Posts Tagged ‘Doughboys’

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

The Double Cross

Sloan, Modern Superstitions and Whale Tooth at Echo Beach in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve been trying to do piggyback a write up of Sloan’s latest The Double Cross on a live review all Summer but have been constantly foiled. For their album launch in-store at Sonic Boom back in May, a perfect storm of non-functional transit made a 10-minute trip take 45 and while I could hear the show, I couldn’t see a damn thing. Then for their two-night stand at the Mod Club I was felled by a post-NXNE cold so those didn’t happen. It certainly looked as though my post explaining my Polaris ballot – on which The Double Cross earned a spot – was going to be all the opportunity I’d get to sing the record’s praises.

Though really, I think that little blurb said a lot. By rights, Sloan should be national treasures, but by getting their narrative drama over and done with so early on in their career – remember the post-Twice Removed break up/One Chord To Another reunion – they’ve only been able to make headlines with a long career of making consistently good and oft times brilliant guitar pop. That should be more than enough but it also makes them easy to take for granted – something I’ve been more than guilty of, particularly over their last few albums which may have tailed off in quality but still deserved more time than I gave them.

It’s a trend which The Double Cross reversed; not because I decided it was time to revisit Sloan but because the record demanded that I do. It opens with a dizzying pop medley of indelible melodies and seamless transitions that’s formally divided up as three songs but really feels like five or six, rotating through each of Chris Murphy, Jay Ferguson and Patrick Pentland as lead vocalists and with each at the very top of their games. It’s as high a high point as they’ve achieved in their two-decade run so there’s no shame in the rest of the record not quite getting back up there again. One one hand, it’s Sloan by the numbers with the requisite Pentland and Murphy rockers, Ferguson pop gems and Scott oddities but when you factor in that the band sounds as tight, energized and focused as they have in many, many years, the whole record is like a wonderful, unexpected gift.

Not unlike their free show at the shiny and new Echo Beach waterfront venue last Friday night. Though not especially well-advertised, it was part of Ontario Place’s 40th anniversary celebrations and a “through the decades” theme that had been going on for a few weeks; somewhat humorously, Sloan were tapped as a band representative of the ’00s but whatever – it was Sloan, sun and sand, all underwritten by our tax dollars.

Warm up acts numbered two, starting with locals Whale Tooth. I’d seen them back in early 2009 and had been impressed with their energy and presence. This time out they still had plenty of both thanks to frontwoman Elise LeGrow but whereas I felt they came across a bit overly breezy before, the past couple years had definitely seen the five-piece Tooth acquire some bite. LeGrow is still a formidable frontwoman and vocalist but she now sounds more like a rock singer than a jazz singer in a rock band and the band, to their credit, has toughened up and expanded their sound – it might tilt a little too U2 at points, but ambition is a commendable thing and they remain all sorts of catchy and entertaining. Pleased to make their re-acquaintance. Whale Tooth play the Summerworks closing party on August 14 at the MOCCA / Edward Day Gallery Courtyard and that show is free.

The middle act was similar to Whale Tooth in being an up and coming local rock act with a frontwoman who looked great in shorts, but Modern Superstitions differed in taking more of a garage/punk approach to things and also in that I’d seen them just a month and a half ago at NXNE. As at that show, it was quite a different band from the one on their debut EP All The Things We’ve Been Told, incidentally produced by Sloan’s Patrick Pentland. Not even a year on from that first recording, the band are tougher-sounding and carry themselves with an attitude that doesn’t feel like a front – they weren’t at all intimidated by the thousands on hand waiting to see the headliners. I said in June that the next time I saw the band, I expected they’d be ready to take on the world – I still think that’s true, their debut album currently being mixed would hold the key to that – but if I’ll be deferring that declaration until our next encounter.

