Posts Tagged ‘Julie Doiron’

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

So Slowly

Early Day Miners head inland for Treatment

Photo By Rebecca DrolenRebecca DrolenIt was a small bright spot and pleasant surprise last week when mail call brought a copy of the new Early Day Miners album, The Treatment. Pleasant because their last album, 2006’s Offshore, was an unexpected epic that turned out to be one of my favourites of the year and surprise because though the band had announced that The Treatment would be coming out this year back in late 2008, more specific information wasn’t forthcoming and I was beginning to assume that it would be pushed back indefinitely. But as it turned out, snail mail actually outpaced electronic mail and the CD got to me a day before the official press release.

Also to file under “surprise” what the CD held. Offshore won my heart and mind with its sprawling and often desolate sonic topology, all slow and brooding and beautiful. It’s a record where the vocals don’t enter until nearly 10 minutes into its running time, so imagine my surprise when I pressed “play” on The Treatment and was met with singing barely one second in. And the reinvention continues throughout the record, with the Bloomington, Indiana outfit having scaled their lineup down to a four-piece and focused on more compact, pop-structured songs. And though it takes some getting used to, initial listens reveal that they can indeed handle the tighter melodies – first MP3 “So Slowly” is a gem – and for those who preferred them for their mopier sentiments, don’t worry – even when you hear them smiling, it’s evident they’re still frowns turned upside down.

Early Day Miners gave a taste of their new direction via a Daytrotter session back in January of 2008, but that was over a year and a half ago. I’d forgotten what they were up to. The new album is due out September 22 and there will be some touring to follow, though mainly in the midwest and nothing up this way.

MP3: Early Day Miners – “So Slowly”
MySpace: Early Day Miners

Funnily, even when the world seems to stop, it doesn’t actually and so all last week local concert announcements kept piling up in my inbox and RSS. And here they are in chronological order.

Do Make Say Think will play the Polish Combatants Hall on August 19 as part of the kick off for the Bicycle Film Festival, which is indeed a clever name for a film festival celebrating bicycles. Tickets for that are $22.

After always playing the billing bridesmaid, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus are setting out on their first headlining tour this September in support of their debut The Airing Of Grievances and will stop in at the Horseshoe on September 5, tickets $10.50.

MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”

A Hawk & A Hacksaw have a date at the Drake Underground on September 16, tickets $12.50. Damon & Naomi starting the very next night in Montreal.

That Wavves guy is probably disobeying some doctor’s orders in touring this Fall so catch him/them on September 22 at the El Mocambo and make it worth his/their while. Tickets $13.50.

MP3: Wavves – “So Bored”

And a week later, fellow garage-dwelling San Diegan buzz band The Soft Pack will be across the street for a show at The Silver Dollar on September 29 as part of a Fall tour that will not be in support of their debut full-length, since they’re only starting to record it this month.

MP3: The Soft Pack – “Nightlife”

Long unofficial, the two Built To Spill dates at Lee’s Palace have been confirmed – October 6 and 7, tickets $26.50 – as part of a massive Fall tour. One assumes that their next album There Is No Enemy will be out by then but there’s no release date yet. Doug Martsch talks to Spinner about what you might expect from the new record, though those attending the show may not want to expect to hear the new record.

Sea Wolf’s second album White Water, White Bloom is due out September 22 and, of course, touring will follow with the band accompanied by Port O’Brien and Sara Lov. The Toronto date is October 9 at Sneaky Dee’s. Grab bonus track from White Water, White Bloom at Dangerbird Records.

Mike Doughty is coming to town for three shows over two nights at the Drake Underground. One the eve of October 10 and two on the 11th, one early one late. $25 for each.

Video: Mike Doughty – “27 Jennifers”

The Gossip are hitting the road in support of their new album Music For Men, including an October 14 date at the Opera House in Toronto. Beth Ditto tells Spinner she’s a big nerd.

Video: The Gossip – “Heavy Cross”
Video: The Gossip – “Love Long Distance”

And if that’s not your speed, that same evening finds Alaska’s Portugal. The Man at the Horseshoe promoting their latest, The Satanic Satanist. Aquarium Drunkard talks to John Gourley about growing up in Alaska while The Minnesota Daily and Time Out New York also have interviews.

MP3: Portugal. The Man – “People Say”

Lucero were just here back in April – with Titus Andronicus, actually – but will be putting out their major-label debut 1372 Overton Park on October 6 and hitting the road to support, of course, including an October 20 date at Lee’s Palace. Tickets for that are $16.50.

