Posts Tagged ‘Modern Superstitions’

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Off Ramp Up Ahead

This Record Store Day, buy some records and see a bunch of bands for free

Photo via sistermusic.casistermusic.caNext Saturday, April 16, is Record Store Day and no matter what your feelings on the event itself and its attempts to convince you that you really need those songs you already have on a coloured 7″, you can’t argue with some of the perks. Specifically, the fact that many of the local retail establishments around town like to entice you into their stores with the promise of free live music.

So far, Sonic Boom has the biggest lineup, running from day through night and pretty impressive. There’s no one quite the stature of Sloan, as they had last year, but there’s both Canadian indie rock veterans with pedigree and rookies with promise on offer this year. Things will shake down as follows:

1PM – Modern Superstitions
2PM – Teenanger
3PM – Bidniband (ex-Rheostatic Dave Bidni)
4PM – Light Fires (Gentleman Reg and Ohbijou’s James Bunton)
5PM – Ben Gunning (former Local Rabbit)
6PM – Sister (two-thirds of Scott Pilgrim-inspiring Plumtree)
8PM – Zeus
9PM – The Wooden Sky

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding In The Night For Us”
MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
MP3: Sister – “Orion”
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Further downtown at Criminal Records, you’ve got a 7PM acoustic set from The Grey Kingdom, aka the solo project from Attack In Black’s Spencer Burton. They’ll also be the only ones with the vinyl edition of his debut album Eulogy Of Her And Her And Her, so if that’s your bag then that’s the place to be. And even if it’s not, the rather exhaustive list of RSD exclusives that they’ve ordered – and usually get at least some if not a lot of – should be enough to entice you.

If memory serves, both Kops and Sunrise had bands in last year – no word yet if they’ll do so again this year, but I’ll update if they do.

And not associated with Record Store Day but definitely worth your time and costing you exactly zero dollars will be The Sadies at The Toronto Reference Library as part of their Make Some Noise series – there’s no advance tickets, so show up before doors at 7:30PM on April 16 – the show starts at 8 – and enjoy. The Toronto Public Library has a chat with drummer Mike Belitsky.

MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”

Ron Sexsmith will play an acoustic in-store set at Sonic Boom on April 21 at 6PM in advance of his sold-out show at Lee’s Palace that evening.

Video: Ron Sexsmith – “Late Bloomer” (live)

This one’s half-free – Cults’ show at Lee’s Palace on the Friday night of NXNE will be standard ticket/wristband/badge admission, but they’ll also be on whatever bill gets put together for the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square the next day, June 18 – perfect if you’d rather, you know, go outside. Their self-titled debut will be out on June 7.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

Twin Shadow is also coming to town for NXNE – he and his band are at Lee’s on June 18 – but that one will cost you unless you’ve got a wristband or badge and feel like walking into the shows just by flashing it is close enough to free for you.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Castles In The Snow”

Back to the gratis but on a completely different scale is the opening event for this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival – which will feature the legendary (and that’s putting it mildly) Aretha Franklin at Metro Hall on June 24, showtime 8:30. Aretha. For free. PEOPLE.

Video: Aretha Franklin – “Respect” (live)

And on Canada Day, given that there doesn’t seem to be a Harbourfront Centre show for the first time in years, your best bet will be Shad – also at Metro Hall – starting at 5:30PM. Too early in the day for fireworks so we’ll have to settle for some freestyling.

MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”

And finally, one you’ll have to pay for but should be worth it: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have added a bunch of tour dates through the Summer in support of new album Belong and their itinerary brings them back to Toronto for the first time since September 2009 – they’ll be at The Opera House on August 2. Blurt has an interview with frontman Kip Berman.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”

The Head & The Heart have released a new MP# from their self-titled debut which should be on every one of your shopping lists for Record Store Day (when it’s released).

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Lost In My Mind”

Blurt is streaming the whole of The Submarines’ new record Love Notes/Letter Bombs. They play The Horseshoe April 22.

Stream: The Submarines / Love Notes/Letter Bombs

TV On The Radio is streaming the whole of their new record Nine Types Of Light at The Guardian. The album is out next Tuesday and they’re at The Sound Academy on April 18. Interview has an interview. Fancy that.

