Posts Tagged ‘PS I Love You’

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Vowels = Space And Time

Grimes leads historical reenactment of War Of 1812. Or something.

Photo By John LondonoJohn LondonoI didn’t study a whole lot of history in school – to my regret – and the topics I did cover didn’t include the War Of 1812. I did, however, take a lot of math courses so I am able to calculate that this is the 200th anniversary of said conflict between the then-British territory that would become known as Canada and the newly-independent United States of America.

The precise causes of the war aren’t entirely clear to me but based on the musical events being scheduled at Toronto’s Historic Fort York – the site of the Battle Of York in April 1813 – this Summer, it was about the inalienable right to get one’s dance on. After all – there’s the HARD fest in August where French electro/disco headliners Justice and M83 will presumably be representing the interests of Lower Canada, and just announced this week for July 13 is the first date of the Full Flex Express tour. It will see Canadian electro artist Grimes teaming up with American DJ types Skrillex and Diplo travelling the country by train to celebrate the way in which our two countries were able to overcome our differences and spend the last two centuries coexisting in harmony through the power of dubstep. Or maybe they’re going to don period uniforms, brandish muskets, and have at each other for a few hours. One can only hope.

Tickets go on sale today with a limited number of early birds available for $41.50 and the rest at $51.50. And to top it off, Grimes has released a new video from this year’s Visions that I assume is an accurate recreation of Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe’s retreat from the American forces at Fort York. There’s more nudity than I would have expected, but hey – I’m not the historian here.

MP3: Grimes – “Genesis”
MP3: Diplo – “Express Yourself”
Video: Skrillex – “Bangarang”
Video: Grimes – “Nightmusic”

Chad VanGaalen has made a date at The Mod Club for July 26.

MP3: Chad VanGaalen – “Willow Tree”

The Wilderness of Manitoba are still being coy about the what and when of their second album, but they’re being generous with where. They’ve got a couple shows planned for the Summer – one on June 1 at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse and another on June 30 on the Toronto Islands as part of the New Traditions festival with a goodly number of artists, both musical and visual. Admission for the Steam Whistle thing is $5 and a festival pass for the latter is $20.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

And if you like your festivals on islands, you’ll be pleased to know that Kingston’s Wolfe Island Music Festival has announced their 2012 lineup – Sam Roberts, Zeus, and Yukon Blonde are just a few of the acts playing on August 10 and 11, early bird tickets are $65, include camping and go on sale next week. I went to the fest back in 2007 and it is a great time, well worth the trip up the 401.

NOW makes cover stars of PS I Love You, headlining The Garrison on May 15.

Metro, The Winnipeg Free Press, and Monday talk to Al Spx of Cold Specks, whose debut album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is out May 22. They play The Music Hall on June 2 opening for Great Lake Swimmers.

And speaking of Great Lake Swimmers, there’s feature interviews with the band at Vancouver Weekly, The Victoria Times Colonist, Exclaim, The Calgary Herald, and The Georgia Straight. In addition to the aforementioned Music Hall show, they’ll be supporting Blue Rodeo at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 18.

Japandroids give Exclaim some background on the title of their new album Celebration Rock, out May 29. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 23.

With the June 12 release date of Synthetica coming up, Metric gives Rolling Stone an acoustic performance of the first single and tell where the “reflection” videos they’re using as promotional teasers came from. gets Plants & Animals to offer commentary for their “Lightshow” video. They play Yonge-Dundas Square on June 15 for NXNE.

Spin gets to know Dan Mangan, who plays a free show as part of LuminaTO at Pecault Square on the afternoon of June 16.

The Guardian gets on board with The Magic. Their debut Ragged Gold is out June 25.

Trust have released a new video from their debut album TRST. They play The Great Hall on July 13.

