner Bros.Or at least we are the first batch of acts officially announced on Tuesday for this year’s NXNE festival, running June 16 through 19 around Toronto. It’s certainly not all of them, but there’s some moderate to big names in there and perhaps most key, the headliners for the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square that have become the centrepiece of the fest have been revealed.

While there’s no one quite of the stature of last year’s Saturday night marquee of Iggy & The Stooges, New Wave legends Devo have certainly got the pedigree to act as a worthy centrepiece for this year’s event. They and their energy domes and jumpsuits will be headlining the YDS Stage on the Saturday night, closing off what will likely be a full day’s slate of acts. They were here in Fall 2009 offering full-album performances of Q: Are We Not Men and Freedom Of Choice, but have since released their first new album in forever with last year’s Something For Everybody. Which, I’m sure, the masses will want to hear lots of material from at this show. Mm hmm.

And while there’s enough tapped for the free stage that you could have a fine weekend just camped out in front of the Eaton Centre, NXNE is still a club-level fest and there’ll be hundreds more artists from near and far vying for your attention. The schedule won’t be out for a while yet but I’ve managed to cobble together a very early list of who will be playing where and when – obviously all subject to change – and while some of this was previously announced, a lot of it is new:

Thursday, June 16, 2011
The Descendents, OFF!, Rusty, Metz @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield, The Luyas @ Lee’s Palace
Snowblink, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns @ The Music Gallery
The Dodos, Deerhoof, Gauntlet Hair @ The Phoenix
Ty Segall, The Dig @ The Garrison
Woodsman @ The El Mocambo

Friday, June 17, 2011
Stars, Land Of Talk, Diamond Rings @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Suuns, No Joy, PS I Love You @ The Horseshoe
Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, The Flatliners @ The Phoenix
Art Brut @ The Mod Club
Braids @ The Garrison
Dum Dum Girls, Cults, Superhumanoids, Writer @ Lee’s Palace
Ty Segall, Julianna Barwick, Daniel Pujol, Secret Cities @ Wrongbar

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Devo, Men Without Hats, Cults, Writer @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Twin Shadow, Wild Nothing @ Lee’s Palace
Foster The People @ The Mod Club
Hot Water Music, A Wilhelm Scream, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, Sharks @ The Opera House
Talk Normal, Prince Rama, AIDS Wolf, Grimes, Doldrums @ 918 Bathurst
Chad Van Gaalen, Braids, Jennifer Castle, Duzheknew, Grimes @ The Great Hall
The Balconies @ Sneaky Dee’s

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Wild Nothing @ The Garrison
The Pharcyde, Digable Planets @ Yonge-Dundas Square

And some of the acts who don’t have any more specific information available besides “they’ll be there” are Crocodiles and Lower Dens. Yeah, I think I can find enough to occupy myself for four evenings or so.

MP3: Art Brut – “Lost Weekend”
MP3: Julianna Barwick – “The Magic Place”
MP3: Braids – “Lemonade”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Neverride”
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Deerhoof – “The Merry Barracks”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
MP3: The Dodos – “Don’t Stop”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
MP3: Grimes – “Vanessa”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”
MP3: The Luyas – “Tiny Head”
MP3: No Joy – “Hawaii”
MP3: OFF! – “I Don’t Belong”
MP3: Prince Rama – “Lightening Fossil”
MP3: PS I Love You (featuring Diamond Rings) – “Leftovers”
MP3: Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”
MP3: Talk Normal – “In A Strangeland”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Sara”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Castles In The Snow”
MP3: Woodsman – “Insects”
Video: Devo – “What We Do”
Video: The Descendents – “I’m The One”
Video: Digable Planets – “Rebirth Of Slick”
Video: Men Without Hats – “Safety Dance”
Video: The Pharcyde – “Drop”

If you prefer your festivals a little more rustically-set, Exclaim has the lineup announcement for this year’s Hillside Festival, happening in Guelph from July 22 to 24. The roster reads like a who’s who of up-and-coming Canadian talent, including The Rural Alberta Advantage, Dan Mangan, Karkwa, Little Scream and really too many more to list. Tickets go on sale May 7 at 10AM at $110 for a weekend pass and these sell out quickly every year so don’t dither too long if at all.

