Posts Tagged ‘Serenades’

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Youth Knows No Pain

Lykke Li finds Lost Sessions

Photo By Roger DeckkerRoger DeckkerA little before the holidays rolled in, Swedish songstress Lykke Li gave her fans an early Christmas gift by releasing a three-song EP of stripped-down versions of this year’s Wounded Rhymes. They’re decidedly spare and more downbeat than the finished versions, but if you liked the moodiness that pervaded her second album, then you might well like these versions better than the album versions because they’ve got shadowy atmosphere to spare.

And if the version of “Jerome” sounds familiar, it’s because a video of the performance of “Jerome” came out in the early part of the year – which implies that there might well be more videos lurking in her vaults, just as the Volume 1 implies there might be more songs to give away; perhaps to keep folks interested while she works on album number three.

MP3: Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers” (The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1)
MP3: Lykke Li – “Jerome” (The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1)
MP3: Lykke Li – “Youth Knows No Pain” (The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1)
Video: Lykke Li – “Jerome” (The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1)
Stream: Lykke Li / The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1

Also offering gifts from Sweden were Stockholm pop outfit Acid House Kings, who offered a free download (and a remix) of one of the highlights of their delicious 2011 release The Music Sounds Better With You, a record I didn’t get around to reviewing but which is, indeed, delicious. And with this offering, that’s three of the album’s ten tracks available as free downloads via Labrador… those Swedes are generous folk.

MP3: Acid House Kings – “Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?”
MP3: Acid House Kings – “Would You Say Stop?”
MP3: Acid House Kings – “(I’m In) A Chorus Line”
MP3: Acid House Kings – “(I’m In) A Chorus Line” (Dave DaG remix)

Filter chats with Adam Olenius and Markus Krunegård of Serenades.

jj have released a new video. Yes, it’s weird.

Video: jj – “VI”

“Lúppulagið” – the one new song included on Sigur Ros’ Inni live album – is now available to download.

MP3: Sigur Ros – “Lúppulagið”

And Jonsi has released a video for one of the songs on the We Bought A Zoo original soundtrack. Have you seen the film? I think they buy a zoo.

Video: Jonsi – “Gathering Stories”

The Irish Times, Daily Record, and The Skinny talk to Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream.

Bandstand Busking reaches back to the Summer for a session with Veronica Falls; they’re at The Garrison on February 14.

Lanterns On The Lake offer a list of their favourite records to DIY, chats with The Irish Independent and play a session for Beatcast.

The Quietus marks the twentieth anniversary of Teenage Fanclub’s classic Bandwagonesque.

Want to hear an early demo version of a new xx song? No? Then don’t click on the link below. And then the play button on the page that link leads to.

Stream: The xx – “Open Eyes”

Elbow have announced deluxe reissues of their second and third albums for next year; 2003’s Cast Of Thousands and 2005’s Leaders Of The Free World will be released on March 5 with a second disc of period-correct bonus material and a DVD of videos and live performances.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Allo Darlin’ send postcards from Europe

Illustration By Paul RainsPaul RainsOne of the criteria – really, the main one – for my year-end list was basically, “how many times did I listen to this record?”. Which I think is reasonable. If we were to take out the “must have been released in 2011” stipulation, however, the list would have been rather different – at least to the extent that Allo Darlin’s 2010 self-titled debut would have surely made the list. And if I’d assembled a supplementary list of favourite 7″ singles of the year, their “Darren”/”Wu-Tang Clan” picture disc – a tribute to the Hefner frontman and cover of one of his compositions as The French – would have been at the top (and the bottom as it was the only 7″ I bought this year).

If it’s not clear, the ukulele-powered, Aussie-fronted London quartet rather charmed me this year and for the reasons why, check out my review of the record and also of their live show in June. And so after playing catch-up on their back catalog (well, the one album and a handful of singles) this year, I’m trilled that details on their second album have started to come to light. It was known that it’d be called Europe as far back as the Summer, but now Altsounds reports that a first single entitled “Capricornia” will be out on February 13 with the full-length to follow sometime in May. eburban ups the ante by saying the record will be released in North America by Slumberland – a fact confirmed by the band via Twitter – and on April 3 with a North American tour to follow. Those bits are unconfirmed but I’m certainly on board with hoping its true.

