Posts Tagged ‘Foxes In Fiction’

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The Twilight Hour

Still Corners, Mausoleum and Foxes In Fiction at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI spent an inordinate amount of time at this year’s SXSW chasing around London’s Still Corners, my attempts to catch one of their many sets foiled by things like not noting the difference between AM and PM on set times, showcases falling three hours behind despite having only been running for two hours and the like. I eventually caught them at a day show in an Austin Convention Centre meeting room where the room setup didn’t even allow them to perform underneath their projected lightshow, instead playing in the dark while the movies ran on another wall, and even though it was about as un-vibey a setting as you could imagine, I was still totally smitten by their retro-cinematic dreampop, making their debut Creatures Of An Hour one of my more anticipated releases of the Fall.

With that past history, and even though I didn’t have any rational reason to be worried, I still half-expected some sort of calamity to befall their Toronto debut at The Drake Underground on Tuesday night. As it turned out there was a hiccup in the evening but it affected their tourmates Ganglians, who were apparently refused entry to the country and necessitated a couple of pinch-hitters to sub in. Personally, I’d have been happy if they just dispensed with the openers and let Still Corners play – and let me get home early – but no. I was actually fine with Foxes In Fiction opening things up; I’d seen Warren Hildebrand do his thing – which is fiddling with a table covered with samplers and keys while singing and playing guitar – at the Wintergaze show in December and while the presentation options of a one-man band are limited at best, his songs were solid enough to allow it. I guess I was feeling a little less generous this evening because while the music sounded fine – even the opening ambient sample-driven piece which he described as a “pretentious experiment composed today, won’t do anything like it again” – the slow-motion electro-pop failed to come across as any more than just pleasant, largely because of the static presentation. I appreciate that to change the live formula is to change all that is Foxes In Fiction and it certainly seems to be working for him, but… yeah. Could have used a little more engagement.

But I’d have rather had another half-hour of Foxes In Fiction than have to hear Mausoleum. The trio came across as amateurish Joy Division acolytes but any cues they took from that band were made to sound awful, mostly thanks to the singer’s barked, tuneless vocals. The only upside to their set was that it was short.

Thankfully there was enough time for the air and ears to clear before Still Corners took the stage, this time with the projections directed not only squarely at the stage but the two side walls as well, creating an extra-enveloping effect. Interestingly, the band started playing with frontwoman Tessa Murry standing out on the floor, facing the stage, for an extended moment before stepping onstage – an unexpected little bit of showiness from an outfit who otherwise seemed to prefer to stay in the shadows. And though Murray’s presence was largely as demure and ghostly as her atmospheric vocals would imply, they were also stronger live than you’d expect live and her heretofore unknown crooner side was given the spotlight on a couple of stripped down numbers including a cover of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”. It’s as though they’ve realized they have a bona fide frontwoman in her rather than just another instrument and are beginning to utilize that strength, even though she’s already so much the centre of the band’s sound. It’s hard to imagine that they already existed before she joined, seeing how much of their identity her vocals comprise.

Also more pronounced live were the band’s facility with the drone and the pulse, built around whirring organ, twangy guitar and dubby bass, coming across more Stereolabby than I’d have expected and giving the sound more muscle than Creatures necessarily implied. But what I found most exciting about the show – not that the intended response for their gorgeously hazy set was necessarily excitement in any conventional sense – was how much more there was to Still Corners than I’d necessarily expected. If they simply continued making more records in their clearly-defined Morricone-meets-Slowdive aesthetic, there’d be a built-in audience for that style and sound for it and everyone would be happy – but more than that was the sense that there were still many more places they could take it, be they more seductive, romantic, mysterious or even rocking. I am more than happy to have Still Corners for what they are, but hadn’t necessarily expected more from them on future outings. That is no longer the case.

Paste has a video session with Still Corners and also declares them “Best Of What’s Next”.

Photos: Still Corners, Mausoleum, Foxes In Fiction @ The Drake Underground – October 25, 2011
MP3: Still Corners – “Into The Trees”
MP3: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”
MP3: Still Corners – “Don’t Fall In Love”
MP3: Still Corners – “Endless Summer”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “School Night”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “Flashing Lights Have Ended Now”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “15 Ativan (Song For Erika)”
Video: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”
Video: Still Corners – “Wish”
Video: Still Corners – “Don’t Fall In Love”
Stream: Still Corners / Creatures Of An Hour

Spinner talks to The Horrors.

Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson is streaming his debut solo record (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson for one week only. Starting earlier this week.

