Posts Tagged ‘Gary Louris & Mark Olson’

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Massage The History

Sonic Youth at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s a long way from CBGBs in New York to Massey Hall in Toronto – geographically, stylistically, even temporally. The former defined by its role as the primordial ooze from whence punk rock first emerged, the latter known largely for the legendary folk and jazz artists who graced its stage. CBGBs was a place to begin, Massey a place to arrive, but the path between the two is one that’s been trod by few acts. As of this past Tuesday night, Sonic Youth became one of them.

At first, the venue seemed a peculiar choice – putting a band whose reputation was built so heavily on dissonance in a room with the most splendid acoustics in the city. But in truth Sonic Youth became about so much more than just noise a long time ago and the complexity of their songs really were demanding of the room in which they were performed. Plus it held about the right amount of people.

I didn’t arrive in time to catch most of openers The Entrance Band, but did hear enough to find it ironic that such a trad-sounding hard rock band would be supporting such an avant-garde one. I didn’t feel like I’d missed much but if I did, I could console myself with the knowledge that they’d be back in town on August 20 at the Annex Wreck Room supporting Nebula.

I’ve already come clean about being only a casual Sonic Youth fan, but most of that enthusiasm has been built on their most recent records, say from Murray Street up to and definitely including their latest The Eternal as they’ve struck what, to my ears, is the perfect balance of atonality and melody. And having only ever seen them once live before, at Lollapalooza 2006, I was pretty excited to do so again. From the buzz in the hall, it was pretty clear everyone else was excited as well but I suspect that most were much more hardcore than I and thus exponentially more stoked. Takeaway: people were looking forward to the show.

And the long-time fans were catered with the first song, “She Is Not Alone” dating back to the band’s 1982 debut. Of course I didn’t know this song – it and most others were verified via set list – but it was a slow, hypnotic sort of dirge featuring massive guitar freak-out from Thurston Moore that many probably hoped would be a set loaded with classic material. These people would probably be disappointed. With “Sacred Trickster”, the band made it clear that they would not be partaking in any career retrospectives – they were still creative and vital and had eyes dead set forward, and would prove it by playing eleven straight songs from The Eternal.

Now these were some of the songs I was most familiar with, but that’s a pretty relative statement – I don’t find Sonic Youth to be a band I necessarily enjoy on an individual song basis, but more as a whole aural experience and that’s exactly what they delivered. A massive, dense and cinematic sonic rendering that was simultaneously aggressive, gentle, intense and detached. Seemingly incongruous guitar parts wove around each other perfectly, lunging and lurching around the alternating vocals of Moore, Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon, all of whom initially looked every bit their age but with every song, became more and more ageless – the healing power of music, I suppose. And you know, for a band that’s been around as long as they and are so unquestioningly influential, it’s remarkable how no one but no one sounds like them. Following a stunning rendering of “Massage The History”, featuring the unexpected sight of Moore on acoustic guitar, the band finally threw the old-timers a bone with a searing set closer in “Pacific Coast Highway” from Sister. The two encores were similarly steered towards older material with the exception of “What We Know”, the final Eternal track that hadn’t yet been aired. If they’d run them in order, they could have billed it as a “Don’t Look Back” show, albeit for their newest record.

I can understand if some fans felt let down by the focus on the new stuff – I would have even liked to have heard some Rather Ripped stuff, as that may be my favourite recent album of theirs – but with a catalog as broad and deep as theirs, there’s no way they could have satisfied everyone. But from a sheer performance point of view, I can’t believe anyone was actually disappointed in any way by the show they were given. Simply epic.

There’s further reviews of the show at The National Post, eye, NOW and Fazer. Check out interviews with the band at Crawdaddy, eye, The Toronto Sun and Spinner.

Photos: Sonic Youth @ Massey Hall – June 30, 2009
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Death Valley 1969”
MySpace: Sonic Youth

Blurt has an interview with Dinosaur Jr, while Exclaim has assembled a career-spanning timeline of their existence. They’re at the Phoenix on September 30.

The Big Takeover has a massive five-part interview with Bob Mould. He’s at the Mod Club on October 5.

