Posts Tagged ‘Dungen’

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

The Wait

School Of Seven Bells invites listeners to connect with Desire

Photo By Abbey DruckerAbbey DruckerSo yes, it was a wonderful little vacation, thanks for asking. Lots of sun (maybe too much), friends (never too much), good food and not a little shopping. And since it was a long weekend on both sides of the 49th, there wasn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff showing up in the inbox but there was some, including the fact that School Of Seven Bells had begun streaming their new record Disconnect From Desire at Rolling Stone, more than a week ahead of its July 13 release date.

Its predecessor, 2008’s Alpinisms, was one of my favourites of the year with its soaring synth-gaze anchored by tribally rhythmic underpinnings, and so obviously the follow-up was on my “hotly anticipated” list. And, a few listens in, there’s no chance it will end up on my “disappointments” list. The key facets of the Seven Bells sound – which is to say the gorgeous vocals and harmonies of the Deheza sisters and the guitars of Benjamin Curtis cutting through the meticulously programmed beats and textures – are wholly intact and even more refined than on their debut, but delivered with a sleekness that was only invoked only sparingly on Alpinisms. In doing so, Disconnect sheds some of the more experimental nooks and crannies that made its predecessor an occasionally difficult listen but also gave it much of its character. Luckily, the new record has opted to trade those quirks for more melodies and hooks as well as being more overt in its 4AD-ishness and love of ’80s synth-pop, and that’s a deal I’ll accept any day. It’s too early to state conclusively, but Disconnect doesn’t seem to reach the same stratospheric heights as Alpinisms, but does maintain a more consistently high cruising altitude throughout.

And speaking of cruising, the band’s upcoming Fall tour took an interesting and exciting dimension when I heard some first-hand accounts of their shows at New York’s Mercury Lounge last month – specifically, the fact that the trio were now playing with a live drummer. The couple times I’d seen them perform, they’d sounded great but the show’s energy definitely suffered for their reliance on prerecorded backing tracks. Now with live drums in the equation, I’m extra excited for their upcoming September 15 date at the Mod Club – not just to hear the new material, but to hear how it all sounds live. Now if they could just get Claudia Deheza a keytar so she can move around a bit on stage, we’d be cooking with gas.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Windstorm”
MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Babelonia”
Stream: School Of Seven Bells / Disconnect From Desire

Spinner has details on exactly what lineup of Guided By Voices will be taking the stage at the Palms in Las Vegas on the weekend of October 1 to 3, and they’re not kidding when they say it’s the classic lineup. Seeing as how they’ll be sticking to period-correct material, expect to hear lots of Alien Lanes, Bee Thousand and Under The Bushes, Under The Stars. Oh yes. Rolling Stone talks to some of the folks at Matador about how the sure-to-be-epic Matador 21 birthday bash came together; tickets and packages go on sale this Friday and the theatre that it’ll all be taking place in holds 2100. I’ll leave you to figure out just how long you can afford to dither. And yes, I am talking to myself there.

Bradley’s Almanac is sharing a recording of the Pixies doing Doolittle in Boston last Fall.

James Mercer talks to Spinner about his timeline for taking The Shins out of mothballs and making a new record.

Spin checks in with The Submarines as they plug away on a new album.

Sharon Van Etten has released details of her second album, and though Epic will only contain seven tracks, on scales of emotionality and beauty, it’s sure to more than live up to its name. It will be released on October 5.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”

And a slew of show announcements, big and small. Well, mostly mid-sized. Phosphorescent will follow up their show at the Horseshoe this Saturday night (July 10) in support of new album Here’s To Taking It Easy with an in-store at Soundscapes on the following afternoon (July 11) at 5PM. American Songwriter has an interview with Matthew Houck.

MP3: Phosphorescent – “It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)”

You may want to lump them in with the reunion bandwagon, but when Polvo and Versus roll into Lee’s Palace on August 13 for their first local shows in forever and a day, it’ll be in support of new albums – Polvo’s In Prism came out last year and was their first album in 12 years while Versus’ On The Ones And Threes will mark their first release in a decade when it finally comes out on August 3. Tickets for the show are $16.50 in advance, and yes of course they’ll play some of the old stuff.

MP3: Polvo – “Beggar’s Bowl”
MP3: Versus – “Invincible Hero”

Admiral Radley may not be a familiar name but the principals – Jason Lytle and Aaron Burtch, both formerly of Grandaddy, and Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murra of Earlimart, might be. And if they are, you may be inclined to check them out on their upcoming tour, which stops in at the Horseshoe on August 15, tickets $13.50 in advance. Their debut I Heart California is out next week and is streaming in whole at NPR. Filter also has an interview.

