Posts Tagged ‘Morrissey’

Monday, June 18th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day One

Porcelain Raft, Army Girls, Eternal Summers, and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangLast week turned out to be a pretty spectacular week – weather-wise – for a festival. Good thing that Toronto had one. Or four. At least three. In any case, I was focused on NXNE; anything else going on in the city were just obstacles to be navigated around – literally. The relatively lighter Wednesday night of the programme meant that there’d be less need for club-hopping, though, and one could ease themselves into the festival grind gently.

“I’m 23 and I’m scared shitless”. That’s how Carmen Elle, the guitar-slinging/lyric-singing half of Army Girls introduced their set at Supermarket, and you were just going to have to take her word for it because if you were looking for some evidence of those frayed nerves in their performance, they were nowhere to be found. As much as I go on about this band, I actually hadn’t seen them live since last October, and as good as I thought they were then the heavy playing and touring they’ve done since then – they just finished up a North American tour with PS I Love You – has made them even better. Exceptionally tight with a side of jam, Elle performed with poise and verve, the only thing better than seeing them live again was hearing all the new material in the set. Only two songs from their Close To The Bone EP made it into the set – and were highlights, sure – but the new material arguably demonstrated more songwriting range without sacrificing any of the punch. But the best takeaway on the night was Elle’s declaration that they were planning to release not one but two albums this year; I’ve heard such ambitions from other artists before and will believe it when I see it, but for as long as I’ve been saying that Army Girls have what it takes to be as big as they want to be, it seems like they finally want it. Look out.

Photos: Army Girls @ Supermarket – June 13, 2012
MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”
Stream: Army Girls / Close To The Bone

The next and last stop of the night was The Drake Underground where the lineup guaranteed plenty of buzz, if not quality. First up was Virginia’s Eternal Summers whom you could be forgiven for assuming was a hazy post-chillwave outfit, but who in fact were a decidedly loud, faintly angry, garage-bred power trio specializing in what you might reference as surf-gazey, sonically youthful noise. And while I hate myself a little for writing the previous sentence, I’m sticking with it. They weren’t necessarily the most charismatic performers, but it certainly sounded good. Their new record Correct Behavior isn’t out until July 24, but that still leaves plenty of Summer – if not an eternal amount – for it to enjoyably soundtrack.

The Singing Lamb and We Love DC have interviews with the band.

Photos: Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Wonder”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Safe At Home”

The first thing I noticed about Montreal’s Mac DeMarco was that they exceeded the Surgeon General’s recommended allowance of baseball caps in a band; three of four is just unacceptable. Musically they were fine; their smooth, yacht/lounge rock was hard to actively dislike and with a SXSW-calibre schedule for the week ahead – this was the first of something like 10 shows – and claiming fatigue from the trip into town, some laying back and clearly uncharacteristic sloppiness was allowable, but it was certainly easy to not dig the overt bro-ness of the band. Belching into the mic? Yeah, no.

Toro has an interview with DeMarco.

Photos: Mac DeMarco @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans”
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “I’m A Man”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Only You”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Exercising With My Demons”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “European Vegas”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “She’s All I Really Need”

Given the number of influences and styles name-dropped in reference to Italian-in-New York Mauro Remiddi’s Porcelain Raft and his debut Strange Weekend, I would have expected something decidedly more experimental but the live two-piece – Remmidi and a drummer/multi-instrumentalist – were much more about big, crescendo-friendly dance pop with a distinct European accent, which was also cool. Their songs may have been built on a base of samples and loops but they were defined by the guitars, drums, keys and vox – all pretty conventional and also pretty pretty. Engaging at first, the set seemed to lose form somewhat as it progressed, but that may have just been me taking their song “Put Me To Sleep” a little too close to heart. After their set, I checked out. It was going to be a long weekend.

Photos: Porcelain Raft @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Tip Of Your Tongue”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Drifting In And Out”

Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, whose Cyrk garnered glowing reviews on its release earlier this year, will be releasing a second album from those same session entitled Cyrk II on August 20 and accompany it with a North American tour – she’ll be at The Rivoli on September 18.

MP3: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”
Video: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”

The long-rumoured David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration is not only real, it has a name – Love This Giant; a website –; a first MP3 – “Who”; and a tour – look for them at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 20.

MP3: David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Who”

Morrissey may be sticking to his guns on not playing Canada until we stop eating any meat and wearing leather, but you have to see his just-announced US tour as throwing southern Ontario a bit of a – if you excuse the metaphor – bone. He’ll wave to us from the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls on October 19; you might say that as he continues to ignore us, this is as close as he’ll get. Maybe make a road trip of it, hit the Anchor Bar for some wings.

Video: Morrissey – “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”

A track from Metric’s new album Synthetica is available to download.

