Posts Tagged ‘Sunparlour Players’

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sigh No More

Mumford & Sons and Sunparlour Players at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust one question for everyone at Lee’s Palace for Mumford & Sons on Monday night. Where did you all come from?

This question doesn’t just come from the fact that this band – whose debut album Sigh No More was only just released in North America yesterday and who were conducting this super-short, four-date North American tour without, at least to my knowledge, any major promotional push – had sold out Lee’s Palace, but had filled it not with curious musical passers-by, but raving, honest-to-god fans. Largely of the shrieking variety. Seriously, I had not seen Lee’s – or any venue – so packed and so unbelievably LOUD.

And so early. It was to the benefit of the openers that Mumford & Sons’ fanbase is punctual, because they got to ply their wares to a pretty full house and really, I couldn’t think of a better-suited local support act for Mumford than Sunparlour Players. Like the headliners, the duo are all about impassioned and rousing country-rock performed with remarkable musical dexterity, though the Sunparlour are considerably (and deliberately) rawer in execution – think moonshine versus whiskey. Either way, the audience ate it up and responded with huge and honest enthusiasm, and deservedly so – Sunparlour Players set the table with a killer set.

It’s not especially original by any stretch, but the phrase “bluegrass Beatles” crossed my mind later on in the evening as I tried to articulate what I witnessed with Mumford & Sons’ set. From the moment Ted Dwane carried his upright bass across the stage while they were still setting up until the end of the encore, the capacity crowd roared, shrieked and just went completely bonkers for the London quartet. And while I am incredulous about the fact that so many were so enthralled by them so early in their career – they certainly didn’t have that sort of fanbase when they first visited in October 2008 – that it’s happened really doesn’t surprise. If you accept that there’s been a heretofore untapped market for earnest, bluegrass/country-inspired indie rock, it’s hard to think of an outfit better positioned to exploit it than they. They’re handsome to a man with a distinctive, old-timey sartorial style; their banter is charming, witty and delivered with an English accent; their songs are sensitive, soaring and anthemic; their musicianship and vocal prowess ridiculously polished. To wit, there is no reason, in a just world, that Mumford & Sons wouldn’t be filling rooms the size of Lee’s if not larger with devoted fans, ready willing and able to sing along with every word. And yet to actually see it happen was wonderfully bizarre.

Even with so much going for them and the audience won over before they played a note, Mumford & Sons still had to deliver on the performance, and deliver they did. From the opening four-part harmonies of “Sigh No More”, it was clear they came to play. Their set covered most (all?) of Sigh No More, rendered perfectly with the crescendos lifting spirits and the quiet passages breaking hearts and the omnipresent kick drum propelling it all forward. The also aired out three new songs which didn’t stray far from their formula but held to more conventional rock band arrangements – at one point, they were kitted out with electric guitar, electric bass, keys and drums; completely standard for almost any other band but strangely alien on them. Perhaps most memorable was the first song of their encore, wherein the four of them played unamplified from the edge of the stage. Not an unusual move in acoustically gifted venues, but the first time I’d seen it pulled at Lee’s Palace and, of course, they did it masterfully. A show like this one couldn’t have ended any other way.

Photos: Mumford & Sons, Sunparlour Players @ Lee’s Palace – February 15, 2010
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Battle Of ’77”
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Shake & Bake For Goodness-Sake”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”
MySpace: Mumford & Sons

Clash chats with Field Music while Drowned In Sound takes a track by track tour through their new album (Measure), which you can follow along with thanks to MBV Music, who are streaming the album right now. They’re at The Horsesehoe on March 19.

Stream: Field Music / (Measure)

Baeble Music is streaming a full live show from Fanfarlo. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 9.

Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine talks to BBC and The Daily Mail. She brings her BRIT-crowned “best British album” Lungs to The Phoenix on April 10.

Check out this PitchforkTV Surveillance session with The xx, coming to town twice in April – on the 4th at The Phoenix and on the 20th at The Kool Haus.

Clash has excerpted part of their feature piece on Hot Chip, in town at The Kool Haus on April 20.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit takes Clash on a guided tour through their new record The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, due out March 9. See them at the Opera House on May 4.

BBC checks in with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos on the direction of album number four.

Laundromatinee has a video session and The Boston Herald an interview with We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Drowned In Sound is currently streaming the whole of Lightspeed Champion’s latest opus Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You, out now.