MP3: Admiral Radley – “I Heart California”
Stream: Admiral Radley / I Heart California

Denmark’s Efterklang will bring this year’s Magic Chairs back to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on September 8; tickets are $12.

MP3: Efterklang – “Modern Drift”

Having conquered England, Marina & The Diamonds sets her sights across the Atlantic with a Fall tour in support of her debut The Family Jewels that’s still to be formally announced but will include a September 8 date at the El Mocambo in Toronto. Tickets for the show are $16.50 in advance, and I’m pretty sure this one will sell out fast. The Queen just visited; our Anglophilia is at a fever pitch. The San Francisco Examiner talks to Marina Diamandis.

Video: Marina & The Diamonds – “Oh No!”

Swedish psychedelic merchants Dungen will trip people right out when they play the Horseshoe on October 10; tickets are $17.50 in advance. Their new album Skit | Allt is out on September 14 – details and full tour dates at Pitchfork.

MP3: Dungen – “Satt Att Se”

The legendary Nick Lowe will return to the Mod Club on October 13 and while it’s true he was here a few years ago at the same venue, this time he’s bringing a full band. Ticket $34.50.

Video: Nick Lowe – “Cruel To Be Kind”

And another legend coming to town – same-ish era, also immeasurably influential but different stylistic wheelhouse – is Gary Numan. Look for him at the Opera House on October 24.

Video: Gary Numan – “Cars”

Josh Ritter and his new record And So The World Runs Away will be at the Phoenix on October 26.

Video: Josh Ritter – “The Curse”

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Quiet Houses

Fleet Foxes and Dungen at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWould Robin Pecknold have a guitar strap?

That was really the only burning question in my mind going into Tuesday night’s Fleet Foxes show at Massey Hall in Toronto. The initial one when this show was first announced back in April – could this band who didn’t even play to a full house at the El Mocambo last April in support of Blitzen Trapper now fill a venue as large and storied (to say nothing of expensive) as Massey Hall – was answered by the fact that the 2750-seat hall was completely and utterly sold out, their appeal apparently transcending demographic and generation and drawing young and old, hippies and hipsters, businessmen and alt.bros.

So really, whether or not the 23-year old frontman still preferred to perform seated or if he would deign to stand up and give his fans a good look at him was the only unknown. That, and would they be as good as everyone obviously expected they would be. Certainly, based on the adulation their 2008 self-titled debut received, topping numerous year-end lists, expectations were high. For myself, I didn’t love the record as much as many though it was impossible to not be impressed by the talent and craft that went into it – I just found it was a record I respected more than I adored. Still, the opportunity to see them return to town not as buzzy up-and-comers but bona fide stars was not one I wanted to pass up.

Support on this tour seemed a bit unusual to me, coming in the form of Swedish psychedelic merchants Dungen. My only previous encounter with them was their 2005 album Ta Det Lugnt and re-reading my review, I didn’t appear to be too taken with them. I suspect I’d have had a different opinion if I’d seen them live, however, as their set was a pretty impressive musical slap upside the head. It did start out as the sort of pastoral, folkish-psychedelia I’d remembered but as their set went on, it got more intense and jammed-out like a delayed-effect acid trip. By the end of their 40 minutes, I could fully understand why Fleet Foxes would later declare them to be their favourite band in the world. That was some heady stuff.

Playing a venue like Massey Hall is enough to unnerve any artist, but there was no sense of nervousness amongst Fleet Foxes when they finally ambled out to roaring applause that you’d normally expect for local heroes or the like. And it wasn’t due to a lack of appreciation for the history of the stage on which they stood – the Neil Young between-set mix and historical facts about the building rattled off by Pecknold (courtesy Wikipedia) were proof of that. It was simply confidence that not only did they belong on that stage, but that they’d own it.

And from the opening a capella of “Sun Giant”, they did just that. Their performance was nothing short of amazing, with their pristine four-part harmonies filling every nook and cranny of Massey’s beautiful acoustics. Hearing them sing, it wasn’t a question of whether they could play the room but whether they should ever be allowed to play anywhere else. Their set covered almost their entire recorded output as well as three new songs, one of which featured some unexpected but effective synth textures. Between songs, Pecknold – who was indeed performing upright – made casual and entertaining banter with the audience though it was drummer J Tillman who provided the most comic relief. Again, if these guys were at all nervous about the show, they were hiding it well.

