Posts Tagged ‘Balconies’

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

100 Mile House

Review of The Darcys’ The Darcys

Photo By Aaron MillerAaron MillerThere’s no shortage of variants on the sentiment that good things come to those who wait, but in the case of Toronto’s Darcys, keeping the faith would have been trying for the most steadfast optimists. The specifics of their long, four-year gap between their debut Endless Water and their self-titled follow-up – out today – are still best documented in this Toronto Star feature from back in March, which is also approximately when I got a finished copy of the record to preview. To reiterate: this album was finished and ready for the world in March, and probably even a while before that. And it’s only coming out today.

But to invoke another platitude, was The Darcys worth the wait? Has the band who has been carrying the mantle of potentially being the city’s next big thing for so long that other big things have already come and gone finally delivered on that promise? I give that a very qualified, “yes”. It definitely confirms them as an inordinately talented and ambitious outfit with a gift for dramatic, prog-pop songcraft. With lush keyboards, nimble, complex rhythms, intricately-arranged guitars set to chime and squall, and rough yet soaring vocals from frontman Jason Couse, their sound is evocative of turn of the century Radiohead and Elbow; certainly heady reference points and ones that set them apart from many of their peers.

So why the reservations? Because for as long in coming as this record has been, in the end it still tantalizes more than it satisfies. The Darcys excels at building and teasing out tension but for all the moments of release, be it instrumental or vocal, it doesn’t quite manage to offer that one grand moment that pulls it all together and transcends. It’s essentially what I noted when I saw them in Halifax a year ago, in thinking they were one big chorus away from stardom. That’s a lot to ask of a band, especially on what is for all intents and purposes a debut album, but great artistic ambitions come with great expectations.

That said, it’s important to again note that these songs and this record have been hanging around for a long time and might very well not reflect where The Darcys actually are, circa late 2011. I remain confident that any expectations around the band will still be realized, and possibly sooner than we might expect; to make up for the delay in getting The Darcys out, the band already have two more albums in the can and will be putting them out in the new year. If you consider The Darcys as the first instalment in a trilogy, then it becomes a much more exciting entity as it sets the stage for the sequels. And for all the extra pressure that may put on the band, one suspects that after spending so long waiting for their moment, they’ll relish the opportunity to rise to the challenge.

The Darcys is being made available for free digitally and for sale as an LP; head over to the Arts & Crafts website to download it in exchange for an email address or stream it in whole at Spinner. Additionally, the band has recorded a live video for each song from the album and I’m pleased to be able to premiere the one for the album’s lead-off track, “100 Mile House”. The others will be going up today at a variety of sites around the internet – I’ll update this post with links as I collect them, starting with Exclaim (“Glasnost”), (“I Will Be Light”), Baeble Music (“The Mountains Make Way”), Chart (“When I Am New Again”), Spinner (“Shaking Down The Old Bones”), The Line Of Best Fit (“Don’t Bleed Me”), Absolute Punk (“Edmonton To Purgatory”), Wood & Wires (“Des Animeaux”) and CBC Radio 3 (“The Mountains Make Way”). That’s all!

The Darcys play a hometown record release show at The Horseshoe on November 18.

MP3: The Darcys – “Shaking Down The Old Bones”
MP3: The Darcys – “House Built Around Your Voice”
Stream: The Darcys / The Darcys

The Halifax Chronicle Herald, The Coast, and have feature interviews with Fucked Up.

The Big Takeover has an interview with Evan Abeele of Memoryhouse.

The Line Of Best Fit is streaming another new track from Kathleen Edwards’ forthcoming Voyageur, out January 17.

Stream: Kathleen Edwards – “Sidecar”

Diamond Rings has made a b-side from a tour-only 7″ for “You & Me” available to stream, a cover of Teenage Fanclub’s “Mellow Doubt”. Rather an unlikely song from an unlikely band, but I like it.

Stream: Diamond Rings – “Mellow Doubt”

Speaking of tour-only goodies, those hitting up one of Chad VanGaalen’s upcoming shows will be able to pick up one or all of eight cassette-only releases of material from the VanGaalen vaults. You can stream a sampler of the Cassette Tape Series over at Flemish Eye. VanGaalen plays The Mod Club on October 28 and there’s features at The Georgia Straight, Here and hour.

