Posts Tagged ‘Mission Of Burma’

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day One

Aerials Up, Old World Vulture, Squarehead and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangBack to back festivals! What a great idea. Just prior to heading out to engage with Canadian Musicfest’s 2012 edition, I took a look back at years past and noticed a couple trends – one, that I usually complain about the lineup (check!) and that as a result of not wanting to see the same old same old, I try to branch out and see new and unknown acts, usually from foreign climes, with little background and no guarantee of quality… with consistently mixed results. Would the class of ’12 fare any better? Let’s find out.

Toronto/St. Catharine’s quartet Old World Vulture didn’t really fit into the “unknown to me” category as I’ve been writing them up and recommending them since 2009 but this would actually be the first time I’d ever gotten around to seeing them live, so in that sense it was new. They were playing the upstairs of The El Mocambo, where I don’t think I’d set foot in nearly a decade – since the Blow-Up Britpop nights moved to other venues – and having undergone some renovations since then, it felt both unfamiliar and nostalgic. Not that that was either here nor there – Old World Vulture’s loud and heavy sound was about as far removed from The Wannadies as you were going to get and they were going to keep my attention firmly in the present. In a sense, it’s good that the post-rock genre is rather formulaic as it forces purveyors of it to find a unique angle; Old World Vulture set them apart with their synth leads, which were most interesting when evoking a ’70s sci-fi film vibe. Elsewhere, they were more reminiscent of mid-era Mogwai with less reliance on the loud-quiet thing and more on maintaining a steady, lumbering menace. I was glad to finally be able to tick “see Old World Vulture” off my to-do list.

Photos: Old World Vulture @ The El Mocambo – March 22, 2012
MP3: Old World Vulture – “J.R. Flood”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Trophy Lovers”
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Bastard Engine”

It’s no short hop from the El Mo to The Drake, but I made pretty good time in hoofing it from A to B in order to catch Scottish collective Aerials Up make their Toronto debut. Looking at the band – a co-ed collective of happy young people brandishing an assortment of rock and orchestral instruments, you might think you know exactly what to expect: big, exuberant pop with multi-part harmonies and swells of strings bouncing off crunchy electric guitar… and you’d be about right. But even though they don’t add anything new to the style, they don’t make it feel any more played out thanks to their enthusiasm, charm, and likeable tunes. The turnout was decent enough for the gig though it was a bit hard to say how many were genuinely paying attention – even when exhorted by the band to stand up, some wouldn’t give up their seats. The Daily Record reports on some of the fundraising efforts the band undertook to afford to come over to Canada.

Photos: Aerials Up @ The Drake Underground – March 22, 2012
Video: Aerials Up – “I Am”
Video: Aerials Up – “Superglue”

It was then a streetcar ride down Queen to get to The Rivoli where the Irish showcase had been chugging along all night. I arrived in time to see Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake get started, I thought their moody, ambient approach promising – vocalist Daniel McAuley certainly had a falsetto that you could build impressive things around. But within a few numbers it became clear that their songs were not going to coalesce into more coherent songs, and instead would remain sketches more interested in allowing the vocals to roam than offer a memorable listening experience, the extended breaks between songs fiddling with the laptop not helping matters either. A few pieces did possess enough structure to offer optimism about the future and there’s no question they’re in possession of some impressive instruments to work with, but they really need some melodies.

Photos: Cloud Castle Lake @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
Stream: Cloud Castle Lake – “A Wolf Howling”

On the other hand, Dublin’s Squarehead were pretty much as advertised: a scrappy power pop trio with garage-y and punkish tendencies It did take a few songs for the expected raucousness to kick in – they seemed to need a little time to warm up – but their acceleration was steady and by the end of their set, they were getting pretty punchy up there. A fun and tuneful set that made up somewhat for the fact that I didn’t get home till 2:30AM and all the SXSW recovery that I’d been stockpiling through the week was basically all squandered.

Photos: Squarehead @ The Rivoli – March 22, 2012
MP3: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Video: Squarehead – “Midnight Enchilada”
Stream: Squarehead / Yeah Nothing

Nada Surf will warm up for their show at The Opera House that evening with an in-store at Sonic Boom on April 4 at 6PM. The Seattle Times has a chat with frontman Matthew Caws.

MP3: Nada Surf – “When I Was Young”

Nebulously-named buzz band the praise for their new record Open Your Heart into town for two shows – June 14 at The Garrison and June 15 at Wrongbar. And if you intuit from the timing and frequency that this’ll be for NXNE, you get a cookie.

MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: The Men – “Open Your Heart”

Pitchfork reports that Mission Of Burma will release a new album entitled Unsound on July 9; the first single is available to stream now.

Stream: Mission Of Burma – “Dust Devil”

If you didn’t download that mixtape they offered last week or just want to hear the one new song, Titus Andronicus’ contribution to a split 7″ with Diarrhea Planet is now available to stream.

Stream: Titus Andronicus – “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus”

Retribution Gospel Choir have release a video from their new EP The Revolution/.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “The Stone (Revolution)”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of a Bowerbirds show in New York last week and Gapers Block an interview.

Prefix interviews M. Ward.

Paper talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent/. She has a couple of collector-interest releases coming up – a 7″ with two new tracks for Record Store Day on April 21 and a deluxe edition of Strange Mercy called – wait for it – Stranger Mercy that comes with a DVD of her 4AD Sessions and attendant promo videos on May 8.

Magnet and The AV Club talk to James Mercer of The Shins, who will be paying a visit at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

The National Post and Chart talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. Their show at The Phoenix now in the books, their next visit will come April 27 and 28 at The Air Canada Centre opening up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

January Hymn

The Decemberists and Wye Oak at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s a testament to the devotion of Decemberists fans that even the threat/promise of the Winter storm of the season/year/decade/century couldn’t deter them from making the trek down to the waterfront to see the Portlanders bring their recently-anointed number-one record in America The King Is Dead to town. I do, however, assume that most checked forecasts and confirmed that the storm wasn’t supposed to reach the 416 until around midnight, which is about when the band were estimated to be done. Or at least I did. I like me some Decemberists but I like me not driving into a frozen Lake Ontario due to whiteout conditions more.

At any rate, a nearly full house made it out for the show and luckily, so did the bands as they were coming from the opposite direction of the storm, though they’d already pre-emptively cancelled the following night’s performance in Royal Oak, Michigan and had accepted being snowed in in Toronto for at least a day. These should have been familiar environs for Baltimoreans Wye Oak, seeing as how this was their third visit here in the past 10 months. This time was intended as a preview for their forthcoming third record Civilian, due out March 8, and judging from the applause that net the duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner when they strode out onto the stage, it was evident that their regular visits had been successful at building a fanbase. And making good records has probably also helped. Another benefit of the steady touring is that they’ve become a much more confident live act. Certainly the amount of showmanship they can indulge in is limited by their configuration, but Wasner’s vocals were deeper and more dramatic than I recall – perhaps some lessons learned while touring with Shearwater – and when she stepped out for one of her many guitar solos, they were delivered more theatrically. And while Stack remained anchored behind the kit handling percussion and keyboard duties, the rhythms and tones he was pulling off simultaneously were nimbler and more complex. They managed to incorporate both new material and old into their set, which was cut extra short – about 20 minutes total – when Wasner’s new guitar amp gave up the ghost. Unfortunate, but still impressive and they promised they’d be back in April so they can make it up to us then.

The last time The Decemberists came to town, it was on the back of their folk-rock opera opus The Hazards Of Love and the live production was appropriately grandiose. But just as The King Is Dead represented a stylistic retreat to their folk-rock roots, their latest tour was a back-to-basics sort of affair. Not in a casual coffee house sense – Colin Meloy’s checkered shirt and Chris Funk’s jaunty cap were as much costume as anything they’d have worn on past tours – but without the need to adhere to a particular theme or narrative, they were freed up to, for the most part, showcase their best material from throughout their career.

That the evening would be a romp through their repertoire became clear from the very first song, when instead of spotlighting their latest effort, they opened with “Song For Myra Goldberg” from their second record Her Majesty. And while King would be well-represented over the course of the evening, making up nearly half the set, the liberal amount of back catalog favourites that comprised the other half naturally got the strongest response. One curious choice, however, was “Won’t Want For Love” from Hazards in which the lead vocals were handed over to touring Decemberist Sara Watkins (late of Nickel Creek). Not the strongest offering from the Hazards libretto to begin with, it was even odder out of the context of the record and Watkins’ voice, as clear and strong as it is, lacked the distinct character of Becky Stark on the original – all of which is to say it stood out from the rest of the set and not for the right reasons. Otherwise, selections like “The Crane Wife 3” and “The Sporting Life” were executed with aplomb, and the new songs sounded excellent alongside them.

