Posts Tagged ‘Skydiggers’

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

CONTEST – Toronto Urban Roots Fest @ Garrison Common – July 4-7, 2013

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhat: Toronto Urban Roots Fest, the inaugural edition of a new multi-day festival that’s aiming to do what Bluesfest does for Ottawa and the Jazz Festival does for Montreal – namely bring in a lot of bands that have little to nothing to do with the festival’s titular genre but make great music. And let’s not get pedantic about the “urban” part, hey?
Who: Arkells, The Barr Brothers, Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Neko Case, The Cat Empire, Dawes, Justin Townes Earle, Alejandro Escovedo & The Sensitive Boys, The Felice Brothers, Fitz & The Tantrums, Flogging Molly, Hannah Georgas, The Hold Steady, Larry and his Flask, The Lowest Of The Low, Matt Mays, JD McPherson, The Joel Plaskett Emergency, Xavier Rudd, The Sadies, She & Him, Skydiggers, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Whitehorse, The Wooden Sky, Yo La Tengo
When: July 4 to 7, 2013
Where: Garrison Common at Fort York, Toronto
How: Single-day tickets for the show range from $50 to $60 in advance, but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got one pairs of passes for each day of the festival to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to TURF” in the subject line and your full name in the body along with which days, in order of preference, you’d like to attend – consult the schedule for who’s playing when. Contest closes at midnight, July 2, 2013.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Think You Can Wait

The National have a new album and are headlining NXNE. Your argument is invalid.

Photo By Deirdre O'CallaghanDeirdre O’CallaghanSometimes the best kinds of surprises are the ones you already knew were coming. For example – everyone knew The National was making a new record. High Violet came out way back in Spring 2010, touring behind it wrapped in late 2011, and they’ve since been posting updates from the studio via Instagram. Everyone knows they’ve not been idle, and yet it was hard not to feel a shiver when the official press release arrived in the inbox, announcing the album was done and would be out in May. No other details about the release like title or precise release date, but for now it was enough. Well, almost – it also revealed some Spring/Summer tour dates including the fact that The National would be the Yonge-Dundas Square headliner at NXNE.

I had wondered why NXNE was making their first official festival lineup announcement so early – last year’s Flaming Lips reveal didn’t come until mid-April – but I guess when one of your biggest act is going to let the cat out of the bag anyways, why not get on board? And so you can officially circle Friday, June 14, on your calendar as that evening The National will perform a free show for anyone and everyone who cares to listen at Yonge-Dundas Square. It won’t be the multi-sensory spectacle as The Lips offered last year, but it will be gorgeous, showered, and blue-blazered.

A whole batch of acts was announced alongside The National with some of the other high-profile acts coming to town including: Tuscon desert-rock stalwarts Calexico at The Mod Club on June 12, which explains why they’ve taken so long to come to town behind last year’s Algiers; Copenhagen post-punks Iceage at locations to be determined on June 15 and 16, which is why their current tour behind You’re Nothing has a curious Toronto-shaped gap in it despite there being time and space to fit it; one of the two Black Flag reunions – FLAG, featuring Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski – are at The Opera House on June 14; ascendant Californian garage-rocker Mikal Cronin, whose second album MCII is out May 7, assumes the Silver Dollar residency from June 13 to 15; and the touring bill of Milk Music and Merchandise will play showcases perhaps together, perhaps not.

It’s interesting that with a couple exceptions, most of what was announced yesterday tends to the loud, punk side of things. Perhaps the festival just wants to make an impactful first impression? Certainly did for me, and they’ve got almost four more months to roll out some more rangy acts. Can’t wait.

MP3: The National – “Think You Can Wait”
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Iceage – “Coalition”
MP3: Milk Music – “I’ve Got A Wild Feeling”
Stream: Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out”

Austra took to Twitter to announce themselves as a rather late add to Canadian Musicfest; they’ll be playing The Danforth Music Hall on the evening of March 23. Austinist has an interview with frontwoman Katie Stelmanis.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

Stepping out of festival-y stuff for a moment, I’m excited that Stornoway are at The Horseshoe on May 9 in support of their second album Tales From Terra Firma, out March 19. Tickets for that are $15 in advance.

