Posts Tagged ‘Pipettes’

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Raise Your Head

Review of 6 Day Riot’s On This Island

Photo via FacebookFacebookI took to watching the British TV show Skins a little while back and in keeping with popular opinion, found the first two seasons to be compellingly done and only mildly ridiculous overall whereas the next generation was rather astoundingly charisma-free and so over the top that even the most outrageous soap opera writers would have gone, “really? You did that?”.

If there was some solace to be taken as I endured the later episodes (once I start watching something it’s very difficult to stop, no matter how bad), it was that the show’s reputation for excellent music direction didn’t waver over the show’s run. A fact which helped remind me that I hadn’t yet written up On This Island, the latest effort from London’s 6 Day Riot, when I heard soundtracking various scenes of English adolescent angst during season four.

Not that there’s anything particularly angsty about On This Island. Like its predecessors Folie a Deux and 6 Day Riot Have A Plan, it’s a frequently jubilant collection of songs that fully exploit the uptempo potential of their ukulele/violin/horn-led folk-klezmer musical recipe book. It’s a sound that’s become more in fashion in recent years, but 6 Day Riot have been at it since their inception and topping it all off with Tamara Schlesinger’s sweet vocals, they’ve crafted their own distinct personality from it. There are moments on the record when they stray from their strengths – some of the slower numbers don’t have the necessary momentum to get them where they need to be – but when on top of their game, as they are on cracking album opener “Take Me” and the sweeping “I Am You, You Are Me”, the results are terrific.

Video: 6 Day Riot – “Take Me”
Myspace: 6 Day Riot

Noah & The Whale are giving away the lead track from their third record Last Night On Earth, due out in March of next year, and a another new song is streaming over at Soundcloud. If these are a good indicator of what the album has to offer, then that nu-folk tag is going to be a thing of the past and that’s fine with me. These tunes are good. They play the Mod Club on March 24.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “Wild Thing”

Spin presents an acoustic video session with The Joy Formidable, whose full-length debut The Big Roar is out January 24 in the UK and March 15 in North America.

The Futureheads have released a video for their new holiday single. The Surrey Comet chats with guitarist Ross Millard.

Video: The Futureheads – “Christmas Was Better In The ’80s”

The Pipettes are also feeling festive, giving away an MP3 of “Santa’s On His Way” in exchange for your email.

Sky Larkin are giving away another track from their latest Kaleide. The trio also check in with The Daily Growl for their Seven Songs feature.

MP3: Sky Larkin – “Year Dot”

Patrick Wolf gives Clash a glimpse into his state of mind going into the recording of his next record, due out in the early part of next year.

Twin Shadow, whose presence very nearly overshadowed Glasser when he opened for her here last month, will have his own show at The Horseshoe on January 12, tickets $10.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Castles In The Snow”

Seattle’s Moondoggies – who will do nothing to undermine Seattle’s reputation as a factory for plaid-clad harmony-loving beard-folk – will make an appearance at The Horseshoe on February 2 in support of their debut Tidelands, tickets $10. The Standard-Examiner interviews Kevin Murphy from the band.

MP3: The Moondoggies – “It’s A Shame, It’s a Pity”

The Love Language will be opening for Telekinesis at The Horseshoe on March 6, making the bill doubly pop-tacular. Tickets for that one are $11.

MP3: The Love Language – “Heart To Tell”

The short list for the BBC Sound Of 2011 is up and if nothing else, should offer a bluffers guide to the acts you might be getting sick of hearing about next year. NME has done you the service of assembling download links for each act.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Forward Is All

Review of Sambassadeur’s European

Photo By Kjeli B PerssonKjeli B PerssonWhile it’s factually correct for Sambassadeur to have named their latest album European, it’s also a bit redundant. For from the moment album opener “Stranded”‘s power ballad piano intro segues into the sprightly orchestrally-inclined power pop verse, there’s no questioning what side of the Atlantic this record was crafted on. Or even which country.

There is something about Sambassadeur that is so very Swedish, beyond the obvious reference point of singer Anna Persson’s accent and precise, ever-so-slightly forlorn delivery. There’s the way the songs manage to be so richly appointed without becoming overburdened or overthought and they’re so wonderfully efficient in how they deliver their many irresistible hooks without ever feeling rushed. And while each song stands in pop splendour on their own, strung together they make European a delightful listening experience from start to end, a journey that lasts not even 34 minutes but easily justifies many round trips.