Gibson Guitars talk to Neil Young about Archives Volume One.

Wilco (The Album) was released this week and in its wake comes Wilco (the media glut). There’s interviews with Jeff Tweedy at Time, The New York Times and JAM while American Songwriter chats with Nels Cline and Paste with Cline and John Stirrat.

St Louis Today and The Colorado Springs Independent discuss Son Volt’s American Central Dust with Jay Farrar.

PopMatters considers the legacy of Uncle Tupelo.

Steve Earle talks to He’s at Massey Hall on July 11.

Daytrotter is sharing a session with Mark Olson & Gary Louris, recorded in March at SxSW.

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Pancho & Lefty

Steve Earle to pay tribute to the Maestro on Townes

Photo By Jim HerringtonJim HerringtonSteve Earle has announced details on his next album, and now that he’s done so the real question is why he hadn’t done this sooner? The new record is called Townes, and is a tribute album to his friend, mentor and the man he once declared the “best songwriter in the whole world,” Townes Van Zandt. Van Zandt passed in 1997 and was paid tribute by Earle in the song, “Fort Worth Blues”, but this record should be a much larger love letter to the late singer-songwriter.

Earle has been in political firebrand mode for his past few records so it’s good to see him return to his more introspective works, though I don’t know if this counts as the “chick songs” record he’s promised for a while. I can’t decide if I’d prefer it he play this one straight and reverential and avoid the sonic tomfoolery that permeated Washington Square Serenade or try to push the envelope a little, knowing he’s got such solid songs to work with. From the details at Blurt, it sounds like he’s doing both, enlisting a bluegrass band for some numbers and getting Serenade producer John King to produce and Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello to play on another. A couple of new songs – including the aforementioned track with Morello – are streaming at Earle’s MySpace, and I must say – his reading of “Pancho & Lefty” does it for me. Yes it does.

Update: There’s a short interview with Steve at the forums about the record.

Townes will be available as a single or double-CD set and will be out May 12.

Video: Steve Earle – “Fort Worth Blues” (live)
MySpace: Steve Earle

Rolling Stone reports that Bob Dylan is almost done work on a new album, set for a late April release.

There’s a new video from Neil Young’s Fork In The Road, out April 7. Are you stoked? ARE YOU STOKED? No? Can’t imagine why not.

Video: Neil Young – “Johnny Magic”

JamBase talks to Mark Olson & Gary Louris.

MP3: Mark Olson & Gary Louris – “Turn Your Pretty Name Around”

JAM and The AV Club talk to Neko Case. She’s got two sold-out shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

JamBase profiles Jason Isbell.

MPR has a session with The Submarines. They’ve released a couple of digital remix EPs creatively titled Honeysuckle Weeks Remixes EP 1 and Honeysuckle Weeks Remixes EP 2, the second of which is available this week.

MP3: The Submarines – “You, Me & The Bourgeoisie” (Tonetiger remix)
MP3: The Submarines – “Submarine Symphonika” (Ra Ra Riot remix)

This Is Fake DIY interviews Ra Ra Riot, who will play the Sound Academy in support of Death Cab on April 7.

One For The Good Days has an interview with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear. Their new record Veckatimest is out May 26 and they play The Phoenix on June 5.

CMJ talks to Matt Johnson of Matt & Kim. They’re at Circa on March 20 in support of Cut Copy.

Bishop Allen have a new video from Grr…, now out. You Ain’t No Picasso has an interview with his site’s namesake.

Video: Bishop Allen – “Dimmer”

Time Out Chicago and Paste talk Warhol with Dean Wareham of Dean & Britta.

Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton gives Anika In London a guide to Calgary.

They may not feature Mark Ronson production or Owen Pallet arrangements, but this Daytrotter session offers the first taste I’ve seen/heard of the new material from The Rumble Strips.

