Posts Tagged ‘Monsters Of Folk’

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

"Girl From the North Country"

Monsters Of Folk cover Bob Dylan

Photo via last.fmlast.fmBefore there was Monsters Of Folk, the band, or Monsters Of Folk, the album, there was Monsters Of Folk, the tour. It was the tongue-in-cheek banner applied to the shows featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Matt Ward of M Ward Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and unsurprisingly, found the three collaborating on stage as often as not.

One number that they’d lend their collective touches to was Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country”, a live recording of which would find its way onto Dylan Covered, the September 2005 cover CD for Mojo magazine which featured a collection of Dylan covers. This track was credited to “M. Ward & Conor Oberst & Jim James” – I guess they hadn’t yet accepted their destiny to become the Voltron of folk. Which, I’m sure, was the original intended name for the project until the lawyers got involved.

Monsters Of Folk are on tour and will be at Massey Hall Monday night. Bob Dylan just released his Christmas album Christmas In The Heart and will be at the Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener this Saturday night, November 7.

The Lousiville Courier-Journal talks to the fourth Monster Of Folk – not officially involved with the original tour – Mike Mogis.

MP3: Monsters Of Folk – “Girl From The North Country”
Video: Bob Dylan – “Girl From The North Country”

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The Right Place

Review of Monsters Of Folk’s self-titled debut and giveaway

Photo via Last.fmlast.fmUsually when you assemble a “supergroup”, you assemble top-notch artists for each conventional band position – kick-ass drummer from group A, shredmaster guitarist from group B, supreme bass-slapper from group C and a lead singer (assuming they’re not already one of A, B or C) whose usual bandmates are probably more than happy to get a break from and voila – a can’t-miss recipe that usually misses as often as it hits, if not more. Rarely, however, do you find multiple frontmen working together, with even the notion of managing egos and personalities enough to scare any right-thinking people away. The one notable exception being The Traveling Wilburys and the names involved there were so huge that it’s hard to imagine any of them really feeling insecure. Okay, maybe Jeff Lynne got tired of always being the last one to be named, but whatever.

While the principals of Monsters Of FolkMy Morning Jacket’s Jim James, M Ward and She & Him’s Matt Ward, Bright Eyes and The Mystic Valley Band’s Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes sideman and producer extraordinaire Mike Mogis – aren’t household names on the scale of the Wilburys, they are essentially superstars in the circles they run in. And while the first three’s getting together to tour as solo artists in 2004 made perfect sense, heading into the studio to craft a record of original material was less of a sure thing. After all – getting onstage to harmonize or tackle a cover is one thing, creating all new material together is quite another.

So the fact that the Monsters Of Folk self-titled debut, five years or so in the making, is pretty good on a universal scale can probably be interpreted as being terrific once the supergroup curve is applied. It achieves this largely by not trying to be much more than exactly what it advertises – James, Ward and Oberst contributing songs while Mogis ensures that while each composer’s tunes sound very much like they could have appeared on one of their own records, they still hang together seamlessly. James continues with the soulful excursions that marked the last couple of MMJ records, Ward’s pieces are rollicking AM radio revivals and Oberst still plays the moody, angsty card though he thankfully keeps his love-or-hate vibrato largely in check and doesn’t bring down the prevailing sense of fun that runs through the record as everyone romps in their common ground of classic rock, country, and yes – folk. No one would accuse them of saving A-grade material from their day jobs for this project, but nothing’s a throwaway, either. It’s a solid collection of songs from some top talent – nothing more, nothing less.

And it gives them an excuse to tour, as they currently are, and they’ll be in Toronto on Monday night, November 2, for a show at Massey Hall. Tickets are $36.50 to $49.50 with $1 from each going to Food Share, but courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of tickets to the show to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be a Monster Of Folk for Hallowe’en” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, October 31. Update: Special four-packs of tickets for the show are now available – buy four and they’re $25.50 each (plus $1 charity fee).

The Vancouver Sun, The Chicago Tribune and Victoria Advocate have interviews with the Monsters Of Folk.

MP3: Monsters Of Folk – “Say Please”
Video: Monsters Of Folk – “The Right Place”
MySpace: Monsters Of Folk

Express Night Out and The Vermont Cynic chat with Annie Clark of St. Vincent.

Austinist talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater about their forthcoming album The Golden Archipelago, tentatively set for a February 9 release.

Rolling Stone declares The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to be a “breaking band”. Way to stay ahead of the curve, Rolling Stone.

The Aquarian interviews Charlie Fink, frontman for Noah & The Whale. A reminder that their double-header performance in Toronto this Saturday comes with a 12-hour gap – the in-store at Criminal Records starts at noon while their headlining set at the Horseshoe begins at midnight.

