Posts Tagged ‘Black Mountain’

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The Space Of Your Mind

Review of Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart

Photo By Ryan Walter WagnerRyan Walter WagnerI had the opportunity/duty of thinking very hard about Black Mountain’s last album, 2008’s In The Future, when it was put on the Polaris Music Prize short list for that year and I was put on the grand jury. And while I respected the craftsmanship and scope of the record, I couldn’t quite take it and its big, vintage stoner-rock moves seriously enough to champion it and couldn’t get past the impression that it was a nudge-nudge kind of joke to the band as well. True or not, it’s what I felt in my gut and that was ultimately what I had to go with (and if you look at my notes from the jury process, you’ll see that my thoughts on Plants & Animals amounted to, “I want a cheeseburger”).

The just-released follow-up Wilderness Heart, however, doesn’t raise any such flags. It keeps most of the requisite ’70s touchstones that define Black Mountain – the chugging guitar riffs, sweeping organs and prevailing mood of dystopic science fiction ominousness – but if feels as though the sludgy, slow-motion haze that permeated Future has been lifted somewhat, and Heart finds the Vancouverites operating with eyes clearer and less dilated.

Added to their repertoire of reference points are some country stylings in the form of some more acoustic textures and more prominent interplay between Stephen McBean’s drawl and Amber Webber’s twang. Putting their voices on a more equal footing establishes them as the band’s greatest strength and gives those who glazed over during their more proggish excursions something to sink their ears into. And for those who liked Black Mountain exactly the way they were, there’s still a goodly amount of rock action, it’s just delivered in more concise packages. There’s almost a temptation to call Wilderness Heart a pop record, but that’s going a bit too far – it’s still a rock record through and through with plenty of opportunities for headbanging – just be prepared to sway for extended periods of time as well.

Spinner, The Quietus, Dose and The Vancouver Sun have feature pieces on the band. They’ll be at the Phoenix on October 31.

MP3: Black Mountain – “The Hair Song”
MP3: Black Mountain – “Old Fangs”
Video: Black Mountain – “The Hair Song”
Video: Black Mountain – “Old Fangs”
MySpace: Black Mountain

Spin has put online a great excerpt from their forthcoming cover story on Arcade Fire and also posted some behind-the-scenes shots from the corresponding photo shoot.

The Toronto Sun asks Shad if he thinks he’s going to win the Polaris Prize. Modesty ensues.

Caribou rates the cover of this week’s NOW, leading up to tomorrow night’s show at the Phoenix and their opportunity to repeat as Polaris winner on Monday. Daytrotter also has a session.

eye talks to Liz Powell of Land Of Talk, who will be lighting up Lee’s Palace tonight.

Billboard talks to Neil Young and Daniel Lanois about Young’s new record Le Noise, out September 28. The first sample of the record is available via a new video and… it’s not what you might expect. Unless you expected something really weird and looped, in which case it’s pretty much exactly what you expected.

Video: Neil Young – “Angry World”

PopMatters interviews Emily Haines in tracking Metric’s journey from the world of indie into the mainstream.

Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright tells Chart that he washes his hands of the band’s videos. They play the Ricoh Coliseum on October 22 opening up for Phoenix.

Two Hours Traffic are crossing the country yet again and will wrap up their Fall tour on November 13 at The Horseshoe.

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Territory”

The Walrus ties a bit of a sensationalistic title to an otherwise decent article some of the background, ideals and realities of the Polaris Music Prize, the fifth of which is being awarded next Monday night. eye also ponders the credibility and the debates about the credibility of the award. Chart, meanwhile, handicaps this year’s nominees.

Friday, September 10th, 2010

You Oughta Know

Diamond Rings prepares to show you his stuff

Photo By Jess BaumungJess BaumungBy the standards of the inherently attention deficient internet, a year can be an eternity – so it’s remarkable that Diamond Rings has not only managed to sustain the interest that began last Summer with the release of his debut single “All Yr Songs”, but steadily build it on both sides of the Atlantic with just three singles and accompanying videos. While it took those at home a little while to comprehend that this wasn’t just the guy from local rockers The D’Urbervilles in eyeshadow, those abroad seemed quick to embrace his unique brand of DIY-chic glammy synth-pop.

