Posts Tagged ‘Headlights’

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Gimme The Wire

Review of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ The Brutalist Bricks

Photo By Matias CorralMatias CorralIt gives me great comfort to live in a world where Ted Leo & The Pharmacists continue to put out records. When it comes to marrying punk fury with pop hooks and striking the right balance of lyrical cynicism and optimism, all served with a good dose of humour and via a relentless work ethic, there’s few better or more consistent. With the release of his newest record The Brutalist Bricks tomorrow, he cements that opinion even further into fact.

Like pretty much everything Leo has ever put out, Bricks is loud, punchy and pogo-friendly with a couple moments of acoustic thoughtfulness to punctuate proceedings, but within the frame of reference of his discography, it stands apart for a couple reasons. His last effort, 2007’s Living With The Living, was a sprawling effort both in length and stylistic forays and while you hate to suggest that ambition or experimentation are bad things, it didn’t have the impact or staying power as his prior works. And whether the follow-up is a reaction to that or not, Bricks is both tighter-sounding and more focused and possibly Leo’s most outright rocking effort since 2003’s Hearts Of Oak. It’s a comparison which makes it worth noting that Bricks is the first record to be recorded as a four-piece since Hearts, though once-and-again Pharmacist James Canty’s guitar is a decidedly more in-your-face presence on the new album than Dorien Garry’s keys ever were.

Stepping back to regain perspective, Bricks nestles quite comfortably alongside its fellows – if you were to randomly grab a Ted Leo record to spin and came up with this one, you wouldn’t be at all disappointed. It also won’t likely be anyone’s long-term go-to Pharmacists record – all in all, Hearts Of Oak and The Tyranny Of Distance remain his finest moments – but as a reminder that the world is a better place with Ted Leo in it and making music, it does quite nicely.

The Brutalist Bricks is streaming in its entirety over at Ted Leo’s MySpace and Spinner just posted an Interface video session with the band.

MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have To Die”
Stream: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / The Brutalist Bricks
MySpace: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

Annie Clark of St. Vincent tells Spinner about her contributions to Together, the new New Pornographers record, due out May 4.

Eater talks about the joys of being full of stomach with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

Headlights have released a new video from Wilderness

Video: Headlights – “Secrets”

Black Book talks to Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward of She & Him, who will release Volume 2 on March 23.

The Independent profiles Joanna Newsom, in town at the Phoenix this coming Saturday night, March 13.

Spinner talks to Ume about gearing up for this year’s SxSW.

If you, like me, are going to miss all three of Dan Mangan’s upcoming shows at Canadian Musicfest this week – Thursday night at The Great Hall, Friday night at The Courthouse and Saturday’s in-store at Criminal Records – take heart: he’s already scheduled a return engagement for April 22 at the Horseshoe, tickets $12.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”

Aussies An Horse are looking to make my first post of the year even more correct, having scheduled another Toronto show for April 26 at The Garrison. They’ll release Beds Rearranged, a remix EP of last year’s Rearrange Beds, on March 23.

MP3: An Horse – “Postcards”

Caribou have announced a massive world tour to go along with the April 20 release of Swim. Toronto can catch them on May 3 at The Phoenix.

Video: Caribou – “Odessa”

Vancouver disco duo Fan Death will bring their debut EP A Coin For The Well to Wrongbar on May 21.

MP3: Fan Death – “Cannibal”

PopMatters pays tribute to the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse while Blurt reprints an interview with him regarding the Dark Night Of The Soul project, which will finally see an official release this Summer. Hopefully the almost-completed last Sparklehorse record will eventually see the light of day as well. So immensely saddened by Linkous’ untimely passing.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Electric Guitar

Review of Retribution Gospel Choir’s 2

Photo By Cameron WittigCameron WittigI only discovered Low circa 2001’s Things We Lost In The Fire, which I think is right around the time the slowcore heroes began expanding their sound and the long-time faithful began to peel off. And if the (relatively) faster tempos and broader sonic palettes were anathema to them, they were manna to me – which is why my favourite of their records, 2005’s unapologetically loud and dynamic The Great Destroyer was the final straw for some. If they’d stuck around, though, they’d have found the last Low record – 2007’s Drums & Guns – to be a return to their quieter ways, albeit aided by loops, samples and seething anger.

Frontman Alan Sparhawk hadn’t suppressed his more rock-out tendencies, however – simply sublimated them into his side project, Retribution Gospel Choir. Their 2008 self-titled debut was compact, loud and sludgy and quite possibly everything that 20th century Low fans were against. The appropriately-titled follow-up 2 offers more of the same, with the emphasis on “more”. 2 is more dynamic, more anthemic and more guitar-heroic than the debut – still chock-full of distorted riffage but also loaded up with some seriously fierce soloing.