Video: Trust – “Sulk”

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Sentimental Dishes

Review of PS I Love You’s Death Dreams and giveaway

Photo By Vanessa HeinsVanessa HeinsKingston duo PS I Love You have a pretty well-established aesthetic. Over there, you’ve got Benjamin Nelson manning the kit with an impressively nimble brutality while looking bored to a degree that would impress Charlie Watts, and then there’s Paul Saulnier shredding every neck on his guitar while simultaneously howling and yelping into the mic. It’s a recipe best served loud and live and that’s where I preferred to experience them, where it was easier to focus on Saulnier’s fantastic fretwork than his acquired-taste vocals which I had trouble acquiring. Still, enough people enjoyed the recorded version that their 2010 debut Meet Me At The Muster Station made the 2011 Polaris Prize long list and allowed them to tour the world, seemingly incessantly.

Somewhere in all that time on the road, however, they found the time to write and record a second album and that album – Death Dreams – is out next week. And while the aforementioned aesthetic still technically hasn’t changed, there’s still been a remarkable degree of growth between albums one and two. Saulnier’s delivery is still what it was – I guess I’m mostly used to it by now – but the melodies it carries are more tuneful and memorable. Along the same lines, the guitarwork is denser more textured and puts Saulnier’s ’70s prog rock influences ahead of the the ’90s college rock-ness that defined Muster Station, but the tunes as a whole are more pop than before, with more shiny highs to go with the heavy lows. And Nelson? Still doing what he does, probably without having cracked a single smile since the first record came out. When Muster Station first came out and people were singing its praises, I was skeptical. Yeah, it was alright for what it was, but just how far can they take this? Death Dreams answers that with a resounding, “this far and probably a lot further”.

And also as far as the cover of this month’s Exclaim, which goes nicely with their advance stream of the new album and this additional online featurette. Clash is also hosting the third of their Paper Bag Sessions live videos.

Exclaim loves them some PS I Love You and so can you – the band kicks off their Spring tour at The Garrison in Toronto on May 15 and courtesy of Embrace, I have two pairs of passes to give away for the show – to enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see PS I Love You” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, May 10.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes”
Video: PS I Love You – “How Do You” (Paper Bag Sessions)
Stream: PS I Love You / Death Dreams

Opening up that PS I Love You show and the whole tour are another excellent twosome, Toronto’s Army Girls. Their new single “T W I C E” which was streaming last week is now available to download, so you should totally do that.

MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”

Toronto’s Modern Superstitions are well overdue for their debut album, but they continue to release music in drips and drabs. The Sunbleached EP that was to follow 2010’s debut All The Things We’ve Been Told EP was finished last Summer but hasn’t seen the light of day and now a couple of new songs – presumably from those sessions – will be released as a 7″ on May 29, though it’s available to buy digitally right now. One of the tracks is up to stream and they have a couple live dates ready to go – May 31 at The Garrison May 31 and a NXNE showcase on June 16. Tickets for the Garrison show are $8 and include a copy of the 7″.

Stream: Modern Superstitions – “School Days”

NME has two pieces from an interview with Metric’s Emily Haines about their new album Synthetica, due out June 12. The first single from the record was just made available to stream and… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what it augurs for the record.

Stream: Metric – “Youth Without Youth”

The Guardian and The Fly have feature pieces on Grimes.

The Broken Speaker has an interview with Joel Plaskett, headlining two nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Exclaim and Interview talk to Patrick Watson; they’re at The Music Hall on May 29.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse have released a video from their forthcoming album of American folk standards, Americana, out June 5.

Video: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Oh Susannah”

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Of Songs

Songs to see and hear from Bruce Peninsula, Army Girls, Purity Ring and more

Photo By Norman WongNorman WongWe’re going to close out the week with some new and hopefully interesting stuff to listen to, domestic-style. Unless you’re not Canadian in which case this will all be strange and foreign and exotic. Whoooooo!