Stream: TV On The Radio / Nine Types Of Light

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Sleep Patterns

Canadian Musicfest 2011 suggestions that I won’t be taking

Photo By Samantha CardowSamantha CardowWith festivals come hard choices, and for this year’s edition of Canadian Musicfest, getting underway with a handful of events tonight and in earnest as of tomorrow, I am choosing to eschew the club-hopping-ness that typically comes with these sorts of fest and largely plant myself in one place for each evening. Hard choice or lazy choice? A little of both.

But just because I am staying put doesn’t mean that I recommend others do the same. So by way of festival preview, here’s a list of stuff that I almost certainly won’t be going to but that you should, or at least should investigate. As for what I am going to be seeing over the next few nights, well you can wait for the post-mortem for that.

Wednesday, March 9
Snowblink @ The Painted Lady, 10PM – their release party for the beauteous album Long Live this past weekend apparently a carnivalesque success, the Toronto duo have announced their festival showcase. If you missed the Music Gallery show, as I did, you should make this one, as I will not.
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”

Alcoholic Faith Mission @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – acoustically-inclined pop-rock comprised of Danes who met in Brooklyn will be all over Toronto this week, following this show with a midnight engagement at The Dakota Tavern on Friday night and an 8PM opening slot at The El Mocambo on Saturday night.
MP3: Alcoholic Faith Mission – “Running With Insanity”

Thursday, March 10
Modern Superstitions @ The Horseshoe, 8:30PM – this local quartet delivers scrappy garage rock with a healthy dose of hooks, attitude and not a little sex appeal. Only an EP to their name right now but more and better will come.
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Molly Rankin @ The Horseshoe, 9:20PM – caught a bit of this Nova Scotia native – yes, of those Rankins – during a BBQ at NXNE last year, and her rootsy power-pop made an impression, even over the sound of me eating a tasty burger. She has members of Two Hours Traffic in her band, presumably voluntarily.
MP3: Molly Rankin – “Bombshell”

Heartbeat Hotel @ The Silver Dollar, 10PM – rising locals continue to refine their heady brew of psychedelic pop, and hopefully their live show will be as good as their recorded works – maybe it’ll happen this evening!
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”

Memoryhouse @ The Great Hall, 10:45PM – hey, didja hear? The local dreampop duo has signed to Sub Pop. Not that you need the validation of some big American indie label to know that these guys are great and worth seeing. No, you’re smarter than that.
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”

The High Dials @ Hard Luck, 11PM – this venue is pretty new but I’m reasonably certain it’s not a drug front for the mob. The High Dials, on the other hand, have been around for ages and I am certain they’re still putting out some of the sharpest power-pop around.
MP3: The High Dials – “Chinese Boxes”

The Darcys @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – long one of the city’s most bursting-with-potential as well as sort-of snakebit bands, their new – and first? – second album is done and should finally deliver on their immense promise. Appreciate their ubiquitousness on local stages while you can.
MP3: The Darcys – “The House Built Around Your Voice”

Halves @ The Hideout, 12AM – these Dublliners were playing at Whelan’s Pub in Dublin the very same night I was there in 2008. I didn’t go upstairs to see them, drank a Guinness instead. TRUE STORY. They cultivate a gorgeous, post-rock with vocals vibe reminiscent of Early Day Miners and are also playing Friday at The Comfort Zone at 8PM.
Video: Halves – “Medals”

Austra @ Wrongbar, 1AM – the artist formerly known as Private Life formerly known as Stelmanis formerly known as Katie Stelmanis has finally settled on an identity and a sound – dark electro-pop – and is reaping the benefits and buzz from it. Her debut Feel It Break is out in May.
MP3: Austra – “The Beat & The Pulse”

The Butterfly Explosion @ The Hideout, 2AM – the Irish shoegazers have visited before and broken up and reformed in the interim, and have now drawn an unenviable insomniac/unemployed time slot. If you’re still out and about at that hour and looking for something to see, they won’t disappoint.
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”

