Posts Tagged ‘Cut Off Your Hands’

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Happy As Can Be

Cut Off Your Hands and Boys Who Say No at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t know what their official show count at SxSW was, but I think I managed to miss Cut Off Your Hands play no less than ten times in four days. This actually took some effort. And it wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to see them – you may recall I quite liked their debut You And I despite its more derivative qualities – but knowing that they’d be in Toronto just a week later, it was hard to justify missing another band who perhaps didn’t have T.O. in their travel plans to see one that was. And while I still think that was the smart thing to do, after their blistering set at the Horseshoe on Monday night, I can’t but help feeling a twinge of regret that I’ll have to wait who knows how long to see them again.

I’d missed most of the first band in the evening, an instrumental post-rock outfit called Siberia, but was there in plenty of time for the middle act, a local outfit with the somewhat unfortunate name of Boys Who Say No – unfortunate because it’s a bad name and they were quite a good band. I’d describe them as being a little bit folk and a little bit punk, but would never call them folk-punk. They had impressive chops channeled into creating a Maritime-ish good times party vibe that initially made me want to dismiss them – I like my music serious and profound, thank you very much – but by set’s end I was won over.

No such convincing was needed for Cut Off Your Hands. New Zealand’s first most popular post-punk-pop quartet came out firing on all cylinders, frontman Nick Johnston pogoing all over the stage, and didn’t let up for a moment of their compact but exhausting 40-minute set. Whereas the album took pains to include some gentler moments and show off the band’s sensitive side, live they were all about being turned up to 10 and staying at 10 until their tanks ran down to zero. And even though the record crackles with no small amount of energy, I was quite (and pleasantly) surprised by just how utterly gleeful and manic their performance was, particularly since they were able to execute the songs so perfectly and Johnston was able to avoid causing himself serious physical harm. Slower songs were made fast and fast songs made breakneck, but there was no compromising quality for energy, and that’s a hell of a thing to pull off. Excellence.

eye has both an interview with the band and a glowing show review while Chart also enjoyed themselves, just not quite as much.

Photos: Cut Off Your Hands, Boys Who Say No @ The Horseshoe – March 30, 2009
MP3: Cut Off Your Hands – “Turn Cold”
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 1)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 2)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 3)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Oh Girl”
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “You And I”
MySpace: Cut Off Your Hands

Cut Off Your Hands had been touring North America with Ra Ra Riot, but peeled off on their own for a few Canadian dates but will meet back up with them in New York City. Ra Ra Riot are here on Sunday opening up for Death Cab at the Sound Academy – they gave an interview to The National Post.

Scots 1990s, whose latest album Kicks was also helmed by Cut Off Your Hands producer Bernard Butler, have just announced a North American tour which brings them to the Horseshoe on June 3.

MP3: 1990s – “The Box”
Video: 1990s – “Animate”

Some samples from upcoming releases of note, starting with Superchunk! The first new ‘Chunk material in forever will be out on April 7 in the form of the Leaves In The Gutter EP and 20% of it sounds like this.

MP3: Superchunk – “Misfits & Mistakes”

Also out that day is the SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS! compilation, from which you can hear the ‘Chunk being covered by Les Savy Fav.

MP3: Les Savy Fav – “Precision Auto”

King Khan & The Shrines will release What Is?! on April 21 and play the Phoenix on May 12.

MP3: King Khan & The Shrines – “Land Of The Freak”

John Vanderslice will release his first album for new label Dead Oceans on May 19 in Romanian Names, and one of the songs sounds like this. The Hartford Courant and Express Night Out talk to the ‘Slice about his new record.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Fetal Horses”

The Rumble Strips won’t release their second album Welcome To The Walk Alone until June 8 in the UK, but they’re sharing the first single from it, entitled “London”.

MP3: The Rumble Strips – “London”

Exclaim and Muzzle Of Bees have interviews with Hutch Harris of The Thermals. Their new album Now We Can See is out next Tuesday and they play The Horseshoe on May 3. Here’s another track from the record:

MP3: The Thermals – “When We Were Alive”

Blurt and The Dallas Observer talk to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

Neil Young is streaming Fork In The Road on his MySpace in advance of its release next Tuesday.

Stream: Neil Young / Fork In The Road

Wireless Bollinger, Flagstaff Live and CMT talk to Justin Townes Earle, who plays the Horseshoe on April 22.

Bishop Allen’s Justin Rice talks inspiration with Spinner.

