Posts Tagged ‘Deer Tick’

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Yaa I Get It

Shad at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI think I’m done qualifying any opinions I might voice on the subject of hip-hop. Which doesn’t happen often, no, but when it does, I’ve always felt the need to point out that I don’t have the experience with the genre to form what I’d consider a properly contextualized viewpoint and so end up with a quarter-assed collection of observations rather than my usual half-assed.

This insecurity manifested itself most acutely a couple years ago when I was on the grand jury for the 2008 Polaris Prize and was unsure about throwing my support behind Shad’s shortlisted sophomore album The Old Prince because, even though I knew I liked it, I wasn’t sure I could actually say it was a great – objectively-speaking – rap album because, well, I didn’t know what that meant, exactly. And I’d like to think that I wasn’t the swing vote in The Old Prince not winning that year.

I’m much more confident this time around about things Shad and Polaris, specifically his new record TSOL – out today – and where it stands relative to my ballot when it goes in in a couple weeks – because it’ll be on there. From the first listen, TSOL succeeded in capturing my attention thanks to Shadrach Kabango’s imaginative wordplay and ability to convey heart and humour without getting schmaltzy. It doesn’t hurt that it’s more direct and pop-rock influenced than The Old Prince, which had more jazzy inclinations, but that doesn’t make it less sophisticated than its predecessor – just louder and heavier at a few key points. And strong enough that I can get up and say that this is one of the best, or at least one of my favourite, Canadian records of the past twelve months. Of any genre.

Shad was marking the release of the new record last night with an in-store at Sonic Boom, and despite it being perfect long weekend weather for basking in the sun, a goodly number of folks headed for the Annex record store’s basement to see the London-bred, Vancouver-based rapper showcase some of his material. Though a non-functioning guitar kept him from demonstrating his instrumental skills, his mic was working just fine and backed by a DJ and bassist-keyboardist – and getting guest vocals on “We Are The Ones” from Relic – he powered through a selection of TSOL tracks, highlights including his soulful tribute to women in “Keep Shining” and the big rock declaration of “We, Myself & I” (can someone please tell me where that guitar riff is lifted from). Those, combined with a couple of must-haves from The Old Prince demonstrated why despite sometimes seeming easy-going and self-effacing to a fault, he’s a charismatic and energetic MC, more than capable of working a room and putting on a show equal to the material. As Polaris jurors, we’e not supposed to let the artist’s live show influence our decision-making process – it’s all about the records – but it never hurts to have decisions that have already been made be reinforced.

Shad plays the Opera House on June 12. He talks to Winnipeg Free Press and Metro, is the cover boy of this month’s Exclaim and gives Spinner a track-by-track breakdown of the new record.

Photos: Shad @ Sonic Boom – May 24, 2010
MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
MP3: Shad – “I Don’t Really Like To”
Video: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
Video: Shad – “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”
Video: Shad – “I Don’t Really Like To”
Video: Shad – “Brother (Watching)”
MySpace: Shad

Filter gets to know The Besnard Lakes. They’re at the Mod Club on June 17 as part of NXNE.

Inside Toronto talks to Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers about their love of forests in cities. Their new record Carriage is out June 29 and they play the LEAF celebrations at Wychwood Barns on June 11.

Deer Tick were just here in April but will be putting out a new record in The Black Dirt Sessions on June 8 and as such, will be returning for a date at the Horseshoe on August 10. New York Magazine talks to frontman John McCauley.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Twenty Miles”

New York’s Liars will be at Lee’s Palace on September 29 in support of this year’s Sisterworld. The Georgia Straight has an interview with Angus Andrew.

Video: Liars – “The Overachievers”
Video: Liars – “Scissor”

The San Francisco Chronicle talks to Matt Berninger of The National. They’re in town on June 8 and 9 at Massey Hall.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with The Dodos; they’ve got a date at the Sound Academy on June 15 opening up for The New Pornographers.

Spin talks to Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. They are at the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Josh Ritter talks to Spinner about his literary ambitions: his debut novel Bright’s Passage is due out next Summer.