MP3: Lucero – “What Else Would You Have Me Be”

El Perro Del Mar will release her new album Love Is Not Pop on October 20 and tour as support for Peter Bjorn & John, presumably including their November 11 date at the Phoenix. NME has album details.

Broadcast and Atlas Sound have opted to split gas money this Fall as co-headliners and will be at Lee’s Palace on October 24. The former will be putting out a split EP with The Focus Group on October 13 while the latter’s new album Logos is out October 20.

Julie Doiron has an October 27 date at Lee’s Palace and has invited Herman Dune along for the show. Tickets are $13.50.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “When Brakes Get Wet”
MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”

And finally, the Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop half of Travis are doing an acoustic tour this Fall, which includes an October 30 date at the Mod Club, tickets $29.50.

I think that’s enough for today – it’s a holiday after all. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who offered condolences and kind words last week in the wake of my father’s passing. I was more than a little floored by the support, and on behalf of myself and my family, say thanks for the well wishes. It was a tough, tough week but we’re doing alright.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

My Old Ghosts

An introduction to The Wooden Sky

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceIt seems a bit odd to be offering an “introduction” to a band that I, at least, have known for well over half a decade but aside from a live review in 2007 and come offhand mentions, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked at length about Toronto outfit The Wooden Sky, and that’s really a shame. I first caught them back in the Summer of 2003 in a random east end bar in their previous guise as Friday Morning’s Regret and my old band also played a show with them in the Spring of 2004 and both times they impressed with their polished yet rough-hewn roots rock.

It was with their 2007 record When Lost At Sea that they really seemed to step up their game, moving from a band seemingly content to operate proficiently within a musical idiom into one more interested in colouring outside those lines, offering up a record with much greater sonic and emotional depth than I’d expected, spreading out the high points equally between the rockers and weepers. It wasn’t a dramatic reinvention, but apparently a significant enough transformation that the band saw fit to shed the name that had served them well for so long and adopt a new one, The Wooden Sky, taken from one of the tracks on the new record. And though copies of When Lost At Sea had already been released under the Friday Morning’s Regret marque, subsequent copies came out as the first Wooden Sky record.

And now they’ve completed their next album and first wholly recorded as The Wooden Sky in If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone, due out on August 25. It’s a touch less raucous than its predecessor but more than makes that up with greater beauty and elegance – “Oslo”, in particular, is a stunner. It doesn’t immediately come across as a record that will vault the band to the forefront of the national musical consciousness, but it is another confident step forward and if by some confluence of events The Wooden Sky do find themselves in the spotlight, Gone will find them ready for it.

The band are setting out on a cross-Canada tour in late July to lead up to the record’s release though the jaunt. Dubbed the “Bedrooms and Backstreets Tour”, it will find them playing cities big and small and some rooms that probably aren’t even proper rooms – I don’t think the July 23 listing for “Rooftop Affair” in Toronto is so much a location as a description. Expect more details on that and other shows to come out as the dates draw near. And in the meantime, enjoy a track from the new record and a couple plus video from When Lost At Sea.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “North Dakota”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “The Wooden Sky”
Video: The Wooden Sky – “When Lost At Sea”

Another of Canada’s greatly underappreciated roots-rock bands – Cuff The Duke – are gearing up for the release of their new record Way Down Here on September 8 and have also slated a slew of dates to promote. Locally, they’ll play the Festival Of Beer at the CNE Bandshell on August 9, then set out on a cross-country tour in September and October, including two nights – October 16 and 17 – at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

Julie Doiron has a new MP3 and video available from her latest record I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “When Brakes Get Wet”
Video: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”

Jenn Grant has a new video from Echoes and VUE has an interview. She’s playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 24.

Video: Jenn Grant – “Heartbreaker”

Joe Pernice’s concert/book reading at the Dakota Tavern in support of his new book/album It Feels So Good When I Stop has been moved from September 15 to the 24th. The record is still out August 4 and the book is out August 6.

Decider talks to Mark Olson of The Jayhawks about the band’s reunion and just-released anthology, Music From The North Country.

Spinner has an acoustic Interface session with Phoenix.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

No Epiphany

2009 Polaris Prize Short List nominees announced

Photo By David WaldmanDavid WaldmanSo yesterday was P-Day – the announcement of the short list for the fourth annual Polaris Music Prize – and perhaps the biggest surprise with the results was the fact that there weren’t any surprises. Of the ten, six were previously nominees from years past which, some might say, just shows they’re among the country’s elite artists and while they may well be, I can say personally that few of the final ten albums really stirred me in a significant way – certainly not as much as any of the ones on my final ballot. I should note that between my first ballot and final ballot, I dropped Metric in favour of Coeur De Pirate so my picks are actually not represented at all in the final tally.

