Posts Tagged ‘Pavement’

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Ain't Waitin'

Justin Townes Earle braves the border

Photo By Joshua Black WilkinsJoshua Black WilkinsIt was an unfortunate on many levels when, last September, Justin Townes Earle got into a dust-up in Indianapolis while on tour for last year’s Harlem River Blues. Beyond the obvious downside of getting arrested for battery, public drunkenness, and resisting arrest, he had to cancel a string of dates in order to enter rehab – including a date in Toronto – and while his American commitments were rescheduled and fulfilled later in the Fall, his record (the police kind, not the musical) made trying to get back up into Canada an unlikely proposition in the short term.

But it would appear that almost a year on, the appropriate paperwork has been done, records expunged and/or promises of good behaviour made because Earle is set to make up his show at The Horseshoe on August 26 with Shovels & Rope supporting, tickets $15.50 in advance. Interestingly, that’s less than a week after his dad – who has had his own run-ins with controlled substances and the law – plays The Molson Amphitheatre. And hopefully Earle will also make up his cancelled in-store at Criminal Records, assuming he has a well-developed sense of irony about the store’s name…

The Tennessean, Grand Rapids Press and The Lantern all have interviews with Earle.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues”

In other show announcements, cutie patootie Australian pop singer Lenka has made a date at Lee’s Palace for June 15 in support of her second album Two. Beatweek has an interview.

Video: Lenka – “Heart Skips A Beat”

Shoegaze will rule when Hamilton drone-rock veterans Sianspheric come out of retirement to team up with Austin-based MBV-worshippers Ringo Deathstarr at The Garrison on June 30.

MP3: Sianspheric – “This All Happened”
MP3: Ringo Deathstarr – “Imagine Hearts”

North Carolinan orchestral-folk collective Lost In The Trees have set a date for The Drake Underground for July 25; all accounts I’ve heard are that they are amazing live. All Alone In An Empty House certainly offers evidence they’re amazing on record. You should go to this.

MP3: Lost In The Trees – “All Alone In An Empty House”

With the June 28 release of their new record Sound Kapital nigh, Handsome Furs have announced an August 1 show at The Horseshoe; tickets are $15 and go on sale Thursday.

MP3: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”

With both Soundgarden and Foo Fighters coming to town over the next few months, it’s only natural that Pearl Jam also schedule a visit. Their twentieth anniversary cross-Canada tour will feature two dates at the Air Canada Centre – September 11 and 12 – and feature support from Mudhoney. Grunge lives what?

MP3: Mudhoney – “I’m Now”
Video: Pearl Jam – “Even Flow”

Toro Y Moi will be at The Opera House on September 18 as part of a Fall tour in support of Underneath The Pine, released earlier this year.

MP3: Toro Y Moi – “Still Sound”

Interview talks to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. They’re at The Phoenix tomorrow night, May 18, and the Molson Amphitheatre on July 29. Their new record Codes & Keys is out May 31.

Peter Silberman of The Antlers takes Drowned In Sound on a song-by-song tour of new album Burst Apart. They are at The Mod Club on June 14.

Head over to Pitchfork to trade your email for the first MP3 from Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, out June 21. They play The Sound Academy on August 9.

Drowned In Sound meets Explosions In The Sky.

Laundromatinee gets all sessional with Ra Ra Riot.

Bradley’s Almanac is sharing recordings of a Pavement show in Boston last Fall.

NYC Taper has posted recordings of Yo La Tengo’s two shows at Brooklyn’s Bell House last week, The Wall Street Journal asks the band about their “Wheel Of Fortune” tour and Wine Enthusiast talks to them about eating (and drinking) on the road.

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Heavy Boots

Review of Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore

Photo via nicoletakins.comnicoletakins.comThat Nicole Atkins’ 2007 debut album Neptune City was a favourite in these parts is a matter of public record, but does that mean it was a perfect record? No, not at all. As a vocalist and songwriter, Atkins has never tried to hide her New Jersey roots or the classic rock, blues and country traditions that informed her formative years so drenching her first record in big, romantic orchestral arrangements was a gutsy case of trying something completely unexpected from the get-go. And by and large, it succeeded though it was more because of Atkins herself and sometimes despite the production choices.