Last week, Bruce Peninsula were teasing on their website that something big was coming as of April 24 and they weren’t kidding. And it’s literally big – an epic-sized, three-part, almost 14-minute song cycle entitled “Of Songs” that takes the band’s choral gospel-blues sound in unexpectedly experimental directions. It’s available to stream – as below – or buy. It would be interesting to see them try and recreate this live when they play The Great Hall on May 24, but it’s probably a safer bet that you’ll just hear a lot of last year’s Open Flames. Which is also just fine.

Stream: Bruce Peninsula – “Of Songs”

Also out of Toronto but with a lineup the fraction of the size, Army Girls have debuted a new single over at Exclaim which will be made available for free at their Bandcamp starting May 1. And while you’re there, stream (and buy) their excellent debut EP Close To The Bone. They’re at The Garrison tonight supporting Hot Kid and there again the evening of May 15 opening up for PS I Love You.

Stream: Army Girls – “Twice”

The Elwins released a limited edition CD for Record Store Day containing a remix and their cover of Beyonce’s “Countdown” with Born Ruffians singer Luke Lalonde, and for those who didn’t get one of the copies they also promised to make it available for free online – which they have. Dorkshelf has an interview with Feurd from the band.

MP3: The Elwins with Luke Lalonde – “Countdown” (Beyonce cover)
Video: The Elwins with Luke Lalonde – “Countdown” (Beyonce cover)

Edmonton’s Purity Ring dominated the internet this week with the announcement that their debut album Shrines would be out on July 24 and giving away the first MP3 from it. Exclaim has details on it, including Summer tour dates which include two Toronto dates – June 14 at Wrongbar as part of NXNE and July 6 at The Music Hall opening for Dirty Projectors (Exclaim doesn’t actually note that date but it’s legit).

MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”

Speaking of PS I Love You (we were earlier, try to pay attention), Chart has posted a video session, a second Paper Bag Sessions vid has been released and a stream of another new song from Death Dreams, out May 8. And as mentioned, they kick off their Summer tour in support of it May 15 at The Garrison.

Stream: PS I Love You – “Don’t Go”
Video: PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes” (Paper Bag Sessions)

Rose Cousins has released a first video from her excellent We Have Made A Spark; she’s at The Rivoli on May 3.

Video: Rose Cousins – “Go First”

Patrick Watson talks to CBC Radio 3 about his new album Adventures In Your Own Backyard, from which he’s just released a video. He plays the Music Hall on May 29.

Video: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”

Cold Specks has released a new video from I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, out May 22, and the Swans cover she had on a Record Store Day release is up to stream. She plays the Music Hall on June 2 opening up for Great Lake Swimmers.

Stream: Cold Specks – “Reeling The Liars In” (Swans cover)
Video: Cold Specks – “Blank Maps”

NYC Taper has shared a recording of Plants & Animals’ show in New York last week. They’ll be back in Toronto for NXNE on June 15 at Yonge-Dundas Square

It seems to be all about the side-project for Toronto musicians of late; Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija is the latest to do a little moonlighting, adopting the name of Warm Myth for her collaboration with Keiran Adams of Everything All The Time; they’ve got some songs up at Soundcloud. Also keeping Mecija busy of late has been The Blot, a monthly collaborative art-music project that pairs images – see the Tumblr above – with sounds – see the Bandcamp. And Ohbijou is still being tended to; they play a free show at Pecault Square on June 17 for LuminaTO.

Stream: Warm Myth – “Working”

The Star-Tribune and The Republic have interviews with Kathleen Edwards, who is also doing a free LuminaTO show at Pecault Square; she’s there the afternoon of June 16.

Her show is part of a double-bill with Dan Mangan, who has a Daytrotter session that’s just gone live as well as an interview at The Oxford Student.

