Posts Tagged ‘Mew’

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Show Me Something New

Shout Out Louds get back to Work

Photo via MergeMergeLast week, I was complaining that with the US holiday season, there wasn’t nearly enough blog fodder trickling out of the interwebs. This week, it’s like a deluge.

We begin wading through it all in Scandinavia, particularly Stockholm, Sweden, home of the Shout Out Louds. The quintet turned in one of the indie-pop highlights of 2007 with Our Ill Wills and are set to follow it up with the release of Work. For this outing, they’ve opted to not work with Bjorn Yttling, who manned the boards for Our Ill Wills and have instead enlisted producer Phil Ek, best known for his work with The Shins and Built To Spill, amongst many others. And if the band’s idea of adding an American accent to things means going for a drier, less shiny sonic approach without giving up any of the hooks, then judging from the just-released first MP3 and video they’ve succeeded.

Work is out on February 23 of next year and they promise to spend most of the year touring to support. They posted up a short video clip of the recording sessions back in September.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”

PopMatters interviews Anna Ternheim, who will be supporting El Perro Del Mar on her Winter 2010 tour including the February 21 date at the Mod Club. After her too-short set opening for Loney Dear at the Horseshoe in October, I had hoped she’d be back soon for a longer performance – wish granted.

MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”

Serena Maneesh are offering a taste of their new record, still untitled and due out in March 2010, by way of a Norwegian television session.

Clash gets a guided tour of Reykjavik from Mum.

DCist interviews Jonas Bjerre of Mew, who will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Chart talks to The Raveonettes.

The National Post profiles Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns, who are playing an in-store at 7PM at Soundscapes tonight and a full show at the Tranzac on Friday night.

Resonancity interviews Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula.

One of the great mythical unicorn-griffin-dragon hybrids of the indie rock world, the solo debut from Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, should become a reality on March 9 under the title of The Desert Of Shallow Effects… unless it doesn’t. Details at AntiMusic.

There’s still no North American release date set for Sigh No More, the debut album from Mumford & Sons, but considering they’re cobbling together a North American tour for February, including a February 15 date at the El Mocambo (tickets $12), mid-February seems like a reasonable guess.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”

Johnny Flynn, with whom Mumford & Sons made their Toronto debut last October, has put out a new EP entitled Sweet William, from which you can download a track, courtesy of Drowned In Sound.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Drum”

The third member of that bill, Laura Marling, is still targeting a Winter 2010 release for her sophomore effort and will release the first single from album number two in “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” as a Christmas single on December 14.

Magnet and Filter Q&A Ray Davies.

Daytrotter has offered up a session with The Swell Season.

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Good Morning Midnight

Review of Fanfarlo’s Reservoir

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceWhat’s this, a review in almost-December of a record I’ve been talking about since March? Yes folks, welcome to the year-end doldrums where laziness/burnout combines with slow music releases/news for a perfect storm of stagger-to-the-finish-line posts. Hey, at least it’s not a list. Anyways, while I’ve talked about Fanfarlo at length throughout the year, a proper review of Reservoir hasn’t been amongst them. And that’s not right, because as will quite possibly/probably become clear when I do fall back on list-making, it’s been one of my favourite records of this year. Oooh, spoilers!

Reservoir is a record that simultaneously aims sky-high while feeling completely at ease and effortless. To the former point, the most obvious touchstones for the British outfit fronted by Swede ex-pat Simon Balthazar are Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel with perhaps some Beirut and Belle & Sebastian thrown in for good measure, so even if you’re just trying to be objecticvely descriptive of their sound – a grand and sweeping orchestral pop that’s equal parts wistful and whimsical – you’ve set some unimaginably lofty expectations.

And that’s where the second point comes into play; for all of its widescreen presentation, Reservoir has a distinctly comfortable if not intimate feel that sets it apart from Arcade Fire’s angst or Neutral Milk’s fantasticism. Balthazar’s voice has a warm, inviting timbre that’s perfectly suited to delivering his looping melodies and the band’s deft multi-instrumentalism buoy the compositions with brass, woodwinds, strings, saw and all manner of wonderful noisemaking toys. Fanfarlo write joyous, swelling anthems, but it’s a joy that seems derived from enjoying the simple things in life, like making music, rather than any grand statements about the state of the world. For all their sonic bigness, it’s on that personal level that Fanfarlo really connects.