So while the careers of some acts have already arced over the past 12 months, anticipation for his debut album Special Affections is hitting just the right degree of fever pitch as its October 26 release date draws near. But before that happens, there’ll be one more single for “Something Else”, due out on limited edition 7″ on September 28, but more interesting (to me) is the choice of b-side – a cover of a song by Milla – as in Jovovich – in that brief period of time between being a model and actress when she was a pop singer. I liked this song, and not just because the video featured Jovovich wandering around in a nightgown. Partly, but not entirely. But the cover is also interesting as it shows Diamond Rings exercising a little more vocal range than he does on his own material, and it works well. Stereogum has a stream of the Diamond Rings version, which was orchestrated by Owen Pallett.

Live shows are also in the works – first a free show at the Parkdale branch of the Toronto Public Library on October 8 at 8PM, and then a series of live dates that bring him across North America (though mostly Canada), including a hometown record release show at The Garrison on October 26, and dates in the UK and Iceland. Exclaim talks to Jon O’Regan about making his glittery debut record.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Wait And See”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Show Me Your Stuff”
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Wait & See”

Owen Pallett has released a track from his forthcoming A Swedish Love Story 10″ EP, out September 28. The Toronto Sun has a chat.

MP3: Owen Pallett – “A Man With No Ankles”

Dose talks to Broken Social Scene’s Andrew Whiteman. Broken Social forebear K.C. Accidental will be getting a reissue of their sole recorded output – Captured Anthems For An Empty Bathtub + Anthems For The Could’ve Bin Pills – as a double LP or CD on October 26.

Pitchfork has got a track from the new Caribou live album Live at ATP New York. It will be on sale on their upcoming Fall tour, which includes a September 17 date at the Phoenix. The Toronto Sun talks to Dan Snaith about his odds of repeating as Polaris winner on September 20.

MP3: Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Every Time She Turns Round It’s Her Birthday”

The Toronto Sun also talks to The Besnard Lakes about their Polaris Music Prize chances.

Spinner talks to Black Mountain’s Amber Webber about their new album Wilderness Heart, out next week. They play The Phoenix on October 31.

The Arcade Fire show at Madison Square Garden is back up and streaming at YouTube for a limited time. Pitchfork talks to the fellow who “directed” the video/online experience for “We Used To Wait”.

G-Man chats with Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, currently touring in Europe but back hereabouts in time for a free October 6 noontime show at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Exclaim talks to Salteens frontman Scott Walker about their first record in seven years – Grey Eyes, out October 12.

MP3: Salteens – “Hallowed Ways”

Southern Souls has a video session and Sticky an interview with Newfoundland’s Gramercy Riffs.

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Eight Miles High

Music blog turns eight, pauses, gets on with it

Photo via CBCCBCHere we are – another September 2, another blogiversary and another year in the books of doing… whatever this is. I have to tell you, there’s a great temptation on my end to use this occasion to get into some existential angst about where this site has been, where it might go and what on earth I’m going to do when it all inevitably ends (I’ve no idea and that’s terrifying), instead I’m just going to say fuck it, I’ll cross or fall off that bridge when I come to it.

For now, I’ll take some satisfaction in the fact that eight years is a long time in the real world – some of my blogging peers today weren’t even in high school when I started, for goodness sake – and a veritable eternity in internet time and extend my thanks to all of my readers who’ve been along for the ride at any point along this journey. This is nearly as much fun when no one reads it. Besides that… hell, I don’t know. Every year I tell myself I’m going to prepare something special post-wise or even event-wise for the anniversary but instead, it ends up being a case of, “oh shit, what day is it again?”. I actually did manage to put something proper together last year. All you get this year is a cover of this post’s namesake by this blog’s namesake.

MP3: Ride – “Eight Miles High”

And in other news. The Toronto International Film Festival opens up next week and coinciding with it is the grand opening of the festival’s new headquarters, the Bell Lightbox, down at King and John. Which in and of itself isn’t that significant hereabouts (though a functional building is always nicer than a construction site) but to mark the occasion, they’re throwing a block party on September 12 from 11AM to 4PM with all manner of goings-on, including performances from three of the ten Polaris shortlisters – Karkwa, The Sadies and Radio Radio. They’ll be playing from 12:20PM to 2PM and at 3PM, they’re promising another musical act who is one of “Canada’s hottest global superstars”… guesses, anyone?

Beatroute interviews Win Butler of Arcade Fire.

Shout Out Out Out Out have a date at Wrongbar on November 4. Their last album was 2009’s Reintegration Time.

Video: Shout Out Out Out Out – “Coming Home”

A bunch of new videos released today that up the Can-con quotient of the internet. First there’s a clip for “Quarry Hymns” from Land Of Talk’s new album Cloak & Cipher. Exclaim has posted some more of their interview with Liz Powell than appeared in this month’s cover story. Land Of Talk play Lee’s Palace on September 16.