MP3: Metric – “Artificial Nocturne”

Also now yours to take home – the first single from Grizzly Bear’s still-untitled forthcoming album. It’s out September 18 and they’re at Massey Hall on September 26.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

Sympathies to the friends and family of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, who died in the stage collapse on Saturday and best wishes to those injured.

And further sympathies to the friends and family of former American Music Club/Sun Kil Moon drummer Tim Mooney, who passed away on the weekend. There’s remembrances from his bandleaders Mark Eitzel and Mark Kozelek, and donations to his family can be made via PayPal.

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

"Never Had No One Ever"

Billy Bragg covers The Smiths

Photo via WikipediaWikipediaBilly Bragg and The Smiths go way back. Besides being contemporaries and stalwarts of the English indie music circa the 1980s, Bragg was/is obviously chummy with Johnny Marr, the Smiths guitarist guesting on a number of records as well as producing some of Bragg’s most pop numbers.

His relationship with Stephen Patrick Morrissey is a little less clear, however. Though they surely know each other, the litany of hilarious Morrissey-centric anecdotes that Bragg busts out during his live shows – a tale of Bragg and Morrissey riding roller coasters together at Canada’s Wonderland comes to mind – are so mythology-deflating that they must be fiction. Or at least the hordes of Moz fans out there would hope so.

Not up for debate, however, is Bragg’s admiration for the Smiths’ musical output. He covers them frequently live, either wholly, in quote or medley, has released interpretations of “Jeanne” and “Back To The Old House” as b-sides and also contributed this cover of one of the dirgier numbers from The Queen Is Dead to the 1996 10th anniversary tribute album The Smiths Is Dead.

Johnny Marr is presently busy as a member of both The Cribs and Modest Mouse. Morrissey just released his contract-fulfilling b-sides compilation Swords and is trying to make it through a UK tour without collapsing or being assaulted. Billy Bragg kicks off a Canadian tour this Saturday out east and makes southern Ontario stops next week at the Phoenix in Toronto on the 17th and The Studio at Hamilton Place in Hamilton on the 18th. Wonder what Morrissey story he’ll bust out?

Beatroute has an interview with Billy Bragg.

MP3: Billy Bragg – “Never Had No One Ever”
Video: The Smiths – “Never Had No One Ever” (live)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

My Broken Heart

Review Of Noah & The Whale's First Days Of Spring

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceIt figures that of all the English folk-pop that has been such a staple of my musical diet over the last couple years, the most commercially successful – Noah & The Whale – would be my least favourite. That’s a very relative statement, however, as I still like the quartet alright. As their debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, proved they can write a catchy tune or two but I found their whimsical approach to be a bit lacking in the substance department. I much preferred the sardonic wit of Emmy The Great and emotional resonance of Laura Marling, both of them former Whale collaborators.

And it’s Marling who plays a key role on Noah & The Whale’s second album First Days Of Spring, though she’s nowhere to be found on the actual recording. While it may seem like indie tabloid fodder, the fact that she and Noah frontman Charlie Fink were romantically involved and that the relationship ended last year is key to understanding this record – on the debut, Marling’s voice buoyed the record but on the follow-up, it’s her ghost that gives it weight. Spring is a break-up record through and through, and not one overly concerned with dressing things up in metaphor. Fink is not an overly gifted wordsmith, preferring plainly stated lyrics and delivering them with his equally unfancy croak of a voice and in this instance the directness with which Fink addresses Marling with his lyrics is almost uncomfortable, like eavesdropping on an intensely personal conversation. Yet you can’t not listen and in doing so, you can’t not feel his pain.

Musically, Spring shows the band making tremendous strides. The jaunty barroom folk-pop of Peaceful has been replaced with an expansive, cinematic sound that’s appropriately slow, sad and stately and given to orchestral swells or noisy skronks as the situation demands. It’s a risky approach for the band, basically abandoning the approach that brought them their success, but in strictly artistic measures it’s an unqualified success. Spring makes Noah & The Whale a much more interesting band and Fink has turned his shortcomings into strengths, crafting a record that resonates truly and honestly with anyone who has ever had their heart broken.

First Days Of Spring was released in the UK at the end of August and will be out in North America come October 6. It will come packaged with a DVD with a 45-minute short film tied in to the album but not, apparently, having anything to do with Fink and Marling’s relationship and, from the looks of the trailer, not awful. Nice production values, anyways. The band will be in North America for a short tour in October which will wrap on October 31 at the Horseshoe in Toronto.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “The First Days Of Spring”
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Twelves remix)
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies” (Yacht remix)
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Blue Skies”
Trailer: The First Days Of Spring
MySpace: Noah & The Whale

LAist has an interview with Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar. Their debut Reservoir seems to have been released in every possible combination of independently, on a label, digitally, physically, as an import, what have you, but come October 13 it’ll be officially available domestically in North America. So if you missed one of the other million chances to get a copy of this wonderful record, you are now plumb out of excuses.