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Ah! Melody

Review of Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson and giveaway

Photo via Cuaderno ContableCuaderno ContableThough Pitchfork’s double-whammy today of a perfect 10.0 score and “Best New Music” laurel certainly don’t hurt, the legend of Serge Gainsbourg’s 1971 album Le histoire de Melody Nelson was well-established. Tremendously influential and infamously lecherous, the musical tale of an affair between an older French gentleman and teenage girl is a notorious one – even if you haven’t heard the record, you’ve heard OF the record.

It’s difficult to come up with words to describe the album. The proper adjectives – seedy, creepy, sleazy, debauched – all seem like negative descriptors but in this context, they imply perfection. It’s all deliberate and perfectly arranged with the orchestral strings, greasy funk guitar and most importantly Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s voices – the embodiment of lech and ingenue respectively – bring their story vividly to life. Even if you don’t speak French, and I don’t think that they would have taught me the necessary vocabulary in my 9th grade class, the record gets the message across musically and by the end of its sub-30 minute running time, you’re left feeling not a little bit dirty. Which I suspect is entirely the point.

Though it’s been almost 40 years since the album’s release, it’s only just been released in North America for the first time in deluxe CD form, with extensive liner notes, and heavyweight vinyl. And, courtesy of Light In The Attic, I’ve got a prize pack consisting of both the digital and analog forms of the album, along with a limited-edition poster, to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “Je veux l’histoire de Melody Nelson” in the subject line and your full name and address in the body. Contest is open to residents of North America and notes that though the CD was released this week, the LP has been delayed till mid-May so if you win, that’ll come a bit later. But in the meantime, watch the video clips made for each song on the album by Jean-Christophe Averty. And then wash your hands.

Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “Melody”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “Ballade de Melody Nelson”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “Valse de Melody”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “Ah Melody”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “L’Hotel particulier”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “En Melody”
Video: Serge Gainsbourg – “Cargo Culte”

There’s an MP3 from the new Grizzly Bear’s forthcoming album Veckatimest. It’s out May 26 and they’re at the Phoenix on June 5.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Cheerleader”

Kyle from Information Leafblower interviews Bloc Party for DCist. Express Night Out and Boston Music Spotlight also have interviews.

Explosions In The Sky give Filter their guide to Austin, Texas. Well that would have been handy… a week ago.

NPR profiles Elvis Perkins In Dearland, who will be at the Horseshoe on April 29.

Prefix has an interview with Marissa Nadler, who has a date at the El Mocambo on April 21 as support for The Handsome Family.

MP3: Marissa Nadler – “River Of Dirt”

The National Post interviews Decemberist Colin Meloy.

Thanks to a commenter yesterday for pointing out that the forthcoming Wilco live doc Ashes Of American Flags, out on DVD April 18, will be getting a couple theatrical screenings in Toronto in May as part of Hot Docs. The band have also posted a bit of a news update with regards to the new album, narrowing down the release date to “late June” (which I’m guessing means June 23) and a track listing, though not in sequence.

Bry Webb of Constantines discusses getting older with The Toronto Sun. Here’s hoping his old bones hold up over their three-night stand at the Phoenix on March 31, April 1 and April 2.

Sky Larkin’s The Golden Spike will be getting a North American release on April 14. They’re at the Opera House on April 1 as support for Los Campesinos!.

St Vincent’s Annie Clark discusses her forthcoming album Actor with Spinner. The record is out May 5.

The AV Club gets a Drive-By Truckers update from Patterson Hood, including a progress report on their new album(s).

The Toronto Star and Chart chat with Cut Off Your Hands, in town for a show at the Horseshoe this Monday night. interviews White Lies. They’re at Lee’s Palace on Tuesday night for a sold-out show.

Filter gets to know Love Is All.

Santigold is at the Phoenix with a full band on June 3.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Bubbles & Wheezy

The Hylozoists at Soundscapes in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust a week after seeing Bruce Peninsula jam Soundscapes to the gills for a rousing in-store, the store again played host to an act intent on cramming a lot of band into not a lot of space. This time, it was The Hylozoists and while the ensemble was hardly small with six members, it was their equipment – in particular the dual vibraphones – that took up the majority of the real estate.

The Hylozoists are generally known as “that vibraphone band”, and while that’s not an inaccurate description – the instrument is very central to their sound – it’s also fails to do justice to the scope and sweep of their sound. It’s far more enticing to go with something along the lines of, “that band that creates soundtracks to lost ’60s European art films, all elegance and majesty and bursting with texture, atmosphere and melody. And they have a vibraphone”. Listening to them play – and it’s really unreal how good a live sound they were able to get with just a portable PA – you’d be hard-pressed to not close your eyes and imagine yourself in some exotic and exciting locale, engaged in some manner of illicit adventure or grand romance.

