Posts Tagged ‘Thunderheist’

Friday, September 18th, 2009

In These Arms

The Swell Season at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis was the first year in many years that I did nothing at all involving TIFF. Not a screening, not a party, nothing. But I did get to do something tangentially cinematic on Wednesday evening, and that was attend a lovely little private show at the Dakota Tavern by The Swell Season, perhaps still better known as Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the real-life incarnation of the protagonists from the film Once and for it, winners of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

But while that film and award have obviously defined their career, it hasn’t been their career – prior to the soundtrack to the film, they released a self-titled album and come October 27, will release their second proper record in Strict Joy, and while that date is still some time off, the duo were in town to do some promotion and to play this show at a room a miniscule fraction of the size of Massey Hall, where they’ll be on November 3. Special? Yes it was.

Though accustomed to much larger settings, the duo were perfectly comfortable in the down-home environs of the Dakota. Rather than use her own portable keyboard, Irglova opted to use the house upright piano, giving proceedings a distinct roadhouse (and slightly out of tune) flavour. This left her set up back somewhat on the stage and put Hansard front and centre, which is how it would have seemed anyways – he was the stereotypical gregarious Irishman, quick with the wit and charm in between songs, at one point thanking those in attendance for coming to this show instead of going to see his countrymen U2 at the Rogers Centre (where they were headed after the performance, apparently).

And most Swell Season songs are led by his voice and guitar anyways, with Irglova adding understated but crucial harmonies and piano accompaniment – her presence may be understated, but it’s still omnipresent. It’s remarkable how full they’re able to make their arrangements with just those four instruments at their disposal. They did swap places for a song, with Irglova taking the guitar and lead vocals and Hansard hitting the ivories, but by and large it was Hansard in the spotlight. Though the show ran only around 40 minutes, they struck a decent balance between the new material and old. Being really only familiar with the soundtrack and not heard the new record, I’m not in a position to comment on where their sound is going relative to where it’s been, but it did seem like the new material lacked the sense of anguish that ran through most of the songs in Once, instead taking on a more peaceful or perhaps resigned tone. “When Your Mind’s Made Up” was the exception, delivered with the fire (and perhaps overdramatic delivery) that was Hansard’s signature in The Frames but by and large the show was a gentle one. Unsurprisingly, the highlight was “Falling Slowly”, which Irglova started on piano but abandoned quickly due to tuning conflicts with the guitar, instead joining Hansard on his chair up front for a proper duet and stayed for their final song, a cover of Tim Buckley’s “Buzzin’ Fly” – the perfect finale to the show.

Just as the romantic relationship between Hansard and Irglova was a key talking point circa Once, the end of said relationship prior to the release of the new record is sure to be of interest to spectators. But anyone looking for Richard and Linda Thompson-style tension would have been disappointed – there was still plenty of genuine warmth between the two, implying they’ve either found a place of balance or are much better actors than you’d expect. Given their long and complex backstory, it’s futile to try and fully comprehend the emotions that were palpable between the duo and though that’s obviously a compelling facet of their story, it’s really no one’s business but theirs. We get the music, and that’s plenty.

Photos: The Swell Season @ The Dakota Tavern – September 16, 2009
MP3: The Swell Season – “In These Arms”
MySpace: The Swell Season

Rolling Stone talks to director Jonathan Demme about making the Neil Young Trunk Show concert film.

Dean Wareham interviews Buffy Sainte-Marie for Magnet.

Prefix and Access Atlanta chat with Son Volt’s Jay Farrar while The Austin Chronicle reports that Farrar has teamed up with Will Johnson , Anders Parker and Jim James to put more of Woody Guthrie’s words to music, a la Mermaid Avenue. Obviously any discomfort Farrar has with being measured against Jeff Tweedy is long past – good for him.

There’s interviews with Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan at Washington City Paper, The Daily Times, Spinner, The AV Club and Billboard. Last night’s show in DC is also streaming at NPR. Yo La Tengo are at the Opera House on October 3.