And while talking Canadian fests, it’s worth noting that Montreal’s Osheaga added a bunch more acts including Janelle Monae and Broken Social Scene among them, and broken things down day by day.

In other live music news, Steve Earle will be at the HMV at 333 Yonge for a signing and in-store on April 28 at 6PM – you’ll just have to buy a copy of I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive when it comes out next Tuesday for tickets. Or wait for his show opening up for Blue Rodeo at the Amphitheatre on August 20.

San Diego’s The Donkeys are in town at a venue to be determined Sneaky Dee’s on May 21 in support of their new record Born With Stripes, out on Tuesday.

MP3: The Donkeys – “Don’t Know Who We Are”

The Baseball Project – aka Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck and Linda Pitmon celebrating America’s pastime in song – will bring their second album Volume 2: High & Inside to Lee’s Palace on June 1. And yeah, the Jays are at home that evening against Cleveland. Oregon Live has a feature on the band.

MP3: The Baseball Project – “1976”

Louisiana’s Givers, just here supporting Wye Oak a couple weeks ago, will return for their own show at The Garrison on June 21. Their album In Light is out June 7.

MP3: Givers – “Up Up Up”

With their new record D due out May 24, White Denim have announced a date at The El Mocambo for June 28.

MP3: White Denim – “Anvil Everything”

Antony & The Johnsons have released a new video from last year’s Swanlights

Video: Antony & The Johnsons – “Swanlights”

Spinner reports that one of The National’s next projects will be curating a Grateful Dead tribute album for charity. I can only hope that everyone involved covers “Touch Of Grey” because that’s about the only Dead song I know.

Exclaim talks to Explosions In The Sky guitarist Munaf Rayani about their new record Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, out on Tuesday.

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James goes over some of his influences for Spin. Their new record Circuital comes out May 31 and they play The Kool Haus on July 11.

Titus Andronicus discusses his love of Fucked Up and plans for following up The Monitor with Spinner.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Iron & Wine while The Washington Post and Boston Herald have interviews with Sam Beam.

Spectrum Culture and Spin interview Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 27.

Bon Iver has declared their intention to make the Summer solstice a little more wintry by releasing their new self-titled album on June 21. Details at Pitchfork.

And finally, sympathies to family, friends and fans of TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith, who lost his battle with lung cancer yesterday morning. Fuck you, cancer. Just fuck you.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

With Love

Review of Elbow’s build a rocket boys!

Photo via overarching storyline to Elbow’s career can generally be summed up as, “slow and steady wins the race”, with the race in question perhaps referring to the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, which they were nominated for in 2001 for their debut Asleep in The Back and finally won in 2008 for album number four, The Seldom Seen Kid. The adage could also apply to my own relationship with the band, which started with indifference to Asleep, complete ignorance to 2003’s Cast Of Thousands (though better late than never), respect with their third record Leaders Of The Free World (thankfully in time to see them live) and, in line with the Mercury jurors, something akin to love for The Seldom Seen Kid.

All of which is to say that the Mancunians’ fifth album build a rocket boys! was the first of theirs that I had been awaiting with hand-rubbing glee and though it’s not quite what I had expected, it hasn’t disappointed one bit. To the point of it not being what I was expecting, it’s hard to articulate what I mean by that as I don’t really know what I was expecting. Another record with the grandeur of Kid was unlikely, but the overt leanness of rocket was still surprising. From start almost to finish, it keeps things low and tight, the songs often built around a single unwavering chord or bass note like a pulse that must be kept strong and steady. The drama that Elbow excel at still manifests itself in swells and blooms throughout, but it’s not until the final tracks “Open Arms” and “Dear Friends” that it feels like the record is allowed to really exhale.

But despite the way things are constructed, tension is the last feeling that rocket evokes. Instead, it’s an almost preternaturally calm record – lead single “Neat Little Rows” is the only tune that you could consider a rocker – infused with a grace and sentimentality that’s distinctly Elbow. With orchestral and choral accents, it’s a recipe that from other bands’ kitchens might end up overly sappy but in Elbow’s masterful hands and delivered through Guy Garvey’s rough and yearning vocals, it deftly sidesteps melodrama pitfalls and is never anything less than gorgeous. For bystanders, the band’s Mercury win may have represented the culmination of a long career but clearly, for the band, it was just an affirmation that they were on the right track and people (like myself) were coming around. But they’re not done yet, not even close.