Friday, March 11
Rebekah Higgs @ Supermarket, 9PM – Haligonian songwriter constantly trying to reconcile her folkish roots and electronic inclinations with tuneful results. Her Little Voice EP offers a taste of the new full-length coming soon.
MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Asleep All Winter”

Aidan Knight @ The Rivoli, 10PM – BC singer-songwriter whose debut album Versicolour is an understated gem, and whose live show is charmingly goofy. Also playing a day show out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 4:40PM on Saturday.
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Friendly Fires”

The Jezabels @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – Australian rock act here all the way from Australia. Dark, dramatic, crunchy and Australian. Did I mention they’re Australian?
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”

Monogrenade @ The El Mocambo, 10:30PM – we all took French in grade school and high school, so language shouldn’t be a barrier to appreciating these rangy Montrealers, who’ve got the acoustic/orchestral smoulder thing down pat. Yeah, that’s a thing.
Video: Monogrenade – “Ce Soir”

Imaginary Cities @ The Garrison, 11:30PM – if an act as legendary as Pixies saw fit to invite these Winnapeggers along for their North American tour and see/hear them every night, then surely they’re worth an hour of your time? They’re also playing on Thursday night at Lee’s Palace at 10:30PM.
MP3: Imaginary Cities – “Hummingbird”

Bombay Bicycle Club @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM – every year it seems there’s a token buzzy Brit band who makes a festival appearance – this year it’s Bombay Bicycle Club. But if you’re of the Anglophile persuasion, you’ve probably already decided to be at this show.
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Evening/Morning”

The Meligrove Band @ Sneaky Dee’s 1AM – local power-pop veterans will be showcasing songs from their latest album Shimmering Lights; always a spirited and rollicking good time.
MP3: The Meligrove Band – “Halflight”

Saturday, March 12
The Balconies @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – local faves have been holed away writing album number two all Winter – surely there’ll be some new songs in the set? And no you don’t have to stay for Electric Six.
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”

Neon Windbreaker @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – at first they weren’t a real band, then not a serious band, and now they’re a band with a work ethic that shames career bands that’s playing all over the place both here and at SxSW with a penchant for covering ’90s Canadian alt-rock standards. So you may as well.
MP3: Neon Windbreaker – “Furniture”

Nadia von Hahn @ The Library Bar 11:30PM – smooth and sassy retro-pop from the west coast with loungey and doo-wop accents. Also doing a Daytime Living Room session for The Toronto Institute For The Enjoyment Of Music out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 2PM that afternoon.
Video: Nadia von Hahn – “This Holy Night”

Writers’ Strike @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – scrappy and kinda snotty pop-punk from Halifax, not really offering anything new but doing what they do well and with vigor.
MP3: Writers’ Strike – “Bad Time”

The White Wires @ Wrongbar, 2AM – highly regarded new purveyors of old-school garage rock from Ottawa, they may well be worth dealing with Parkdale at 2AM on a Saturday night to see. Seriously.
MP3: White Wires – “Be True To Your School (Until You Get Kicked Out)”

Did you notice the fest is really front-loaded this year? Yeah, me too.

Of course, besides the showcases there’s plenty else going on that doesn’t necessarily require a badge or wristband or even a cover charge – Dorkshelf has rounded some of them up. There’s the three-day in-store mini-fest happening at Sonic Boom, which will feature sets from the likes of The Balconies, The Most Serene Republic, Bombay Bicycle Club, J Mascis, James Vincent McMorrow and Karkwa, among many many others – the full list and schedule is up at the Sonic Boom website.

Criminal Records will also be hosting an in-store with a west coast flavour on Friday night at 7PM, featuring Aidan Knight – complimented above – and We Are The City.

MP3: We Are The City – “Happy New Year”

There’s also a full list of performers and times for the Living Room Sessions noted a couple times above – all performances are free and all-ages.

Memoryhouse discusses their background and aesthetics with Spinner.

The Toronto Star talks to The Darcys about their near-death and rebirth.

Spinner talks to The Wilderness Of Manitoba, who are opening up Thursday night’s bill at Lee’s Palace as well as playing a Living Room Session at 5:20 on Saturday.

She Does The City asks random questions of Young Galaxy’s Stephen Ramsay. They’re the headliner on the Thursday night Lee’s Palace bill, going on at 11:30PM.

