Posts Tagged ‘Luna’

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

NY-San Anton

Cinema Red & Blue and The Ladybug Transistor at The Cake Shop in New York

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust to be clear: I had absolutely no intention of going to any shows this past weekend whilst in New York City. Yes, I checked to see what was playing over the long weekend and certainly would have hit something up if it were appealing, but taking a break from standing around in Toronto clubs till the wee hours of the morning by standing around in New York clubs till the wee hours of the morning is not my idea of a vacation. However, a chat with Soundbites on Saturday afternoon and the lack of anything more interesting to do on Saturday night found me – wait for it – standing around in a Lower East Side club till the wee hours of the morning.

The club was The Cake Shop, a venue I’d heard tale of for years but had not set foot in – and which like other fabled NYC clubs of which I’ve recently made the acquaintance of, was much smaller, darker and sweatier than I’d imagined. But they did indeed sell cake. So there’s that. The bill was four deep, the first half of which I missed, but I did arrive in time to see The Ladybug Transistor – a band not all that familiar to me but who came with a pedigree containing the keywords Elephant 6 (a scene with whom they were originally associated), Merge (the label to which they’re signed) and The Essex Green (the band with which they’ve shared many a member). And so while not being familiar with their material, per se, that was more than enough to make me confident that I’d enjoy what they had to offer and indeed I did – sharp, singalong-worthy and handclap-happy retro-styled indie-pop will never go out of style. With a big, lush sound that seemed a bit at odds with the decidedly non-lush environs, The Ladybug Transistor’s set certainly made for a better evening than watching basic cable back at the apartment where I was staying, which probably would have been the evening’s fallback activity.

The night’s headliner was an outfit called Cinema Red & Blue, an offshoot of UK indie cult heroes The Comet Gain involving members of The Ladybug Transistor – for any more detail than that, I refer you to this preview piece at BrooklynVegan. I think I’d heard Comet Gain before and recall being generally unimpressed with their shambolic aesthetic, so it was probably too much to hope that a one-off gig from an under-rehearsed and probably drunk side-project would offer much in the revelation department. And no, it really didn’t. A late start due to a malfunctioning keyboard (always a good idea to wait until show time to discover that the power cord doesn’t work) pretty much set the tone and by the time they got started, they were as sloppy and wobbly as you’d expect. But while that wasn’t my thing, it seemed to be precisely what the fans in attendance wanted and so they all seemed pretty pleased. I stuck around for a little while and quietly excused myself. Sleep beckoned.

Photos: Cinema Red & Blue, The Ladybug Transistor @ The Cake Shop, New York – September 5, 2009
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “Three Days From Now”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “Splendor In The Grass”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “The Reclusive Hero”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “A Burial At Sea”
MySpace: The Ladybug Transistor

As for the rest of the trip, it was intended to be a little bit shopping excursion, a little bit get the hell out of Toronto and it was a success on both counts. Some clothes and probably unnecessary photo gear to the former, some exploration of Brooklyn, culture at the MoMA and AMNH, excellent eating and hanging out with friends made it a great long weekend and a small but necessary act of salvaging a tiny bit of the Summer. Some photos are up at Flickr if you’re curious.

Apologies to anyone who stopped by Sunday to check out this week’s G’N’R cover only to find, instead of twee-ified Axel, a googly-eyed cat – in my rush to get posts written up and queued for my absence, I forgot to upload the MP3 file. So it’s live now and as a bit of mea culpa, also help yourself to this radio session version of Luna doing the same tune. Also check out the Taken By Trees features at Paste and The Guardian and stream the new album East Of Eden – out today – at Drowned In Sound.

MP3: Taken By Trees – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
MP3: Luna – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (live)
Stream: Taken By Trees / East Of Eden

Anyone faced with a Joe Pernice-or-The Antlers dilemma for the evening of September 24, rejoice – The Antlers will be playing an in-store at Criminal Records that evening, time TBA. So you – and by “you” I mean “I” – can hit up the in-store first then trek over to the Dakota later that night to see Joe. Unless you had tickets for the Antlers’ show at the Horseshoe that night, in which case you’re on your own with a double-serving of Antlers. There’s a video session with them at LiveDaily while Pernice talks to Spinner about his new record.

