Posts Tagged ‘spiral beach’

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong

White Rabbits pull MySpace session out of their hats

Photo By Lucy HamblinLucy HamblinRidiculous webhosting issues persist, so this one will be kept reasonably brief – who knows how long this window of opportunity of my site being up will remain. I’ve actually been told that the issues that’ve plagued the site for the past week or so have been resolved and am hoping that’s the case, but if’n you find that things are unbearably slow or down altogether, swing by my Twitter for all sorts of colourful cursing. Update: Right, issues are not resolved. Fuckity fuck.

While downloadable/streamable/watchable online sessions are becoming much more commonplace, MySpace Transmissions is setting themselves apart by not only making theirs available to download, but by providing the audio in wonderfully high-resolution 320kbps, a bitrate that the audiophile community refers to as “suh-weeeet”. Similarly, the streaming video is also happily smooth and clean. MySpace isn’t good for a whole lot these days, at least from a personal social networking sense, but if they can keep cranking out content like these, they’re welcome to stick around.

The latest session to go up comes from New York’s White Rabbits, whose It’s Frightening continues to worm its way into heavier rotation around these parts – just in time for their upcoming Fall tour which stops in at the Horseshoe in a few weeks on October 24 for a bill that also includes Suckers and The Balconies. Pure rock, guaranteed. The Aquarian has an interview with the band.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: White Rabbits – “Rudie Fails” (live on MySpace Transmissions)

Spinner and The Skinny talk to John Darnielle about The Mountain Goats’ new, Biblically-inspired record The Life Of The World To Come. The Mountain Goats were also on The Colbert Report the other night – Canadians can watch the ep at The Comedy Network, Americans at Colbert Nation. Everyone else, can’t help ya.

John Vanderslice performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

BlogCritics talks to Mikael Jorgenson of Wilco, who’re in town for two nights at Massey Hall next week, October 14 and 15. And to the rest of Canada, rejoice – the band have announced a cross-Canada tour for next February which will not include Toronto but will include Hamilton and London for those in Toronto not averse to a road trip.

Jason Molina and Will Johnson, masterminds behind Magnolia Electric Co. and Centro-Matic respectively, have teamed up for a roots-rock dream team creatively named Molina and Johnson and will release their equally imaginatively-named debut album Molina and Johnson on November 3.

MP3: Molina and Johnson – “Twenty Cycles To The Ground”

And speaking of imaginatively-titled side-project albums, The Retribution Gospel Choir, which features Alan Sparhawk from Low, will release their second album 2 on January 26 via SubPop. Details at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork says that former Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky’s long-awaited solo record will be out in March 2010. I’ve been waiting for this record for so long I’ve forgotten why I’ve been waiting for it. But I’m still keen to hear what he’s been up to in the past, what, 15 years?

Devendra Banhart will release his new album and major label debut What Will Be on October 27 and follow that up with a North American tour which brings him to Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 27.

Spinner has premiered one of the new videos that appears on Land Of Talk’s forthcoming Fun And Laughter EP, out October 27.

Video: Land Of Talk – “Troubled”

Two Hours Traffic will be playing an in-store at Soundscapes on October 16 at 5PM in advance of their show at Lee’s Palace that night. That night’s opener, Spiral Beach, is also in-storing it at Sonic Boom that night – their set starts at 7PM. Add in the Dan Mangan in-store at Criminal Records that night at 6PM, and you’ve got, well, a lot of free music for someone who’s swift on their bike or lucky with the TTC. And note that Soundscapes is having a 10th anniversary 10% off most everything sale this Saturday, October 10 (10/10, get it?).

Sloan will be playing a special benefit show at the Dakota Tavern (read: tiny) on October 19 with all proceeds going to War Child Canada – it may already be sold out by the time you read this, but tickets are/were available at Maple Music.

Spinner talks to Nick Cave about writing his new novel The Death Of Bunny Munro.

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Smells Like Secrets

An introduction to The Balconies

Photo By Ben WellandBen WellandI’m not sure why it’s taking me so long to try and come up with words to describe The Balconies and their debut album – also called The Balconies and out September 15. It could be this epic nap that I woke up from a few hours ago but still haven’t shaken loose, or maybe it’s because whenever I start playing the record, that’s 37 minutes that I’d rather just sit and listen instead of write.

