Posts Tagged ‘Blood Red Shoes’

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Down Is The New Up

Hey it’s Radiohead! And they’re doing stuff!

Photo By Kevin WestenbergKevin WestenbergClearly unconvinced that Arcade Fire’s Grammy win Sunday night had sufficiently broken the internet – at least as far as my Twitter and RSS feeds were concerned – Radiohead decided to apply a fatality-class finishing move on Monday morning, announcing that their eighth album was not only done, but would be called The King Of Limbs and be available for digital sale as of this coming Saturday, February 19.

Rather than repeat the pay-what-you-can model that accompanied their last sneak album release In Rainbows in 2007, the band are going the more traditional pay-what-we-say route this time out, offering digital-only pre-orders in MP3 or WAV format which will be fulfilled on Saturday or MP3/WAV plus fancy-pants physical package which they’re calling their “Newspaper Album” and includes the record on two 10″ LPs, a CD and craploads of packaging and artwork and due for delivery around May 9. For those who still dig physical product but don’t need all the bells and whistles, the regular CD and LP editions will be available on March 29.

It was well known that a new Radiohead record was coming this year, but beyond that it was anyone’s guess as to what, when, how, etc. and so in an age where albums are often “over” before they’re even officially out, it’s nice to still be able to experience that sense of surprise and anticipation. And considering the band have only played one show in the past 13 months – the Haiti benefit last January – almost none of the new material has been road-tested, making those first listens come Saturday that much more exciting.

So…. touring?

Video: Radiohead – “Lotus Flower” (live)

Elbow have released the first proper video from build a rocket boys!, and in the process remind me that the record is out in just three weeks on March 7. So very looking forward to hearing this one. So… touring?

Video: Elbow – “Neat Little Rows”

Rolling Stone talks to Liam Gallagher and Andy Bell of Beady Eye. Their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding is out March 1. As for brother Noel, he’s talking a lot but hasn’t started working on his own post-Oasis project.

Manic Street Preachers have released a new video for the title track from their latest Postcards From A Young Man.

Video: Manic Street Preachers – “Postcards From A Young Man”

Interview interviews Dominic Aitchison of Mogwai, The Quietus Stuart Braithwaite and Martin Bulloch also documents a day in the life for The Quietus. Their new record Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is out today and they’ve a gig at The Phoenix come April 26.

Music Snobbery interviews Blood Red Shoes.

The AV Club, NPR, Exclaim and Newsweek talk to PJ Harvey, whose war-themed latest Let England Shake may lead to an appointment as “official war song correspondent”.

NPR solicits a Tiny Desk Concert from Adele; Adele obliges. Her new record 21 is out next week and she plays The Kool Haus on May 18.

The Guardian interviews Anna Calvi, who follows the March 1 release of her self-titled debut with a show at Wrongbar on March 11 as part of Canadian Musicfest.

The first MP3 from The Raveonettes’ forthcoming Raven In The Grave, out March 22, is now available to download. They’ll be at The Phoenix on April 2.

MP3: The Raveonettes – “Forget That You’re Young”

Clash and The Scotsman talk to Lykke Li, who releases Wounded Rhymes on March 1 and plays The Phoenix on May 22.

So… touring? Here’s some of the stuff that got announced in the last few days. We already knew that J Mascis was headlining The Great Hall on the Friday, March 11, of Canadian Musicfest, but he’ll also be doing an in-store at Sonic Boom that afternoon at 5PM. You may recall he did the same with Dinosaur Jr last January – hopefully this time he won’t be running a half hour late. His new solo record Several Shades Of Why arrives March 15.

MP3: J Mascis – “Not Enough”

To mark the March 1 reissue of their 1998 self-titled debut, Queens Of The Stone Age will hit the road to play it in its entirety, a tour which stops in at the Sound Academy on March 29, tickets $47 and $57 in advance.

I certainly thought that last week’s Lee’s Palace show would be the one and only time Toronto got a visit from the touring-averse Radio Dept., but it looks like those who kept clapping for a second encore will get their wish – their touring itinerary shows them with an overnight layover in Toronto after appearing at Sasquatch and will pass the time with a May 29 date at The Horseshoe – good news for those who snoozed and losed on getting tickets for the Lee’s gig. and Ca Va Cool have interviews with the band.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Why Won’t You Talk About It?”

