Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Friday, February 20th, 2009

El Sincero

Wheat return again

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceSay what you will about Taunton, Massachusetts’ Wheat, but you can’t deny that they refuse to stay down. Once upon a time one of my favourite bands (circa Medeiros and Hope & Adams), they became a cautionary tale against the major label machine with 2003’s ill-fated Per Second Per Second Per Second Every Second (which I chronicled back in 2004 and 2005) and essentially disbanded in the aftermath.

They unexpectedly returned in 2007 with Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square, again independent and down a member, but even then they were beset with label problems and delays. And the record itself was free of the excessive gloss of Per Second, it was decent at best – unfocused and only evidencing glimpses of the rough magic that defined their earliest releases. It pretty much came and went and I figured that that was the end of the band, again. They’d returned in order to finish on their own terms.

Or not. There were rumblings of a new record late last year and though there’s no release date as of yet, it has a title – White Ink, Black Ink – and a sample of it has surfaced on the band’s profile for SxSW, where I fully intend to see them play. Obviously not enough to form an opinion on, though it sounds like they’re sticking to the sonic cut-and-paste aesthetic of Kathy. I find I remain curious and still a little excited about the prospect of new music from Wheat – this news prompted me to revisit those magical first two records and they still give me tingles.

And those first two records – Medeiros and Wheat – are being reissued together along with a bonus disc of rarities and whatnots from the era entitled 30 Minute Theatrik (thanks to Mark for the tip). It’s set for a March 10 release but you can pre-order it now and get all three records digitally immediately. If you’ve never heard either one, well, you should. And here’s your chance.

More Wheat info and downloads available at

MP3: Wheat – “El Sincero”
MP3: Wheat – “Move = Move”
Mp3: Wheat – “What Everyone Keeps Telling Me”
MP3: Wheat – “World United Already”
Video: Wheat – “Don’t I Hold You”
Video: Wheat – “I Met A Girl”
MySpace: Wheat

Drowned In Sound declared this week just ending “slowcore week” and followed that up with extensive features on personal favourites like Low, Galaxie 500, The New Year and Early Day Miners. They’ll have a new album out sometime this year entitled The Treatment.

The Democrat & Chronicle interviews Blitzen Trapper, playing a sold-out show at the Horseshoe tomorrow night.

CBC Radio 3 talks to Casey Mecija of Ohbijou, who will release their second album Beacons on April 14 and follow that up with a CD release show at the Opera House on April 18.

The Thermals are hitting the road in support of their new album Now We Can See, out April 7. Pitchfork has the full North American itinerary, which includes a May 3 date at the Horseshoe.

MP3: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”

Mogwai have announced a North American tour for this Spring which will make up their cancelled The Hawk Is Howling dates from last Fall when drummer Martin Bulloch’s pacemaker threatened to escape from his chest. The Toronto date will be May 4 at the Phoenix – those who won passes to the cancelled show, I’ll be in touch about the make-up date.

MP3: Mogwai – “The Sun Smells Too Loud”

With their new album What Is?! coming out domestically on April 12, King Khan & The Shrines will be at the Phoenix on May 12 to promote.

Vetiver have a date at the Horseshoe on May 15 in support of last year’s Tight Knit.

MP3: Vetiver – “Everyday”

Leonard Cohen has announced a North American tour – closest local date is May 19 at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. Second closest is May 24 at John Labbat Centre in London. Tickets on sale March 2.

Neil Young’s Fork In The Road has a confirmed release date of March 31. Archives? Don’t ask.

Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, will release her sophomore album in Actor on May 5. Full details on the release at Pitchfork.

Also out May 5 is Outer South, the second solo record from Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band.

Viva Voce will release Rose City on May 26.

The Broken West have turned out a new video from last year’s Now Or Heaven.