The Balconies stick to the tried-and-true power-trio format and on top of that, favour of a dry, in-your-face approach that eschews any sort of studio hijinks. They’re a confident crew, these Balconies, and why not? All three are superb musicians and guitarist Jacqui Neville has got a most impressive set of pipes, with power and expressiveness to spare but thankfully uninterested in showy over-singing. Sibling and bassist Steve Neville is an effective vocal foil, though I find myself wishing I wasn’t reminded so much of the B-52s’ Fred Schneider at points. Their songwriting is also at its sharpest when they plough straight ahead with the power-pop, all punch and vigor and demonstrating a knack for the not-so-obvious-but-indelibly-catchy hook. But even the lesser tracks have at least one riff, melody or moment to justify its place amongst the stronger numbers and oft times, they’re the ones that stick in the head the most. In fact, on the first few listens, I thought I was able to easily distinguish the standouts from the filler, but subsequent listens have blurred those distinctions significantly. What hasn’t changed, however, is the first impression – that The Balconies have turned out a cracking debut record and more than merit my – and your – attention.

Seeing as how they hail from Ottawa, it’s only natural that I Heart Music was first up with effusive praise for the outfit, which has been echoed by both Herohill and Dave Allen of Gang Of Four at Pampelmoose. There’s also an interview from earlier this Summer at BlogTO and a more recent one at Soundproof, both addressing the band’s upcoming move from Ottawa to Toronto.

I’m not sure if that’s already happened, but their live itinerary has them in town quite a bit in the next while regardless. They’re at the Horseshoe this Wednesday night with Everything All The Time and The Magic, then are doing a free show as part of the TARA Secret Sessions the evening of August 29 with The Books Elusive and Modernboys Moderngirls. Then they’re back on September 25 at Lee’s Palace for a release party throwdown with Oh No Forest Fires, Fox Jaws and Whale Tooth. Good times guaranteed.

MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”

Final Fantasy is going to be touring across Canada next month but the eagle-eyed – or simply sighted – will notice the absence of any Toronto dates on his itinerary. But he will in fact be playing a hometown show on September 5 at– well, they’re not telling. As part of what they’re calling Bite Your Tongue, Final Fantasy and a handful of others are playing at an undisclosed location that evening and ticket buyers will only be informed of the location the day before the show by returning to wherever they bought their tickets ($10 at Soundscapes or Rotate This) for the 411. They do promise that it’s accessible by TTC (about a 70-minute commute each way) and presumably have made sure that the buses and whatnot are still running when the show is over and people aren’t stranded at this allegedly majestic locale. Adventure! Final Fantasy’s Heartland is due out the first week of 2010 or so.

Spiral Beach will release their new album The Only Really Thing on September 22 and follow that up with a whackload of touring, including a cross-country jaunt with Two Hours Traffic and they’ll preface their October 16 date at Lee’s Palace with an in-store at Sonic Boom that evening.

MP3: Spiral Beach – “Domino”
Video: Spiral Beach – “Domino”

There’s a new track available from Grand Archives’ forthcoming second album Keep In Mind Frankenstein, out September 8. They play the Mod Cub on October 15.

MP3: Grand Archives – “Oslo Novelist”

Also sharing a new tune are Headlights, who’re releasing their third album Wildlife, out October 6.

MP3: Headlights – “Get Going”

Isthmus and Express have words with Justin Townes Earle, who has a date at the Phoenix on November 7.

Spinner talks to Grizzly Bear, in town for day one of V Fest this Saturday at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Stereogum has premiered the MP3 for the a-side from a new Asobi Seksu 10″ coming out this week, a different version of “Transparence” from their latest album Hush. Asobi Seksu are at the Horseshoe on October 13.

Also at the ‘Shoe that night is Anna Ternheim, with whom Baeble Music has a Guest Apartment video session.

The Antlers have released a new video from Hospice. There’s also interviews at Exclaim and The Village Voice. They’re at the Horseshoe on September 24.

Video: The Antlers – “Two”

Stereogum gets a status update from Thao Nguyen of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down on their new album Know Better Learn Faster , due out October 13. They play the El Mocambo on November 1.

CMJ reports that Venice Is Sinking are soliciting pre-orders for their third album The Georgia Theatre Sessions, proceeds from which will go towards rebuilding the titular theatre where the album was recorded and which burned down earlier this Summer. Chip in via This record would be the follow-up to AZAR, released earlier this year and just lovely.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”

While I like the piece by Adrian Tomine they ultimately used for the cover art to Luna’s Best Of (and which you can buy for just $1500), I like this rejected cover better.

Newsweek Q&As The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne about their new album Embryonic, out October 13.

Spinner talks sexism in music with St Vincent’s Annie Clark, who also recorded an acoustic session for Grand Crew.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Pulling On A Line

Review of Great Lake Swimmers' Lost Channels and Hillside Festival giveaway

Photo By Ilia HorsburghIlia HorsburghThe discography of Great Lake Swimmers is not unlike those “one self-portrait a day for 10 years” photography projects. From one record to the next, the differences might seem superficial or even non-existent, but jump from their 2003 self-titled debut to their latest, Lost Channels, and the growth is dramatic. You could be forgiven for not noticing, as the common threads running through each record – specifically Tony Dekker’s gently haunting vocals and the slow-motion beauty of his songwriting, steeped in history and geography – haven’t changed much, but the adornment and production around them certainly has.