The St. Louis Tribune interviews Frightened Rabbit.

Stuff talks to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine. I’ve been saying that her debut Lungs doesn’t get a domestic release until October 13 but that may just be for the US – as was pointed out to me, it’s already available domestically in Canada. Oh who are we kidding – if you cared, you’d have downloaded it by now.

Editors have released a video for the first single from their forthcoming album In This Light & On This Evening, out October 13. And no, they were not kidding when they said they were going synthy on this record.

Video: Editors – “Papillon”

A couple of streams of new albums out now/soon from British acts coming to town in the next little while. London outfit The Rifles are really going after – and hitting – that Jam/mod vibe on their new record The Great Escape, out today. They’re at the Horseshoe on September 28.

MP3: The Rifles – “The Great Escape”
MP3: The Rifles – “The General”
MP3: The Rifles – “Romeo & Julie” (live)
Video: The Rifles – “The Great Escape”
Video: The Rifles – “The General”
Stream: The Rifles / The Great Escape

The Big Pink’s debut A Brief History Of Love isn’t out till next week, but is also available to stream now. See them at Lee’s Palace on November 29.

Stream: The Big Pink / A Brief History Of Love

The Quietus talks to Johnny Marr and The Cribs about their new record Ignore The Ignorant as well as Marr’s time with The Smiths. Further, The Guardian gets Marr to interview his former label boss Geoff Travis of Rough Trade.

Further with the Smiths, Marr’s former bandmate Andy Rourke was in town this past week as DJ for some TIFF parties – eye got an interview with the former Smiths bassist while Toronto Life overheard a briefer, more amusing conversation during his actual DJ set. And of course, Morrissey has taken umbrage with some of the stuff Rourke said in the eye interview. Mike Joyce presently has no comment on any of the above.

Oh yeah, that Smiths reunion is right around the corner. I can smell it.

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Doves (and more) cover The Smiths

Photo via doves.netDovesSo the great and powerful Moz turned the big 5-0 last week – do you think that when being presented with gifts, he thought, “please, please, please let me get what I want this time”? No, probably not. But even if I personally don’t care for much of what he’s done post-Smiths, I salute the man on the occasion of his half-century.

And I’m sure his fellow Mancunians in Doves do likewise. No strangers themselves to the mopey end of rock, Doves paid tribute to their hometown hero back in 2002 for a BBC2 special – it’s a pretty straight version and the first line of the lyrics is cut off in the recording, apologies, but it’s a nice delicate moment from the band.

Doves’ North American tour in support of Kingdom Of Rust is now underway and includes a date at the Kool Haus in Toronto next Monday night, June 1. There’s features on the band at The Corrie Tandem and The Georgia Straight. Morrissey released his latest solo record Years Of Refusal earlier this year.

And since it’s a birthday and what’s a birthday without a party, here’s a handful more covers of “Please, Please”. Yes, I ran most of these back in 2004, but that was a different time – Moz was a sprightly 45 and still willing to play shows in Canada. So here’s covers from from The Jealous Girlfriends (taken from their Comfortably Uncomfortable album), Muse (from the Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack) and versions of indeterminate origin from Josh Rouse, Halo Benders and Swearing At Motorists.

MP3:Doves – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
MP3: The Jealous Girlfriends – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
MP3: Muse – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
MP3: Josh Rouse – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
MP3: Swearing At Motorists – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
MP3: Halo Benders – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
Video: Morrissey – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” (live)

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Noah & The Whale cover The Smiths

Photo by Frank YangFrank YangYoung bands who find themselves on the road for extended periods of time without a lot of material to draw on will frequently start throwing covers into the mix not only to pad out the set to a reasonable length, but also to amuse themselves (and hopefully the audience as well). And so it was that London folkies Noah & The Whale introduced a version of The Smiths’ classic (though pretty much every Smiths song could be called a classic) “Girlfriend In A Coma” to their shows in support of their debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, substituting Morrissey’s archness for Charlie Fink’s croak and upping the tempo into jaunty skiffle-pop territory.

On their forthcoming North American tour, which includes a date at the Mod Club in Toronto on April 27, the band should have more than enough original material to fill up a set list – their second album First Days Of Spring is complete and set for release in June. Morrissey still refuses to set foot in Canada, so don’t expect to see him scheduling (and probably cancelling) any dates for his latest Years Of Refusal any time soon.

Filter have an interview with Noah & The Whale in advance of this weekend’s performance at Coachella where, in the broadest terms, they will share a bill with Morrissey.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Girlfriend In A Coma”
Video: The Smiths – “Girlfriend In A Coma”