But anyways. Perusing the list, all I can think is that I’m glad I was a member of the grand jury last year and not this year because I’d have trouble really getting impassioned about championing any of the nominees – of course, you could argue that would make a more ideal, objective juror, but that’s someone else’s problem this year. And I’ll tell you this – having been in that room, anyone who thinks that they can guess who will walk away with the big cheque this year based on, well, anything at all, is just wrong. It is fascinating what some people like and use as criteria for this stuff, and they’re generally not nearly as adventurous, safe, predictable or random as you might expect.

My thoughts on the nominees are random at best. As mentioned both above and previously, I think the Metric record is a superb pop record – hence its inclusion on my first ballot – but I can’t say it has that ephemeral something special that would make me go to bat for it as the best the country has produced in the past year. The Great Lake Swimmers nomination has a whiff of lifetime achievement recognition about it – even just four albums in – but I also think it’s their best yet so I can get behind that, although its adherence to such traditional song forms may work against it. Same for Plaskett. By the same token, I think that being so untraditional – at least in terms of what people think of as “Canadian music” – might work against Fucked Up and K’Naan. I’m no expert in either hardcore or hip-hop, but enough who are get behind those two records that I will happily accept that they’re outstanding examples of their respective genres. Chad Van Gaalen I’m on record as just not getting the way many others do, and I’ve accepted that and moved on. The Malajube I thought was just okay and not as good as their last nominated record. The rest of the nominees, I have no strong feelings about one way or the other. And that’s my immediate overall reaction to the whole list – just, “huh”.

So yes, here’s the nominees in alphabetical order with some A/V accompaniment. I do feel compelled to point out that since there’s not actually anyone in the band named Elliott Brood, they should probably be filed under “E” rather than “B”. But anyways.

Elliott Brood / Mountain Meadow
MP3: Elliott Brood – “Write It All Down For You”

Fucked Up / The Chemistry Of Common Life
MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”

Great Lake Swimmers / Lost Channels
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line” (zip)

Hey Rosetta! / Into Your Lungs (and around your heart and on through your blood)
Video: Hey Rosetta – “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

K’Naan / Troubadour
Video: K’Naan – “ABC’s

Malajube / Labyrinthes
MP3: Malajube – “Porte Disparu”

Metric / Fantasies
Video: Metric – “Gimme Sympathy”

Joel Plaskett / Three
Video: Joel Plaskett – “Through & Through & Through”

Chad Van Gaalen / Soft Airplane
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Willow Tree”

Patrick Watson / Wooden Arms
Video: Patrick Watson – “Fireweed”

More Polaris commentary at Zoilus, where Carl has a typically insightful look at how and why he thinks Polaris year four shook out the way it did, Exclaim and eye were slinking around the announcement ceremony yesterday, notebooks in hand, talking to whomever and Chart got to talk to Damien Abraham of Fucked Up about the nomination. They’re pictured above not because I’m particularly biased towards them, but because I’ve never used one of their photos before and they are about as much of a dark horse as you’re going to find in the class of 2009. The winner will be chosen on September 21 in a ceremony to be held at the Masonic Temple in Toronto – a different and smaller locale than the Phoenix, where it’s been the last three years. Maybe they’re cutting down on the attendees…? Or maybe just our cheese platters?

But what I find most interesting/ironic about the timing of the Polaris announcement was that it came on the same day as the official release of what was, for my nickel, easily the most interesting, heartfelt and altogether excellent Canadian album of the second half of 2008 and first half of 2009 – Hometowns by The Rural Alberta Advantage. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They failed to meet the eligibility requirements on account of having made their self-release of the album available for sale via their website and at shows a couple of months before the May 31, 2008 cut-off. This probably netted them a few hundred sales, if even, but cost them a shot at the Polaris, although I did nominate them last year, obviously to no avail. But they’re doing alright – regardless of what you think of Pitchfork, the 8.0 score bestowed upon them yesterday can only help their wonderfully upwards trajectory. In fact, this piece at Hit Singularity uses the band as a case study of how to become a “buzz band”, thankfully in a non-cynical context. Exclaim has a video interview and live performance, The Edmonton Journal an interview and Spinner has an interview as well as a stream of the album. Their label has also made another MP3 available to sample. And if you didn’t think their July 30 show at the Horseshoe was going to be totally sold-out, you’d better think so now.

MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Frank, AB”
Stream: The Rural Alberta Advantage / Hometowns

NXEW interviews Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula, who surprised some/many by not making the short list – I’ll pin that one on simple geography, as though they made a pretty huge impression on those in their hometown Toronto area, they’re only just now beginning to spread the gospel through the rest of the country.

NPR has a Tiny Desk concert with Julie Doiron, one of the few (?) eligible past nominees who didn’t make the short list. Actually, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day didn’t make the long list either.

New York Press talks to Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs, another act many thought would be on the short list.

Buzzgrinder has part the third of the Reverie Sound Revue blog tour – a live performance of “Prelude To A Debut” from their self-titled debut. They’re also sharing up another MP3.

MP3: Reverie Sound Revue – “Opposite Of Thieves”

A release date for the second Friends In Bellwoods charity compilation, mentioned last week, has been given a release date of August 25. It’s 40 songs across two CDs and, if you want to stick with the Polaris theme, features no shortage of artists who’ve already been nominated for the prize and plenty more who surely will be in the future – think of it as a snapshot of everything that’s musically great in Toronto right now. Release shows have already been scheduled – a pre-release shin-dig August 19 at the Gladstone, and a two-part party at the end of the month – August 28 at Lee’s Palace and on the 29th in Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Details on performers and whatnot forthcoming.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Tiger Lily

La Roux at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA typical Sunday evening for me can go any number of ways. Catching up on the past week’s television, working ahead a bit on the blog, taunting the cat with a piece of string, whatever. What is not a typical Sunday evening is standing in front of a PA cabinet with obnoxious dance music being pounded into my ears and midsection. And yet, this was my past Sunday at the Drake Underground.

The why was because I had been invited out to see the next buzzy thing in British electro-pop, the ’80s-adoring duo called La Roux, who had been tipped as one of the BBC’s Sound of 2009 acts but who had yet to really begin to capitalize on that cachet – this made a tiny club show like this appealing for bragging rights, if nothing else. So I acquainted myself with their entire recorded output thus far – two singles clocking in at under 10 minutes total – liked what I heard, and off I went.

The DJ went about 20 minutes longer than I’d have liked – dude, when no one is dancing you’ve failed – but eventually gave way as the keyboard half of the band, Ben Langmaid, took the stage to kick off “In For The Kill” and frontwoman, voice and hair Elly Jackson followed soon after. Without a whole lot of material to draw on, their set was necessarily short – just seven songs – but it was enough to get a sense of where their fortunes might lay. On the plus side, they obviously have a distinctive look – Jackson’s coif was as impressively vertical as one would hope – and even separated from her backing tracks her voice is distinctive and impressive, not quite falsetto and with an almost vocoder-ed quality. And while none of the songs quite reached the inescapable catchiness of “In For The Kill”, it was mostly solid material throughout.

On the con side, it was very evident that the live performance end of things was still new to them. Langmaid was fine, hidden behind his banks of equipment, but Jackson never seemed especially comfortable onstage, preferring to perform with eyes tightly closed and microphone in death grip and occasionally working in some tense dance moves. It was good to see that her “no smiling” policy of publicity photos didn’t carry over live – she was friendly in banter if a bit awkward and cracked a couple jokes – but there wasn’t a lot of charisma on display. If there’s a positive side to that, it’s that with her nervousness and rather… eclectic fashion sense, she seemed quite genuine, and that’s not necessarily the first attribute you’d expect to find in potential electro-pop divas.

I’m sure the La Roux live experience will improve with more shows, but if there was ever a case study for a synth-based act who could benefit from some more live instrumentation, it’s them. They should look up to the top of that BBC list at Little Boots for an example of the difference a live drummer can make. Either way, I do feel fortunate to have gotten to see them perform such an intimate show – when their debut album is released in June, I’m sure that the hype will buoy them to much larger performances. I just hope they’re ready for them.

The Times has an interesting feature following La Roux as they try to convert buzz into hype into real success.

Photos: La Roux @ The Drake Underground – April 5, 2009
MP3: La Roux – “Quicksand” (Joe & Will Ask remix)
Video: La Roux – “Quicksand”
Video: La Roux – “In For The Kill”
MySpace: La Roux

The Toronto Sun talks to White Lies.

Natasha Khan discusses the distinctive style of Bat For Lashes with The Quietus. Scotland On Sunday and Digital Spy also have interviews. Two Suns is out today and their April 25 show at the Mod Club is nearly sold out.

The Rumble Strips talk about their new album Welcome To The Walk Alone, out June 8, with Clash.

Billboard talks to Mark Olson about making the Jayhawks Green Grass-era reunion official. Good Times also has an interview with Olson.