I had thought that Sambassadeur had reached their apex with 2007’s Migration, but clearly I underestimated them. This would normally be the part of the review where I’d say something along the lines of “I can’t wait to hear what they do next”, but I actually can because I’m perfectly happy to just keep spinning European for the foreseeable future. It’s a gem.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Days”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “Stranded”
Video: Sambassadeur – “I Can Try”
MySpace: Sambassadeur

Spin are offering for download an unreleased track from jj, recorded circa their album jj No 2. That’s the one that got everyone excited about them, not to be confused with jj No 3, which got everyone indifferent to them. It will be getting a reissue on August 3.

MP3: jj – “Baby”
MP3: jj – “Ecstasy”

NPR has posted a World Cafe session with Shout Out Louds.

The Bellingham Herald interviews Norway’s Casiokids, who have set a date at Supermarket for August 27 in support of Topp Stemning Pa Lokal Bar.

MP3: Casiokids – “Fot i hose”
MP3: Casiokids – “Finn bikkjen!”

Serena-Maneesh return to Toronto in support of S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor with a date at The Garrison on October 1, part of a co-headline tour with Wovenhand.

MP3: Serena Maneesh – “I Just Want To See Your Face”
MP3: Serena-Maneesh – “Ayisha Abyss”

Last week, PitchforkTV ran a Cemetery Gates video session series with Jonsi and altsounds an interview.

PitchforkTV is streaming the Vincent Moon-directed Mogwai feature Adelia: I Want To Love. Their new concert film/album Burning/Special Moves is out August 24 and there’ll be a screening of the film on September 14 at the Drake Underground.

Video: Adelia: I Want To Love

Interview talks to Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys.

The Pipettes have rolled out a new video from their just-released new album Earth Vs. the Pipettes

Video: The Pipettes – “Call Me”

The Fly serves up a courtyard video session with Johnny Flynn.

If you thought the July 19 show at the Horseshoe with We Are Scientists was undersized, it’s even moreso now that Lightspeed Champion has been announced as support. He’s got a number of North American dates in support of this year’s Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You.

Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Madame Van Damme”

Spinner continues to get mileage out af an interview with The Joy Formidable. And I continue to enable them.

Chart and Exclaim chat with Kele. He plays the Mod Club solo on July 27.

Mumford & Sons tell BBC they might try something different with album number two.

Beth Orton’s August 12 show at the Mod Club has been cancelled.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

One Life Stand

Hot Chip and The xx at the Kool Haus in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt doesn’t seem so long ago – say, last August – that everyone wanted to know when those responsible for the mope-out/make-out soundtrack of 2009 – The xx – were going to make it to Toronto. They made that long-awaited debut in December in support of Friendly Fires but before that show had even passed, they’d booked a return engagement for this past Tuesday at the Kool Haus supporting Hot Chip and then not long after that announcement, a third local show was slated for earlier this month with jj; talk about feast or famine. Of the two April performances, I opted to hit up the later one – yes, it meant passing up their first headlining slot, but I was much keener to see Hot Chip than jj, particularly after hearing how lacklustre their live sets were at SxSW.

There were definitely parallels between this show and the one in December; both found The xx’s significant buzz drowned out by that of the more established headliners and thus, still with significant swathes of the audience to win over. Working against them was the fact that the Hot Chip fans were clearly here for a party and The xx’s mood music had some trouble getting their attention, at least those standing in my vicinity. And it’s too bad that they found talking about their rec softball leagues more stimulating than what was coming off the stage, because in a short amount of time, The xx have become a much more compelling live act.

They brought none of the fancy stage dressings I’d heard about from their headlining show – even the glowing “X” DJ booth had apparently been traded in for a non-luminous model – but the polish and confidence of their relentless touring schedule was clear. In the past, I’ve defended the band against complaints that their live show was boring by asking what those naysayers would have them do – their stage presence might be low-key but it suits the atmosphere of their music perfectly – but even I was pleased to see that they had become just a little bit more visually compelling. Mostly that was bassist Oliver Sims, who seemed to now be letting the music do with him what it would, and that was making him swing pendulously around the stage while laying down the low end. It was a little thing, but quite noticeable. Musically, they also mixed things up a bit, with new and unexpected breakdowns in “Crystal” and “Basic Space”; for any other band, you’d say they were jamming things out a bit, but The xx are pretty much the antithesis of a jamming band – their aesthetic requires everything be meticulously considered and arranged, so while I’d have been perfectly happy hearing XX reproduced, their adding in something new was pleasantly surprising. And now I’d like them to stop touring – finally – and go write a new record.