Highlights were difficult to pick out – they pretty much dazzled for the full hour forty-five – but when Pecknold started the encore at the edge of the stage, unplugged and unmiked, to sing traditional folk song “Katie Cruel”, that was easily a moment for the ages. He doesn’t have the biggest voice, necessarily, but given the space and the dead silent audience, it sounded stunning. And while they surely intended to finish with “Blue Ridge Mountains”, as good a note as any to go out on, Toronto – who had waited a long time for them to return – refused to let go and a humbled and appreciative Pecknold came out again for a solo reading of “Meadowlark”. I still can’t say as though I love Fleet Foxes – the whys of that I’m not entirely clear on either – but I am awed by them and their abilities. These are some ungodly talented boys.

Chart, eye and NOW also have reviews of the show, and The Montreal Mirror and The Oakland Press have interviews. Daytrotter recently trotted out a session with Dungen.

Photos: Fleet Foxes, Dungen @ Massey Hall – August 4, 2009
MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Mykonos”
MP3: Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”
MP3: Dungen – “Satt Att Se”
Video: Fleet Foxes – “Mykonos”
Video: Fleet Foxes – “He Doesn’t Know Why”
Video: Dungen – “Familj”
Video: Dungen – “Festival”
Video: Dungen – “Panda”
Video: Dungen – “Stadsvandringar”
Video: Dungen – “Solen stiger upp”
MySpace: Dungen

Blitzen Trapper have released an MP3 to go with the new video they rolled out from Furr a couple weeks ago. On Milwaukee has an interview.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Black River Killer”
Video: Blitzen Trapper – “Black River Killer”

NPR Wilco is streaming a World Cafe session with Wilco and American Songwriter has finished counting down their top twenty Jeff Tweedy compositions of all-time. Pre-sale for Wilco’s October 14 show at Massey Hall go on sale next Wednesday at 10AM via Front Gate (the show’s not listed yet) and public on-sale is next Friday at 10AM. Oh, and if you’re looking for Wilco and Wilco-related downloads a-plenty, Owl & Bear is your new best friend.

Austin360 talks to M Ward, who will be at Massey Hall on November 2 as part of the Monsters Of Folk. Their self-titled debut album is out September 22.

And fellow Monster Of Folk Jim James this week released his debut solo effort as Yim Yames, the George Harrison tribute EP Tribute To. Paste, The New York Times and The Courier-Journal have interviews with James/Yames and the EP is streaming at Spinner.

Stream: Yim Yames / Tribute To

JamBands talks to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers. Hood is also featured solo in a Daytrotter session.

The Courier-Journal and Metromix talk to Josh Ritter.

NPR is streaming Neko Case’s set at the Newport Folk Festival last weekend. The Edmonton Journal and SEE also have interviews.

Pitchfork reports that Devendra Banhart’s major-label debut What We Will Be is due out in October.

Soundproof has a quick feature on Dog Day.

The Deadbolt has an interview with Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers.

Black Cab Sessions takes Woodpigeon for a ride.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Now We Can See

The Thermals, The Shaky Hands and Point Juncture WA at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangRare is the occasion that I head into a show with little knowledge of a band or their output – I’m all about the due diligence for my evening activities, yo – but that was the case when I hit the Horseshoe in October 2007 for the The Thermals’ Toronto debut in support of their superb The Body, The Blood, The Machine and though I went in curious, I came out converted. Put succinctly, they rocked my face off.

Their awesomeness was confirmed by their Hot Freaks showcase at SxSW in March and their just-released new record Now We Can See. Whereas Blood was overtly political, forged by the fires of outrage over the Iraq war and outrage over the ideologies behind it, See welcomes the Obama era with a sort of cautious optimism that’s more polished, compact and melodic – more pop, essentially. But that doesn’t make it soft – it’s still loud and nervy, Hutch Harris’ twisted holler still finding plenty in the world to rage against and about. It doesn’t pack the same gut punch or focus of intent that Blood did, but it’s hard to imagine them being able to tap into that same vein of inspiration again and not self-immolate.

