Posts Tagged ‘Thrush Hermit’

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Never Been Good With Change

Stars show contempt for traditional promotional cycle

Photo via youarestars.comyouarestars.comUsually, the process goes that a band releases a record, then tours it, and then if it’s done well and seems like it can be squeezed a little longer, puts out a companion album of remixes and b-sides. Stars appear to be set on doing things, if not in reverse, then in an order of their own choosing, convention be damned.

Shortly after making public the June 22 release date for their fifth album The Five Ghosts, the band announced that they would tour said record extensively before it was out – first with a series of Canadian club dates wherein they performed the new album in its entirety as the main set before dipping into the back catalog for the encore, and then with a moderately-sized American tour running through June, where they would again be showcasing a record that no one had yet heard.

And this week, they announced that the remix portion of the album cycle would also be starting before the album was released. They’ve set up a website wherein fans can play with a real-time remixing widget for the new song “We Don’t Want Your Body” and also download the base tracks from which they could make their own remixes and submit them for harsh judgement by the band. The one found most worthy will be showcased on the band’s website along with whatever “it seemed clever at the time” internet handle it was submitted under.

But all this preamble aside, the record will actually be coming out in a few weeks and as such, a number of fancy pre-sale options are available, the fancy-pantsiest of which is a $100 boxed set that presents the album on six coloured 7″s in a handcrafted wooden box and with a bunch of digital goodies including a remix EP entitled The Séance with the new songs given a do-over by REAL remixers, like The Album Leaf and Of Montreal.

One thing the band are doing that’s typical is offering a pre-release MP3 and making videos, both of which you can hear and see below. And they’re giving interviews, as proven by this conversation with Amy Millan at Cleveland Scene. And they’ll be touring more through the Summer festival season and into the Fall, probably looking forward to seeing fans singing along with the songs instead of staring blankly.

MP3: Stars – “Fixed”
Video: Stars – “Fixed”

Tokyo Police Club are also putting out a new record soon – next week, to be exact – and they’re building anticipation the old fashioned way (old fashioned by 2010 standards, anyways) with an advance stream of Champ over at Exclaim until its release on June 8, though they’re also doing competitions (challenge to band at stuff) and fancy presale packages (get a hoodie!) – details on their website. They also talk to Exclaim about the new album which, I’m not too proud to admit, is much better than I had expected it to be – more mature-sounding, yet just as energetic and hooky. Not an easy balance to strike. Looking forward to hearing it live when they play the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 supporting The Flaming Lips and Spoon.

Stream: Tokyo Police Club / Champ

Both aux and Grand Crew have acoustic video sessions with Born Ruffians – okay really just guitarist Luke Lalonde – in Toronto and Paris, respectively. Lalonde also gives an interview to Beatroute, teams up with bassist Mitch Derosier for their feature at I Like Music and prodigal drummer Steve Hamelin chats with Spinner.

Chart talks to Dallas Good of The Sadies. They play a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 1.

Carl Newman of The New Pornographers talks to Beatroute about Together while Kathryn Calder discusses the album art with Spinner. They play the Sound Academy on June 15 and have just released a fun new video.

Video: The New Pornographers – “Crash Years”

The New Current caught up with The Rural Alberta Advantage while they were in the UK to play The Great Escape.

Soundproof talks to Joel Plaskett about the now-over Thrush Hermit reunion.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Blow Yr Brains In The Morning Rain

Review of Serena-Maneesh’s S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor and giveaway

Photo By Alex John BeckAlex John BeckI headed into SxSW last week with a list of artists I wanted to see at the festival and I actually did quite well at crossing names off of it – the only two really notable misses were Los Angeles’ Local Natives and Norwegian ragna-rockers Serena-Maneesh. I had experienced the Norwegians in Austin before – their gleefully insane set was one of the highlights of the 2006 festival – but this time out, their schedules and mine just didn’t gel.

Though our last encounter was four years ago at a short but destructive (see a trend?) show at Lee’s Palace in September 2006, I haven’t missed much with the band in the interim. It’s taken them that long to follow up their self-titled debut, which they finally did this week with the release of S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor, and if you think they’ve spent the time away learning new tricks… think again.

Quantitatively, Abyss is probably more sophisticated and melodic than its predecessor, but the underlying template remains very much the same, and it’s easily summed up as My Bloody Velvet Underground, all dreamy vocals overtop unrelenting rhythms and swirling aural chaos, divided into concise pop jewels and sprawling jams. And while the potency of the formula isn’t necessarily diminished on a visceral level – that’d be like saying that being punched in the face doesn’t hurt as much the second time – it doesn’t feel as fresh this time out, even if it may well be a better record.

