Posts Tagged ‘Grace Potter & The Nocturnals’

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This Is The Scrunchyface Of My Dreams

Shearwater + Xiu Xiu = Blue Water White Death

Photo via Pitch PerfectPitch PerfectFor fans of a certain artfully raw and dramatic brand of indie rock, neither Jonathan Meiburg nor Jamie Stewart really needs an introduction. The former was a principal in Okkervil River and now fronts Shearwater, while the latter has been the creative force behind Xiu Xiu since 2002, and for the benefit of those familiar with one and not the other, their bands had toured together in recent years.

And now, they’ve made an album together. Over the course of a week earlier this year, Meiburg and Stewart came together in a studio to write and record and the result is Blue Water White Death – the name of both the project and the album. Presented in very spare sonic terms, it sounds very much like what you’d expect the offspring of Shearwater and Xiu Xiu to sound like, taking advantage of the fact that Meiburg and Stewarts voices are similar enough to sound like flip sides of the same emotional coin; Meiburg the powerful and Stewart the fragile. I didn’t really expect to like Blue Water White Death as much as I do, figuring my affection for Shearwater and disinterest in Xiu Xiu woulf cancel each other out, but these eight starkly beautiful and unsettlingly discordant songs are surprisingly compelling listening throughout.

Interview talks to Jonathan Meiburg about the origins of the project and working with Stewart.

MP3: Blue Water White Death – “Song For The Greater Jihad”
Video: Blue Water White Death – “Grunt Tube”

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will bring their new self-titled album to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on December 7, tickets $15.

Video: Grace Potter & The Nocturals – “Paris (Ooh La La)”

Proving that there’s still no shortage of demand for things broken and/or social, Broken Social Scene have added a second show at the Sound Academy on December 10, tickets $30 in advance. Note that Superchunk don’t appear to be playing that second show, so they’ll only be performing on the 9th. The Courier-Journal talks to the ‘Chunk’s Mac McCaughan.

MP3: Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”

Former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason released his solo debut Boys Outside back in May and will be playing some select North American dates in mid-December to support; his tour wraps on December 20 at Wrongbar in Toronto. Wales Online has an interview and there’s a couple acoustic live tracks to download over at Domino.

MP3: Steve Mason – “All Come Down”
Video: Steve Mason – “Lost & Found”

Personal matters have forced Dum Dum Girls to cancel the remainder of their tour supporting The Vaselines, including Saturday night’s show at The Horseshoe.

eMusic and BBC have features on Warpaint. Their debut album The Fool was released this week.

Spinner talks to Rhett Miller of Old 97’s – he and bassist Murry Hammond will be playing songs from their new album The Grand Theatre Volume One when the pair play the El Mocambo on November 10.

Strange Powers, the documentary about Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields, will be making its Canadian premiere at the TIFF Lightbox on November 4. No idea if it’s a one-off or limited run, but if you want to see it on the big screen, you best set the evening aside and finagle tickets.

Trailer: Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields

Friday, October 31st, 2008

No Soul

The Rumble Strips in Toronto

Photo ByFrank YangI’m going to have to stop using my line about any British band being able to fill a venue in notoriously Anglophilic Toronto… this past Wednesday night at the El Mocambo, The Rumble Strips were not only able to draw just a couple dozen people, they couldn’t even get their support act to show up.

Okay, in the case of tourmates Birdmonster, it was less the Rumble Strips’ fault than the border guards who wouldn’t let the San Francisco outfit into the country (I think this is at least the second time they’ve been turned away – a topic they address in a MySpace blog in a manner that pretty much guarantees they’ll never be let in…) but otherwise, I was perplexed as to why the low turnout. Sure, they’re not exactly NME darlings, but the horn-driven soul-pop of their debut Girls & Weather (reviewed here) is eminently likeable and it was hardly an expensive ticket. Was it the cold? Got news for you, Toronto, it’s only going to get worse. Wimps. I was out, and on my BICYCLE no less. Anyway.

But, as the sage show business advice goes, you play for the people who show up – not the ones who don’t – and so even to the thin house, The Rumble Strips weren’t going to phone it in. They did indeed bring it, albeit quietly at first. They led with a new song that was decidedly more sedate than anything you’d find on their debut, one of a few that would be scattered throughout the set and none of which were as immediate as the Girls & Weather material – which is as much of a commentary as I feel fit to make after a single live listen. Cue the more introspective sophomore effort? Everything else, however, was pure extroverted pop goodness.

Everything that makes The Rumble Strips distinctive on record – the horns, the hooks, Charlie Waller’s voice – somehow comes across even stronger live. The rhythm section sounds huge, with duties frequently divvied up between Matthew Wheeler on drums and bassist Sam Mansbridge on what they call “Rumble Drum” but is actually just the floor tom beat extra hard, and is super-tight. The horns… well another thing I’m going to have to stop saying is that I don’t like horns, because I loved theirs. In fact, all the band’s orchestrations and arrangements were impressive to witness. One strength that I hadn’t noticed on record but was quite evident on stage was their harmonies. Waller’s huge vocals – pitch perfect with loads of character – obviously take center stage, but three of the other four also quite ably stepped up to add their voices to the mix.

But above all else, they brought the songs. Each listen to Girls & Weather only makes me grow fonder of uptempo, feel-good, sad-sackery – with so many strengths and such personality, I am really astonished that they weren’t able to draw out more of the curious to go along with the converted who did show up. And though it’s damn near impossible to turn a room that’s only 5% full into a party, The Rumble Strips certainly tried.