MP3: Stevie Jackson – “Man Of God”
Stream: Stevie Jackson / (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson

The Guardian and MTV discuss Ceremonials with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine. It’s out November 1.

What’s better than a new video from the new Summer Camp record Welcome To Condale? How about a stream of the whole thing courtesy of The Guardian? Yeah. The record is out November 1.

MP3: Summer Camp – “Ghost Train”
Video: Summer Camp – “Down”
Stream: Summer Camp / Welcome To Condale

Stereogum has premiered a new video from We Were Promised Jetpacks’ second album In The Pit Of The Stomach.

Video: We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Human Error”

Also with a new video – Clock Opera. Their debut album is due out in March.

Video: Clock Opera – “Lesson No. 7”

The Line Of Best Fit has a two-part interview with Slow Club.

BBC discusses the art of pop songwriting with Jarvis Cocker, who just released a book of lyrics in Mother, Brother, Lover: Selected Lyrics.

BBC reports that despite Liam Gallagher’s olive branch of wanting to have an Oasis reunion in 2015, Noel is having none of it. Oh, those two.

Manic Street Preachers have put together a video archive to accompany the release of their National Treasures comp next week.

Rolling Stone solicits some thoughts on the legacy of R.E.M. from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

The Quietus talks protest with Billy Bragg.

I Break Horses have released a new video from Hearts, which got a North American release a couple weeks ago should you have had any problem finding copies at non-import prices hereabouts.

Video: I Break Horses – “Wired”

The Fader has a video session with Niki & The Dove

Paste is streaming the new Loney Dear album Hall Music, even though it came out some weeks ago. But it’s well-timed to remind you that they play The Drake Underground on November 5. And check out this interview with Emil Svanängen at Prospectus News.

MP3: Loney Dear – “My Heart”
Stream: Loney Dear / Hall Music

The Line Of Best Fit, Express Night Out, Exclaim, eMusic, 17 Dots and Spinner have interviews with Anthony Gonzalez of M83, in town at Lee’s Palace on November 18.

Prefix talks to Luke Steele of Empire Of The Sun.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

CONTEST – Out Of The Box Festival 2011 – July 29 to 31, 2011

image via FacebookFacebookWhat: Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival – a new mini-festival spread out over three days and seven shows and showcasing some of the region’s best up-and-coming acts
Why: Because it’s the August long weekend (even though it’s in July), because each show features art vendors and potentially entertaining themes (3D! Origami!), because there’s all-ages matinee shows and because it’s a lot of music for not a lot of money
Who: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, Heartbeat Hotel, Foxes In Fiction and The Ruby Spirit are just a few of the acts who may well give this weekend a serious “I was there” cachet in a few years.
When: July 29, 30 and 31, 2011
Where: The Great Hall and Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto (all-ages matiness, 19+ evening shows)
How: All shows are $10 at the door or $15 in advance for a festival pass – you don’t need a pocket calculator to figure out which is the best value – and courtesy of the festival, I’ve got five pairs of festival passes to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be Out Of The Box” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 24.

MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “School Night”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “The Hello Barrel”

Monday, December 20th, 2010


Memoryhouse, Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning and Heartbeat Hotel at Twist Gallery in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThat I’m a fan of the once-celebreated, then-maligned, now-celebrated-again genre of indie rock called “shoegaze” is no secret (if this is news, then welcome – you’re new around here). But if you think that gives me a soft spot for bands who invest more than is reasonable in effects pedals, you’d be right but also wrong.

Sonic architecture was only part of what those British bands in the early ’90s incredible – they also wrote fantastic songs and that’s something that some of their followers either forget or unable to replicate. Far too often I’ll come across bands that seem promising on paper with all the right RIYLs and while there’s plenty of sturm and/or drang, there’s a woeful lack of hooks or, live, they’ve made the mistake of going so far as to emulate their forebears’ onstage social anxiety disorder.

So Thursday night’s “Wintergaze” mini-festival out at the Twist Gallery in Parkdale was met with both anticipation and trepidation; here we had five acts who were ostensibly among the top new dream-pop purveyors in the greater Toronto area with only a couple sort-of known to me and the rest total unknown quantities. Never been to the venue before, either. A night of mysteries awaited!

Lead-off hitters Heartbeat Hotel weren’t quite a mystery – I’d written up them and their debut album Fetus Dreams back in July but had never seen them live. Most of the pros of the record were present live – songs with a good balance of catchiness and atmospherics and equal dexterity at poppers and drifters. None of the songs were immediately memorable but they had a good sound that good things will come of it.