Though released in the UK and Canada since last month, build a rocket boys! gets a physical US release this week. The band plays its first North American show since Summer 2009 at Coachella and all indications are that a proper tour will follow later this year. Paste has an interview with Guy Garvey and the band have just released a video for the new record’s second single.

Video: Elbow – “Open Arms”
Video: Elbow – “Neat Little Rows”

Also making a return to America at Coachella – though a much longer hiatus – is Suede. The extensive reissue program for their back catalog which starts at the end of May in the UK and runs through the end of June will apparently also be happening in the US, though firm release dates haven’t been announced. Here’s hoping that it also includes more North American dates – even if they are with Fat Richard and not Bernard. Filter is marking the band’s return with a series of features all week including a history of and an interview with former Suede guitarist and Elastica leader Justine Frischmann. More will follow this week, and here’s one of the remastered tracks from last year’s The Best Of compilation.

MP3: Suede – “The Beautiful Ones”

NME reports that Bloc Party, their post-Intimacy hiatus apparently now at an end, will reconvene to work on a new record in September.

Pitchfork solicits a guest list from Ian Parton of The Go! Team while frontwoman Ninja has a quick chat with

Daytrotter serves up a session with Yuck, who also have a TunnelVision clip up at Pitchfork. They will be at The Phoenix on May 1.

The release of Patrick Wolf’s new album Lupercalia has been pushed back a couple of weeks from May 31 to June 20 worldwide, with a North American release date to be announced. DIY has the official statement from Wolf on the delay and an interview that talks about other things (almost certainly conducted before the delay was announced).

Spinner seems to have dug up an old interview with Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion, as it talks about last year’s Bye Bye EP and makes no mention of the fact that Hynes has shelved his Lightspeed Champion persona in favour of the funkier Blood Orange. That project’s debut release – the “Dinner”/”Bad Girls” 7″ – will be out on April 26 with a full-length to follow later this year.

Originally slated to come out in March, NME reports that Emmy The Great’s second album Virtue will now be out on June 13.

Noah & The Whale have put out a new video from Last Night On Earth.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “Tonight’s The Kind Of Night”

Interview speaks to Anna Calvi about the arm injury that forced the rescheduling of her North American debut dates. She will now be at The El Mocambo on May 27 and I hope that her inclusion on the just-released Osheaga lineup means there’ll be a return engagement come late July/early August.

Another day, another PJ Harvey video from Let England Shake.

Video: PJ Harvey – “On Battleship Hill”

The Fly reports that Johnny Marr has left The Cribs to devote more time to his solo project with The Healers and not reforming The Smiths. The Cribs have released a statement about the amicable parting of ways.

The latest Brit buzz band Brother will be at The Horseshoe on May 3 for a free show. The Slough Observer has an interview with their native sons; Live 4 Ever also has a chat.

Video: Brother – “Still Here”

Art Brut will bring their new record Brilliant! Tragic! to The Mod Club on June 17 as part of NXNE. The record is out May 23 and a second track from the album is available to download at Pledge Music.

MP3: Art Brut – “Lost Weekend”

Gomez will follow up the June 6 release of Whatever’s On Your Mind with a date at The Phoenix on July 17; tickets $26 in advance.

Though Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfiend has done quite well for himself solo, he and his band have reconvened for a new record in Walk The River and it is streaming in whole right now at Hype Machine in advance of its release next week. The Independent has a feature piece.

Stream: Guillemots / Walk The River

Wild Beasts have released a video from their new record Smother, due out May 10.

Video: Wild Beasts – “Albatross”

Interview does its thing with James Allan of Glasvegas. Euphoric Heartbreak is out today.

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sun and Montreal Gazette chat with Two Door Cinema Club.

Monday, March 7th, 2011


Review of Anna Calvi’s Anna Calvi

Photo By Emma NathanEmma NathanThis week marks the beginning of the annual cross-continental live music bacchanal that I like to call CMWCMFSxSW (pronounced the way it’s spelled), and while I still fully expect to have a grand time of it, there’s been a bit of a pall cast now that one of the artists whom I’d been most excited to see at both festivals – London’s Anna Calvi – has pulled out of her entire North American tour, including fest appearances, because of an injury to her arm/hand/wrist.

