Posts Tagged ‘Mercury Rev’

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


Doves to reign over Kingdom Of Rust

Photo via Doves.netDovesJoyous news to start the day yesterday when it was announced that Doves had not only assigned a release date to their fourth album and first in over four years – Kingdom Of Rust will be available on April 7 in North America – but they were also offering the lead track from the record, “Jetstream”, available as a free download on their website for a fortnight in exchange for signing up to their mailing list. Curiously, said offer seems to have disappeared for the moment but I expect that’s due to technical difficulties and it’ll be back soon.

And though the breathless press release verbiage that accompanied the news heralded the new record as their “most sonically adventurous, intimate, cerebral, propulsive to date”, I suspect it’ll be much like the previous three Doves records. Take two parts soaring anthemicism, two parts atmospheric melancholy, season with equal portions of dance and dreampop influences and serve. Guaranteed to be mostly brilliant. Doves arrived almost fully-formed with their 2001 debut Lost Souls and have basically been refining their sound ever since, oblivious to musical trends. Never quite fashionable, but still successful – it won’t surprise me one whit to see Kingdom hit #1 on the UK charts as its predecessor Some Cities did – and basically forging a… what’s it called? Oh yes, a career.

Though it’s amusing to think back to a couple of their first gigs in Toronto, where they displayed a knack for picking support acts who would manage to break quite big. Their first visit in March 2001 was in the company of a scruffy band of New Yorkers called The Strokes and their third in September of 2002 introduced the city to a band of beards who called themselves My Morning Jacket. So if the music thing hadn’t taken off as well as it did, they’d have quite possibly had a promising career in A&R.

Doves expect to tour North America sometime in the Spring. Pitchfork has a tracklist for Kingdom Of Dust.

MySpace: Doves

Spin is streaming Elbow’s contribution to the War Child: Heroes compilation coming out on February 24 – a cover of U2’s “Running To Stand Still”.

The Toronto Sun, The Globe & Mail, Stuff NZ and Out converse with Franz Ferdinand.

NPR welcomes Laura Marling for a World Cafe session.

The Shield Gazette interviews Emmy The Great about the darkness of her debut album First Love, out February 9.

Patrick Wolf discusses his battle to release Battle independently with The Quietus.

That March 31 Friendly Fires show of indeterminate locale I pointed out a couple weeks ago has come into much sharper focus – it will be happening at Lee’s Palace and also feature White Lies, currently holders of the #1 record in the UK, and The Soft Pack, formerly The Muslims. That, kids, is a ridiculously buzzy tour. Full dates at the Windish Agency. The Telegraph and The Shields Gazette have features on who is probably the headliner of that little troupe, White Lies.

Since it was Hot Press who first informed me last Summer that Irish dreampop outfit Butterfly Explosion had split up, it seems appropriate that it be Hot Press be the ones to inform me that they’re not so finished after all. Granted, with a number of lineup changes including the departure of keyboardist/vocalist Sorcha Brennan, it’s not the same band who impressed in April 2007 but still, it’s good that they’ll have another chance to fulfill the potential I saw in them.

MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Chemistry”

Soundproof interviews Mercury Rev.

Rolling Stone gets to know M83. They’ll be playing a one-off show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in March wherein Anthony Gonzalez will supply each and every member of the orchestra with their own distortion pedals.

Cut Off Your Hands have released a new video, and a local tour date is forthcoming very soon.

Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Turn Cold”

Magnet finds out what the members of The Smiths are up to these days.

The Guardian seeks the formula to the perfect pop song, consulting at length with Jarvis Cocker, amongst others, on the topic.

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Names Not Forgotten

An introduction to Montt Mardié

Photo By David MagnussonDavid MagnussonIt seems rather fitting that the first post of this new year should be devoted to an artist who seems to have great difficulty in choosing a favourite year, musically speaking, so he’s opted to go with them all. Montt Mardié is the stage name of David Olof Peter Pagmar, a Swedish pop savant whose two albums – the 2005 debut Drama and the 2007 double-set Pretender/Clocks – were cherry-picked last year for the UK release Introducing… The Best Of.

While it may seem odd to have a “best of” for someone barely 25 years old and with just two albums under his belt, Introducing really does feel like a compilation of top singles from an artist who’s been at it far longer than he has. His compositions tend to be rooted in throwback ’60s pop style, grand and orchestrally-minded and full of wit and humour, but Pagmar doesn’t discriminate when it comes to digging through his record or movie collections for inspiration. Musical cribs from The Cure nestle alongside classic Brill Building song structures and quotes from Meatloaf. Lyrics reference Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Star WarsIntroducing is a glorious open house pop culture party, where everything is fair game and welcomed with love.

