Posts Tagged ‘Attack In Black’

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Ratify The New

Review of The Hidden Cameras’ Origin: Orphan and giveaway

Photo By Norman WongNorman WongEven though he coined it himself, I often wonder if Joel Gibb regrets encouraging the use of “gay church folk music” as a description for the music of The Hidden Cameras. Certainly they got a lot of mileage out of it in the band’s earlier days, as it was both attention grabbing and accurate, but now, four albums in, it probably deserves to be retired.

It’s not that it’s no longer descriptive – Gibb is still gay (one assumes), it’s still music and it’s still built on foundations of folk and church traditions – but it doesn’t give them due credit for evolving from record to record and shedding some of the Cameras’ more titillating/explicit facets in exchange for more musical and lyrical sophistication. Case in point, their latest album Origin: Orphan. It remains unmistakeably a Hidden Cameras record – Joel Gibb’s muse is simply too distinctive for it to be anything else – but there’s a clear effort to broaden the definition of exactly what a Hidden Cameras record is. I’ve always found past albums to feel a bit static, so the ranginess Origin: Orphan is a real eye-opener.

There’s also a heaviness to the record that’s new, and maybe it’s just the excitement of being surprised by a Hidden Cameras album, but I think they wear it well. While the signature whimsy remains, it’s accented by sounds and textures that give them a real weight – the shrieking outro of “Do I Belong?”, the insistent descending riff of the title track, and the glorious foreboding of orchestral centerpiece “Walk On” – and end up the most memorable moments. And it’s the contrast of those dark pieces that give the brighter pop numbers even more jump, like the giddy almost-closing pairing of “Underage” and “The Little Bit” which sound as buoyant as anything they’ve ever recorded. Having reached a point in their existence where they seemed to be faced with the choice of sticking to the tried and true and becoming predictable or trying something new and risking not playing to their strengths, The Hidden Cameras have somehow managed to not only do both, but turn in maybe their best record yet in the process.

The Hidden Cameras are currently in the midst of an extensive North American tour with Gentleman Reg that will wrap with a homecoming show at the Opera House in Toronto on December 5. Tickets for the show 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 see The Hidden Cameras” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me before midnight, November 25.

Gibb talks to Spinner about how a trip to Berlin inspired the direction of the new album.

MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “Walk On”
Video: The Hidden Cameras – “In The NA”
MySpace: The Hidden Cameras

The Magnetic Fields will take the theme of their next album Realism to heart by playing songs from it in the flesh on a North American tour that kicks off shortly after the album’s January 26, 2010 release date. That includes a February 8 date at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Toronto, their first visit since a two-night stand at Trinity-St. Paul’s in July 2004. Tickets are $30.50 plus fees, onsale this Saturday though a presale started yesterday – I got second row centre tickets, so they had good ones blocked off.

Beach House have released the first MP3 from their third album Teen Dream, due out January 26. I kinda think I like this song better than anything they’ve done yet.

MP3: Beach House – “Norway”

Ever wish you could make your birthday last forever? Constantines do – their tenth anniversary celebrations have extended from a two-night stand at Lee’s Palace to a three night engagement, the third night taking place a full week after the second. So that’s December 11, 12 and 19 and with different support each night. The 11th will feature Attack In Black and Weakerthan John K Samson doing a solo set, the 12th has Oneida and Metz warming things up and the 19th has Julie Doiron and Ladyhawk on the bill.

Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija talks to Spinner, The Canmore Leader and See.

A slew of in-stores have been announced by Sonic Boom. You’ve got Koushik on November 19 at 7:30PM, Lullabye Arkestra on November 21 at 7PM, Malajube on November 25 at 7PM, The Schomberg Fair on November 28 at 4PM and Everything All The Time on December 2 at 7PM. All shows are free, though a donation of canned food is encouraged and appreciated.

MP3: Lullabye Arkestra – “We Fuck The Night”
MP3: Malajube – “Porte Disparu”
MP3: Everything All The Time – “Lazy Days”

The Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise series continues through this month, with a number of performances and discussions of interest to, well, probably anyone reading this site. Katie Stelmanis will give a performance at the Bloor/Gladstone branch this Friday, November 20, at 8PM, Colin Medley of Morning Noon Night will discuss the finer points of videography and “Documenting the Local Music Scene” at the Kennedy/Eglinton branch on November 24 at 7PM and Steve Jordan, grand poo-bah of the Polaris Music Prize, will get into the nitty-gritty of just how much of a bribe it takes to make the long list, short list and win the whole she-bang, respectively. Kidding – he’ll be talking about the Prize and Canadian music industry in general at the Northern District branch on December 1 at 7PM.

Paper Bag Records is celebrating seven years of not going under with a special covers compilation featuring their artists entitled 7 Year Itch and available to grab for free.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The Sun Smells Too Loud

Mogwai and The Twilight Sad at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s a scene in the Danny Boyle film Sunshine (a fantastic movie, by the way) wherein the spaceship’s psych officer is in the observation deck and asks the ship’s computer to open up the shades blocking out most of the Sun’s intensity, even though he knows that doing so would be almost instantly fatal (the computer refuses and he settles for the minimum safe amount, don’t worry, no spoiler – it’s the opening scene). The point being that same urge, the one that compels you to do what is obviously unsafe in order to experience something huge and awesome and terrible in a direct, unfiltered form, is what overtook me a couple times on Monday night at the Phoenix when I slipped one of my earplugs out, just for a moment, during sets by both Mogwai and The Twilight Sad.