One interesting facet of the evening was Colin Meloy’s punchy mood; usually his demeanour is akin to a charming carnival ringleader, so seeing him take some uncharacteristically acerbic jabs at some of the louder members of the audience at the start of the show was rather odd. His rough edges did smooth out as the set went on, though, and by the time they rolled into main set closer “16 Military Wives” with its audience participatory singalongs, he seemed to be his playful old self again. As such, the encore double-shot of “The Chimbley Sweep” and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” played like a greatest hits of Decemberists live antics. On the former, Meloy commandeered an audience camera to take a series of impromptu band portraits and then swapping places with drummer Jon Moen to allow him to… sing? Freestyle? Rant? I’m not sure, but it was pretty funny. And on the latter, they revisited the Chris Funk-directed whale devouring simulation I remember from their visit to the Phoenix way back in 2005. But hey, the classics never go out of style, right? And though by this point many had already headed home, there were enough who hung around to invite one more encore, King‘s lovely “June Hymn”. And with that, it was time to say goodnight and head out into the just-arrived storm front.

BlogTO also has a review of the show and City Pages talks to bassist Nate Query. The Decemberists also premiered a new song during a visit to kids’ television show Yo Gabba GabbaRolling Stone has the clip.

Photos: The Decemberists, Wye Oak @ The Sound Academy – February 1, 2011
MP3: The Decemberists – “Down By The Water”
MP3: The Decemberists – “The Engine Driver”
MP3: The Decemberists – “The Soldiering Life”
MP3: The Decemberists – “Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Take It In”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
Video: The Decemberists – “O Valencia”
Video: The Decemberists – “16 Military Wives”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Tain”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Soldiering Life”
Video: The Decemberists – “Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect”
Video: The Decemberists – “The Bachelor & The Bride”

R.E.M. has premiered a video from their new record Collapse Into Now over at Pitchfork. The record is out March 8.

Video: R.E.M. – “Mine Smells Like Honey”

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Mission Of Burma’s show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey last weekend.

Under The Radar interviews Sufjan Stevens.

Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold discusses their just-announced new record Helplessness Blues, due out May 3, with Rolling Stone.

Jayhawks record from Gary Louris, though nothing more concrete in the way of release date than the first half of this year.

The Wall Street Journal talks to Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Paste catches up with Nicole Atkins, whose new record Mondo Amore comes out next week and who will play The Horseshoe on February 26.

Death & Taxes gets some insight into the low end on Telekinesis’ new record 12 Desperate Straight Lines, out February 15. They’re at The Horseshoe on March 6.

DeVotchKa have released a video for the almost-title track from their forthcoming 100 Lovers. It’s out March 1 and they’re at The Mod Club on March 30.

Video: DeVotchKa – “100 Other Lovers”

Old 97’s play a World Cafe session for NPR; they’re at The Horseshoe on April 6.

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

CONTEST – Mission Of Burma @ The Garrison – October 24, 2010

Photo By Diane BergamascoDiane BergamascoWho: Mission Of Burma
What: Boston post-punk indie-rock legends whose reunion has lasted longer than their initial tenure and, unbelievably, been just as good
Why: They didn’t tour up here for last year’s The Sound, The Speed, The Light but will be here for the X Avant new music festival presented by The Music Gallery. And they didn’t even make it to Vegas for Matador at 21 so this is some kind of occasion
When: Sunday, October 24 at 10PM
Where: The Garrison in Toronto (19+)
Who else: METZ and Hybrid Moments will set things up before MOB knocks them all down
How: Tickets are $17 in advance or free with festival pass, but courtesy of X Avant I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Mission Of Burma” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 20.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3 Partyy”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “2wice”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Dirt”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Max Ernst”

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

All's Well That Ends

Los Campesinos! release EP, return to North America, won’t stay down

Photo By Jon BergmanJon BergmanNot much stops Los Campesinos!. The Welsh troupe shook off the departure of two founding members – keyboardist Aleksandra last Summer and drummer Ollie almost exactly a year later – and have ploughed ahead, continuing to release new music at a ridiculous pace, including their third album Romance Is Boring earlier this year and just this week, following up with a new EP entitled All’s Well That Ends. And just last week, frontman Gareth took a header whilst stage-diving and despite suffering “a sprained wrist, ripped ear, mild concussion and a ‘lump on the head'”, finished the song and the gig.

One thing that they couldn’t plough through, however, was a volcano – namely Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull. Said geological entity’s disquiet this past Spring forced the band to scotch a number of North American dates as they sat in a Heathrow departure lounge instead of pogoing around east coast stages, but they’re aiming to make some of those up and more. They just announced a Fall tour which kicks off in one of the cities who lost a show – Toronto – but instead of the spacious Phoenix, where they were slated to play in April, they’ll instead be at the decidedly clubbier Wrongbar on October 8. Considering the new joint is less than half the size of the old joint, expect the $20 tickets to be gone fast when they go on sale at 10AM on Friday.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “There Are Listed Buildings”
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future”

Paste reports that Noah & The Whale have targeted a March 2011 release for their third album.