The occasion for the show was the recent release of their new album L’Ile de Sept Villes, which somehow manages somehow to even out-lush their last effort, La Fin Du Monde – no mean feat. The band are playing a handful of dates around southern Ontario throughout this month, including a February 21 date at the Mod Club – if you can, hit up one of the shows and be taken away somewhere besides a dark and slushy southern Ontario in February.

The Guelph Mercury talks to head Hylo Paul Aucoin about finding inspiration for the new album.

Photos: The Hylozoists @ Soundscapes – February 10, 2009
MP3: The Hylozoists – “Smiley Smiley”
MySpace: The Hylozoists

eye pays tribute to Wavelength on the occasion of the music showcase’s ninth anniversary and start of its final year. The celebrations start tonight, run through the weekend and were covered here last month.

JAM, Metro, The Ottawa Citizen, The Coast and Chart talk to Jenn Grant about her new record Echoes while The National Post gets some Valentine’s Day insight from her. She plays and early show at the Mod Club tonight and will be at the Reverb on March 14 for CMW.

Prefix interviews AC Newman and Pitchfork is streaming his cover of a-Ha’s “Take On Me”. He plays Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Neko Case talks to Reuters about Middle Cyclone, due out March 3. And if you were hesitating on either of her shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18, consider yourself lost – both are sold out.

Malajube have rolled out a video from their new album Labyrinthes. They’re at the El Mocambo on March 12 as part of CMW and The National Post has an interview.

Video: Malajube – “Porté Disparu”

Mobius Band want to be your Valentine again. As they did last year, they’re making an EP of romance-themed cover songs available for free off their website tomorrow.

Chairlift talk to NME about the forthcoming major label re-release of their debut Does You Inspire You?, which will come with two extra tracks when it arrives in April. They play The Phoenix on April 25 with Peter Bjorn & John.

Billboard and American Songwriter talk to Jason Lytle about coming back to music with Yours Truly, The Commuter. It’s out on May 19.

Mark Olson and Gary Louris discuss their reunion with PopMatters and The Free-Lance Star.

SoundProof interviews Cut Off Your Hands, set to play the Horseshoe on March 30.

The Quietus has details on the first batch of 5.1 surround-sound Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues, due out March 30 in the UK and presumably April 1 in North America.

You can currently stream the whole of the War Child: Heroes compilation, due out February 24, over at the project’s MySpace.

Stream: War Child: Heroes

The Quarter Bin recaps the Scott Pilgrim panel with Bryan Lee-O’Malley at last weekend’s New York Comic Con, including info on the film which is set to begin filming here in Toronto at the end of March. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, aka Ramona Flowers, is already in town and MTV has a photo of her – or her hair and eyes, at least – getting in character.

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

In Her Gentle Jaws

An Introduction To The Depreciation Guild

Photo By Katelyn RoofKatelyn RoofMuch of the buzz surrounding next Thursday’s show at Neutral is focusing on the evening’s headliners, Brooklyn’s The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, and with good reason – their new self-titled album, out tomorrow, is wonderful and will be discussed soon enough. But it’s a shame that all the attention is falling on them when their tourmates are just as noteworthy.

That would be The Depreciation Guild, also from Brooklyn, and talking points around the band generally center around the fact that they’re giving their debut album, In Her Gentle Jaws away for free on their website and also that their band’s sound is built off of an old 8-bit Nintendo gaming system. Which, as far as angles for getting noticed go, are pretty good. But putting those aside and focusing on the music, there’s still plenty to comment on.

Like how they take those tones and textures that evoke memories of pixelated plumbers amongst those of a certain generation and build soaring, shoegazing soundscapes of pop wonder out of them. And while the 8-bit aesthetic is fundamental to their sound, they’re not beholden to it – they also use more conventional instruments like guitars and drums to get where they’re going and the songs would more than stand up even without the Nintendo backbone – it just might not be quite as much fun.

Exclaim and Gothamist talk to The Depreciation Guild about, um, their Nintendo-fi sounds and their free album. And you can also get their EP Nautilus for free at 8-Bit Peoples. Update: This show has been moved to Lee’s Palace.

MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Darklooming”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Butterfly Kisses”
MP3: The Depreciation Guild – “Nautilus”
Video: The Depreciation Guild – “Nautilus”
MySpace: The Depreciation Guild

Rolf Klausener talks to The National Post about the utter bizarreness of The Acorn’s world right now, where just before setting out on an arena tour of the UK in support of Elbow, they get the Kanye West seal of approval for their video for “Crooked Legs”.

Video: The Acorn – “Crooked Legs”

The Village Voice and Exclaim talk to Matt & Kim, though it’s really just Matt.

