Posts Tagged ‘Smiths’

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"

Dum Dum Girls cover The Smiths

Photo via SubPopSub PopEverything about Dum Dum Girls is pretty danged American, from their California garage rock-meets-’60s girl-group sound to their vintage biker pin-up aesthetic, but hearing them take on arch-English mope-masters The Smiths as they did for the closing track on their He Gets Me High EP earlier this year, you can easily imagine an adolescent Kristen Gundred swooning over romanticized notions of rainy Manchester as much as SoCal’s sunny beaches. But maybe it shouldn’t be any kind of surprise – their band name does come half from The Vaselines’ debut album.

On the same note, it’s not surprising that Gundred would look to another American gone Anglo for inspiration for their new album Only In Dreams; the way she evokes Chrissie Hynde’s vibrato all over that record is uncanny. Look to hear it live when they play Lee’s Palace tonight. And while The Smiths won’t be playing anywhere live anytime soon, fanatics can shell out for the exorbitantly fancy Complete box set, which is out this week.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
Video: The Smiths – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Open Arms

Elbow at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m sure it’s more coincidence than any kind of conspiracy, but for some reason the last few years have seen late September/early October become the season when a deluge of Mercury Prize rolls through town. Over the past little while, Toronto has hosted performances by Laura Marling, Coldplay, The Horrors, and Wild Beasts with James Blake here tonight and Portishead in just over a week, and Wednesday night saw 2008’s winners Elbow return for their first headline show in over five years.

It wasn’t supposed to have been so long; they were technically here in August 2009 as reigning Mercury champs opening for Coldplay and had a headlining show at The Phoenix all lined up alongside it, but an offer to play Letterman forced them to pull the plug on it and fly to New York – the salt in the wound being that they never got to perform on account of a segment with another guest running long. And personally, though I’d seen them back in November of 2005, I only became any kind of a fan in the intervening years – all of which is to say that the show at The Sound Academy in support of this year’s Build A Rocket Boys was one I’d been waiting for for a long while.

I certainly wasn’t the only one, but with the venue only half full – approximately 1500 punters – and folded into its more intimate configuration, there clearly weren’t as many as some may have hoped. Still enough to offer a roar of welcome to the Manchester quintet and their two backing violinists/vocalists, though. Whereas at the 2005 show I saw, Garvey was hobbled by a bum leg and forced to perform seated for most of the show, he spent this entire evening roaming the stage like the man of the people he is, shaking hands with the front row and pointing and waving to pretty much everyone; I wager that by show’s end, there wasn’t a person in the crowd who hadn’t been personally acknowledged by Garvey. The sort of skills one gains from playing to arena- and stadium-sized crowds, as Elbow do back in the UK, served him well in connecting with the audience whether is was a running theme of getting everyone to wave their hands in the air whenever he did so – perhaps a nod to their latest album’s artwork – or cheekily chastising overeager fans for randomly shouting out the names of English towns or trying to start football singalongs and a offering elocution lessons to those shouting requests inarticulately. All in good fun, of course.

And while I’m sure plenty would have been happy to attend a Guy Garvey speaking tour, this was still a rock concert. At least technically. One of the key realizations in my becoming a fan was that Elbow weren’t actually a conventional rock band, and expecting them to ever “rock out”, as the kids say, was an exercise in frustration. They can pack a wallop when need be, as “Neat Little Rows” and “Grounds For Divorce” – which followed an extended nonsensical ad-libbed audience singalong – aptly demonstrated, but most of the set showcased what has become the band’s forte: the big, open-hearted, sentimental and stately anthems. Opening with “The Birds” and running through the likes of “Mirrorball” and “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver”, all rendered gorgeously and meticulously, it was almost a case of too much beauty to take in.

The heartstring-tugging peaked mid-set when the rest of the band left just Garvey and keyboardist Craig Potter onstage for “The Night Will Always Win” and “Puncture Repair” rendered as piano ballads. Upon their return, the band went big for the final third of the show with grandiose performances of “Weather To Fly”, begun as an acoustic campfire number with all five gathered in a circle before being completed in proper cinematic fashion and set-closing “Open Arms” that was as soaring as one would expect. The encore led off with “Starlings” – Garvey, Mark Potter and Pete Turner handling horn duties – and following “Station Approach” ended with “One Day Like this”, the song that will likely close Elbow shows until the end of time or until they write something even more celebratory.

For all the preceding praise, it could have been better. Hearing something – anything – from Cast Of Thousands would have been glorious and made me feel a little bit less like I was being punished for taking so long to come around on this band. It would also have been nice if they’d worked some of their darker-tinged songs, such as “Audience With The Pope”, into the set if just to break up the sepia-ness of the performance and show off that heavier side just a bit more. A little more variety in the tenor of the set wouldn’t have been a bad thing – after all, when every song is done up big like a set-closer, it can take away from the actual arc of the show and almost make it feel anticlimactic. But these are relatively minor complaints; any time you get to spend almost two hours with one of Britain’s best bands where the prevailing emotion is love in all its permutations, it’s going to be a good time. Check that; great time.