In addition to the gorgeously stark songcraft, the most distinctive feature of the debut were the acoustics, recorded as the record was in an abandoned grain silo. The rustic aesthetic was less outwardly pronounced on subsequent records but the spirit of it remained, seemingly infused in Dekker’s voice itself – you could put the man in an anechoic chamber and have him sing, and it’d still sound like it was coming from another world. What also changed was the musical adornments – with each album, things grew more expansive and textured. It felt like the sepia-tones were slowly bleeding away and leaving a greater palette of colours – not blindingly vibrant by any means, but certainly richer in hue. This was most evident on 2007’s Ongiara, which saw Great Lake Swimmers sound more like a band than a solo project and the pop sensibilities that had always remained as more undercurrents to the folk bubble up to the surface – these weren’t tunes for driving around town with the top down, but there was an immediacy to some of the songs that hadn’t been there before.

That trend continues on Lost Channels, which takes even bolder steps into the pop realm without giving up any of the homespun intimacy that sets Great Lake Swimmers apart. There’s a newfound sprightliness and shimmer in the record’s more upbeat moments that provide a greater sense of dynamic alongside the quiet. It’s hard to imagine “Palmistry” having a place on the first record, but on this one, following Ongiara, it makes perfect sense as an opener and sets the table for what’s probably their finest collection of songs yet, at least until the next one. The understated nature of the band and their music probably hasn’t garnered them the amount of praise or attention they deserve and many are probably guilty of taking their unwavering consistency for granted – myself included. But stopping and taking a step back, it’s hard to argue they’ve quietly become one of Canada’s finest bands and Lost Channels is one more compelling reason why.

Guelph Lake isn’t technically one of the Great Lakes, but it’s a pretty terrific little body of water and unlike the big ones, you can actually swim there without fear. It also hosts one of the finest music festivals in southern Ontario every Summer in Hillside, and this year Great Lake Swimmers will be performing on the Sunday bill on July 26 and courtesy of Nettwerk, I’ve got two day passes (one pair, essentially) for that final day of the fest to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to be a Guelph Lake Swimmer” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. They also ask that if you’re Facebook-indoctrinated, that you join up with the Great Lake Swimmers Facebook page – honour system, I can’t follow up on ya. Contest will run until midnight, July 19.

There’s an interview with the Dekker at

MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line” (zip)
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MySpace: Great Lake Swimmers

Exclaim examines the whirlwind last few months for The Rural Alberta Advantage, leading up to next Tuesday’s official release of Hometowns and their July 30 record release show at the Horseshoe.

I Heart Music has taken the time to MP3-ify Woodpigeon’s set from NXNE a couple weeks back.

The self-titled debut from Reverie Sound Revue was released last week but is available to stream this week over at Spinner. Still waiting on the second stop of their blog tour, which kicked off here last week.

Stream: Reverie Sound Revue / Reverie Sound Revue

SoundProof talks to Joel Plaskett.

Exclaim has details on Cuff The Duke’s new album Way Down Here, due out September 8. Their next local show is August 9 at the CNE Bandshell for Toronto’s Festival Of Beer. Yeah. You’re going to go to see Cuff The Duke, and that’s all. Sure.

Spiral Beach have readied their second full-length album The Only Really Thing for a September 22 release and are giving away a first MP3 from it.

MP3: Spiral Beach – “Domino”

Gentleman Reg has released a couple new videos from Jet Black and talks a bit about the one for “Rewind” on his MySpace blog. Reg is playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 25.

Video: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Rewind”

Murray Lightburn of The Dears doesn’t necessarily give JAM good odds on the prospects of the most recent lineup of the band sticking together. Hopefully long enough to make their free June 26 show at Harbourfront Centre.

So the fourth of the five Canadian Virgin Festivals was unveiled yesterday for August 8 and 9 in Calgary, Alberta, and like all the others so far, you certainly can’t say it’s a predictable lineup. On the plus side, it has arguably the biggest single headliner of them all so far in Pearl Jam but thing drop off a fair bit from there, filling itself out with mid-level Canadian acts like k-os and Tokyo Police Club. I supposed Metric and Billy Talent are reasonably big draws, but it’s pretty obvious they broke the bank securing Pearl Jam. Of course, this leaves just Ontario/Toronto/Orillia to be announced, and I’ve been told to expect something within the next week or so on that front. I’m not going to spill anything but I know some of what’s been booked, have strong hints/rumours about others and all I’ll say is that it’s not what you might be expecting. Though with pretty much every band you might expect already booked elsewhere that weekend, it really couldn’t possibly be.