Leading up to this show, I’d heard more than a few people comment on how Hot Chip were a great live band, a sentiment I found this somewhat odd considering that I’d seen them at Lollapalooza 2006 and, while I apparently enjoyed their set, the impression I’ve carried with me from that set was that they were kind of… dry in a live setting. Well, apparently it’s not fair to judge a band based on a mid-day, festival side-stage set because here, in front of a sold-out, ready to go audience of their own fans, they were fantastic. Now, I’ve only been peripherally acquainted with Hot Chip’s works until their latest, the comparatively sedate One Life Stand, but I’d always thought of them as a cerebral electro-pop band that you could also dance to if so inclined, but as it turns out they’re also a dancey electro-pop band that you can sit and wrap your head around, and on this night, it was the dancing that ruled.

Even though Toronto has a reputation as a town that likes to stand around at shows – arm-crossing optional – I’ve seen folks dance before. Never, however, quite like at this show. Most of the masses engaged in the bouncing and arm-waving that tends to be all once can get away with in big crowds, but out on the periphery there were people taking advantage of the open space to dance and dance elaborately, and not to be seen but just to let the music move them. And the dance party wasn’t just happening in the audience; on stage and despite being largely tethered to their keyboards and percussion setups, the London six-piece was in a celebratory mood and themselves dancing up a storm, helped along by the fact it was lead singer Alexis Taylor’s 30th birthday. Over the 80-minute set, they served up much of One Life Stand and most of the hits of their earlier records – thus making it a set for which I was actually able to recognize the bulk of the material – and did so with tremendous energy and big smiles, to boot. Hot Chip? Great live band.

Exclaim and Panic Manual also have reviews of the show. The xx have just released a new video for “Islands” and NPR will be webcasting both Hot Chip and The xx’s sets from Washington D.C. on April 24.

Photos: Hot Chip, The xx @ The Kool Haus – April 20, 2010
MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Pure Thought”
Video: Hot Chip – “Ready For The Floor”
Video: Hot Chip – “The Warning”
Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
Video: Hot Chip – “Colours”
Video: Hot Chip – “And I Was A Boy From School”
Video: Hot Chip – “Playboy”
Video: The xx – “Islands”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
MySpace: Hot Chip
MySpace: The xx

PopMatters talks to Daddy G of Massive Attack, who have two nights at the Sound Academy on May 7 and 9.

Editors have released two new videos – one from In This Light & On This Evening and one for the track they released on a 7″ for Record Store Day last week.

Video: Editors – “Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool”
Video: Editors – “Last Day”

BBC talks to The Futureheads about their new record The Chaos, due out June 1 and to be followed by a June 10 date at the Mod Club.

Paste declares We Were Promised Jetpacks amongst the “best of what’s next”.

The Dallas Observer talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, whom after almost a week of volcano-induced delays are now on a plane and en route to salvage their North American tour, meaning their May 4 show at the Opera House is a go.

Barring any more Icelandic ash spewing, Kate Nash will also make it over here in time to begin her North American tour in support of My Best Friend Is You at the Mod Club next Monday night. BBC, Seattle Post-Intelligencier and Spinner all talk to Nash about her sophomore effort.

The Daily Growl solicits a list of seven significant songs from Lucky Soul.

Gwenno Saunders of The Pipettes talks to Spinner about the band’s lineup changes; their new record Earth Vs. the Pipettes, due out June 28.

Oh, and I’ve started one of those Formspring things. Ask me questions! Or, y’know, don’t. S’cool.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

A More Perfect Union

Review of Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor

Photo By Bao NguyenBao NguyenEver since I first saw Fanfarlo during SxSW last year – even before, actually – I’ve been waiting for them to come to Toronto. And though a mid-December date was cancelled due to a stolen passport, it appears all systems are go for their debut this Friday night at Lee’s Palace… so why won’t I be there? Well, blame New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus.

After seeing more than a few glowing reviews of their new album The Monitor, I dug up my copy, popped it in the CD player and proceeded to have my ass kicked for the next 60-plus minutes. The American Civil War themes that run through the record and offer context to the spoken word clips that appear throughout make for good talking points, but what’s really important about The Monitor is that it’s an uncompromising rock record that’s as tuneful and honest as it is intense and aggressive and so booze-soaked, you can almost see the fumes coming out of the speakers. And while on paper, that’s what all rock music should be, in reality it’s quite a rare thing and so when you hear it done right – and The Monitor does it right – it’s an eye-opener.