BlogTO catches up with The Balconies, who have just released their new Kill Count EP, though it’s only available at shows. Which means you’ll have to be at The Horseshoe on October 29 if you want to get a copy.

While a touch disappointed that the release of Spectral Dusk, the new record from Evening Hymns has been pushed back from this year until Spring 2012, that’s more than offset by finally being given a taste of the finished product – a new song is streaming over at Facebook.

Stream: Evening Hymns – “Asleep In The Pews”

Spin reports that Leonard Cohen will release a new studio album next year, entitled Old Ideas.

It’s not really common for books to have soundtracks, but when the book is Have Not Been The Same, the recently-reissued definitive tome on Canadian rock in the ’90s, then it’s almost a necessity. And so it is that come next month, we will have Too Cool To Live; Too Smart To Die, a tribute album featuring current Canadian acts covering songs of the book’s era, including Forest City Lovers tackling Sloan, Great Lake Swimmers saluting Grapes Of Wrath, Bruce Peninsula’s Neil Haverty reinterpreting Rheostatics and much more. A full tracklisting of who does what can be found at Radio Free Canuckistan, blog of one of the book’s authors, and the comp itself will be out digitally on November 15 and be available exclusively via Zunior with all proceeds going to support the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto.

The Line Of Best Fit has released a special Halifax Pop Explosion edition of their Oh! Canada compilations available to download.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

NXNE 2011 Day Four

Horse Feathers, Louise Burns, Cults and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne perennial highlight – okay, for two years – of my SXSW adventures was throwing day parties where we could invite Japanese Action Comic Punk outfit Peelander-Z to wreak havoc. So it was nice to see that not only were the Peelanders in town for NXNE, but they had an all-ages afternoon show scheduled at Sneaky Dee’s on the Saturday.

I guess Toronto’s still getting used to the idea of having shows when it’s still daylight out, because the gig was only attended by a few dozen – including some kids in cute homemade Peelander t-shirts – but I suspect that even faced with an audience of one, Peelander-Z would give it their all (and make said individual very uncomfortable). The show was a little different from when they were here in September, with Peelander Pink a little more involved in the proceedings and a dance number at the end, but the chewy centre was classic Peelander with human bowling, band swapping and squid costume jump rope/limbo line amongst other shenanigans. Tonnes of fun, but I couldn’t help wondering how insane it would have been if they’d been put on at Yonge-Dundas Square, with its throngs of unsuspecting bystanders and eminently climbable stage. Maybe next time.

Spinner has a surprisingly coherent interview with Peelander Yellow.

Photos: Peelander-Z @ Sneaky Dee’s – June 18, 2011
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Tacos Tacos Tacos”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Rocket Gold Star”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Champion”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Panda Punk”
Video: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Ninja High Schooool”
Video: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Mad Tiger”

Bridging the day and night programming at Yonge-Dundas Square was uber-buzz band of the hour, New York’s Cults. I’d seen them last Summer when their hype was still more of the underground variety and been somewhat underwhelmed, appreciating the style of what they were doing and some of their songs but overall felt that they were still too green to be touring the continent. Fast forward a year and their self-titled debut is garnering decent reviews and me? Still not overly impressed. Their onstage presence is better, but Madeline Follin still looks uncomfortable as a frontwoman, though maybe she was just unaccustomed to such a large stage in daylight. In any case the songs were more fully-realized and the audience was certainly responsive though anyone looking for electricity would be left wanting. Don’t get me wrong – they’re fine and all, but I find the raves they’re getting disproportionate to what they’re actually doing. And once again, I would like to point out that sadly departed Saturday Looks Good To Me did the Motown/retro-pop revival thing SO much better and more interestingly not that long ago. Every Night, people. Every. Night.

NOW, New York Magazine and NPR have feature pieces on Cults.