Reservoir was originally self-released in February of this year, and since then has gone through any number of editions and iterations both in the UK and North America, from simple home-pressed CD through ornately packaged deluxe editions to super-discounted digital editions. It’s official North American release came via Atlantic Records in October and it’s on that major label push that they’re in the midst of an extensive North American tour. They stop in Toronto at the El Mocambo on December 15 and having seen them back in March at SxSW, I can testify that their live show actually eclipses the album for sheer wonderfulness. I imagine this’ll be the last semi-major tour to come through town for 2009 and can’t think of a better way to finish the year off.

Soundcheck has an interview with the band and there’s a wealth of self-recorded live performances to watch in the video section of their website.

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “I’m A Pilot”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”
Video: Fanfarlo – “The Walls Are Coming Down”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Fire Escape”
MySpace: Fanfarlo

Drowned In Sound reports that Mew will release a live album on December 7 entitled Live At The Hollywood Palladium and recorded, curiously enough, at the Palladium in Hollywood, California back in September. They play the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.

Three Imaginary Girls and AUX.TV interview The Raveonettes.

Mum have recorded a Takeaway Show on a Paris bus and in a Paris park.

Rumoured for a while, the feature documentary on Blur, covering the years from the band’s origins through their 2009 reunion, is now a reality. No Distance Left To Run will make its theatrical debut on January 19, 2009; the trailer was just unveiled.

Trailer: No Distance Left To Run

Elly Jackson of La Roux talks to BBC about getting to work on album number two.

PopMatters investigates the topic of independent artists allowing their work to be used in ads, talking to The Dears, Bishop Allen, The Dodos and Petra Haden about their experiences on the matter.

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.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I Was Only Going Out

Loney Dear, Asobi Seksu and Anna Ternheim at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs is becoming something of a tradition for me, I once again spent Thanksgiving this year at a show rather than with family (we got together earlier in the weekend so stop judging me), though it was with a sort of extended family – labelmates in Loney Dear and Asobi Seksu (both on Polyvinyl) and country(wo)men in Loney Dear and Anna Ternheim (all Swedes). Yeah, that’s sort of a stretch but whatever.

There’d been some vagueness about the precise order of the sets – the infamous co-headline situation again – but it was certain that Ternheim would be first up. I’d listened to a few of her records including her latest, Leaving On A Mayday, and her songs, filled with that distinctly Swedish sort of melancholy, were of the sort that could easily go from small and folkish to big and orchestral and still sound right. So I was curious to see which direction she’d take them in a live setting and the answer, of course, was both. She started her set in solo acoustic fashion, showcasing her stark yet evocative voice to the dead silent room (it wasn’t especially full, no, but still) and then brought out a keyboardist for the second song to accompany her while she set the guitar down. She was then joined by Loney Dear’s band for the remainder of her performance and as striking as she was on her own, the bigger sound definitely won the day. The extra players gave her a rhythmic backbone and more importantly, a sweeping, dramatic dynamicism that honestly didn’t come across on record. Her set was woefully short due to being held-up at the border and generally getting lost, but if you consider the purpose of opening sets as to surprise and tantalize for more, then it was mission accomplished.

The question of whether Asobi Seksu would close the show or not was an ongoing one since it was announced, at least between me and myself. On one hand, they probably had the larger fanbase than Loney Dear and in terms of pacing, their deafening strobe-powered attack would be more logically suited to sending people home in a daze. On the other, this was their third show in Toronto in just over seven months so that fanbase’s attendance might not be such a given, particularly on a holiday, and considering their next record Rewolf was an acoustic affair and one that they’d already performed live, perhaps they would be keeping things more low-key? As it turned out they were indeed on second and no, they weren’t intending to turn down. As such, their set was much like the one at the El Mocambo back in March, mixing up the older, poppier songs with the Hush material, which still hasn’t really won me over. So familiar, yes, but still entertaining and actually a welcome jolt of energy for the night.

I think I was too harsh on Dear John when I wrote it up way back in January. Yes, it doesn’t stray far, either sonically or songwriterly (that’s a word now), from Emil Svanangen’s previous works under the Loney Dear marque, but I’m seeing now that’s because he’s fixated on capturing one specific mood or theme in music and much of what he creates are attempts to perfect it. Thankfully, his elusive goal is the moment where angst turns into elation and the sense of uplift that results and he expresses it with orchestral pop music. Of course. This was Loney Dear’s first stop in Toronto in a couple of years and a make-up for a failed attempt to visit back in May when their van broke down en route. And while that show at Lee’s in June 2007 was hardly a sell-out, those who were in attendance remember it fondly.