In any case, a first taste of the new album comes via a video assembled from tour footage for the song “Tallulah”, and if you’re guessing that’s a reference to indie-pop forebears Talulah Gosh – spelling aside – you’re probably right. And if you’re guessing I’m saving a spot on the “favourites of 2012” list for Europe, you’re also probably right.

MP3: Allo Darlin’ – “My Heart Is A Drummer”
Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Tallulah”

Pitchfork reports that Stuart Murdoch has turned to Kickstarter to gather financing for his musical film adaptation of God Help The Girl, hoping to get it done before turning his attention to the next Belle & Sebastian record. So if you want that follow-up to Write About Love sooner rather than later, chip in a bit.

MP3: God Help The Girl – “Come Monday Night”

In conversation with Rolling Stone , Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons compares the band’s new material to both Black Sabbath and Nick Drake. Neither Black Sabbath or Nick Drake fans are impressed.

Both sides of the new Radiohead single are available to stream and purchase from your preferred digital retail outlet.

Stream: Radiohead – “The Daily Mail”
Stream: Radiohead – “Staircase”

Chart talks covers with Anna Calvi.

Artrocker gets an update on the return of Bloc Party from drummer Matt Tong.

Sweden’s Mary Onettes have prepared a new EP entitled Love Forever, half of it produced by Dan Lissvik who made the last Young Galaxy such a gem. I’d have been looking forward to whatever they put out next but this makes it extra tantalizing. It’s out February 28.

Interview talks to Swedish duo Serenades.

The Guardian interviews Anthony Gonzalez of M83. They’re at the Sound Academy on May 6.

Jim Sclavunos tells Faster Louder that while Grinderman is on the back burner for now, The Bad Seeds are indeed back in action.

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Sadness Is A Blessing

Lykke Li and First Aid Kit at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s a little bit of bragging when I point out that our blogger posse had Lykke Li close out the second day of our Hot Freaks! party at SXSW 2008 before her star became ascendant. But the fact is that it was almost entirely Gorilla Vs Bear’s doing, with most of the rest of us having no idea who Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson was at the time. And not too many did, as only a modest number of people came out to Club DeVille to see play that afternoon. So you’d think that it would have been the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the curve on her, but the fact was I didn’t love her stuff and that opinion extended to her debut album Youth Novels; it was fine and all but hardly stopped me in my tracks. Which is why despite her having come through town a number of times between now and then, I’d not seen Lykke Li live since.

So if you choose to interpret my trekking down to the Sound Academy on Tuesday night to see her as meaning that I was stopped in my tracks by her second album Wounded Rhymes, well that might be a little hyperbolic but it’s not far off. I understand how Lykke Li’s breathy vocals and the coquettish tone of the lyrics were the source of Youth Novels‘ appeal for many, but to me they were the main points of complaint – the record felt slight, like it was all surface. Rhymes, on the other hand, with its combination of girl-group/doo-wop touchpoints, a dash of gospel and altogether rawer and heavier themes tapped into something much deeper both sonically and emotionally. Novels was flirtatious; Rhymes was lustful. Yeah I was going to see this record performed live.

Opening up this tour were fellow Swedes and sister folk act First Aid Kit – combined with Sunday night’s all-Icelandic bill, this was turning into quite the Scandinavian revue week. I’d seen them last Summer when they stopped in at the comfy and cozy Rivoli – about as diametrically opposed a venue from the cavernous Sound Academy as you can get. And yet without changing up their simple presentation – the Söderberg sisters switching up on guitar, keys and autoharp and harmonies and Mattias Bergqvist on drums – were more than able to step up to the occasion, sounding confident and punchy. In addition to drawing from their 2010 debut The Big Black & The Blue, they previewed material from their forthcoming second album The Lion’s Roar – out January 24 – and when heard side-by-side with the older material, it was remarkable how far they’ve come as songwriters, the new songs being both more melodic and dramatic at the same time. Though there was some headbanging, you couldn’t say they rocked – that’s not their game – but the did impress.