So opting to strip things down for her second effort, the just-released Mondo Amore, might seem a little less creatively adventurous but hearing Atkins operating completely within her comfort zone and playing to her strengths more than validates the decision. The front half of Amore showcases the rock instincts that were sublimated on Neptune City, from the sinister and slinky leadoff “Vultures” through the countrified “Cry Cry Cry” and barrelling “You Come To Me” – some of the genre nods can be a little on the nose, but their energy more than makes up for it.

As invigorating as side one of Mondo Amore is, it’s the smouldering side two that really seals the deal, dimming the lights, raising the reverb and spotlighting Atkins at her wounded, torchy best. The compositions themselves wouldn’t have been out of place on Neptune City, but whereas a track like “Heavy Boots” might have reached its crescendo accompanied by legions of strings, Amore drives the emotional quotient home with cavernous piano and understatedly snarling electric guitar. There’s still plenty of drama on tap, but it’s delivered more naturally and thus more effectively – Amore is less theatre, more boozecan, and all the better for it.

The New York Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Palo Alto Daily News, Largehearted Boy, Spinner,, Blurt, Interview and BlogCritics all have features on Nicole Atkins. Her North American tour is underway and will make its way to The Horseshoe in Toronto on February 26. The whole of Mondo Amore is currently available to stream at Spinner.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Stream: Nicole Atkins / Mondo Amore

Conor Oberst discusses the new Bright Eyes modus operendi with Billboard. The People’s Key is out next week and they’re at The Sound Academy on March 13.

Pitchfork is streaming Okkervil River’s new non-album single “Mermaid” while talking to Will Sheff about their new record I Am Very Far, due out May 10. Sheff also takes Spin through the new album track by track.

Austin360 celebrates Shearwater drummer Thor Harris.

Buffalo Tom is making an acoustic EP entitled Bones available for free download from their website in advance of the release of new album Skins next week.

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with Local Natives.

The Telegraph profiles Drive-By Truckers, whose latest Go-Go Boots arrives February 22.

There’s a new MP3 from J Mascis’ forthcoming solo record Several Shades Of Why, out March 15. He’s at The Great Hall on March 11 for Canadian Musicfest.

MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”

Oh hey it’s a new Kills video. Blood Pressures is out April 4 and they play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Video: The Kills – “Satellite”

Phantogram have released a new video from last year’s Eyelid Movies.

Video: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

Ahead of their show at The Horseshoe later that evening, Telekinesis will play an acoustic in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM on March 6. Their new record 12 Desperate Straight Lines is out next Tuesday.

MP3: Telekinesis – “Car Crash”

Magnet Q&As John Vanderslice, whom they’re letting play website editor for the week.

The final deluxe-ass Pavement reissue – that for Terror Twilight – will see the light of day sometime in November.

Eater talks food and drink with Ted Leo.

The Phoenix New Times interviews Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino while eye catches up with School Of Seven Bells. They’re both at The Sound Academy on February 15.

Exclaim reports the new TV On The Radio record has a name – Nine Types Of Light – and should be out this Spring.

And because for a short time yesterday people trying to get the new Strokes MP3 basically broke the internet, here it is. It sounds like The Strokes. Angles is out March 22.

MP3: The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”

Monday, January 31st, 2011


Review of Shugo Tokmaru’s Port Entropy

Photo via PolyvinylPolyvinylSo I’ve had to check myself a couple times from taking a, “Shugo Tokumaro‘s music is so weird and wonderful, it must be because he’s Japanese!” angle on this writeup. Because even though it’s not incorrect – Tokumaru IS Japanese and sings entirely in Japanese and many things that come out of Japan are weird and wonderful to Western sensibilities – it’s too reductive and doesn’t give Tokumaru enough credit for what he’s done with his music.

His latest album, Port Entropy is the second of his records I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in after 2008’s Exit and like its predecessor, it’s a whimsical whirlwind of instruments and orchestration, almost all played by Tokumaru, that lifts aloft his winsome and dreamlike melodies. For all the musical sophistication and cinematic scope of his recordings, the songs at their core have a childlike simplicity and pop appeal that transcends things like language or culture, and anyways “la la la” pretty much means the same thing universally.

Port Entropy was released in the Spring of 2010 in Japan and will be out in North America on February 15. Tokumaru toured over here behind Exit, assisted in the live setting by members of such acts as Beirut and The National, and word is that he’ll be crossing the Pacific again to support the new record.