Video: Stornoway – “Knock Me On The Head”

Keeping with the festival additions theme, Stars have been added to the Arts & Crafts past-and-present Field Trip lineup playing Garrison Commons at Fort York on June 8. Right now they’re a little further abroad, hence interviews at AsiaOne and The Sydney Morning Herald

MP3: Stars – “The Theory Of Relativity”

The Toronto Urban Roots Fest continues to make good on their promise to reveal a few more acts every week; this week’s adds to the four-day fest at Garrison Commons from July 4 to 7 include The Hold Steady, Justin Townes Earle, Frank Turner, The Lowest Of The Low, and The Skydiggers. Info on which specific date each act is playing and ticket on-sales are still a few weeks out, but if the festival’s intent is to keep building excitement each week until it lets details out… I think it’s working.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations”
MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues”
MP3: Frank Turner – “The Roads”
MP3: The Lowest Of The Low – “Bleed A Little While Tonight”
MP3: The Skydiggers – “Alice Graham” (live)

And not a festival, but still sort-of keeping in theme as a new addition to an existing event and happening on an outdoor stage… more than a month out from their Sound Academy show, and Alt-J have already announced a return engagement on September 11 at Echo Beach, tickets $34.50 general admission and $50 VIP.

MP3: Alt-J – “Matilda”

And in non-concert announcement business… Low have made another track from The Invisible Way available to download. They play The Great Hall on March 16 and the album is out March 19.

MP3: Low – “So Blue”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made the first single from Mosquito available to stream, largely putting to rest fears that the album art would accurately reflect the contents. It’s out April 16.

Stream: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”

Rolling Stone has a stream of another song from the new Iron & Wine album Ghost on Ghost, out April 16.

Stream: Iron & Wine – “Grace For Saints And Ramblers”

Clash talks to Jim James, paying a visit to The Phoenix on April 24.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Beach House.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

NXNE 2011 Day Four

Horse Feathers, Louise Burns, Cults and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne perennial highlight – okay, for two years – of my SXSW adventures was throwing day parties where we could invite Japanese Action Comic Punk outfit Peelander-Z to wreak havoc. So it was nice to see that not only were the Peelanders in town for NXNE, but they had an all-ages afternoon show scheduled at Sneaky Dee’s on the Saturday.

I guess Toronto’s still getting used to the idea of having shows when it’s still daylight out, because the gig was only attended by a few dozen – including some kids in cute homemade Peelander t-shirts – but I suspect that even faced with an audience of one, Peelander-Z would give it their all (and make said individual very uncomfortable). The show was a little different from when they were here in September, with Peelander Pink a little more involved in the proceedings and a dance number at the end, but the chewy centre was classic Peelander with human bowling, band swapping and squid costume jump rope/limbo line amongst other shenanigans. Tonnes of fun, but I couldn’t help wondering how insane it would have been if they’d been put on at Yonge-Dundas Square, with its throngs of unsuspecting bystanders and eminently climbable stage. Maybe next time.

Spinner has a surprisingly coherent interview with Peelander Yellow.

Photos: Peelander-Z @ Sneaky Dee’s – June 18, 2011
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Tacos Tacos Tacos”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Rocket Gold Star”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Champion”
MP3: Peelander-Z – “Panda Punk”
Video: Peelander-Z – “E-I-E-I-O”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Ninja High Schooool”
Video: Peelander-Z – “S.T.E.A.K.”
Video: Peelander-Z – “Mad Tiger”

Bridging the day and night programming at Yonge-Dundas Square was uber-buzz band of the hour, New York’s Cults. I’d seen them last Summer when their hype was still more of the underground variety and been somewhat underwhelmed, appreciating the style of what they were doing and some of their songs but overall felt that they were still too green to be touring the continent. Fast forward a year and their self-titled debut is garnering decent reviews and me? Still not overly impressed. Their onstage presence is better, but Madeline Follin still looks uncomfortable as a frontwoman, though maybe she was just unaccustomed to such a large stage in daylight. In any case the songs were more fully-realized and the audience was certainly responsive though anyone looking for electricity would be left wanting. Don’t get me wrong – they’re fine and all, but I find the raves they’re getting disproportionate to what they’re actually doing. And once again, I would like to point out that sadly departed Saturday Looks Good To Me did the Motown/retro-pop revival thing SO much better and more interestingly not that long ago. Every Night, people. Every. Night.

NOW, New York Magazine and NPR have feature pieces on Cults.

