Posts Tagged ‘Royal City’

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

CONTEST – Royal City artwork giveaway

Photo via MBVMBVGuelph’s Royal City were a band who were just ahead enough of their time to miss out on the great Can-rock explosion on the early 2000s, singing their swan song in 2004 with Little Heart’s Ease, just as many of their contemporaries, collaborators and followers – at one time or another, their roster included the likes of Leslie Feist and Owen Pallett – rose to far greater heights both at home and abroad.

But they’ve never been lost or forgotten, their three records held with great affection by those who were fortunate enough to have seen or heard them over their too-short, half-decade existence. Their sound was deceptively simple – folk-pop with occasional excursions into noisier territory, led by singer Aaron Riches’ charmingly creaky voice – but beneath the seemingly placid surface were deep waters of musical, lyrical and spiritual complexities, frequently as unsettling as beautiful. It’s hard to put one’s finger on just what made Royal City so special but few would deny that they were.

The band will get some measure of posthumous recognition this week with the release of Royal City, a limited-edition compilation of rare and unreleased material, and here in their hometowns, a pair of concerts entitled “Burning Torch: A Tribute to Royal City” will be held later this week at the Ebar in Guelph on June 24 and at the Tranzac in Toronto on June 26 and will feature performances from friends, fans and former members. Details at Exclaim.

For my part, I am very pleased to be able to offer, in conjunction with the band, their former label of Three Gut Records and my blog compatriots at MBV Music, a very special commemorative giveaway. They’ve created a super-limited run of approximately 6.5″ x 6.5″ prints featuring the artwork of the three Royal City albums created from Tyler Clarke Burke’s original artwork files – view them large size – and I have one of the thirty to give away to a lucky fan. To enter, leave me a comment below with a Royal City anecdote, either related to a record, a song, a live show, a traffic altercation with Nathan Lawr or that time you caught Jim Guthrie with his hand in your pocket, whatever. Make sure to include your email so I can contact you and have that in before midnight, June 30. And also, for those seeking to increase their odds, another set is being given away at MBV Music and Said The Gramophone will be giving a set away very soon as well. MBV is also streaming the album right now and The Guelph Mercury talks to Guelph-based CBC personality Vish Khanna about the band’s legacy.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”
MP3: Royal City – “Bring My Father A Gift”
MP3: Royal City – “My Brother Is The Meatman”
MP3: Royal City – “Bad Luck”
MP3: Royal City – “I’m Taking The Train”
MP3: Royal City – “At Rush Hour The Cars”
Stream: Royal City / Royal City

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Intro To Season

Review of Ohbijou's Beacons and giveaway

Photo By Jess BaumungJess BaumungThere’s many reasons to be thankful that Beacons, the sophomore effort from Toronto’s Ohbijou, has finally arrived. Twelve at least, but for me there’s also the fact that two and a half years after first discovering the act at the very first V Fest, it gives me something new to talk about as I’ve completely run out of things to say about them with respect to their debut record, Swift Feet For Troubling Times.

If Swift Feet was the aural equivalent of a walk through the woods on a crisp and silent Winter’s day, Casey Mecija’s voice and the band’s bedroom chamber-pop orchestrations keeping your head warm like the furry lining of a parka, then Beacons continues that walk through the city on the cusp of Spring. It’s not concerned with the bright lights and hustle and bustle of downtown, but the side streets where real life happens and a thousand individual stories unfold behind closed doors. And it’s these intimate tales that populate Mecija’s songs, impressionist in rendering yet exquisitely detailed and lifted up by a band that’s infinitely more confident this time out. Whereas Swift Feet was happy to keep things consistently cozy, Beacons embraces Ohbijou’s more extroverted side, which frequently bubbled up and over in their live show. Songs like “Make It Gold” and “Black Ice” build and swell to crescendos that might have been jarring on Swift Feet but feel not only natural, but necessary on Beacons – the sense of renewal and potential that permeates the album demands action. Sweeping, musical action.

If Beacons had come out on its original mid-April release date, it would have been a wonderful record for Spring. But the business of signing of record deals both at home and abroad necessitated its
delay – it was released in the UK last week via Bella Union and Last Gang is putting it out in Canada next Tuesday, June 16, and in the US on June 23 – so it will simply have to settle for being a wonderful record.