It’s been a bit of an ongoing puzzle to me as to just how big Sloan is these days – see above notes about their being generally taken for granted. Using the size of their shows as a reference point, as is usually relevant for other bands, is difficult given that they rarely tour Canada conventionally in clubs and such, instead playing festivals and special events where the onus isn’t necessarily on them to fill a venue on their own. This is especially true in their adopted hometown of Toronto, where the last few times I’ve seen them were at instores or at festivals – even those Mod Club shows I missed, though sell outs, were deliberately undersized. So while this show didn’t do much to answer that question, it did offer proof that you could easily get 4000 or so to come out and chant “Slooooaaaaaaan” if you don’t charge em for it.

Though they kicked things off perfectly with the aforementioned Double Cross opening salvo, the clock was then turned right back to the Peppermint/Smeared era for “Underwhelmed” and so began a musical joyride through their greatest hits. If anyone wanted to debate whether or not Sloan have been one of this country’s best bands over the past two decades, they offered up a convincing 100-minute argument for the “aye” side. The five-piece (including touring keyboardist Gregory Macdonald) brought their A-game to go with their A-sides and the result was pretty much pure win.

Picking out highlights was both a challenge and futile, but if pressed I’d submit “Coax Me”, which remains possibly their finest three-plus minutes overall, their bringing out Brett Caswell & The Marquee Rose’s horn section to serve up duelling solos over “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” or maybe when they all simultaneous fell apart during “Shadow Of Love” – hey, it’s not a proper Sloan show unless someone or everyone fucks up at least once. Also inspired was bringing out Nyssa from Modern Superstitions to lead a cover of the Martha & The Muffins song that gave the venue it’s name. If I had to pick a lowlight of the show, it’d have to be the inclusion of “The Other Man” as the penultimate selection – it’s a song that should probably never have been written, let alone made a single – but at least it didn’t end on that note. “Money City Maniacs” may have been entirely predictable as a finale and lacked the actual air raid siren that’s appeared at other shows, but that didn’t make it any less great.

And the same pretty much goes for Sloan themselves – yeah they’ve been around forever and yeah they’re pretty content trading in classically-styled pop music and not pushing boundaries, but none of that takes away from what they’ve done and continue to do. And while I don’t understand why they shun the Smeared material live – a little “Sugartune” or “I Am The Cancer” would have been a nice treat – that’s also a small complaint. What’s important is that we’ve had twenty years of Sloan and there’s no signs they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

The Barrie Examiner has an interview with Sloan guitarist Patrick Pentland.

Photos: Sloan, Modern Superstitions, Whale Tooth @ Echo Beach – August 5, 2011
MP3: Sloan – “Follow The Leader”
MP3: Sloan – “The Answer Was You”
MP3: Sloan – “Unkind”
MP3: Sloan – “I’m Not A Kid Anymore”
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”
Video: Sloan – “Unkind”
Video: Sloan – “Witch’s Wand”
Video: Sloan – “Emergency 911”
Video: Sloan – “All Used Up”
Video: Sloan – “The Rest Of My Life”
Video: Sloan – “The Other Man”
Video: Sloan – “Friendship”
Video: Sloan – “Losing California”
Video: Sloan – “She Says What She Means”
Video: Sloan – “Money City Maniacs”
Video: Sloan – “The Lines You Amend”
Video: Sloan – “Everything You’ve Done Wrong”
Video: Sloan – “The Good In Everyone”
Video: Sloan – “People Of The Sky”
Video: Sloan – “Coax Me”
Video: Sloan – “500 Up”
Video: Sloan – “Underwhelmed”
Video: Modern Superstitions – “Mercy Line”
Video: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”
Video: Whale Tooth – “Hibernation Song” checks in with The Doughboys, who officially returned to active duty last night with a show at the Bovine Sex Club. They open up for Foo Fighters at The Air Canada Centre tonight… and allegedly did so last night at The Bovine as well?

It was already announced that Tasseomancy would be supporting as well as performing as part of Austra at their show at The Phoenix on December 1, but the August 30 release of their debut album Ulalume will also come with it’s own record release show – October 20 at The Great Hall. The Gauntlet also has an interview.

