Posts Tagged ‘Grant Hart’

Friday, December 18th, 2009

(I Can't Seem To) Make You Mine

The Clientele plots most inconvenient North American tour ever

Photo By Andy WillsherAndy WillsherOkay, most inconvenient tour ever is probably a bit of an overstatement. From a logistical/routing point of view, The Clientele’s upcoming jaunt across the pond in support of Bonfires On The Heath makes perfect sense – fly into New York, head south, west through Texas to California, up the west coast and back east along the 49th, cross the border for a couple Canadian dates, back down to New York and then home. But for me – and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? – it sucks. Because the Toronto date at the Horseshoe Tavern falls on March 19 (not the 18th, as listed in itinerary), when I will be half a continent away in Austin at SxSW.

And yeah, I’m sure some/most/all of you will have some difficulty mustering up any sympathy for me, basking as I will be in the warm Texas sun surrounded by tunes and BBQ, but missing out on their distinctively English atmosphere, particularly if they make good on the promise/threat to call it a day after this album, is definite cause for sadface. I’ve seen them before – once in Summer 2005 when I wasn’t a fan at all and last at V Fest 2007, when I was a moderate fan. Too miss them now, when I’m a full-on devotee, is all kinds of disappointing. And possibly cause for a road trip sometime down the road… though it’d probably have to be an air trip.

Anyways. Anyone local who’s reading and is planning on attending – which I would think is at least some of you (should be all but whatever…) – I may be asking you to get me a shirt, yo. In return I will bring you some BBQ sauce.

MP3: The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
MP3: The Clientele – “I Wonder Who We Are”
Stream: The Clientele / Bonfires On The Heath
MySpace: The Clientele

Pitchfork has the new video from Field Music’s comeback album (Measure), out February 16. They will be playing with The Clientele at the Horseshoe show mentioned above – the one I won’t be at.

Video: Field Music – “Them That Do Nothing”

A trailer has been released for Falling Down A Mountain, the new album from Tindersticks, out on February 16 in North America.

MP3: Tindersticks – “Black Smoke”
Trailer: Tindersticks / Falling Down A Mountain

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Fanfarlo’s CMJ show in Brooklyn from October.

NPR is streaming a radio session with Florence & The Machine and BBC6 an interview about their next record.

BBC6 talks to Futurehead Barry Hyde about their new album, still untitled but due out in the early part of 2010.

Final Fantasy is no more! After a half-decade of paying tribute to the venerable video game franchise with his stage name, Owen Pallett has opted to retire it (possibly/probably with the assistance of legal advice) and continue on as simply “Owen Pallett”. Less memorable, but more easily Googleable and probably less costly. Heartland will still be released on January 12, but under the Owen Pallett brand and past releases will be reissued in the near future. So does that make my promo copy of Heartland, very much credited to Final Fantasy on the spine, a collector’s item? Now soliciting bids! The Music Magazine has reprinted the full official statement on the name change.

Stereogum and Under The Radar talk to Matt Berninger of The National – the former about how one of their songs came to soundtrack a Google ad and the latter about the progress of their next album.

Yours Truly has a video of Holly Miranda covering Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” in a living room while Paste has an interview. Her solo debut The Magician’s Private Library is out February 23.

Paul Banks of Interpol hints at an “orchestral” direction for their next album, due out next year, in conversation with BBC6. I can see them in the studio with a philharmonic now… “No, no! Only downstrokes! Pointier! Stabbier!”

Black Book and Paste talk to Peter Silberman of The Antlers, who are at the Phoenix on February 16 supporting Editors. NYC Taper is also sharing a recording of a recent Antlers show in New York.

NPR is streaming a radio session with Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard.

Elliott Smith’s Roman Candle and From A Basement On A Hill are getting the LP reissue treatment on April 6 courtesy of Kill Rock Stars, and they’ve made available a previously-unreleased song, circa 1997, to mark the occasion.

MP3: Elliott Smith – “Cecelia/Amanda”

American Songwriter has drinks with Jason Isbell.