Lykke Li’s arrival was heralded by an extended strobe light and smoke machine intro which highlighted the sweeping black and white stage dressing for this tour, an aesthetic mirrored in her outfit for the night – a black robe/gown and dark eye make-up. “Witchy” and/or “goth” are not adjectives one would have typically thought to apply to Lykke Li, but there it was. Opening with “Jerome”, the depth and dramatics of the new record were clearly going to be translated to the stage with Lykke Li an exceptionally expressive and dynamic presence from the get-go.

Danciness is a key element of Lykke Li’s sound, but what sets her apart from others operating in that space is her reliance on live and acoustic instruments, particularly drums and percussion, and it was easy to get caught up in the pounding, rhythmic grooves she and her band created and her voice would ride upon. Though she’s not what you’d call a powerhouse singer, her delivery has a strength and soulfulness that’s irresistible and thankfully shuns your standard diva moves; on her cover of “Unchained Melody”, whereas other singers might have gone for a solo moment at its peak, Lykke Li instead turned to her band for multi-part harmonies that were unexpected and beautiful.

The set was split about evenly between the two albums but with the older material sonically beefed up to match the current aesthetic and all the better for it. And while I clearly favoured the new material, the sea of cellphones raised aloft during “Little Bit” was ample evidence that many of the fans there were old school. Excepting a couple moments of feedback, the sound throughout the night had been pretty good but as things moved towards the finale – perhaps in an attempt to make things even heavier – the bass began turning to mud on “Youth Knows No Pain” and sadly robbed it of its impact, only being salvaged by the extended percussion, chanting and megaphone-powered (and Kanye “Power”-quoting) coda. But things recovered enough that set closer “Get Some” satisfied and one-song encore of “Unrequited Love” the perfect, bruised cap on the evening. I now regret somewhat not keeping up with Lykke Li following that SXSW show and missing out on her more intimately-scaled performances, but if she keeps putting out records as strong as Wounded Rhymes, then this won’t be the last time I’ll be making up for lost time.

The National Post was also on hand for the show and have a review. And with this show done, First Aid Kit have announced their own headlining gig at The Great Hall on April 4 of next year.

Photos: Lykke Li, First Aid Kit @ The Sound Academy – November 15, 2011
MP3: Lykke Li – “Youth Knows No Pain”
MP3: Lykke Li – “Get Some”
MP3: First Aid Kit – “I Met Up With The King”
Video: Lykke Li – “Sadness Is A Blessing”
Video: Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers”
Video: Lykke Li – “Get Some”
Video: Lykke Li – “Little Bit”
Video: Lykke Li – “I’m Good I’m Gone”
Video: Lykke Li – “Breaking It Up”
Video: First Aid Kit – “The Lion’s Roar”
Video: First Aid Kit – “Hard Believer”
Video: First Aid Kit – “I Met Up With The King”

The Quietus explores the sad and beautiful world of Loney Dear.

DIY chats with Alec Olenius of Serenades.

The Raveonettes have released a video for the new single from their latest album Raven In The Grave.

Video: The Raveonettes – “Let Me On Out”

Rolling Stone talks to Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable, who have begun work on album number two and hope to have it out in the new year.

Paste has a feature piece on Los Campesinos! and over at Nerve, bassist Ellen Campesinos! dishes on what it’s like to be a female musician looking to get some while on the road.

Fact talks to Kate Jackson about her nascent but promising solo career.

NME has details on the second album from The Big Pink; it will be entitled Future This and come out on January 16 of next year. This is the first single and video.

Video: The Big Pink – “Hit The Ground (Superman)”

Though just here a few weeks ago, Metronomy have scheduled a Spring North American tour that brings them back to town on April 2 for a show at The Hoxton.

Video: Metronomy – “Everything Goes My Way”

Exclaim reports that New Order will release an album of studio outtakes from Waiting For The Sirens Call as Lost Sirens sometime in December.