Citeeze talks to Laurel Sprengelmeyer, aka Little Scream, whose debut album The Golden Record has been released on iTunes as of this week, well ahead of the physical edition’s April 12 street date. A new MP3 from said record is also available to download. She is opening things up at The Opera House on Thursday night at 8:30, and note that she will no longer be supporting Sharon Van Etten at The Drake on April 12.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

The National Post chats with Karkwa, who are at Wrongbar on Friday night with a set time of 10PM.

J Mascis’ new solo record Several Shades Of Why, which you can expect to hear when he headlines The Great Hall on Friday night, is streaming over at Spin ahead of its March 15 release.

Stream: J Mascis / Several Shades Of Why

The Globe & Mail previews Canadian Music Week by chatting with Jenn Grant, Imaginary Cities and Hollerado.

Chad VanGaalen’s next record Diaper Island will be out May 17; details at Chart.

Mumford & Sons might be getting the headlines for their railroad tour through the southwest this Spring, but a similar excursion – though presumably by good old Via Rail rather than some retro-fied locomotive – is happening across Canada and is bringing Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, Magali Meagher of The Phonemes and Jon Janes of The Mountains & The Trees to 16 station stops from coast to coast. The Toronto date is April 21 at The Tranzac.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”
MP3: The Mountains & The Trees – “More & More & More”

And if this hasn’t been quite enough Canadian music to get you through the day/week/month, head over to The Line Of Best Fit for another Oh! Canada mix to download.

Whew. Effin’ festivals.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Car Crash

Telekinesis use mental powers to create new album and tour without getting lost

Photo By Kyle JohnsonKyle JohnsonHaving pepped up the Summer of 2009 with his self-titled debut album, Seattle power-pop prodigy Michael Benjamin Lerner – aka Telekinesis – aims to make the Winter of 2011 a little more bearable with his/their sophomore effort 12 Desperate Straight Lines. Due out on February 15, the first sample is available at download courtesy of Spin and yeah, it’s as punchy and instantly hummable as anything on the debut.

And not to be content with just delivering musical sunshine via your speakers and/or headphones, Lerner and touring band will be hitting the road almost immediately after the record’s release to deliver it directly to your ears. Their North American tour takes them from west to east and back west again and includes a March 6 stop at The Horseshoe in Toronto.

MP3: Telekinsis – “Car Crash”

Spin talks to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists about their new record The King Is Dead, out January 18. No further details on the rumoured February 1 Toronto show but it occurred to me that if they’re looking to move up – capacity-wise – from their usual Kool Haus digs and Massey isn’t available… there’s the Sound Academy. Shudder.

MBV Music is streaming a new single from Sharon Van Etten, consisting of two tracks not found on her latest Epic. The 7″ is out November 16.

Spinner talks to The Radio Dept.’s Martin Larsson about some of the band’s less obvious musical influences. Their double-disc singles set Passive Aggressive is out January 25 and they play Lee’s Palace on February 7.

QRO, The Daily Tribune, The Quad and The Columbus Dispatch have interviews with Kate Nash, currently winding her way across North America and in town at the Phoenix tomorrow night, November 13.

Two Door Cinema Club talk to They’re back for their third local show in eight months on January 15 at the Kool Haus with Tokyo Police Club.

Modern Superstitions, who impressed when I saw them at the Halifax Pop Explosion, have released a new video and will have a release party/show for their debut EP All The Things We’ve Been Told at The Silver Dollar on November 19.

MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”
Video: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

The Journal has words with Dan Snaith of Caribou.

The Line Of Best Fit, Calgary Herald and See chat with Dan Mangan, who’s gone and gotten himself a shiny new website. asks five music and movie-related questions of Forest City Lovers’ Kat Burns.