Though I’ve no hesitation to recommend Mardié to fans of fellow Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman, who makes an appearance on duet “Castle In The Sky”, there’s more that distinguishes the two than make them similar once you get into the “male singer-songwriter pop auteur” category. If Lekman is the droll, detached sophisticate, then Pagmar is his earnest and wide-eyed younger brother, too enthused about everything to worry about looking cool. Whether backed by a full band and/or orchestra or just his own home recordings, Pagmar delivers everything with breathless enthusiasm and frequently slips into a soulful falsetto that’s just imperfect enough to be endearing. And on the tracks where he’s accompanied by female backing vocals, it’s simply sublime. There’s no trace of irony here, just giddy devotion to the joys of pop music and it’s difficult to resist. In fact, why would you want to? If Peter Bjorn & John were the new face of Swedish pop for 2007 and Lykke Li was last year’s model, then I nominate Montt Mardié – who is currently at work on album number three – for 2009.

Peculiarly, the Swedish albums appear easier to find than the comp. In addition to appearing to have stock (see links above), both are available at eMusic. But if you’re keen to try the single-disc version, inquire with the good folks at Ruffa Lane, who put it out.

The Guardian declared Mardié their band of the day last June and basically described him as the second coming of Prefab Sprout – a title I can’t comment on because I know nothing of the first coming of Prefab Sprout.

MP3: Montt Mardié – “1969”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “New York”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Come On Eileen”
Video: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
Video: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
Myspace: Montt Mardié

Daytrotter closed out last year with a studio session from Bon Iver. Their new EP Blood Bank is out on January 20.

Bradley’s Almanac bids farewell to Dirty On Purpose, who played their final gig on New Year’s Eve, with a recording of their last show in Boston last October.

Filter talks to Mercury Rev’s Jeff Mercel.

20 Album Covers recreated in Lego – all I can say is that Lego men come with much more interesting accessory pieces than when I was a kid.

Friday, December 19th, 2008

He Lives In A House, A Very Big House In The Country

The Guardian talks to the people who inspired famous songs

Photo via BlurBlurSo it seems the holidays are officially upon us. I know this because I skipped out of work early yesterday, and the streetcar was packed with people doing exactly the same thing. And as things everywhere wind down, so too will things around here. I’ll still post as long as there’s stuff to post about, but I intend to utilize the downtime to catch up on some reading, movie watching, shopping… real world stuff.

But I’ll wind out the week with this really interesting piece from The Guardian, wherein they talk to the people who served as inspiration for famous songs throughout the years. Like the guy who owned Blur’s “Country House”, the girl whom The Beatles said was “Leaving Home”, she whose name is “Geraldine” and is Glasvegas’ social worker and Patti Boyd, who both had something in the way she moved and also went by “Layla”. Worth a read, perhaps this afternoon between glances at the clock every few minutes, waiting for 5:00.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a variety of sessions that’ve gone online in the last couple days that are worth your while.

NPR gets Mercury Rev to record a session with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite. The Montreal Mirror and Chicago Reader have interviews.

Daytrotter has a Crooked Fingers set available to download.

Bandstand Busking gets Asobi Seksu to play a few songs, busker-style. Their new album Hush is out February 17. And digging through the archives also reveals similar sessions with The Acorn (session) and Frightened Rabbit (session). Nice.

MPR has Longwave over to play a few. They’ve got a new vid from new album Secrets Are Sinister and The Columbian has an interview with frontman Steve Schlitz.

Video: Longwave – “Shining Hours”

Stereogum’s Decomposed puts on The Uglysuit.

NPR talks to School Of Seven Bells.

The Age profiles Fleet Foxes.

I’d mentioned in my favourites of 2008 post that the Woodpigeon record which made the list was a limited release and currently unavailable, but that it’d re-released soon – as Exclaim reports, “soon” means February 3. On that day, Treasury Library Canada will be available again in regular retail outlets and come with a ten-track bonus disc entitled Houndstooth Europa. And if that’s not enough Woodpigeon for you, their next album Die Stadt Muzikanten will be released in the Fall.

Von Bondies have a date at the Horseshoe on February 13, full tour dates at Plug In Music. Their new album Love, Hate And Then There’s You is out February 3.