Photos: Cults @ Yonge-Dundas Square – June 18, 2011
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
Video: Cults – “Abducted”
Video: Cults – “Oh My God”

I encouraged everyone to make Louise Burns’ Saturday gig a must-see on their schedule, and considering that between that post and the show her debut Mellow Drama was also long-listed for the Polaris, I assumed that it’d be standing-room only in Supermarket’s back room and while a decently-sized crowd showed up, sitting or even lying down was also an option. This is what you get for being scheduled against DEVO, I guess. Still, Burns and her band The Moonshiners – five players including backing vocalist – impressed those who were there with a solid set that proved that despite the innate twang of her voice, pigeonholing Burns as a retro/rootsy-type artist is really insufficient – in fact the combination of Burns’ deftly melodic basslines and the dual chiming Telecasters had me drawing Smiths comparisons; I’ll wager anything that she’s got a healthy collection of ’80s Anglo-indie at home. I’ll also wager that Burns’ star will continue to rise over the coming months – excess elbow room at her shows will not be a problem.

Photos: Louise Burns @ Supermarket – June 18, 2011
MP3: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”
MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

The final night of NXNE had no shortage of high-profile shows sure to draw big crowds and fill up early. Which is why I opted to avoid all of them and camp out in the cozy underground shelter of The Dakota Tavern to wind out the festival. Traffic woes – even on a bike – meant it took longer to get from A to B than it should have, but I still made it in time to catch most of the Smoke Fairies’ set. The London-based duo play English folk with American blues undertones built around haunting haunting harmonies and intertwined guitar lines; though quite young, they made a convincingly old sound. In between songs from their new record Through Low Light And Trees, they offered stories about being stoned on Nyquil, disturbing Ben Mulroney and visitng island petting zoos. Entertaining? Rather.

Photos: Smoke Fairies @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Living With Ghosts”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Hotel Room”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Strange Moon Rising”
Video: Smoke Fairies – “Frozen Heart”

I didn’t know much about the next act, Portland’s Horse Feathers, save for that they were on Kill Rock Stars and presumably decent. That would prove to be the understatement of the festival. The quartet, led by singer-songwriter Justin Ringle put on a jaw-droppingly beautful showcase of dramatically orchestrated country/folk music, the dexterity of which was remarkable for the delicacy of the arrangements. There was no way that something so intricate should have carried so much weight, and yet it did. A pity it wasn’t quite breathtaking enough to shut up some of the talkers who insisted on jabbering throughout the set, but even they couldn’t ruin the performance. Easily one of the discoveries of the festival and you can bet I now own a copy of last year’s Thistled Spring.

Photos: Horse Feathers @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Thistled Spring”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
MP3: Horse Feathers – “Drain You”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Belly Of June”
Video: Horse Feathers – “Curs In The Weeds”

North Dakota’s Secret Cities were the main band that I had wanted to come to The Dakota to see, but by this point I’d rather forgotten that. Their set, showcasing their new record Strange Hearts, did a good job of reminding me of that fact. The recorded versions of their songs happily exist in a fuzzy, mid-fi state, reminiscent of the heyday of the Elephant 6, but live things have a more necessary clarity and considerably more volume, thanks to clattering double drums, layered vocals, and hooks a-plenty. A melange of almost every pop styling imaginable, they ably offset proggier inclinations with a genial goofiness and general all-around charm.

Photos: Secret Cities @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: Secret Cities – “The Park”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Boyfriends”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Luv Crime”
MP3: Secret Cities – “On Holiday”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Bright Teeth”
MP3: Secret Cities – “PG Pt 1”
MP3: Secret Cities – “Pink City”
Video: Secret Cities – “Always Friends”
Video: Secret Cities – “Pink City”

And closing the festival out were locals New Country Rehab who, as their name might imply, were a pretty much down-home country band who didn’t need a festival as an excuse to play a honky-tonk like The Dakota. Opening with a cover of Springsteen’s “State Trooper”, they took an obvious respect for traditional country, infused with some fresh energy to say nothing of ridiculous musicianship and stopped just short of entering territory. Just enough to get the people dancing, which they most surely did. I stuck around long enough to enjoy their take on Creedence’s “Effigy” and then called it a day/night/festival. THAT’S IT.

Spinner has an interview with the band.

Photos: New Country Rehab @ The Dakota Tavern – June 18, 2011
MP3: New Country Rehab – “Angel Of Death”

As I wrap up this year’s NXNE coverage, a few pre-festival interviews that I missed earlier, all courtesy of Torontoist – this one with The Balconies, this one with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers and this one with Snowblink.

Details on the first official Memoryhouse release from SubPop have been revealed, and it’s not going to be their debut album. Instead, their debut EP The Years has been rerecorded, remixed and remastered and had a couple extra tracks added on; it will be given wide release on September 13, presumably pushing their proper debut album back until 2012.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Modern, Normal”

Ohbijou have announced details of their third album, entitled Metal Meets and due out on September 27. Exclaim has details and a teaser video.