Mojo talks to Johnny Marr about his soundtrack work.

Spinner talks to Glen Hansard of The Swell Season about their upcoming projects, which include a Frames reunion and tour for him and a solo record from Marketa Irglova.

Spin talks to Klara S&omul;derberg of First Aid Kit, who will be in town at the El Mocambo on October 15.

Boston post-punk legends Mission Of Burma have booked a date at The Garrison on October 22. So far it looks like a one-off and not part of a tour, but considering they didn’t come up here for last year’s The Sound The Speed The Light and are making it up to us. Either way, if my records are correct, they haven’t been here since Fall of 2006 and while the reunion has been ongoing for some time, do not take them for granted and if you haven’t seen them, do so. End PSA.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3 Partyy”
MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Max Ernst”

Exclaim reports that Matt & Kim have given their next record a name and release date. Expect to hear a lot of Sidewalks when they play the Phoenix on October 29, as it will be in stores the following Tuesday, November 2.

Daytrotter has a session with The Depreciation Guild; they’re at the El Mocambo on October 4.

NPR is streaming a studio session with Stars. They will be at Massey Hall on October 23.

Friday, October 16th, 2009

1, 2, 3, Partyy!

Mission Of Burma keep the party going

Photo By Kelly DavidsonKelly DavidsonWhile another hugely influential ’80s Boston-bred band that many thought would never return to active duty may get more attention, Mission Of Burma have been much more productive in their second tour of duty, managing to tend to their legacy with proper reissues of Vs and Signals, Calls & Marches while adding to it with three impeccable albums in the past five years, the latest being The Sound, The Speed, The Light, released last week.

Like their other 21st-century releases ONoffON and The Obliterati, Sound is a collection of bludgeoning post-punk, all strangled vocals and razor-sharp guitar riffs on top of tunes that are just melodic enough to keep the pop-attuned such as myself interested, but angular enough to keep the listener off-balance and a bit uncomfortable. It’s really remarkable that after all this time, Mission Of Burma are still crafting records that can not only stand tall alongside those 25-year old classics but still sound utterly fresh and unlike anything else out there.

Blurt has an interview with basssit Clint Conley and Matablog notes that the city of Boston officially declared last Sunday “Mission Of Burma Day”. There was a proclamation and everything.

And because sometimes people forget they send me stuff and send it again, courtesy of Matador, I have an extra copy of The Sound, The Speed, The Light on CD to give away. If you want it, email me at contests AT with “I want Mission Of Burma” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body. Contest is open to anyone, anywhere, and closes in a week at midnight, October 23.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”
Video: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with White Rabbits, who have a date at the Horseshoe next Saturday night, October 24.

Spinner and The Santa Barbara Independent chat with Thao about her new record Know Better Learn Faster, from which a new video has just been premiered at Stereogum. Thao is currently on tour in support of the record and will be at the El Mocambo in Toronto on November 1. If you’re at any of the tour dates, and you should be, you’ll likely see a table from Oxfam there – Thao explains why.

Video: Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”

Paste gets to know Volcano Choir, whose principal Justin Vernon just put his last project Bon Iver on hiatus. But you can stream or download their last show for the foreseeable future at Radio Milwaukee.

NPR is streaming a session with Wye Oak.

The Georgia Straight and talk to A Place To Bury Strangers’ Oliver Ackerman. Their new album Exploding Head is out now and they’re at the Mod Club on October 27.

BlogTO, The AV Club, Vue and Uptown have interviews with Amy Millan.

NOW has a feature piece on Two Hours Traffic, who play an in-store at Soundscapes tonight at 5PM in advance of their proper show at Lee’s Palace. has debuted the new video from The Dears, but settle in – it’s a long one.

Video: The Dears – “Saviour (Then Disclaimer)”

They Shoot Music has posted a video session with Pink Mountaintops.

Holy Fuck have been added as support for Phoenix at the Sound Academy on December 5. Is that enough to persuade y’all to go down to the Sound Academy? Didn’t think so.

Paste‘s list of the 15 best TV shows canceled before their time basically reads like a litany of my favourite shows of the past decade or so. It’s official, I am the television kiss of death. Look out, Bored To Death – you’re on notice.