Unexpected, yes, but also real – Pavement are getting back together, more than a decade after calling it quits, for a world tour that will kick off next September in New York City and visit a number of as-yet undetermined “big towns” (as which I hope Toronto qualifies). There will also be a compilation album released at some point next year to let newcomers understand why indie rock fans of a certain age are getting whipped into a frenzy by the news, but they’ve stated quite clearly that this is not a prelude to a permanent reunion – it’s a one-off tour and that’s it. Stephen Malkmus will be working on the new Jicks album this Fall and Scott Kannberg’s first solo record (albeit as Spiral Stairs) The Real Feel will be out October 20. Kannberg discusses how the Pavement reunion came about with Rolling Stone.

MP3: Spiral Stairs – “Maltese Terrier”

Aquarium Drunkard interviews Big Star drummer Jody Stephens about the band’s new Keep An Eye On The Sky box set, while Interview talks to John Fry, owner of Ardent Studios in Memphis where the band tracked much of their early, classic material. Spinner also talks to Stephens and is streaming one of the rarities which has surfaced in the box set.

NPR is streaming Unmap, the debut album from Volcano Choir, aka the new project from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon – the album is out Tuesday. Spinner talks to Vernon about the project.

Stream: Volcano Choir / Unmap

Bishop Allen are heading out for a Fall tour which will bring them to the El Mocambo on October 30.

MP3: Bishop Allen – “Dimmer”
MP3: Bishop Allen – “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things”

Thunderheist have set a date at the Mod Club for December 3.

Gawker has posted an excerpt from Our Noise, the new book chronicling the first twenty years of Merge Records, and have a nice Q&A with Mac and Laura of the label (and Superchunk) in the comments.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Come On Pilgrim

Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Grizzly Bear and Pet Shop Boys for Virgin Festival Toronto/Ontario 2009

Photo via MySpaceMySpaceSo here we go. Some four months after I’d originally expected to see it in my inbox and after much rumour-mongering, hand-wringing, bitching and moaning, it’s here. The lineup for Toronto’s – sorry, Ontario’sVirgin Festival 2009. It’s far and away the most mixed bag of nuts yet, with names guaranteed to both delight and confound, no matter what you’re into.

So really, the question is this; is this lineup enough to get you out to Burl’s Creek park near Orillia and camp for two or three nights with all the attendant logistical hassles? And perhaps more importantly… was this worth the wait? The fact that 2-day tickets this year are just $99 ($105 after fees) – I think that’s a full $30-$40 less than past years – may help sway your opinion towards the “yes” side, though that’s just admission – camping costs another $100 for two nights and $135 for three nights (note – prices are per campsite, not per person, to a maximum four people per site) and there’s various VIP options for those with low self esteem. There will also be information on commuting assistance forthcoming for those citygoers who are afraid to venture north of Dupont, let alone into cottage country.

But anyways. Here it is, with the standard “more to come!” note attached.

Saturday, August 29
Ben Harper & The Relentless7
Franz Ferdinand
Paolo Nutini
Grizzly Bear
Mates Of State
Plants & Animals
Down With Webster
The Rural Alberta Advantage
Iglu & Hartly

Sunday, August 30
Nine Inch Nails
Pet Shop Boys
Our Lady Peace
Cold War Kids
Coeur De Pirate
The Von Bondies
Trouble Andrew
Silver Starling
The D’Urbervilles

For myself, I have to say this is a pretty attractive lineup, and I love how acronym-heavy the Sunday is, should make for easy texting. Providing there’s no scheduling SNAFUs I see more than enough to keep me interested from start to finish, and if this were somewhere more accessible then it’d be a no-brainer to attend. I wonder if the Pixies will be doing their Doolittle show or if it’ll be a normal set? I assume they, like Pet Shop Boys, will be closing out the second stage rather than warming up for the wholly incompatible “headliners” on each night. The location does give me pause, though – as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have unfond memories of sitting on the 400 for hours while trying to get to Molson Park, and now you have to add in getting through/around Barrie and to an even more remote location. So yeah, this’ll take some thinking. And maybe a helicopter rental. And yourselves? Who’s already airing out their tents and stocking up on industrial-strength blackfly repellant, and who’s, well, not?

