Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Harmer’

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Savage Night At The Opera

Review of Destroyer’s Kaputt

Photo By Ted BoisTed BoisSometimes you just get a hankering for some Dan Bejar, a need to ride that train of thought through station stops no one else’s visit and which moves at that distinctive languid-yet-mile-a-minute cadence. And while it’s possible to get one’s fix via with his mandatory three-songs per New Pornographers record or various side-projects, it’s Destroyer that offers the best, purest hit of Dan. The catch being that like one of his most obvious influences, David Bowie, you never know what form that hit is going to take from one record to the next.

Having made his perhaps most direct and “rock” work – a very relative statement – with 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies and followed it up with a record that explored similar if denser terrain with Trouble In Dreams, he’s now made a hard – or maybe that should be soft – left on Kaputt. Guitars remain present but take a back seat to billowing synths, soulful backing vox and slinky sax as the listener is invited into an ’80s-vintage discotheque/lounge as such things exist in the Destroyer-verse. In finding the groove, the record is less inclined to wander and even though a few tracks still exceed the five-minute mark and one, the previously-released “Bay Of Pigs” exceeds eleven, it feels like a much more focused record than past efforts.

Lyrically… well let’s be honest – trying to decipher a Destroyer record has always been somewhat an exercise in futility and Kaputt is no less opaque than its predecessors. But while a micro analysis of the words in play only lead to head-scratching, a more macro view reveals a consistently downcast tone and themes of broken romances, accusations and regrets. One is tempted to wonder if casting such motifs against the musical soundtrack more associated with coupling is a deliberate bit of irony on Bejar’s part or perhaps it’s just coincidence. Whatever his intent, with Kaputt Bejar has pulled off the difficult task of making a record that’s completely different from his past works and yet still classic Destroyer. Which is to say unique, fascinating and worth the time and effort it takes to comprehend.

Kaputt is out tomorrow and Destroyer’s North American tour hits Lee’s Palace on March 31. Pitchfork talks to Dawn Garcia, director of the wonderfully bizarre video for the album’s title track.

MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”
Video: Destroyer – “Kaputt”

Metric have released a video for their cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting To Fly” – it had shown up in some of Emily Haines’ solo live sets but I guess they decided to do a version with the rest of the band. And make a video

Video: Metric – “Expecting To Fly”

As The Dears ramp up to the February 15 release of their new record Degeneration Street, they’ve come out with a new MP3, a video and a chat with Spin and scheduled an in-store at Sonic Boom for February 17 at 7PM – admission free with donation of a canned good.

MP3: The Dears – “Blood”
Video: The Dears – “Omega Dog”

Guttersnipe News and The Calgary Herald have interviews with Sarah Harmer and CBC Radio 2 is streaming her show at Massey Hall last Fall.

Bruce Peninsula frontman Neil Haverty discusses his leukemia treatment with Exclaim; the C For Cure benefit show goes January 29 at the Music Gallery.

eye has an interview with Tokyo Police Club while The AV Club is offering a mashup between them and their current tourmates Two Door Cinema Club… because that’s what tourmates do. Mash. Tokyo Police Club will also be playing the just-announced Edgefest ’11 at Downsview Park on July 9 along with Rise Against, A Perfect Circle, The Weakerthans and more.

MP3: Two Door Tokyo Cinema Cub – “Breakneck Speed Can Work”

Exclaim and Spinner talk to Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham about his new gig as host of The Wedge (premiering this Wednesday) and his band’s new album/musical David Comes To Life, which is targeted for a May release.

Spinner chats with Nils Edenloff and Amy Cole of The Rural Alberta Advantage, whose new record Departing will be out March 1 and which has already yielded this terrific new video.

Video: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”

Exclaim reports that Basia Bulat will be teaming up with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for a performance at Hamilton Place Studio Theatre on February 3 – though similar in concept to her performance with Symphony Nova Scotia at the Halifax Pop Explosion, Owen Pallett has re-written the arrangements for this show to suit the philharmonic and the venue. Tickets for the show are $23 in advance and $25 at the door.

Clash declares Suuns to be a band to watch in 2011, and you can do just that when they play Sonic Boom on January 29 at 4PM and then open for The Besnard Lakes across the street at Lee’s Palace later that evening. The Concordian also has an interview.

The Toronto Star profiles Diamond Rings, kicking off his tour opening for Robyn at The Sound Academy on January 26.