Ohbijou will play a hometown record release show at the Opera House on June 25, and courtesy of LiveNationa, Last Gang and the band, I’ve got three terrific prize packs to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show, a copy of the album on CD and an Ohbijou t-shirt. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Ohbijou” in the subject line and your full name, mailing address and t-shirt size in the body. Contest open to local-type folk and will close at midnight, June 20. And if you can’t make the show for whatever reason, take heart – the band have announced that they will play an in-store at Soundscapes on June 17 at 7PM and Casey Mecija will play a set accompanied by Evening Hymns at the Whipper Snapper Gallery on June 20 at 9PM as part of NxNE.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Black Ice”
MySpace: Ohbijou

Also playing a just-announced in-store, Pink Mountaintops. They’ll warm up for their show at the Horseshoe the evening of June 14 in support of Outside Love with a short set at Sonic Boom at 3PM.

MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “Vampire”
MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “While We Were Dreaming”

NPR gets Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker to play a Tiny Desk Concert. I’m sorry, but that desk looks decidedly normal-sized, if not rather large.

The Seattle Times interviews Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs.

The recent revival of interest in the life and times of Royal City may center on the Royal City compilation of rarities due out June 23, but in the band’s former home base of southern Ontario, at least, that’s not the end of it. Exclaim has details on a pair of tribute shows dubbed “Burning Torch: A Tribute to Royal City” taking place at the Ebar in Guelph on June 24 and at the Tranzac in Toronto on June 26. Performers will include Gentleman Reg, The Wooden Sky’s Gavin Gardiner, Constantines side-project Woolly Leaves and former Royal City skinman Nathan Lawr.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”

It’s not much secret I’m an unrepentant Anglophile (I was actually repentant for a few years in the early part of this century but I got over that) so it’s good that UK music blog The Line Of Best Fit is balancing out the cross-Atlantic karmic balance with their Canuckophilia, manifested in their new column Oh! Canada, where they gush about new Canadian talent from a British perspective, and they’re taking it one further but compiling all-Canadian downloadable mixes, the first of which also contains another Beacons track from Ohbijou.

Secret Sessions is a new series coming to the online music portal and they’ve just begun filming the first batch of episodes at The Audio Recording Academy in Toronto and will run through the Summer – upcoming tapings will feature Great Bloomers and Oh No Forest Fires, amongst others. Admission to the tapings is free, just RSVP via the information on their website.

And another new show coming to is City Sonic, a series dedicated to interviewing Toronto artists such as Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, Sarah Slean and Sebastien Grainger about the rooms and venues in the city that shaped their careers. A preview of some of the episodes will be taking place at the Drake on June 17 as part of NxNE, along with performances from Woodhands, Lioness and The D’Urbervilles.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Don't Worry About The Future

Review of Dog Day's Concentration and giveaway

Photo By Paul HammondPaul HammondHalifax’s Dog Day have got the goods to be a terrific pure pop band, capable of crafting sublime melodies and hooks, but their fondness for the noisier virtues of the indie rock canon of the ’90s ensures that they’ll never be quite so easy to pin down. As such, their 2006 effort Night Group was an incongruous yet perfectly natural bit of doom-pop, all spiky and sweet – heavy and foreboding in intent but eminently hummable in execution.

Their recently-released follow-up Concentration takes those same classic college rock ingredients and brews up something familiar, but still new. It’s less immediate than Night Group, yet somehow smoother and more melodic and textured with Seth Smith’s vocals still distinctively monotone but Nancy Urich’s vox much stronger and expressive on this outing. Some may bemoan the absence of Night Group‘s punchier elements but the dream-pop qualities of Concentration reveal themselves with deeper listens and are just as rewarding.

Touring Night Group to death was a successful strategy for the band last time out, so it’s only logical that they pile into the van yet again for Concentration. Their cross-Canada tour already covered the Maritimes earlier this month but they’re covering all points Quebec and west starting next week, including a date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on the 28th of May. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got five pairs of passes to give away for this show which will also feature The Burning Hell, Wild Life and Pacific Trash Vortex and on top of that, courtesy of Pigeon Row, I’ve got two copies of Concentration on vinyl available to give away. I’ll run these contests separately, so to enter both, email me twice – contests AT – either with “I want to see Dog Day” in the subject line and your full name in the body for the passes, or “I want to hear Dog Day” in the subject line and your full mailing address in the body for the vinyl. Contest closes at midnight, May 26th.

There’s an interview with Dog day at The Coast.