Obviously the timing couldn’t be worse as she had a full slate of shows scheduled in Austin to showcase her just-released self-titled debut, but luckily for her the record doesn’t necessarily need to be seen live to be appreciated – just heard. It’s an unapologetically lush and wholly enveloping album, candlelit and thick with smoke and perfume and evocative of opera, theatre and cabaret influences but cast in a pop setting. And at the centre of the swirl of sounds and signifiers is Calvi, her guitar and her voice – and it’s hard to know which of her two instruments to be more impressed with.

Opening instrumental “Rider To The Sea” is a jaw-dropping declaration of intent, her distinctive flamenco-ish circular picking technique sounding more like an orchestra than two hands and a Telecaster and making you think that if this were just an instrumental album it’d still be impossible to turn away. But then when she steps up the mic on “No More Words”, everything else falls away as you lean in to better hear her breathy, alluring delivery. Oh yes, it’s going to be that kind of record. Or so you think, until “Desire” hits and the smouldering voice transforms into a conflagration.

This is the sort of dynamic that plays out over the course of Anna Calvi while exploring themes of seduction, love and lust, all punctuated with jaw-dropping guitar breaks. Some may find fault in its aesthetic and call the delivery over the top, but such is the world that Calvi’s music inhabits – all gestures are flourishes, all statements grand declarations of import. Seriously, if anyone objects to the amount of romanticism that positively saturates Anna Calvi, there is a very good chance that they are dead inside. My disappointment in not getting to see her live over the next two weeks is only tempered by the fact that when she finally does make it over here, I’ll had had that much more time to become more obsessed with this album.

Spinner, Artrocker, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have profiles on Calvi.

“Jezebel” was an Edith Piaf cover released as a teaser for the album, but does not appear on it. It was actually the first I heard from Calvi and honestly, didn’t do much for me – which made the album itself all that much more of a revelation.

MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
MP3: Anna Calvi – “Jezebel”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Jezebel” (live)

Adele talks about the creative power of heartbreak with She plays The Kool Haus on May 18.

Spinner talk to Noah & The Whale, whose new record Last Night On Earth comes out next Tuesday. They play The Mod Club on March 24.

In Scottish Waters is a short documentary that follows British Sea Power to Scotland’s remote Isle of Eigg for a performance showcasing their new record Valhalla Dancehall. They’ll be trekking to Toronto’s remote Lee’s Palace for the same purpose on March 24.

Video: British Sea Power: In Scottish Waters

Pitchfork reports that Art Brut will release their new record Brilliant… Tragic! on May 23.

Also readying a new record but not offering up anything in the way of a title or release date are Arctic Monkeys. What they are offering, however, is a video for the first single. Update: And a North American tour – May 21 at the Kool Haus in Toronto.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “Brick By Brick”

The Manchester Evening News, The Skinny and The Guardian have features on Elbow on the occasion of the release of build a rocket boys! this week.

BBC and The Independent talk to Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood on the band’s current projects and soundtracking the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

Spinner discovers that Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye owns a house in Toronto. And other stuff. Update: Beady Eye are at The Sound Academy on June 20.

Drowned In Sound talks to Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

Burgess is one of many, along with frontman Ian Brown and producer John Leckie, who contribute thoughts and reminiscences to Clash‘s special feature marking the 20th anniversary of The Stone Roses’ debut album.

The Raveonettes have also paid tribute to The Stone Roses by way of a cover of “I Wanna Be Adored”, for which they’ve put out a video. They’ve also released the first clip from their new record Raven In The Grave, out March 22. They play The Phoenix on April 2.

Video: The Raveonettes – “I Wanna Be Adored”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Recharge & Revolt”

Junip have put out a new video from Fields to go with their just-announced Spring tour, which starts April 20 at Lee’s Palace.