Photos: Cults @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 18, 2011
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
Video: Cults – “Abducted”
Video: Cults – “Oh My God”

I encouraged everyone to make Louise Burns’ Saturday gig a must-see on their schedule, and considering that between that post and the show her debut Mellow Drama was also long-listed for the Polaris, I assumed that it’d be standing-room only in Supermarket’s back room and while a decently-sized crowd showed up, sitting or even lying down was also an option. This is what you get for being scheduled against DEVO, I guess. Still, Burns and her band The Moonshiners – five players including backing vocalist – impressed those who were there with a solid set that proved that despite the innate twang of her voice, pigeonholing Burns as a retro/rootsy-type artist is really insufficient – in fact the combination of Burns’ deftly melodic basslines and the dual chiming Telecasters had me drawing Smiths comparisons; I’ll wager anything that she’s got a healthy collection of ’80s Anglo-indie at home. I’ll also wager that Burns’ star will continue to rise over the coming months – excess elbow room at her shows will not be a problem.

Photos: Louise Burns @ Supermarket – June 18, 2011
MP3: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”
MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

The final night of NXNE had no shortage of high-profile shows sure to draw big crowds and fill up early. Which is why I opted to avoid all of them and camp out in the cozy underground shelter of The Dakota Tavern to wind out the festival. Traffic woes – even on a bike – meant it took longer to get from A to B than it should have, but I still made it in time to catch most of the Smoke Fairies’ set. The London-based duo play English folk with American blues undertones built around haunting haunting harmonies and intertwined guitar lines; though quite young, they made a convincingly old sound. In between songs from their new record Through Low Light And Trees, they offered stories about being stoned on Nyquil, disturbing Ben Mulroney and visitng island petting zoos. Entertaining? Rather.

Photos: Smoke Fairies @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Living With Ghosts”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Hotel Room”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Frozen Heart”

I didn’t know much about the next act, Portland’s Horse Feathers, save for that they were on Kill Rock Stars and presumably decent. That would prove to be the understatement of the festival. The quartet, led by singer-songwriter Justin Ringle put on a jaw-droppingly beautful showcase of dramatically orchestrated country/folk music, the dexterity of which was remarkable for the delicacy of the arrangements. There was no way that something so intricate should have carried so much weight, and yet it did. A pity it wasn’t quite breathtaking enough to shut up some of the talkers who insisted on jabbering throughout the set, but even they couldn’t ruin the performance. Easily one of the discoveries of the festival and you can bet I now own a copy of last year’s Thistled Spring.

Photos: Horse Feathers @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Thistled Spring”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Drain You”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”

North Dakota’s Secret Cities were the main band that I had wanted to come to The Dakota to see, but by this point I’d rather forgotten that. Their set, showcasing their new record Strange Hearts, did a good job of reminding me of that fact. The recorded versions of their songs happily exist in a fuzzy, mid-fi state, reminiscent of the heyday of the Elephant 6, but live things have a more necessary clarity and considerably more volume, thanks to clattering double drums, layered vocals, and hooks a-plenty. A melange of almost every pop styling imaginable, they ably offset proggier inclinations with a genial goofiness and general all-around charm.

Photos: Secret Cities @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Secret Cities – “The Park”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Boyfriends”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Luv Crime”
MP3: Secret Cities – “On Holiday”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Bright Teeth”
MP3: Secret Cities – “PG Pt 1”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Pink City”
Video: Secret Cities – “Always Friends”
Video: Secret Cities – “Pink City”

And closing the festival out were locals New Country Rehab who, as their name might imply, were a pretty much down-home country band who didn’t need a festival as an excuse to play a honky-tonk like The Dakota. Opening with a cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper”, they took an obvious respect for traditional country, infused with some fresh energy to say nothing of ridiculous musicianship and stopped just short of entering territory. Just enough to get the people dancing, which they most surely did. I stuck around long enough to enjoy their take on Creedence’s “Effigy” and then called it a day/night/festival. THAT’S IT.

Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: New Country Rehab @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: New Country Rehab – “Angel Of Death”

As I wrap up this year’s NXNE coverage, a few pre-festival interviews that I missed earlier, all courtesy of Torontoist – this one with The Balconies, this one with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers and this one with Snowblink.

Details on the first official Memoryhouse release from SubPop have been revealed, and it’s not going to be their debut album. Instead, their debut EP The Years has been rerecorded, remixed and remastered and had a couple extra tracks added on; it will be given wide release on September 13, presumably pushing their proper debut album back until 2012.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Modern, Normal”

Ohbijou have announced details of their third album, entitled Metal Meets and due out on September 27. Exclaim has details and a teaser video.

