Posts Tagged ‘Blue Roses’

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Leave Me In Love

An introduction to The High Wire

Photo via Anorak LondonAnorak LondonLondon trio The High Wire first got onto my radar over a year ago, as we were both headed to New York City for CMJ and while our paths would not cross – I believe their showcases were done before I even arrived – the samples I heard made a truly indelible impression. More than anything, they reminded me of my beloved Mojave 3 in the way they stitched together rootsy song structures with a threads of shimmering dream-pop, and also in the way that Tim Crompton and Canadian ex-pat Alexia Hagen’s voices intertwined overtop – the interplay was Halstead-Goswell-like, and you should know that’s not a compliment I hand out lightly. Add in touchstones like Mercury Rev and Spiritualized and there was really no way I wasn’t going to be entranced by this band.

Since my tastes always reflect the zeitgeist as a whole, I fully expected them to be one of the more talked-about bands of 2009. CMJ reports were positive and they were then tapped to open up in London for Coldplay at the end of 2008 so it certainly seemed that their ducks were getting in a row. In anticipation, I ordered up a copy of their debut album Ahead Of The Rain, released independently early this year, and waited for the buzz to build. And waited. Long story short (I could have added in a few dozen more “and waited”s), it seemed like the record and the band just disappeared. It certainly wasn’t for lack of quality, as Ahead Of The Rain delivered on much of the promise I had initially heard last year, rich in sun-kissed melodies and hazy yet substantial atmosphere. But with an online presence that was vague at best – I was a bit amazed I had managed to order a copy of the CD – I feared that they had simply gone away as nascent bands are wont to do. I revisited the album periodically throughout the year but The High Wire largely became out of sight, out of mind.

And then, around mid-November, I started to hear it. A faint, but definite buzz. An MP3 from a new album – Ahead Of The Rain‘s time had passed, apparently – followed by glowing profiles in The Guardian and Spinner… it seems like The High Wire’s time has come, if a year or so later than I’d expected. Their new record The Sleep Tape is set for a March 2010 release and based on the lead single “Odds And Evens” and other samples off their MySpace, they’ve fattened up their sound some but lost none of the sweetness that initially beguiled. Am I excited about this record? Yes, I would say that I am.

There’s recent interviews with the band at Subba-Cultcha and Amelia’s Magazine, wherein they reveal to be far less mysterious than I’d originally thought but just as lovely.

MP3: The High Wire – “Leave Me In Love”
MySpace: The High Wire

The Line Of Best Fit reports that UK folk trio Peggy Sue have signed to Wichita Recordings and will release their debut album Fossils And Other Phantoms in April 2010. A new song is available to anyone who signs up to their mailing list. An old song is available to anyone who clicks the link below.

MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Fanfarlo. So you know how I’d said that the only silver lining to Fanfarlo cancelling their show at the El Mocambo last night on account of a stolen passport was that I’d get to go see Blue Roses at the Drake instead? Well guess who canceled on account of a “massive passport problem”? Yeaaaaah. Maybe they can make up their dates together.

The Daily Growl is streaming “Goodbye England”, the new single from Laura Marling and offering downloads of live versions it and another new song from her next album. She’s at the Drake Underground on February 9.

The Times profiles Mumford & Sons, who will release Sigh No More on March 15 and play the El Mocambo a month earlier on February 15.

Se7en Magazine has an interview with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, whose The Winter Of Mixed Drinks will be out on March 16. Only five days before the start of the Spring of Jell-O shooters.

This Is London talks to Lily Allen.

Hot Chip’s Al Doyle talks to Spinner about the making of their next album One Life Stand, out February 9. They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20 with The xx, whose recent instore in Boston was recorded by Bradley’s Almanac and is now available to download.

Rolling Stone gets to know The Big Pink, who will be at the Mod Club on March 24.

Editors-in-chief Tom Smith brags to Spinner about being big in Belgium.

Portishead have released a new single is “Chase The Tear”, all proceeds from which will go to support Amnesty International.

Video: Portishead – “Chase The Tear”

The AV Club interviews Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant.

Billboard reports that Elvis Costello will release another vintage live record to follow up this year’s Live At The El Mocambo. Live at Hollywood High, a recording from Los Angeles circa June 1978, will be out January 12.