The National Post also has a review of the show and The Globe & Mail, DIY and San Diego City Beat have band interviews.

Photos: Elbow @ The Sound Academy – September 28, 2011
MP3: Elbow – “Open Arms”
MP3: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Open Arms”
Video: Elbow – “Neat Little Rows”
Video: Elbow – “The Bones Of You”
Video: Elbow – “One Day Like This”
Video: Elbow – “Grounds For Divorce”
Video: Elbow – “Leaders Of The Free World”
Video: Elbow – “Forget Myself”
Video: Elbow – “Grace Under Pressure”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job”
Video: Elbow – “Fugitive Motel”
Video: Elbow – “Fallen Angel”
Video: Elbow – “Newborn”
Video: Elbow – “Powder Blue”
Video: Elbow – “Red”
Video: Elbow – “Any Day Now”

Blurt has details on exactly what is going to be in that ridiculously comprehensive (and expensive) Smiths box set entitled Complete due out October 18.

Adele has released a video for the song you’ve been hearing all Summer and which will haunt you through music stores, shopping malls and karaoke bars until the end of time.

Video: Adele – “Someone Like You”

Contact Music reports that after all his various projects, Damon Albarn is finally planning a proper solo record. Which I’m hoping is code for a Blur North American tour, but I suspect is not.

The Line Of Best Fit serves up a video session with Summer Camp, whose Welcome To Condale is out November 8.

Also sessioning up at The Line Of Best Fit is I Break Horses with the second of three performances recorded in Stockholm.

NPR interviews Feist. Metals is out Tuesday and she’s at Massey Hall on December 1.

Exclaim talks to Kathryn Calder about her new album Bright & Vivid. It’s not out until October 25 but the first video is now available.

Video: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”

The Toronto Star and NOW talk to Ohbijou in advance of tonight’s release show in support of Metal Meets at Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Exclaim hosts a video session with The Elwins, who have a single release show at The El Mocambo tonight.

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Passive Aggressive

The Radio Dept. no longer convincing anyone they hate touring

Photo via FacebookFacebookFor the longest time, conventional wisdom about The Radio Dept. said the Swedish three-piece hated to play live, preferring to record, throw out and re-record albums of gorgeously forlorn synth-pop in the safety and comfort of their studio. As such, I undertook a pilgrimage of sorts to New York two Summers ago to see them play what I assumed would be an incredibly rare show.

Even when their long-awaited third album Clinging To A Scheme broke them open to a much larger audience (relative statement but still) following its release last Spring, they seemed to be unwilling to capitalize on the interest, playing only some Asian and European dates in the Spring and another couple of New York shows late in the year. I seriously considered getting on a plane again but was tipped off that 2011 would be year that The Radio Dept became intimately acquainted with North America and indeed, they spent the first half of February traversing the continent and making their Toronto debut in front of a completely sold-out Lee’s Palace.

And then, against all expectations, they came back, playing The Horseshoe in late May. I missed that one on account of being in Europe but I’d like to think that the show was well-attended, perhaps with all the people who couldn’t get into the Lee’s show. Either way, it must have been at least full enough to justify a third go-around because that’s what we’re getting – a third Radio Dept. show in nine months, this one on November 17 at The Mod Club. It’s part of their largest North American tour yet, and if you need an reason beyond “why not”, then how about that first show was to promote Clinging, the second the Passive Aggressive compilation and this one… their vinyl reissues? I hope so, because Pet Grief has been sorely underrepresented in the shows I’ve seen… In any case – even though I won’t assume they’re any more dynamic a live act than in the past, I still highly recommend seeing them because the songs are still sublime and – wealth of recent appearances notwithstanding – who knows when they’ll be back?

The band are offering a recording of their set at Sasquatch this past May – including a new, untitled song – for free download.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “untitled new song” (live at Sasquatch 2011)
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Why Won’t You Talk About It?”
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “The Worst Taste In Music”
MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”

Also filling out the November concert calendar a bit – mysterious British rockers WU LYF, whose name is an acronym for World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation and not meant to be shouted, have made a date at The Horseshoe for November 12 as part of a Fall tour in support of their debut Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. Spinner has an interview with the band.

MP3: WU LYF – “Summas Bliss”

And The Boxer Rebellion, who were here back in April, will graduate to The Opera House for their November 19 show in support of The Cold Still as well as their just-released live set Live In Tennessee.

MP3: The Boxer Rebellion – “No Harm”

Listen Before You Buy is streaming two sides of a new Frightened Rabbit tour EP, the tour in question being the one that brings them to the Molson Amphitheatre tonight.

Wild Beasts have a new video from their latest Smother. They play The Mod Club on September 29.

Video: Wild Beasts – “Bed Of Nails”

Black Book talks to James Blake, in town for a show at The Phoenix on September 30.