Update: Just announced – Dog Day are also doing an in-store at Soundscapes on May 27 at 6PM.

MP3: Dog Day – “Rome”
Video: Dog Day – “Happiness”
MySpace: Dog Day

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the new Royal City compilation Royal City, and can tell you it’s a beautiful package – hardcover and bookbound – and oh yeah, the music is pretty terrific too. The limited edition set collects an album’s worth of unreleased material from the departed Guelph outfit and is set for release June 23.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”

Royal City guitarist Jim Guthrie’s new project Human Highway was just featured in a session on NPR.

NOW and The Cord talk to Joel Plaskett, who plays Massey Hall tomorrow night.

Metric have rolled out a new video from Fantasies.

Video: Metric – “Sick Muse”

eMusic and The Quietus have typically entertaining interviews with Jarvis Cocker. He also talks to The Guardian about his thespian ambitions in the new Wes Anderson adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr Fox.

It’s like a nostalgia trip back to SxSW 2009 at Bandstand Busking as they present a session with Fanfarlo and another with Theoretical Girl.

These days it’s rare that a record of interest is put out without my being bombarded with press releases about it well in advance, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover the existence of Hard To Find – a digital-only collection of American Analog Set rarities which quietly came out in April. Covering the band’s years with Tiger Style and Arts & Crafts, it acts as a companion volume to 2001’s Through The ’90s. Considering that Andrew Kenny is now dedicated to his new project The Wooden Birds, this set could act as the final whirr and click in the quietly lovely story of AmAnSet.

MP3: The American Analog Set – “Stoney Chariots”
MP3: The American Analog Set – “Make It Take It”

Exclaim reports on the copyright clusterfuck that will essentially prevent the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse collaboration Dark Night Of The Soul from seeing any “legal” release.

Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs talks to Billlboard. They’re releasing a remix EP for “Zero” on June 9 on vinyl – it’s available digitally now.

Artrocker interviews School Of Seven Bells. They’ve also got a new video. A trippy new video.

Video: School Of Seven Bells – “My Cabal”

The Line Of Best Fit, The Sun, The Georgia Straight and The Village Voice have features on Grizzly Bear. They’ll release Veckatimest next Tuesday, May 26, and have a show at the Phoenix on June 5. There’s also an in-studio performance at WNYC streaming at NPR.

Decider and Rolling Stone interview St Vincent’s Annie Clark. She will be at Lee’s Palace on August 8, and has just made available another MP3 from Actor.

MP3: St. Vincent – “Actor Out Of Work”

Paste and Decider have interviews with John Vanderslice, while I Pick My Nose has an interview AND a tour of the ‘Slice’s garden. He will be at the Horseshoe on July 10.

Good Times, Metro Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Sentinel talk to Jenny Lewis.

My contest to give away copies of Dean Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards wraps up tomorrow night, but if you don’t win a copy – and let me just say that the response to the contest has been overwhelmingly good and I wish I could give you all books – take heart, the folks at Ear Farm are also giving copies away AND they’ve got an interview with Wareham to go with it. So head on over and hedge your bets.

Other commitments keep me from partaking in this year’s Over The Top Fest, which began last night, but if you’re around this weekend and are looking to partake in some music and/or film, it’s really your best bet for discovering something new. There’s previews of some of the acts at this week’s NOW and eye.

Ottawa’s I Heart Music has been a tireless promoter of independent Canadian music for some years now, introducing both myself and countless others to great up-and-coming domestic talent via the blog and many, many live showcases. And it appears that no good deed goes unpunished as SOCAN, the national agency tasked to collecting royalties for Canadian songwriters, has gone after Matthew for royalties owed on his live shows, to the tune of a couple thousand dollars. Now if you’re of the inclination to donate to music media types in financial distress, you’ve obviously got a few options these days but Matt is fighting the good fight and deserves some support.

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Son Of A Gun

The Vaselines get reissued, come to Toronto

Photo via SubPopSubPopMy head is kind of, uh, fried right now on account of my powering through and processing all of my SxSW photos this weekend, as those who are unfortunate enough to be RSS subscribers or Twitter followers and been deluged with update notices can attest. But the good news for everyone is that I am done and there are 46-odd photo galleries of artists I saw a couple weeks ago along with as many MP3 and video links for each as I could find. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out – please have a boo, or check out the Flickr set for a high-level view. And with what remains of my grey matter, I will try to cobble together some sort of blog post.