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 Day Two

Rebekah Higgs, The Darcys, The Modern Superstitions and more at Halifax Pop Explosion

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhen I went to Vancouver some seven years ago, I made the mistake of venturing out onto the seawall in Stanley Park without first having lunch or bringing along some water. And so it was that I ended up trudging around the perimeter of the park for over an hour, hungry thirsty and tired and accompanied only by some crazy guy who, despite being crazy, had managed to rent a bike and was following me around. The point of this being that I clearly didn’t learn anything from the experience as yesterday, driven by a desire to see the ocean, I walked from downtown to Point Pleasant Park without eating first or bringing any water. At least there wasn’t any crazy guy on a bike this time. Clearly there’s something about large parks on either coast of Canada that make me dumb as shit. Anyways.

The second night of ye olde Halifax Pop Explosion didn’t fully pass my “see only new stuff” mission, but it wasn’t entirely my fault. Take The Modern Superstitions, in all the way from Toronto – sure, I saw them last year when they played the boardwalk baby band stage at V Fest, but a) they were only called The Superstitions then, and b) they didn’t sound nearly as good as they do now. That band was very much a work in progress but this one – with a new EP in All The Things We’ve Been Told under their belts – came across much more like a finished product. Everything they sounded like they were trying to do before – show the world there was still a need for a female-fronted Strokes-y garage rock band – they were now actually doing, particularly singer Nyssa Rosaleen. Last Summer, she seemed uncomfortable with being the frontwoman of the band; now, while not exactly devouring the role, she does come across much more confidently and her delivery is all the better for it. Sometimes a dose of modernity is all it takes.

Photos: The Modern Superstitions @ Tribeca – October 21, 2010
MP3: The Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Montreal’s Camaromance was a “hey the MySpace sounds alright and I’ll be around there so why not” selection, and largely failed to remind me of why I chose to see them play. Playing as a two-guitar duo, Martine Groulx’s compositions didn’t have the same richness as the recordings and while the lack of embellishment and quiet venue allowed her downbeat, dense narratives the attention required to absorb, it also revealed it as pretty standard singer-songwriter fare.

Photos: Camaromance @ The Foggy Goggle – October 21, 2010
Video: Camaromance – “Mostly Harmless”
MySpace: Camaromance

I didn’t plan on seeing The Darcys, but some staggered set times and side-by-side venues made it happen, and I’m glad it did. I seem to check in on my fellow Torontonians every six months or so, and each time they seem to have improved markedly. This time, as always, I was impressed by their musicianship and ability to pull off the complex rhythms, intricate guitar work and great dynamics that make their epically-inclined, proggish-but-not-prog rock so compelling. But what was missing was the big hook or chorus to make them the anthems they aspire to be. No, it’s not an easy thing to achieve – it’s a skill that careers are built on – but I think they’ll get there. When? Dunno, check back with me in six months or so.

Photos: The Darcys @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 21, 2010
MP3: The Darcys – “House Built Around Your Voice”
MySpace: The Darcys

I hadn’t checked in with Halifax native Rebekah Higgs for a few years, since she was in Toronto fairly often circa her promising self-titled debut. Ruby Jean & The Thoughtful Bees, the electro-dance project which occupied her time the last little while didn’t do much for me, though, so I was pleased to hear she was returning to working sans pseudonym just in time for me to catch a hometown show. Her debut was am ambitious melding of folk, pop and electronic elements whose reach occasionally exceeded its grasp but was still quite promising, and from the sounds of the set of all-new material she showcased last night, that promise is being delivered on. As before, she played surrounded by an ocean of technology in the form of keyboards, pedals and sonic gewgaws, but even though she had a bit of trouble navigating it all mid-song, she still largely pulled off all the loops and samples needed to recreate her songs and deliver them with confidence and sass. The ingenue-ishness of her older material has been traded in for a more mature and musically rangier style and it works for her. Her new album is due out next year and will be preceded by the Little Voice digital EP coming out November 23.

Photos: Rebekah Higgs @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 21, 2010
MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Little Voice”
Video: Rebekah Higgs – “Parables”
Video: Rebekah Higgs – “Parables” (alternate video)
MySpace: Rebekah Higgs

Westword asks three questions of Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes.

Here talks to Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.

Writers On Process delves into the muck of songwriting for Titus Andronicus with Patrick Stickles.

Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam talks about his new record Kiss Each Other Clean to Spin. There’s no official release date as of yet, but January 25 appears to be shaping up as the first big new record day of the year, so that’s as likely a candidate as any.