The New York Daily News talks to Bishop Allen’s Justin Rice while Art In The Age has video of a recent in-store performance in Philadelphia.

Metromix has an interview with Jenny Lewis. According to Chart, a documentary detailing the making of her last solo record Acid Tongue is in the works.

So Neil Young’s new one Fork In The Road is finally out today – don’t y’all trample each other at the store getting a copy, now – and in addition to the little webcam videos he’s been making for the songs, there’s also a mini-film entitled Get Around which basically features Neil driving his Lincvolt around America whilst singing along to the album. They do use better quality cameras, however. You can “rent” the thing at Jaman and while you have to register, it does appear to be free.

Trailer: Get Around

Son Volt will release their new album American Central Dust on July 7 – details at Billboard.

The Martlet profiles Chad Van Gaalen.

The Young & The Hungry talks food with Ra Ra Riot. The Daily Orange, despite being named for food, talks to them about music.

The Guelph Mercury and Exclaim! talk to Julie Doiron.

Bradley’s Almanac is sharing a recording of The Mountain Goats’ recent show in Somervile, Massachusetts last month including a couple of new songs.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Hit The Road

Neil Young sets date for Archives, makes movies and is in a movie

Photo via IndependentThe IndependentThough not a performer, Neil Young’s presence was keenly felt down at SxSW last week. The man himself was in town showing off his LincVolt electric car which is serving as inspiration for his forthcoming album Fork In The Road, due April 7, and for which he continues to crank out many high-quality promo videos. I’m a little bit concerned that the songs are starting to grow on me just a bit.

Director Jonathan Demme was also on hand to talk about Neil Young Truck Show, his forthcoming Neil documentary and second following 2006’s Heart Of Gold. Rolling Stone has details on the deliberately rough and DIY-aesthetic film, which should be finished post-production for a 2009 unveiling.

But the most exciting piece of news revealed last week was the announcement by Neil’s manager Elliott Roberts of an official release date for Archives Volume 1 – June 2. I know many release dates have come and gone over the years but this seems for real. The massive collection will be available as an 8-CD set for $99, a 10-DVD set for $199 and a 10-BluRay set for $299 (suggested prices in US dollars). Needless to say, the more you spend, the more you get. Billboard has details.

Video: Neil Young – “Cough Up The Bucks”
Video: Neil Young – “Light A Candle”
Video: Neil Young – “Johnny Magic” (Magic Sun)
Video: Neil Young – “Johnny Magic” (LincVolt)
Video: Neil Young – “Fork In The Road”
Trailer: Neil Young / Archives Volume 1

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy talks to GQ about their new album, due out in June, and the Ashes Of American Flags DVD being released April 18. Creative Loafing has an interview with the director of the doc, Brendan Canty.

Spinner has an MP3 from Bob Mould’s new record Life And Times, out April 17.

MP3: Bob Mould – “City Lights (Days Go By)”

Dinosaur Jr have completed work on their new album Farm and will release it on June 23. Pitchfork has more on that.

Ira Kaplan comes clean to The Hartford Advocate about the mysterious relationship between Condo Fucks and Yo La Tengo. Fuckbook is out now and streamable in its entirety.

Stream: Condo Fucks / Fuckbook

Also out now and doing the stream thing is The Decemberists’ latest The Hazards Of Love. Magnet Q&As Colin Meloy about the new record.

Stream: The Decemberists / The Hazards of Love

Pitchfork has an interview with Neko Case, who herself has a new video. She’s at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

Video: Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”

The National Post has an interview with Leonard Cohen, whose Live In London double-album is out next week but which you can stream right now at NPR. He plays Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on May 19.

Stream: Leonard Cohen / Live In London

Magnet plays over-under with R.E.M., selecting their five most over- and underrated songs.

Great Lake Swimmers have released a new video from their forthcoming album Lost Channels, out next Tuesday. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25. Vue has an interview with Tony Dekker.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”

Chart and NOW have features on Julie Doiron, who’s playing the Horseshoe tonight in support of her new album I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day.

And to follow up yesterday’s post, tickets for the first NYC Radio Dept show are on sale and I have one. Travel that weekend has been made easier by the fact that I won’t be attending Primavera Sound the following week – got offered media but NOT a photo pass and I don’t think I could go all that way (and pay all that money) and not be able to shoot. My head would quite literally explode. But hey, word is Jarv will be coming to North America to promote the new record so, worst case, I fly somewhere closer (and less exotic, yes) to see him assuming he doesn’t shaft T.O. again. That’s Toronto. Not Terrell Owens. Though he’s in Buffalo now, so at least that’d be more geographically convenient.

Okay I’m going to shut up now.