Video: Junip – “In Every Direction”

Lykke Li offers Black Book a list of her favourite “shameless pop songs” and a proper interview to The Guardian. She is at The Phoenix on May 22.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

No Brakes

Little Boots and Yes Giantess at Wrongbar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt could be inferred from last week’s review of Little Boots’ debut Hands that I felt that she’d failed to deliver on the immense expectations foisted on her at the start of the year, what with everyone in the media ready to crown Ms Victoria Hesketh the queen of pop for 2009 and so her failure to utterly dominate every aspect of the music industry could only be viewed as a disappointment. This is, in fact, not necessarily my view – I think Hands is a tremendously fun and catchy record. I was just interpreting the general tenor of the press, which had been ready to attend her coronation just months ago.

Well it may have come a little later than expected but Monday night’s show at Wrongbar in Toronto – the first of her North American tour – could well have been mistaken for one. You’d have had trouble finding anyone in the packed, sweaty club who wasn’t ready to declare the pint-sized electro-pop artist the greatest thing to happen to music since the invention of the Victrola. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement but people were indeed excited and anxious. And as the wait dragged on, restless and bored.

Openers Yes Giantess from Boston had done a decent job of warming things up. Collegiate-looking and casually dressed in t-shirts and plaid shirts, the quartet looked like they should be strapping on guitars and playing disaffected garage rock but instead, they were three keyboards and a drummer and turned out punchy, catchy synth-pop that offered more enthusiasm than sophistication but was enjoyable nonetheless. Over the course of their short set – barely a half hour if even that – the club had begun to fill in nicely and as they loaded out, the room began to pack in.

Exactly why it took an hour to set up the stage for a three-piece band, two-thirds of which were synths, is unclear, but as the clock ticked past 11:30 – half an hour past the scheduled start time – the anxiousness was palpable. Surely it wasn’t some ploy to build more anticipation? Does that actually work? Apparently it does. When her band finally took their places and they opened up with “Meddle”, the place went nuts, and didn’t stop for pretty much the duration of her set. Unsurprisingly, she stayed away from the slower numbers from Hands and stuck to the big, anthemic dancefloor bangers and while that made for a shorter set than you may have wanted for the price of admission, there was no skimping on the energy of the show.

Hesketh was pretty much always in motion, dancing and working both sides of the room when not tending to her keyboard, theremin and tambourine. Her signature Tenori-On and Stylophone were also on hand but as with the two previous times I’d seen her play, exactly what they did remained a mystery. She complained that the Tenori-On wasn’t working before the start of main set closer “Remedy” but they went on to play it exactly as I’d have expected it to sound if it was all systems go. Following a short break, they returned for their cover of Freddie Mercury and Giorgio Moroder’s “Love Kills” before going into an extended “Stuck On Repeat” which was as close to a jam as a largely synthesized and sequenced band could get. The only disappointment on the night was “Symmetry”, in which the absence of duet partner Philip Oakey was keenly felt. Both Hesketh’s drummer and keyboardist were mic-ed and tried to cover the boy parts, but were too low in the mix and un-Oakey-ish to properly compensate. But that’s a minor complaint, and was to be expected.

As they proved at SxSW, Little Boots sets a fine example for electro-pop acts hoping to succeed in the live setting – bring a live drummer, a willingness to keep the energy levels dimed for the duration of the show and oh yeah, have some terrific tunes. Worth the wait, and if the reception at the other stops on the tour come close to the one she got in Toronto, critics may want to reconsider writing Little Boots off.

Chartrigger, Time Out Chicago and Time Out Dubai have interviews with Hesketh.

Photos: Little Boots, Yes Giantess @ Wrongbar – September 14, 2009
MP3: Little Boots – “Love Kills” (Buffetlibre vs Sidechains remix)
MP3: Little Boots – “Meddle” (remix)
MP3: Little Boots – “Earthquake” (Yes Giantess remix)
MP3: Yes Giantess – “You Were Young”
Video: Little Boots – “Remedy”
Video: Little Boots – “New In Town”
MySpace: Little Boots
MySpace: Yes Giantess

The Star Observer talks to Elly Jackson of La Roux.

Check out the new video from Glasvegas, who are not making a stop in Toronto on this current Fall tour even though they totally could. There’s an interview with drummer Caroline McKay at JAM.

Video: Glasvegas – “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry”

PitchforkTV visits DC Comics HQ with Eddie Argos of Art Brut.

The Globe & Mail talks to Nick Cave about his new novel The Death Of Bunny Munro. He’s at the Indigo in the Eaton Centre this evening for a Q&A and reading.