It certainly contains their finest moment to date in “I Just Want To See Your Face”, a divine-sounding lost MBV track if ever there was one with vocalist Lina Wallinder channeling Belinda Butcher more than a little. And perhaps it’s telling that they’re at their best when sounding their most derivative? These, however, are considerations that are only likely to arise when you’re not actually listening to the album and have time to think objectively. When immersed in it, you’ll likely be too busy exalting in the sonic bedlam to worry if it’s really bringing anything new to the table – and that goes double for their live show, which though I haven’t seen it in some years I can’t imagine being any less chaotic.

To prove that point, Serena-Maneesh returns to Toronto on April 2 for a show at the Great Hall; tickets are $14 in advance but courtesy of Union Events, I’ve got five pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Serena-Maneesh” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Obviously this giveaway is only good for folks in the Toronto area – to all residents of North America, including locals who enter the concert giveaway, and courtesy of 4AD, I’ve also got a limited-edition 12″ single of “Ayisha Abyss” up for grabs. If you’d like that, email me again at contests AT with “I want 12″ of Serena-Maneesh” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest for both closes at midnight, March 31.

The Georgia Straight interviews Serena-Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen.

MP3: Serena Maneesh – “I Just Want To See Your Face”
MP3: Serena-Maneesh – “Ayisha Abyss”
Video: Serena-Maneesh – “I Just Want To See Your Face”
Stream: Serena-Maneesh / S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor
MySpace: Serena-Maneesh

Exclaim talks to Jonsi, who has released a new video from his solo record Go, originally supposed to be out this week but now pushed back until April 6. He still plays the Sound Academy on April 30 and May 1.

Video: Jonsi – “Kolnidur”

NPR’s World Cafe doubles up on the Swedes with one session featuring El Perro Del Mar and another with Taken By Trees. AndPop and Smile At Your Sister also have interviews with El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring.

The AV Club, and The Boston Herald talk to The Big Pink.

Paste and Express Night Out talk to The xx. They are at the Phoenix on April 4 and the Kool Haus on April 20. Both shows are sold out.

Arctic Monkeys have rolled out a new video from Humbug.

Video: Arctic Monkeys – “My Propeller”

The Quietus revisits Suede circa Coming Up.

Elbow frontman Guy Garvey discusses the importance of the album with BBC6.

Let’s Wrestle make a mixtape for Magnet. They’ll be at the Horseshoe on April 18 with Quasi, who’ve just released a new video from American Gong.

Video: Quasi – “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler”

Carrie Brownstein tells Pitchfork that a Sleater-Kinney reunion could happen in the next three to five years.

The Listener and Aquarium Drunkard talk to Dean Wareham. The new set of Galaxie 500 reissues came out this week.

Each Note Secure interviews A Place To Bury Strangers, who’ve just released a new video from Exploding Head.

Video: A Place To Bury Strangers – “Ego Death”

MGMT, whose second album Congratulations arrives April 13, will be at the Mod Club on April 29 for an intimate-type show. Not as intimate as their surprise gig at Captain John’s Seafood Restaurant a couple weeks ago, but the Mod Club probably smells better. Tickets are $30 and go on sale Saturday at 10AM.

Though not currently listed on their tour itinerary, CocoRosie will be at the Phoenix on June 15 in support of their new album Grey Oceans, out May 11.

Whilst killing time during my accidental time off in Austin earlier this week, I happened up on the Yard Dog art gallery on South Congress where they were selling pieces by one Jon Langford, whom as it happens is in town tonight at the Horseshoe with The Sadies and in addition to the regular sort of merch, will have some of his artwork available for sale – this stuff is cool and better than a t-shirt. Check it – and the show – out tonight.

Spinner, JAM and NOW have features on the Thrush Hermit reunion which rolls into Lee’s Palace this weekend for shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

And oh yeah, the official trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is now out and it’s onomatopoeiariffic. The film is released August 13 while the sixth and final book of the series, recently revealed to have the titled of Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, will be out July 20.

Trailer: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Duck Duck Goose

Review of Woodpigeon’s Die Stadt Muzikanten

Photo By Wilkosz + WayWilkosz + WayUnder normal circumstances, it’d be logical to consider the record that followed a band’s breakthrough album through the lens of how those successes might have affected their creative process and output. You can’t quite do that in the case of Woodpigeon’s newest record Die Stadt Muzikanten, however, because even though its predecessor Treasury Library Canada was the album that brought the Calgary outfit national recognition via the Polaris Prize long list, Muzikanten was already completed and in the can before the Treasury roller coaster ride began.