MP3: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shugo Tokmaru – “Lahaha”
Video: Shogu Tokumaru – “Tracking Elevator”
Video: Shugo Tokumaru – “Rum Hee”

Spin talks to Bob Nastanovich about the future of the Pavement reunion, which apparently isn’t as over as though who saw them melt down at Matador 21 might have guessed – but even if they play more shows, don’t expect any new material.

PopMatters, Exclaim and The Star-Tribune talk to Mark Olson of The Jayhawks.

Spinner talks to Nicole Atkins about her Canadian connections while Vol. 1 Brooklyn asks her about her reading habits. Atkin’s second record Mondo Amore is out February 8 and she plays The Horseshoe on February 26.

State and Baltimore Magazine talk to Dean Wareham.

Black Book returns to Chicago’s Wicker Park with Liz Phair. Nashville Scene also has an interview.

The National Post, The Independent and Time talk to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, who are at The Sound Academy tomorrow night. NYC Taper is sharing a recording of their show in New York from last week.

Paste catches up with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.

Le Blogotheque serves up an order of Take-Away Show with Spoon, up-sized to include downloadable MP3s of the performance.

The Georgia Straight talks to Daniel Kessler of Interpol, who have a date at The Sound Academy on February 15.

The Strokes make the press rounds in advance of the March 22 release of Angles, offering interviews to Spinner, Myspace and Spin.

Beggars USA reports that Alela Diane will release a new record entitled Alela Diane & Wild Divine on April 5th.

The New Zealand Herald and Pitchfork talk to Sufjan Stevens.

In support of the release of their new record Long Live on February 15, Snowblink will play an in-store at Soundscapes on March 3 followed by a record release show at The Music Gallery on March 5.

MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”

Plants & Animals will warm up for their March 5 show at Lee’s Palace with an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom that same afternoon at 4PM.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

The National has words with Dan Bejar of Destroyer. They are at Lee’s Palace on March 31.

NOW checks in with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras.

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Matador At 21: The Lost Weekend Day One

Pavement, Sonic Youth, Fucked Up and more at Matador at 21

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangLas Vegas is the sort of place that everyone should go to once in their life, if just to bear witness to the astonishing and grotesque excess of the city. If you couldn’t tell, I am no great fan of the place and, having been there once as an adult some years back, I had been there, done that, eaten the deep-fried twinkie and had no need to ever go back. Matador Records, however, felt otherwise and so when the astonishingly stacked lineup for their 21st anniversary celebrations was announced earlier in the Summer, I begrudgingly made plans to return to Sin City.

And it was a hard deal to pass up. Beyond the sheer amount of indie rock royalty that was being crammed into three nights, there were packages that included rooms at the casino where everything was going down – The Palms – which as I learned was regarded as a party hotel even by Vegas standards and had a history of hosting such cultural watershed events as The Real World and hosting luminaries from Jersey Shore. But while the couple thousand Mata-fans who descended on Vegas Friday, Saturday and Sunday were but a drop in the ocean of decadence that was a normal weekend at The Palms, we were able to commandeer their fancy-pants Pearl concert theatre, fittingly located underground so as to keep the Morlocks apart from the Eloi, to celebrate the days when indie rock was called college rock.

The Friday night program was thankfully the most compact of the three, a thoughtful bit of consideration for those who traveled several time zones to be there (aside: Vegas is in the Pacific time zone, not Mountain, which is an interesting thing to discover when you land and it’s not what time you thought it was). But it was still as laden with great bands as you could hope for, though it was almost a little less laden before things even got started. In mid-afternoon, word was going around that Japan’s Guitar Wolf had had their flight delayed and weren’t going to make it in time to kick things off. Writing them off turned out to be premature, though, as they apparently opted to drive to Vegas rather than wait for a flight and were able to storm the stage with their leather pants and pure garage rock posture for an abbreviated but still incredibly bould electrifying set. Pretty great for a band that wasn’t even supposed to be there.

Photos: Guitar Wolf @ Pearl at The Palms – October 1, 2010
MP3: Guitar Wolf – “After School Thunder”

Next up were one of a few old-school Matador alumnus who had been largely inactive for the past decade but got it back together for the occasion – New York’s Chavez. Their aggressively mathy yet melodic sound was very much of the ‘90s but still undeniably potent. Led by Matt Sweeney’s vocals and Clay Tarver’s searing guitar lines, they played a tremendous energy you wouldn’t expect from a band that’s only occasionally active. Their compact set whipped the crowd into a delirium and offered a glimpse into what an alternate universe where these singles had been hits might have looked like – graying and clad in faded t-shirts, yes, but still delirious. I’d listened to a little Chavez in the past; clearly there’s a need to listen to a lot more.

