Posts Tagged ‘Forest City Lovers’

Monday, February 14th, 2011

5 Chords

Review of The Dears’ Degeneration Street

Photo via DangerbirdDangerbirdThat The Dears never really realized the lofty expectations that accompanied them when they emerged out of Montreal at the turn of the century really isn’t important. Nor is the fact that they turned out to be more foreshadowing of the great Canadian indie renaissance of the past decade rather than leaders of it, or that the drama surrounding the band and its endlessly changing roster often overshadowed their already-quite dramatic music. All that really matters is that they’re still at it and their new record Degeneration Street is, for my money, their best yet.

That should probably be accompanied by the caveat that I’ve never really been a fan of The Dears. Their early albums, for which they were the most feted, had the sort of grandeur that I liked but was lacking in the hooks that would have kept my attention over the course of their sprawling records. 2006’s Gang Of Losers, while hardly perfect, was the first of their releases that I really warmed to. And even though many found it too conventionally “rock” compared to their more expansive efforts, most would agree that 2008’s murkily rambling Missiles, which bore the fingerprints of its difficult birth (most of the band quit or left during its recording), was a low point for the band.

It may have been a necessary nadir, though, as Degeneration Street finds the band – reconstituted with a number of band members from earlier incarnations – striking a lean and focused balance of rock, soul and prog with plenty of pop and just about the right amount of self-indulgence. Tracks like “5 Chords” and “Thrones” are the sort of soaring, guitar-propelled anthems that far too few Canadian acts even attempt, let alone pull off, while opener “Omega Dog” proves that it’s possible for the band to showcase the scope of their ambitions without taking six-plus minutes to do it and the unexpectedly retro bounce of “Yesteryear” shows they’ve still got some surprises up their sleeves. I’m inclined to give veteran producer Tony Hoffer props for helping the band pull it together, though just as much credit must go to Dears leader Murray Lightburn – a man with a bit of a reputation for being artistically controlling – for allowing someone else to take the reins. It might have taken five albums over eleven years, but The Dears may have finally arrived.

Degeneration Street is out tomorrow and currently streaming in its entirety at The Montreal Gazette has a feature piece on the band and the album will be spotlighted in the first Polaris Record Salon, wherein a Polaris juror argues for the record’s inclusion in this year’s longlist/shortlist/ – it takes place Tuesday night at The Drake Underground and will also feature a live interview with Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak. Doors at 7, starts at 8 and will feature a listening party for the album. And if you’d rather hear them play than see them speak, they will play an in-store at Sonic Boom this coming Thursday evening, February 17, at 7PM – admission free with a donation of canned goods.

MP3: The Dears – “Blood”
Video: The Dears – “Omega Dog”
Stream: The Dears / Degeneration Street

The Guardian has a feature interview with Arcade Fire while Pitchfork has details on their upcoming Scenes From The Suburbs short film, helmed by Spike Jonze. And oh yeah congratulations to the band on last night’s “Album Of The Year” Grammy Award. Wait, who? features Young Galaxy in the latest installment of their Camera Music video session series, while Spinner and Chart talk to the band, who will be taking a pregnancy-induced hiatus at the end of April. Best catch them at Lee’s Palace on March 10 while you can.

The Besnard Lakes tell Spinner they’re going back into the studio to work on their next record as soon as this Summer.

Shad has released a new video from TSOL; he’s playing at The Indie Awards during Canadian Musicfest on March 12.

Video: Shad – “Keep Shining”

Self-Titled talks to Tom Scharpling about directing the latest New Pornographers video. You know which one.

Exclaim reports that Destroyer’s Dan Bejar has an impersonator…. and his name is Dan Bejar. For serious. The real(er) Dan Bejar and his Destroyer crew will be at Lee’s Palace on March 31.

With Drums & Colour interviews Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon.

Forest City Lovers have announced an April 1 show at The Garrison, where they will be accompanied by Slow Down Molasses and Kite Hill. NOW has a feature on Forest City Lovers’ Kat Burns and her artwork-an-hour An Hour Of My Time art project and she’s got a solo show at Holy Oak on March 3.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”

The Star Phoenix talks to Mike Belitsky and Planet S to Dallas Good of The Sadies. They’ve got a date at The Mod Club on March 11 with a yet-to-be-announced special headliner.

Friday, December 3rd, 2010


Review of Now, Now’s Neighbors

Photo via Big HassleBig HassleLast year, I wrote up a duo out of Minnesota called Now, Now Every Children who impressed with their debut album Cars, a no-frills chunk of indie rock made special by Cacie Dalager’s winsome vocals, simultaneously sweet and sullen. I had been looking forward to experiencing that specialness live in August of ’09, when they were slated to play the El Mocambo, but that show was cancelled when their van broke down for not the first time on that tour and given that apparently not many tickets had been sold, it wasn’t rescheduled.