Grant Hart tells Blurt why a Husker Du reunion is not likely to happen, ever.

Fuzzy-fi practitioners Real Estate and Woods are teaming up for a North American tour that includes a stop at the Horseshoe on March 14. I know there’s a joke to be made about, um, property values or topography or something, but damned if I can think of it right now.

MP3: Real Estate – “Black Lake”
MP3: Real Estate – “Beach Comber”
MP3: Woods – “To Clean”

A first track from Retribution Gospel Choir’s new album 2, out January 26, is now up for grabs. They play the Drake Undeground on January 25.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Hide It Away”

Also subscribing to the philosophy of naming ones albums sequentially, Serena-Maneesh have released details on their new album S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor, now set for a March 23 release. A suitably epic first MP3 is available to download and keep in mind, it’s just an edit. The album version is almost sure to be even more… more.

MP3: Serena-Maneesh – “Ayisha Abyss”

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Cool Yourself

Review of Thao With The Get Down Stay Down’s Know Better Learn Faster and giveaway

Photo By Tarina WestlundTarina WestlundWhen I wrote up Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s last album We Brave Bee Stings And All back in August of last year, I gave it a net stamp of approval, with Thao Nguyen’s exuberant delivery and energy making up for my concerns about the tendency oof her voice to wander from pitch – certainly, that woozy enthusiasm was part of her charm, but I’m a bit of a stickler on that.

So I’m pleased to be able to report that the follow-up Know Better Learn Faster somehow manages to not set off those klaxons while not losing any of her distinctive character. No, it’s not that she’s discovered the joys of autotune but simply that the melodies on Know Better are less given to wander, the songs tighter and more focused and the album simply better. And amazingly, she’s done it while expanding the band’s sonic palette and without dialing down the enthusiasm. “Cool Yourself” is an upbeat, horn-driven pop gem while “When We Swam” is a coy and even slinky bit of doo-wop, and that only touches on the range of styles covered on the record, all delivered with the right balance of biting wit and sensitive underbelly. It’s be easy to miss out on the musical sophistication at work due to the raw and live production aesthetic and Nguyen’s strong presence up front, but repeated listens do bring those extra details and touches to the fore and enrich what’s already a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down are at the El Mocambo on November 1 and I’m excited that after a year and a half of near misses both here and at SxSW, I’ll finally be able to catch their much-praised live show for myself. Tickets are $12 in advance, but courtesy of Kill Rock Stars, REMG and Toolshed, I have three pairs of passes to give away to the show and for those who can’t go, two autographed copies of Know Better Learn Faster on CD up for grabs. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Get Down Stay Down” in the subject line and full name in the body. And note whether you’re gunning for the passes or the CD – the former are available to anyone who can get to the El Mocambo next Sunday night, the CD to residents of North America. Contest closes at midnight, October 28.

Paste and The Oregonian have interviews with Thao Nguyen.

MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Cool Yourself”
MySpace: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

Pitchfork has details on the forthcoming third album from Beach House. Teen Dream, the duo’s first for SubPop, will be out on January 26 and come with a DVD featuring a video for each song on the record.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews The Anters while BrooklynVegan gets Peter Silberman of The Antlers and Sharon Van Etten of Sharon Van Etten to interview each other.

Boise Weekly chats themselves up some Dodos.

Death & Taxes discusses matters of cosmic and civic importance with Sufjan Stevens.

Paste catches up with Nels Cline of Wilco.

Philadelphia Weekly talks to St Vincent’s Annie Clark, who has diligently been adding to her tour videos collection on her blog.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Patterson Hood available to stream.

Grant Hart, ex of Husker Du, will be at the Horseshoe on December 14 in support of his new solo record Hot Wax, tickets $10.50.

NPR expresses their acronym solidarity by streaming the whole of R.E.M.’s new live record Live At The Olympia in advance of its release this coming Tuesday, October 27.