Monday, December 27th, 2010

The World Won't Last The Night

Review of Miles Kurosky’s The Desert Of Shallow Effects

Photo By Brandon ShowersBrandon ShowersThe final week of the year – a time for reminiscences, reflections and regrets. And leading the pack in the regrets department, at least as far as the blog goes, is not giving more attention to Miles Kurosky’s solo debut The Desert Of Shallow Effects, even though Kurosky’s set was a highlight at SxSW. It’s an album that should have gotten a lot more facetime hereabouts, considering I’d been waiting for it for nigh on seven years, ever since Kurosky’s band Beulah called it a day.

Since Kurosky hasn’t really made an effort to distance himself from Beulah’s legacy with his solo work, I probably shouldn’t have to. After all, if Desert had come out under the Beulah marque, no one would have batted an eye. Indeed, no less than four of his former bandmates appear on this record, amongst the 30-plus players who are credited in the liner notes contributing horns, woodwinds and all manner of unconventional percussion instruments in addition to the mandatory guitars, keys and whatnot. Clearly, anyone thinking that a Kurosky solo record would just be him and a guitar has got another thing coming. Even after all the time away, his artistic ambitions remain as loft as ever and Desert is a pretty terrific record of lyrically sharp and sonically dense, yet wholly immediate pop tunes, the likes of which the world hasn’t been graced with since, well, Yoko. It’s a void in the cosmic musical continuum you didn’t know was there until something steps in to fill it; it had best not be another seven years before the next record.

Daytrotter just posted a session with Kurosky.

MP3: Miles Kurosky – “Apple For An Apple”
Video: Miles Kurosky – “The World Won’t Last The Night”
Video: Miles Kurosky – “Dog In The Burning Building”

Robert Pollard talks to Spinner about potential future Guided By Voices projects beyond the final handful of scheduled dates running through next February.

Spin quizzes Conor Oberst about the new Bright Eyes record The People’s Key, due out February 15. They play the Sound Academy on March 13.

The Dumbing Of America interviews Sharon Van Etten.

The New York Daily News checks in with Daniel Roesen of Grizzly Bear.

Woodpigeon, en route to Europe for an extensive tour, have scheduled a stopover in Toronto to play The Tranzac with Sandro Perri on January 12.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Winter Song”

This year’s Hillside Inside festival in Guelph will bring Sarah Harmer and The Rural Alberta Advantage together at the River Run Centre on February 4 – tickets $39.50, on sale now and I’d say this is worth the drive to Guelph. And if you’re already in Guelph, well duh.

MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Stamp”
Video: Sarah Harmer – “Captive”

Daytrotter’s session with Stars is now up for the grabbing.

BBC talks to Will Butler of Arcade Fire.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010


Neil Young brings Le Noise

Photo By Adam CK VollickAdam CK VollickWhen it was announced that Neil Young was working with Daniel Lanois on a new record, you couldn’t help but pay attention. Not only did you have two Canadian musical icons working together for the first time, but Lanois was behind records that rejuvenated more than a few legendary careers, including those of Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. Whether Young’s career – 40 years old and defined by numerous artistic swerves – needed rejuvenation is another matter but the fruits of his collaboration with Lanois, entitled Le Noise and out next Tuesday, will certainly stand as an interesting addition to his catalog.

It’s a solo record in the purest sense, featuring Young and Young alone on acoustic and electric guitar and perhaps due to the stripped down aesthetic and recording in his own home, it finds him sounding particularly introspective and vulnerable. Lanois mainly makes his presence felt in the post-production, looping Young’s parts over themselves, adding delays and reverbs and generally adding his sonic signature. Initial listens might leave even long-time Young fans used to his twists and turns a bit disoriented – “Angry World” is the most bent track on the record and was, of course, the first released taste – but it doesn’t take long to find one’s footing and appreciate one of the more interesting and revealing works he’s turned out in recent years.

NPR is streaming Le Noise right now, and over the past week, there’s been a number of fittingly lo-fi videos released for some of the songs; I suspect we can expect more before they’re done. The Los Angeles Times has a photo gallery of Neil Young through the years.

Video: Neil Young – “Walk With Me”
Video: Neil Young – “Hitchhiker”
Video: Neil Young – “Angry World”
Stream: Neil Young / Le Noise

Look at What the Light Did Now is a documentary about the making of Feist’s last record The Reminder. It will premiere at Pop Montreal in a couple weeks and then make a circuit of festivals and special screenings; nothing in Toronto yet but you can’t believe that something’s not in the works to run it somewhere hereabouts eventually.

Trailer: Look At What The Light Did Now

NPR is streaming a session with Sarah Harmer; she plays Massey Hall on November 20.

For those still asking “who?” with regards to new Polaris champs Karkwa, has assembled a primer on the Montreal quintet.