NPR welcomes The Rural Alberta Advantage to their studios for a World Cafe session while Metro offers up an interview.

Chart talks to Jay Ferguson of Sloan.

There doesn’t look like there’ll be any Olympic Island concerts this year, but a just-announced free show from Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder and Skydiggers on July 16 on Centre Island is nothing to shake a stick at. It’s part of Parks Day, presented by Parks Canada, and is – as mentioned – free. Your tax dollars at work!

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Captive”
Video: Serena Ryder – “Little Bit Of Red”
Video: Skydiggers – “I Will Give You Everything”

The Boot talks to Neil Young about his just-released archival release A Treasure.

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Lucky 1's

Shad and Miracle Fortress at Wrongbar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s not a lot of cross-Canada tours that skip over Toronto, but the Exclaim/Scion-sponsored country-wide trek headlined by Shad, and for this leg also featuring fellow Polaris shortlist alumni Miracle Fortress, looked to be doing just that with Thursday night’s show at Wrongbar presented as a private show, attended by contest winners and attendees of Exclaim’s 19th anniversary party which went before the show. But it’s not as though either artist had been strangers hereabouts lately – both performed in March as part of Canadian Musicfest, and both had more upcoming local dates over the next couple of months; if you wanted to see either of them, you will still have your chances. If you wanted some of the tasty hors d’oeuvres and free beer that was being handed out to party guests… well, sorry – can’t help you there.

But if you were curious about how the show itself went, that I can comment on. I’ve already talked about how much I like Miracle Fortress’ second album, the gorgeous blend of new wave and classic pop that is Was I The Wave?, and so was pretty excited to see/hear it live armed with an intimate knowledge of its contents rather than just the one-week head start I had in March. And while this performance was pretty similar in structure and presentation to that previous show – Graham Van Pelt on guitars, keys, and general sonic sorcery and Greg Napier on drums, a few laser-lighting and strobe effects and a lot of darkness – there were a few fresh observations.

In particular, the realization that as much as Van Pelt is often characterized as preferring to studio to the stage and only touring because it’s necessary, the live Miracle Fortress experience is as intricately arranged and choreographed in its way as the record – whereas the touring incarnation of Miracle Fortress changed a fair bit over the course of promoting 2007’s Five Roses, it’s pretty clear that Van Pelt knew exactly how he wanted Was I The Wave? to be presented live. The way that the duo are able to recreate all the nuances and textures of Was I The Wave? while incorporating a few more visceral live flourishes to keep it from feeling to pre-programmed was quite impressive, as was the fact that even with all the multi-tasking he needs to manage, Van Pelt’s vocals were pitch-perfect. In short, Miracle Fortress sounded fantastic.

And while Shad is always fantastic live as a performer, you couldn’t say that his hour-long headlining set sounded fantastic. Somehow Miracle Fortress’ elaborate setup was easier to amplify than Shad’s mic, turntable and bassist because he had to fight his way through feedback, poor levels and generally muddy sound. Luckily, though, he was in a fighting mood and despite all of that, he put on the most aggressive show I’ve seen from him yet. I don’t mean that in any sort of confrontational sense – that’s not Shad’s game – but just in the amount of energy and enthusiasm he put into it. If you’ve seen him before, you know that his baseline is pretty energetic; this was better.

For his set, he drew heavily on last year’s breakout TSOL and took advantage of the city to invite some guests out; Lisa Lobsinger of Reverie Sound Revue and Broken Social Scene to reprise her parts on “Rose Garden” and Grand Analog’s Odario Williams to take lead on their track “Electric City”, on which Shad guested. But from my perspective, the most memorable guest was the hopefully drunken girl who barged her way to the front for the last few songs of the set and proceeded to writhe and gyrate all over the stage monitors like she was auditioning for a Warrant video. I’m really not sure what she was trying to accomplish – though if it was to be laughed at by the rest of the audience, the club staff and security she succeeded – but as many points as Shad scored for the rest of his set, he gets bonus for not getting distracted. Wish I could say the same but I was doing my best to not get elbowed in the head by her dance moves. Memorable, if nothing else.