Similarly, Pet Shop Boys will collect 13 years of b-sides as the double-disc collection Format and put that out on February 7; Slicing Up Eyeballs has specifics.

Q talks to Dev Hynes of Blood Orange.

Paste, The Phoenix and PopMatters interview Anthony Gonzalez of M83, in town for a sold-out show at Lee’s Palace tomorrow night.

Proving that Toronto’s appetite for things naked and famous shows no signs of abating, Kiwis The Naked & Famous will be back for their fourth show in less than a year, returning for an engagement at The Sound Academy on April 5 of next year; tickets $22.50 in advance.

Video: The Naked & Famous – “Girls Like You”

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

From Finner

Couldn’t go to Iceland? For A Minor Reflection and Of Monsters And Men bring Iceland to you

Photo By Anthony BacigalupoAnthony BacigalupoOkay so I know I probably said I was done with all things Iceland when I wrapped up my Iceland Airwaves coverage a couple weeks ago, but this is actually relevant for those who won’t be hopping on a plane to the Blue Lagoon anytime soon. You see, while a large part of Airwaves’ mandate is to bring bands and fans from the rest of the world to Iceland, it also works hard to export its own talent beyond the Bjorks and Sigur Ros’, and one of its targets is none other than Toronto.

On November 13, the Toronto Best Party will present the Iceland Arts Festival at the El Mocambo, starting in the afternoon with a Kolaport market featuring all manner of Iceland goods for sale – hopefully including some Pylsur hot dogs – and a screening of the Iceland Airwaves documentary film Of Monsters & Men, who were incidentally the very first band I saw at Airwaves this year and instrumental post-rock practitioners For A Minor Reflection, who I gave up on seeing because of a scheduling conflict and knowing that I could see them here. Both acts very different but very good and very Icelandic.

Tickets for the film screening are $5 and the show $10, available at Eventbrite – but courtesy of Toronto Best Party, I have one pair of passes to give away for the concert. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want some Iceland in Toronto” in the subject line and your full name in the body; contest closes at midnight, November 8. And there’s also a second related event, more electronic music-oriented, taking place on November 18 at Nocture – details here.

Paste has a feature piece on Of Monsters & Men, who are being tipped to make some serious inroads in the North American market. Their debut My Head Is An Animal was released in Iceland in September and is set for a major label worldwide release next year.

MP3: For A Minor Reflection – “Dansi Dans”
MP3: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”
Trailer: Where’s The Snow?!

While on the topic of things Icelandic, INNI – the Sigur Ros concert film just concluded its run at the TIFF Lightbox last night. If you’ve yet to see it, the DVD/live album will be out on November 15 – Spinner and North Shore News talk to director Vincent Morriset about making the film.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Swedish singer-songwriter Amanda Mair. Her debut album is due out this Winter.

Spin has premiered the video for the title track from from First Aid Kit’s new record The Lion’s Roar; the album is not out until January 24 of the new year but they’re in town at The Sound Academy on November 15 opening for Lykke Li.

Video: First Aid Kit – “The Lion’s Roar”

Serenades are a new Swedish band, half of whom are Alec Olenius from Shout Out Louds. Their debut album Criminal Heaven is presently only available in Sweden, but they have international aspirations – check out a couple of tunes from the record and a video.

MP3: Serenades – “Birds”
MP3: Serenades – “Oceans”
Video: The Serenades – “Oceans”

DIY, The Dallas Observer and The Vinyl District have interviews with We Were Promised Jetpacks.

The Horrors share some gripes about the state of music journalism with Spinner and talk about touring Mexico to The Guardian.

DIY talks to Summer Camp about their debut Welcome To Condale, out November 8.

Field Music have announced a February 14 release date for their new record Plumb; Exclaim has details and you can swap an email for an MP3 at the band’s website.

Stream: Field Music – “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing”

Rolling Stone have premiered a new MP3 from The Jezabels’ forthcoming debut Prisoner, out November 8. They’re at The Phoenix on November 24 and 25 supporting Hey Rosetta!.

MP3: The Jezabels – “Try Colour”