NME reports that Maximo Park are offering a free download of a track from album number three, Quicken The Heart. It’s not an especially remarkable track, but it’s just a taste, not a single. The record is out in May 11 and the offer is only good for a fortnight.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are streaming their new album It’s Blitz! on their MySpace in advance of its March 31 release, and goodness this is a sleek and shiny record. Those who loved the band for their unhinged, spiky guitar freak-outs may be disappointed but for those who always thought that they should indulge their potent inner disco-pop band, your ship has come in. And by you, I mean me. They’ve also got a new video. And Karen O gives an interview to Pitchfork about the internets.

Stream: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs / It’s Blitz!
Video: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero”

Good news – Sky Larkin are coming to town! Bad news – it’s in support of Los Campesinos!. This isn’t an indictment of the Welsh kiddies – I’m not a big fan but they’ve got an energetic, entertaining show. It’s a complaint because that April 1 show at the Opera House would be my third gig in a row when I expect to still be recovering from SxSW, and I don’t realistically think I can swing that, and I’m planning on seeing them in Austin anyways. But to anyone who is going – get there early and see them! – and to anyone on the fence about attending – do so! BrooklynVegan has full Los Camp dates including which ones feature Sky Larkin support.

The National have made their contribution to the Dark Was The Night AIDS benefit album available to download, and it’s a gem. A sparkly, shiny gem. You can also watch them perform it at PitchforkTV. They – along with Feist, Sharon Jones and other contributors to the album will be playing a special show in New York City at Radio City Music Hall on May 3 that will surely be something to remember. We will have to settle for seeing them at the Kool Haus on May 21.

MP3: The National – “So Far Around The Bend”
Video: The National – “So Far Around The Bend” (live)

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Bubbles & Wheezy

The Hylozoists at Soundscapes in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust a week after seeing Bruce Peninsula jam Soundscapes to the gills for a rousing in-store, the store again played host to an act intent on cramming a lot of band into not a lot of space. This time, it was The Hylozoists and while the ensemble was hardly small with six members, it was their equipment – in particular the dual vibraphones – that took up the majority of the real estate.

The Hylozoists are generally known as “that vibraphone band”, and while that’s not an inaccurate description – the instrument is very central to their sound – it’s also fails to do justice to the scope and sweep of their sound. It’s far more enticing to go with something along the lines of, “that band that creates soundtracks to lost ’60s European art films, all elegance and majesty and bursting with texture, atmosphere and melody. And they have a vibraphone”. Listening to them play – and it’s really unreal how good a live sound they were able to get with just a portable PA – you’d be hard-pressed to not close your eyes and imagine yourself in some exotic and exciting locale, engaged in some manner of illicit adventure or grand romance.

The occasion for the show was the recent release of their new album L’Ile de Sept Villes, which somehow manages somehow to even out-lush their last effort, La Fin Du Monde – no mean feat. The band are playing a handful of dates around southern Ontario throughout this month, including a February 21 date at the Mod Club – if you can, hit up one of the shows and be taken away somewhere besides a dark and slushy southern Ontario in February.

The Guelph Mercury talks to head Hylo Paul Aucoin about finding inspiration for the new album.

Photos: The Hylozoists @ Soundscapes – February 10, 2009
MP3: The Hylozoists – “Smiley Smiley”
MySpace: The Hylozoists

eye pays tribute to Wavelength on the occasion of the music showcase’s ninth anniversary and start of its final year. The celebrations start tonight, run through the weekend and were covered here last month.

JAM, Metro, The Ottawa Citizen, The Coast and Chart talk to Jenn Grant about her new record Echoes while The National Post gets some Valentine’s Day insight from her. She plays and early show at the Mod Club tonight and will be at the Reverb on March 14 for CMW.

Prefix interviews AC Newman and Pitchfork is streaming his cover of a-Ha’s “Take On Me”. He plays Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Neko Case talks to Reuters about Middle Cyclone, due out March 3. And if you were hesitating on either of her shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18, consider yourself lost – both are sold out.

Malajube have rolled out a video from their new album Labyrinthes. They’re at the El Mocambo on March 12 as part of CMW and The National Post has an interview.

Video: Malajube – “Porté Disparu”

Mobius Band want to be your Valentine again. As they did last year, they’re making an EP of romance-themed cover songs available for free off their website tomorrow.