Video: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”

The Acorn has a wonderful new stop-action clip from No Ghost. They’re releasing a remix album entitled Make The Least Of The Day on September 14 – details at Exclaim.

Video: The Acorn – “Restoration”

Black Mountain have released a second vid from Wilderness Heart, which will be out September 14. Beatroute has an interview with the band, who will be at the Phoenix on October 31.

Video: Black Mountain – “The Hair Song”

PitchforkTV has a Tunnelvision feature on Diamond Rings, whose debut Special Affections will be out on October 26.

Tokyo Police Club’s David Monks talks to Beatroute. They’re at the Ricoh Coliseum on October 22 in support of Phoenix.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Death By Elektro

Review of Rae Spoon’s Love Is A Hunter

Photo By JJ LevineJJ LevineRae Spoon’s last album, 2008’s Superioryouareinferior, may have served as the point of entry for me into the Calgary native’s works, but his fifth album was more of an exit for him in that it represented a push out of the country-folk scene with which he’d been associated and into the (relatively) broader realm of Canadian indie-pop. Maybe not the promised land, but without that bit of crossover, the record probably wouldn’t have otherwise caught my ear certainly wouldn’t have last year’s Polaris ballot.

For the follow-up record Love Is A Hunter, Spoon’s muse took him a little farther afield – Berlin, to be precise. The influence of the time spent abroad was more overt on last year’s free-to-download Alexandre Decoupigny collaboration What Are You Waiting For? (Worauf Wartest Du?), but the time spent in and around the European dance scene is still echoes quite clearly on Hunter.

But rather than try to craft a record of club bangers or electro-clash anthems, Spoon makes those influences lyrical concerns than sonic ones, opting to contemplate the experiences and interactions, diary-style, and thus sticks to his strengths. This isn’t to say that it’s all more of the same, though. Spoon’s sound is still more folk than anything else – you can take the boy out of the country and all that – but Hunter comes fairly suffused with electronic beats and textures that dance in and around the compositions, offering an interesting counterpoint to Spoon’s crystalline voice and otherwise spare arrangements. They don’t necessarily elevate them, but they do add some extra aural interest. And while the meeting of influences on Hunter doesn’t create the same stop-in-your tracks, emotional impact of Superioryouareinferior, it does further the case as Rae Spoon as one of the country’s up-and-coming songsmiths and certainly a talent to continue watching.

Exclaim has a short piece on Spoon, who kicks off a cross-Canada tour next week and plays the Gladstone in Toronto on October 22.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Death By Elektro”
MP3: Rae Spoon – “You Can Dance”
Video: Rae Spoon – “Love Is A Hunter”

Details have emerged about the forthcoming Neil Young album produced by Daniel Lanois. It will be entitled Le Noise and be available on September 28 in pretty much every format imaginable (LP, CD, MP3, Blu-Ray, iPhone…). I’m not the biggest fan of Lanois’ own work, but as a producer he’s helmed some amazing records and triggered creative renaissances from some legendary artists. Really anxious to hear what he’s done with Neil.

Exclaim has put Land Of Talk’s Liz Powell on the cover of their September issue with accompanying feature piece. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 16.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”

MOG talks to Matt Camirand of Black Mountain. Their new record Wilderness Heart is out September 14 and they play the Phoenix on October 31.

Arcade Fire’s first video from The Suburbs is a live clip of “Ready To Start” recorded in July in London.

Video: Arcade Fire – “Ready To Start”

Two Hours Traffic have a new clip from this year’s Territory.

Video: Two Hours Traffic – “Happiness Burns”

There’s also a new video from Tokyo Police Club’s new record Champ. They’ll be showcasing it when they open up for Phoenix at the Ricoh Coliseum on October 22. Still find it weird that they haven’t done or scheduled a headlining hometown show for the new record yet.

Video: Tokyo Police Club – “Bambi”

Hot Hot Heat and Hey Rosetta will pair up for a show at the Mod Club on October 8, tickets $29.25.

MP3: Hot Hot Heat – “21 @ 12” (alternate version)
Video: Hey Rosetta – “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The lineup for this year’s Supercrawl, the annual arts and music free street thing in Hamilton, has been announced and offers a compelling argument for making the trek to Steeltown – on September 25, they’ll be presenting performances from Elliott Brood, Cadence Weapon and Bruce Peninsula, amongst many others. And did I mention it’s free?