Photos: Chavez @ Pearl at The Palms – October 1, 2010
MP3: Chavez – “The Guard Attacks/Unreal Is Here”
MP3: Chavez – “You Faded”

Considering the veteran demographic of much of the attendees, it’s not surprising that Fucked Up seemed to be the designated pee break band. They were the only band representing the Matador new school on this night and even though they’ve succeeded as a sort of gateway hardcore act, they weren’t exactly classically Matador-sounding. And it’s just as well that some of the audience cleared out as it gave the youth contingent more room to lose their shit, which they did with gusto as Fucked Up provided the ideal soundtrack for shit-losing. As his bandmates churned out an unrelenting rock attack, frontman Pink Eyes was in fine form with a plastic cup smashed and stuck on his forehead for am impressively long time as he roamed the stage, bellowing and hollering all the while. The highlight of their set, though, wasn’t Fucked Up per se but one of their fans who went on an epic-length crowd surf that found him on stage singing with the band, back into the crowd, back on stage, out into a cluster of photographers (not a good idea we don’t have free hands and dropping you is a preferable scenario to dropping our gear), way out the far corners of the Pearl floor, back on stage and then heaved up fireman-style onto Damian Abraham’s shoulders and once more back into the crowd. No, this was not something you were likely to see during Belle & Sebastian’s set.

Photos: Fucked Up @ Pearl at The Palms – October 1, 2010
MP3: Fucked Up – “Neat Parts”
MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Twice Born”

Sonic Youth have only been a Matador band for one record so far, but they certainly they shaped the landscape that allowed the label to exist and are spiritually intertwined on countless levels. But rather than focus on their official Matador material – last year’s The Eternal – they instead performed some revisionist history and adopted their back catalog with OLE numbers and delivered a jaw-dropping set of exclusively pre-1994 material in their original four-piece configuration, with Kim Gordon on bass full-time. The throwback song selections was a great contrast to their show at Massey Hall last year where they focused almost exclusively on the new material and while that was certainly a great show in its own right, this one was another level of riveting entirely. And maybe most terrifically, they closed out with a genuine, physical guitar duel as Lee Ranaldo dashed across the stage to cross guitar necks with Thurston Moore, laying flat on the stage. It was great to see the musical godfathers of nearly everyone playing this weekend still having fun like, well, youths.

Photos: Sonic Youth @ Pearl at The Palms – October 1, 2010
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”

The night closed with the reunion that a year ago no one ever thought would happen – Pavement – winding down a year of shows that had taken them around the world to claim some of the reward that largely eluded them when they were an active proposition in the ‘90s. And while Pavement 2010 has been a success by most standards, on this night there were clearly signs that the tensions that split them up a decade ago were resurfacing. Just one song into the set, some technical issues with Steve West’s drum kit opened up some dead time, prompting Steven Malkmus to invite Bob Nastaonovich to join him in an impromptu reading of “Perfect Depth” but not extending it to Scott Kannberg – whether it was an oversight or deliberate slight, only SM knows but the net result was an unhappy Spiral Stairs (credit to Prefix for catching it). Kannberg’s unhappiness boiled over when he stepped up for “Kennel District” and while Malkmus – who had earlier turned his mic stand so as to have his back to the band – rolled around on the floor covering his parts, Kannberg alternated verses with grimaces and by song’s end was fuming over perceived flubs, though it sounded fine in the audience.

Seething and palpable tensions aside, Pavement sounded great and their performance had an extra bit of looseness that wasn’t there when they played Pitchfork earlier in the Summer. Malkmus, in particular, was in a strangely goofy mood, cracking jokes and batting around the mic like a toy and Nastanovich was, well, Nastanovich, bounding around the stage like a kid while belting out his parts. The SM/SS dynamic would still be the biggest take-away from their set as Kannberg walked off stage a couple times before the set was done, only grudgingly returning to finish things off. It was a very Pavement moment that rather than have a properly grand finale prepared for their final North American show, they went with an off-the-cuff “AT&T” and, uncertain if they had any more time but down a guitarist, shuffled off stage. No handcuffs made an appearance but no one in attendance will likely be surprised if it’s announced that Pavement are, again, done. And for night one, despite some sweet-ass after party type events scheduled, I was also done.