The first video from Ladytron’s new record Gravity The Seducer has been released. The album is out September 13 and they play The Phoenix on October 5.

Video: Ladytron – “White Elephant”

Drowned In Sound has a sit-down with Sons & Daughters drummer David Gow about their new record Mirror Mirror.

There’s a new live in-studio performance video available from Patrick Wolf, showcasing one of the numbers from Lupercalia.

Video: Patrick Wolf – “Time Of My Life” (Live at The Pool Studios, 2011)

The National Post gets to know Anna Calvi.

I’m finally discovering the works of Hefner, though it’s about a decade too late to do anything with it in real time… but Artrocker reports that ex-frontman Darren Hayman has a new solo record entitled The Ship’s Piano out come October 11. Those who’ve followed his career through all its guises – is his solo stuff as good as Hefner? Not that I’ll have waded through all of Hefner’s back catalog anytime soon, but for reference.

Video: Hefner – “Good Fruit”

NME reports that Manic Street Preachers will mark their 21st anniversary with the release of the National Treasures singles compilation in October. It will supplant 2002’s Forever Delayed as the go-to compilation, not unreasonably since they’ve release four albums since then and the new comp will also include a new single.

Also coming in October – the 3rd to be exact – is a ridiculous Smiths box set entitled The Smiths Complete. On the plus side, it contains all the band’s official albums and compilations on CD and 180g LP, 25 7″s, a DVD, tonnes of posters and art, the whole thing has been remastered by Johnny Marr and it’s limited to an edition of 3000 so in owning it, you can impress the people on the internet who are impressed by this sort of thing. On the down side, its got nothing fans haven’t already bought several times over and in purchasing it, you continue to subsidize this nutjob. So yeah, your call. Details on the set at Pitchfork.

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

"The Headmaster Ritual"

Radiohead covers The Smiths

Photo via YouTubeYouTubeThose scamps in Radiohead did it again. After ambushing music fans with their last album In Rainbows, the existence of which was revealed just 10 days before it was put up for sale at a pay-what-you-will price, the band did the same for their new record The King Of Limbs, announcing last Monday that it’d be available to download as of Saturday and then surprising yet again by moving the release ahead 24 hours, allowing fans to devour and digest the eight-song offering as of Friday morning.

The release of In Rainbows was followed almost exactly a month later on November 9, 2007 with a webcast of a live studio performance by the band for producer Nigel Godrich’s From The Basement television series and amidst performances of all of In Rainbows, they threw in a couple of covers that were like manna from heaven for fans of their old pop-structured, guitar-driven sound – one of Joy Division’s “Ceremony” and this one of The Smiths. A reminder that they’re perfectly capable of sounding like their old, twentieth-century selves… they’re simply choosing not to.

It remains to be seen if Radiohead have any such plans to follow The King Of Limbs – history certainly implies that they’ll do something interesting and unexpected, and a fresh world tour seem inevitable. As for The Smiths, the closest they’ve come to a reunion is Morrissey and Marr teaming up to agree that cruelty to animals is bad. The Huffington Post had a chat with former bassist Andy Rourke.

MP3: Radiohead – “The Headmaster Ritual”
Video: Radiohead – “The Headmaster Ritual” (on From The Basement)
Video: The Smiths – “The Headmaster Ritual”

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

All Farewells

The Coast wash away

Photo By Carl HeindlCarl HeindlA half-decade ago, almost to the day, I broke my usual holiday concert moratorium and headed out to Rancho Relaxo to see a former bandmate play a solo set and in the process, discovered a new Toronto outfit called The Coast. I had actually met some of them at a New Year’s Eve party the year prior, when they were still called The July 26th Movement, but this little show was my first time seeing them play and yeah, their emotive blend of New Order jangle and U2 earnestness struck a chord, and I was a fan.

And now, five years, two albums, one EP and countless tours to all points on the globe and citing the usual personal, financial and creative reasons, the band are calling it a day. They’re playing one final show at The Garrison tonight and will then move on to whatever is next, so if you’ve got the evening open, you could do far far worse than to bid farewell to one of the city’s most consistently good yet underappreciated bands. Tickets are $10 or $7 with the donation of two non-perishable food items. and eye conduct a couple of exit interviews with the band, and I dug up an IM interview I did with the band back in the Summer of 2006… a fine reminder of why I don’t do interviews.

MP3: The Coast – “Heartbreak City”
MP3: The Coast – “Killing Off Our Friends”
MP3: The Coast – “No Secret Why”
MP3: The Coast – “Tightrope”
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”

The National Post has some words with John O’Regan of Diamond Rings. He’s at the Sound Academy on January 26 opening up for Robyn.

Spin finds out where the reunited-for-now Dismemberment Plan got their name.

A compilation’s worth of Smiths demos and instrumentals has surfaced. And by “surfaced” I mean been ripped from a vinyl bootleg and released onto the internet. Have at it.