Yeasayer released an aural valentine yesterday in the form of a free EP and a North American tour – look for them June 7 at The Phoenix.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

I Saw You Blink

Stornoway and Franz Nicolay & Major General at The El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSome, like myself, felt that Stornoway and their debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill were the perfect soundtrack to Summer. Others find their rich yet subtle orchestral pop to be more Autumnal than anything else. For the Oxford, England quartet’s visit on Tuesday night, the seasonal backdrop neither – instead, they made their Canadian debut on a wet and dreary eve right on the cusp of Winter.

With them was a face who’d visited many times before, though not in his current guise – Franz Nicolay, formerly of The Hold Steady but now of himself and his band Major General. Some have wondered what would possess someone to leave a band as popular and fun as The Hold Steady, but as terrific as his contributions to that band were, his musical (and sartorial) style always seemed at odds with The Hold Steady’s unabashed bar rock-ness. And just a few songs of what he’s done on his own made the reasoning for leaving abundantly clear; his own artistic ambitions can’t play second fiddle to anyone. Fronting a five-piece band of upright bass, drums, violin and keys, Nicolay himself would rotate through guitar, accordion and banjo whilst running through material from his new album Luck & Courage that was rich with old world influences while retaining a pop immediacy – more DeVotchKa than Hold Steady, to be sure. And music aside, Nicolay clearly enjoyed the frontman role, offering up almost as much banter as music – someone as loquacious as he staying in Craig Finn’s shadow for long? Not likely.

For as good of a record as Stornoway released this Summer, they seemed to have flown largely under the popular radar and as such I wasn’t sure how many people would turn up for this show – Toronto’s inherent Anglophilia would certainly help, but I’ve also seen English bands play to empty rooms before. That wouldn’t be the case here, though – whatever numbers were dispersed throughout the ElMo for the opener ignored the rules of Toronto concert-going etiquette of feigning indifference and converged immediately at the front of the stage when Nicolay and company began their tear-down; everyone who was in attendance was seriously keen.

Much of the charm of Beachcomber’s Windowsill comes from its beautifully understated aesthetic, so it was a bit of a surprise that the show opened not with the band shyly taking the stage, but with violinist Rahul Satija offering up a plaintive looped violin solo before the rest of the band, with multi-instrumentalist Adam Briggs making their number six, strode on stage and launched into a reading of “The Coldharbour Road” that was markedly more dynamic and dramatic than the recorded version. And really, that was the recurring theme of the show – everything you liked about Beachcomber’s Windowsill was very much in evidence, but instead of just being good, it was great. Despite or perhaps because of his somewhat awkward banter and stage presence, Brian Briggs was an engaging and curiously magnetic frontman but was clearly far more confident when actually performing, and why not? His voice was a much more powerful instrument than certainly I ever expected.

Equal credit must also go to his bandmates, though. One of the talking points of the album was that over 100 instruments were utilized in its creation and while not that many were brought on tour, an impressive number were pressed into service over the course of the show, all in the name of recreating as much of Windowsill‘s rustic yet sophisticated textures as possible, to say nothing of their contributions on backing vocals. All of which is to say that Stornoway sounded incredible up there. Why they’ve not gotten more attention is a mystery to me – perhaps because they haven’t been seeking it out – but an upside to this is the sense of surprise that can result when you see and hear for yourself how good they actually are, and beyond just having made a terrific record are in fact an even more terrific band and will surely make even better records in the years to come. And if anyone had any doubts of this, then they didn’t stay for the encore when the band played a pair of songs almost completely unplugged (bassist Oliver Steadman remained tethered for one song but plucked gently), the audience inviting themselves into a call-and-response with Briggs on a stirring “The End Of The Movie”.

Earlier in the show, Briggs expressed amazement that so many people had come out to see them and knew their material so well, but would later declare – and sincerely, I believe – this to be the best show of their tour, a sentiment equally held by the devoted audience. I won’t lie, I’ve been kind of burnt out on going out and seeing bands for the last little while – not unusual for this time of the year – but shows like this recharge my batteries and renew my faith in live music.

Chart also has a review of the show. The Georgia Straight profiles Stornoway while, The Phoenix and The Minnesota Daily talk to Franz Nicolay. Stornoway’s North American tour runs another two weeks. Really do go see them.

Photos: Stornoway, Franz Nicolay & Major General @ The El Mocambo – November 30, 2010
MP3: Stornoway – “Fuel Up”
MP3: Stornoway – “On The Rocks”
MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
MP3: Franz Nicolay – “This Is Not A Pipe”
Video: Stornoway – “Zorbing”
Video: Stornoway – “I Saw You Blink”
Myspace: Stornoway
Myspace: Franz Nicolay

NME reports that Richard Hawley has completed work on an album with guitar god Duane Eddy. No word on when it’ll be released but that thing is going to have some deeeep twang.