Starting with The Vaselines. You may know them as the Scottish band who existed just long enough to release a couple of EPs, one album, and exert a huge influence on one Kurt Cobain. I actually knew them better as the band that Eugene Kelly was in before Eugenius, but that’s neither here nor there. For many years, the The Way Of The Vaselines: A Complete History compilation from SubPop has been the first (and last) stop for those seeking to learn more about the outfit, but come May 5 there’s going to be a new final word. That’s the day they’ll replace the venerable compilation with Enter The Vaselines, a new double-CD/triple-LP collection that remixes much of and remasters all of Way and throws in a pile of unreleased extra material. Full tracklisting at Exclaim!.

But wait, there’s more! The band reunited last Summer for a few one-off and festival gigs, but appear to be ready to do more in order to promote the collection. Though they didn’t make it over for SxSW as they’d initially intended, they do still have their eyes on North America, or at least Toronto – they’ve got a date set for May 15 at Lee’s Palace, for which tickets will run $29.50. That’s pretty exciting, and I assume other dates for some sort of tour will be forthcoming soon.

Also on the reissue tip, dearly departed Guelphies Royal City are set to be compiled by the good folks at Asthmatic Kitty They’ll release Royal City on June 23, a collection of a dozen previously unreleased tracks that has been rumoured for over four years. Better late than never though, right? Magnet is also on board with the nostalgia, paying tribute to their second album Alone At The Microphone. Here’s one of the songs from the new comp, and a few older album tracks to remind of how good they were.

MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”
MP3: Royal City – “Bring My Father A Gift”
MP3: Royal City – “My Brother Is The Meatman”
MP3: Royal City – “Bad Luck”
MP3: Royal City – “I’m Taking The Train”
MP3: Royal City – “At Rush Hour The Cars”

Exclaim! reports that R.E.M. are giving the deluxe reissue treatment to their sophomore album Reckoning, planning a live release of their 2007 “Dublin working rehearsals” which preceded the release of Accelerate and getting to work on the follow-up to said record. No timelines for any of the releases has been provided, though.

A track from the new Bob Dylan album Together Through Life is available to download from his website through midnight (Eastern Daylight time) tonight. The album is out April 28.

Chart and See talk to Hylozoists frontman Paul Aucoin.

There’s an MP3 available from the new Super Furry Animals album Dark Days/Light Years, available digitally now and on CD April 21.

MP3: Super Furry Animals – “Inaugural Trams”

The California Chronicle talks to Dean Wareham.

Isis have a date at the Phoenix on June 7 in support of their new album Wavering Radiant, out May 5.

A few radio sessions available to stream – NPR with M Ward, who is at the Phoenix on April 27, and MPR welcomes AC Newman and another one with The Broken West.

BrooklynVegan has unveiled the lineup to this year’s All Points West festival, taking place just across the Hudson from Manhattan. It’s interesting to me mainly to give a better idea of what acts are doing the festival circuit this year and perhaps who we might expect at V Fest this year. This, of course, presumes that there will BE a V Fest in Toronto this year. The past three years, the headliners and first wave of acts had all been announced by now, and this year there’s been nary a peep – the website doesn’t acknowledge that it’s 2009 or try to build any sort anticipation and their social network pages are similarly silent. It’s almost like they’re trying to keep a low profile and hope no one notices they’re not there. I’ve asked around a bit and while no one has heard anything about V Toronto being cancelled, no one has heard anything about it actually happening either and I know just enough about goings-on on the business end of the fest to not take for granted that it’s happening. I hope I’m just being paranoid and they’re just hammering out some details to bring, oh, Blur and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to town but each day that goes by without an effusively-worded press release showing up in my inbox is, well, another day. But if anyone out there knows something, even a cryptically-worded message along the lines of, “Stop fearmongering! The rock is en route!” or “At least you’ll be able to see more films at TIFF this year”, one way or the other would be appreciated.

Update: And this is related-interesting – Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, which was branded last year as “presented by Virgin Mobile”, has confirmed dates for 2009 – July 30 and 31 “in they city” (presumably club gigs) and August 1 and 2 “on the island” (at Parc Jean-Drapeau). Perhaps they’ll siphon off some acts from APW? Perhaps I’m going to Montreal for the August long weekend? It seems Coldplay – and thus Elbow – are a lock for that one…