MP3: Tasseomancy – “Healthy Hands”
MP3: Tasseomancy – “The Darkest Of Things”

Feist talks to Rolling Stone about Metals, her first record in four years. It’s out October 4 and she plays Massey Hall on December 1.

And the Halifax Pop Explosion announced their 2011 lineup yesterday and it’s pretty stellar. I went last year and had a great time – terrific fest and terrific city; if I wasn’t in Iceland the week before I’d consider a return engagement.

Friday, August 5th, 2011

What Did You Expect

This is not an Archers Of Loaf review

Photo By Jason SummersJason SummersThis isn’t a review of the double-disc edition of Icky Mettle, released earlier this week and the first of four Archers Of Loaf reissues to come over the next year and a bit – for that, hit up the excellent Pitchfork writeup. I’ve had Icky Mettle for years but it hasn’t become such a part of me that I can offer any sort of explanation as to why it’s such a great record – in fact, I’ve only really come to that realization recently. So go read Matt LeMay’s writeup.

This also isn’t a broader discussion of why Archers were such a great and important band, and why their reunion is so exciting, even for those who are super-jaded about reunions in general. For that, check out this The Village Voice piece that gets The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell and members of Les Savy Fav to articulate their love for and influence of the band.

No, this is just me trying to clear out some links and make it to the weekend while listening to All The Nation’s Airports. So if you’re looking for some Archers content, check out the interviews with the band at The Village Voice and Washington Post and hope that the promises that Eric Bachmann made last month while here with Crooked Fingers to bring Archers through town sometime next March prove to be true.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
Video: Archers Of Loaf – “Web In Front”

Also being reissued with bonuses is Superchunk’s 1994 album Foolish, out on September 13. Full details available at Exclaim.

Video: Superchunk – “Driveway To Driveway”

Pitchfork reveals that super-deluxe, super-limited remastered reissues of Olivia Tremor Control’s two albums – Dusk At Cubist Castle and Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One – are coming on November 15. That’s too late to grace the merch table on their upcoming Fall tour, including the September 16 show at Lee’s Palace, but considering there’s only going to be 1000 of each made, it’s doubtful they’d make it past the first few cities on the itinerary anyways.

Not a reissue, but Old 97s are revisiting their past by giving away MP3s of all the demos for their 1997 album Too Far To Care.

MP3: Old 97’s – “Daybed” (demo)
MP3: Old 97’s – “Timebomb” (demo)

The Chicago Daily Herald talks to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

The Awl has an interview with Amy Klein of Titus Andronicus.

My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan discusses the band’s approach to playing live with Billboard. The Indianapolis Star also chats with guitarist Carl Broemel.

Writers On Process and Blurt go under the creative hood with Richard Buckner. Both are two-parters though the back half of the Writers piece is still forthcoming.

Drowned In Sound talks to Ra Ra Riot bassist Mathieu Santos. They play Lee’s Palace on October 6.

Exclaim reports that Ryan Adams – who apparently ended his retirement last year and has already released like fifteen albums – will put out his first proper solo record in some time with Ashes & Fire, due out October 11.

Rachael Yamagata will release a new album in Chesapeake on October 11; grab the first MP3 below.

MP3: Rachael Yamagata – “Starlight”

Spin has premiered the video for EMA’s contribution to their Nirvana tribute album Newermind.

Video: EMA – “Endless Nameless”

Decemberists bassist Nate Query confirms the band’s upcoming hiatus to Billboard but assures them it’s just a break, nothing permanent. The Arizona Republic and Cincinnati Citybeat also get to query Query (oh come on).

Brooklyn rockers Obits have set an October 25 date at The Rivoli in support of their second record Moody Standard & Poor. Tickets are $13 in advance.

MP3: Obits – “Shift Operator”
MP3: Obits – “You Gotta Lose”

San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips will release their latest West on September 15 and follow up with a show at The Horseshoe on November 7.

MP3: Wooden Shjips – “Lazy Bones”

NOW has put Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon on their cover with accompanying interview, while NPR is streaming their show in DC from earlier this week. Bon Iver play The Sound Academy on Monday night, August 8.