It’s never been a secret that Sparhawk was a killer guitarist, but here those skills are front and centre, though not at the expense of the songwriting – as always, it’s impassioned, melodic and more than a little pissed off. Those former Low fans I mentioned earlier will want to stay far away but may want to pay more attention when the next Low record comes out – it’s hard to imagine Sparhawk hasn’t gotten all the rock out of his system, at least for the time being, and the follow-up to Drums & Guns won’t be whisper quiet.

2 is out on Tuesday, January 26. Retribution Gospel Choir is touring through the Winter and Spring and will be at the Drake Underground in Toronto next Monday, January 25. The Cleveland Plains-Dealer has a conversation with Alan Sparhawk.

Update: And I’ve now got a couple pairs of passes to the show to give away, courtesy of Collective Concerts. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to sing in the Retribution Gospel Choir” in the subject and your full name in the body, and get that in to me before midnight, January 23.

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Hide It Away”
Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Hide It Away”
MySpace: Retribution Gospel Choir

Drowned In Sound talks to Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg about their new album The Golden Archipelago, which will be released on February 23. Matablog has details on their upcoming Spring tour, which includes a Toronto date April 1 at Lee’s Palace, and the special dossier that will be released with the record. And they’ve also got a second MP3 from the album to tide you over the next month.

MP3: Shearwater – “Black Eyes”

Daytrotter has got a session with The Rosebuds.

Germany’s Aufgemischt interviews Beach House, who’ve been premiering new videos from Teen Dream each day this week – and for one day only – at Gorilla Vs Bear, leading up to next Tuesday’s record release. And don’t worry about the ones you’ve missed, as all of the videos – they made one for each track of the album – will be available on the DVD that accompanies the CDs and LPs of the album. The record is currently streaming in its entirety at NPR and they play the Opera House on March 30.

Stream: Beach House / Teen Dream

BRM interviews Nick and Tristan of Headlights.

The New York Post and NPR interview Spoon. They’re at the Sound Academy on March 29 and will also appear on this year’s edition of the Starbucks-sponsored Sweetheart Valentine’s Day covers compilation, now available at iTunes US – details at Pitchfork.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips talks to Drowned In Sound.

The Quietus interviews Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields. Realism is out on Tuesday and they play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 8.

Matablog has posted a new MP3 from the Girls debut Album, in case all those year-end lists weren’t quite enough to convince you. You can also grab the file from them in lossless FLAC format. If you swing that way. Blurt talks to the guy from Girls who kinda looks like a girl, Christopher Owens.

MP3: Girls – “Laura”

Bring Back The Boombox has an interview with Oh No Forest Fires on the almost-eve of their final show. They call it a day after a final blow-out at the Horseshoe this Saturday night.

Rolling Stone interviews Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.

Under The Radar chats with Neko Case.

Those of you unable to make either the Dinosaur Jr in-store at Sonic Boom tomorrow evening or the show at the Phoenix later that night can try and console yourselves with this NYC Taper recording of their show in New York from Saturday night – there’s also an interview over at JAM.

And Dinosaur Jr are one of the case studies in this PopMatters piece about the reunions of ’80s alt.rock legends and why they should be celebrated.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Living This Life

An introduction to The Dutchess & The Duke

Photo By Andrew WaitsAndrew WaitsIt doesn’t seem quite accurate to call this an “introduction” to Seattle’s The Dutchess & The Duke since I technically already wrote up the duo of Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison when I saw them during CMJ 2008, but whatever. My blog, and I can do what I like, and rather than do a review of either their 2008 debut She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke or last year’s follow-up Sunset/Sunrise, I’ll mash observations on both together since, thankfully, they’re not too far apart from one another.

The where of it is the fertile juncture where folk, blues and pop intersect and the when is the late ’60s, when the aforementioned stylistic crossroads was occupied by the likes of Dylan and The Rolling Stones and they were arguably making their greatest records. This isn’t to put The Dutchess & The Duke in that same rarefied air, but sonically, those are really the best reference points. Both records are filled with dark, sometimes black, lyricism mitigated by tight harmonies and sweet melodies overtop spare, occasionally sweeping, primarily acoustic arrangements filtered through pleasingly grainy production. It’s a timeless recipe that’s either not used nearly enough or not done nearly well enough but which The Dutchess & The Duke are doing a fine job of keeping alive and vital.

The Dutchess & The Duke are currently on tour and will be at Sneaky Dee’s on January 12. The Arkansas Times has an interview with Jesse Lortz. Update: Luxury Wafers just posted a live session – video and audio – with the band.

MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Living This Life”
MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Hands”
MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Reservoir Park”
Video: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Mary”
MySpace: The Dutchess & The Duke

10,000 Birds has an ornithology-oriented interview with Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater. Their new record The Golden Archipelago is out February 23.

Stereogum has got a first MP3 from the new Rogue Wave album Permalight, due out March 2. They have a gig at the Mod Club on February 26.

Daytrotter serves up a session with Headlights.

Matador has announced that the forthcoming Pavement reunion will be accompanied by reissues of all their albums on LP and a new compilation album allowing all the youngn’s who don’t understand why all the oldsters are getting all worked up a crash course in Stockton, California’s finest. Quarantine The Past will be out March 9 and rather than announce the complete 23-song tracklist, they’re making a game of it and asking fans to submit their guesses of what the almost-two dozen selections will be and offering some pretty swank prizes in return. To get you started, these two are pretty much shoo-ins – the other 21 are up to you.

MP3: Pavement – “Gold Soundz”
MP3: Pavement – “Rattled By The Rush”

Paste talks to Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne about their Dark Side Of The Moon cover album.

On Monday I linked to an interview with Love Is All about their at-the-time still largely ambiguous third record, then yesterday there was the concert announcement that puts the Swedes at the Horsesehoe on April 3 with Japandroids, implying that the record might be out sooner rather than later and now today – via Pitchfork – are the official details and first sample of Two Thousand And Ten Injuries, out March 23 on Polyvinyl. I feel reasonably confident that there will be no Love Is All content tomorrow. Unless there is.

MP3: Love Is All – “Kungen”

A Place To Bury Strangers have released a new video from Exploding Head while 4AD has got a couple of studio performances from The Big Pink to watch. Both acts are at the Mod Club on March 24.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “Keep Slipping Away”

UK dancey-rocky outfit Hadouken! have a date at the El Mocambo on February 9 in support of their new album For The Masses, due out February 2.

MP3: Hadouken! – “M.A.D.”

Prefix interviews Owen Clarke of Hot Chip. Their new one One Life Stand is out February 9 and they play the Kool Haus on April 20.

TwentyFourBit has details on a Davide Bowie tribute/War Child benefit album due out later this year, and featuring contributions from the likes of Chairlift, Vivian Girls and Keren Ann.

BBC has revealed their long list of candidates for the title of “The Sound of 2010”. I ended up paying quite a bit of attention to much of the class of 2009 so I should probably start getting acquainted with their picks for this year.

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


Malajube at Sonic Boom in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangDifferent bands have different attitudes towards the in-store set. Some treat them like opportunities to strip down and get intimate with their audience (okay, that sounded much dirtier than intended but you get the meaning), others don’t seem so comfortable with the setting and obviously want to get their sets done as quickly as possible. Montreal’s Malajube, in town a day before their show tonight at the Horseshoe, treated their Wednesday night in-store at Sonic Boom like any other show – by plugging in and turning up. Way up.

Though they’ve been twice-nominated for the Polaris Music Prize and are arguably the best-known Francophone rock band in Canada, Malajube still manage to fly under the radar of many, or at least me. And yeah, it’s a language thing mainly – I tend to be a lyrics guy (post-rock instrumental acts aside) and knowing they’re saying something but not knowing what is a bit of a barrier to full and proper appreciation. Their live performances, however, do a good job of proving that not nearly a good enough reason to ignore them. After all, good rock music transcends linguistics and Malajube are nothing if not good – nay, great – rock. Theirs is a twisty sort of prog-pop whose complexity is overlook because of the melodies layered overtop, just as their heaviness might not be immediately noticed for the giddy and mischievous tone of their songs. But Malajube brought all those characteristics to the fore during their reasonably long, 8-song set that was split almost evenly between 2006’s Trompe-L’oeil and this year’s Labyrinthes.

While that mini-set was enough to satiate my appetite for the next while – a slow week for shows such as this is something to be treasured – anyone who didn’t make it out to the in-store and/or has never seen them live is strongly encouraged to hit the Horseshoe tonight for their show.

Photos: Malajube @ Sonic Boom – November 25, 2009
MP3: Malajube – “Porte Disparu”
MP3: Malajube – “Fille à plumes”
Video: Malajube – “Luna”
Video: Malajube – “Porté disparu”
Video: Malajube – “Ton Plat Favori”
Video: Malajube – “La Crabe”
Video: Malajube – “Étienne d’Août “
Video: Malajube – “Fille à plumes”
Video: Malajube – “Pâte Filo”
Video: Malajube – “Montréal -40°C”
Video: Malajube – “Le jus de citron”
Video: Malajube – “Le métronome”
MySpace: Malajube

Spoon have pushed ahead the release date of their new album Transference by a week – it will now be available on January 19, not the 26th as originally announced.