But even without conquering Canada, they rode Cars to some pretty impressive success, touring the US and Europe before enjoying some well-deserved burnout and disappearing from view. And in that time off, they retooled, ditched half of their name and gained a member (or three, depending on what promo photos you look at) and have now re-emerged as Now, Now. Though less grammatically awkward, it’s still far from great as names go but complaints like that are quickly forgotten thanks to the first release it’s attached to, the forthcoming Neighbors EP. And while I don’t know that the differences between it and Cars necessarily required an identity change, they’ve experienced a pretty remarkable artistic growth spurt in the past year.

Dalager’s voice is still as beguiling an instrument as ever, but the growth in their songwriting and musicianship is what really stands out – the arrangements are more sophisticated and dynamic, yet leaner. It’s as though they’ve figured out how to do much more with less, and while the EP only really numbers four proper songs – two are acoustic versions and one an instrumental introduction – and clocks in at barely 20 minutes, it feels rangier and more satisfying than many bands’ can muster in twice the length. It might be just a teaser for a full-length that won’t be out for a while yet (it’s not being recorded until the new year), but it’s a strong reminder that Now, Now, or whatever they’re calling themselves a few months from now, are an outfit worth hearing.

Spin has a chat with the band and Filter is streaming the whole of Neighbors, which is out next Tuesday, December 7.

MP3: Now, Now – “Neighbors”
MP3: Now, Now – “Roommates”
Stream: Now, Now / Neighbors

The Fly has an acoustic video session with Warpaint.

Lucinda Williams will release a new album in Blessed on March 1, just in time for her dates at Massey Hall on March 4 and 5 opening up for Levon Helm. Paste has details.

Bandstand Busking hearkens back to warmer days (read: the Summer) with this session featuring Forest City Lovers.

Rae Spoon returns to Toronto sor a show at the Gladstone on December 12.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Death By Elektro”
MP3: Rae Spoon – “You Can Dance”

Exclaim is streaming four of the songs to be found on the CD component of Feist’s forthcoming Look At What The Light Did Now doc, out on Tuesday.

JAM and talk to The Lowest Of The Low, celebrating the 20th anniversary reissue of Shakespeare… My Butt with two sold-out shows at Lee’s Palace tonight and tomorrow and an in-store at Sonic Boom on Saturday afternoon at 3PM.

Drowned In Sound has unearthed the transcript of an interview with Efrim Manuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, just in time for their return to active duty via All Tomorrow’s Parties. They’ve got four sold-out shows set for Lee’s Palace next April.

Monday, November 29th, 2010


The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThursday night’s bill at The Horseshoe was both a repeat and an inversion of a show at The Garrison last October – that show was an introduction of sorts for the newly-buzzy Toronto folk outfit The Wilderness Of Manitoba and a final show for a while from London, Ontario’s Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, who were coming off an extended tour and were turning their attention towards a new album. Thirteen months later, The Wilderness had converted their buzz into some genuine success on the back of their debut album When You Left The Fire while Olenka and company just released their new record And Now We Sing, which I was most eager to get my hands on.

And all I’ll say about the record for the moment is that it’s really good, and that I will hopefully offer more thoughts on it in the future. It melds folk, country and pop with a touch of rock while sounding equally old world and new; not a description that necessarily makes it sound particularly unique, but Olenka Krakus’ distinctive, dusky voice goes a long way in establishing their personality. It was that voice that would carry her opening set this evening as she was playing without the Autumn Lovers and while members of The Wilderness sat in for a few numbers adding harmonies and atmosphere, I missed their string, horn and percussion contributions. That said, there was no denying that the solo configuration allowed the plaintiveness of her songs to come across even stronger and made for an affecting set of material new and old and including a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen”.

Montreal’s Leif Vollebekk drew the middle spot on the evening’s dance card and in contrast to Olenka, the usually-solo performer opted to bring a rhythm section along for this performance. Stylistically, he owes more than a little to mid-’70s Dylan – a fact he acknowledged with a cover from Blood On The Tracks – what with his penchant for conversational melodies that seem almost ad-libbed. This fit well with his rather random on-stage persona, and so while what he did wasn’t especially original – the one left turn was a looped and layered version of Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues” that ended up sounding like Vollebekk’s own stuff – it was delivered with enough style to be entertaining.