The National Post and Ottawa Citizen chat with Joel Plaskett, coming to town for two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

New York Magazine profiles Grimes.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Adventures In Your Own Backyard

Patrick Watson at The Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were to plot out my appreciation for Patrick Watson on a graph versus time and geography, the salient data points would read something like this:

September 2007, Toronto, Ontario – Watson wins the second Polaris Music Prize with his second album Close To Paradise, an album I was almost wholly unfamiliar with despite the fact that, as a juror, I probably should have been. I generally resent him for this because I was sure that Feist was going to take it with The Reminder and now I felt kid of dumb.

September 2009, Toronto, Ontario – Watson is now riding a two-album Polaris shortlist streak although odds of Wooden Arms repeating are long. And while my interest in his music hasn’t really grown over the past couple years, I admit to being won over some by his performance at the gala as he and his band opt to wander through the audience like steampunk troubadours rather than play on the stage.

October 2011, Reykjavik, Iceland – Even though he’s not even performing at the festival, Watson shows up for Esmerine’s set at the Canadian Blast day show for Iceland Airwaves and sings on a couple of songs from their album La Lechuza, dedicated to the memory of Montreal singer Lhasa de Sela. He sounded great, and geez – who the hell just happens to show up in Iceland?

March 2012, Austin, Texas – Failure to get into The Jesus & Mary Chain’s set at SXSW meant that I needed a fallback plan and thanks to a confluence of timing and geography, I ended up at Watson’s show in a small church where he was showcasing his third album Adventures In Your Own Backyard, still not due out for a month at that point. It was beautiful, and I think I began to finally, properly get Patrick Watson.

It’s strange that it should have taken me so long – after all, it’s not as thought what he does is outside of my wheelhouse at all. Pretty, ornate, classical/jazz-pop that doesn’t go out of its way to be difficult or anything besides what it is, you’d be hard-pressed to find an artist more comfortable in his skin and his sound than Watson. It also helps that Adventures is a beautiful record; sonically dense, intimate in feel, thematically opaque enough to intrigue and with a sly sense of playfulness running throughout. There are points where I do wish it were a little less… airy, but those complaints are as minor as they are irrelevant.

One of the things that made that aforementioned SXSW show so great was how Patrick Watson was able to infuse that Austin church sanctuary with the spirit of an impromptu carnival and its attendant sense of wonder. It wasn’t reasonable to expect them to to do the same with the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio last Wednesday night where they performed for a radio broadcast to go with Adventures‘ release this week, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to try. The show opened in pitch blackness with the band playing the new record’s opening track “Lighthouse” guided only by small flashlights affixed to their hands before being lit up by the stage lights at the song’s crescendo. It was a dramatic moment, certainly, but notable in being exactly the sort of grand gesture that they don’t need to make to impress.

What I’ve found in my re-examination of what it is that Patrick Watson (the band) excels at is that they’re at their best when making music on a micro scale. The exquisite detail of their compositions seems best appreciated under a magnifying glass, where you can really take in and appreciate how intricately it’s all assembled. You definitely get a sense of that watching the five-piece band onstage, where the meticulous orchestration and sequencing of the performance – to say nothing of their collective musicianship – is astonishing to behold despite the sort of casual, lassiez faire vibe they like to affect. Along those same lines, Patrick Watson (the man) interjected many amusing and occasionally rambling asides and anecdotes into the hour-long set that were both charming and disarming.

They played almost all of the new record and a couple from Wooden Arms that offered a little more punch amidst Adventures‘ dreamier tone, and really if there were any more reservations I had about coming around on Patrick Watson, they were gone by the time they were done. Will this earn them a place on my Polaris ballot? Hard to say, but I also get the feeling that they won’t need my help making a third shortlist appearance.

The entire concert is already available to stream at CBC Music and the whole of Adventures In Your Own Backyard is also available to stream, along with some videos of the performance. If that’s not enough, there’s a studio session for Q available to stream at and “Blackwind” from the new record is available to download for free at iTunes.

The Globe & Mail,, The National Post, The Edmonton Journal, JAM, The Ottawa Citizen, The Montreal Mirror, and CBC Radio 3 have interviews with Watson.