And here’s a by no means comprehensive but decent sampling of what you might be hearing waft across Lake Simcoe that last weekend of August.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Cheerleader”
MP3: Mew – “Repeaterbeater”
MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
MP3: Sloan – “I’m Not A Kid Anymore”
MP3: Thunderheist – “Jerk It”
MP3: Cold War Kids – “Hospital Beds”
MP3: The Von Bondies – “Pale Bride”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Frank, AB”
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Dragnet”
Video: Pixies – “Here Comes Your Man”
Video: Pet Shop Boys – “Love Etc”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”
Video: Mute Math – “Spotlight”
Video: Coeur De Pirate – “Comme Des Enfants”

Matablog has details on the new Mission Of Burma record The Sound The Speed The Light, due out October 6. They also have the first MP3, with a decidedly un-MOB title but a very MOB sound.

MP3: Mission Of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”

Bandstand Busking has posted a show from Woodpigeon.

They’ve already got a show at the El Mocambo this Thursday, but Japandroids have already scheduled another one at the Horseshoe for September 19 with The Mt St Helen’s Vietnam Band. Tickets $10.

MP3: Japandroids – “Young Hearts Spark Fire”
MP3: The Mt St Helen’s Vietnam Band – “Cheer For Fate”

If you don’t catch her free show at Harbourfront on July 25, Amy Millan has booked a cross-Canada tour including an October 14 date at the Mod Club in support of Masters Of The Burial, out September 8. Tickets for that show are $15.

Black Key gone solo Dan Auerbach will bring his Keep It Hid to the Phoenix on November 7 with Justin Townes Earle and Jessica Lea Mayfield as support. Tickets $20.50.

MP3: Dan Auerbach – “I Want Some More”
MP3: Justin Townes Earle – “Midnight At The Movies”
Video: Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Kiss Me Again”

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Stickin' It To The Man

Festival announcements big and small from Over The Top, Olympic Island and Pitter Patter

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeThere might be question marks around whether or not we’ll see 2009 editions of big Toronto events like V Fest, but for the eighth year running, the city will host Over The Top Fest in May and showcase an eclectic range of acts in clubs around the city for a weekend in May, this year the 21st through the 24th. The official website is still having the finishing touches put on it but the lineup was announced last week at Stille Post and, as expected, there’s a whole lot of acts I’ve never heard of. But considering the festival has, in years past, welcomed the likes of Of Montreal, Grizzly Bear and Matt & Kim amongst many, many others – all before they became the international superstars they are today – you ignore the unfamiliar names at your indie cred peril.

This year’s edition is somewhat smaller than past years – there’s a recession going on, dontcha know – but still pretty packed. I’ll leave you to peruse the artists yourself, but names that jump out – even if not up my particular alley – include Japanese noise experimentalist Merzbow at the Polish Combatants Hall on May 21, Arcade Fire/Unicorns alumnus Clues, whose self-titled debut is out May 19, at Sneaky Dees on May 21 and Montreal dance-punk maniacs Think About Life at the Polish Combatants Hall on the 22nd. The most interesting one to me – and probably the only show I’ll make it out to – is New York pre-teen sibling duo Tiny Masters Of Today. You might expect an act with a set up like that playing punk rock music might be pure novelty, but their sophomore album Skeletons, out June 16, is surprisingly sophisticated and really sounds good, whatever their age. They’re playing the Whippersnapper Gallery on May 23.

And in addition, there’s film and theatre components to the festival and promises of a “concert on a transit bus, BBQ and Acoustic Concert” for closing festivities on the Sunday, May 24. Tickets for many of the shows are already available on Ticketweb (see Stille Post link for links), will be available in stores this week and a limited number of festival passes will also be made available.