Spinner interfaces with Of Montreal, feels vaguely dirty about it the next morning.

It’s a kiwi invasion! First, Cut Off Your Hands will make their Toronto debut at the Horseshoe on March 30 – tickets $10 in advance.

And then Flight Of The Conchords will play not one but two nights at Massey Hall on April 21 and 22. Presale goes today at 10AM, tickets $49.50. That’s… a lot.

Cloud Cult and Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s are at the El Mocambo on April 3, tickets $10.

Super Furry Animals have a new album in the can, if not a name for it, and will release it digitally via their website on March 16 and give it a physical release on April 21. Details at Beggars blog.

This Is Fake DIY interviews The Airborne Toxic Event, playing the El Mocambo on March 3.

Stereogum gets a progress report on the new Wrens record.

Spin gets the backstory on the AC Newman song “Submarines Of Stockholm”.

White Lies’ chart-topping (in the UK) debut To Lose My Life will get a North American release on March 17 – none of this, “wait a year before jumping across the pond” nonsense. Tickets for their March 31 show at Lee’s Palace with Friendly Fires and The Soft Pack will run you $15.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


Doves to reign over Kingdom Of Rust

Photo via Doves.netDovesJoyous news to start the day yesterday when it was announced that Doves had not only assigned a release date to their fourth album and first in over four years – Kingdom Of Rust will be available on April 7 in North America – but they were also offering the lead track from the record, “Jetstream”, available as a free download on their website for a fortnight in exchange for signing up to their mailing list. Curiously, said offer seems to have disappeared for the moment but I expect that’s due to technical difficulties and it’ll be back soon.

And though the breathless press release verbiage that accompanied the news heralded the new record as their “most sonically adventurous, intimate, cerebral, propulsive to date”, I suspect it’ll be much like the previous three Doves records. Take two parts soaring anthemicism, two parts atmospheric melancholy, season with equal portions of dance and dreampop influences and serve. Guaranteed to be mostly brilliant. Doves arrived almost fully-formed with their 2001 debut Lost Souls and have basically been refining their sound ever since, oblivious to musical trends. Never quite fashionable, but still successful – it won’t surprise me one whit to see Kingdom hit #1 on the UK charts as its predecessor Some Cities did – and basically forging a… what’s it called? Oh yes, a career.

Though it’s amusing to think back to a couple of their first gigs in Toronto, where they displayed a knack for picking support acts who would manage to break quite big. Their first visit in March 2001 was in the company of a scruffy band of New Yorkers called The Strokes and their third in September of 2002 introduced the city to a band of beards who called themselves My Morning Jacket. So if the music thing hadn’t taken off as well as it did, they’d have quite possibly had a promising career in A&R.

Doves expect to tour North America sometime in the Spring. Pitchfork has a tracklist for Kingdom Of Dust.

MySpace: Doves

Spin is streaming Elbow’s contribution to the War Child: Heroes compilation coming out on February 24 – a cover of U2’s “Running To Stand Still”.

The Toronto Sun, The Globe & Mail, Stuff NZ and Out converse with Franz Ferdinand.

NPR welcomes Laura Marling for a World Cafe session.

The Shield Gazette interviews Emmy The Great about the darkness of her debut album First Love, out February 9.

Patrick Wolf discusses his battle to release Battle independently with The Quietus.

That March 31 Friendly Fires show of indeterminate locale I pointed out a couple weeks ago has come into much sharper focus – it will be happening at Lee’s Palace and also feature White Lies, currently holders of the #1 record in the UK, and The Soft Pack, formerly The Muslims. That, kids, is a ridiculously buzzy tour. Full dates at the Windish Agency. The Telegraph and The Shields Gazette have features on who is probably the headliner of that little troupe, White Lies.

Since it was Hot Press who first informed me last Summer that Irish dreampop outfit Butterfly Explosion had split up, it seems appropriate that it be Hot Press be the ones to inform me that they’re not so finished after all. Granted, with a number of lineup changes including the departure of keyboardist/vocalist Sorcha Brennan, it’s not the same band who impressed in April 2007 but still, it’s good that they’ll have another chance to fulfill the potential I saw in them.

MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Chemistry”

Soundproof interviews Mercury Rev.

Rolling Stone gets to know M83. They’ll be playing a one-off show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in March wherein Anthony Gonzalez will supply each and every member of the orchestra with their own distortion pedals.

Cut Off Your Hands have released a new video, and a local tour date is forthcoming very soon.

Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Turn Cold”

Magnet finds out what the members of The Smiths are up to these days.

The Guardian seeks the formula to the perfect pop song, consulting at length with Jarvis Cocker, amongst others, on the topic.