The xx’s remix/cover of Florence & The Machine’s cover of Candi Staton has been given an official video, which is itself a remix of sorts of the official video of Florence’s version. Good luck sorting out the royalties on that. Florence is at the Mod Club on November 2, The XX are at the Phoenix on December 2 – if they don’t burn out first.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love” (The xx remix)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”

Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen talks to Exclaim.

Radio Free Canuckistan has a fascinating conversation with to Stuart Berman about his Broken Social biography
This Book Is Broken, and the past ten years in Canadian independent music in general. Berman is being interviewed about the book in front of a live audience this Friday night at Harbourfront Centre as part of the International Festival of Authors – congratulations go to Janet for winning the passes to the event.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Set The Sails

Review of Dan Mangan's Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Photo By Jonathan TaggartJonathan TaggartSaying I was a bit award-ed out following last week’s Polaris Prize gala would be something of an understatement, so the ceremonies for the Verge XM Awards the following night were largely ignored around these parts. But that doesn’t mean the results weren’t of interest – okay, Alexisonfire winning album of the year was of zero interest, but the declaration of Vancouver’s Dan Mangan as artist of the year certainly drew a double-take. This response had nothing to do with Mangan or his work, simply the fact that it’s a pretty heady honour to bestow on someone who’d only released his new album Nice, Nice, Very Nice a little over a month prior, though that was preceded by the Roboteering EP in the Spring. The whys and wherefores of that do interest me, but we’ll set that aside for now and just consider the record.

And it’s a good one. On the surface, it’s a tuneful collection of roots-rock/pop, hummably melodic and understatedly orchestrated, but what’s most compelling is the narrator that Mangan inhabits in his songs. Though his likeable rasp implies a certain forthrightness of character, that he’s the sort of guy who tells is straight and like it is, lyrically he’s much slipperier. Sardonic observer of the world around him one moment, absurdist storyteller the next, but I suppose when done right the two really aren’t all that different. You’re never sure if Mangan is telling tall tales or pouring his broken heart out because he does both with a twinkle in his eye; the unreliable narrator, the court jester, or just the guy perched on a barstool, it doesn’t really matter – there’s as much cosmic truth as fiction in these songs and either is where you find it. And if you’re just looking for some great songs, they’re here too. Artist of the Year still strikes me as a bit premature, but if Mangan is still finding himself up for awards in a year’s time or so, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

Mangan kicks off a cross-country tour this week and will be in Toronto in a couple weeks on October 16 for an in-store at Criminal Records on October 16 at 6PM and a gig proper at the Rivoli that night. Then it’s off to the UK and Europe. Okay, maybe he’s having a really good year after all. There’s features on Mangan at The Georgia Straight.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
Video: Dan Mangan – “The Indie Queens Are Waiting”
Stream: Dan Mangan / Roboteering
Stream: Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
MySpace: Dan Mangan

As promised, Sloan are giving away a new song. “Take It Upon Yourself” is a Chris song that sounds like a Jay song (it’s the piano) and is available for frees in exchange for your email address.

Note that the Rural Alberta Advantage show originally scheduled for November 4 at Lee’s Palace has been moved to November 20 – tickets for the former date are still good. There’s an interview with frontman Nils Edenloff at The Maneater.

Forest City Lovers have completed their first 7″ single, available to pre-order now in advance of its November 10 release. Something to hold you over until they release album number three next year.

Portions of the Caribou Vibration Ensemble performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties NY have been made available to stream or download at the Free Music Archive, with word that a full live album may be forthcoming. The Toronto show was amazing – I expect this was nothing less.

MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Skunks”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Barnowl”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Brahminy Kite”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “A Final Warning”

Handsome Furs have set a date for Lee’s Palace on December 5, tickets $15. No occasion, just bringing some rock.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “I’m Confused”

NPR has a World Cafe session with The Jayhawks.

Spinner has another video taken from the forthcoming live R.E.M. album Live At The Olympia, out October 27.

Video: R.E.M. – “Man-Sized Wreath” (live)

Long-time R.E.M. sideman and once-and-future Posie Ken Stringfellow has a new band of Norwegians called The Disciplines. It’s got a garage-ish bent, but there’s no suppressing Stringfellow’s canny pop sensibilities. They’re heading out for a North American tour next month, including a stop at the Velvet Underground in Toronto on October 22 ($8 in advance), and are also looking for places to crash in many of the cities on the itinerary and a Vox AC30 amp to borrow.

Video: The Disciplines – “Best Mistake”
Video: The Disciplines – “Yours For The Taking (Smoking Kills)”

AZCentral talks to the other principal in the Posies, Jon Auer.

City Pages Q&A’s Built To Spill, whose new record There Is No Enemy is out next week and who have Lee’s Palace reserved for two nights, October 6 and 7.