Spinner has an Interface session and Filter a feature on The Swell Season.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Cover Your Tracks

An introduction to Blue Roses

Photo By Danny NorthDanny NorthI had spent the last few days getting contradictory answers as to whether the December 15 Fanfarlo show at the El Mocambo I’d been so looking forward to and the Montreal date the following night were cancelled or not, but yesterday afternoon the band settled the matter – frontman Simon Balthazar’s passport was stolen in Portland and there was no getting a replacement in time to make the Canadian dates. They’ll surely visit us another time, but not next week.

But goodness knows I’m nothing if not someone who always sees the bright side of things (stop laughing) so if there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the evening is freed up to head down to the Drake Underground to see the Canadian debut of Blue Roses. Both the stage name of Ms Laura Groves of England as well as the title of her debut album, the thing that will strike you first about Blue Roses is her voice; Groves possesses a soprano that will stop you in your tracks, then watch in amazement as it soars and swoops around you. The paths it traces are more than a little reminiscent of Kate Bush or, using a more contemporary reference point, Joanna Newsom albeit less boundary-pushing than the former or potentially polarizing than the latter.

Whether accompanied by elegantly fingerpicked guitar or dramatic piano, the music of Blue Roses maintains a light, airy feel, even when the lyrical matter gets weighty or melancholic. And putting aside the arrangements and their delicate balance of traditional and modern tones, the sense of wide-eyed optimism remains – it’s just inherent in Groves’ 21-year old voice. It’s the sound of youth and hopefulness, though not necessarily naivete – these songs have been lived in. Just as Bush or Newsom sound like their songs belong to some dark and mysterious, fairy-inhabited woods, Groves’ songs inhabit a simpler, more pastoral place – one of open fields and meadows, where the skies might be overcast but are worth celebrating nonetheless.

Groves digitally released a new EP yesterday entitled Does Anyone Love Me Now and is currently on her debut tour of North America supporting Marcus Foster and, as previously mentioned, will be at the Drake Underground on December 15. Stereogum collected a series of live performance videos recorded in assorted idyllic locales while Off The Beaten Tracks captured a couple of songs on tape at this Summer’s Edinburgh Festival before the rains came. The Quietus talked to Groves about her hometown of Shipley, Yorkshire.

MP3: Blue Roses – “Doubtful Comforts”
MP3: Blue Roses – “I Am Leaving”
Video: Blue Roses – “I Am Leaving”
MySpace: Blue Roses

The Drake will also be hosting another young and talented English singer-songwriter in the coming months, though I would think that Laura Marling could easily fill a much larger room than the Underground. Perhaps the February 9 engagement is intended to be a deliberately undersized and intimate show to mark the release of her second album, which currently has no name or street date but February is as reasonable a guess as any. Either way, expect the $13.50 tickets, which go on sale Friday, to go fast.

MP3: Laura Marling – “Ghosts”

Marling will also be heading to India this month to do some shows accompanied by Mumford & Sons, with whom she made her Toronto debut last October. Spinner talks to Marcus Mumford about how that tour came about. Mumford & Sons play the decidedly less exotic but much more easily accessible El Mocambo on February 15, their debut Sigh No More will get a North American release on March 2 and you can download a free stripped-down version of their “White Blank Page” over at The Times.

The February 16 release of Lightspeed Champion’s next proper album Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You may still be a couple months off, but those looking for a more immediate fix need look no further than Dev Hynes’ own website where he’s begun posting what he calls a series of bootlegs, which are essentially off-the-cuff albums of Hynes messing about. The first to be made available is House-Sitting Songs, which as the title implies, was “recorded mid May 2009 within a week whilst house-sitting for a friend of mine in Manhattan”. Hynes talks to Spinner about his reasons for releasing the record and what else is yet to come.

ZIP: Lightspeed Champion / House-Sitting Songs

Guy Garvey of Elbow gives Teletext an update on how things are progressing with their next album, likely not due out until 2011.

The Music Magazine and Blurt talk to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutichison about their new album The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, due out March 16 in North America.

I had thought that Asobi Seksu’s last visit in October might be an acoustic set, given their quieter tourmates in Loney Dear and Anna Ternheim and the impending release of their new acoustic record Rewolf but no – it was as big and loud a performance as ever. They will, however, be busting out the acoustics – and presumably leaving the strobe lights at home – for their February 1 show at the Drake. Tickets for that will be $10 in advance. Flavorwire talks to Yuki Chikudate about the decision to make an acoustic record.

MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday” (acoustic)

French duo Air has announced a Spring 2010 tour in support of their latest record Love 2 – look for them on March 23 at the Phoenix.

Though they were just here, The Big Pink have announced another tour for next Spring where they’ll be accompanied by fellow strobe junkies A Place To Bury Strangers. Deafness and blindness guaranteed. The Toronto date is March 24 at the Mod Club.

MP3: The Big Pink – “Dominos”
MP3: The Big Pink – “Too Young To Love”
MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers – “In Your Heart”

Cymbals Eat Guitars have set an April 6 date at the El Mocambo as part of a Spring tour, tickets $10. They recently released sessions at both Laundromatinee and Daytrotter.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


An introduction to The Wilderness Of Manitoba

TWOMPhoto via MySpaceMySpaceOpening up with the sound of bird noises might be a bit of an over-sell, but forgiveness comes easily when the multi-layered harmonies of Toronto’s The Wilderness Of Manitoba arrive and usher in their debut EP, Hymns Of Love And Spirits. Sharing members with Provincial Parks and Key Witness, The Wilderness of Manitoba come with a very clear and direct mandate – to craft gentle, intricate folk songs of the sort that no one seems to make anymore. Of course, that’s a mandate that many have taken on in recent years and so, ironically, there’s a good number of artists presently making those sorts of songs.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba still manage to stand tall amongst their peers, however, and stand out. Obviously drawing inspiration from both the English and American folk revivals of the 1960s, they place an emphasis on choral vocals that give the mini-album a certain dreamy quality that splits the difference between spiritual and ghostly. The musical arrangements are similarly kept ethereal, all gentle acoustic guitar, spare percussion with an occasional guest appearance from a banjo, cello or keys and carried aloft on a plush cloud of reverb. It’s a record that drifts by prettily, seemingly untethered from earthly concerns yet tangible enough to still carry a very real emotional heft. It haunts, like a fond but faded memory.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba are playing The Garrison tomorrow night with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers and Slow Down Molasses. BlogTO interviewed the band at the end of the Summer while The Line Of Best Fit had a more recent conversation.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Bluebirds”

Timber Timbre has made his self-titled debut available as a free download through the end of Saturday, October 31. He plays a free show at the North York Central Library on November 7. It’s all about the free.

MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”
Video: Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”
Video: Timber Timbre – “We’ll Find Out”
ZIP: Timber Timbre / Timber Timbre talks to Liz Powell of Land Of Talk.

Blurt reports that Midlake will finally release their new record The Courage of Others on February 2.

Fazer has got an interview with Logan Kroeber of The Dodos.

Tiny Mix Tapes talks to Thao. Aaah, that’s some good alliteration right there. Thao plays the El Mocambo on November 1.

The Quietus asks Alison Mosshart what’s up with each of her bands, The Kills and The Dead Weather – new records from both in 2010. There you go.

PitchforkTV has added a video interview segment with Yo La Tengo to go with their Don’t Look Down session performances. The Skinny, San Diego News Network, The San Francisco Examiner and Vail Daily also have interviews.

Magnet picks their five most overrated and underrated Galaxie 500 songs. Is it really possible for a band that’s chronically underrated to have overrated songs?

Sweden’s Shout Out Louds have completed their new album and named it Work – look for it February 23 of next year.

Mid to late December is usually a real dead zone for tours coming through town, so what are the odds that two shows I’d want to see would arrive on the same night? Apparently pretty good. There’s no way I’m not going to be seeing Fanfarlo at the El Mocambo that night, but am sad that it means missing seeing Blue Roses – aka English singer-songwriter Laura Groves who released a lovely self-titled debut back in the Spring – at the Drake Underground, opening up for Marcus Foster, whom I don’t know at all. There’s no reason I can think of not to be at Fanfarlo, but if you can come up with one it better be because you’re at this show instead.

MP3: Blue Roses – “Doubtful Comforts”
MP3: Blue Roses – “I Am Leaving”

It’s not new album news, per se, but NME’s reporting that Lightspeed Champion will have a new single out entitled “Marlene” on January 25 is certainly a good omen that record number two is coming.

Exclaim talks to The xx. They’re at the Phoenix on December 2.