And finally, if you’re all nostalgic for this past June when NXNE descended on the city like so much a plague of locusts, then check out this feature at Le Blogotheque where the duly commissioned Take-Away Show videographers captured performances from a number of artists in the streets of Toronto. Part one features The Soft Pack, Avi Buffalo, Library Voices and DM Stith and there’s more to come.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010


Peelander-Z stage Japanese Action Comic Punk invasion of Canada

Photo By Miyuki SamataMiyuki SamataA whole pile of concert announcements big and small came down the wire yesterday, but none more exciting – personally, at least – than this one. Self-proclaimed Japanese action comic punk band Peelander-Z – hands down highlights of our Hot Freaks! showcases at SxSW in 2008 and in 2009 – are finally bringing their absurd (and entertaining) beyond words show to Canada… well, southern Ontario and Montreal, at least. And that includes two nights in Toronto – September 1 at the Velvet Underground and September 2 at the Silver Dollar, tickets $8 in advance for each show.

Describing the Peelander experience isn’t so easy, particularly when their videos say so much, but punk rock power rangers is really about the size of it. Now neither of these venues offers either the open space or climbing apparatus to stage the kind of sheer insanity that they brought to the Mohawk in ’08 and ’09, but I have the utmost faith that Peelanders Red, Green and Yellow will find a way to make it memorable… and now that I think about it, the width of the Silver Dollar would make a great human bowling lane. They’ll ostensibly be touring behind their new record P-TV-Z, due out on September 28, but let’s be honst – the music is secondary to the antics. Which I’m not usually so fond of, but when the antics are as ridonk as theirs, it’s a-ok with me.

And photogs, you won’t want to miss this. It’s a good time. Mad Tiger!

MP3: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Rocket Gold Star”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Champion”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Panda Punk”

Yesterday’s poorest-kept secret goes to the fact that Metric will be doing a free show outside of Union Station at 7PM tonight as part of the launch of a new cell phone. Odds that it will be a mad house and that Emily Haines will ramble nonsensically between songs are pretty much even.

Video: Metric – “Stadium Love”

Boston’s Caspian will be hitting the road this Fall and set up at the Soybomb space in Toronto (Bathurst south of Queen) on September 17.

MP3: Caspian – “Of Foam And Wave”

Obviously intending to be around town in time for the Polaris Prize gala the following Monday, Caribou have scheduled a show at the Phoenix for September 17. Tickets are $15 in advance.

MP3: Caribou – “Odessa”

The midwest rises as Indianapolic gothic country-rockers Murder By Death team up with Oklahoma’s Samantha Crain for a Fall tour that stops in at the Horseshoe on September 26.

MP3: Murder By Death – “Foxglove”
MP3: Samantha Crain – “Traipsing Through The Aisles”

Holy Fuck are at the Phoenix on September 29.

MP3: Holy Fuck – “Latin America”

Scout Niblett has slated a Fall tour in support of her latest, The Calcination Of Scout Niblett. She’s at The Garrison on October 2.

MP3: Scout Niblett – “Kiss”

Perfume Genius, the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, will undertake a short Learning that includes an October 7 date at the Drake Underground. Check out the video session he did for Matador Records, a short interview with him conducted by Huh

MP3: Perfume Genius – “Learning”

Basia Bulat will be joining Josh Ritter on his Autumn cross-Canada tour that includes an October 26 date at The Phoenix. Paste debuted Ritter’s latest video from And So The World Runs Away.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
Video: Josh Ritter – “Rattling Locks”

I guess calling it the “None More Black” tour would have been overly obvious, not to mention probably karmically putting their drummers at risk, but The Black Angels are teaming up with Black Mountain for a Fall tour that they’ve dubbed “Dropout Boogie” that will stop in at the Phoenix on October 31, tickets $20.50. Even odds that everyone in attendance will be dressed up as stoners for Hallowe’en and will be fully committed to the role. Both acts have new albums out on September 14 – Mountain with Wilderness Heart and Angels with Phosphene Dream. Spin has a chat with singer Alex Maas about the new record as well as a song to download, while Pitchfork has a tour-previewing download of Black Angels covering Black Mountain.

MP3: Black Mountain – “Hair Song”
MP3: The Black Angels – “Telephone Blues”
MP3: The Black Angels – “No Satisfaction” (Black Mountain cover)

With the magic eight ball apparently having come up, “keep milking Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix for all it’s worth”, Phoenix are doing North America again and this leg includes a Toronto date – October 22 at the Ricoh Coliseum with Tokyo Police Club and Wavves as support, tickets $40 to $45.

MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Tokyo Police Club – “Wait Up (Boots Of Danger)”