And those who were at the Horseshoe on this holiday Monday would likewise take away some warm memories of another wonderful show. Re-reading my review of the Lee’s show, I find myself at risk of repeating myself, but it bears repeating – Svanangen’s live band really took his songs to another level, deftly adding more bits of musical flourish and detail than four people with just two hands each really had any business doing in real time. And as such, they managed to recreate the richness of his compositions while still recasting and reconfiguring them enough to feel quite new. Particularly essential was backing vocalist Malin Stahlberg, who in addition to handling keys, guitar and percussion, sang most of Svanangen’s falsetto parts with more strength and bearing, and amazingly handled all of the tongue-twisting bridge of “I Am John” while Svanangen took the easy, “nah nah nahs”.

But as great as the band is, it’s still all about Svanangen. His permanently forlorn countenance is simultaneously at odds with yet perfectly suited for the sounds and songs he sings. Drawing material from across all his albums, the live setting proved a great equalizer for the production aesthetic of the recorded versions – the sparer arrangements of Sologne felt more fleshed out and Dear John‘s mechanical aftertaste was made more organic, settling in that sweet spot that was Loney, Noir. The performance was splendid from the get-go but the undoubted highlight was when Svanangen stepped out to the front of the stage, unamplified, and sang (I think) “In With The Arms” to the house. Now he doesn’t have the most powerful voice, so it’s perhaps a good thing that the crowd was modestly sized and thus easier to silence, but doing that, and backed with Stahlberg’s harmonies, was simply perfection. In all, they played nearly 90 minutes including two encores though at no point in between did Svanangen leave the stage – no point going through the formality, we were going to keep them playing for as long as possible. And thought it finally did end, obviously, all three of Loney Dear’s last records have been a steady soundtrack for the days since the show. It makes my angst into elation and that’s just what I need right now.

Bradley’s Almanac is sharing MP3s of a show in Allston, Massachusetts from the tour in May of this year. The Justice and The AV Club have interviews with Anna Ternheim.

Photos: Loney Dear, Asobi Seksu, Anna Ternheim @ The Horseshoe – October 12, 2009
MP3: Loney Dear – “Ignorant Boy Beautiful Girl”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “A Few Good Men”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Suzanne”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Familiar Light”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “New Years”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Sooner”
MP3: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
MP3: Anna Ternheim – “What Have I Done”
MP3: Anna Ternheim – “To Be Gone”
Video: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
Video: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Video: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
Video: Loney, Dear – “Saturday Waits”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Transparence”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Thursday”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Goodbye”
Video: Asobi Seksu – “Walk On The Moon”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Today Is A Good Day”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Summer Rain”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Girl Laying Down”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “Shoreline”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “To Be Gone”
Video: Anna Ternheim – “I’ll Follow You Tonight”
MySpace: Loney Dear
MySpace: Asobi Seksu
MySpace: Anna Ternheim

Headlights, who were left playing on their own at the Rivoli in May when Loney Dear’s van broke down, have released a new video from new album Wilderness.

Video: Headlights – “Get Going”

The Swell Season’s new record Strict Joy is streaming at NPR in advance of its October 27 release date. They play Massey Hall on November 3. The Khaleej Times has an interview.

Stream: The Swell Season / Strict Joy

Singing Lamb talks to An Horse, who’ve just released a Daytrotter session and are playing at the Sound Academy tonight in support of Silversun Pickups.

The National Post talks to Wilco’s John Sitrratt while The AV Club gets Jeff Tweedy to respond to some of the random stuff written about him on the internet. They play the second of their two nights at Massey Hall tonight.

Singing Lamb and Metromix interview Grand Archives, who have released a new video from Keep In Mind Frankenstein. They’re at the Mod Club tonight.

Video: Grand Archives – “Oslo Novelist”

The Quietus talks to Bob Nastanovich about the upcoming Pavement reunion and confirms it’s a one-off with no new material. It gets started in Aukland, New Zealand in March of next year.

Paste chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. And note that copies of The Life Of The World To Come via ThinkIndie will come with a digital 13-track album of demos for the record.