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Much More Than That

Review of Sharon Van Etten’s Because I Was In Love

Photo By Michael PalmieriMichael PalmieriWhen I wrote up Sharon Van Etten’s debut album Because I Was In Love back in October, I felt a bit bad about giving it just a passing mention as I liked it more than just a sentence or two might have implied. But at the time my web hosting was self-destructing and I wanted to get something out there before her local appearance opening for Rain Machine, so a cursory mention it was.

But with there seeming to be even more attention being paid to Van Etten and her record now than when it was initially released back in May 2009, now’s as good a time as any to revisit the album and, at the very least, elaborate a bit more on why it’s worthy of notice – and in a word, it’s the voice. Slow, rich and seemingly operating at the resonant frequency of melancholy and with the texture of tears, it’s the perfect vehicle for her spare, almost skeletal songs of longing and disappointment, transporting them directly through the ears and into the heart. That might seem a bit flowery a description, but I defy you to listen to the “ooohs” in “Much More Than This” and tell me otherwise. That voice, with the languid, low-key acoustic atmosphere and strategically-placed bits of electric guitar and piano make for a record that’s worth revisiting again not only a few months later, but again and again.

Blurt has a feature piece on Van Etten and Weather Vane Music has a stunning new song recorded for their Shaking Through series available to download. Sharon Van Etten opens up the sold out Great Lake Swimmers show at Trinity-St. Paul’s tomorrow night and returns on April 5 for a show at the Horseshoe with Megafaun.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

The Skinny discusses Shearwater’s new record The Golden Archipelago with frontman Jonathan Meiburg. The record is out February 23, they play Lee’s Palace on April 1.

Midlake’s Eric Pulido talks to The Quietus about coffee while his bandmates discuss their music with BBC6 and The Independent.

Spoon are using a live studio performance for the first video off Transference. They’re at the Sound Academy on March 29.

Video: Spoon – “Written In Reverse”

PitchforkTV has padded out their special video series with Beach House with a few more songs and The Chronicle-Herald and New York Magazine have interviews. They’re at the Opera House on March 30.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow have put out a new video from their forthcoming Nighttime Rainbows EP, out March 2. They play The Garrison on April 2.

Video: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “So Bloody, So Tight”

Beatroute, North County Times and The Georgia Straight talk to St. Vincent, who just released a new video/comedy sketch from Actor, featuring the thespian skills of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, also known as ThunderAnt.

Video: St. Vincent – “Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood”

Paste has got a video session with Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea.

BeatRoute talks to Nels Cline of Wilco.

MusicOmn, The Line Of Best Fit, Montreal Mirror, Montreal Gazette, The Advocate, CBC, eye and NOW have conversations with Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, who are in town at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Monday night. There’s also an official trailer up for Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt & The Magnetic Fields, the forthcoming documentary film on the band, and an MP3 from the 69 Love Songs vinyl box set, coming out on April 20. And for folks in Toronto looking to pick this up, Criminal Records has got your best deal as far as pre-orders of the limited edition go.

MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “The Book Of Love”
Trailer: Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt & The Magnetic Fields

Paste gets some info on She & Him’s Volume Two, out March 23, from Zooey Deschanel.

Good news for Toronto roots-rock fans – in addition to their free show at the Horseshoe this coming Tuesday night, Those Darlins have slated a return engagement on April 6 at the same venue with Deer Tick. Bad news is that’s the same night as the Drive-By Truckers’ gig at Lee’s Palace. Good news is that the Truckers are doing a second night at the same venu on the 7th. Unless you were planning on hitting both, in which case I think you break about even.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Easy”
MP3: Those Darlins – “Red Light Live”

Speaking of the Drive-By Truckers, Billboard talks to frontman Patterson Hood about their new record The Big To-Do, which will be out March 16.

The Jon Spencer-powered Heavy Trash have a date at the Horseshoe on April 23. Their latest Midnight Soul Serenade came out last year.

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Fried Your Little Brains

Review of The Kills' Keep On Your Mean Side reissue and giveaway

Photo via thekills.tvthekills.tvWhile I’m very much on record as believing The Kills’ 2008 release Midnight Boom to be a superb album, I’m sure part of that was due to the fact that it was the first Kills record I’d heard. Their reputation to that point was as a garage-blues-scuzz-punk rock duo and that’s not generally my thing, so discovering them to be – at least on that record – all those things but also exceedingly pop was a most pleasant surprise. But this shift in direction, while garnering new fans like myself, probably cost them some as well. Such is the karmic balance of the universe. And with the reissue tomorrow of their debut album Keep On Your Mean Side, The Kills that those long-time fans fell in sleazy lust with is fully on display.