That makes the growth in sound and style from one record to the next that much more natural. The basic Woodpigeon recipe hasn’t changed much – Mark Hamilton’s compositions continue to be exemplary folk-pop rendered with delicacy in a widescreen scale, but this time the songs are delivered with more confidence and verve than before and are simultaneously more musically rangy and focused. Relative to what’s come before, Muzikanten is both louder – “My Denial In Argyle” is an unqualified rocker while “The Street Noise That Gives You Away” is epic in scope – and softer, with record closer and Jamie Fooks duet “Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower” one of their loveliest moments to date. Though it’s Hamilton’s vision that defines Woodpigeon, the record wouldn’t be nearly what it is without the contributions of his ever-expanding cast of supporting players, whose ability to bring to life the sounds in his head can’t be overstated. In particular, the backing vocals of Annalea Sordi-McClure and Foon Yap are a persistent, angelic choir hovering overhead throughout. Much of the charm of Treasury came from how it felt like a perfectly-matched collection of individual, snowglobe-like vignettes – Muzikanten pulls all those vignettes together into a single wondrous diorama, alive with song.

CMJ, Log Driver’s Waltz, Spill, The Record and Xtra all have feature pieces on Woodpigeon, who kick off their tour of Ontario and Quebec this week. They play the Drake Underground this Thursday, February 11, and will do an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14 at 5PM. Die Stadt Muzikanten will be released in the US on March 9 and in Europe on April 19.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”
MySpace: Woodpigeon

Beatroute and Spill have features on Woodhands, who are playing the Opera House on March 11.

The Wooden Sky are profiled by Beatroute and The Manitoban. They’re at the Horseshoe on March 13 as part of the Chart showcase for Canadian Musicfest.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Forest City Lovers, of which one of the songs is “If I Were A Tree” and thus continues the “wood” meme running through the first bit of this post. Hey, I make my own fun.

Beatroute and The Winnipeg Free Press talk to The Rural Alberta Advantage, who will be performing on March 13 at the Royal York Hotel as part of the Indie Awards at Canadian Musicfest. Yeah, the Indie Awards. That’s right.

Chart talks to Zeus, whose Say Us arrives February 23 and who will be at Lee’s Palace on March 10.

Spinner talks to Laura Barrett about how she found herself opening up for The Magnetic Fields on their current North American tour, which stops in at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight.

Vue, Alive Sydney and The Gateway have feature pieces on Dan Mangan, who has two showcases (at least) at Canadian Musicfest this year – March 11 at The Great Hall and March 12 at The Courthouse.

Ottawa X-Press and Aux interview Basia Bulat. She has an in-store at Soundscapes on February 16 at 7PM.

The Montreal Gazette, The Globe & Mail and PopMatters have interviews with Owen Pallett, whose next hometown show is April 8 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Good news for those who were still in diapers the last time Thrush Hermit were an active band – a third reunion show has been added to go along with their two sold-out gigs at Lee’s Palace – there’s now a dry, all-ages matinee show scheduled for March 28 at 4:45PM – tickets are $17.50 and go on sale Wednesday. Joel Plaskett has also just announced details of a Thrush Hermit Complete Recordings box set coming out in time to coincide with the reunion tour and consisting of all of the band’s albums and EP as well as a wealth of rare and unreelased material and a DVD. Seven discs in all, and suitable for kids of all ages.

Sloan announced via Twitter that they will be releasing a digital compilation of all their official b-sides this week, aptly entitled B-Sides Win.

The Sadies give Exclaim a guided tour of their equipment.

NOW and The National Post pay tribute to Wavelength, whose weekly concert series wraps up for good this weekend with the 500th show blowouts.

Updates could be slim/intermittent/non-existent this week – woke up to a laptop with a DOA logic board, so until that gets fixed, I’ve got my work machine (which is for work – ahem), my iPhone and my 7-year old Windows machine which is going to be pressed back into emergency service. Sounds like fun, right? Right? Wrong.

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Heavy Head

Gentleman Reg takes up residence at the Drake Underground

Photo By Norman WongNorman WongAfter being out of sight for what seemed like the longest time following the 2004 release of Darby & Joan, Toronto’s Reg Vermue, aka Gentleman Reg, has been nigh-inescapable since the release of fourth album Jet Black just under a year ago. He’s played many shows big and small, toured North America with The Hidden Cameras and late last year, released a new digital EP in Heavy Head. And now, following his set opening up for Tegan & Sara at the Kool Haus next Wednesday, he will set up shop at the Drake Underground for every Wednesday in February, warming Torontonians with his winsome guitar pop and inviting a different pair of choice openers to accompany him each week.