Even so, I expected no shortage of righteous fury on Sunday night when the Thermals once again rolled into The Horseshoe for their second-ever Toronto appearance with a couple of fellow Portland acts in tow. The first, Point Juncture WA, seriously impressed. It’s unclear to me whether there actually exists a Point Juncture in the great state of Washington, but if there was and this four-piece’s music were an accurate representation, it’d be a town made up of a noisy/garage-rock residences alongside high-tech electronic industrial districts with a downtown filled with concert halls built on top of jazz clubs, and a population who, despite their disparate influences and interests, all come together to make beautiful pop music. There was no shortage of talent on display – multiple lead vocalists, superb musicianship and deceptively complex song structures – but all of it was in service to their hooky, dreamy pop tunes. And the brought a vibraphone with them on the road for just one part in one song. That’s either dedication or insanity, or probably both. Their new album is Heart To Elk – do investigate.

Middle act The Shaky Hands were somewhat disappointing conventional in comparison. College rock unafraid to let its roots show and with a whiff of jam-bandness about them, they reminded me of Blitzen Trapper but without the genre-hopping creative restlessness. By their set’s end I had come to appreciate them for what they were and not what they weren’t, but wasn’t especially disappointed to see them go. Their new album is Lunglight.

And for The Thermals, I really don’t want to use the word “disappointment” because it sounds overly and unnecessarily harsh, but relative to the two awesome performances they delivered the other two times I’d seen them, this one just paled. They got there and played hard – the sweat soaking Hutch Harris’ shirt by show’s end doesn’t lie – and sounded great, but there wasn’t the sense of glee that I’d basked in at the SxSW show in particular, where both Harris and bassist Kathy Foster were pogoing around the stage and leaping off of amps. Should those sorts of antics be expected nightly? I suppose not, because then it’d just be kind of contrived, but I couldn’t help feeling let down that they didn’t seem to be feeling it this night. But even a Thermals show running not quite full tilt is still a rock show and then some, and from the intensity and enthusiasm of the crowd, it was obvious my feelings were very much in the minority. Covering all albums in their repertoire, they barrelled through almost twenty songs in an hour and did it with aplomb and intensity. If the only complaint I can register is that Harris didn’t leap off of any equipment, then I should probably still file this one under the “W” column.

The Badger Herald and The Hartford Advocate have interviews with Hutch Harris while You Ain’t No Picasso talks to Kathy Foster.

Photos: The Thermals, The Shaky Hands, Point Juncture, WA @ The Horseshoe – May 3, 2009
MP3: The Thermals – “When We Were Alive”
MP3: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”
MP3: The Thermals – “Here’s Your Future”
MP3: The Thermals – “Pillar Of Salt”
MP3: The Thermals – “A Stare Like Yours”
MP3: The Thermals – “How We Know”
MP3: The Thermals – “No Culture Icons”
MP3: The Shaky Hands – “We Are Young”
MP3: Point Juncture WA – “Sioux Arrow”
MP3: Point Juncture WA – “Kings Part II”
MP3: Point Juncture WA – “Sick On Sugar”
Video: The Thermals – “A Pillar Of Salt”
Video: The Thermals – “Returning To The Fold”
Video: The Thermals – “How We Know”
Video: The Thermals – “No Culture Icons”
Video: The Shaky Hands – “We Are Young”
MySpace: The Thermals
MySpace: Point Juncture WA

A bunch of rather high-profile (and high price bracket) shows announced yesterday. First, Sonic Youth will bring their latest album The Eternal, out June 9, to a rather unexpected venue – Massey Hall. They will play the hallowed hall on June 30 with tickets priced at $36.50, $43.50 and $48.50. A limited presale goes Thursday at noon via and public on-sale is Saturday, May 9, at 1PM.

MP3: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”

This one I warned you about but it’s now official – Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall on August 4 with Swedes Dungen as support. Tickets for that will be $32.50, $35.50 and $39.50 and presales start at 10AM Wednesday (tomorrow) via and there’s another, same time, for “Friends Of Massey Hall”. Public on-sale is Friday at 3PM. You know, when I first heard about this band playing this venue, I thought there was no way they could sell it out. But after hearing how excited some people are for this show, I’m beginning to think that they will. And that’s just nuts.

MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Mykonos”
MP3: Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”

Pearl Jam will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 21. Tickets range from $39.50 to $79.50 and go on sale Friday at 2PM.

And finally, Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes – that’s the band he’s assembled for his forthcoming countrified album Secret, Profane And Sugarcane, out June 2 – will be at Massey Hall on August 28.

Video: Elvis Costello – “From Sulfur To Sugarcane” (live on Spectacle)