BlogTO was also on hand for wasabi mashed potatoes and a review of the show. Ca Va Cool ,, The Vancouver Sun and See interview Graham Van Pelt; Was I The Wave? gets a US release tomorrow. Shad will be playing at showcase to be announced as part of NXNE and also a free Canada Day show at Metro Square as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Miracle Fortress will be at The Phoenix on June 9 as support for Junior Boys. Update: Shad will perform at The New Social on June 18.

Photos: Shad, Miracle Fortress @ Wrongbar – May 12, 2011
MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”
MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
MP3: Shad – “I’ll Never Understand”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”
Video: Shad – “Keep Shining”
Video: Shad – “We Myself & I”
Video: Shad – “Rose Garden”
Video: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
Video: Shad – “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”
Video: Shad – “I Don’t Really Like To”
Video: Shad – “Brother (Watching)”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Maybe Lately”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”

DIY, Spinner and BlogTO talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose record Feel It Break is out tomorrow and who plays Lee’s Palace on May 19.

Spinner talks to Suuns, who are playing the Horseshoe on June 17 as part of NXNE.

Ottawa XPress profiles The Balconies, whose NXNE showcase goes at 1AM the evening of June 18 at Sneaky Dee’s.

Yours Truly has a stunningly-shot video performance from Basia Bulat playing a new song.

Modern Superstitions quietly rolled out a sharp new video a couple months ago. Worth a watch, as is the band themselves.

Video: Modern Superstitions – “Mercy Line”

Spinner talks to Will Whitwham of The Wilderness Of Manitoba about taking their folk-pop around the world.

Southern Souls has both audio and video from The Darcys’ show at Steam Whistle Brewing a couple weeks ago.

Five words that I never thought I’d see together – Fucked Up and Air Canada Centre (unless it was in the context of how the Leafs do on the ice). And yet Toronto’s premiere hardcore outfit will indeed be going arena-sized on August 9 when they open up for Foo Fighters. And on top of it all, Montreal pop-punkers from the ’90s The Doughboys are back together and will also be on the bill. Fun fact – my band in high school covered The Doughboys’ “Shine” because I liked playing the riff. Yes, I basically made a hash of it every time; I fail to see what that has to do with anything. Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life is out June 7 and the band have released a mini-doc video talking about the new record.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”
Video: Foo Fighters – “Rope”
Video: Doughboys – “Shine”

Handsome Furs have made the first MP3 from their forthcoming Sound Kapital available to download without and bloodletting or having to sign up for any mailing lists. The record is out June 28.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”

Efforts to catch Sloan’s in-store at Sonic Boom on Saturday were largely foiled thanks to the TTC, who got me there about 40 minutes later than expected. As a result, I couldn’t see anything and there won’t be much writeup beyond saying that The Double Cross continues to impress me with how top-to-bottom great it is, they’re still not nor will they likely ever be an airtight live band but that’s part of their charm and I’m going to have to hit their June 22 show at The Mod Club now. In the meantime, check out this Q&A with Patrick Pentland as the band prepare to commandeer the Magnet website for a week, this guided tour of Sloan’s rehearsal space at Metro, this review/reminiscence of the record/band from Dave Ullrich of Inbreds at Thick Specs and two more installments in their video tributes – a choral “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” and celebrities choosing their favourite Sloan albums.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Darken Her Horse

Review of Austra’s Feel It Break

Photo By Norman WongNorman Wong I never really liked Katie Stelmanis. I am not referring to the person – I don’t know her but I’m sure she’s lovely – but her musical project which, circa 2008 at least, was named simply for herself. In Spring of that year, I saw her twice in the span of a week and a bit and while I acknowledged that she was up to something interesting with her distinctive, operatic voice and skeletal synth-and-percussion backing, but it wasn’t doing it for me and as such, I didn’t pay much heed to her debut album Join Us. I did note, however, that her musical identity continued to publicly morph – for a while she was going just by her surname, and then adopted the guise of Private Life before changing once again to Austra. And while there’d always been a degree of local chatter about what she was up to, that’s when I heard people really begin to talk.

