Posts Tagged ‘Soft Pack’

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Until I Am Whole

New album news from (Mountain) Goats, and (Band Of) Horses, and (Grizzly) Bear(s) – oh my!

Photo By DL AndersonD.L. AndersonA veritable deluge of new album information came across the desk in the last day or so, though it could well have been delivered in a box of animal crackers.

First and least expectedly – at least I wasn’t expecting one – is a new Mountain Goats album entitled Transcendental Youth due out on October 2. There’s no sample track yet – not even one of those album trailers that are de rigeur these days – but instead and arguably better are a couple of essays about the album, one by John Darnielle, and another by way of the official bio by John Hodgman.

You can see the full album art over at Exclaim and, as something to listen to and keeping with the animal theme, a track from their 2000 album The Coroner’s Gambit.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Baboon”

Having teased that it was coming but not offering much in the way of specifics, Band Of Horses have spilled the beans on album number four, to be entitled Mirage Rock and due out on September 18; it certainly gives some context to their show at Echo Beach on August 15 opening up for My Morning Jacket. Pitchfork has some specifics and the first video from the album is available below.

Video: Band Of Horses – “Knock Knock”

And while Grizzly Bear had gone so far as to not only confirm a release date for their next record – also September 18 – and book a tour – Massey Hall on September 26 – they’d been coy about the actual title of the record until now. It’s going to be called Shields and you can see the album art and track listing over at Gigwise.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

And while I’m not a fan, it’d be kind of ridiculous to not note that Animal Collective have a new one entitled Centipede Hz; it’s out September 4 and the first single is available to stream.

Stream: Animal Collective – “Honeycomb”

Ty Segall isn’t named for any kind of animal but he works like a mule; Pitchfork has details on his third album of the year – Twins is out October 9, giving some context to his show with Thee Oh Sees at The Hoxton on September 26.

San Diego garage-poppers The Soft Pack have announced a couple dates at The Garrison on October 9 and 10 as part of a tour in support of their second full-length Strapped, due out September 25. The first single is available to stream.

Stream: The Soft Pack – “Saratoga”

And shifting gears to some more concert announcements: After selling the hell out of Lee’s Palace back in April before their debut Boys & Girls was even out – the show was a week after the release date but every ticket was gone weeks before then – Alabama Shakes are coming back for a gig at the much more spacious Kool Haus on October 2, tickets for that $26.50 in advance. Full Fall dates over at Pollstar.

MP3: Alabama Shakes – “I Found You”
MP3: Alabama Shakes – “You Ain’t Alone”
MP3: Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”

Of all the band hats that he has to choose from, Conor Oberst has decided to hit the road as Conor Oberst for a show at Massey Hall on December 8. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10AM and run from $39.50 to $60.50.

MP3: Conor Oberst – “Danny Callahan”
MP3: Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”
MP3: Desaparecidos – “The Happiest Place On Earth”

Major, the second album from Fang Island, is streaming over at NPR ahead of its official release on July 24.

MP3: Fang Island – “Sisterly”
MP3: Fang Island – “Asunder”
Stream: Fang Island / Major

The title track of Matt & Kim’s next album Let’s Go – release date still to be determined – is now available to download.

MP3: Matt & Kim – “Let’s Go”

NPR and The New York Times have interviews with James Murphy, who reveals that LCD Soundsystem may not be quite completely dead just yet. But close. And then, luggage. The LCD doc Shut Up And Play The Hits is back in Toronto for a couple screenings next week at The Bloor Cinema, on July 18 and 19.

As promised, Luna’s seminal 1992 album Bewitched is getting its first-ever pressing on vinyl this Summer. It’s out August 21 and is limited to an edition of 2000, so it’s a good thing you can pre-order it now.

MP3: Luna – “Tiger Lily”

A Heart Is A Spade asks a few quick questions of Peggy from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

The Shins have a new video from Port Of Morrow. They open up for The Black Keys at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

Video: The Shins – “It’s Only Life”

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Sharon Van Etten, who’s in town at the Phoenix on July 31.