Stream: Lightspeed Champion / Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

PopMatters talks to Andy Partridge of XTC.

Thursday, August 13th, 2009


Two Hours Traffic mark their Territory

Photo By Scott MunnScott MunnIt’s been a pretty lousy Summer, not just for myself and many I know, but for anyone who prefers theirs to be warm, sunny and generally not perpetually cloudy and rain-soaked. It’s only been this week that we’ve gotten some proper heat (accompanied by massive thunderstorms, sure), and I can’t believe that it’s just coincidence that the weather has improved just as Prince Edward Island’s finest, Two Hours Traffic, are gearing up for the release of their second album Territories on September 8.

They shared an MP3 of the title track last month, but have now followed that up with not only a first video, but a stream of the entire record on their website. And a couple of listens verifies that name of the record notwithstanding, the quartet haven’t gone out and explored much new ground with their sophomore effort. This is not a complaint. Little Jabs was note-perfect power pop infused with the optimism of youth and while Territory‘s shoulders inevitably sag a bit more from the weight of age and experience, its still got hooks and harmonies to spare.

Two Hours Traffic built their nationwide fanbase the old fashioned way – touring, touring and more touring – and as previously reported, they’re totally doing it again. Torontonians can catch them on October 16 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $15.

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Territory”
Video: Two Hours Traffic – “Happiness Burns”
Stream: Two Hours Traffic / Territories
MySpace: Two Hours Traffic

Young Galaxy have prepared their second album Invisible Republic for release on August 25 and will follow that up with a show at the Drake Underground on September 10.

MP3: Young Galaxy – “Long Live The Fallen World”

In town for the Polaris Music Prize awards gala on September 21, where he surely hopes to take home the giant cheque, Chad Van Gaalen will play a show at the Church Of The Redeemer on September 19 with Castlemusic as support. The show is all-ages and tickets are $20 in advance. The Quietus has an interview with Van Gaalen.

MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “City Of Electric Light”
MP3: Castlemusic – “Heaven”

And now’s as good a time as any to mention Van Gaalen’s electronic-oriented alter-ego/side-project Black Mold, whose debut album Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz was released this week. If you thought the musical fruits of Van Gaalen’s day job were too aimless or meandering… stay away.

MP3: Black Mold – “Metal Spider Webs”
MP3: Black Mold – “Tetra Pack Heads”

And speaking of staying away, if you like your vocalists clean and pristine, you’ll want to not be at the Horseshoe on October 1 (and you’ll probably be at Lee’s for Sufjan Stevens anyways). But if you like a little/lot of grit and whiskey in the mix, then the ‘Shoe is where it’s at as that night it’ll host a double-bill of Bruce Peninsula and Sunparlour Players.

MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Battle Of 77”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”

Spinner and The Vancouver Sun talk to Murray Lightburn of The Dears.

Pink Mountaintops have rolled out a new video from Outside Love.

Video: Pink Mountaintops – “Execution”

Also under new videos – the volcano-themed clip for Ohbijou’s “New Year”!

Video: Ohbijou – “New Year”

Exclaim reports that Neil Young will be making a free appearance at Yonge-Dundas Square on September 14 to mark the appearance of the Jonathan Demme-helmed concert doc Neil Young Trunk Show at the Toronto International Film Festival. And yeah, he’s probably bringing his guitar. Joan Baez will do the same on September 18.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

CONTEST – Sunparlour Players @ The Horseshoe – June 26, 2009

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceI hope it doesn’t sound like faint praise when I say that Wave North, the new album from Toronto’s Sunparlour Players, is much, much better than I’d expected it to be. I’d always figured that their strength would be in their sound, a raucous and clattering sort of country-groomed barroom gospel-rock which made for great live shows. But with this album, they’ve also proven they can write some pretty impressive songs with lyrical depth and emotional heft to say nothing of their surprisingly anthemic delivery. This isn’t to say these facets weren’t there before – maybe they were and I didn’t pick up on them – but on Wave North they’re impossible to ignore.

They band are doing an in-store at Soundscapes Wednesday night, June 24, at 7PM and will play a CD release show at the Horseshoe on Friday night, June 26, with special guests The Hylozoists and Wayne Petti, and courtesy of Outside Music, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Sunparlour Players” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at 5PM, June 25.

MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Battle Of 77”
MySpace: Sunparlour Players