Oh yeah, happy Canada Day. Celebrate with a cold one, and Radio Free Canuckistan’s list of 30 Canuck singles he couldn’t live without, The National Post’s list of 10 Canadian bands you should be listening to (not all the usual suspects, thankfully), The Line Of Best Fit’s second downloadable Canadian mix and Quick Before It Melts’ coast-to-coast salute to Canadian blogs (disclosure: I’m flattered to be on the list).

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Fast Blood

The Spinto Band and Frightened Rabbit in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo hands up whoever had “50%” in the “How many people are going to take off after Frightened Rabbit’s set?” pool. Congratulation, you win some taffy (note: you do not actually win taffy). I had guessed that about that percentage of the couple hundred who showed up at Lee’s Palace on Tuesday night were there to see the highly-regarded Scottish outfit make their Toronto debut, and I was about right. This is not to take away from the other two acts on the bill – both headliners The Spinto Band and locals Spiral Beach put on good shows and were certainly well-matched stylistically, but if someone was there for the angsty anthems of the middle act, then the other two might not have been up their alley.

Now most local bands added to a touring bill would likely just show up, do their thing and leave, but full points to Spiral Beach for making the most of the opportunity, dressing up the stage in an elaborate setup of lights, signs and pylons to accompany their half hour set. They also brought their own fans, who turned the dance floor of Lee’s Palace into, well, a dance floor. I hadn’t seen Spiral Beach for at least a couple years, since they were a very green outfit, and it was immediately obvious that what unrealized potential I’d seen in them back then as they tried to meld New Wave and surf rock was now very much being realized. Like an un-kitschy but still tremendously fun B-52s, they were unceasingly energetic onstage in the way that young people are. I’m now exponentially more interested in this band than I was before.

I’d caught an approximately 15-minute set from Frightened Rabbit at SxSW back in March but even in such a short time, they – and their album The Midnight Organ Fight – made an immense impression. Similarly, though they were the ones most were there to see, they had only an opener’s set length in which to satiate the fans who’d been waiting a long time for them to visit. To this end, the barreled through their set – comprised mainly of Organ Fight but with a few nods back to Sing The Greys by request. Frontman Scott Hutchison’s cheerful demenaour was a decided contrast to the downcast nature of his lyrics, particularly as delivered in his thick Scottish burr, and though the band’s songs seem like fairly straightforward rocked-up folk, seeing the range of instruments and arrangements needed to recreate them faithfully – how many four-pieces do you see with three of them wielding Telecasters? – you come to appreciate how sophisticated they are underneath. To say nothing of simply being great songs. Next time back, Frightened Rabbit had best be headlining their own show. If not for the fans’ sake, then for the sake of the band who’d be unfortunate enough to have to play after them.

And this time out, said band was The Spinto Band, on tour in support of their new record Moonwink. But if the Delaware six-piece were at all perturbed at all the extra elbow room for those who stuck around, they didn’t let it show. Or they loved it. It’s hard to tell, they were simply so gleeful on stage. And that’s good because their technicolour pop songs demand glee and the Spinto Band played and danced like deliverymen of sonic candy floss overdosed on their own product. Their most impressive moment was when singer/guitarist Nick Krill broke a string on his guitar and proceeded to unwrap the mic from the stand, carry it over to the spare guitar, swap guitars and re-mount the mic all without missing a note. That was slick. And while I was definitely there to see Frightened Rabbit, I wasn’t sorry I stuck around.

Laundromatinee has a session with the Spinto Band.

Photos: Spinto Band, Frightened Rabbit, Spiral Beach @ Lee’s Palace – October 21, 2008
MP3: Spinto Band – “Summer Grof”
MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Head Rolls Off”
MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “The Modern Leper”
MP3: Spiral Beach – “Made Of Stone”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Heads Roll Off”
Video: Spiral Beach – “Made Of Stone”
Video: Spiral Beach – “Kind Of Beast”
MySpace: The Spinto Band
MySpace: Spiral Beach

Crawdaddy and Cord Weekly talk to Sloan.

Wired and Buzzbands talk to the principals of Magnetic Morning. They’re at the Horseshoe tonight.

The Verve have a new video.

Video: The Verve – “Rather Be”

Blurt interviews Lucinda Williams.

Paste and NOW feature Of Montreal. They’re at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre next Tuesday night.

So thanks to some serious pathos on my part and some serious excellence on the Apple Store’s part, my laptop got fixed yesterday (dead logic board) in under four hours turnaround. That is absolutely amazing. Which means that my laptop is alive and coming with me to New York. Which means pretty much nothing to you, but certainly makes things more enjoyable for me.