Posts Tagged ‘Ben Kweller’

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

CONTEST – Ben Kweller @ The Mod Club – February 22, 2009

Photo via Maple MusicMaple MusicI remember when Ben Kweller’s debut record first came out in 2002, all the press was keen to point out that he had formerly been in pubescent-punk-pop band Radish, which may have meant something to someone who had known who Radish were. Which I did not.

But now, with four albums to his name and still not 30 years old, Kweller doesn’t need the “wunderkind” angle to get attention – he’s certainly crafted a respectable career as a singer-songwriter and will bring his latest record, the country-fried Changing Horses, to town for an in-store at Soundscapes on February 22 at 3PM and then a full and proper show at the Mod Club that evening.

And courtesy of Maple Music, I’ve got a pair of tickets to said show to give away as well as a copy of Changing Horses on CD and two more copies of the album for a couple runners-up. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Ben Kweller” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Since these are physical tickets that need to wind their way to you, this contest will close a little early – say midnight, February 16.

Video: Ben Kweller – “Fight”
MySpace: Ben Kweller

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The Crowning

Review of A Camp's Colonia

Photo via mySpaceMySpaceThe first A Camp album came at an interesting time, with The Cardigans having proven themselves not just a one-hit wonder but a two-hit one (“My Favourite Game” to go along with “Lovefool”) but also rather burning out in the process. Nina Persson used the downtime to explore country music and Americana with the assistance of Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and not only crafted an excellent record in their self-titled debut, but carried the influences back to The Cardigans to inform my personal favourite of their repertoire, Long Gone Before Daylight. That stylistic uniformity went out the window with their next record, the eclectic but still very solid Super Extra Gravity and with the Cardies again on a break, Persson has taken that grab-bag aesthetic back to A Camp.

Colonia, released in Europe last week but not out in North America until April 28, collects 11 songs that could have been Cardigans tunes in another life but could never be mistaken as such in the forms that they’ve been recorded in here. With the formal addition of Persson’s husband Nathan Larson (of Shudder To Think) and Niclas Frisk as members of A Camp, it’s now more of an official band than before but rather than imprint that band with a particular sonic identity, they instead reinvent themselves in whatever way necessary to compliment the songs. Persson’s vocals are unmistakable but the sounds that surround it incorporate elements of show tunes, electronica, glam and country to name just a very few – there’s enough of everything to make it sound familiar but never to the point of being able to place a song in a tidy pigeonhole.

If there’s a common thread, it’s the sonic richness and elegance each song is imbued with. No matter what they put in it, it sounds marvelous, even if some songs are less memorable than others. But the keepers are worth cherishing – “My America” is buoyed by jaunty horns, the languidness of “Chinatown” beautifully channels Television in its guitar lines and lead single “Stronger Than Jesus” boasts a melody that’s as indelible as anything Persson’s ever come up with. Though I wish as much as any fan that the Cardies break will be a short one – apparently Persson’s bandmates are all using the time to tend to fatherly duties – if it continues to yield more A Camp records then there’ll be no word of complaint from me.

Persson is engaged in conversation by The Sunday Mail, The Telegraph and The Independent. And perhaps as a way of making up for the fact that the album isn’t out domestically for another three months, Nettwerk have made available a live session MP3 of “Stronger Than Jesus”. Update: Stereogum is streaming another song from the record and talk to Nina about it.

MP3: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus” (Harlem Session)
Video: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”
MySpace: A Camp

The Toronto Sun, The Province, Montreal Mirror and CityPages interview Lykke Li.

Spin gets a sneak preview of the new album from Mew, currently untitled but targeted for a June release.

There’s new videos from both bands playing The Phoenix on April 25 – Peter Bjorn & John, whose Living Thing is out March 25, and Chairlift.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Nothing To Worry About”
Video: Chairlift – “Evident Utensil”

Also with a new video – School Of Seven Bells.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “Half Asleep”

Check out the title track of The Thermals’ new album Now We Can See, set for release on April 7.

MP3: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”

Some in-stores of note to tell you about. The Von Bondies will hit up Criminal Records this Friday, February 13, at 5PM before heading down the street for their show at the Horseshoe. And next weekend,Alela Diane, whose To Be Still is coming out next Tuesday, will be at Soundscapes on February 21 at 6:30PM in advance of her show at the Horseshoe that evening opening for Blitzen Trapper and the next day (February 22) at 3PM, Sonic Boom will host Ben Kweller leading up to his show at the Mod Club that evening.