Part of Drowned In Sound’s year-end coverage has involved soliciting “best of year” picks from various artists including Sky Larkin, Shearwater, Frightened Rabbit and School Of Seven Bells, the results of which are available in three parts. Filter has also been collecting Top 10 lists from a slew of acts and compiling them at eRockstar.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Don't Take Me Home Until I'm Drunk

Photo by Frank Yang

There is an upside to having never been especially fashionable, and that’s you never go out of fashion. Case in point, The Wedding Present, whom over the course of their twenty-plus year career (including the Cinerama years), have never really enjoyed the heights of critical or popular acclaim but have never suffered the sting of backlash, either. Instead, they’ve simply plugged along, touring relentlessly and ne’er releasing a dud of an album and thereby accumulating a large and loyal following – bands could do far worse than to emulate their career path. A path that brought them to Toronto on Friday night in support of their new record El Rey, their first visit in two and a half years.

Playing the final date of their support stint, openers Dirty On Purpose joked about this being their annual visit to Lee’s Palace, though I suspect they really meant their annual visit to a near-empty Lee’s Palace. Though their profile has grown considerably since their first visit in March 2006, this time they were victims of an early start time that I suspect not a lot of people knew about. It’s been a couple years since the release of their debut album Hallelujah Sirens but the Brooklyn quartet has not been idle, releasing the Like Bees EP at the start of this year and following that closely with the Dead Volcanoes EP, available for free download at RCRD LBL. Both recordings implied a creative shift towards giving their pop sides a more equal footing with their noisier inclinations, and that was also evidenced in their live show which was a touch more polite-sounding than I’ve heard them before. At least until the set-closing instrumental “Monument”, which culminated in a minor stage trashing but considering that only consisted of one tossed guitar and a knocked over cymbal stand, even that was kind of polite.

You want to talk about consistency with The Wedding Present? On this night, Dave Gedge was wearing pretty much the same outfit he was in March 2006 and in April 2005. And with the exception of the addition of a healthy dose of El Rey material and considerably less from 2005’s Take Fountain, the set list could also have been from that show if not in exact song, then in song selection methodology. An even-handed sampling of the entire back catalog with an emphasis on masterpiece Seamonsters and a single nod to the Cinerama years. Truly it’s a testament to the solidity and reliability of Gedge’s muse that the new material stands up so well alongside the old, though when one’s creative well is built on the foibles of faithless men and women, there’s always plenty to draw on.

And, just like every gig, there were shout outs for requests which, as he’s done their entire career Gedge deflected (this time by claiming he’d love to oblige but said bassist Terry De Castro worked very hard on the set list and would be upset if they deviated). But for every favourite not aired, another gem was played instead and it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed overall by the song selection. And, of course, the performance was again excellent. After seeing just Gedge and De Castro play a set during SxSW, I appreciate how much second guitarist Chris McConville and drummer Graeme Ramsay, who joined post-Take Fountain and recorded and helped write El Rey, bring to the band. Though it’s still Gedge’s words and delivery that seal the deal, they come across so much better with the massive-sounding rhythm section driving home the point.

And, of course, there was no encore.

Redwood City Daily News has an interview with the Gedge.

Photos: The Wedding Present, Dirty On Purpose @ Lee’s Palace – October 3, 2008
MP3: The Wedding Present – “The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girl Friend”
MP3: Dirty On Purpose – “Mind Blindness”
MP3: Dirty On Purpose – “No Radio”
Video: Dirty On Purpose – “Audience In The Room”
Video: Dirty On Purpose – “Car No Driver”
MySpace: The Wedding Present
MySpace: Dirty On Purpose

JAM has an interview with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, conducted last month in happier times when all his ribs were still intact. Dig Out Your Soul is out tomorrow.

Filter talks to Jason Pierce of Spiritualized.

Metro asks British Sea Power five questions.

The Quietus and Drowned In Sound discuss Snowflake Midnight with Mercury Rev. The companion album Strange Attractor is also now available for free download by signing up to their mailing list from their website. The Rev are at the Opera House on December 9 with Dean & Britta.

Billboard examines the success of My Bloody Valentine’s just-completed North American tour. And now, with no more live dates on the horizon, it’s time to get back in the studio.

Wired discusses the influence of the shoegazing movement on a young Oliver Ackerman, who would go on to form A Place To Bury Strangers. Tuscon Weekly also has a feature.

The Black Cab Sessions welcome Joey Burns of Calexico while Prefix has an interview.. They’re at the Phoenix on November 18, though probably arriving by bus rather than cab.

Chart talks pottery with Matthew Sweet. Exclaim asks him about his music.