Posts Tagged ‘Timber Timbre’

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Get It Wrong, Get It Right

Feist at The Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust as a point of reference, when someone IMs you late on a Friday afternoon and asks, “do you want to go see Feist at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio tomorrow night?”, the only appropriate answer is yes. And so it was that after assuming that it’d be too much trouble to finagle one of the hottest tickets in a long weekend with no shortage of hot tickets, one was handed to me. No I’m not bragging. Okay I’m bragging a little. But the point being that I didn’t expect to be at this show, with all its advertised guest stars, and assumed that my run of not seeing Feist live would hit six-and-a-half years before her show at Massey Hall later this year, the last time I saw her properly being Canada Day 2005 and the last technical time being when I paused by her set at Lollapalooza 2006 for a few minutes before moving on to who knows what else, thinking “oh I see her all the time”. Or not.

But one consequence of the short notice was that I still hadn’t had a chance to listen to her new record Metals – what, I’ve been busy – and so as much as it was going to be a nice chance to get reacquainted with Feist, I was expecting it to be a bit unfamiliar. It’s safe to say that the unfamiliarity would be felt from the stage as well as from the audience, though. Feist retired from performing for an extended spell following The Reminder, and while there had been a few warm-up shows prior to this one, that it would be a hometown show and recorded for nationwide radio broadcast next month surely added an extra dimension of nervousness for the singer-songwriter.

Not that she was facing it alone. Her backing band was legion, including a keyboardist, drummer, Charles Spearin of Broken Social Scene on multi-instrumentalist duties, a three-piece string section and American folk trio Mountain Man as chorus and percussion section. And that’s not even mentioning the steady stream of guest players who came out to perform with her throughout the night, whether on her material, theirs or someone else’s. Certainly all the parts were in place for an intimate and memorable evening, including invitations from Feist for the audience to leave their seats to gather up front, of which only a few took up. Too Canadian, too polite, I would guess.

And that it was – even being unfamiliar with the new material, Feist’s voice and songwriting style haven’t changed and if anything, have grown more sophisticated. Much of the show was driven by complex and unorthodox percussion with one of Spearin’s tasks was to treat a couple of violins clamped to a table as percussion instruments and Mountain Man doubled as a kalimba orchestra and a few nods to Feist’s rock instincts, often played down on record in favour of more subtle timbres. If you wanted to make a metallurgical analogy, it’s like Feist is soft in the studio but annealed and tempered for the stage. And that, folks, is the most that I’ve used my mechanical engineering degree in the past decade.

Even if the set had been made up of all old material, I don’t take for granted that I’d have recognized them all. Reinvention is nothing new to Feist and songs like “Mushaboom” were recast almost completely, given eastern overtones and going from light and fun to exotic and weighty – a risky move with fan favourites but the end result was thrilling to hear as it allowed the listener to rediscover the song anew. As for the special guests, each of ex-Constantine Bry Webb, Doug Paisley, head Hidden Camera Joel Gibb, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy all came out to share the spotlight with Feist: Tweedy leading off the encore with “You & I” from his band’s Wilco (The Album) and Webb playing Kenny Rogers in a duet of “Islands In The Stream” with Feist as Dolly.

It wasn’t perfection, as playing in front of friends and family probably adds as much stress as comfort when finding one’s feet and Feist took mulligans on not one but three songs, but if any crowd was going to be forgiving it was this one. And while most would have called the performance a triumph in any case, just happy to have Feist back on a Toronto stage and be reminded of her talent, in this case it was praise fully earned. I can’t wait to see how good and together she is when she returns, road-tested, to Massey Hall on December 1.

Yahoo has a streaming video session with Feist, The Stool Pigeon an interview and CBC, The Globe & Mail, and Spinner have writeups of the show. It will be broadcast on CBC Radio 2 on November 2.

Photos: Feist @ The Glenn Gould Studio – October 8, 2011
Video: Feist – “I Feel It All”
Video: Feist – “Honey Honey”
Video: Feist – “My Moon My Man”
Video: Feist – “Mushaboom”
Video: Feist – “1, 2, 3, 4”
Video: Feist – “One Evening”

Exclaim is streaming both sides of a new Suuns 12″ entitled “Bambi”, due out on November 15.

Timber Timbre have released a new video from Creep On, Creepin’ On. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 26.

Video: Timber Timbre – “Do I Have Power”

Rolling Stone is streaming a new song from Kathleen Edwards, whose next album will be entitled Voyageur and be out January 17. I tend to be kind of “whatever” about Ms Edwards of late, but this tune is great. If it’s a sign of what to expect from the new record, I shall most definitely be paying attention again. Exclaim has more details on the new record.

Stream: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Already slated as opener for Matthew Barber at the Music Gallery on November 18, Louise Burns will be sticking around town to provide support for the second of Cuff The Duke’s two shows at The Horseshoe on November 26.

MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”

Spinner talks to Ohbijou about their just-debuted new video.

Video: Ohbijou – “Niagara”

NPR investigates the secrets of Sloan’s longevity.

Allmusic gets Kathryn Calder to list off some favourite books. Her new album Bright And Vivid is out October 25.

Interview talks to Stars.

Billboard talks covers projects and originals with Tokyo Police Club.