Video: The Broken West – “Perfect Games”

CHUD interviews Scott Pligrim creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Watching The Streetlights Grow

Out Of This Spark turns two, throws a party

Photo By Joe FudaJoe FudaThis week’s eye has a feature piece on local label Out Of This Spark, whose second anniversary is the impetus for your best entertainment option this Saturday night as the label’s entire roster will take the stage at the Tranzac. That’s the lineup that includes a couple of personal faves and a couple others I’m just starting to make the acquaintance of.

In the former camp are post-punkers The D’Urbervilles, whose rather excellent full-length debut from last year, We Are The Hunters, is going to be getting a much-deserved US release, and Forest City Lovers (pictured), whose beautifully understated album Haunting Moon Sinking was one of the overlooked gems of 2008. It’s been a while – too long – since I’ve seen either act live, and I’m looking forward to rectifying that. In the “less known to me” department are Jenny Omnichord, whose special guest-laden Charlotte or Otis : Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too is a sweetly odd and charming little childrens’ album and Timber Timbre, who are releasing their new self-titled album next week and whose amalgam of folk and blues is a bit unsettling, but also compelling. They’re also playing an in-store at Soundscapes next Thursday at 7PM.

Admission to the to-do is $10, $8 with a donation of canned food.

MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Hot Tips”
Videos: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Videos: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”

Pitchfork has more tour dates for Human Highway, including a date and venue for their previously announced appearance at Canadian Musicfest – look for them March 13 at the Horseshoe.

MP3: Human Highway – “The Sound”

And speaking of Canadian Musicfest, the lineup has fleshed out a little more with some of the bigger-name additions including The Ting Tings and… well, that’s all I noticed that was new since last time. Precise date and venue for that one still forthcoming.

Rollo & Grady interview Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon and filch one of my photos in the process. This is me shaking my fist. Treasury Library Canada is out Februrary 3.

To the surprise of no one, a second date for the Constantines/Weakerthans “Rolling Tundra Revue” tour has been added – there’s now an April 1 date to go along with the previously-announced March 31 one at the Phoenix. No foolin’.

The Henry Clay People, whose For Cheap Or For Free was endorsed in November, will be joining The Airborne Toxic Event on their Spring tour which passes through the El Mocambo on March 4.

MP3: The Henry Clay People – “Something In The Water”
MP3: The Henry Clay People – “Working Part Time”

The Sydney Morning Herald gets an update on Nick Cave’s literary aspirations.

XLR8R talks to Ben Curtis of School Of Seven Bells.

Okkervil River were on Letterman last night. It looked (and sounded) a little like this:

Video: Okkervil River – “Pop Lie” (live on the Late Show with David Letterman)

The Georgia Straight interviews Glasvegas, in town at the Mod Club April 3.

Anathallo have a date at the El Mocambo on February 3, tickets $12. Their new album is Canopy Glow.

The New Year, who must feel tremendous pressure to be topical and interesting every January, oblige with a new video, a brief interview and free download at Stereogum and an interview at the Dallas Observer.

Video: The New Year – “Seven Days And Seven Nights”

Is this Frightened Rabbit video an official one? Not sure, but it is cool. And that’s good enough.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “I Feel Better”

The Daily Yomiuri amuse Stuart Braithwaite and Barry Burns of Mogwai by calling them a “shoegaze” band.

Wireless Bollinger talks to Andrew Bird, who is releasing Noble Beast on January 20 and playing the Queen Elizabeth Theater on April 3.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Teeth Sinking Into Heart

Rachael Yamagata, The Low Anthem at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangGoing to as many shows as I do, I’ve come to expect a certain demographic in the audience with me. Which is to say largely male and frequently bearded. The audience at Friday night’s Rachael Yamagata show at the Mod Club, on the other hand, was most definitely predominantly female and for the most part, beardless. No, this was not one of my usual indie rock shows.

The audience was also impressively well-behaved, polite and attentive to support act The Low Anthem from Rhode Island. And they were easy to like, a trio with obvious and impressive musical ability – there was lots of instrument swapping on display – but able to check any muso inclinations in crafting a warm and gentle brand of country-rock, heavily indebted to Neil Young’s softer side but also able to turn it up a bit when the need arose. They may have been a bit too gentle to immediately spur me into seeking out their stuff, but a definite positive impression was made.