PopMatters talks to Ira Elliot of Nada Surf.

Rolling Stone and The Boston Globe talk to Mission Of Burma about their new record Unsound, out now and streaming in full at Spinner.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “Second Television”
Stream: Mission of Burma / Unsound

The Village Voice talks to Eric Bachmann of Archers Of Loaf.

PopMatters interviews Eisley.

Spin has posted their latest cover story on Cali power couple Best Coast and Wavves and thrown in a photo shoot gallery for good measure. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21.

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Fun House

NXNE announces 2010 lineup; even skeptics admit it’s a little bit of alright

Photo By Mick RockMick RockFor those of us who’ve become accustomed to the all-encompassing scale, splendour and chaos of that grandaddy of all club-level music festivals – that’s SxSW, in case you were wondering – It can be kind of fun to pick on the Toronto versions CMW/CMF and NXNE for, essentially, not being South-by. It’s not a fair comparison by any means, but it’s inevitable. We’ve had to check those darts and break out some laurels in recent years, however, as both fests have made significant improvements in terms of organization, public relations and most importantly, bookings. NxNE, in particular, has been wise in making use of the public space at Yonge-Dundas Square to get right in the faces of Toronto for the middle of June and make it feel like much more of a major city event, instead of one of many things going on in the Big Smoke at a given time. They started out with modestly interesting day shows but as of a couple years ago, began booking some of the biggest names of the fest there for shows that were completely open to the public. That is how you build good will.

And with the initial announcement of artists coming to town from June 17 to 20, they’ve really kind of outdone themselves. The big coup is clearly Iggy & The Stooges, who will play for free at Yonge-Dundas Square on the evening of June 19, and the punk legends set the tone for many of the other names announced yesterday, many of whom come from the big, loud and sloppy side of the tracks. Obviously the actual schedule is still a ways away, but some digging has revealed at least some of the when and where of some of the acts playing the festival – just to give you a taste of some of the tough choices that the Toronto club-hopper will have to make (besides the obvious one of Iggy vs Pavement/Broken Social Scene). These are not complete and are subject to change, but do come from legitimate sources.

Thursday, June 17 2010
X, Mudhoney @ Yonge-Dundas Square (free)
Warpaint, Free Energy, Elliott Brood @ The Horseshoe
The Besnard Lakes, Young Galaxy @ The Mod Club
HEALTH, Gold Panda, Indian Jewelry @ Sneaky Dee’s

Friday, June 18 2010
Sloan @ Yonge-Dundas Square (free)
Man… Or Astro-Man?, Mudhoney @ The Horseshoe
AA Bondy, Simone Felice, Avi Buffalo @ The Great Hall
Japandroids, Wavves @ Lee’s Palace
Inlets @ TBA

Saturday, June 19 2010
Iggy & The Stooges, Wavves @ Yonge-Dundas Square (free)
Quintron & Miss Pussycat, JEFF The Brotherhood @ The Garrison
Cold Cave, Avi Buffalo @ Lee’s Palace

Sunday, June 20 2010
De La Soul, Kid Sister, Phenomenal Handclap Band @ Yonge-Dundas Square (free)

And playing free shows at Yonge-Dundas at some point during the week will be The Raveonettes and Surfer Blood, while confirmed but still without a date or venue are Les Savvy Fav, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Pack and The Strange Boys, amongst many, many others. And these are just the “bigger” names – by June, surely there’ll be a whole new batch of buzz bands to complain about being booked into undersized venues. Such is the joy of NXNE. But at least it will be warm.

Elsewhere and/or elsewhen. Rae Spoon has just released the thereisafire EP as a preview of his new record Love is A Hunter, due out in August. The EP is available to download for free and he will be at the Holy Oak in Toronto on Friday night, April 16, for a show.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Come On Forest Fire” (CPI Remix)
MP3: Rae Spoon – “There Is A Light”
ZIP: Rae Spoon / thereisafire

Her time as a Decemberist at an end, at least for now, Shara Worden is returning to work as My Brightest Diamond and will be at the El Mocambo on May 4, presumably to showcase material from the follow-up to 2008’s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth. Tickets for that show are $10.50 in advance.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “Inside A Boy”
MP3: My Brightest Diamond – “The Diamond”

Local heroes-in-waiting Zeus have set a date at the Mod Club for May 27. Tickets for that will be $12 in advance.

MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”

Blitzen Trapper have added a Toronto date to the end of their North American tour in support of their new record Destroyer Of The Void, due out June 8. Look for them on August 3 at the Opera House, accompanied by Avi Buffalo who – with their two NxNE shows – are going to be hanging around Toronto a lot this Summer.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Heaven & Earth”
MP3: Avi Buffalo – “Remember Last Time”
MP3: Avi Buffalo – “What’s In It For?”

Dan Snaith of Caribou talks to Chart about new album Swim, out April 20. Caribou play the Phoenix on May 3.

MySpace Transmissions has a watchable/listenable/downloadable session with Broken Bells. They are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on June 2.

A second MP3 from The National’s High Violet is now available. The record is out May 11. They play Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.

MP3: The National – “Afraid Of Everyone”

Filter gets to know She & Him; they have a sold-out show at The Phoenix on June 9.

BBC6 talks to Ryan Monroe of Band Of Horses about their new record Infinite Arms, from which they’re previewing another new track on their website. The record is in stores on May 18 and they play the Toronto Island Concert on June 19.

Mother Jones and Spinner talk to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, who’ve just released a new video. Yeah, it’s weird.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Powerless”

Josh Ritter previews his new record So Runs The World Away via Daytrotter session. The record is out May 4.

Le Blogotheque is hosting a Take-Away Show with Megafaun. Q&As Liz Powell from Land Of Talk, who also stopped in at Explore Music to perform a Big Star cover.

Video: Land Of Talk – “Thirteen” (live at Exploremusic)

Woodpigeon have a video for the title track of their new Spirehouse EP, which also appeared on Die Stadt Muzikanten. You can download the song for free in exchange for your email at Bandcamp.

Video: Woodpigeon – “Spirehouse”

OMG Blog has premiered a new video from Gentleman Reg for his cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart” from his Heavy Head EP.

Video: Gentleman Reg – “Wild Heart”

Forest City Lovers have christened album number three as Carriage. Look for it around July.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010


The Magnetic Fields and Laura Barrett at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t that excited for last night’s Magnetic Fields show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. After all, their last few records didn’t especially bowl me over and I was feeling somewhat pessimistic about what to expect from a performer who’s very much on record as being disdainful of the entire phenomenon of live performance.

I had seen them before at their last visit to Toronto in July 2004 and while my memories of that show are fond, I couldn’t say it was an especially overwhelming performance. But some classic album cramming over the last few days including a 69 Love Songs marathon Sunday night was definitely putting me the right frame of mind. A chance to hear even a few of these songs live for the first time in over half a decade wasn’t to be missed, even if some degree of disappointment was to to be expected.

Or not.

Toronto’s own Laura Barrett had gotten the nod to open up the North American tour, and so as a former bandmate from way back in the day, I couldn’t help but feel super-proud of her for the achievement. And even more so upon hearing just how good she and her band sounded onstage, not a bit out of place in such a large and formal setting. No longer just a quirky girl with a kalimba, Barrett’s set was impressively confident and full-sounding, with well-arranged violin, banjo, glockenspiel and flute enriching her decidedly odd yet wholly accessible songs, and I was especially surprised at how strong and expressive her vocals have gotten. The warm reception she received was based on far more than just cheering for the home team. To co-opt her joke about it rhyming with her name, it was pure merit.