Chairlift talk to NME about the forthcoming major label re-release of their debut Does You Inspire You?, which will come with two extra tracks when it arrives in April. They play The Phoenix on April 25 with Peter Bjorn & John.

Billboard and American Songwriter talk to Jason Lytle about coming back to music with Yours Truly, The Commuter. It’s out on May 19.

Mark Olson and Gary Louris discuss their reunion with PopMatters and The Free-Lance Star.

SoundProof interviews Cut Off Your Hands, set to play the Horseshoe on March 30.

The Quietus has details on the first batch of 5.1 surround-sound Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues, due out March 30 in the UK and presumably April 1 in North America.

You can currently stream the whole of the War Child: Heroes compilation, due out February 24, over at the project’s MySpace.

Stream: War Child: Heroes

The Quarter Bin recaps the Scott Pilgrim panel with Bryan Lee-O’Malley at last weekend’s New York Comic Con, including info on the film which is set to begin filming here in Toronto at the end of March. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, aka Ramona Flowers, is already in town and MTV has a photo of her – or her hair and eyes, at least – getting in character.

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Submarine Symphonika

Review of The Submarines' Honeysuckle Weeks and concert giveaway

Photo By Jon BergmanJon BergmanThe story surrounding The Submarines’ debut album Declare A New State was the stuff of romantic-comedy writer fantasy – boy musician meets girl musician, boy joins girl’s band, girl joins boy’s band. Boy and girl lose each other. Boy and girl write songs about each other. Boy and girl record songs together. Boy and girl get back together. Brings a tear to the eye, does it not?

The fact that State was also a sublime bit of pop that managed to capture and convey all the emotions surrounding its genesis just made it all that sweeter. But it also raised the question of how John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard (the aforementioned boy and girl, respectively) would follow it up? You certainly couldn’t ask them to go back to the creative wellspring that fueled the first record. There’s a reason rom-coms rarely have sequels. As it happens, The Submarines didn’t have too much trouble with the question, returning last year with Honeysuckle Weeks.

Though the backstory no doubt informed the specialness of State, one musn’t forget that both Dragonetti and Hazard were (and are) also seasoned songsmiths and were cranking out records before coming together as The Submarines and though the forlorn tenor of the debut is appropriately dialed down on Weeks, the pop smarts are certainly not. Beautifully overcast heartbreak has given way to a sprightlier approach, a broader, more colourful sonic palette, though it’d be going to far to say that things have gotten sunny. While The Submarines’ songs may have the spring in their step of those who’ve known love, they also tread with the caution of those who’ve lost it.

The Submarines are on tour alongside The Morning Benders and play the Drake Underground this coming Sunday, February 15 and even though it’s technically the day after Valentine’s Day, expect it to still be a heart-melting affair. And courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got a pair of passes to the sold-out show to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want The Submarines to be my Valentine” in the subject line with your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, February 12.

The OC Register and The Washington Post have features on the band.

MP3: The Submarines – “You, Me And The Bourgeoisie”
Video: The Submarines – “You, Me And The Bourgeoisie”
MySpace: The Submarines

There’s a new video from Fleet Foxes taken from their Sun Giant EP.

Video: Fleet Foxes – “Mykonos”

Ra Ra Riot have also released a new clip from The Rhumb Line. The Smith College Sophian has an interview with guitarist Milo Bonacci and bassist Matt Santos.

Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Can You Tell?”

The new Sloan video features the band frolicking in the snow with pretty girls. But not in the way you might think. They appear to be playing two nights at the Mod Club on March 11 and 12 as part of CMW.

Video: Sloan – “Witch’s Wand”

Blurt profiles Mercury Rev.

NPR has an interview with Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons. They’re at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 17.

Scotland On Sunday talks to Asobi Seksu’s Yuki Cikudate about their forthcoming album Hush, due out next Tuesday. They play the El Mocambo on March 3.

Le Blogotheque discusses inspiration with Zach Condon of Beirut. Billboard also have an interview. Their March Of the Zapotec/Holland double-EP set is out on February 17.