The Grates discus their new record Teeth Lost, Hearts Won – now out in North America – with Blurt.

Paste asks Karen O about her work on the soundtrack for Where The Wild Things Are, the new trailer for which was released this week. The movie is out October 16.

Trailer: Where The Wild Things Are

The Chicago Sun-Times chats with Ida Maria, who apparently had a breakdown of some kind in Boston the other night… here’s hoping she gets it together in time for tomorrow night’s show at the Opera House. Co-headlining that show is Ladyhawke, who is the subject of features at Flavorwire and The Independent. There’s also a remix contest going on over at Filter, where you can have your way with “My Delirium”

Check out the title track from Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s forthcoming album Know Better Learn Faster, and note that pre-orders of the album – out October 13 – will come with a ticket to a show on their upcoming tour including the November 1 date at the El Mocambo in Toronto.

MP3: Thao With The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”

The Daredevil Christopher Wright, whom you may recall from this post, will return for a show at the Free Times Cafe on October 7.

MP3: The Daredevil Christopher Wright – “The East Coast”

Vampire Weekend – who just announced details of their second album Contra, due out January 12 of next year – will preview the new record with a pair of Canadian dates including an October 8 date at the Horseshoe. Word is tickets go on sale tomorrow morning via Ticketmaster only.

MP3: Vampire Weekend – “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”

Also pending further details is Fucked Up’s fourth annual Fucked Up Fest, happening over Hallowe’en weekend – information on participants and dates at Exclaim.

Florence & The Machine will make their Toronto debut on November 2 at the Mod Club, thus scuppering my plans of seeing Monsters Of Folk make their Toronto debut at Massey Hall that same night. Tough call, but I think I have to go with Flo. And M Ward wouldn’t let me take pictures anyways. Tickets $15.

MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”

The Rural Alberta Advantage have set a date for Lee’s Palace on November 4, tickets $15. Lee’s! They grow up so fast!

Apostle Of Hustle will also be doing a hometown show at Lee’s – look for them on November 19.

MP3: Apostle Of Hustle – “Perfect Fit”

And here’s an interesting/exciting announcement – DEVO is coming to town for the first time in a quarter-century. They’ll be at the Phoenix on November 23 and 24, playing Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! and Freedom Of Choice in their entirety, respectively. And there’s no reason to believe the energy domes will not be along for the ride. Tickets will be $48.25 with premium tickets including a meet and greet with the band available for $99.75. Either price tier will get you a bundle of demo MP3s to download. Those will go on sale on September 18.

Video: DEVO – “Whip It!”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros will be at the El Mocambo on November 24, tickets $12.50. There’s a session with the band at Daytrotter and a Q&A at Denver Westword.

MP3: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “40 Day Dream”

Their last gig at the Phoenix being such a triumph, Phoenix will return for a show at the Sound Academy on December 5 and to make sure things go just as well as they did that show, they’re even bringing Amazing Baby back to open. Tickets for that are $28.

MP3: Amazing Baby – “Bayonets”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Golden Phone

Micachu & The Shapes at the El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTo this point, whenever I’ve mentioned London’s Micachu, I’ve been sure to mention my ambivalence towards their debut album Jewellery and my inability to discern if it’s great or, well, not so great. But I think the fact that I keep going back to it rather than just discard it and move onto any of the countless other records within arm’s reach says a lot about what my gut says, as does the fact that this past Tuesday night, an evening with no shortage of entertainment options that were pretty much guaranteed to be great, I opted to head to the El Mocambo to see Micachu & The Shapes make their Toronto debut – a decidedly less safe bet, but one that could potentially pay off immensely.

For reasons unknown, opener Anni Rossi dropped off the bill at the last minute – I’d seen her just a few weeks prior so I wasn’t too disappointed – and a local act by name of Animal Monster was tagged to open. And if it were the sort of show where people might have been inclined to dance, then he and his setup of sequencers and samplers might have fit, but with people seated comfortably at tables, his repetitive dance beats with keyboard melodies overtop were just monotonous. At first, some heads were bobbing but before long, they were just hanging in resignation.