I hadn’t originally intended to attend this show. I certainly wasn’t going to go to the one it was making up for, a September 2008 cancelled on account of Mogwai drummer’s Martin Bulloch’s pacemaker malfunctioning – not for lack of interest, really, but because I’d seen them when they’d swung through town back in July. And there’s not a lot of bands that I want/need to see twice in the span of three months. But when this tour was announced, it had been long enough since last time that I was considering it and when The Twilight Sad were slated as support, that sealed it – there was no way I was going to miss out.

It’s been a couple years since they released their debut Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters and as long since their one and only visit and even though you could never say that the band had a surplus of conventional stage presence, they still made a hell of an impression with the sheer aural intensity of their performance, and I’ve been waiting a long while for them to return. Though still formally a four-piece, they had with them an extra touring player covering keyboard duties and also second guitar for those moments where a zillion decibels apparently wasn’t quite enough.

With a new album almost done and set for an Autumn release, the set featured no shortage of new material and while I loved Autumns for its ability to essentially take one trick – huge, sustained guitar-driven crescendo and bellowed Scottish angst – and extend it out over an entire record without getting samey, but rehashing that on a second album simply wouldn’t have done. And to their credit, the new material doesn’t follow the formula but as such existed so far outside of my Twilight Sad frame of reference that offering an opinion with further listens wouldn’t be of any value – but I can say that they’re still decidedly dark and morose in tone, so any fears that they’ve lightened up can be put to rest. But it was still the old material that delivered the goods, huge and epic and like a sonic body massage. No, they still don’t do much on stage visually though singer James Graham does wander around a bit more than he did before, but looking is beside the point – it’s about the hearing. And the destruction of your ability to do so.

Going over my review of Mogwai’s show from last year, I find that I’ve already said much of what I’m inclined to say about this one – which is fitting because the general gist of it was that even though one Mogwai show isn’t too different from the next, they’re still always memorable experiences. It’s funny that most discussion of Mogwai focuses on the LOUD part of their dynamic – and make no mistake, when they get loud, it’s loud – but they spend so much more of their time exploring the quiet. And with the night’s set list leaning heavily on the last three records and their slower, more expansive and cinematic qualities, it was the perfect opportunity to listen – really listen – to how marvelously they do the little things. The intricate guitar picking, the gentle taps on the high-hat, the whirring textures of the keyboards – it’s simply gorgeous.

But of course there was the loud. Volume spiked throughout the show but it was the closing triumvirate that reminded, as if it was necessary, that Mogwai remained one of the absolute loudest bands around. First there was the extended apocalypse of “Mogwai Fear Satan”, still as unrelentingly potent as it was when it was released a decade ago and then just as the audience was picking itself off the floor, the thundering main set closer of “Glasgow Mega Snake” featuring one of the nastiest guitar riffs from anywhere, by anyone. And for the encore, a scorched earth “My Father, My King” that left nothing standing. I ducked out as things descended into feedback and even outside the venue, I could still hear it throb. Epic.

Chart also has a review of the show and there’s interviews with Mogwai at The Enterprise News, Metro and Pulse Niagara.

Photos: Mogwai, The Twilight Sad @ The Phoenix – May 4, 2009
MP3: Mogwai – “Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home”
MP3: Mogwai – “Tracy”
MP3: Mogwai – “Dial: Revenge”
MP3: Mogwai – “Hunted By A Freak”
MP3: Mogwai – “7:25”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Cold Days From The Birdhouse”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy”
Video: Mogwai – “Travel Is Dangerous”
Video: Mogwai – “Friend Of The Night”
Video: Mogwai – “Hunted By A Freak”
Video: Mogwai – “Dial: Revenge”
MySpace: Mogwai
MySpace: The Twilight Sad

Drowned In Sound and Clash interview The Vaselines, whose Enter The Vaselines compilation is out now and who play Lee’s Palace next Friday night, May 15.

Patrick Wolf’s new album The Bachelor is still set for a June 1 release in the UK, but in North America, we’ll only be privvy to the digital release on that date (well, the 2nd). Those of us who still like physical media will have to wait for August 11 when his new label NYLON – as in the people behind NYLON – will make it available, details at Pitchfork. But they’re also sponsoring a tour in June – headlined by Wolf and also featuring Living Things and France’s Plasticines – so the delayed release is forgiven. I’d worried that with Wolf now without major label backing, he and his audacious live shows would have some difficulty coming back to North America. Only one date has been made public so far – June 14 in Minneapolis – but based on that we can (hopefully) expect to see Wolf hereabouts in mid-June. There’s interviews with Wolf at Arjan Writes, MusicOhm and NYLON.

The September 18 date at Lee’s Palace was already revealed, but Pitchfork has full Fall tour dates for Maximo Park in support of Quicken The Heart, out next week. They’re also offering up an MP3 from the album.

MP3: Maximo Park – “Let’s Get Clinical”

Drowned In Sound talks to The Horrors. They’re at the Phoenix tomorrow night opening up for The Kills.

Decider talks to Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. Their new album The Knot is out July 21.

A third Dears b-side MP3 is now available.

MP3: The Dears – “Meltdown In A Major” (OG Demo Version)

Wolfe Island Musicfest taking place August 8 on Wolfe Island in the Thousand Islands at Kingston. This year, the Marysville baseball diamond will be rocked by the sounds of Holy Fuck, Busdriver (this one? Dunno), Apostle Of Hustle, Attack In Black, Woodhands, The D’Urbervilles, Ohbijou, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Julie Fader. Solid? Definitely. Worth the drive to Kingston? Probably.