Ostrich Tuning come by their name, attributed to Lou Reed circa the Velvet Underground, legitimately. Their music utilized a tidal approach, with VU-styled dirges building, cresting and ebbing with the occasional melodic or chordal shift to keep you on your toes. There were vocals but they were buried – probably deliberately so – and while I would like to see their melodic side attended to, their sense of dynamics was impressive.

Volcano Playground‘s set may not have been the most polished but they more than made up for it with an impressive mix that melded synthetic tones, danceable rhythms, emotive vocals and an innate pop sensibility. There was still the sense that there were maybe too many ideas in play for them to juggle effectively but the potential contained in what they’re doing is immense.

Warren Hildebrand, who operates under the name Foxes In Fiction, apparently hails from my own hometown and it seems I have to reconsider my long-held notion that Oakville is a artistic black hole from which nothing of value can emerge. The one-man band, who looked as though he’d been plucked straight out of his bedroom and onto the stage (not that there was a stage), was armed with a guitar, sampler and array of pedals and used the tools on hand to deliver a well-orchestrated if dynamically-limited set of slow-motion dreampop that has more than a little Deerhunter-ish value. It wasn’t hard to see why his debut Swung From The Branches has put him in the radar of sites like Pitchfork.

By the time Memoryhouse came to close things out, things had run well behind schedule and in addition to general exhaustion, the attached dance club was in full swing and the gallery was resonating to the obnoxious dance beat from downstairs. Not the best situation to immerse oneself in their hazy, nostalgic pop but having waited for some time to see them live, it had to be endured. And dance leakage and bouts of feedback aside, they did not disappoint. Performing as a three-piece with an extra guitar augmenting Evan Abeele’s piano and guitar and Denise Nouvion’s vocals, their crisp, clean textures and country-tinged vocals weren’t the standard sonic implements of shoegazing but the net effect of their approach was just as dreamy. They mentioned that this was an unusually stripped-down show for them, and while I’d like to see/hear/feel them in a presumably louder configuration, this was pretty nice. And while on the topic of “wants”, a full album would also be welcome – I suspect that as good as they are with singles, a complete song cycle would be even more impressive.

In the end, any fears of being disappointed by those who’d claim to be worshipping at the alter of Creation were wholly misplaced. None of the bands on the bill were trying to be the second coming of Ride – even the labelling of them as “shoegaze” seemed inaccurate and not giving them nearly enough credit. They’re making new and interesting, atmospheric rock music and if you feel inclined to look at your feet while you listen to it, then that’s your business. Just make sure you listen.

eye was also on hand and has a review.

Photos: Memoryhouse, Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning, Heartbeat Hotel @ Twist Gallery – December 16, 2010
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Troisieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Gian Lorenzo Bernini”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “School Night”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “Flashing Lights Have Ended Now”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “15 Ativan (Song For Erika)”
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Anywhere”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Walls Of Dry Clouds”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “The Hello Barrel”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Heirloom”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Bonfire”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
Video: Volcano Playground – “Waiting”
Myspace: Memoryhouse
MySpace: Heartbeat Hotel

Their sold-out show at Lee’s Palace last week now in the books, it can be announced that The Rural Alberta Advantage will be playing the New Year’s Eve party at The Tranzac alongside the likes of Hooded Fang, Laura Barrett, The Wilderness Of Manitoba and more. Tickets $15 in advance.

PitchforkTV has got videos of Dan Bejar previewing songs from the next Destroyer record Kaputt, due out January 25.

Spinner interviews John O’Regan of Diamond Rings. He opens up for Robyn at the Sound Academy on January 26 and NYC Taper is sharing a recording of his show in New York earlier this month.

Owen Pallett is giving away an EP’s worth of demos, collectively entitled Export, over at Soundcloud. Today Online also has an interview.

Torontoist interviews Mitch Fillion, the video session auteur who runs Southern Souls.

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

CONTEST – Wintergaze Festival @ Twist Gallery – December 16, 2010

Photo via MyspaceMyspaceWho: Memoryhouse
What: The Wintergaze Festival is a year-end celebration featuring some of the city’s (and outlying regions’) finest sneaker contemplaters and drone merchants.
Why: For the breakout Guelph dream-pop duo, they’re celebrating the release of their new “Caregiver” 7″. For everyone else, why not?
When: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Where: The Twist Gallery in Toronto (19+)
Who else: The rest of the lineup features Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning and Heartbeat Hotel
How: Tickets for the show are $10 in advance, but courtesy of Gold Soundz, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Wintergaze” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, December 12.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Troisieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Gian Lorenzo Bernini”

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.