From the very first song of The Magnetic Fields’ set, I knew that my fears for the evening were going to be completely out of place. Rather than a number from their latest effort Realism or reaching back into their extensive repertoire for a crowd-pleaser, Stephin Merritt and company went sideways in their catalog to the second 6ths effort Hyacinths & Thistles and “Lindy-Lou”. No sir, this was not going to be a typical night. The expected Magnetic Fields lineup of Merritt, John Woo, Sam Davol and Claudia Gonson were in place, seated in a semi-circle, but also on the tour was Shirley Simms, who was a major presence on 69 Love Songs and subsequent records. She would take lead on a number of tracks as well as providing wonderful harmonies on others, also helping compensate a bit for Gonson, who battled through a case of laryngitis to deliver her own numbers. And if Merritt wasn’t enjoying touring, he was hiding it well. Though typically deadpan in his stage banter, he definitely seemed to be in a better mood than on their last visit – he cracked more than the requisite amount of jokes, playfully bantered with Gonson and even laughed out loud at one point. If I didn’t know better, I’d have said he was having fun, which would have been appropriate because the audience certainly was.

The acoustic arrangements of all the songs were also gorgeous to behold. Many still equate the synth/drum machine aesthetic of the early records with classic Magnetic Fields, but those songs are so good that they really lost nothing when translated to acoustic guitar, cello, ukulele, piano and autoharp and I would go so far as to say they sounded even better. After all, my reservations about Realism had nothing to do with the sonics – it’s a gorgeous-sounding record – just the songwriting. And the set list did draw substantially from Realism – and I’ll admit the new stuff sounded better live and mixed in with the other material than it did collected and standalone – but the biggest treats (and gasps of surprise from the audience when introduced) were the old stuff.

With the depth of the Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt catalog, it would have been impossible to hear everything everyone would have wanted, but over two sets and almost two hours, they did a pretty good job of touching all the bases, from The Wayward Bus, through all of the Merge-era stuff including a half-dozen Love Songs and through the no-synths trilogy. All were great to hear, but for me the best moments came from having the 6ths material in the mix, including one of my all-time favourite songs in “Falling Out Of Love With You”. It was well-picked as the first set closer because it took me the 15-minute intermission to stop feeling giddy about it. If you were to ask me what my dream concert would be, the answer may well be to hear both 6ths records played live – with the original vocalists. As that’s an impossibility, this was a pretty good substitution. And as a concert, this was pretty well amazing. Stephin Merritt may not like to hit the road very often, but when he does – at least this time – he brought his A-game. One to remember.

The Toronto Star, The Varsity, The AV Club and Paste have interviews with Stephin Merritt.

Photos: The Magnetic Fields, Laura Barrett @ The Queen Elizabeth Theatre – February 8, 2010
MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “Everything Is One Big Christmas”
MP3: The Magnetic Fields – “The Book Of Love”
MP3: Laura Barrett – “Bluebird”
MP3: Laura Barrett – “Decepticon Island Optimists Club”
Video: The Magnetic Fields – “We Are Having A Hootenanny”
Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Born On A Train”
Video: Laura Barrett – “The Wood Between The Worlds”
MySpace: The Magnetic Fields

Download and savour the new MP3 from The Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme, finally coming on April 20. SAVOUR IT.

MP3: The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”

Black Cab Sessions takes Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater for a ride in exchange for a song and NPR is streaming their new album The Golden Archipelago right now, a couple weeks in advance of its February 23 release date. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 1.

Stream: Shearwater / The Golden Archipelago

And some concert announcements – San Diegans The Soft Pack, whose self-titled debut is out now, will be at the El Mocambo on April 7 tickets $10 in advance. There’s so A/V materials to help your decision to attend and The Los Angeles Times has a brief interview.

MP3: The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself”
Video: The Soft Pack – “C’Mon”
Video: The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself”

Fanfarlo have finally scheduled a make-up date for their cancelled December appearance – they will make their Toronto debut on April 9 at Lee’s Palace. Keep an eye on those passports this time, fellas!

MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”

British post-punk legends Killing Joke bring the reunion to North America including a May 25 show at the Phoenix. The Quietus talks to Jaz and Youth about the reunion and their new album Feast Of Fools, due out in April

Video: Killing Joke – “Pandemonium”

Reported a couple weeks ago and then redacted for jumping the gun on the announcement, The National have added a second show at Massey Hall, this one on June 9. Tickets on sale this Friday at 10AM. No presale this time, so if you’re looking for tickets, get your clicking finger warmed up and do NOT use Firefox.

And cheers to Apple support for getting me my laptop back to me – fully repaired – not four days later as they’d estimated, but four hours. That’s the second time they’ve replaced a logic board in this computer in an afternoon. I’ll just be grateful and not question why the logic board would need to be replaced in the first place…

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

So Slowly

Early Day Miners head inland for Treatment

Photo By Rebecca DrolenRebecca DrolenIt was a small bright spot and pleasant surprise last week when mail call brought a copy of the new Early Day Miners album, The Treatment. Pleasant because their last album, 2006’s Offshore, was an unexpected epic that turned out to be one of my favourites of the year and surprise because though the band had announced that The Treatment would be coming out this year back in late 2008, more specific information wasn’t forthcoming and I was beginning to assume that it would be pushed back indefinitely. But as it turned out, snail mail actually outpaced electronic mail and the CD got to me a day before the official press release.

Also to file under “surprise” what the CD held. Offshore won my heart and mind with its sprawling and often desolate sonic topology, all slow and brooding and beautiful. It’s a record where the vocals don’t enter until nearly 10 minutes into its running time, so imagine my surprise when I pressed “play” on The Treatment and was met with singing barely one second in. And the reinvention continues throughout the record, with the Bloomington, Indiana outfit having scaled their lineup down to a four-piece and focused on more compact, pop-structured songs. And though it takes some getting used to, initial listens reveal that they can indeed handle the tighter melodies – first MP3 “So Slowly” is a gem – and for those who preferred them for their mopier sentiments, don’t worry – even when you hear them smiling, it’s evident they’re still frowns turned upside down.

Early Day Miners gave a taste of their new direction via a Daytrotter session back in January of 2008, but that was over a year and a half ago. I’d forgotten what they were up to. The new album is due out September 22 and there will be some touring to follow, though mainly in the midwest and nothing up this way.

MP3: Early Day Miners – “So Slowly”
MySpace: Early Day Miners

Funnily, even when the world seems to stop, it doesn’t actually and so all last week local concert announcements kept piling up in my inbox and RSS. And here they are in chronological order.

Do Make Say Think will play the Polish Combatants Hall on August 19 as part of the kick off for the Bicycle Film Festival, which is indeed a clever name for a film festival celebrating bicycles. Tickets for that are $22.

After always playing the billing bridesmaid, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus are setting out on their first headlining tour this September in support of their debut The Airing Of Grievances and will stop in at the Horseshoe on September 5, tickets $10.50.

MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”

A Hawk & A Hacksaw have a date at the Drake Underground on September 16, tickets $12.50. Damon & Naomi starting the very next night in Montreal.

That Wavves guy is probably disobeying some doctor’s orders in touring this Fall so catch him/them on September 22 at the El Mocambo and make it worth his/their while. Tickets $13.50.

MP3: Wavves – “So Bored”

And a week later, fellow garage-dwelling San Diegan buzz band The Soft Pack will be across the street for a show at The Silver Dollar on September 29 as part of a Fall tour that will not be in support of their debut full-length, since they’re only starting to record it this month.

MP3: The Soft Pack – “Nightlife”

Long unofficial, the two Built To Spill dates at Lee’s Palace have been confirmed – October 6 and 7, tickets $26.50 – as part of a massive Fall tour. One assumes that their next album There Is No Enemy will be out by then but there’s no release date yet. Doug Martsch talks to Spinner about what you might expect from the new record, though those attending the show may not want to expect to hear the new record.

Sea Wolf’s second album White Water, White Bloom is due out September 22 and, of course, touring will follow with the band accompanied by Port O’Brien and Sara Lov. The Toronto date is October 9 at Sneaky Dee’s. Grab bonus track from White Water, White Bloom at Dangerbird Records.