As far as reference points go, Titus Andronicus beats the music writer to the punch via their own bio, pre-emptively stating, “Blah blah blah Springsteen blah blah blah beer blah blah blah beard blah blah blah Shakespeare yadda yadda yadda Seinfeld blah blah blah Conor Oberst in a vat of acid blah blah blah books”. Clever, but if they were being thorough there’d be a few more “blahs” separating references to The Replacements, Whiskeytown and The Hold Steady and truly, The Monitor finds Titus Andronicus following in their same dense, wordy, angst-ridden, despondent and triumphant footsteps. It sprawls and staggers, it stands up and falls down. And gets back up again.

So what’s this got to do with Fanfarlo and their delightful orchestral pop? Well, Titus Andronicus are going to be at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday night as well, and as much as I enjoy the Londoners and hope they have a great show, I kind of want/need to see Titus Andronicus and, if their live reputation is accurate, get my face torn off. Figuratively speaking.

Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles tells Spinner how he recruited the likes of Craig Finn and Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) to provide the dramatic readings interspersed throughout the album. Pitchfork solicits a guest list from the band and Exclaim, eMusic and The Georgia Straight have interviews.

MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part One)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part Two)
Video: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MySpace: Titus Andronicus

The Weekender talks to Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn about their new album Heaven Is Whenever, due out May 4.

Philadelphia Daily News, The Patriot Ledger, Victoria Advocate and JAM talk to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, who are in town this week for two nights at Lee’s Palace – April 6 and 7 – as well as an in-store at Sonic Boom at PM on Wednesday night. NYC Taper has a recording of their recent show in New York available to download.

White Rabbits have released a new video from last year’s It’s Frightening. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 27.

Video: White Rabbits – “They Done Wrong, We Done Wrong”

Beatroute and Spinner talk to Spoon. The band stopped in at CBC last week to record a session for QTV.

Video: Spoon – “The Mystery Zone” (live on QTV)

The Quietus talks to The National’s Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner about the making of High Violet, due out in just over a month on May 11. They play Massey Hall on June 8 and 9. And I really have to go pick up my tickets for that.

The Line Of Best Fit and Georgia Straight talk to Retribution Gospel Choir’s Alan Sparhawk.

LCD Soundsystem have scheduled a North American tour in support of their new record This Is Happening, out May 18, and it includes a May 25 date at the Kool Haus. Tickets $35 in advance, on sale Friday.

Stream: LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”

The Music Slut asks eight questions of Steve Drozdt of The Flaming Lips. They’ve announced a July 7 date in Montreal, so can a Toronto date – their first in almost four years – be far off? I imagine not.

Chart, eye and Metro talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan about their contributions to the film Passenger Side, which premieres at the Royal tomorrow night and will be followed by an acoustic set from half of the ‘Chunk – Mac and Jim.

Interview and Under The Radar interview The Drums, whose debut album is due out June 7.

NPR interviews Sam Coomes of Quasi, who are in town at the Horseshoe on April 18.

Sounds Good Ink has a feature on Let’s Wrestle, who will be supporting Quasi on the aforementioned date (and tour).

Broward-Palm Beach New Times and Athens Banner-Herald have conversations with Arctic Monkeys bassist Nick O’Malley while News-Observer chats with guitarist Jamie Cook.

Doves’ guitarist Jez Williams talks to The Guardian about using the moon as a delay pedal and that the band have no plans to split, despite being in the career retrospective phase with the upcoming release of The Places Between: The Best Of Doves, due out April 20. Williams also tells BBC6 that he feels for new bands trying to get their careers started in this day and age.

Spinner and The Times chat with The Futureheads – their new record The Chaos is out in North America on June 1.

eGigs talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, who are at the Opera House on May 4.

The first single from The Pipettes’ new record Earth Vs Pipettes, out June 28, is now available to download. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the choruses in the song went, “Our love was saved by Dr. Leo Spaceman“? Yes? No? Sorry, been watching a lot of 30 Rock.

MP3: The Pipettes – “Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen”

OPB Music has a video session with The Clientele, The Montreal Miror an interview.

Magnet prepares to hand over the editor’s desk to David Gedge of The Wedding Present for a week with a Q&A. They kicked off their Bizarro 20th anniversary tour last week and will be at the Horseshoe on April 14. The Aquarian Weekly also has an interview.

PopMatters interviews Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant.

Clash lists 12 things you didn’t know about Pet Shop Boys.

The Quietus celebrates the 20th anniversary and defends the legacy of Lush.

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Headphone Space

An introduction to A Sunny Day In Glasgow and giveaway

Photo By Ever NalensEver NalensThis isn’t quite an introduction as I first said hello to A Sunny Day In Glasgow back in December 2006, but considering they’re far from the same band they were at the time of their first EP, I think we can let it slide. When I first took notice of the Philadelphia outfit, they were a family unit – Ben Daniels on songwriting and instrumentation with twin sisters Robin and Lauren on vocals – with some clear genetic predilection for blending wispy melodies with fuzzy, clattering programming and cut-and-paste production, the net result sounding like a proud standard-bearer for electro-twee-gaze, if such a genre ever existed.