Epigram Music talks to Sufjan Stevens about his BQE project, out October 20. He plays Lee’s Palace on Thursday night, October 1.

St Vincent’s Annice clark talks to Radar Online about her contribution to the soundtrack to New Moon, which I’m content to know nothing about save for one of the protagonists sparkles. Clark also gives an interview to The Vanguard.

There’s a new video for the Taken By Trees cover of Animal Collective’s “My Girls”, from her new album East Of Eden.

Video: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”

Blurt has a feature on Monsters Of Folk, who will be at Massey Hall on November 2.

Friday, September 25th, 2009


The Antlers at Criminal Records in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEverything I have to say about The Antlers’ record Hospice has already been said, so I’ll focus squarely on their live performance which I was able to witness yesterday evening despite opting to see Joe Pernice at the Dakota rather than their show at the Horseshoe, thanks to their booking an in-store at Criminal Records before either got underway.

While they could easily have gotten away with doing something simple, short and stripped-down, the fairly packed store was instead treated to something akin to a full and proper set, fully plugged-in and running 40 minutes plus. And it’s just as well, because that extra volume and amplification was crucial to the impact of the set (not to mention allowing keyboardist Darby Cicci to be heard at all). Where the recorded versions of the songs were built on foundation of tension and delicacy, the live renderings were much grandiose in scale – bigger and bolder without compromising the fragile atmospherics so integral to the songs. Rather than evoking images of hospitals, they felt like cathedrals, and perhaps most importantly, felt more uplifting than despairing. The lyrical content of the songs didn’t come across so pointedly, instead taking a back seat to the rawer, more visceral impact of the sound.

So while sorry to have missed their show proper, I’m thankful to have caught close to a proper show and still got to see Joe Pernice, all before the cold which has been stalking me the last couple weeks finally took me victim. Achoo.

Photos: The Antlers @ Criminal Records – September 24, 2009
MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two” (remastered)
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
MP3: The Antlers – “The Universe Is Going To Catch You”
MP3: The Antlers – “On the Roof”
MP3: The Antlers – “Stairs To The Attic”
MP3: The Antlers – “Cold War”
MP3: The Antlers – “Keys”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
MySpace: The Antlers

And if you opted to see The Antlers last night rather than Pernice, know that Joe will be making an appearance at Word On The Street this Sunday at Queen’s Park. Not performing, but being interviewed at 4PM – though there’s nothing to say he won’t spontaneously break out into song. Details in his cover feature from this week’s eye.

SFAppeal, The Dallas Observer and The Arizona Daily Star talk to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

School Of Seven Bells’ Alpinisms, a highlight of 2008, will be getting a re-release with a second disc of remixes and alternate takes on October 13 – almost just in time for their Fall tour which brings them to Lee’s Palace in Toronto on October 15. Pitchfork has one of the tracks from the bonus disc available to download. The Diamondback and Austinist have interviews with the band.

MP3: School Of Seven Bells – “Iamundernodisguise” (alternate version)

The Hook questions Decemberist Chris Funk.

Spin questions. Monsters Of Folk answer. On November 2, they perform at Massey Hall.

Austinst talks to John Vanderslice, who’s made a demo MP3 from Romanian Names available to download in support of an upcoming 7″ single for “Too Much Time” due out October 6.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Too Much Time” (demo)

Good news – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists will have a new record out in the early part of next year. Better news – it’s coming out on Matador.

To anyone thinking about attending the October 24 White Rabbits show – note that it has been moved from the Drake to the Horseshoe, and rather than an early show it’s now a regular/late show. Adjust your plans accordingly. You have a month to do so.

Soundproof talks to Reverie Sound Revue.

There’s a new MP3 available from The Wooden Sky’s new album If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone – they’re at Lee’s Palace on November 13. The Sudbury Star talks to frontman Gavin Gardiner.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Bit Part”

Spinner gets to know Dog Day and suggests you do the same. They’re at the Horseshoe on November 5.

Young Galaxy have set a date at the Horseshoe for November 13, tickets $10.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Long Live The Fallen World”

Mew have released a new video from No More Stories.

Video: Mew – “Repeaterbeater”

Filter chats in two parts with Mum, who’ve also made Magnet a mix tape. They’re at the Phoenix on October 27.

MP3: Mum – “Illuminated”

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009


Venice Is Sinking doing alright with new EP, video

Photo By Ian DarkenIan DarkenSomething I learned yesterday – I wasn’t able to get by on three hours of sleep when I was young, I sure as hell can’t do it now. Blogging isn’t so easy when your brain has the consistency of porridge, so I’m thankful that there’s been a pile of new videos, sessions and streams amassing in my drafts folder which I can hopefully distill into some sort of post.