Photos: The Rumble Strips @ The El Mocambo – October 29, 2008
MP3: The Rumble Strips – “Time”
MP3: The Rumble Strips – “Motorcycle”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Girls And Boys In Love”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Alarm Clock”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Motorcycle”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Oh Creole”
Video: The Rumble Strips – “Time”
MySpace: The Rumble Strips

The Independent profiles Noah & The Whale, who will be returning to Toronto for a show at the El Mocambo on December 9.

The Quietus interviews A Place To Bury Strangers. NPR is streaming part of their CMJ set last week.

Pitchfork talks to Portastatic’s Mac McCaughan.

Austin360 asks three questions of Decemberists drummer Nate Query.

The Drive-By Trucker/Hold Steady-powered “Rock & Roll Means Well” tour kicked off last night, and while the November 11 show at the Phoenix is sold out, a small block of tickets was released earlier this week via Ticketmaster and at last check, were still available. And I’m still giving away a few pairs. The Courier-Journal profiles The Hold Steady, The Winston-Salem Journal talks to the Truckers and Nashville Scene and The Village Voice talk to them both.

Paul Westerberg reflects on the legacy of The Replacements for The Guardian.

NPR welcomes Okkervil River to their studios for a World Cafe session.

Exclaim! and Get Wokingham have interviews with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner.

An Aquarium Drunkard and The Colorado Springs Gazette interview members of DeVotchKa.

One of the Jonas Brothers interviews Elvis Costello for Rolling Stone.

The Grace Potter & The Nocturnals gig originally scheduled for the El Mocambo on December 10 now appears to be happening at Lee’s Palace.

Matador has made their Fall 2008 sampler available to download and it includes tastes of new and upcoming releases from Belle & Sebastian, Shearwater and Fucked Up.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Give And Be Taken

Photo by Patrick Marold

Eric Bachmann has worn many hats over the years. He started out as the hard-barking frontman of angular ’90s college rock heroes Archers Of Loaf. He then reinvented himself as the lonely troubadour on the first couple Crooked Fingers records, terrain he revisited on 2006’s gorgeous solo effort To The Races. And with the last couple Crooked Fingers records, in particular 2005’s sublime Dignity & Shame, he proved to be just as capable as a lush pop artisan and bandleader. And now on his latest effort Forfeit/Fortune, which once again finds him operating under the Crooked Fingers banner, he decides to be all of the above – simultaneously.

Perhaps as a reaction to the singular starkness of For The Races, Bachmann has crafted one of his most eclectic and fully-arranged records – one that manages to incorporate aspects of his entire career from gruff-voiced Archer-esque numbers to somber, solo-ish pieces, while still treading some completely new sonic territory. The heavy-handed production might be a point of contention for some, utilizing decidedly un-Bachmann-ish touches like drum machines and synths.

Those more left-field tangents give Forfeit/Fortune a certain, “WTF?” quality and in some cases probably distract and detract from the songs themselves but those instances are thankfully rare. It may be a bit dizzying, but the Forfeit/Fortune experience is a good one. The overall flavour isn’t too far from Dignity & Shame, maintaining that record’s Spanish accents if not its cohesiveness and adding some Balkan influence for good measure. It’s also a bit back-loaded with the best material, culminating in a stellar duet with Neko Case. Bachmann fans might find themselves a bit off-balance listening to this latest record, but there’s still plenty solid to hold on to.

Crooked Fingers are currently on tour with Okkervil River and will play the Phoenix this coming Sunday night, October 12 – to which I’m giving away passes. New City Chicago, The Hartford Advocate and Crawdaddy have interviews with Bachmann about Forfeit/Fortune, which was released yesterday. It’s streaming in its entirety as Spinner and comes in both standard and deluxe CD formats, the latter of which comes with a documentary DVD amongst other goodies. Check out the trailer.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Phony Revolutions”
Video: Crooked Fingers – “Let’s Not Pretend (To Be New Men)”
Stream: Crooked Fingers / Forfeit/Fortune
MySpace: Crooked Fingers

In addition to streaming Bob Dylan’s new Bootleg SeriesTell-Tale Signs, out yesterday – Spinner has got a couple of the tracks available to download.

MP3: Bob Dylan – “Mississippi”
MP3: Bob Dylan – “Dreamin’ Of You”
Stream: Bob Dylan / Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8

Neil Young could take a lesson or two from Dylan in archive-digging efficiency. No Depression reports that to no one’s surprise, the release of Archives has been delayed from this Fall until January or February of 2009… sure. Whatever. As a form of compensation, Bad News Beat reports that another Archives live set circa 1968 and entitled Sugar Mountain will be released on November 28. Neil is playing the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.

Pitchfork and The Skinny chat with Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

Marc Perlman of The Jayhawks and Golden Smog talks to Prefix about the process of assembling the latter’s recent best-of comp Stay Golden.

Paste talks to M Ward about what’s next for both him (new record called Hold Time out in February) and She & Him (Volume Two is “in the works”).

Minneapolis City Pages converses with David Berman of Silver Jews.

Matador has massive plans to entice you to pre-order the next edition in the massive Pavement reissue series, Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed.. It’s out November 18.

Political Affairs talks to Billy Bragg about affairs of a political nature.

Much delight in these parts that Neil Halstead has a date at the Drake Underground on November 8. No, he’s not bringing his surfing BFF Jack Johnson with him but you can’t have everything.

MP3: Neil Halstead – “Paint A Face”
Video: Neil Halstead – “Queen Bee”

Noah & The Whale are coming back to town for a date at the El Mocambo on December 9. The band have been keeping a tour diary from their just-completed North American jaunt at LiveDaily and Seattlest interviews frontman Charlie Fink.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have a date at the El Mocambo on December 10. The McGill Tribune has a chat.