Posts Tagged ‘Killing Joke’

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Gotta Be That Way

The House Of Love return with a fresh coat of Paint

Photo via FacebookFacebookA pile of this and that from overseas to get to today, so why not start with the item that I’m sure the fewest people – statistically speaking – care about.

And that’s the return of The House Of Love. A cult band’s cult band, the Guy Chadwick-led outfit has probably become better known for what they didn’t do – which is become the biggest band in the UK, as many/most expected in the late-’80s – than what they did – which was release two brilliant (as well as one decent and one turgid) albums of sweeping proto-Britpop whose influence, despite the band imploding rather than exploding, can still be detected in many British guitar bands of the past quarter-century.

After disbanding in 1993, three-quarters of the original lineup – most importantly frontman Guy Chadwick and guitarist Terry Bickers – reunited in 2005 for some live dates and an album of new material in the impressively solid throughout Days Run Away. Rather than carry that momentum forwards, however, the band seemed to go underground again with most assuming that the reunion had run its course and the band had quietly gone their separate ways, content to keep their legacy alive via a seemingly endless series of reissues of their debut album – most recently this week – and archival live material.

But then would come word of a one-off live show or a festival appearance – not much, but enough to confirm the band as an ongoing proposition – and very occasional rumours of new material being written and recorded. Rumours which coalesced this week with the reveal that, indeed, a sixth studio album had been completed and that it would be out early in the new year. Further details came yesterday via Slicing Up Eyeballs, which pointed out the band had updated their Facebook with the title of the new album – She Paints Words In Red – along with the artwork and a targeted release date of March or April, via Cherry Red Records.

I don’t expect this new record to be life-changing at all – on par with Days would be a gift – nor do I expect there’ll be any kind of effort to play live shows anywhere near this continent, but I find it pleasing to know that this band, who’s had no shortage of opportunities or incentive to simply call it day, are still making music because they want to and their fans want to hear what they have to say. Shine on.

MP3: The House Of Love – “Shine On”

All that unpleasantness this past Summer about Jaz Coleman going missing before turning up in the Sahara apparently sorted out, Killing Joke have slated a North American tour in support of their forthcoming best-of comp The Singles Collection: 1979-2012, due out April 15. They’ll be at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on April 24.

Video: Killing Joke – “Love Like Blood”

She’s gone on to become something of a rising star back in the UK since making her North American debut opening for Bon Iver last December, but Lianne La Havas hasn’t been back for a proper tour in support of her debut Is Your Love Big Enough? since. That changes this Spring, though, as she undertakes an extensive North American tour that brings her to the Opera House on April 4, tickets $21.50 in advance. NPR has a World Cafe session and The Guardian a quick feature.

Video: Lianne La Havas – “Lost & Found”

HungerTV interviews Patrick Wolf.

Esben & The Witch have released the first video from their second album Wash The Sins Not Only The Face, out January 21.

Video: Esben & The Witch – “Deathwaltz”

Frightened Rabbit have released a new video from their new record Pedestrian Verse. It’s out February 5 and they play The Phoenix March 31.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “The Woodpile”

Foals are streaming another new song from their forthcoming album Holy Fire, out February 12.

Stream: Foals – “My Number”

The Guardian has a video session with Stornoway, who are preparing their second album Tales From Terra Firma for a March 11 release.

Billboard has a talk with Jessie Ware about her American debut and why her forthcoming introductory EP for this market will be called If You’re Never Gonna Move instead of 110%, as originally intended. She’s also released an adorable new video from her debut Devotion and given a year-end interview to The Guardian.

Video: Jessie Ware – “Sweet Talk”

DIY talks to Victoria Hesketh – aka Little Boots – about the long road to her second album, which she’s not quite prepared to share details about but assures us that it’s done and coming next year.

Los Campesinos! may be down a bassist but they’re up on Christmas, as evidenced by this seasonal tune they’re giving away.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “A Doe To A Deer”

Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp talks holiday plans with DIY, and also offers an update on album number two.

The Wall Street Journal spends some quality time with Richard Hawley.

Matador has dished details on Danish post-punks Iceage’s forthcoming release, their first for the label. It’s optimistically titled You’re Nothing and will be out on February 19.

Junip will release their new album Junip on April 23, and have a wee little trailer for it.

Trailer: Junip / Junip

El Perro Del Mar has released a new video from Pale Fire.

Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Hold Off The Dawn”

Monday, May 3rd, 2010


Jonsi at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe revelation last year that Sigur Ros frontman Jon Por Birgisson was readying a solo project under his nickname of Jonsi was met with great curiosity, but also some trepidation – after all, Sigur Ros hardly seemed the sort of band that set limits on how they defined themselves, so what sort of additional creative freedoms did Birgisson need outside of that? While questions about the future of Sigur Ros were answered in a recent interview – they continue to work on new material – the answer to the first question would come earlier this year in the form of Go, a record that could easily have been sold as the new Sigur Ros record (if you didn’t check the liner notes for personnel), but also justified its existence as something completely distinct.

Obviously Jonsi’s otherworldly voice is impossible to disassociate from Sigur Ros but beyond that, Go takes the poppier bent that 2008’s Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust was noted for and runs – nay, frolics – with it in jubilant numbers like “Boy Likkoi” and “Go Do” while balancing it out with slower, sweepingly dramatic compositions… not unlike any given Sigur Ros record. How Go sets itself apart is in the details – it’s more heavily orchestrated thanks to the contributions of Nico Muhly and under it all, the songs are more conventionally structured, perhaps speaking to their simpler, acoustic origins. And oh yeah, he sings largely in English – this does dispel some of the mystery that’s integral to Sigur Ros, but does create a new kind of intimacy with the (anglophone) listener, even if it turns out Birgisson isn’t dispensing universal truths and wisdom. All of this is, of course, splitting hairs – it’s clear that whichever vehicle Birgisson chooses to channel his creativity through, he brings with him his unique aesthetic and magic and whatever he calls it, it’s something to behold.

And while his main project also sets an unbelievably high standard for live performance – their last visit to Toronto left Massey Hall filled with plumes of confetti and jaws on the floor – on Friday night, Jonsi proved he could impress just as well on his own. Originally scheduled for two nights at the Sound Academy in theatre configuration, the shows were folded into one with the hall at full size just days before the performances – officially due to the logistics of tearing down the elaborate stage set, but many believed it was simply overambitious to book someone whose name has little recognition beyond has fanbase for a multi-night stand. Which may have been true, but it’s also true that in addition to being one of the most reviled venues in the city, it’s also got one of the biggest stages in terms of square footage and laying eyes on the Jonsi setup last Friday night, it was obvious why that was a necessity.

The stage was decked out in a combination of exotic instruments, lighting rigs, scrims and screens, and yet everything had a rough, naturalistic finish that made it feel decidedly cozy for those in attendance. But just because it wasn’t built to look overly grandiose at first glance didn’t mean that advance word of the intense set design by 59 Productions was overstated. The show started on a solemn note, with Jonsi leading off with the acoustic non-album track “Stars In Still Water” and rendering selections from the slower part of his repertoire in even more drawn out and dramatic fashion while he and his band were simply lit and the accompanying projected animations looking like ghostly nature spirits around them, or a wall of flames devouring them. Just as astonishing as what we were hearing was how we were hearing it; the Sound Academy is not famous for its great sound – it’s usually acceptable at best – but on this night it sounded immaculate, with every delicate nuance of their performance heard loud and clear. The same couldn’t be said for the sightlines – I swear, if they just raised the stage a foot or foot and a half, the only thing people would have to complain about would be getting there…

As the set progressed, the tempo and energy swelled and the big pop moments of Go – “Go Do”, “Animal Arithmetic” and “Boy Likkoi” were joyous exclamation marks in the set, breaking the tension that had been built masterfully to those points and making the audience simply erupt. Throughout the course of the hour and fifteen set, they performed all of Go and a handful of new songs, and for one night only there was a special addition to the set with the band singing “Happy Birthday” in Icelandic to two of their crew. The show was perfectly paced and structured for maximum breathtaking theatricality, culminating in the encore finale of “Grow Til Tall”, in which the intensity of the musical crescendo was exponentially greater than on record and still matched, if not eclipsed, by the thunderstorm imagery that swept across every screen and surface of the stage. It was complete and utter sensory overload; I’m surprised anyone’s brains were still able to access the necessary motor skills to applaud. But we did, and even though it seemed an inadequate payment for the musical gift we’d just been given, it was all we had to offer and judging from the depths of the bows from Jonsi and his band as they took their curtain call, it was graciously accepted.

The Toronto Sun, Montreal Gazette and Boston Herald have interviews with Jonsi and Sticky, Live Music Project, Chart, eye and The Toronto Sun (again) have reviews of the show.