MP3: Tiny Masters Of Today – “K.I.D.S.”
MP3: Tiny Masters Of Today – “La La Land”
MP3: Clues – “Perfect Fit”
MP3: Clues – “Remember Severed Head”
MP3: Think About Life – “Paul Cries”
Video: Tiny Masters Of Today – “Skeletons”

Also announced yesterday was the 2009 edition of the Olympic Island show, which is an almost-annual tradition but you can never be absolutely sure when it’s going to be, who’s going to play or if it’s even going to happen. The answers to all those questions, however, are July 11, Broken Social Scene, who are playing for the fifth time out of the six the party has been held, Explosions In The Sky, Thunderheist, Beach House, Apostle Of Hustle and Rattlesnake Choir, and yes it is (obviously). With V still being a big old question mark, this could be the city’s one opportunity to rock out and piss off the islanders, and having had almost three years elapse since I last saw the Scene, I think I’m getting eager to catch them live again. Tickets are $57.50 including ferry to and from the islands, though CFNY (that’s “Edge 102” to those of you under the age of 30) has a limited number available for $39.50 – 1021 tickets, according to Chart.

The Book Is Broken, a book documenting the story of Broken Social scene, will be out May 16. Thunderheist are the cover feature on this month’s Exclaim and their self-titled debut came out at the end of March and they play The Phoenix on April 30. Apostle Of Hustle’s new album Eats Darkness is out May 19 and he plays the Music Gallery on May 29.

MP3: Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning – “Hit The Wall”
MP3: Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew – “TBTF”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: Thunderheist – “Jerk It”
MP3: Beach House – “Gila”

And also recently announced was this year’s edition of Pitter Patter Fest which, if not as big in profile or stature as either of the aforementioned events, is certainly the largest in geographical terms. Though centered in Toronto, Pitter Patter events will be happening all over southern Ontario, from London to Guelph to Peterborough to Belleville – 150 bands, 10 cities and four nights from May 28 to 31 – and feature the likes of Dog Day, The Craft Economy, The Diableros, Great Bloomers, Fjord Rowboat, Megan Hamilton and Spiral Beach to name but a very few who’ve been covered on this site in the past. All shows are pay-what-you-can and the schedule, which will probably see many of the bands playing numerous dates and cities, is still forthcoming.

Sonic Boom Records up in the Annex will celebrate Record Store Day this Saturday, April 18, with a in-store mini-fest featuring Little Girls, Steamboat, Green Go, Gentleman Reg, Sunparlour Players, Lullabye Arkestra and Slim Twig. No idea of specific set times but it starts at 4PM and the store closes at midnight. You do the math. Admission is free but donations of non-perishable food items is strongly encouraged.

As for Gentleman Reg, he’s spending his Spring on tour in support of Jet Black, first with The Stills and then A Camp, including their June 1 date at the Mod Club.

MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”

Immaculate Machine will release their new record High On Jackson Hill on April 28, right in the midst of an Ontario tour that includes a stop at the Drake Underground on April 30.

MP3: Immaculate Machine – “Sound The Alarm”

Pink Mountaintops have a date at the Horseshoe on June 14 in support of their new album Outside Love, out May 5. Tickets for that are $11.50.

MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “Vampire”

Full details are still forthcoming, but Holy Fuck are one of the acts playing this year’s Beats, Breaks and Culture fest at Harbourfront Centre – they’re playing July 10, and as always, this show is free to all.

MP3: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”

The Decemberists have announced the second leg of their North American tour in support of Hazards Of Love, and it includes an August 3 date at the Kool Haus with The Heartless Bastards as support. Tickets are $30.50 and go on sale Thursday.

MP3: Heartless Bastards – “Searching For the Ghost” (acoustic)
MP3: Heartless Bastards – “The Mountain”