Adventures In Your Own Backyard is out today in Canada, April 30 in most other territories and May 1 in the USA. They’ll be back in Toronto for a show at the Music Hall on May 29.

Photos: Patrick Watson @ The Glenn Gould Studio – April 11, 2012
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Into Giants”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Fireweed”
Video: Patrick Watson – “The Storm”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Drifters”
Video: Patrick Watson – “The Great Escape”
Stream: Patrick Watson / Adventures In Your Own Backyard

Paste has premiered the new, Strangeglove-saluting video from Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune. He’s doing a free show the afternoon of June 16 at Pecault Square as part of Luminato.

Video: Dan Mangan – “Post-War Blues”

McGill Tribune talks to Cold Specks, whose debut I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is out May 22; i-D also has a video session and interview. They play June 2 at the Music Hall opening up for Great Lake Swimmers.

The first Paper Bag Session video for PS I Love You’s forthcoming Death Dreams is now up to watch. They’re at The Garrison on May 15.

Video: PS I Love You – “Princess Towers” (Paper Bag Sessions)

I’d speculated that following his show in support of Metronomy earlier this month that Sandro Perri would be announced as support for Destroyer at The Opera House on June 23 since he was doing so for the other Canadian dates on the tour. That might yet happen, but not before Perri plays a couple shows of his own – he’s at The Tranzac on May 14 and 15.

MP3: Sandro Perri – “Love And Light”

The countdown timer on the Bruce Peninsula website implies that something is coming on April 24 – their Facebook also confirms as much – but it’s not a concert announcement; that’s already here. They’ve slated a May 24 show at The Great Hall, tickets $12 in advance.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “In Your Light”

There’s still no precise details on the second Wilderness Of Manitoba record besides that it exists and should be out this Summer, but their next local show will be June 30 on the Toronto Islands as part of the New Traditions Festival… no precise details on that, either.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

Local artist Maggie MacDonald may be better known for her tenure in The Hidden Cameras and fronting Betty Burke, but she also works in theatre and her latest endeavour is a musical collaboration with Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian, and he’ll be on hand – along with a number of other local artists – for their performance of Paper Laced with Gold at Harbourfront Centre on April 28; tickets $15.

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

The Darkness

Review of Rose Cousins’ We Have Made A Spark

Photo By Shervin IainezShervin IainezRose Cousins is not a new artist. The Charlottetown by way of Halifax artist has been releasing music for the better part of a decade and I’ve technically heard her before as she’s guested on any number of Maritime-born records including Joel Plaskett’s, but I’d not heard any of her own material until her third full-length album We Have Made A Spark, released at the end of February. And clearly that’s been my loss.

It’s not a record that stops you in your tracks – describe it as singer-songwriter that’d be comfortable at an adult contemporary party and lists towards the rootsy end of things and you wouldn’t be wrong – but that wouldn’t give credit to the emotional richness that Cousins infuses her work with. Her voice has that special blend of wistfulness and resignation that’s put to good use throughout Spark and ably supported by the lean and tasteful arrangements. But the sense of something ineffably special about this record really emerges on the record’s back half, with “For The Best” and “This Light” acting as a particularly powerful one-two punch and the cover of Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” finishing the listener off. Predominantly slow and sad, yet still standing tall, Spark articulates the sorts of feelings and experiences that everyone has either known or will know soon enough.

Uptown and The Edmonton Journal have feature pieces on Cousins and Southern Souls recently posted a video session with her. She plays The Rivoli on May 3.

MP3: Rose Cousins – “The Darkness”

The Elwins are helping celebrate Record Store Day with an in-store at Soundscapes on the evening of April 21 at 7PM; details over at Facebook. They’ve also been added to the support bill for Zeus at The Phoenix on June 9.