Suckers have been added as support for the just-announced White Rabbits gig at the Drake on October 24. I’ve heard almost as many good things about them as I have the headliners – which is a considerable amount – so that gig is probably one not to miss. Check out an MP3 and video and also their Daytrotter session from earlier this Summer.

MP3: Suckers – “It Gets Your Body Movin'”
Video: Suckers – “Easy Chairs”

Former 13th Floor Elevators frontman and general psych-rock legend Roky Erickson has set a rare live date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto for October 28 – tickets $29.50. There’s an interview with Erickson at The Quietus.

Video: The 13th Floor Elevators – “You’re Gonna Miss Me”

The Swell Season, who continue on despite the end of Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s real-life romance, will release their second album Strict Joy on October 27 and follow it up with a Fall tour that includes a date at Massey Hall in Toronto on November 3 – tickets $29.50 to $42.50. Check out a new song from the record courtesy of Spinner and also a few more at a Tiny Desk Concert recorded for NPR.

MP3: The Swell Season – “In These Arms”

If you were wondering if/when The Wooden Sky would play a proper hometown gig rather than rooftop soirees or subterranean in-stores, wonder no longer – they’ll present their excellent new record If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone on a proper stage on November 13 at Lee’s Palace. Tickets $12.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”

And if you’ve been wondering – as I have – what TV is worth downloading this Fall, it’s The AV Club to the rescue. They’ve listed off all the shows they’re going to be covering as the traditional new television season kicks off in the coming weeks, and not a moment too soon. With Weeds over last week and True Blood done this Sunday, I needs new stuff to watch. Though a closer look at their picks shows that our tastes align a little too closely – most of them I already watch or have decided not to watch. Will be following Glee and Bored To Death – anyone have any other suggestions that don’t require catching up on four or five past seasons worth of eps?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Smells Like Secrets

An introduction to The Balconies

Photo By Ben WellandBen WellandI’m not sure why it’s taking me so long to try and come up with words to describe The Balconies and their debut album – also called The Balconies and out September 15. It could be this epic nap that I woke up from a few hours ago but still haven’t shaken loose, or maybe it’s because whenever I start playing the record, that’s 37 minutes that I’d rather just sit and listen instead of write.

The Balconies stick to the tried-and-true power-trio format and on top of that, favour of a dry, in-your-face approach that eschews any sort of studio hijinks. They’re a confident crew, these Balconies, and why not? All three are superb musicians and guitarist Jacqui Neville has got a most impressive set of pipes, with power and expressiveness to spare but thankfully uninterested in showy over-singing. Sibling and bassist Steve Neville is an effective vocal foil, though I find myself wishing I wasn’t reminded so much of the B-52s’ Fred Schneider at points. Their songwriting is also at its sharpest when they plough straight ahead with the power-pop, all punch and vigor and demonstrating a knack for the not-so-obvious-but-indelibly-catchy hook. But even the lesser tracks have at least one riff, melody or moment to justify its place amongst the stronger numbers and oft times, they’re the ones that stick in the head the most. In fact, on the first few listens, I thought I was able to easily distinguish the standouts from the filler, but subsequent listens have blurred those distinctions significantly. What hasn’t changed, however, is the first impression – that The Balconies have turned out a cracking debut record and more than merit my – and your – attention.

Seeing as how they hail from Ottawa, it’s only natural that I Heart Music was first up with effusive praise for the outfit, which has been echoed by both Herohill and Dave Allen of Gang Of Four at Pampelmoose. There’s also an interview from earlier this Summer at BlogTO and a more recent one at Soundproof, both addressing the band’s upcoming move from Ottawa to Toronto.

I’m not sure if that’s already happened, but their live itinerary has them in town quite a bit in the next while regardless. They’re at the Horseshoe this Wednesday night with Everything All The Time and The Magic, then are doing a free show as part of the TARA Secret Sessions the evening of August 29 with The Books Elusive and Modernboys Moderngirls. Then they’re back on September 25 at Lee’s Palace for a release party throwdown with Oh No Forest Fires, Fox Jaws and Whale Tooth. Good times guaranteed.

MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”

Final Fantasy is going to be touring across Canada next month but the eagle-eyed – or simply sighted – will notice the absence of any Toronto dates on his itinerary. But he will in fact be playing a hometown show on September 5 at– well, they’re not telling. As part of what they’re calling Bite Your Tongue, Final Fantasy and a handful of others are playing at an undisclosed location that evening and ticket buyers will only be informed of the location the day before the show by returning to wherever they bought their tickets ($10 at Soundscapes or Rotate This) for the 411. They do promise that it’s accessible by TTC (about a 70-minute commute each way) and presumably have made sure that the buses and whatnot are still running when the show is over and people aren’t stranded at this allegedly majestic locale. Adventure! Final Fantasy’s Heartland is due out the first week of 2010 or so.

Spiral Beach will release their new album The Only Really Thing on September 22 and follow that up with a whackload of touring, including a cross-country jaunt with Two Hours Traffic and they’ll preface their October 16 date at Lee’s Palace with an in-store at Sonic Boom that evening.

MP3: Spiral Beach – “Domino”
Video: Spiral Beach – “Domino”

There’s a new track available from Grand Archives’ forthcoming second album Keep In Mind Frankenstein, out September 8. They play the Mod Cub on October 15.

MP3: Grand Archives – “Oslo Novelist”

Also sharing a new tune are Headlights, who’re releasing their third album Wildlife, out October 6.

MP3: Headlights – “Get Going”

Isthmus and Express have words with Justin Townes Earle, who has a date at the Phoenix on November 7.

Spinner talks to Grizzly Bear, in town for day one of V Fest this Saturday at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Stereogum has premiered the MP3 for the a-side from a new Asobi Seksu 10″ coming out this week, a different version of “Transparence” from their latest album Hush. Asobi Seksu are at the Horseshoe on October 13.

Also at the ‘Shoe that night is Anna Ternheim, with whom Baeble Music has a Guest Apartment video session.

The Antlers have released a new video from Hospice. There’s also interviews at Exclaim and The Village Voice. They’re at the Horseshoe on September 24.

Video: The Antlers – “Two”

Stereogum gets a status update from Thao Nguyen of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down on their new album Know Better Learn Faster , due out October 13. They play the El Mocambo on November 1.

CMJ reports that Venice Is Sinking are soliciting pre-orders for their third album The Georgia Theatre Sessions, proceeds from which will go towards rebuilding the titular theatre where the album was recorded and which burned down earlier this Summer. Chip in via This record would be the follow-up to AZAR, released earlier this year and just lovely.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”

While I like the piece by Adrian Tomine they ultimately used for the cover art to Luna’s Best Of (and which you can buy for just $1500), I like this rejected cover better.

Newsweek Q&As The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne about their new album Embryonic, out October 13.

Spinner talks sexism in music with St Vincent’s Annie Clark, who also recorded an acoustic session for Grand Crew.

Friday, May 15th, 2009

CONTEST – Dean Wareham's Black Postcards: A Memoir

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeIt’s appropriate that I’m putting this up whilst in the Big Apple because more than any other band, Luna represents what I think of when I try to frame New York in musical terms – weird and wonderful and lightly hallucinogenic. And full of awesome guitar solos.

One of Dean Wareham’s first post-Luna projects was the writing of his memoirs, Black Postcards, which was released in hardcover form last year and in softcover last week. I reviewed it last year, remarking how candid and forthcoming Wareham was in its pages about his career and personal life and how at odds that was from the decidedly cryptic persona he’d cultivated over the years. It was an engrossing read and I recommended it wholeheartedly to anyone who is or was ever a Luna fan, or just found the life (and death) of bands that never quite break through fascinating. Maybe you took my advice and grabbed a copy, maybe you didn’t.

But if you didn’t, your procrastination has been rewarded. Courtesy of Penguin Books, I’ve got five – 5 – paperback copies of Black Postcards to give away. To enter, leave me a comment noting your favourite song from any of Wareham’s projects – Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta – and why. Essays not required, just a little thought. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you. And because I’m feeling generous, this contest is open to residents of anywhere. But it will close in a week at midnight, May 23.

Wareham talked to Daily Finance about some of the economic realities of rock’n’roll and creates a playlist to soundtrack his book for Largehearted Boy.

MP3: Luna – “Friendly Advice” (live)
MP3: Luna – “The Slow Song (live)
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Singer Sing”