NOW also checks in with Kathleen Edwards, whose next album will be produced by Vernon. And who’s also his girlfriend. Not that that matters.

The Toronto Star and NOW welcome The Doughboys back to active duty – they’ll play a free show at the Bovine Sex Club on Monday night as a warm-up to opening up for Foo Fighters at the Air Canada Centre the next night.

Emily Haines gives The Grid a status report on the next Metric record.

MTV gets Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew to respond to comments made by guitarist Andrew Whiteman about the band’s last video for “The Sweetest Kill”.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Dan Mangan, whose next record Oh Fortune is out September 27 and who plays The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

The Thrill Is Back got Rural Alberta Advantage into the back of their van at Hillside a few weeks ago and videotaped him playing a couple songs, including one new one.

Metro chats with The Wilderness Of Manitoba.

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Past In Present

Feist is being a bit of a tease

Photo by Mary RozziMary RozziI forget who I was talking to but it was just in the last couple of weeks and it was about how Feist has done a pretty good job of not having anyone notice it’s been a long time since her last record – almost four years, three months and counting. Sure, the first couple years of that was spent touring and promoting The Reminder as it blew up worldwide, but after that wound down she’s struck a pretty good balance between guest appearances – whether occasionally onstage with Broken Social Scene or on record as a duet partner with Wilco – to make people happy just to see and hear her, and staying out of sight enough that those same people don’t wonder why she’s not hidden away, working on a new record.

Well it turns out she has been, and with her website now taken over by the first of a dozen “vignettes” – short videos soundtracked by what we can probably assume are samples of the new record. And while I’m sure they’d like to keep details tantalizingly obscured, women’s magazine Chatelaine revealed, while nominating Ms Leslie as one of their “women of the year”, that the new record was targeted for an October 2011 release. Presumably they’re not just making that up – after all, it’s Chatelaine. In any case, the timeline indicated by the vignette calendar on Feist’s website – the third clip is dated July 25 – implies that this won’t be a long, drawn-out reveal; you’ll probably be able to pre-order whatever this is before the August long weekend is over.

Video: Feist – “My Moon My Man”

Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman slags his own band’s latest video and videos in general to Spinner and tells The Calgary Herald they didn’t deserve a book to be written about them, while Paste compiles a list of the bands that make up the Broken Social family tree.

FFWD chats with Beatrice Martin of Coeur de pirate, herself way overdue for a new album though at least she allows that when it arrives, it will likely be entitled Blonde.

Room 205 has another performance in their video session with Austra online while The Georgia Straight has a feature.

The Globe & Mail, The Georgia Straight and Uptown have interviews with Louise Burns.

Exclaim solicits a rooftop performance from The Darcys, who should be announcing details about the release of their second self-titled album soon. One would hope.

Bay Of Quinte and Napanee Guide interview Patrick Pentland of Sloan, who’re clearly in cottage country right now but will be back in the city playing a free show at Echo Beach on August 5.

The reconstituted Doughboys will warm up for their August 9 date opening up for Foo Fighters at the Air Canada Centre with a free show at the Bovine Sex Club the night before, August 8. I would like to go to this but I fear that my broken collarbone (hey guys I broke my collarbone for the third time) won’t be healed enough to survive the mosh pit that’ll surely ensue, even if it is a middle-aged mosh pit.

Video: The Doughboys – “Fix Me”

Mudhoney have a date at The Horseshoe on September 10, tickets $22.50 in advance.

MP3: Mudhoney – “I’m Now”
MP3: Mudhoney – “Sonic Infusion”

Paste catches up with Portugal. The Man while Mashable finds out about their sled dog-powered new video. They bring their new album In The Mountain, In The Cloud to the Opera House on October 18; tickets are $16.50 in advance.

Video: Portugal. The Man – “Got It All”

Neon Indian will follow up the September 13 release of Era Extraña with a North American tour that hits Lee’s Palace on October 18.