Billboard reports that the forthcoming Wilco live DVD Ashes Of American Flags will get its release on April 18 to coincide with this year’s edition of Record Store Day, but only be available at independent retailers. Corporate outlets won’t get it until two weeks later.

Pitchfork interviews Stephen Malkmus.

MPR welcomes Mark Olson & Gary Louris to their studios for a session. The Boston Globe also has an interview.

Kind of an awful concept for a site, but Rock’N’Roll Dating redeems itself with a good interview with Mark Eitzel of American Music Club, where they talk about everything including his forthcoming solo EP and musical (!) but not dating, rock’n’roll or otherwise.

eMusic, however, has polled a great number of musicians about their first crushes. Extensive, sweet and kind of hilarious.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Black Balloon

The Kills not done killing, seek to kill some more

Photo by Kenneth CapelloKenneth CapelloThough Midnight Boom came out almost a year ago, The Kills aren’t done with it yet – not even close. The sultry “Black Balloon” will be released as the lead track on an EP due out March 23 in most of the world but April 14 in North America, and be backed up with a selection of acoustic tracks.

They’ve also cut a video for the song, the fifth from the album – that’s almost half the songs on the record with their own promo clips, if you’re counting. Sure, their cheap and cheerful aesthetic makes knocking them out easier than it’d be for acts beholden to higher production values, but it’s still a testament to the top-to-bottom excellence of the album. And the scary part is, almost all the remaining tracks could realistically be worked as singles as well.

And with a new release, of course there needs to be touring. The duo will be taking their ridiculously potent live show right across North America this Spring including a May 7 stop at The Phoenix. Support will be The Horrors and Magic Wands, neither of whom I know but who can’t possibly be worse than the band they brought with them last time, Telepathe. They simply cant. Music Snobbery, however, suggests The Horrors might be just as awful for other reasons and doesn’t give good odds on them even making it far enough along in the tour to visit Toronto.

And anyone worrying about rumours that he-Kill Jamie Hince’s fiancee Kate Moss was going to start recording with the band, fear not. She-Kill Alison Mosshart told The Daily Mail that was simply not going to happen.

MP3: The Kills – “U.R.A. Fever”
MP3: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
Video: The Kills – “Black Balloon”
Video: The Kills – “Tape Song”
Video: The Kills – “The Last Day Of Magic”
Video: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
Video: The Kills – “U.R.A. Fever”
MySpace: The Kills

Exclaim talks to Bishop Allen about new album Grr…, which will be out March 10 but which has two tracks available to enjoy now.

MP3: Bishop Allen – “Dimmer”
MP3: Bishop Allen – “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things”

A Place To Bury Strangers have a new video.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “My Weakness”

With Christmas On Mars finally done with, CMJ asks Wayne Coyne what’s next for The Flaming Lips – back in the studio this Spring, hoping to have an album out by Summer. XFM are also running a video interview/documentary series on the band.

SFist talks to Dean Wareham about the 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests project for which Dean & Britta are doing live scores for at screenings across the US. The film will be coming out on DVD on March 24. And no, Dean and Britta will not come to your house to play for you while you watch it.

For those of you in the UK, BBC is streaming the video of Elbow’s performance of The Seldom Seen Kid alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra from last December. For the rest of us, well, we’ll have to wait for the CD/DVD package. Though the DVD will almost certainly be region 2 and PAL. Which means those of us in North America will never see it. Hrmm…?

MusoGuide finds out what’s up with The Twilight Sad, currently at work at album number two. And did you know their limited-edition Killed My Parents and Hit the Road tour album of odds, sods and covers was now available on eMusic? Me neither, until now. Depressed Scots make me happy.

Another new video, this one from Oasis.

Video: Oasis – “Falling Down”

Pitchfork has got an MP3 from Bruce Peninsula’s A Mountain Is A Mouth, finally out in physical form. Don’t forget their in-store at Soundscapes this evening starting at 7PM, though if you want to get in and/or see, I recommend being there considerably earlier. The band alone will take up half the store.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”

Spinner talks to Gary Louris about Ready For The Flood, the album that brings he and Mark Olson to the Mod Club tonight. He also reveals that an extensive Jayhawks reissue project is underway.