If I have a complaint with Wilderness’ When You Left The Fire, it’s that it’s too successful at creating an immersive, consistent mood. If you’re are craving what they do, then their gentle, prettily drifting, harmony-laden folk can be like manna, but if you’re not in the mood then it doesn’t have quite enough to keep one’s interest. Happily, in a live setting they don’t try to recreate the campfire ambiance of the record, balancing out the ethereal with earthiness and offering enough added energy and dynamics to make the performance engaging, no matter what your mood. With most every member rotating through a selection of instruments throughout the show, they ran through an hour-long set of material from Fire and their debut EP/mini-album Hymns Of Love And Spirits that managed to rouse and sooth, though seemingly more the former for some of the more excitable of the couple hundred people in attendance. I didn’t get the same jolt out of the show as they did, but still appreciated seeing one of the city’s up and coming acts continuing to take considerable strides forward.

NOW has an interview with The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Ottawa XPress talks to Leif Vollebekk while CJLO has audio and video from a radio session featuring he and Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon and Southern Souls has posted a video session with Olenka recorded across the street from the ‘Shoe the night of the show.

Photos: The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk, Olenka & The Autumn Lovers @ The Horseshoe – November 25, 2010
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: Leif Vollebekk – “Northernmost Eva Maria”
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “November”
MySpace: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers

In advance of their two sold-out shows at Lee’s Palace in support of the re-release of Shakespeare My Butt… on December 3 and 4, The Lowest Of The Low will be playing an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom on December 4 at 3PM. CTV has an interview with frontmen Ron Hawkins and Steve Stanley while Chart recounts the band’s history and importance.

MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Subversives”
Video: The Lowest Of The Low – “Eternal Fatalist”

More details on that upcoming December 16 Memoryhouse show at the Twist Gallery, reported on a little while ago, have come out – they’ll be headlining an evening called “Wintergaze” which will feature a lineup of the city’s finest dream-pop purveyors. In addition to the Guelph duo, there will be sets from Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning and Heartbeat Hotel (introduced back in July). Tickets are $10 in advance. And incidentally, Memoryhouse just released a new video.

MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Heirloom”

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Rebekah Higgs, who has been added as support for The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sold-out show at Lee’s Palace on December 16.

The Wild Honey Pie recorded a video session with Forest City Lovers on their recent visit to New York City.

NOW profiles Suuns.

CBC Radio 2’s Concerts On Demand is streaming in its entirety Stars’ show in Calgary at the start of the month.

Metro, The Guardian and The Independent talk to Arcade Fire’s Win Butler.

The Wolf Parade fansite has confirmed, via Dan Boeckner, that the rumours of Wolf Parade’s impending indefinite hiatus are true. Aside from a few live commitments next year, the band have no plans to reconvene or record a fourth album anytime soon. Fans will have to make do with one of their 4000 side projects, some of which they detail to Spinner.

The Toronto Star talks to Peter Moore about recording the Neil Young and Sadies cover of “This Wheel’s On Fire”, from the just-released Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration Of The Band.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Car Crash

Telekinesis use mental powers to create new album and tour without getting lost

Photo By Kyle JohnsonKyle JohnsonHaving pepped up the Summer of 2009 with his self-titled debut album, Seattle power-pop prodigy Michael Benjamin Lerner – aka Telekinesis – aims to make the Winter of 2011 a little more bearable with his/their sophomore effort 12 Desperate Straight Lines. Due out on February 15, the first sample is available at download courtesy of Spin and yeah, it’s as punchy and instantly hummable as anything on the debut.

And not to be content with just delivering musical sunshine via your speakers and/or headphones, Lerner and touring band will be hitting the road almost immediately after the record’s release to deliver it directly to your ears. Their North American tour takes them from west to east and back west again and includes a March 6 stop at The Horseshoe in Toronto.

MP3: Telekinsis – “Car Crash”

Spin talks to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists about their new record The King Is Dead, out January 18. No further details on the rumoured February 1 Toronto show but it occurred to me that if they’re looking to move up – capacity-wise – from their usual Kool Haus digs and Massey isn’t available… there’s the Sound Academy. Shudder.

MBV Music is streaming a new single from Sharon Van Etten, consisting of two tracks not found on her latest Epic. The 7″ is out November 16.

Spinner talks to The Radio Dept.’s Martin Larsson about some of the band’s less obvious musical influences. Their double-disc singles set Passive Aggressive is out January 25 and they play Lee’s Palace on February 7.

QRO, The Daily Tribune, The Quad and The Columbus Dispatch have interviews with Kate Nash, currently winding her way across North America and in town at the Phoenix tomorrow night, November 13.