MP3: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
Video: Alela Diane – “White As Diamonds”
Video: Ben Kweller – “Fight”

The National are returning. They’re at the Kool Haus on May 21, tickets $24.50.

And finally, The Chicago Sun-Times weighs in on what could be the most disturbing bit of music industry news in a sea of disturbing music industry news, the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. No good can come of this, none at all. But my question is – how does this affect the Canadian divisions of those respective companies? I ask because I remember way back in the ’90s when Pearl Jam were boycotting all US TicketMaster venues, they still played TM-serviced venues up here and said that was because TicketMaster Canada was a separate entity from the US one they were protesting. Though it could/should have been pointed out that even if that were true from a corporate POV, they were still as asshat-acular as their Stateside counterparts when it came to price gouging and exorbitant service charges. And do you have to have bought tickets for a specific show to take part in the class action suit or can you just be generally irritated?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Click, Click, Click, Click

Review of Bishop Allen's The Broken String

Photo By Aubrey EdwardsAubrey EdwardsNever have I claimed to be the fastest to get turned on to something, to be the one who discovers the next big thing. I’m far more tortoise than hare in these sorts of matters, but even then there’s not really any excuse for taking, oh, seventeen months to get around to writing up Bishop Allen’s last album The Broken String – or even longer if you think back to the year-long “one EP a month” series in 2006 from which much of the album is taken.

And it’s a pity I’ve waited so long, because I am very much in this record’s target market – namely fans of sprightly indie rock of the wordy variety. As such, stylistically and sonically, it’s very familiar stuff built on earnest boy lead vocals with sweet girl backing vocals and just enough interesting instrumental flourishes to disguise the fact that it’s pretty straight guitar-driven folk-pop. Where Bishop Allen stands out is in the songwriting, which is never less than solid but on a few occasions, is outstanding. Leadoff track “The Monitor” is a stirring and evocative piece about a Civil War naval battle, but that sort of lyrical grandeur is the exception rather than the rule – the standouts tend to be those the simple, slice of live observationals that are rendered in exquisite detail, as in “Flight 180” or “The Chinatown Bus”. They also handle the peppier stuff with vigor and aplomb, but it’s the slower, more thoughtful stuff such as above that really sticks.

Because of my neglect, I missed the band when they came through last Summer but I shan’t be skipping out on their just-announced January 17 date at the El Mocambo. Similarly, when their next album Grr… is released on March 10, you can be sure I won’t be taking a year and a half to give it the attention it deserves. The Justice has an interview with band principal Justin Rice.

MP3: Bishop Allen – “Click, Click, Click, Click”
MP3: Bishop Allen – “Middle Management”
MP3: Bishop Allen – “Rain”
Video: Bishop Allen – “Click, Click, Click, Click”
Video: Bishop Allen – “Middle Management”
MySpace: Bishop Allen

Ben Kweller and The Watson Twins are at the Mod Club on February 22, tickets $25. Spinner, The Smith College Sophian and The Irish Independent talk to Kweller, who will release a new album in Changing Horses on February 3. Stereogum are sharing the first single.

The Airborne Toxic Event, last spotted hereabouts for V Fest, have a date at the El Mocambo on March 4. Tickets for that are $12.50.

Blurt, Glide, ArtistDirect and The Toronto Sun make time with Rachael Yamgata, who will be at the Mod Club on Friday for an early show. She’s got not one but two new vids from Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart.

Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Faster”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sunday Afternoon”

Brooklyn noiseniks Dirty On Purpose have formally called it a day. A moment of silence for a great band who created my favourite trebuchet-themed video of all time.

Video: Dirty On Purpose – “Car No Driver”

The Independent, The Oxford Mail and This Is Nottingham interview Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn.

Ra Ra Riot are in session overload – Laundromatinee has a video session, NPR an audio one. They also find time to squeeze in an interview with The Courier-Journal.

Austin360 talks to Johnathan Martin of The Uglysuit.

Lots of session action lately for School Of Seven Bells with audio and video sets for for Radio K, KCRW and Spinner’s Interface and video only at Lime.

Paste reports that Hazards Of Love, the new record from The Decemberists, will be coming out on March 24 of next year.

The Long Winters have released a live DVD entitled Live At The Showbox and are giving away a few live tracks taken from it. Check it out.

MP3: The Long Winters – “Scared Straight” (live)
MP3: The Long Winters – “Clouds” (live)
MP3: The Long Winters – “Cinnamon” (live)

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats salutes heavy metal for the The New Zealand Herald.