Rachael Yamagata has been through town a number of times in the past few years, supporting artists as disparate as Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore, but to my recollection this was her first headlining show in Toronto since her October 2004 show at the El Mocambo – that’s a long time. She even acknowledged as much early in the show, leading one to think she might make up for lost time and draw as much from her debut Happenstance as the just-released follow-up Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart, but the set list still leaned heavily on the new material.

And that was perfectly fine – Elephants is a solid record, showcasing Yamagata’s ability to draw endless inspiration from the subject of hurt and heartbreak and spin them into either bruised balladry or pointed rockers. I don’t necessarily agree with the choice to split the two sides into separate discs – Happenstance blended them and offered a stronger impression of her range – but it’s a minor quibble. Her live show mixed up the fast and the slow, with Yamagata moving from keyboard to electric guitar as need be to lead her three-piece band. Though it seemed at a few points she was favouring her lower register, her voice was rich, raspy and appropriately torchy, and capable of heart-rending emotion.

Though Yamagata’s songs tend to dwell largely on sadness, she’s an engagingly chipper performer, chatting and joking with the audience at length. It was quite nice seeing a dynamic between artist and audience based on such genuine affection, where the former doesn’t have to try and win over the latter, but because of that fact gives it their all. The crowd – attentive and dead silent while she played – obviously loved her, and the feeling was mutual. Elephants should lift Yamagata to the stature of one capable of headlining her own shows, no longer the perennial support act. In Toronto, at least, she’s already there.

Metro, NOW and A’N’E Vibe have interviews with Yamagata, the latter also adding a live review of the Mod Club show. The Toronto Sun was also there. Paste profiles The Low Anthem.

Photos: Rachael Yamagata, The Low Anthem @ The Mod Club – December 12, 2008
MP3: The Low Anthem – “To Ohio”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Faster”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sunday Afternoon”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Elephants”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sidedish Friend”
MySpace: Rachael Yamagata
MySpace: The Low Anthem

The long-discussed Will Sheff/Charles Bissell split-7″ – Will Sheff Covers Charles Bissell, Charles Bissell Covers Will Sheff – was released last week, and features Sheff covering The Wrens’ “Ex-Girl Collection” and Bissell doing Okkervil River’s “It Ends With A Fall”. Essential? Yes. Italian site Maps, the morning show for Italian radio station Citta Del Capo Radio Metropolitana, is also featuring a video/audio interview/session with Sheff. The site is in Italian but the interview is in English. Mostly.

MP3: Okkervil River – “Calling And Not Calling My Ex” (live on Maps)
MP3: Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines” (live on Maps)

Maps also had The New Year in for the same deal. Thanks to Jonathan from A Classic Education (and also a host on the show) for the tip.

MP3: The New Year – “Wages Of Sleep” (live on Maps)
MP3: The New Year – “Seven Days And Seven Nights” (live on Maps)

The good news is A Camp’s Colonia will be getting a North American release. The bad news is it will happen on April 28. The good news is the European label is still listing their street date as February 2.

Though I had Bruce Peninsula’s debut A Mountain Is A Mouth as one of the “next big thing”-ey releases for 2009, it’s actually available digitally as of today – but the CD proper isn’t out until February 3. The band has lined up a number of dates in the new year to promote it – they’re at the Horseshoe on January 31 supporting The Tom Fun Orchestra, will do an in-store at Soundscapes on release day February 3 and play a proper release show of their own on February 22 at the Polish Combatants Hall. If you can only make one, I’d say that’s the one to circle.

And while the 2008 concert year is pretty much done with, 2009 is already stacking up quite nicely. Jayhawks by any other name, Gary Louris & Mark Olson will hit the road in support of Ready For The Flood, out January 27, including a February 4 date at the Mod Club in Toronto. Tickets are $22.50 for this seated show. Seats! At the Mod Club! Zounds!