Photos: Jonsi @ The Sound Academy – April 30, 2010
MP3: Jonsi – “Boy Lilikoi”
Video: Jonsi – “Kolnidur”
Video: Jonsi – “Go Do”
MySpace: Jonsi

Under The Radar interviews Anna Persson of Sambassadeur and learns why the band have not and likely will not be touring North America anytime soon. But if you’re willing to travel there, Persson gave MOG a quick guide to Sweden.

The Radio Dept have no such excuses about traveling – besides not wanting to, I guess – and with Clinging To A Scheme receiving largely luminous reviews, they’ve got plenty of incentive. Not that I expect them to capitalize on it… Soundproof has a feature interview with frontman Johan Duncanson. Update: Turns out they do have an excuse for not touring, as they tell Exclaim.

Broken Social Scene are marking the release of Forgiveness Rock Record with a special one-day, hometown in-store tour. On May 9, some configuration of the band – or perhaps four different ones – will be playing four shows around Toronto, starting at Criminal Records at 2PM, Rotate This at 4PM, Soundscapes at 6PM and finally Sonic Boom at 8PM, with limited guaranteed-entry tickets available with purchase of the new record at each of the stores. Hopefully this is old news to you as they had special dispensation to sell the record since last Friday, well before the official release tomorrow, but if not, better call each of these fine retail establishments to see who – if anyone – has got some ducats left. There’s feature pieces on BSS at NPR, National Post and The Toronto Sun, and they play the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Sarah Harmer, whose new record Oh Little Fire is due out June 22, will play a record release show that evening at the Palais Royale – tickets $32.50.

The Flaming Lips/Spoon double-bill scheduled for July 8 at the Molson Amphitheatre just turned into a triple-header with the addition of Tokyo Police Club as opener. Their new record Champ is out June 8.

The reconstituted Hole have set a date at the Sound Academy for July 10, $35. I suppose having a definite when and where is better than hanging out on an overpass and just hoping to see a train wreck.

The pairing of Real Estate and Kurt Vile are coming to town as part of a joint North American tour, the July 20 date is set, the venue is still to be finalized.

MP3: Real Estate – “Black Lake”
MP3: Real Estate – “Beach Comber”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Overnite Religion”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Hunchback”

The Black Keys, whose new record Brothers is due out May 18, have set a date for August 3 at the Kool Haus, tickets $30 in advance on sale Friday at 10AM. Reuters has an interview with the band.

Video: The Black Keys – “Next Girl”

If you’re the sort who hates Summer and would rather look forward to Fall – and happen to take lunch near the Eaton Centre – Woodpigeon will be playing a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square at 12:30PM on October 6 and $100 do the same the following week, October 13.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”

And looking even further ahead, the Killing Joke show originally set for May 25 but postponed has been rescheduled for December 7, still at The Phoenix. Tie a string on your finger so you don’t forget!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010


The Magnetic Fields and Laura Barrett at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t that excited for last night’s Magnetic Fields show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. After all, their last few records didn’t especially bowl me over and I was feeling somewhat pessimistic about what to expect from a performer who’s very much on record as being disdainful of the entire phenomenon of live performance.

I had seen them before at their last visit to Toronto in July 2004 and while my memories of that show are fond, I couldn’t say it was an especially overwhelming performance. But some classic album cramming over the last few days including a 69 Love Songs marathon Sunday night was definitely putting me the right frame of mind. A chance to hear even a few of these songs live for the first time in over half a decade wasn’t to be missed, even if some degree of disappointment was to to be expected.

Or not.

Toronto’s own Laura Barrett had gotten the nod to open up the North American tour, and so as a former bandmate from way back in the day, I couldn’t help but feel super-proud of her for the achievement. And even more so upon hearing just how good she and her band sounded onstage, not a bit out of place in such a large and formal setting. No longer just a quirky girl with a kalimba, Barrett’s set was impressively confident and full-sounding, with well-arranged violin, banjo, glockenspiel and flute enriching her decidedly odd yet wholly accessible songs, and I was especially surprised at how strong and expressive her vocals have gotten. The warm reception she received was based on far more than just cheering for the home team. To co-opt her joke about it rhyming with her name, it was pure merit.