Headlights have released a new wonderfully animated and wonderfully sad video from album number three, Wilderness.

Video: Headlights – “Love Song For Buddy”

Loud & Quiet talks to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

The Line Of Best Fit compares the size of their acronym with A Place To Bury Strangers.

America is on holiday now and as such, I am rationing out what blog fodder I have to make it through the weekend. Just so you know.

Friday, November 6th, 2009


Ume at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen I got all effusive about seeing Austin’s Ume way back at SxSW in March, it wasn’t just because they their showcase blew me away – it did – but because I also figured that it would be my last chance to see and write about the trio until SxSW next year, so there was no point in being measured. After all, they were a small band with no label, no tour support and hailing from a long ways away from Toronto meant the odds of catching them up live again were remote. Sound logic, and also completely wrong. They found their way up here in June to play NXNE, turning in a fiery performance at Neutral that proved to everyone I’d harassed to attend that I wasn’t full of it and they were, indeed, the awesome.

And it must be true that good things come in threes because they were back – again – this past Tuesday night for a free show at the Horseshoe. This time, it was a combination of a modest Canadian tour appended onto a jaunt to CMJ in New York and the proper (read: physical) Canadian release of their Sunshower EP, which had heretofore only been available digitally. But the whys were unimportant – all that mattered was that Ume were back in town; rock would ensue.

For a review of the actual performance itself, I can really just refer you back to the other two I did, or offer the Coles/Cliffs notes: songs that balance sweet pop hooks with snarling heaviness, equal debts to punk, stoner, shoegaze and alt rock, insane guitar abuse/heroics and awesome hair-whipping from frontwoman Lauren Larsen and an audience awestruck and won over. It’s hard to say for sure, but I think there were at least a couple of new songs in the mix compared to the Neutral gig and considering that the unfamiliar stuff still sounded great; as much as I like the fact that they’re touring relentlessly hither and yon, I hope that once they’ve returned home and taken a breather, that they’re hitting the studio to work on a new album. Sunshower has done a fine job of sustaining me, but its only five songs – I need more.

There’s an excerpt of Ume’s cover feature in Austin’s Soundcheck magazine available online and the full magazine (and article) are downloadable in PDF form.

Photos: Ume @ The Horseshoe – November 3, 2009
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”
MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”
MP3: Ume – “Wake”
Video: Ume – “The Conductor”
MySpace: Ume is offering downloads of the famous early Liz Phair demos of the same name. Oh Liz, where did it all go wrong (that’s rhetorical – everyone knows exactly where it all went wrong).

MP3: Liz Phair – “Fuck And Run”
MP3: Liz Phair – “Polyester Bride”

The Guest Apartment has a video session with Headlights.

Crawdaddy profiles White Rabbits.

State interviews Yo La Tengo.

Beatroute talks to Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr. Barlow will play the Phoenix on January 21 both solo and with Dino Jr.

Neko Case talks to The Seacoast.

Soundproof and Clash have features on The Dodos.

HeroHill solicits five funky stories from Oh No Forest Fires, who’ve got a show at the Horseshoe on December 12.

Jenn Grant, who plays the Glenn Gould Theatre on November 26, has released a new video from Echoes.

Video: Jenn Grant – “You’ll Go Far”

The Aquarian interviews Peter Moren of Peter Bjorn & John, who have a date at the Phoenix on November 11.

Swedish electro-soul outfit Miike Snow, who is a “they” and not a “he”, are at the Phoenix on April 3.

Video: Miike Snow – “Black & Blue”

The Music Slut asks eight questions of Mew. They have a date at the Mod Club on December 6.

The Raveonettes are giving away a free b-side from In And Out Of Control. The San Francisco Examiner and North Country Times also have interviews.

MP3: The Raveonettes – “The Chosen One”

Sigur Ros are streaming their Heima concert film at PitchforkTV for a week.

Video: Heima

Pitchfork reports that Mogwai’s live documentary film Burning will premiere at a Danish film festival next week and that an accompanying soundtrack album entitled Special Moves will follow.

New Jarvis Cocker video! Watch Jarv bring the title track and cover art of Further Complications to life.

Video: Jarvis Cocker – “Further Complications”

Radio Free Canuckistan has an interview with Jon Cook, the author of the Merge Records book Our Noise, which I look forward to picking up now that I’ve finally finished A Confederacy Of Dunces. A wonderful book which should not have taken me anywhere near the 6 months or so it took me to get through it; I just stopped reading anything, really, through the Summer. And now I have much to catch up on.