And while that sounds like the sort of thing that would be target-marketed to my musical sensibilities, I found their 2007 debut Scribble Mural Comic Journal a little too much of a head trip to really fall in love with. The melodies, while present, were buried under reverb and white noise and the song structures deliberately bent into disorienting shapes. Clearly this was deliberate aesthetic and musical choice on their part, and points should probably be given and not taken away for not doing the easy “pop” thing, but I never found myself wanting to listen to it much.

The follow-up, last year’s Ashes Grammar, continued along the path forged by the debut but with enough added clarity and growth to make it a far superior effort, at least by my standards. The aural gauze that swaddled all of Comic Journal has been thinned out enough that it’s easier and more enjoyable to pick out the many tones and textures at play. The vocals are still deliberately ghost-like, but given stronger melodies to wrap themselves around, they can’t help but make their presence more strongly felt. It’s a record that manages to be much more what I wanted to hear from them and yet remaining very much what they envision for themselves – win-win.

So of course as soon as the record came out, the band went off and reinvented themselves, personnel-wise. Through a series of circumstances, both sisters left the band and a new lineup more suited to touring was assembled around the one constant of Ben Daniels. It was this ASDG Mk2 that I saw a couple weeks ago at SxSW and who surprised me just how direct-sounding the live renderings of their songs are. Granted, reproducing the records verbatim would be as difficult as it is pointless, but it was still a bit of a shock – pleasantly so – how willing and able they were reinvent themselves as a relatively straight pop band on stage.

Due to an inability to tell time, I only caught the tail end of their performance but it was enough that for all the live music options in Toronto this coming Friday night, April 2, I’ve committed to catching their local debut at the Garrison. Tickets for the show are $10 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to spend A Sunny Day In Glasgow” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, March 31., The Daily Free Press and Spinner have interviews with ASDG leader Ben Daniels.

MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Sigh Inhibitionist”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Ashes Grammar/Ashes Math”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Best Summer Ever”
MP3: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “Watery (Drowning is Just Another Word for Being Buried Alive Under Water)”
Video: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “A Mundane Phone Call To Jack Parsons”
Video: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “So Bloody Tight”
MySpace: A Sunny Day In Glasgow

NOW and The Boston Herald have feature pieces on Beach House, playing a sold-out show at the Opera House tomorrow night and then returning for the Toronto Island Concert on June 19.

Faster Louder talks to Neil Halstead about the legacy of Slowdive. A legacy which is being anthologized (again) in a new collection entitled Shining Breeze, out April 26 in the UK. There’s details on the collection over here – looks like it’s a mix of album and single/EP tracks, but nothing that wasn’t made available via the reissues in 2005 or the presumably out of print 2004 best-of Catch The Breeze.

California Chronicle interviews The Big Pink.

Field Music talks to eye.

The Pipettes have released a new video from their forthcoming record Earth vs Pipettes, due out on June 28.

Video: The Pipettes – “Stop The Music”

NME chats with Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, who has released a new video for “The Dog Days Are Over” from Lungs. I thought the original one was fun and fine, but if you’ve got budget to spend I guess you may as well. Florence is at the Kool Haus on April 10.

Video: Florence & The Machine – “The Dog Days Are Over” (new version)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “The Dog Days Are Over” (old version)

The Music Magazine talks to Emmy The Great about how things are progressing on album number two. Answer: slowly.

BBC6 and Clash talk to Laura Marling about her new record I Speak Because I Can, out in North American on April 6. There’s a couple videos of the song “Rambling Man” now available – the official video and a Black Cab Session recorded at last year’s SxSW festival.

Video: Laura Marling – “Rambling Man”

Spinner talks to Mumford & Sons about their just-released Interface session.

Toro Y Moi has had to cancel Tuesday night’s appearance at the Drake Underground as a result of having his gear nicked in New York the other night. Headliners The Ruby Suns are still performing.

Sloan will be marking Record Store Day on April 17 with an in-store at Sonic Boom, time TBA. Blurt has a piece on why Record Store Day and record stores in general are awesome.

Rufus Wainwright will be performing at the Elgin-Winter Garden on June 15. His opera Prima Donna is running that week as part of LuminaTO, but it seems this date will be a concert from Rufus himself. Update: PR just confirmed the 15th is a solo Rufus show and a second show has been added for June 17.