Photos: Pavement @ Pearl at The Palms – October 1, 2010
MP3: Pavement – “Gold Soundz”
MP3: Pavement – “Rattled By The Rush”
MP3: Pavement – “Heckler Spray/In THe Mouth Of A Desert” (live)
MP3: Pavement – “All My Friends”
MP3: Pavement – “Greenlander”

You may note that no mention was made of the evening’s MC, Jeffrey Joe Jensen. This was deliberate.

eye talks to Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham at Matador at 21 while The New York Times considers the Pavement reunion and the band’s legacy. There’s more night one writeups at Las Vegas Weekly, The AV Club and Los Angeles Times. And loads more are out there, just look.

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Love More

Review of Sharon Van Etten’s Epic

Photo By Allison KayeAllison KayeIt’s hard to reconcile Sharon Van Etten with the exquisitely sad character who crafted her gorgeous debut album Because I Was In Love. On stage and in person, she’s a friendly and outgoing young woman who seems worlds removed from the bruised soul who inhabits her songs, but there’s no questioning the honesty behind the record – built around Van Etten’s skeletal guitarwork, raw lyrics and stunningly emotive voice, it was impossible to imagine that something that came across so intimately and personal could have any guile around it.

It was also a record that as great as it was, for the artist’s sake, you hoped she wouldn’t be able to create a similarly inspired follow-up; navigating the emotional terrain that informed the debut wasn’t the sort of thing you’d wish on anyone twice, and yet there was no denying the want or need to hear more from her, of her voice. Where do you go from there? To Epic. Though clocking in at just seven tracks and barely 32 minutes, it doesn’t quantitatively measure up to its name, the emotional breadth of the music contained therein actually makes the title something of an understatement. Whereas Love‘s voice and primarily acoustic guitar aesthetic suited the material perfectly, Epic takes the necessary step of filling out the arrangements with a full band. It’s a sound that we got a taste of when she last played Toronto in April and tourmates Megafaun backed her up for one song and the greatness of the configuration is borne out by the richer sounds of Epic, and allows her to more fully delve into particular styles, like the rock drive of “Peace Sign” and steel-enhanced country of “Save Yourself”.

But more important than the sonic growth on Epic is the lyrical and emotional growth; whereas Love focused on the titular subject and its aftermath, the follow-up gets up, dusts itself off and fights back. There is a distinct snarl about Epic that’s surprising but also quite welcome, fitting nicely with the more dynamic arrangements and reinforcing the sense of strength that permeates the album without losing any of Van Etten’s trademark vulnerability. Though they only number seven, each song on Epic has a distinct vibe that sets it apart from its peers and together, they make for a complete musical and emotional journey that ends, fittingly, on the gorgeous and hopeful “Love More”; a song which, like the rest of the album, makes any working heart simultaneously break and soar.

Rollo & Grady and Kevchino interview Sharon, who will be opening up for Junip on their Fall tour including the November 5 show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

Two weeks before it’s due to be released on October 12, Sufjan Stevens’ new album The Age Of Adz is up to stream at NPR. Stevens and company play Massey Hall on October 13.

Stream: Sufjan Stevens / The Age Of Adz

DCist talks to Amy Klein and The Washington Post to Patrick Stickles, both of Titus Andronicus.

Drowned In Sound meets Josh Ritter, who’ll be at the Phoenix on October 26.

The Flaming Lips have released another nudity-replete, NSFW video from Embryonic. Know what would be really groundbreaking from these guys? A clip where everyone keeps their clothes on. Mind. Blown.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “See The Leaves”

Spin checks in with Chris Walla on how the new Death Cab For Cutie album is coming. Don’t expect anything before 2011, obviously.

Incendiary talks to Warpaint, who will be at Massey Hall opening up for The xx on Wednesday night and will release their debut album The Fool on October 26.

NYC Taper was on-hand for at least two of Pavement’s many New York City shows this week – check out recordings from two of the Central Park shows and NPR’s interview with Matthew of Fluxblog about attending all five of the band’s recent New York shows. Update: All five shows are up on NYC Taper’s site.

The Courier-Journal talks inspiration and influence with The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who has just written an anthem for the Minnesota Twins – details and a stream at Spin.

eMusic chats with Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

Southern Souls have posted a video session with The Dø, recorded on their recent visit to Toronto.

Drowned In Sound spends some time with the non-Nick Cave members of Grinderman. They are at the Phoenix on November 11. With Cave. Don’t Worry.