Baeble Music is streaming video of a full show from Blood Red Shoes at New York’s Bowery Ballroom.

A North American release date has been set for The Joy Formidable’s full-length debut – The Big Roar will be out on this side of the pond on March 15 of the new year, some time after its January 24 UK release. And in addition to the normal CD (and hopefully LP) formats, there will be a fancy pants box set edition that throws in a live CD, two DVDs and assorted sundry tchotchke including, for the first 300 orders, a piece of Ritzy’s smashed guitar.

The New York Press talks career ambition and lack thereof with The Radio Dept’s Johan Duncanson. They’ve made an acoustic reading of “Heaven’s On Fire”, recorded for KEXP earlier this week, available to download and will release their career-spanning Passive Aggressive on January 25. They play Lee’s Palace on February 7.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire” (acoustic)

Spinner talks to Lisa Milberg of The Concretes. They have a date at The Horseshoe on January 17.

Blurt engages Nick Cave and Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman in conversation, The Georgia Straight gets Warren Ellis on the phone and The San Francisco Chronicle and LA Weekly talk to Cave alone, the latter sending Henry Rollins to do their dirty work.

Keren Ann’s new album 101 will be out on March 22.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Fire Like This

Blood Red Shoes and Sky Larkin at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIs it possible for a band to steal their own show? It is when you’re far more interested in the support act than the headliner, as I was Wednesday night at The Horseshoe. I had already planned to attend even when it was just Brighton, UK’s Blood Red Shoes on the bill – I liked their two albums, including their latest and first North American release Fire Like This, well enough – but when Sky Larkin were announced as support, well it became an absolute must-see.

I had loved the Leeds trio’s 2009 debut The Golden Spike and rate this year’s follow-up Kaleide only slightly behind it, though at only a few months old it’s got lots of time to curry more favour. The difference between the two is really just degrees, as both are packed with wiry, spiky pop whose melodic qualities make them immediate and yet whose quirkiness allows them to continue to grow and unfold with repeated listens. And while these traits are very much in evidence in the live setting, what you notice most about the band on stage is just how much fun they’re having and how effortless they make it all seem.

When they’re playing, you just have to watch frontwoman Katie Harkin and how she seems at one with her guitar whilst dancing, hopping and swaying around the stage without missing a beat or note, or maybe drummer Nestor Matthews as he gives some epic drummer face while punishing his kit for some heinous transgressions. And between songs, their bantering with the audience and each other was just as entertaining – bassist Doug Adams may have been generally more placid on stage than his bandmates, but he did offer some choice words about Toronto’s new mayor-elect (“I’ve been reading about this Rob Ford guy – he’s an asshole!”). Their set didn’t crackle quite and fiercely as their visit to the Cameron Houe down the street a year and a day earlier, but it was still plenty great and Matthews got to celebrate his birthday without bleeding all over his kit.

So even before the headliners even set foot on stage, the night was deemed a success but even if, on paper, you preferred Sky Larkin’s more classically indie guitar-pop, there wasn’t going to be any resisting of Blood Red Shoes’ blunt instrument, ’90s alt rock-saluting attack. With Laura-Mary Carter on guitar, Steven Ansell on drums and both on vocals, their musical approach may have been less nuanced than their openers, but they understood the effectiveness of coming on strong and not letting up for a moment. And so it was that their relentless set focused on the most aggressive moments of Fire Like This and their debut Box Of Secrets and the permutations of their simple musical recipe – thick riffs and spidery lines from Carter’s Telecaster and steady, heavy rhythms from Ansell’s kit. On record, the balance of the vocals seems to favour Ansell, his hollers coming across more forcefully than Carter’s dulcet singing style, but live, it was much more evenly split and it was for the better. There may have only the two of them but they roared like a much larger band and in response, the smallish but enthusiastic audience cheered like a packed stadium. Go for the Sky Larkin, stay for the Blood Red Shoes, leave dazed and satisfied.

The Valley Star, Georgia Straight and San Francisco Examiner have features on Blood Red Shoes.

Photos: Blood Red Shoes, Sky Larkin @ The Horseshoe – October 27, 2010
MP3: Blood Red Shoes – “Light It Up”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Kaleide”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Heartsink”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Don’t Ask”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Colours Fade”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “This Is Not For You”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Say Something, Say Anything”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “I Wish I Was Someone Better”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “It’s Getting Boring By The Sea”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Still Windmills”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Antibodies”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
MySpace: Blood Red Shoes
MySpace: Sky Larkin

Interview talks to Elly Jackson of La Roux.