Things perked up once Animal Monster shuffled off, with the respectably-sized crowd gathering at the front of the stage to examine Micachu’s unusual stage setup – after all, its not often you see upturned wine bottles mounted on cymbal stands or empty paint cans as part of a percussion kit, and that doesn’t even include the homemade instruments that they kept with them backstage. So given the kitchen sink clatter aesthetic of the record and the similarly random nature of the band’s gear, it would have been understandable to assume that Micachu’s show would be more about making a gleeful cacophony than anything else, and while their performance was indeed gleeful, it was far from chaotic.

Actually what was most impressive about their show – and pretty much all of it was enjoyable and impressive – was how precise and meticulous they were about crafting what, on the surface, seemed to be so random. They were like a musical junk shop transformed into an elaborate sonic Rube Goldberg contraption, the payoff being completely left-field compositions that were still undeniably pop. Mica Levy and her bandmates, in matching white t-shirts, had their hands full recreating much of the fuzzy textures, details and cul de sacs of the recorded versions – far more than I’d expected – and seemed to be having a great time, appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd, when they weren’t utterly intent on the work at hand. With only one record’s worth of material to draw from, the show was understandably short, clocking in at well under an hour, but they did deliver everything they had and that was plenty. No more hedging. Micachu is great.

eye was also at the show, was also impressed.

Photos: Micachu & The Shapes @ The El Mocambo – July 14, 2009
MP3: Micachu – “Lips”
Video: Micachu – “Golden Phone”
Video: Micachu – “Lips”
MySpace: Micachu

Micachu has also teamed up with Alessi’s Ark, Sinead O’Connor and Roisin Murphy and Chaka Khan’s to cover Khan’s “I Am Every Woman” in support of ActionAid UK’s 6 Degrees project for womens rights. There’s also a remix of the track by Ladytron, a free Bat For Lashes live MP3 if you invite some friends to the site and a video of Micachu performing “Waste” at the Six Degrees launch party at the ICA in London. Go, download, listen, read and spread the word.

MP3: 6 Degrees – “I’m Every Woman” (Ladytron remix)
Video: Micachu – “Waste” (live at the ICA)

Filter tracks the working relationship of PJ Harvey and John Parish through the years, up to this year’s A Woman A Man Walked By.

Art Brut’s Eddie Argos declares his love of the Scott Pilgrim comics at Playback:StL – imagine how excited he’ll be when he learns that the Lee’s Palace stage they’ll be playing on August 12 just recently hosted the filming of the Clash At Demonhead scene for the Scott Pilgrim movie!

Two Hours Traffic have released the title track from their next album Territory, out September 8, as a free download.

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Territory”

Part four of the Reverie Sound Revue blog tour is now up at The Tape Is Not Sticky, featuring “You Don’t Exist If I Don’t See You” from their self-titled debut.

Spinner has published the second part of their feature series on the past, present and future of Canadian independent music – this chapter focuses on the world of Broken Social Scene.

Thanks to Slowcoustic for pointing out this Camera Music video featuring The Rural Alberta Advantage performing in a bus shelter on Queen St and the Drake Hotel’s patio. New video blog Morning Noon Night also digs up some live footage of the band in a basement at a Canadian Musicfest after-party back in March, and also check out their primo placement in the trailer for the new Alicia Silverstone/Alanis Morissette comedy – man, that film is going to be so quirky! There’s also an interview with the band at the Omaha World-Herald – their next local gig is at the Horseshoe on July 30 and then they’ll be at V Fest on August 29.

And tangentially, eye talks to the folks at, who are responsible for hosting the above video series and a wealth of other terrific Canadian music video (but not “music video”) content.

Two more acts playing V Fest – Scandinavians both – have just released new MP3s. Denmark’s Mew have a new one from No More Stories, out August 25, via NME and Norway’s Datarock are sharing a track from their new one Red through Spinner.

MP3: Mew – “Introducing Palace Players”
MP3: Datarock – “True Stories”

Flavorwire checks in with The Raveonettes, who are working on their new record In and Out of Control in hopes of an October release.

NPR has a studio session with Loney Dear – they’re at the Horseshoe on October 13.

And also on that bill is Anna Ternheim, who has released a first MP3 from her new album Leaving On A Mayday, out August 11. Also check out the video of an acoustic performance of the same song.

MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done” (acoustic)

Interview talks to Phoenix.