After a few delays, Woodpigeon’s Balladeer: To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before, released earlier this year as a bonus CD with Die Stadt Muzikanten, should be available on its own in both digital and vinyl editions. Also new for Woodpigeon completists (a futile quest if ever there was one) is a digital EP for “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower” and accompanying video. Woodpigeon will play a free noon-hour show at Yonge-Dundas Square on October 6.

Video: Woodpigeon – “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower”

Also playing a free show a little sooner than that – as in tonight – are Sloan, Bedouin Soundclash and Great Lake Swimmers as part of a CBC-sponsored event. The live music gets underway around 7:30 PM and goes until 9. A few more details over at Exclaim.

Pitchfork reports that the two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney who are not Corin Tucker have teamed with Mary Timony, ex of Helium, to form a new band called Wild Flag. There’s no fruits of their labours to hear yet but they’ve already signed to Merge and are looking to have a record out in early 2011.

Los Angeles’ Glasser has a date at the Drake Underground on November 11 in support of her debut Ring, out next Tuesday.

MP3: Glasser – “Home”

Following a dust-up in Indianapolis, No Depression reports that Justin Townes Earle has suspended his Fall tour to enter rehab – this includes the October 15 date at the Horseshoe.

Spinner continues to milk an interview with Nick Cave of Grinderman (that link is a two-fer) while Pitchfork talks to Cave and drummer Jim Sclavunos. They play the Phoenix on November 11.

First Aid Kit has a new video from their debut The Big Black & The Blue. They are at The El Mocambo on October 15.

Video: First Aid Kit – “Ghost Town”

Clash talks cultural differences with Phoenix.

Monday, August 16th, 2010


Forest City Lovers, Gentleman Reg and Carmen Elle at The Great Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThough I’d seen Forest City Lovers a few times in the past year while their new record Carriage was being written, I can’t say as though I remember (m)any of the new songs being aired out live before being committed to tape; perhaps all the more reason that I was bowled over by just how good the new album is when I finally got to hear the finished product a couple months ago.

And that was also part of the motivation to head down to the Great Hall on Thursday night for their homecoming record release show, capping a tour that took them to the west coast of Canada and back. Better judgement suggested that staying in and resting up in the middle of a very busy week would be the smarter course of action, but I wanted to hear these new songs live and there would be time for sleep later. And the hall. It’s great.

For support, they enlisted a couple of noteworthy locals – one already so and the other well on her way. The latter was Carmen Elle, whom I’d seen back in 2006 and even then, at age 17, she was already a remarkable singer, guitarist and performer. Checking in three and a half years later, she’s even better. This time instead of a full band, it was her and a drummer and the economical arrangements allowed her smoky vocals and impressive guitar chops to come to the fore. The material struck the right balance between simple and sophisticated with plenty of great melodies and just enough rock action. She mentioned that they were debating band names so looking for Carmen Elle records might not yield the desired results – I’m not even sure there are any yet – but any project with her associated with it, like her other band Donlands & Mortimer, is worth taking note of.

Pop-smith Gentleman Reg has been doing his thing for well on a decade now, but has gone through periods of both ubiquity and extended absence. The release of last year’s Jet Black and its companion Heavy Head EP marked a period of the former over the past year, with numerous shows including a month-long Drake Underground residency, but partway through their set Reg Vermue mentioned that this might be their last show for a while, implying that a break was in order. And if so, they bowed out on a high note – I’ve seen Reg play in a variety of configurations and with different people, and this lineup really seemed to compliment him and his songs best, particularly the female harmonies offered by drummer Dana Snell and keyboardist Kelly McMichael. McMichael, in particular, shone on their unexpected cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy”, taking the chorus while Reg handled the verses.

In the past, Forest City Lovers have always given their songs an extra kick in a live setting, building on their albums’ understated charms with the contributions of new and extra players. With Carriage, they’ve brought that ethos into the studio resulting in their liveliest and most varied record yet but on stage, they sounded a bit tentative on the new material as though they still weren’t fully comfortable with playing them live. This isn’t to say they didn’t play them well, not at all, but the extra gear that I was used to them finding wasn’t quite there for the Carriage material. And it wasn’t an off night for them either, as the older material did find that next level and net, they put on a pretty great show in what I think was their largest room to date, the core lineup bolstered by keys and a second violin. Carriage should be their breakthrough record and I’m certain that next time I catch them live, it’ll all sound equally grand.

View has a feature profile on Forest City Lovers.

Photos: Forest City Lovers, Gentleman Reg, Carmen Elle @ The Great Hall – August 12, 2010
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “Plan On Including Me”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Song For Morrie”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Rewind”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Over My Head”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Boyfriend Song”
MySpace: Forest City Lovers
MySpace: Gentleman Reg

PopMatters converses with Sarah Harmer. She plays Massey Hall on November 20.