The Pitch has an interview with Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock. It’s weird that the drummer is officially not Steve Drozd, considering he’s an amazing drummer. But whatever.

Stereogum gets a progress report on the new Caribou record.

Mew have set a date for the Mod Club on December 6.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Worry 'Til Spring

An Introduction to Sprengjuhollin

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceIf it were possible to monetize pure musical oddity, then not only would Iceland’s economic problems be a thing of the past, they might well be the world’s top fiscal superpower. Yes, the likes of Bjork and Sigur Ros would guarantee a GDP many times greater than the rest of the planet, but the tiny country’s smaller exports would also help push things forward – case in point, Sprengjuhollin (it’s pronounced the way it’s spelled. Go on, try).

The Reykjavík quintet don’t wave their freak flag nearly as high as their more famous countrymen, preferring to draw inspiration from their no-doubt substantial collection of Mod-era LPs rather than by communing with snow fairies out on the fjords, but assuming them to be straight pop purveyors, as their English-language singles might imply, would be unwise. Because while tracks like the orchestral folk-pop of “Worry Till Spring” might act as an easily accessible point of entry for their second self-titled album, once inside it’s a much stranger place. The majority of songs are in Icelandic and are given to more warped trajectories, at times recalling Dungen in their psychedelic inclinations, but always remaining concise and more importantly, hooky. You don’t need to speak the language to hum along.

Sprengjuhollin were around back in the Winter for Canadian Musicfest and both won folks over and were won over themselves – they’re returning for an eastern Canadian tour that will start and end in the Maritimes but swing through Ontario next week for a couple of Toronto dates – one on October 24 at the Rivoli and another on October 25 at Rancho Relaxo. The band were also an eMusic Selects pick last Summer – check out the feature piece for an interview with the band and a guided tour of the last record.

MP3: Sprengjuhollin – “Worry ‘Til Spring”
MP3: Sprengjuhollin – “Tonight”

Peter Bjorn & John have released a video for the title track of their latest Living Thing, which they’ll (again) bring to the Phoenix on November 11.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Living Thing”

The National Post has an interview with Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, whose new album In And Out Of Control is shockingly good. By shockingly, I mean they no longer sound like a band that I always feel like I should like more than I do, and like a band that I could actually really like. They’re at the Phoenix on October 22.

MP3: The Raveonettes – “Last Dance”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Last Dance”

Spinner is featuring an Interface session with Mew. Babelgum is also presenting a 30-minute feature on the band recorded at a special gig at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Donewaiting has an interview with Wye Oak.

The deluxe edition of School Of Seven Bells’ 2008 debut Alpinisms is out today and available to stream – second disc of remixes and bonus tracks included – at Spinner. They also recently announced they’ve given their second album, due out next year, a title – Disconnect From Desire – expect to hear some of those new songs on Thursday night when they play Lee’s Palace.

Stream: School Of Seven Bells / Alpinisms

Anika In London discusses matters of cosmic import, such as take-out food, with The Antlers.

Clash talks to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. Embryonic is out today

The Decemberists have released a first video from this year’s The Hazards Of Love.

Video: The Decemberists – “The Rake’s Song”

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats gives eMusic a list of his favourite religiously-themed records and offers a more conventional interview to Tiny Mix Tapes.

Over at Asthmatic Kitty, Sufjan Stevens interviews current tourmate and bandmate Nedelle Torisi of Cryptacize. They’re at the El Mocambo on November 7.

Ume – the toast of both SxSW and NXNE if I’m to be believed – are embarking on another northeast/Canadian tour and will be at the Horseshoe on November 3 for a free show. The occasion is the Canadian release of their Sunshower EP on October 27.

MP3: Ume – “Pendulum”
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”

The Dodos talk to Spinner, Chartattack, New York Press, The Brooklyn Paper, The AV Club and The Diamondback. They’re at Lee’s Palace on Friday Saturday night.

I Heart Music has ripped a CBC session from Woodpigeon for you to keep for your very own. Their new album Die Stadt Muzikanten is out January 12.

The first part of the Wooden Sky tour documentary A Documentary In Pieces is now online for your viewing pleasure. They have a date at Lee’s Palace on November 13

In addition to their November 7 show at the North York Central Library, Bruce Peninsula have set two dates at the Music Gallery for November 27 and 28.