Two Door Cinema Club talk to They’re back for their third local show in eight months on January 15 at the Kool Haus with Tokyo Police Club.

Modern Superstitions, who impressed when I saw them at the Halifax Pop Explosion, have released a new video and will have a release party/show for their debut EP All The Things We’ve Been Told at The Silver Dollar on November 19.

MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”
Video: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

The Journal has words with Dan Snaith of Caribou.

The Line Of Best Fit, Calgary Herald and See chat with Dan Mangan, who’s gone and gotten himself a shiny new website. asks five music and movie-related questions of Forest City Lovers’ Kat Burns.

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Play By Heart

Review of Diamond Rings’ Special Affections and giveaway

Photo By Robin SharpRobin SharpThe Diamond Rings journey thus far – from viral video through legal scuffle, at festivals at home and abroad – has been documented hereabouts pretty well, I think, but there’s still one fairly important – or only important – facet of the tale to be considered – the debut album, Special Affections, which finally arrives next Tuesday, October 26.

For an artist who has been so successful with the single format – a new track, or more specifically a new video – every few months to keep interest alive, the full-length could be a daunting proposition; after all, what works well in 4-minute portions may prove to be less-so over 40, particularly when it’s of as specific a sound and style as John O’Regan has defined Diamond Rings to be. So it’s to John O’s credit that Special Affections is strong enough to stand apart from the extravagant visuals that define Diamond Rings live and on video, though it does take on a different character in just the audio realm; more minor in key and sombre in tone and with the leanness of the sound even more evident. Still, he finds enough variety in the keys/laptop/voice DIY electro-pop recipe that forms the backbone of the record to fully engage anyone who’s ear was tweaked by any of the lead-up singles.

That said, it’s telling that the best moments on the record come when O’Reagan loosens the man-and-machine aesthetic and allows elements like the female backing vocals on “On Our Own” or the raw electric guitar he so ably wields in The D’Urbervilles into the mix. Beyond just elevating the songs they appear on, they point to a more interesting future for Diamond Rings – one where it’s more than a pseudonym but a proper project or even band. The long-term prospects of the current aesthetic are unclear, but if the sounds start clearly serving the songs and not the other way around, then the sky is the limit. But that’s a suggestion for tomorrow; for today, Diamond Rings is John O’Reagan and Special Affections delivers on all promises made.

X-Tra has a feature piece on Diamond Rings, whom after an intense CMJ festival this week, will be playing a number of Canadian dates before packing up his glitter and laptop for a jaunt to the UK. Record release day, October 26, will be spent at home with a special launch party at The Garrison and courtesy of Embrace, I have three pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Diamond Rings” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 22.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “Wait And See”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Something Else”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Show Me Your Stuff”
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Wait & See”
MySpace: Diamond Rings

Westword interviews PS I Love You, who are opening up for Diamond Rings on the 26th and have released a new video from Meet Me At The Muster Station; they’re playing a free in-store at Soundscapes at 7PM that same evening.

Video: PS I Love You – “Butterflies & Boners”

Pitchfork reports that the long wait for a new Destroyer record ends when the terrifically-titled Kaputt drops on January 25.

Born Ruffians have released a new video from their sophomore effort Say It and will put out an EP of unreleased odds and ends on November 2 called Plinky Plonk – it’s digital-only with physical copies only available at their shows.

Video: Born Ruffians – “Nova-Leigh”

Holy Fuck have gone cat-crazy for their latest video from Latin, further proving that cats = internet gold.

Video: Holy Fuck – “Red Lights”

Know what would be great? If for their just-announced Hallowe’en show at The Garrison, Fucked Up and The Sadies dressed up as each other. Pink Eyes in a Nudie suit, The Sadies in their underwear… actually, never mind. Ticket info still forthcoming; Times Square has an interview with Dallas Good of The Sadies.

MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”
MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”

Forest City Lovers have announced an in-store at Criminal Records on November 4 at 6PM, the day before their big show at The Horseshoe. That’d be November 5. If it was unclear.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”

Suuns will hold a record release show for their debut Zeroes QC at The Silver Dollar on November 26, even though the album has been out since last week. Chart has an interview with the band.

MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”

So I’m off to Halifax for the Halifax Pop Explosion on Wednesday, and having never been to Halifax or further east in Canada than Quebec City, am soliciting suggestions for things to do and see whilst out there. Most recommendations I’ve gotten so far are beers – which is great though dangerous – but beyond the eat/drink, what else should I make sure to fit in? I’ve got Citadel Hill, the ferry to Dartmouth, Point Pleasant Park… and?