Blitzen Trapper are at The Horseshoe on February 21, tickets $10.50. They’re offering up a second MP3 from Furr and are the subject of interviews at Chart and The Georgia Straight.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Gold For Bread”

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit will take their new eponymous album on the road following its release on February 17 and play the Horseshoe on March 4, tickets $12. There’s full dates at Paste and a new song streaming at their MySpace

Bloc Party continue their habit of coming to town only when it’s entirely inconvenient for me to attend (excepting festivals). Case in point, their just-announced March 14 date at the Kool Haus, tickets $35. Inconvenient because that’s the final night of CMW and I would hope that there’s worthwhile stuff going on at the festival, far from the foot of Jarvis St. Bloc Party also just rolled out a new video.

Video: Bloc Party – “One Month Off”

Australia’s Presets have a date at the Mod Club on April 6. Full dates at The Music Slut.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

With NEW Hat!

Welcome to Chromewaves v7.5

Image via Simpsons Viewer Top 8And there we go. This is what I’ve been giving myself headaches over the last few days, dragging this here blog kicking and screaming from the horribly out of date CMS that I’ve been using for the last six years into a sleek, shiny and – most importantly – supported new system. I’ve been meaning to move to WordPress for ages but was daunted by the sheer scope of the task.

And so I must give profuse and immeasurable thanks to Ryan from The Catbirdseat for helping me with almost all the heavy lifting, including migrating over the entirety of my archives from the old system. You have no idea how big a deal that is. As it is, the old posts will remain up as there’s also six years worth of links to them, but they also all exist in the new system. Eventually I hope to come up with some manner of system to repoint all of those old links, but for the meantime, we’ll just run in parallel.

While you probably won’t see or experience much different – if everything works as it should, the only difference you should notice are the slightly changed cosmetics – but rest assured that under the hood is a very different beast. Moving to WordPress also means that I potentially have many more plugins at my disposal to play with and as we move forward, I’ll be doing so but for the immediate term, I’ll just be happy if nothing is horribly broken. I’ve tested a fair bit, but there’ll surely be some weirdness here and there that’ll need to be dealt with. If you find anything amiss, please email me or leave a comment telling me about it.

But enough about me. Here’s some links.

The Black Cab Sessions welcomes Jens Lekman to perform, what else, “Black Cab”.

Boston Music Spotlight and Express Night Out talk to Sam Fogarino of Magnetic Morning, who will play the Horseshoe this Thursday night October 23.

Matt Kadane of The New Year shuffles his ancient iPod for The AV Club.

Yuki Chikudate of Asobi Seksu talks to Chart about losing their second rhythm section in as many albums before the recording of their new one Hush, due in February.

Parts & Labor’s new album Receivers is out today, and is streaming at Spinner. They’re at Sneaky Dee’s on November 21.

MP3: Parts & Labour – “Nowhere’s Nigh”
Stream: Receivers

Also out today and streaming is Missiles, the new one from The Dears. They’ve also released the first video from said record.

Stream: The Dears / Missiles
Video: The Dears – “Money Babies”

While I’m wholly enthused for tonight’s Frightened Rabbit/Spinto Band show at Lee’s, I’m a twinge regretful that I can’t be at The Horseshoe at the same time for the free White Lies show. I keep hearing good things about the London trio, including being declared by SPIN as one of the hottest bands at CMJ this week – I may try to catch them in New York, but I fear the show may exceed my hipster tolerance levels and there’d be violence. Bassist Charles Cave wrote about their recent experience at Iceland Airwaves for The Guardian. Their Death EP is out today.

MP3: White Lies – “Death” (Crystal Castles remix)
Video: White Lies – “Death”
Video: White Lies – “Unfinished Business”

Black Mountain main man Stephen McBean brings his other band – Pink Mountaintops – to the Drake Underground on November 7, tickets $10.