Mike Doughty is coming to town for three shows over two nights at the Drake Underground. One the eve of October 10 and two on the 11th, one early one late. $25 for each.

Video: Mike Doughty – “27 Jennifers”

The Gossip are hitting the road in support of their new album Music For Men, including an October 14 date at the Opera House in Toronto. Beth Ditto tells Spinner she’s a big nerd.

Video: The Gossip – “Heavy Cross”
Video: The Gossip – “Love Long Distance”

And if that’s not your speed, that same evening finds Alaska’s Portugal. The Man at the Horseshoe promoting their latest, The Satanic Satanist. Aquarium Drunkard talks to John Gourley about growing up in Alaska while The Minnesota Daily and Time Out New York also have interviews.

MP3: Portugal. The Man – “People Say”

Lucero were just here back in April – with Titus Andronicus, actually – but will be putting out their major-label debut 1372 Overton Park on October 6 and hitting the road to support, of course, including an October 20 date at Lee’s Palace. Tickets for that are $16.50.

MP3: Lucero – “What Else Would You Have Me Be”

El Perro Del Mar will release her new album Love Is Not Pop on October 20 and tour as support for Peter Bjorn & John, presumably including their November 11 date at the Phoenix. NME has album details.

Broadcast and Atlas Sound have opted to split gas money this Fall as co-headliners and will be at Lee’s Palace on October 24. The former will be putting out a split EP with The Focus Group on October 13 while the latter’s new album Logos is out October 20.

Julie Doiron has an October 27 date at Lee’s Palace and has invited Herman Dune along for the show. Tickets are $13.50.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “When Brakes Get Wet”
MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”

And finally, the Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop half of Travis are doing an acoustic tour this Fall, which includes an October 30 date at the Mod Club, tickets $29.50.

I think that’s enough for today – it’s a holiday after all. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who offered condolences and kind words last week in the wake of my father’s passing. I was more than a little floored by the support, and on behalf of myself and my family, say thanks for the well wishes. It was a tough, tough week but we’re doing alright.

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Farewell To The Fairground

White Lies, Friendly Fires, The Soft Pack at Lee's Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEven without the “NME Presents” endorsement attached to the tour, I suspect the White Lies/Friendly Fires/Soft Pack show at Lee’s Palace on Tuesday would have been a sell-out. All three acts came with their own built-in buzz, so in fact the venerable British publication may have been counting themselves lucky to be associated with the tour rather than the other way around.

Sole non-Brits on the bill, The Soft Pack – formerly known as The Muslims – were tasked with kicking things off. The San Diego quartet got to play to a not-especially full house, evidence that all the North American buzz that they’ve been generating since last Fall didn’t necessarily translate to the Anglophile demographic. And though I’d been hearing about them for months, this was my first time actually hearing them and I can’t say I was tremendously impressed. They certainly had a good sound – the ingredients of their surf-garage pop aesthetic sufficiently familiar but their particular recipe still reasonably fresh – but none of the songs particularly jumped out as being remarkable and their performance was pretty staid.

But most things would probably come across staid when held up against middle act, St Alban’s Friendly Fires. I wasn’t especially won over by their self-titled debut but I now realize that sitting and listening to it in the comfort of home is really the wrong environment for it. The proper setting is in a club, in front of the stage, as their dual drummer/percussionists make a glorious, rhythmic racket, the guitarist freaks and flails and singer/keyboardist Ed Macfarlane dances and shakes his hips non-stop despite the fact that, let’s be honest, he really doesn’t have any. It’s a good thing. I’ve heard them described as indie, pop, dance and various combinations thereof, and sure they all apply to some degree, but watching them go, I’d just put them down as disco and go. No, there were no glitter balls and the fashions were pretty tame, but the spirit of the unbridled, unending party? That was real. And while it did end after 40 minutes, it did so with an audience invasion and a speaker climb and mass percussive instrument abuse. The sort of thing you’d hate for any band to have to follow.