From the very first song of The Magnetic Fields’ set, I knew that my fears for the evening were going to be completely out of place. Rather than a number from their latest effort Realism or reaching back into their extensive repertoire for a crowd-pleaser, Stephin Merritt and company went sideways in their catalog to the second 6ths effort Hyacinths & Thistles and “Lindy-Lou”. No sir, this was not going to be a typical night. The expected Magnetic Fields lineup of Merritt, John Woo, Sam Davol and Claudia Gonson were in place, seated in a semi-circle, but also on the tour was Shirley Simms, who was a major presence on 69 Love Songs and subsequent records. She would take lead on a number of tracks as well as providing wonderful harmonies on others, also helping compensate a bit for Gonson, who battled through a case of laryngitis to deliver her own numbers. And if Merritt wasn’t enjoying touring, he was hiding it well. Though typically deadpan in his stage banter, he definitely seemed to be in a better mood than on their last visit – he cracked more than the requisite amount of jokes, playfully bantered with Gonson and even laughed out loud at one point. If I didn’t know better, I’d have said he was having fun, which would have been appropriate because the audience certainly was.

The acoustic arrangements of all the songs were also gorgeous to behold. Many still equate the synth/drum machine aesthetic of the early records with classic Magnetic Fields, but those songs are so good that they really lost nothing when translated to acoustic guitar, cello, ukulele, piano and autoharp and I would go so far as to say they sounded even better. After all, my reservations about Realism had nothing to do with the sonics – it’s a gorgeous-sounding record – just the songwriting. And the set list did draw substantially from Realism – and I’ll admit the new stuff sounded better live and mixed in with the other material than it did collected and standalone – but the biggest treats (and gasps of surprise from the audience when introduced) were the old stuff.

With the depth of the Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt catalog, it would have been impossible to hear everything everyone would have wanted, but over two sets and almost two hours, they did a pretty good job of touching all the bases, from The Wayward Bus, through all of the Merge-era stuff including a half-dozen Love Songs and through the no-synths trilogy. All were great to hear, but for me the best moments came from having the 6ths material in the mix, including one of my all-time favourite songs in “Falling Out Of Love With You”. It was well-picked as the first set closer because it took me the 15-minute intermission to stop feeling giddy about it. If you were to ask me what my dream concert would be, the answer may well be to hear both 6ths records played live – with the original vocalists. As that’s an impossibility, this was a pretty good substitution. And as a concert, this was pretty well amazing. Stephin Merritt may not like to hit the road very often, but when he does – at least this time – he brought his A-game. One to remember.

The Toronto Star, The Varsity, The AV Club and Paste have interviews with Stephin Merritt.

Photos: The Magnetic Fields, Laura Barrett @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – February 8, 2010
MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “Everything Is One Big Christmas”
MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “The Book Of Love”
MP3: Laura Barrett – “Bluebird”
MP3: Laura Barrett – “Decepticon Island Optimists Club”
Video: The Magnetic Fields – “We Are Having A Hootenanny”
Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Born On A Train”
Video: Laura Barrett – “The Wood Between The Worlds”
MySpace: The Magnetic Fields

Download and savour the new MP3 from The Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme, finally coming on April 20. SAVOUR IT.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”

Black Cab Sessions takes Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater for a ride in exchange for a song and NPR is streaming their new album The Golden Archipelago right now, a couple weeks in advance of its February 23 release date. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 1.

Stream: Shearwater / The Golden Archipelago

And some concert announcements – San Diegans The Soft Pack, whose self-titled debut is out now, will be at the El Mocambo on April 7 tickets $10 in advance. There’s so A/V materials to help your decision to attend and The Los Angeles Times has a brief interview.

MP3: The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself”
Video: The Soft Pack – “C’Mon”
Video: The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself”

Fanfarlo have finally scheduled a make-up date for their cancelled December appearance – they will make their Toronto debut on April 9 at Lee’s Palace. Keep an eye on those passports this time, fellas!

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”

British post-punk legends Killing Joke bring the reunion to North America including a May 25 show at the Phoenix. The Quietus talks to Jaz and Youth about the reunion and their new album Feast Of Fools, due out in April

Video: Killing Joke – “Pandemonium”

Reported a couple weeks ago and then redacted for jumping the gun on the announcement, The National have added a second show at Massey Hall, this one on June 9. Tickets on sale this Friday at 10AM. No presale this time, so if you’re looking for tickets, get your clicking finger warmed up and do NOT use Firefox.

And cheers to Apple support for getting me my laptop back to me – fully repaired – not four days later as they’d estimated, but four hours. That’s the second time they’ve replaced a logic board in this computer in an afternoon. I’ll just be grateful and not question why the logic board would need to be replaced in the first place…