NPR welcomes The Rural Alberta Advantage to their studios for a World Cafe session while Metro offers up an interview.

Chart talks to Jay Ferguson of Sloan.

There doesn’t look like there’ll be any Olympic Island concerts this year, but a just-announced free show from Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder and Skydiggers on July 16 on Centre Island is nothing to shake a stick at. It’s part of Parks Day, presented by Parks Canada, and is – as mentioned – free. Your tax dollars at work!

Video: Sarah Harmer – “Captive”
Video: Serena Ryder – “Little Bit Of Red”
Video: Skydiggers – “I Will Give You Everything”

The Boot talks to Neil Young about his just-released archival release A Treasure.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Walking In The Park

Review of The Clientele’s Bonfires On The Heath

Photo By Andy WillsherAndy WillsherMy trip to London last May yielded no shortage of fond and lasting memories, but one of the most vivid is also one of the most unremarkable and inexplicable. My plan for my first visit to the city was pretty much to pick a particular district or two for each day I was there and just wander – one day, the West End, the next day, Soho, Covent Garden and Westminster, the day after, the East End and Greenwich. Greenwich wasn’t a place I had any particular prior affinity for, but I was told it was worth the extended tube ride to get out of the city for a bit and the Royal Observatory, marker of the Prime Meridian, was worth a gander. So I went and did the straddle-two-hemispheres thing, and before heading back down, I stopped and sat at the top of the observatory hill in Greenwich Park, gazing down at the expansive park and the enormity of London behind it, and that image just burned into my mind.

The point of this little meander down memory lane being that if there was a soundtrack for that moment, or even the trip as a whole, it would be The Clientele. Not literally – I don’t really listen to much music when I travel – but there’s not really another band out there right now that feels more like London to me. And that’s interesting because they don’t evoke the typical images of the city, not the history, the culture or the energy – instead, they sound like a respite from all of that. A pause, a stepping out from the non-stop hustle and commotion and taking a moment to oneself in a patch of greenery, filtered through the gauzy haze of memory.

The band’s last two records God Save The Clientele and Strange Geometry are my go-to records for when I want to recapture that feeling of aimless freedom and their latest, Bonfires On The Heath, slides in quite nicely alongside them. It moves at an easy cadence, occasionally with an extra spring in its step or a Spanish accent, but throughout, Alisdair Maclean’s gentle vocals are buoyed by Mel Draisey’s backing vox over a shimmering bed of tremoloed guitars, tinkling pianos and spiraling trumpet, every note capturing the very essence of Autumn’s dusk. The Clientele indeed have a specific recipe they adhere to from album to album, but it’s one that transports me almost instantly to my happy place which, apparently, is the top of a hill in Greenwich. I had been debating whether or not I wanted to go back to London next Spring or maybe visit somewhere I haven’t been before (namely Tokyo) but I think I’ve just made up my mind.

MP3: The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
MP3: The Clientele – “I Wonder Who We Are”
Stream: The Clientele / Bonfires On The Heath
MySpace: The Clientele

And from one of my favourite English bands to another, Lucky Soul have begun streaming the a new taste of their forthcoming second album, still untitled but due out in the early part of next year. “White Russian Doll” will be released as a single on January 11 and, alongside “Whoa Billy”, make a pretty good argument for this possibly/probably being one of the pop highlights of 2010. Mayhap I should time any visits to the UK to coincide with some gigs? Wouldn’t be the first time I went out of my way to see them.

Stream: Lucky Soul – “White Russian Doll”
MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa, Billy”

SX interviews Patrick Wolf.

Interview has a brief chat with Oliver Sim of The xx. The band is set to start a North American tour tonight that hooks up with Friendly Fires in Austin next week and swings up to Toronto on December 2 for a show at the Phoenix. Things have been pretty quiet since the drama a few weeks ago with guitarist Baria Quereshi’s exhaustion forcing the cancellation of a few shows – can one assume that everything and everyone is back on track?

Echo & The Bunnymen’s North American tour, on the other hand, was knocked completely off track last week when they cancelled the whole jaunt on account of red tape and tax demands from the IRS. Glad we got them in town when we did. Ian McCulloch has a conversation with Spinner.

A trailer for the forthcoming Mogwai live documentary Burning, which premieres in Copenhagen this week, has emerged. It looks quiet. Then loud. And intense all the way through.

Trailer: Burning

Minnesota Public Radio is streaming a studio session with The Mountain Goats.