Clash and Dallas Voice have feature interviews with Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons.

Prefix has an interview with The Drums, who’ve just released a new video from their self-titled debut.

Video: The Drums – “Me & The Moon”

The Daily Iowan and Interview discover Phantogram.

The Walrus and Consequence Of Sound catch up with Liz Phair, who tries to explain every song on her mostly awful new record Funstyle to New York Magazine.

The Lissie show originally scheduled for last Tuesday and then cancelled when she lost her voice has now been rescheduled for January 18 of next year, but moved from the relatively cozy confines of the El Mocambo to the more spacious Opera House. Tickets for the new show are $15 and tickets for the old one will still be honoured.

MP3: Lissie – “Everywhere I Go”

New York Magazine gets some choice words from Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields. Strange Powers, the documentary on Merritt and his music, opens in Toronto next Thursday.

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Playground Hustle

The Dø at Wrongbar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s not quite a French invasion, but the success of acts like Phoenix and Daft Punk in North America – and to a lesser degree M83 – certainly made the idea of bands hailing from France making inroads over here a plausible idea, not something you could have said a few years ago. Seeking to be part of this wave are Franco-Finnish duo The Dø, whose debut album A Mouthful was a hit in France when it was released in 2008. And while it’s not nearly as accessible a record for the masses as a Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, it has plenty to offer the more adventurous listener and singer Olivia Merilahti is the sort of woman who could sell anything to anyone. And so it was that the album was released in North American back in May, when the band would otherwise have been hard at work at album number two, and a Fall tour that brought them to Toronto’s Wrongbar on Saturday night.

The show was originally scheduled for the fancier digs of The Mod Club but was relocated to cozier digs late last week to provide a more compressed concert-going experience. And if anyone thought that having to downsize venues at the last minute was a bad luck, then having the club’s power go out entirely as the band were soundchecking would have been a veritable bad omen. The darkness only lasted a few minutes, though, and would be as bad as things would get – from there, everything got considerably better.

Though A Mouthful is almost dizzyingly eclectic in the sounds and styles it encompasses, The Dø live were a much more focused entity, operating in a conventional four-piece band configuration and locked into “rock” mode. This didn’t mean that they were all about extended solos or feet up on monitors (though both of those things did happen), but many of the jazz and folk idiosyncrasies of the album were checked in favour of focusing on their more immediate pop material – and a few smouldering ballads – and putting on a more direct, impactful performance. With co-conspirator Dan Levy handling bass duties, Merilahti – occasionally armed with a guitar but always with her fascinatingly plaintive voice and considerable charisma – led the band through a set including much Mouthful material, a good crop of new material and an extended and deconstructed rendering of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope”. When they left the stage after an hour, they seemed to think they were done – as did the house DJ and roadie, who was shutting off amps – but the audience demanded more and they returned for one final song. Encores that are unplanned are great; so are shows that are over by nine. Yeah.

Photos: The Dø @ Wrongbar – September 11, 2010
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”
Video: The Dø – “Stay (Just A Little Bit More)”
MySpace: The Dø

Spinner and The Line Of Best Fit interview Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, who are in town at Lee’s Palace on Friday night. Still not cancelled!

A non-geoblocked version of the new Manic Street Preachers video startting Anna Friel (I hear you Kristen Chenoweth) and Michael Sheen is now up on the internets, though the official making-of video is available to all to see. The Guardian’s stream of Postcards From A Young Man, out September 28, is still for residents of the UK only though.

Video: Manic Street Preachers – “(It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love”

I’m not sure what the context for this just-released Clientele live video is – the song is from 2007’s God Save The Clientele and not the new Minotaur EP – but it’s pretty so it’s worth watching regardless.

Video: The Clientele – “Somebody Changed”

Build-A-Beard talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit about his beard.

Gigwise chats with Blood Red Shoes, in town at the Horseshoe on October 27 with Sky Larkin as support.

Drowned In Sound talks to Owen Brinley of the just-disbanded Grammatics about why the Leeds outfit called it a day.

MP3: Grammatics – “Double Negative”

Brazil’s Os Mutantes will be at the Opera House on November 17 with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.