The residency starts on February 3 with the twee power of Hooded Fang and the orchestral goodness of Kite Hill, the 10th will feature local veterans of the scene By Divine Right and rising stars The Balconies, the following week welcomes the self-explanatory stylings of Dance Yourself To Death and all-girl Weezer cover band Sheezer and the final show on the 24th will be with Evening Hymns and another “very special” act to be announced – whether that means they’ve got someone exceptional lined up and are keeping the news back or they’re still looking but are confident they’ll be great is not clear, but whoever they end up being, they’re in good company.

Tickets for each show are $10.00 at Rotate This and Soundscapes or $12.50 online, though online purchases come with a free download of Heavy Head. Win-win, either way.

Reg gave The Toronto Star a list of his favourite albums of 2009.

MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
MP3: Gentleman Reg – “Plan On Including Me”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “How We Exit”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “Rewind”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
MySpace: Gentleman Reg

One-quarter of the aforementioned Sheezer, Laura Barrett, revealed some impressive news via her Twitter yesterday, and that was that she would be opening up for The Magnetic Fields on their upcoming North American tour, presumably including their February 8 date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in support of Realism, out January 26, assuming it doesn’t constitute a conflict with her February 12 appearance at Wavelength 500. This is tremendously exciting and I can’t help but think back seven or eight years ago when Laura and I were in a band together, briefly, and recorded a Magnetic Fields cover, linked below. That’s me on guitar, her on backing vox and keys. Ah, memories. Back in the now, Laura’s also got a new video from her full-length debut Victory Garden.

MP3: Laura Barrett – “Decepticon Island Optimists Club”
MP3: Lake Holiday – “Born On A Train”
Video: Laura Barrett – “The Wood Between Worlds”

Dead Sexy has a feature piece on The Balconies.

Jason Collett, Zeus and Bahamas are teaming up for what they’re calling the Bonfire Ball Tour and trekking across Canada starting on March 10 at Lee’s Palace as part of Canadian Musicfest. Collett releases his new one Rat A Tat Tat on March 9 and Zeus’ debut Say Us is out February 23.

Exclaim and altsounds talk to Woodhands, whose second album Remorsecapade is out January 26 and who will also be appearing at Canadian Musicfest with a show at the Opera House on March 11.

MP3: Woodhands – “Pockets”
Video: Woodhands – “CP24”

LAist talks to The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Nils Edenloff. Their new 7″ for “Drain The Blood” b-sided by their cover of “Eye of The Tiger” is out now, and they’re also listed as playing Canadian Musicfest.

Montreal’s Plants & Animals are readying their second album La La Land for an April 20 release and they’re going to be at Lee’s Palace on March 11 for – wait for it – Canadian Musicfest. Man, that’s turning out to be like some kind of festival chock full of Canadian music or something.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

Not playing Canadian Musicfest but arguably the hottest thing in Canadian music right now is Owen Pallett, who this week released the “Best New Music”-ed Heartland and played a sold-out show at the Mod Club to rapturous reviews – expect more of the same when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 8. There were feature pieces on Pallett in Metro, Interview, The National Post, Paste, The Toronto Star, San Francisco Chronicle, two pieces at Spinner, a three-parter at Radio Free Canuckistan and a video piece at Yeah, Pallett is everywhere – it doesn’t seem losing the “Final Fantasy” moniker has hurt his profile any. And for the curious, the whole of Heartland is streaming on his MySpace right now.

Stream: Owen Pallett / Heartland

Slightly less with the media saturation but still the object of much talk is Basia Bulat, who plays Trinity-St. Paul’s tomorrow night in advance of the January 26 release of Heart Of My Own. Read interviews with her at eye, JAM, dose, NOW, Chart and The Toronto Star. And congratulations to Diana for winning the passes to tomorrow’s show.

Another notable release this week was Woodpigeon’s latest effort Die Stadt Muzikanten – singer/songwriter Mark Hamilton talked about the record with The Georgia Straight and Chart, and in addition to their February 11 show at the Drake Underground, they will also be doing an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14 at 5PM. Make Woodpigeon YOUR Valentine. Yeah, I went there.

Forest City Lovers have released a video for the b-side from their recent “Phodilus and Tyto” 7″. They’re currently in the studio working on album number three and will be playing the Out Of This Spark 3rd anniversary show at The Garrison on January 22.

Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”

And finally official is the Thursh Hermit reunion tour, which to the dismay of half the country, will only travel as far westwards as southern Ontario. The Toronto dates are, as previously reported, March 26 and 27 at Lee’s Palace with tickets on sale for $17.50 at the usual outlets or online at Maple Music for $44.50 but including an official reunion t-shirt. Is that worth it? Completely up to you.

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Empty-Hall Sing-Along

Woodpigeon prepare third fourth fifth album, tour

Photo By Leigh RightonLeigh RightonFor a band that’s so good at doing things quietly, Calgary’s Woodpigeon certainly has a thing for volume. Their debut Songbook was originally released in 2006 in Canada and Japan, then reissued in Europe in 2008 to great critical acclaim. Their next release Treasury Library Canada wasn’t even intended to be a proper follow-up – just a collection of outtakes and leftovers from Songbook intended for sale as a limited run direct from the band. Thankfully, it became clear very quickly that it was too good a collection to not be made available to all – an opinion backed up by its eventual Polaris Prize longlisting – and it was reissued in early 2009, itself with another complete album appended as a bonus in Houndstooth Europa.

Which brings us to the impending release of their next album Die Stadt Muzikanten. Weighing in at 16 tracks and filled with orchestral pop finery, it’s no slight musical statement but again, Woodpigeon are all about value and North American and Japanese editions will come with Balladeer / To All The Guys I’ve Loved Before, described as an EP but at a dozen tracks and over 47 minutes, is pretty much another proper album recorded with Howard Bilerman, Steve Albini and Husky Hoskulds. And this round-up doesn’t even include all the one-offs, covers and whatnot that are regularly given away on their website. Sufficed to say, if you’re a Woodpigeon fan, you are never short of material to listen to.

Hearing said material live, however, is less easy – at least if you live in Ontario. Though the band has staged extensive tours throughout Europe, where they remain a much bigger draw than their home and native land, they rarely seem to make it out this way. Since 2007 they’ve only visited Toronto twice, opening for Calexico in July 2007 and an appearance at this Summer NxNE 2009. They’re looking to rectify that somewhat this Winter and have booked a fairly extensive tour through southern Ontario and Quebec, locally stopping at the Drake Underground on February 11.

Die Stadt Muzikanten is out on January 12 in Canada and Japan, March 1 in Europe and March 9 in the US, with Treasury Library Canada being made available domestically in the US for the first time as of that date as well. A sample track from Die Stadt is available below along with a holiday tune for the, well, holidays. Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton gave Ragged Words a list of his albums of the decade.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “xoxmas”

NYCTaper is sharing a recording of Final Fantasy’s recent show in New York, chock full of material from Heartland. Said album is out January 12 and the show that night at the Mod Club is sold right out. Way to dither.

Southern Souls has a video session with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.

Spinner gets a rundown from Diamond Rings’ John O’Regan about how the Sony takedown kerfuffle last week shook out.

Stereogum talks to Born Ruffians about how the drummer situation that resulted in founding member Steve Hamelin giving up the throne for a spell this year was resolved, just in time to record sophomore album Say It, out early next year.

Joel Plaskett discusses the Thrush Hermit reunion with Spinner. That hits Lee’s Palace for two nights in March, the 26 and 27. recorded a video interview with The Rural Alberta Advantage at their instore last month at Soundscapes; The Portland Mercury also has a chat.

Toro y Moi and The Ruby Suns have a date at the Drake Underground on March 30. The former’s Causers Of This and the latter have a new one entitled Fight Softly and due out March 10.

MP3: Toro y Moi – “Blessa”
MP3: The Ruby Suns – “Tane Mahuta”

Swedes ahoy! Pitchfork reports that Taken By Trees will join Anna Ternheim as support for El Perro Del Mar on their upcoming North American tour, which stops in at the Mod Club on February 21. The Skinny talks to Victoria Bergsman.

MP3: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Watch The Waves”
Video: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”

Denmark’s Efterklang have a date at the El Mocambo on March 6 as part of a North American tour in support of Magic Chairs, out February 22.

MP3: Efterklang – “Modern Drift”

The National Post talks to Bo Madsen of Mew.

Bettie Serveert will return with a new album in Pharmacy Of Love on March 23. There’s already a video for the first single.

Video: Bettie Serveert – “Deny All”

Filter solicits a list of Lightspeed Champion’s ten favourite things of 2009. Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You – which has good odds of being one of my favourite things of 2010 – is out February 16.

Fanfarlo plays a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.