Stream: R.E.M. / Live At The Olympia

Uptown has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

Pitchfork reports that The Week That Was and School Of Language have officially been backburnered as the Brewis brothers have reunited as Field Music, and will release a double-album entitled Measure on February 16.

MP3: Field Music – “Measure”

And to help maintain the cosmic balance of British bands in active duty, The Rakes have announced they’re calling it quits effective immediately, thus scuppering their North American tour which was due to stop at the Mod Club in Toronto on November 9. It might have sounded a little like this.

MP3: The Rakes – “That’s The Reason”

The Scotsman interviews Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season. They are at Massey Hall on November 2.

The Hollywood Reporter says that The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn is working on the film adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s first novel, Fargo Rock City. It’s a pairing so perfect that when I first read it, I barely reacted – it was like, “well of course he is”.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Ocean Rain

Echo & The Bunnymen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSince the schedule for SxSW was announced way back in March, I had one particular showcase circled and immutable on my schedule – Echo & The Bunnymen at Rusty Spurs on the Saturday night. One of the perks of attending SxSW is the opportunity to see big bands in venues much smaller than they’d normally play, and though the Liverpool legends were playing some bigger shows during the festival, the opportunity to see them for the first time in a tiny Texan gay cowboy bar was too good to pass up. And while that show was fine, it was a mild disappointment relative to my tremendous expectations. I had somehow wanted an arena-scale show in a club-scale setting (even though Echo & The Bunnymen have never really achieved arena-scale success), and they delivered a good club-scale show. Classic songs for sure, but considering I heard that some of their larger shows during SxSW were epic, I had to think that maybe they were a band who played up – or down – to their environs.

From that point of view, it followed that this past Tuesday night’s show at the very proper Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto would be something special and the promise of an orchestrally-enhanced reading of the band’s highwater mark Ocean Rain all but clinched it. It had to be a fantastic show – it promised too much to not be, and considering the high ticket price, the 1000 or so folks in attendance would rightfully be expecting one. The show was divided into two sets, the first for “the hits” and the second for the Ocean Rain recital, and the former was largely as advertised, leaning heavily on their early material – their debut Crocodiles comprised a third of the set list – but also including highlights from the post-reunion records. Some might think that pulling two from their latest record The Fountain to be excessive, but the fact is that lead single “I Think I Need It Too” was one of the highlights, not least of all because it was written with lead Bunnyman Ian McCulloch’s reduced vocal range in mind.

Ah yes, the voice – let’s get that out of the way right now. PopMatters is correct when they suggest that Mac’s voice is a rough, gravelly shadow of the magnificent instrument it once was. He can’t hit those notes anymore, occasionally wheezes where once he bellowed and as such, some of those indelible melodies have been rejigged to accommodate the new reality – the chorus of “Bring On The Dancing Horses” now bows where once it soared. But the songs remain as potent as ever and Mac delivered them with a swagger and charisma that went a good way towards compensating for the years – and I mean that vocally, not physically. Echo & The Bunnymen live is a most stationary experience, with McCulloch’s repertoire of stage moves consisting of standing still at the mic, getting a drink of water and occasionally crouching down. But back to the voice – as I mentioned in the review of that show back in March, he still has reserves of that old power that he can tap into at key moments, as he did in the chorus of “The Cutter” and in doing so, by god, turned the clock back a quarter century for a few, brief shining moments.

The reading of Ocean Rain, however, was one sustained 40-minute shining moment. Supported by a 10-piece (I think) string section, Echo & The Bunnymen made a fine case for it as one of the best records of the ’80s and anyone hearing “Silver”, rendered as majestically as it was on this night, would have great difficulty coming up with an argument against it. It’s true that strings applied injudiciously can render songs cheesy or overly pompous, but here they were just perfect – if anything, they made me wish for more and wonder what these shows must have sounded like with full orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall or Radio City Music Hall. Performing in front of projected black and white images of the band in their youth, their crystal days, the proceedings had a lovely, elegiac tone and felt as much like a tribute from McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant to their former bandmates, the retired Les Pattinson and late Pete De Freitas. If there was any complaint, it was that the suite ran too short but the record clocks in at under 40 minutes – there’s not a lot that can be done about that, short of calling for an impromptu orchestra jam and no one wants that.

