Posts Tagged ‘Final Fantasy’

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Laughing With A Mouthful Of Blood

St. Vincent and Gentleman Reg at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSome shows you want to see in a packed, sweaty club. Others you don’t. In the case of St. Vincent, more than two years removed from her last visit to Toronto, you’ll take her anywhere you can but as much as I love the Horseshoe Tavern, its sweltering environs on Saturday night weren’t what I’d call the ideal setting for Annie Clark’s elegant pop and its Jekyll-and-Hyde/frosted miniwheat balance of beauty and abrasion. The band did what they could to dress it up, hanging white drapes across the back wall and setting up some dramatic lighting, but something more akin to a church or theatre would have seemed more appropriate. Or perhaps just somewhere with more effective air conditioning.

Opener Gentleman Reg has been somewhat ubiquitous on Toronto stages since the Spring release of his latest record Jet Black, but considering the length of the layoff between it and 2004’s Darby & Joan, he can be forgiven for making the most of the opportunity. Reg Vermue has always had a gift for blending folk and pop, but I’ve felt he needed the proper backing players for his songs to properly shine – an opinion that was shared, apparently, because the band that he’s assembled for Jet Black really hits that sweet spot, though I’m not sure if the players on the record were the same ones on stage with him on Saturday – I don’t have the proper roster notes to comment. Either way, the balance of feyness and punch on display this evening seemed just right and it was good to see Reg settled so comfortably in the role of frontman. I’d missed numerous opportunities to see him play throughout the Summer – glad to have finally rectified that.

As distinctive as Annie Clark’s creative vision is, live she’s also much-defined by her band, or lack thereof. The first time I saw her in February 2007, she was supporting Midlake and operating solo, and as such made heavy use of looping pedals and a Stompin’ Tom-approved board for percussion. The next time in Austin that September she’d expanded to a power trio format and though that configuration sounded a little more conventional, it freed her up musically. This time, she was fronting a five-piece St. Vincent complete with utility players tasked with handling a myriad of instruments including guitar, bass, keys, violin, saxophone and clarinet – obviously ready to do the orchestrations and textures of Actor justice.

And the presence of those extra players made a world of difference in recreating the new material, of which the set list was mostly comprised (as well as the solo cover of “Dig A Pony” which again seems to be a set staple). It’s hard to imagine “Marrow” or “Black Rainbow” without the trill of the woodwinds and brass, but there they were, adding crucial accent to Clark’s crystalline voice (or chorused/delayed/voice when she sang through her second mic) and then getting gleefully obliterated when she went in for a fuzzed-out, shred-happy guitar break. And it was that wanton and wonderful collision of beauty and brutality, punctuated by Clark’s charmingly off-kilter banter, that defined the evening. That and the stifling heat.

Panic Manual and eye have reviews of the show. The Globe & Mail has a feature interview with Annie Clark while Renegade Bus has an interview with Evan Smith, one of the backing musicians who makes St. Vincent a band and not just a pseudonym.

Photos: St. Vincent, Gentleman Reg @ The Horseshoe – August 8, 2009
MP3: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”
MP3: St. Vincent – “The Strangers”
MP3: St. Vincent – “Now Now”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “Plan On Including Me”
Video: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”
Video: St. Vincent – “Jesus Saves I Spend”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Rewind”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Boyfriend Song”
MySpace: St. Vincent
MySpace: Gentleman Reg

Here’s some news – St. Vincent’s one-time bandleader Sufjan Stevens has announced the details of his previously-implied Fall tour, and it’s a small one. As in venue. Though he could easily fill rooms two or three times the size for his first local show in four years, Stevens is opting for a club tour and will return to Lee’s Palace on October 1, where he played last in November 2004. Contrary to previous speculation, this show will not be in support of the BQE show/soundtrack coming out October 20, which raises the question not only of what material will be aired – a melange of Illinois, Michigan and Seven Swans seems most likely – but what the theme of the costumes will be. There had better be costumes, Sufjan. Don’t you be going sensible on us. Support for the tour will be Cryptacize, and tickets will be doled out very carefully. Ticket details are forthcoming later this week, but they will go on sale Satureday and be limited to two a person with them only being available to be picked up at the venue the night of the show. But you know that they could also insist that patrons have to eat a jar of flaming cockroaches before being admitted and Lee’s would be packed before 8PM.

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “The Henney Buggy Band”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Casimir Pulaski Day”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Sister”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Holland”
MP3: Cryptacize – “Blue Tears”

Flavorwire talks to Dean Wareham of Dean & Britta.