Video: Neon Indian – “Heart: Decay”

Flush with their second Polaris shortlist appearance, maritimers Hey Rosetta! are embarking on a cross-Canada tour and bringing aussies The Jezabels along with them. The Toronto stop is November 24 at The Phoenix, tickets $20 in advance. Hey Rosetta will also be the subject of a Polaris Salon on August 9 at the Drake, wherein a juror will talk to the band about their record, and The Jezabels are prepping their debut Prisoner for a Spring 2012 release.

MP3: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”

NOW, The Village Voice, Boston Phoenix and hour talk to Erika Anderson of EMA, who makes her Toronto debut at The Garrison tomorrow night.

Spin pokes around Stephen Malkmus’ home. Malkmus’ latest Mirror Traffic is out August 23 and he plays The Phoenix on September 21.

Hot on the heels of announcing their new record – Father, Son, Holy Ghost out September 13 – and Fall tour – The Mod Club on September 27 – Girls have put out a first MP3 from said record.

MP3: Girls – “Vomit”

NPR has a World Cafe session with Warpaint while The Japan Times and New Zealand Herald have interviews.

TV On The Radio have released a new video from Nine Types Of Light.

Video: TV On The Radio – “Caffeinated Consciousness”

Peter Silberman of The Antlers goes into some of the influences that went into Burst Apart for Stereogum.

Spin is marking the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind with a tribute album – available for free – featuring the likes of Titus Andronicus, EMA and The Vaselines, amongst others.

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Lucky 1's

Shad and Miracle Fortress at Wrongbar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s not a lot of cross-Canada tours that skip over Toronto, but the Exclaim/Scion-sponsored country-wide trek headlined by Shad, and for this leg also featuring fellow Polaris shortlist alumni Miracle Fortress, looked to be doing just that with Thursday night’s show at Wrongbar presented as a private show, attended by contest winners and attendees of Exclaim’s 19th anniversary party which went before the show. But it’s not as though either artist had been strangers hereabouts lately – both performed in March as part of Canadian Musicfest, and both had more upcoming local dates over the next couple of months; if you wanted to see either of them, you will still have your chances. If you wanted some of the tasty hors d’oeuvres and free beer that was being handed out to party guests… well, sorry – can’t help you there.

But if you were curious about how the show itself went, that I can comment on. I’ve already talked about how much I like Miracle Fortress’ second album, the gorgeous blend of new wave and classic pop that is Was I The Wave?, and so was pretty excited to see/hear it live armed with an intimate knowledge of its contents rather than just the one-week head start I had in March. And while this performance was pretty similar in structure and presentation to that previous show – Graham Van Pelt on guitars, keys, and general sonic sorcery and Greg Napier on drums, a few laser-lighting and strobe effects and a lot of darkness – there were a few fresh observations.

In particular, the realization that as much as Van Pelt is often characterized as preferring to studio to the stage and only touring because it’s necessary, the live Miracle Fortress experience is as intricately arranged and choreographed in its way as the record – whereas the touring incarnation of Miracle Fortress changed a fair bit over the course of promoting 2007’s Five Roses, it’s pretty clear that Van Pelt knew exactly how he wanted Was I The Wave? to be presented live. The way that the duo are able to recreate all the nuances and textures of Was I The Wave? while incorporating a few more visceral live flourishes to keep it from feeling to pre-programmed was quite impressive, as was the fact that even with all the multi-tasking he needs to manage, Van Pelt’s vocals were pitch-perfect. In short, Miracle Fortress sounded fantastic.

And while Shad is always fantastic live as a performer, you couldn’t say that his hour-long headlining set sounded fantastic. Somehow Miracle Fortress’ elaborate setup was easier to amplify than Shad’s mic, turntable and bassist because he had to fight his way through feedback, poor levels and generally muddy sound. Luckily, though, he was in a fighting mood and despite all of that, he put on the most aggressive show I’ve seen from him yet. I don’t mean that in any sort of confrontational sense – that’s not Shad’s game – but just in the amount of energy and enthusiasm he put into it. If you’ve seen him before, you know that his baseline is pretty energetic; this was better.