MP3: Os Mutantes – “Anagrama”
MP3: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Round And Round”

Australian electronic-rock artist formerly known as Pivot – and now going by PVT – will be on tour in support of his new album Church With No Magic and be at Wrongbar on October 26.

MP3: PVT – “Quick Mile”

When tours collide! The just-announced tour teaming Small Black and Class Actress will be hitting Toronto on the same day as Delorean and Lemonade, so naturally they’ll be teaming up for one uber-show at the Mod Club on November 18.

MP3: Delorean – “Real Love”
MP3: Small Black – “Photojournalist”
MP3: Lemonade – “Lifted”
MP3: Class Actress – “All The Saints”

Marathonpacks’ Eric Harvey has a great piece at Pitchfork on the parallels and intersection of the aesthetics of photography and independent music.

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Light It Up

An introduction to Blood Red Shoes

Photo By Steve GullickSteve GullickThough English – they hail from Brighton, England – most reference points for the duo of Laura-May Carter and Steven Ansell, aka Blood Red Shoes, hail from this side of the Atlantic. With she on guitar and he on drums, they’re a touch too polished to really call punk but are much indebted to the grunge movement of the ’90s and all that followed and some of what preceded it. Which is to say they deliver a loud, punchy attack that’s light on frills, heavy on distortion and informed by angst but with enough pop hooks and charisma to be worthy of attention.

Ansell handles the majority of vocals from behind the kit but Carter’s backing vox and occasional leads offer some welcome compliment and contrast to his decidedly aggressive approach to the mic. This is not to suggest that Carter’s contributions are any more gentle than Ansell’s – she’s behind all the furious guitar riffage on their records, and there’s a lot of it. Though there’s just the two of them, they make a righteously large and full sound.

Their 2008 debut Box Of Secrets showcased their tried and true approach effectively, but their follow-up Fire Like This doesn’t sacrifice the intensity but adds just enough sophistication and nuance to their sound to keep them interesting over extended listens. It’s this foot that they’re putting forward when album number two, released in the Spring in the UK, becomes their North American debut on October 5 (following an appearance on the Scott Pilgrim vs The World soundtrack), which will be followed by a two-week North American tour, including an October 27 date at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

Glasswerk documents the “smash your shit” ethos that went into the making of their new video for “Heartsink”.

MP3: Blood Red Shoes – “Light It Up”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Heartsink”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Don’t Ask”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Colours Fade”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “This Is Not For You”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “Say Something, Say Anything”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “I Wish I Was Someone Better”
Video: Blood Red Shoes – “It’s Getting Boring By The Sea”
MySpace: Blood Red Shoes

BBC6 gets a status update on their new album from Elbow. Its current working title is Lippy Kids – somehow I don’t expect that one to stick.

Digital Spy reports that Patrick Wolf’s next record will no longer be called The Conqueror nor be a thematic sequel to last year’s The Bachelor. Nor is it on pace to be complete in time for release this year, as originally intended.

The Twilight Sad have released a video for the title track from their new EP The Wrong Car, due out on September 28. It’s long, angsty and puppet-powered.

Video: The Twilight Sad – “The Wrong Car”

The Line Of Best Fit and Clash talk to Barry Burns of Mogwai, whose live audio/video experience Burning/Special Moves is out tomorrow.

Kele gets critical of his output with Bloc Party in conversation with Spinner. He will be at the Mod Club – solo-style – on September 3.

Manic Street Preachers are building anticipation for their new record by giving away a non-album track to download. Postcards From A Young Man is out September 28.

MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “I’m Leaving You For Solitude”

Shut Your Fucking Face And Listen talks to frontman Wesley Patrick Gonzalez of Let’s Wrestle. Wrestling does not ensue, at least not on the record.

Isobel Campbell talks about her working relationship with Mark Lanegan to The Guardian and to The Herald about making their new album together, Hawk. It’s out this week and streaming in its entirety at Facebook. They’re at Lee’s Palace on October 20.

Stream: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan / Hawk

Also streaming in whole is Rose Elinor Dougall’s solo debut Without Why – it’s out next week.

Stream: Rose Elinor Dougall / Without Why

Exciting news from The Radio Dept. – following the release of a new single on November for “Never Follow Suit”, the reclusive Swedes will be coming to North America for a pair of shows in New York City on November 30 and December 1. And while I flew down there the last time they paid a visit, I’m hoping that won’t be necessary this time as they’re also promising more US (North American dates?) in early 2011 following the release of a double-disc compilation of b-sides and rarities in January. Radio Dept! Doing stuff! Yay! More details on the above available at Under The Radar.