Pitchfork has a feature on Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons. Their new Aeon EP was released last week.

Mark Eitzel has revealed details of his next solo record, entitled Klamath and due out this Fall. Work is also beginning on a new American Music Club record.

Those holding their breath for the release of Final Fantasy’s Heartland can circle January 5, 2010 as a date to exhale. Owen Pallett revealed via Twitter that the record would be out the first week of the new year, and that’s the Tuesday of said week. Also noteworthy is that he has signed with Domino Records to release the album worldwide, though Blocks will presumably continue to handle things in Canada.

Victoria Bergsman will release her second album as Taken By Trees in East Of Eden, due out September 8. The first MP3 from it is available to sample and there’s a feature piece at National Geographic that follows Bergsman to Pakistan where she recorded the new record.

MP3: Taken By Trees – “Watch The Waves”

Paste reports that Built To Spill’s next album There Is No Enemy has finally been given a release date of October 6 – that’s the same day as night one of their two-night residency at Lee’s Palace in Toronto.

DCist, The New York Times and The Valley Advocate talk to Joe Pernice about his new book and album, It Feels So Good When I Stop. He’s at the Dakota Tavern on September 24.

There’s now some context for Thao with the Get Down Stay Down’s upcoming November 1 show at the El Mocambo – she’s releasing a new album in Know Better Learn Faster on October 13. Details at Blurt.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Imaginary Friend

Review of Telekinesis' self-titled debut

Photo By Jenny JimenezJenny JimenezAs I’ve been complaining to anyone who’ll listen, the fact that it was the first of June yesterday – less than three weeks to Summer – and only ten degrees centigrade on my bike ride to work (that’s 50 Fahrenheit for you residing in non-metric backwaters) was simply unacceptable.

But maybe it’s the result of some sort of climatological karmic balancing act to make up for one of the Summeriest records of the year so far, the almost self-titled debut (the record title has an “!” tacked on) from Seattle’s Telekinesis, being released in the dead of Winter back in February. The brain-child of Michael Lerner, Telekinesis is a delicious glob of chewy power-pop goodness that has moments as infectious as anything you’ve heard this year – hear the chorus to “Tokyo” just once and you’ll be ready to sing right along by the time it comes around again. The record strays from the recipe enough to offer sufficient variety over its barely-half an hour running time to establish that they’ve got range beyond just peppy hooks – there’s some quieter, melancholic moments and slightly more ragged rockers – but all share the most important ingredients, namely Lerner’s unaffected vocals, the unfussy and effective arrangements, and an unerring sense of melody. There’s not much new here, but complaining about that is like complaining your cold drink on a sunny afternoon is like your last cold drink on a sunny afternoon. Shut up and enjoy.

Telekinesis, who gear up as a full band for live performances, are currently on the road and will be in town next Wednesday, June 10, for a show at the Horseshoe. God willing, it’ll have warmed up some and feel a bit more like Spring, never mind Summer, by then. Decider interviews Lerner and Rolling Stone has a profile of the band, and another one on Aussies An Horse, who are also on the bill with locals Oh No Forest Fires. This will be an excellent show.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Coast Of Carolina”
MP3: Telekinesis – “I Saw Lightning”
Video: Telekinesis – “Tokyo”
Video: Telekinesis – “Awkward Kisser”

Daytrotter has The Submarines in for a session.

Clash and MusicOhm have interviews and Spinner’s Interface a session with Grizzly Bear. And Drowned In Sound has basically gone Grizzly-crazy the last week and a bit. The Grizz are at the Phoenix on June 5.

Stereogum gets a status report on Heartland from Final Fantasy – look for it before the year is out, but no further specifics were forthcoming.

Pitchfork reports that Sigur Ros are working on a new album with an eye towards an early 2010 release.

Son Volt have a new album in the can called American Central Dust and will be releasing it on July 7.

MP3: Son Volt – “Down To The Wire”

Exclaim has the official announcement of Ohbijou as the newest signing to Last Gang Records. Which makes perfect sense, as I’d always thought they would be the perfect labelmates to Crystal Castles. Beacons is out now in the UK and here digitally and will get a physical release June 16 – there’s a release party at the Opera House on June 25.

VIMBY has a backyard performance and video interview with Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker. Paste also has a video performance, but they stay indoors.

Two Hours Traffic tell CBC Radio 3 that they’ve completed work on their sophomore effort and will be releasing Territory on or around September 8. More endless touring to follow.