Whereas Boom had me wondering how the duo would recreate all the sounds and textures in a live setting (answer: quite well), there’d have been almost no such question circa Mean Side. Besides some basic drums, Mean Side is all about VV, Hotel, two guitars and a healthy dose of sneering attitude. The prevailing aesthetic is loose and raw, like delta blues by way of The Velvet Underground, and made noteworthy by Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart’s remarkable presence. The songs aren’t all that memorable individually, but collectively they create a definite atmosphere – gritty, grimy and driving – and while what they’re doing isn’t exactly fresh, their execution and charisma commands attention.

Or it did, circa 2003. Since then, The Kills have taken their sound and gone downtown, less juke joint and more nightclub but most importantly, still seedy. I’m not sure what the impetus for this reissue is, and according to this interview with neither does Hince, but the most obvious answer is to capitalize on the success of Boom and perhaps get new fans to pick up the old stuff and use the five bonus tracks to reel in some of the older ones. To the former, it’s far enough removed from where they are now to offer another fix while waiting for album four and to the latter, five extra tracks – one new song, one dictaphone piece and three covers – probably isn’t enough to justify the expenditure but either way, there it is.

The Kills are at The Phoenix on Thursday night, May 7, and courtesy of Against The Grain and Outside Music, I’ve got one prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show and copies of both Midnight Boom and the Keep On Your Mean Side reissue on CD to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want The Kills” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight tomorrow night, May 5.

And for this week only, PitchforkTV is streaming the 2005 Kills tour documentary I Hate The Way You Love.

MP3: The Kills – “Black Rooster”
MP3: The Kills – “Cat Claw”
Video: The Kills – “Fried My Little Brains”
Video: The Kills: I Hate The Way You Love
MySpace: The Kills

Ear Farm and Billboard interview Thomas Mars of Phoenix, who will release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on May 29 and follow that up with a show at The Phoenix on June 15.

Each Note Secure talks to Aaron Pfenning of Chairlift.

Blurt, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly talk to Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne about the absurd controversy over their “Do You Realize?” being named the Oklahoma state song.

Beirut’s Zach Condon gives Filter a guide of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have a date at the Phoenix on July 9.

If you didn’t know, the June 12 Malajube show at Lee’s Palace is free, tickets at Rotate This and Soundscapes and also at the door. Don’t ask why, just go.

The Brother Kite continue to work on the much-anticipated follow-up to Waiting For The Time To Be Right, and a sneak preview of some of the new material in progress can be heard at Bandcamp. And unsurprisingly, it sounds marvelous.

New York Magazine and Decider interview Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes.

Deer Tick have a date at the Horseshoe for July 17. Their new album Born On Flag Day is due out June 23.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Easy”

This tweet from Labrador certainly seems to imply that we’ll see a new EP from The Radio Dept this Summer in advance of the release (fingers crossed) of Clinging To A Scheme this Fall. Alls I know is that in less than two weeks, I’m going to be in New York City to see the reclusive Swedes live for the first time and I am stoked. And also for Shake Shack. Stoked for Radio Dept and Shake Shack. And Coney Island. I think I’m going to go to Coney Island.

Still not sure if I’m going to make it out to see Thao With The Get Down Stay Down at the Bowery Ballroom the night I get in, though. Will play that one by ear. There’s an interview with her at the Idaho Statesman.

The National Post has an extensive feature piece on Scott Pilgrim, both the comic and the film, and gets creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley to identify and annotate various locales around Toronto that play roles in the comic and will, presumably, make appearances in the film. Filming is ongoing around the city right now and video blog entries on the film’s website now number four.

And a reminder that the Toronto Comic Arts Festival will take place this coming weekend at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor (another Pilgrim location!) and feature appearances from both Lee-O’Malley and Phonogram artist Jamie McKelvie. Issue two of The Singles Club finally came out last week, by the way, and was worth the wait though that shouldn’t be taken as permission for issue three to take another five months to put together, no sir.