For his set, he drew heavily on last year’s breakout TSOL and took advantage of the city to invite some guests out; Lisa Lobsinger of Reverie Sound Revue and Broken Social Scene to reprise her parts on “Rose Garden” and Grand Analog’s Odario Williams to take lead on their track “Electric City”, on which Shad guested. But from my perspective, the most memorable guest was the hopefully drunken girl who barged her way to the front for the last few songs of the set and proceeded to writhe and gyrate all over the stage monitors like she was auditioning for a Warrant video. I’m really not sure what she was trying to accomplish – though if it was to be laughed at by the rest of the audience, the club staff and security she succeeded – but as many points as Shad scored for the rest of his set, he gets bonus for not getting distracted. Wish I could say the same but I was doing my best to not get elbowed in the head by her dance moves. Memorable, if nothing else.

BlogTO was also on hand for wasabi mashed potatoes and a review of the show. Ca Va Cool ,, The Vancouver Sun and See interview Graham Van Pelt; Was I The Wave? gets a US release tomorrow. Shad will be playing at showcase to be announced as part of NXNE and also a free Canada Day show at Metro Square as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Miracle Fortress will be at The Phoenix on June 9 as support for Junior Boys. Update: Shad will perform at The New Social on June 18.

Photos: Shad, Miracle Fortress @ Wrongbar – May 12, 2011
MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”
MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”
MP3: Shad – “I’ll Never Understand”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Raw Spectacle”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”
Video: Shad – “Keep Shining”
Video: Shad – “We Myself & I”
Video: Shad – “Rose Garden”
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)”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Maybe Lately”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”

DIY, Spinner and BlogTO talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose record Feel It Break is out tomorrow and who plays Lee’s Palace on May 19.

Spinner talks to Suuns, who are playing the Horseshoe on June 17 as part of NXNE.

Ottawa XPress profiles The Balconies, whose NXNE showcase goes at 1AM the evening of June 18 at Sneaky Dee’s.

Yours Truly has a stunningly-shot video performance from Basia Bulat playing a new song.

Modern Superstitions quietly rolled out a sharp new video a couple months ago. Worth a watch, as is the band themselves.

Video: Modern Superstitions – “Mercy Line”

Spinner talks to Will Whitwham of The Wilderness Of Manitoba about taking their folk-pop around the world.

Southern Souls has both audio and video from The Darcys’ show at Steam Whistle Brewing a couple weeks ago.

Five words that I never thought I’d see together – Fucked Up and Air Canada Centre (unless it was in the context of how the Leafs do on the ice). And yet Toronto’s premiere hardcore outfit will indeed be going arena-sized on August 9 when they open up for Foo Fighters. And on top of it all, Montreal pop-punkers from the ’90s The Doughboys are back together and will also be on the bill. Fun fact – my band in high school covered The Doughboys’ “Shine” because I liked playing the riff. Yes, I basically made a hash of it every time; I fail to see what that has to do with anything. Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life is out June 7 and the band have released a mini-doc video talking about the new record.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Queen Of Hearts”
Video: Foo Fighters – “Rope”
Video: Doughboys – “Shine”

Handsome Furs have made the first MP3 from their forthcoming Sound Kapital available to download without and bloodletting or having to sign up for any mailing lists. The record is out June 28.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”

Efforts to catch Sloan’s in-store at Sonic Boom on Saturday were largely foiled thanks to the TTC, who got me there about 40 minutes later than expected. As a result, I couldn’t see anything and there won’t be much writeup beyond saying that The Double Cross continues to impress me with how top-to-bottom great it is, they’re still not nor will they likely ever be an airtight live band but that’s part of their charm and I’m going to have to hit their June 22 show at The Mod Club now. In the meantime, check out this Q&A with Patrick Pentland as the band prepare to commandeer the Magnet website for a week, this guided tour of Sloan’s rehearsal space at Metro, this review/reminiscence of the record/band from Dave Ullrich of Inbreds at Thick Specs and two more installments in their video tributes – a choral “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” and celebrities choosing their favourite Sloan albums.