But this far into the tour, watching their countrymen bring the house down every night before they took the stage, White Lies must have been used to it. Now as I intimated in my review of their UK chart-topping debut To Lose My Life, White Lies require a certain amount of buy-in on the part of the listener. Kind of like how horror films require you to suspend disbelief, to accept that monsters exist and that their potential victims really are that stupid, White Lies need you to believe their angst is real, and that there’s genuine weight behind their vague pronouncements of profundity. Manage that, and for the most part I have, and they’re reasonably enjoyable. Behind the stark lighting, all-black outfits and Harry McVeigh’s dramatic baritone – decidedly scratchy-sounding by this point in the tour – are some truly catchy pop songs that will have you singing along, even if you feel kind of guilty about it. Get into it enough and you won’t even question the rather contrived posing and self-seriousness (it’s amusing seeing McVeigh’s baby face trying to look intense) – at least it’s entirely in character. Like Friendly Fires (and Cut Off Your Hands the night before, White Lies seemed to put stock in the notion of leaving the audience wanting more, keeping things at a very compact 40 minutes and eschewing the encore. Of course with only ten songs in their repertoire they couldn’t have gone on much longer even if they’d wanted, but closing out the night when they did and getting folks out on the streets before midnight with a solid night of tunes under their belt? Nothing wrong with that.

Chart also has a review of the show while Exclaim and The Herald Bulletin have interviews and Shockhound a video interview with White Lies.

Photos: White Lies, Friendly Fires, The Soft Pack @ Lee’s Palace – March 31, 2009
MP3: White Lies – “Death”
MP3: White Lies – “Death” (Crystal Castles remix)
MP3: Friendly Fires – “Jump In The Pool”
MP3: Friendly Fires – “Paris” (Aeroplane Remix)
MP3: The Soft Pack – “Nightlife”
Video: White Lies – “Farewell To The Fairground”
Video: White Lies – “Death”
Video: White Lies – “Unfinished Business”
Video: Friendly Fires – “Skeleton Boy”
Video: Friendly Fires – “Paris”
Video: Friendly Fires – “Jump In The Pool”
Video: Friendly Fires – “On Board”
Video: The Soft Pack – “Extinction”
MySpace: White Lies
MySpace: Friendly Fires

The Toronto Sun and Metro interview Glasvegas, in town for an early and sold-out show at the Mod Club tonight.

Clash talks Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. They’re at the Phoenix on May 4.

Doves talk to The Quietus and The Irish Independent about their forthcoming album Kingdom Of Rust, out on Tuesday and streaming at the band’s MySpace right now. They play the Kool Haus on June 1.

Stream: Doves / Kingdom Of Rust

Clash and Perth Now interview Elbow. They accompany Coldplay to the Rogers Centre on July 30.

Denver Westword, The Detroit Free Press and Singing Lamb have conversations with Los Campesinos.

Matablog has details on the closest thing we’ll see to a new Belle & Sebastian record any time soon – the soundtrack to Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl, which was originally supposed to be a film but there’s no mention of that aspect in the release. Take that as you will. The album is out June 23 but you can get the first MP3 for free by singing up to their mailing list on the project’s website.

Idolator reports that Charlotte Hatherley’s Cinnabar City now has a US label in Minty Fresh and have got a track from said record to hold you over until the vague Summer release date gets more specific.

Bat For Lashes, whom Hatherley is now a part of, gives an interview to The Irish Independent. They’re at the Mod Club on April 25.

In the mid-80s, XTC created ’60s psychedelic pop alter-ego in The Dukes Of Stratosphear wherein they got their Barrett on and released an EP and album that were henceforth spoken of in hushed, reverential tones by those lucky enough to have heard them. Which will now soon be everyone, potentially. Both releases, the 25 O’Clock EP, which has been padded out with goodies to album length, and Psionic Psunspot, which was already album length but is now super-size, will be out in deluxe reissue packaging come April 21.

MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “My Love Explode”
MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear – “Braniac’s Daughter”