And putting aside past prejudices to give Feel It Break, her debut as Austra, a listen I could understand why. Stelmanis’ most distinctive characteristic has always been her voice but it needed the proper context. Obviously I didn’t think the classical/medieval/gothic atmosphere of her eponymous project worked, unless unsettling was what she was going for, but in giving Austra a sleek, synth-heavy, New Wave/80s-industrial personality, she’s found a winning formula that balances mystery and experimentalism with melody and accessibility.

It’s interesting how so much of what makes Austra was already there three years ago, including percussionist Maya Postepski, but now with the addition of ex-Spiral Beach bassist Dorian Wolf and a greater focus on making the songs danceable and memorable, it all sounds completely fresh and new. Okay, perhaps that’s not the most accurate way of putting it since what Stelmanis’ was doing in her self-titled days was technically far more original, but giving Austra its more familiar-sounding reference points has inarguably made her better. Enough so that you can consider me convinced, which is honestly not something I ever thought I’d be saying. Back in 2008, when people around town were talking about how great Katie Stelmanis was, all I could say was, “really?”. Now, when people everywhere are talking about how great Austra is, all I can say is, “really”.

Feel It Break is out next Tuesday, May 17, and Austra plays a hometown record release show a couple nights later on May 19 at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”
MP3: Austra – “The Beat And The Pulse”
Video: Austra – “Lose It”
Video: Austra – “The Beat And The Pulse”
Stream: Austra / Feel It Break

Bruce Peninsula have released installment three in their Fire Sale series; a Pentangle cover that you can both listen to and watch. Open Flames is out in the Fall.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”

Southern Souls serves up a video session with Woodpigeon, who in turn have made MP3s of a recent show in Turin, Italy available to download.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Knock Knock” (live in Turin)

Spinner has an interview with The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Nils Edenloff and has also premiered another Southern Souls-produced live video, this one for “Tornado 87”.

Beatroute and The Vancouver Sun talk to Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre.

Wood & Wires has posted a couple of basement session videos from The Darcys.

Beatroute, The Winnipeg Free Press, Uptown and The Leader-Post talk to Graham Van Pelt of Miracle Fortress, while gets him to unplug for a Camera Music performance. He may be similarly unamplified (or not) when he plays an in-store at Soundscapes this Friday, May 13, at 4PM. He’s at The Phoenix with Junior Boys on June 9.

MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”

Chart talks to Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham about the inadvertent bloodletting that occurred at a recent show, which you can watch for yourself thanks to the magic of YouTube. Exclaim also reports that the band have put up a mixed tape – as in an actual cassette – of Fucked Up rarities, tracks from friends and side-projects and whatnot – for sale in their webstore. Their new album David Comes To Life is out June 7.

The Balconies are finally back with some new material; while a release date for their second album is still forthcoming, a new 7″ a-sided by “Kill Count” will be released on June 14, just ahead of their June 18 NXNE showcase at Sneaky Dee’s.

The Fly invites The Dears into their courtyard for an acoustic session. The notoriously self-serious band also paid Funny Or Die a visit.

With the release this week of The Double Cross, the twentieth anniversary of Sloan is well underway. Blurt has a feature interview with the band, Chart has unearthed a bunch of interviews with the band over their long career and the first of ten tribute videos wherein actors, musicians and general celebrities reminisce about what Sloan has meant to them has been released – so far, there’s “First Heard Sloan” and “Favourite Sloan Song”. They play an in-store this Saturday at Sonic Boom at 4PM and the Mod Club on June 22.

Chad Van Gaalen’s new record Diaper Island is streaming in whole at MuchMusic in advance of its official release next week. He plays The Great Hall on June 18 as part of NXNE.

Stream: Chad Van Gaalen / Diaper Island

Pitchfork has more details on the forthcoming Scenes From The Suburbs CD/DVD set from Arcade Fire. It will be out on August 2.

Exclaim talks to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Manuel Manuck about his various ongoing projects, including the Godspeed reunion and his forthcoming solo record High Gospel, out May 24.

Ticket info for the Weeping Tile/King Cobb Steelie/Have Not Been The Same book release I mentioned a couple weeks back has been revealed – advance tickets will be $18, on sale tomorrow, with proceeds going to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health.

And some Can-con love across the pond; Drowned In Sound takes a look at what’s happening musically in Toronto right now and The Line Of Best Fit have released their sixteenth (16th) Oh! Canada compilation of downloadable goodness.

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.