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The Company I Can Get

The New Year in Toronto

Photo ByFrank YangRocking out, of course, would have been wholly inappropriate. The New Year may have finally chosen to visit Toronto after years of passing us by, but to make any sort of production of it would have been completely out of character. Instead, the slow and steady languidness on which they’ve built their career (or careers, if you count Bedhead) demanded that the Texan quintet show up, do their quietly mesmerizing thing and depart. Which they did, while still blowing at least a few of the 50 or so minds gathered to welcome them.

I’d gotten a preview of what the live show might be like when the two principals – Matt and Bubba Kadane – played Sneaky Dee’s as a duo back in July but as anticipated, the addition of the third (and at one point fourth) guitar and rock-solid rhythm section featuring drummer extraordinaire Chris Brokaw put things into another dimension from that stripped-down performance. I covered some of what makes The New Year special in my review of their new eponymous album but to see the intricate guitar-chestrations executed live was fascinating – between the five of them, it was like watching musical engineers at work, systematically and methodically building something cool and crystalline and beautiful.

Neither Kadane seemingly interested in stepping up to the front of the stage unless they had to sing, so at more than a few points the entire band was pulled back to near the back of the stage, far more intent on the job at hand than working the crowd. Material was drawn from all three of their records though with the absence of a piano in the lineup, arrangements were rejigged to be even more guitar-intensive but such is the magic of their recipe that even with all that going on, nothing got overly busy or muddled – each part rung out clear as a bell and as delicately or intensely as necessary. With a set that lasted just an hour including encore, it seemed rather short considering how long I – and at least a few others I sure – had waited for the show, but that’s a small complaint. Satisfying in every other regard.

It was unclear who support was for this show – all listings I’d seen said Angela Desveaux, but a few instead said a fellow named Ryan Driver. As it happens, it was both. Driver was up first and didn’t seem at all perturbed to be playing to less than a dozen people. Seated in a chair and deftly fingerpicking his acoustic guitar, he offering up a short set of fairly standard but still well-executed coffeehouse folk. Desveaux, on the other hand, brought a full-sized band featuring not just three guitars but a pedal steel as well, all tasked with recreating the rich country pop of her latest record The Mighty Ship. I’ve always found Desveaux to be a solid, if not over spectacular, live performer – her strength is very much her voice and songwriting – so the extra musical muscle went a long way to making things engaging throughout. Throw in a couple of covers from Paul Simon and Richard & Linda Thompson and you had a set that was comfy like a warm sweater.

New City Chicago talks to Matt Kadane, Here chats with Angela Desveaux.

Photos: The New Year, Angela Desveaux, Ryan Driver @ Lee’s Palace – October 15, 2008
MP3: The New Year – “The Company I Can Get”
MP3: The New Year – “X Off Days”
MP3: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
MP3: The New Year – “Sinking Ship”
MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Sure Enough”
MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Heartbeat”
Video: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
Video: Angela Desveaux – “Wandering Eyes”
Video: The New Year – “Disease”
MySpace: The New Year
MySpace: Angela Desveaux

Boston Music Spotlight spotlights Frightened Rabbit, playing Lee’s Palace on Tuesday.

The Ithaca Journal interviews Billy Bragg.

Travis – remember them? – are back with a new album in Ode To J Smith, out now. And it sounds a little like this.

MP3: Travis – “J. Smith”

Murray Lightburn details the fall and rise of The Dears to The Globe & Mail.

Time Out Chicago gets some time with TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe.

The Denver Post chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Their new EP Satanic Messiah is available digitally, either via a pay what you can model or at a suggested price tag of the devil of $6.66.

Colin Meloy gives Paste some insight into the next Decemberists record Hazards Of Love, currently targeted for an April release.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River gives SPIN an explanation of the song that closes out The Stand Ins, “Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979”.

Two Hours Traffic are coming back for their four millionth Toronto show this year for an all-ages gig at the Whippersnapper Gallery on November 28 as part of their “Sure Can Start” tour. Hey, that’s the same name as one of their songs. What a coincidence!

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Sure Can Start”

The Falls Church News Press and Minneapolis Star-Tribune talk to Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. They’ve got two dates at the Sound Academy on November 27 and 28.