Spinner talks to Dog Day about going from a quartet to a duo.

Chart, Metro, The Vancouver Sun and Spinner have interviews with Kathryn Calder about her new solo record Are You My Mother?.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with The New Pornographers.

Check out the first video from Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan’s new record Hawk, out next week. They play Lee’s Palace on October 20.

Video: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – “You Won’t Let Me Down Again”

Spinner wonders if Johnny Flynn will be the next British folk star. If it means his second album Been Listening gets a release in North America, I vote yes.

Exclaim reports that Elvis Costello will release a new record entitled National Ransom on October 5.

NME is sharing a track from Rose Elinor Dougall’s forthcoming debut album Without Why, due out August 30.

MP3: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Come Away With Me”

Drowned In Sound and Spinner talk to Kele; he plays the Mod Club on September 3.

Pitchfork has details on The Concretes’ new album WYWH, due out November 8.

MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”

And since I get the sense that you guys like winning stuff, check out this contest to win a trip to the Polaris Music Prize gala on September 20 at the Masonic Temple in Toronto. You know, I see nothing in the rules and regulations that stipulates that Polaris jurors can’t enter. Of course, I couldn’t use the flight since I live down the street from the hall, but maybe I could trade that for a pedicab. Or a piggyback ride.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Run Rabbit Run

Sufjan Stevens stages massive North American tour

Photo By Denny RenshawDenny RenshawWhen Sufjan Stevens came out of nowhere last August to announce a show that October at Lee’s Palace, people – particularly those not among the 500 who got tickets – were wondering why he’d choose to play his first show here in four years in such a small room. Surely he was big enough to play a room on the size and stature of, oh, Massey Hall? Well, almost a year to the day from that Lee’s announcement comes another one for a show almost a year to the day at – wait for it – Massey Hall.

The date will be October 13 and comes at the start of a massive North American tour that makes those intimate club dates last year seem even more intimate and but hits many more markets and while Stevens and his merry troupe will be welcomed with open arms at all of them, there is the question of exactly why he’s doing it. Last year at least, there were the BQE multimedia project and Run Rabbit Run rework to justify a tour – even though neither of those records was represented in the shows – but there’s been no official word about a follow-up to 2004’s Illinois. Perhaps this is their way of hinting that the album that The National’s Bryce Dessner told Exclaim that Stevens was recording this Summer is done and ready for release in mid-October? If that’s the case, then they’re clearly eschewing the traditional long lead time and will probably spring the official release of the album with short notice, thereby driving the indie-net into a tizzy and ensuring that people mispronounce “Sufjan” well into the Winter.

Whatever’s happening on that front will be revealed when it’s revealed. Far more pressing is the matter of presales for this tour, which goes TODAY at 1PM Eastern time for all dates – presumably through Asthmatic Kitty – and regular public onsale for all other seats goes this Friday at 10AM. Tickets are $40 for floor and balcony and $34 for galleries. And yes, the October 13 date does indeed come one day after Belle & Sebastian play the same venue – we may as well just wrap up the Old Lady of Shuter Street in a ratty cardigan and be done with it.

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “The Henney Buggy Band”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts”
MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Casimir Pulaski Day”

Other announcements of note… Amusement Parks On Fire – who were held up as the second coming of My Bloody Valentine a few years back but turned out to just be pretty good if not especially original shoegaze disciples – will release their third album Road Eyes on October 5 and be accompanying The Boxer Rebellion on their North American tour including the September 27 date at the Horseshoe.

Video: Amusement Parks On Fire – “Venus In Cancer”

Rae Spoon has booked a cross-Canada tour in support of his new record Love Is A Hunter which is due out on August 17. Exclaim has the dates, which includes an October 21 engagement at the Gladstone in Toronto.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “You Can Dance”
Video: Rae Spoon – “Love Is A Hunter”

Hey, remember a couple of years ago when Mumford & Sons were here as support for Laura Marling? Or back in February when they played Lee’s Palace? Well friends, those days are long gone and British bluegrass is apparently very much what’s hot now – witness their just announced Fall tour which puts them at the Sound Academy on November 13, tickets $21 general admission and $35 for VIP balcony on sale Friday at 10AM.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Sarah Harmer has set a date at Massey Hall on November 20 in support of her new record Oh Little Fire. Tickets will range from $32.50 to $42.50, on sale next Monday at 10AM. The Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun have interviews.

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Captive”

And because you apparently can’t giveth without taketh, the October 1 Gayngs show at the Phoenix has been cancelled; no reason given. Everyone hoping their slow jams would get them some lovin’ is just going to do it the old fashioned way and get their dates liquored up.