The Magnetic Fields have announced details of their next album, which will be entitled Realism and is due out on January 26 of the new year. Details, cover art and track listing at Exclaim!

Magnet plays over/under with the repertoire of The Flaming Lips.

NPR is streaming a live Mountain Stage concert from Yo La Tengo.

Beatroute talks to head Hidden Camera Joel Gibb. They play the Opera House on December 5.

Yeah he was just here on Saturday, but he’s coming back. That’s Justin Townes Earle and the date is March 1, 2010, at the Horseshoe.

MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Midnight At The Movies”

This batch of show announcements didn’t even really need formal announcements, but consider them official – the Skydiggers holiday residency at the Horseshoe on December 18 and 19, Elliott Brood ringing in New Year’s Eve at Lee’s Palace and The Sadies doing the same at the Horseshoe – tickets for all shows $20 in advance.

The Word has assembled a really cool Google maps mash-up, marking the locations of dozens? hundreds? of the images found on famous and not-as-famous album covers. Consider your morning/afternoon/evening well and truly wasted.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Pause The Tragic Ending

Review of Rachael Yamagata's Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart

Photo By Hilary WalshHilary WalshWell this certainly took a while. Four years on from the release of her debut Happenstance, Rachael Yamagata has finally released the follow-up in Elephants … Teeth Sinking Into Heart, and perhaps in an effort to make up for the wait, it’s a double album. Well, sort of.

Though the physical release is divvied up into two CDs, the contents could quite easily fit onto one. The separation is intended to be thematic, with the first disc – Elephants – consisting of intimate and sometimes smouldering balladry that treads the well-worn terrain of lust and love and the brokenheartedness that ensues, while the second – Teeth Sinking Into Heart – does much the same, except with louder guitars and a defiantly snarling delivery. Perhaps tellingly, it’s not an even split. Elephants runs ten songs long (one instrumental, one hidden) while Teeth only lasts five, and the last of those, “Don’t”, hardly qualifies as a rocker. It’s more of a final note of resignation.

As she proved on Happenstance, Yamagata is perfectly capable of handling both sides of the musical coin – her smoky rasp of a voice is just as suited to the downcast weepers as it is the more venomous sentiments and she’s just as deft behind the guitar as she is the piano, though the Teeth end of things is decidedly more aggressive than the more uptempo moments on her debut. The imbalance on the album is probably meant more as a mirror of reality – anger is intense but only lasts a short while, but sadness can drag on forever. Or maybe she just had more slow songs.

It’s easy and probably quite accurate to file Yamagata under adult-contemporary singer-songwriter likely to soundtrack Grey’s Anatomy, though the rich-yet-lean production from Mike Mogis probably sounds like it was done by Steve Albini when compared to her more slickly produced peers. And even if she doesn’t transcend that particular style, she’s still damn good at it and everyone – I don’t care who they are – is capable of having their heartstrings tugged by a sad song, if it’s the right sad song. And Yamagata has got lots of them – surely one will do the trick.

Yamagata is hitting the road this Fall and will be at the Mod Club on December 12 for what, I think, is her first headlining show in Toronto in four years and even that was an industry showcase deal. She’s been through a couple times in a support capacity but never on her own. So again, a long time in coming.

BlogCritics talks to Yamagata about the Hotel Cafe Tour which makes up the first leg of her Fall tour, Deseret News also has an interview and NPR is streaming a radio session.

Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Elephants”
Video: Rachael Yamagata – “Sidedish Friend”
MySpace: Rachael Yamagata

The Kills have rolled out another vid from their excellent Midnight Boom.

Video: The Kills – “Tape Song”

Drowned In Sound talks to Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste about the band’s progress on their next album, for which he’s eyeing a late Spring 2009 release.

Laundromatinee is offering a session with The Acorn in video and MP3 forms, has an interview. They’re at Lee’s Palace on November 27.

Pitchfork interviews Calexico. They’re at the Phoenix November 18, passes are still being given away.

When Okkervil River released The Stand-Ins this year, it cut the life cycle of The Stage Names down from what it arguably should have been (or doubled it, whatever), and as a result this video from the first album never made it out there. So the director has put it up himself. Via Antville.

Video: Okkervil River – “A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene”

Noah & The Whale’s December 9 show has been moved from the El Mocambo to the Rivoli.

Cut Copy return to town for the third time in a year with a show at Circa on March 20.

It’s almost the holiday season, and that means traditions like the Skydiggers Christmas shows at the Horseshoe on December 19 and 20 and The Sadies ringing in the New Year at the ‘Shoe, as always, on December 31. Tickets for all are $20.