Sprung from the ashes of Mclusky, Wales’ Future Of The Left are staging a North American tour this Summer in support of their new album Travels With Myself And Another, out June 23, and will be at the El Mocambo on July 15, tickets $10. The Washington Post and Clash have interviews with the band’s Andy Falkous.

MP3: Future Of The Left – “Arming Eritrea”
Video: Future Of The Left – “The Hope That House Built”

Minnesota’s Now Now Every Children have a date at the El Mocambo on August 2 with Bad Veins. Their new album Cars has been on fairly heavy rotation all this past weekend – there’ll be a proper review sometime in the future – but for now I’ll just say I’m very much looking forward to this show.

MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Everyone You Know”
MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Sleep Through Summer”
MP3: Now, Now Every Children – “Cars”
MP3: Bad Veins – “Gold And Warm”

The Weakerthans are returning this Fall for a gig decidedly more intimate than their April Phoenix gigs – look for them at the Mod Club on September 23. Via NXEW.

And if you think late September is way too far into the future to start blocking off time, you may not want to know about the Destroyer date just announced for the Horseshoe on October 3, or the fact that tickets will be $13.50. There’s no new album news to report but there will be a new vinyl/digital EP released on August 18 with the epic-length “ambient disco” track “Bay of Pigs” as the a-side. In the meantime, here’s some stuff from his last excellent full-length, Trouble In Dreams.

MP3: Destroyer – “Dark Leaves Form A Thread”
MP3: Destroyer – “Foam Hands”

Friday, January 30th, 2009


Review of Bruce Peninsula's A Mountain Is A Mouth

Photo ByYuula BenivolskiYuula Benivolski When you’ve become gotten to know a band exclusively through their live performances, it can be difficult to accept them as a recorded entity. Especially so when the band in a live setting possess a sort of elemental energy that you can’t imagine being done justice in a studio environment. This was the case with Toronto’s Bruce Peninsula, who made a serious impression with a series of shows back in 2007 which established the band, ten members deep when at full strength, as a potent new force on the local music scene.

A listen to their first recorded output last Summer – a 7″ of traditional folk recordings – verified that they’d somehow managed to capture their sonic potency, but it took some time with their debut album A Mountain Is A Mouth – out on Tuesday – to confirm that they’d really made a record that fulfilled all the expectations that had accumulated since August of 2007. And they have.

Mountain seems to have been crafted to emulate nothing less than a massive gathering storm. Opener “Inside/Outside” coalesces from a gentle, ghostly breeze into an ominous stomp whose energy remains mostly unrelenting through the whole of side one. Pounding yet surprisingly nimble percussion alongside singer Neil Haverty’s gruff field holler provides the foundation from which the choir’s angelic voices rise. And these aren’t the touchy-feely kind of angels – they’re the flaming sword-wielding kind. But for all the effectiveness of their sound and fury, it’s the eye of the storm – the delicate “Weave Myself A Dress” – that really pulls it all together. Misha Bower’s weary-beyond-her-years vocals are devastatingly vulnerable in contrast to tumult that surrounds them. The song provides a brief but essential respite before the winds again begin to whip.

The other revelation of the album is how solid the songwriting is. By choosing to work in such an old sort of blues/gospel/folk aesthetic, the band had to face the conundrum of how to sound authentic and yet still bring something new to the table and it’s saying something that the two traditional songs they’ve included in the set fit seamlessly with the original material. It’d have been easy enough to just rely on the intensity of their delivery to impress, but they’ve still taken the time to create something richly melodic and with real depth. It’s safe to say that A Mountain Is A Mouth is most unlike anything else you’ll hear this year, and for that reason alone it’s worth your attention. And if you need another, I’ll throw in the fact that it’s excellent.

Bruce Peninsula play the Horseshoe tomorrow night in support of The Tom Fun Orchestra, play an in-store at Soundscapes on February 4 to mark the album’s release and do a proper record release show on February 22 at the Polish Combatants Hall. You can miss one, or even two of these shows. But miss all three? Not an option. Exclaim documents the formation and formulation of the band, they talk to NOW about the process of capturing their sound on tape and there’s further interviews over at Echo and The Hamilton Spectator.

MySpace: Bruce Peninsula

Stereogum is offering up an MP3 from the new Great Lake Swimmers record Lost Channels, due out March 31. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

The Globe & Mail profiles Laura Barrett, complete with awful, awful headline.

Rolling Stone reports that Metric will release their new album Fantasies on April 14.

Final Fantasy have a new video from his Plays To Please EP.

Video: Final Fantasy – “Horsetail Feathers”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencier talks to Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene.