And we’ll begin with Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking, who’ve got a new video, stream AND MP3 to share, all in honour of their just-released EP Okay. As previously reported, it’s a single, a tribute and outtakes record, all in one. The title track comes from their lovely AZAR album from earlier this year, two tracks are covers of San Francisco artist Okay and the final two are alternate versions of AZAR tracks. Like the parent album, Okay is wistfully orchestrated ambient pop, forlorn even when it’s trying to be cheery. Venice Is Sinking does glumness exceedingly well. They do have a playful side, however, as the boot camp-themed video for “Okay” demonstrates. And a penchant for gunplay.

In addition to the new EP, the band have completed album number three – a mostly live recording due out sooner rather than later – and have begun writing album number four. Considering how this band seems to get better with every new thing they put out, their newfound prolificness can only bring good things.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Compass”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
Stream: Venice Is Sinking / Okay

Yo La Tengo have also done the “rock band boot camp” thing in video before – witness the classic “Sugarcube” clip – but have just put out an awesome video of another sort – a Takeaway Show. Yo La Tengo are at the Opera House on October 3.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”

A Place To Bury Strangers have released a video from their new album Exploding Head, due out October 6. They have a date at the Mod Club for October 27.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “In Your Heart”

They Shoot Music recorded an acoustic performance from The Dodos, who released Time To Die last week and will be at Lee’s Palace on October 17. There’s interviews with the band at Austinist and Click Music.

Telekinesis have finally gotten themselves a proper website and play a Tiny Desk Session for NPR to mark the occasion. Okay, the two probably have nothing to do with each other. Or this video of them performing at the Merge XX festival this Summer.

St Vincent has released a new video from Actor.

Video: St Vincent – “Marrow”

Paste, Taipei Times and The Los Angeles Times interview Monsters Of Folk, whose self-titled debut was released this week and a new video to go along with it. They play Massey Hall on November 2.

Video: Monsters of Folk – “The Right Place”

BrooklynVegan interviews Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, who have a new video from Embryonic, out October 13. The response to the new recordseems pretty split between a return to genius form and further evidence of their irrevocable decline. Which is it?

Video: The Flaming Lips – “I Can Be A Frog”

This week was pretty crazy for new releases, and so there’s plenty to stream over at Spinner – or at least there is if you’re not in Canada. Hereabouts, their Polaris promotion is still up so all the links shunt to streams of the short list but I’ve been told that’s going to change sometime today so Canucks, check back. Assuming that’s accurate – you’ve got Hope Sandoval & The Warm Intentions’ second album Through The Devil Softly which they’ll bring to the Mod Club on October 7 – she gives an interview to The Georgia Straight, White Water, White Bloom from Sea Wolf, who’re at Sneaky Dee’s on October 9 and Amy Millan’s second solo record Masters Of The Burial, for which she has a date at the Mod Club on October 14 – ChartAttack also has an interview.

Also out, streaming and coming to town this Fall are Girls whose debut album Album will receive an airing at the El Mocambo on November 10 and who are featured in a “Don’t Look Down” video session at PitchforkTV, J Tillman’s new one Year In The Kingdom which brings him to the Horseshoe on November 11 and Origin: Orphan from The Hidden Cameras – their hometown show will take place at the Opera House on December 5.

Stream: Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions / Through The Devil Softly
Stream: Sea Wolf / White Water, White Bloom
Stream: Amy Millan / Masters Of The Burial
Stream: Girls / Album
Stream: J. Tillman / Year in the Kingdom
Stream: The Hidden Cameras / Origin: Orphan

Also with a new record out this wee but sadly not coming to town any time soon are Early Day Miners, whose latest is The Treatment. There’s a feature piece on the band at Blurt.

Stream: Early Day Miners / The Treatment

In And Out Of Control isn’t out until October 6 but The Raveonettes are already streaming it for all to hear at their MySpace. They’re at the Phoenix on October 22 and there’s interviews with the band at Paper and Billboard.

Stream: The Raveonettes / In And Out Of Control

City Sonic talks to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers about how his daily commute influenced some of his early songs.

A couple of days before she takes the Horseshoe stage – Thursday, September 24 in support of The Antlers – it’s been announced that Holly Miranda has signed with XL Recordings to release her debut solo album early next year. I’ve been tracking her solo career since early this year and am pleased to see that her record will not only be coming out but will be properly promoted, but I wonder what to make of the fact that the press release mentions nothing about her band The Jealous Girlfriends… hopefully nothing. A video session with said band went up at FreqControl earlier this Summer.

Exclaim reports The Weakerthans will be releasing a series of 7″ singles saluting their home province on Manitoba starting on October 30.