Though they could have justifiably called it a night after that – there’s no way to top the album’s title track as a finale – they still returned for a two-song encore, finally ending the almost two-hour show (including intermission) with “Lips Like Sugar”. Finally, this was the grand, epic Echo & The Bunnymen show I’d been hoping to see. If you get the chance to see them, choose the grandest venue possible and if they promise to bring the strings, don’t dare miss it.

The Toronto Sun, Chartattack, Exclaim and eye have reviews of the show while The National Post considers the trend of bands performing classic albums in their entirety, using Echo & The Bunnymen as a case study. You can also grab a track from the new record over at RCRDLBL, in addition to the one linked below.

And yes, the photos from the show are nigh pointless – Mac hates light, and the folly of it all was compounded by having to shoot from the back of the theatre. But that’s okay, I got him good back in Austin to check those out if you want to see how well he’s aged.

Photos: Echo & The Bunnymen @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – October 20, 2009
MP3: Echo & The Bunnymen – “I Think I Need It Too”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bedbugs & Ballyhoo”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Cutter”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “The Game”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Seven Seas”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bring On The Dancing Horses”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “In The Margins”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “It’s Alright”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Back Of Love”
Video: Echo & The Bunnymen – “Lips Like Sugar”
MySpace: Echo & The Bunnymen

Out digitally this month in line with the UK release, Editors’ new one In This Light & On This Evening will get a proper physical North American release on January 19 and will yet-to-be-specified bonus material not available on the UK release. This news comes the day my import of the UK release arrives, of course.

altsounds talks to Charlotte Hatherley about her new record New Worlds. Stereogum also has a new song from the record available to newsletter subscribers and a brief chat with Charlotte about the tune.

The Quietus has an interview with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine and walks away unimpressed. Massive commenting ensues. Florence plays the Mod Club on November 2.

Paste catches up with Alasdair Maclean of The Clientele.

The Daily Growl solicits a list of seven songs from Rose Elinor Dougall.

Spinner talks to The Horrors.

eMusic and Interview have features on El Perro Del Mar, who’s just released a new video from her latest album Love Is Not Pop. She opens for Peter Bjorn & John at the Phoenix on November 11.

Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”

Chartattack, The Detroit News, Metro and NOW chat with The Raveonettes. They’re at the Phoenix tonight.

HeroHill gets five funky stories from Iceland’s Sprengjuhollin, who have two dates in Toronto this weekend – Saturday night at the Rivoli and Sunday at Rancho Relaxo.

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Harvest Time

The Clientele stokes Bonfire

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceI should be packing for my trip to New York City instead of blogging, so I’m just a-gonna clear out a pile of stuff that had been gathering over the last little while. Y’understand.

And what better way to begin than with a second taste of what is one of my most-anticipated new records of the Autumn – Bonfires On The Heath from The Clientele. It was exciting enough that Stereogum premiered the new MP3 yesterday, but I was over the moon later in the day when a digital promo of the album – not out till October 6 – showed up in my inbox. I’m not gloating, honest.

“Harvest Time” is a slow, sepia swoon bidding farewell to the Summer with the band’s signature tremolo-ed arpeggios and is a fine counterpoint to the jauntier first-released MP3, “I Wonder Who We Are”. Together they’re a good representation of the loveliness that resides behind this also-lovely album cover. Expect further gushing as I immerse myself in the record with further listens, but know that if it’s true this record will be the band’s last, they go out on a true high note.

There will be touring to support, but don’t expect the band on these shores before mid-Winter. Or so I’ve been told.

MP3: The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
MP3: The Clientele – “I Wonder Who We Are”

The Daily Mail gets to know Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine. Her debut Lungs is out in North America on October 13.