Paste and Exclaim have features on AC Newman, playing Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Neko Case sounds off on animal rights to Spinner and verifies that you shouldn’t expect to see her in any PETA ads anytime soon. Her April 18 show at Trinity-St Paul’s is almost sold out and the April 17 date probably won’t be far behind. Hesitate and lose.

Popmatters plays 20 questions with Jason Isbell. He has a date at the Horseshoe on March 4 and is swapping an MP3 from forthcoming album Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, out February 17, in exchange for your email.

Drowned In Sound finds out what’s next for The Magnolia Electric Co.

The Daily Texan speaks briefly to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who aim to have a new album out this year.

NOW talks to Gary Louris on the circumstances surrounding Ready For The Flood, his collaboration with former Jayhawks partner Mark Olson. They play the Mod Club February 4 and you can stream the album right now at Spinner.

Stream: Mark Olson and Gary Louris / Ready For the Flood

Drowned In Sound offers up a three-part interview with M Ward. Hold Time is out February 17.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

It's Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye

Review of Oh No Forest Fires' The War On Geometry

Photo By Kyle HuttonKyle HuttonOh No Forest Fires are having a good time. That much is obvious, listening to The War On Geometry, the debut mini-album from the Toronto four-piece that follows up an excellent demo EP that has been kicking around for a while. Even though adding those four tracks to the seven on Geometry would have made for a more traditional-length album, their omission – as excellent as those songs were – is a sensible one. Compared to the new recordings, the songs from the EP were equally if not even more immediately and indelibly catchy, but the execution was more well-mannered and polite.

Geometry, on the other hand, is the sound of that band hepped up on pixie sticks, volume and nostalgia for how distortion pedals sounded in the ’90s. It’s bigger, louder and more abrasive-sounding, though the extra grit also helps those hooks stick just that much harder. Bursting with energy and ideas, it knows when a musical tangent is called for and when its best to simply take the shortest distance between two points to get the point across, particularly by means of big, loud power chords. It takes a skeleton of tempo shifts and melodic complexity that could only have been built by people who really know their way around their instruments, and decorates it in party hats, funny sloganed t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. It’s math-rock if math were singalongable and the most exhilarating subject in school.

A lot of bands spend their careers trying to capture the energy of their live shows on record, and while Geometry doesn’t quite catch the full experience – I’ve listened to the album a good deal and haven’t yet had any of my musical equipment in the vicinity spontaneously demolish itself or find myself soaked in beer/sweat/other fluids – it does a good job of conveying just how… trying not to use the word “energy” again… animated the band can be whilst performing. I’ve seen them twice now and both times have been wonderful bouts of anarchy. And when they play the Horseshoe tomorrow night with Hey Rosetta! and Museum Pieces, both visiting from the Maritimes, I expect nothing less. Cover is $8, ONFF are on first at 9.

Chart has an interview with the band.

MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “It’s Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye”

The Tennessean talks to Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. They’re at the Sound Academy on November 27 and 28.

Though hard at work at the next Great Lake Swimmers record, Tony Dekker also crafted the score to Song Sung Blue, a forthcoming documentary about a Neil Diamond tribute act. Hear a couple of the pieces below and for clips from the film, hit up their YouTube channel.

MP3: Tony Dekker – “Old Milwaukee”
MP3: Tony Dekker – “Encore”

Final Fantasy has released another video from his Spectrum, 14th Century EP.

Video: Final Fantasy – “Blue Imelda”

Chad Van Gaalen is offering up a new MP3 from Soft Airplane. The Calgary Herald has an interview.

MP3: Chad VanGaalen – “City Of Electric Light”

Neil Young floats some ideas for saving the automotive industry at The Huffington Post.

The Thermals will return on April 7 with a new label – Kill Rock Stars – and album, in Now We Can See. interviews the boys from Wheat about small successes and the link between their music and visual art endeavours. They’ve completed a new album entitled Black Ink and are aiming to release it in Spring 2009. Via Bradley’s Almanac.

The December 9 Noah & The Whale show at the Rivoli has been cancelled, as has the entire North American tour. As they explain in a MySpace blog entry, between their European tour commitments and working on their second record, they just couldn’t make it over. But they promise to return in March of next year, presumably scheduled around an appearance at SxSW.

The Star-Tribune talks to Patterson Hood and Craig Finn, frontmen of tourmates Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady. The Seattle Times settles for talking to just Finn.

The Chicago Sun-Times contemplates the fates of the Chicagoan bands set to conquer the alt.rock world way back in 1993.