MP3: The Elwins – “Stuck In The Middle”

Sonic Boom is also once again celebrating Record Store Day with their own in-store mini-festival; this year they’ll have Army Girls, The Darcys, Born Ruffians, Plants & Animals, Bloodshot Bill, Fresh Snow, Lioness, Eight And A Half, and Diemonds. Now that’s a lineup and the schedule for the day looks like this.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Song For Love”
MP3: The Darcys – “Shaking Down The Old Bones”
Video: Diemonds – “Take On The Night”
Video: Eight And A Half – “Scissors”
Video: Lioness – “You’re My Heart”

Though she figures to be around six months pregnant by that time, Coeur de Pirate has made a date at The Opera House for June 1, tickets $22.50 in advance. Rock!

Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Golden Baby”

The 2012 LuminaTO arts festival schedule is out, and from the music end of things, it’s got quite a bit to offer, mostly for free. Highlights include a Rufus Wainwright show on June 10, a Dan Mangan/Kathleen Edwards double-bill on the afternoon of June 16 (hopefully Ms. Edwards’ voice will be back) and an Ohbijou show on the afternoon of June 17; all of these are at David Pecault Square and are free. And yes, that second weekend is the same time as NXNE. So much culture you’re going to choke. The Line Of Best Fit has a video session and interview and Black Cab Sessions do their thing with Wainwright and NPR has a Tiny Desk Concert and Beatroute and The Calgary Herald have feature stories on Kathleen Edwards.

MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Anser”
Video: Rufus Wainwright – “Out Of The Game”

The Great Hall gets dark and synthy on July 13 when it hosts a show featuring Toronto’s Trust and New York’s Light Asylum; tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Light Asylum – “A Certain Person”
Video: Trust – “Bulbform”

I don’t remember the last time Little Scream played her own headlining show hereabouts – has she ever? – but she has great luck with opening gigs, having been added as warm-up for Beirut at The Sound Academy on July 19.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

Kind of an mish-mash of a bill, both in terms of genre and geography, but you’ve got The Sam Roberts Band, Bombay Bicycle Club, and The Jezabels at Echo Beach on July 26 – tickets $39.50 for general admission and $55.00 for VIP.

MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”
Video: Sam Roberts – “I Feel You”
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Shuffle”

Beatroute, The Georgia Straight, and here profile Chains Of Love, who’re in town at The Great Hall opening up for Said The Whale on April 14.

With the release of the new Moonface record With Sinai: Heartbreaking Bravery nigh – it’s out April 17 – it’s time for some premieres; a new video over at Spin and a stream of the whole record at The AV Club.

MP3: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Video: Moonface – “Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips”
Stream: Moonface / With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery

The fourth part of The Wooden Sky’s Grace On A Hill video series has premiered at IFC. They’re at The Opera House on April 20.

Still no specifics on the “why”, if there are any, surrounding the Fucked Up show at The Power Plant on May 1, but the band have announced that it’ll be free. So the “why” now matters that much less than “when do we line up”, yes?

CBC Music has got a video session with PS I Love You wherein they preview material from Death Dreams ahead of its May 8 release. They’re at The Garrison on May 15.

JAM, The Victoria Times-Colonist, Banff Cragg & Canyon, and Beatroute talk to Joel Plaskett. He’s at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Spinner and The Globe & Mail chat with Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers, who’ve made a track from New Wild Everywhere available to download and also released a new video. There’s also clips from their performance at the Glenn Gould Studio last month at CBC Music. They play The Music Hall on June 2.

MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “The Great Exhale”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “New Wild Everywhere”

Guelph disco-pop ensemble The Magic are streaming the first single from their debut Ragged Gold, due out June 25.

Stream: The Magic – “Mr. Hollywood”

Feist has released a new video from Metals.

Video: Feist – “Bittersweet Melodies”

NPR serves up a World Cafe session and Planet S an interview with John K Samson.

Daytrotter has posted a new session with Timber Timbre.