Spinner and The Wrexham Chronicle talk to Noah & The Whale frontman about the heartache that inspired their second album First Days Of Spring, set for a North American release on October 6. For Folk’s Sake also reports that the band’s drummer and Fink’s brother Doug has left the band to attend medical school.

They Shoot Music filmed an acoustic session with Micachu in Berlin recently. They will be at the El Mocambo on September 29.

LiveDaily has a rather gorgeous black-and-white video session with Fanfarlo.

The Skinny talks to The Twilight Sad. Their second album Forget The Night Ahead is out September 22 and they play The El Mocambo on October 10.

PitchforkTV has been running a Cemetery Gates video session with Camera Obscura all week. See them in the slightly livelier environs of the Phoenix on November 26.

Out chats with Patrick Wolf.

Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch discusses the band’s new record The Fountain, out October 12, with Rolling Stone. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 20 with an orchestral rendition of Ocean Rain and presumably a few more tunes – because that record isn’t all that long. And sad news – former Bunnyman keyboardist Jake Brockman was killed in a traffic accident.

Johnny Marr gives an extensive interview to The Daily Mail about his current projects, his love of guitars and the polite answer to the question of whether there’ll ever be a Smiths reunion. Marr is currently playing with The Cribs, whose new record Ignore The Ignorant, is only going to be available digitally in North America starting next Tuesday. If you want the CD, you’ll have to do the import thing.

Video: The Cribs – “Cheat On Me”

Filter solicits a list of her favourite things from Ladyhawke’s Pip Brown. They also point out that a deluxe edition of her self-titled debut has just been released, featuring five bonus tracks. She’s at the Opera House on September 17.

Entertainment Weekly has premiered a new track from The Raveonettes, whose new album In And Out Of Control is due out on October 6. They play The Phoenix on October 22.

MP3: The Raveonettes – “Last Dance”

Letter To Jane has an interview with Peter Moren of Peter Bjorn & John. They’re at the Phoenix on November 11.

Chartattack chats with the boys of Two Hours Traffic, whose new album Territory is out next Tuesday and who play Lee’s Palace on October 16.

Soundproof talks to Ohbijou’s James Bunton about the Friends In Bellwoods project and community.

Shout Out Out Out Out have scheduled two dates at Wrongbar on October 16 and 17.

MP3: Shout Out Out Out Out – “Bad Choices”

American Songwriter talks to the American songwriters who comprise the Monsters Of Folk while Black Book solicits some of their favourite traveling tunes. Their self-titled debut is out September 22 and they play Massey Hall on November 2.

Soundproof and American Songwriter profile St. Vincent’s Annie Clark.

The Daily Texan talks to Lauren Larson of Ume.

Venice Is Sinking are sharing an MP3 from their forthcoming Okay EP, out September 22 and accurately named as it features the track of that name from their AZAR album and two covers of San Francisco band Okay and rounded out by two more alternate versions of AZAR songs that are better than okay. They band have also raised sufficient funds via Kickstarter to finance their third album.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Compass”
Stream: Venice Is Sinking / Okay

The Bird & The Bee have released a new DLR-saluting video from Ray Guns Are Not Just For The Future.

Video: The Bird & The Bee – “Diamond Dave”

Paste catches up with Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. Their new album Embryonic is out October 13.

R.E.M.’s forthcoming live record Live At The Olympia In Dublin, out October 27, will come with a bonus live DVD entitled This Is Not A Show and comprised of footage from those same shows. There’s a trailer and performance clip from the film now available to watch.

Video: R.E.M. – “Drive” (live in Dublin)
Trailer: This Is Not A Show

Magnet plays over/under with the Husker Du catalog. And speaking of the Du, The Guardian reports that Grant Hart will release his first solo album in a decade in Hot Wax, out October 6. Bob Mould kicks off his tour in support of last year’s Life And Times next month, starting here in Toronto with a date at the Mod Club on October 5. Support for the first few dates of that tour comes from Miles Anthony Benjamin Robinson, whose new album Summer Of Fear is out October 20.

Rolling Stone talks to Black Francis of Pixies about gearing up for their Doolittle tour.