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Scenes From The Suburbs

Arcade Fire wins the 2011 Polaris Music Prize; people bragging about predicting it just look silly

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangExecutive summary of this post: Arcade Fires’s third album The Suburbs did what everyone kind of expected and won the 2011 Polaris Music Prize last night, and with the $30,000 giant novelty cheque comes loads of praise and under-the-breath mutterings about how they don’t deserve it, though that’d have happened no matter who won. If you’re the sort of person who only looks at the scoreboard and pays no attention to the boxscores, then you’re done here. If you want the blow-by-blow about how it happened, well, I don’t have that for you either. I offered my own thoughts on the record’s deserving the prize when I put it at the top of my ballot but as with every year, what happens in the Grand Jury room stays in the Grand Jury room, guarded by the ghosts of masons and templars, but I can at least report on what happened at the gala proper.

Unlike last year’s rare ten for ten in terms of shortlisters showing up to perform, only six acts were available to take the stage this year. Arcade Fire and Colin Stetson had legitimate reasons for missing out, the former having just headlined Austin City Limits the night before and unable to do it logistically (though three of the band were in attendance) and the latter being in Los Angeles as part of Bon Iver’s touring band. No official reason was given for Destroyer’s Dan Bejar not being in attendance, let alone perform and even though The Weeknd had established themselves as actually existing and being able to perform a couple months earlier, Abel Tesfaye seems to have since decided it’s more fun being an urban legend than a real person.

And so we began with Ron Sexsmith, looking dapper in a red tuxedo jacket, led his full band through a couple selections from Long Player Late Bloomer. I daresay no one was especially blown away by the performance but that’s not Sexsmith’s thing – he’s in it for the long game and will be crafting fine pop songs years from now. Austra followed and though from the same neck of the woods – Toronto represent! – was at the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum, with a dramatic visual presentation to go the intense, operatic synth-goth sound of Feel It Break. The live show was about as impressive as I’ve heard it was.

Montreal’s Galaxie were up next and were an anodyne for anyone bemoaning the lack of straight-ahead rock in today’s music. For Galaxie and their nominated record Tigre et diesel were nothing if not straight-ahead rock, with lots of meaty, 70s-vintage guitar riffs and corresponding swagger. I continue to bear them a bit of ill will for calling themselves Galaxie 500 for so long but if you heard them, there’s no way you’d confuse them with the REAL Galaxie 500. Timber Timbre recital of a couple numbers from Creep On Creepin’ On was probably the biggest revelation of the night. I’d not seen them live since it was still a Taylor Kirk solo project hiding in the dark and here, they were a full 9-piece band with string quartet and the scale of sound they made were remarkable; there was no more hiding in the shadows, instead this was Timber Timbre standing proud and tall for all to see and hear and they would not be cowed by the light.

The Timber Timbre experience was emblematic of why these Polaris galas are so great – in the months leading up to it, there’s inevitably bands you dismiss or make jokes about because you don’t believe they’ll win or even belong on the short list, but to see them in this sort of setting and doing their thing it’s very difficult to not understand and appreciate how, even if they’re not your thing, they’re almost always great in their way. Braids, whose Native Speaker I never warmed to, almost made me want to reassess my opinion of them in that manner – in fact with their first song, they had me with their obviously impressive musicianship and complex songwriting. But by their second number, those feelings of “this is so pretty” were equaled if not surpassed by feelings of, “this is so so so long”. That said, their focus is much sharper than it was when I last saw them live, so in a few years/records I may well be on board. But not yet.

This left Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! to close things out. Contrary to their last gala appearance in 2009, the band eschewed the massive orchestral presentation that people equate with their sound and went with the core six-piece configuration to showcase a couple songs from Seeds. Their earnest compositions were pretty and pleasant, but felt more polite than passionate – many swear by their grand, heartfelt pop but it just doesn’t really connect with me… but two Polaris shortlist appearances in as many albums certainly speaks to them doing something right.

With the performances done, all that remained was to give Arcade Fire another major award to go with their Grammy, Juno and BRIT. Unlike past years, where the announcement of the winner usually resulted in at least some gasps and/or confused looks, this year’s announcement was met with applause and nods – either in agreement that the right call had been made or in resignation that none of an electronic witch, avant-garde saxman or leisure-suited poet could derail the Suburbs-sized freight train. Represented by Win Butler, Richard Reed Parry and Jeremy Gara, they were gracious winners who encouraged young bands to create greater works than they had and invited them to come record at their studio, into which they hinted that at least some of the winnings would get invested.

And so the record that was both the surest thing and the longest shot come out on top and in the process, dismantled the Polaris’ growing reputation as something of a contrarian prize. Everybody wins. Especially Arcade Fire.

For more non-performance shots from the gala and Arcade Fire press conference, check out my Flickr.

Photos: Polaris Music Prize Gala 2011 @ The Masonic Temple – September 19, 2011
MP3: Austra – “Lose It”
MP3: Braids – “Lemonade”
MP3: Destroyer – “Chinatown”
MP3: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”
MP3: Colin Stetson – “Fear Of The Unknown And The Blazing Sun”
MP3: Timber Timbre – “Black Water”
MP3: The Weeknd – “The Party & The After Party”
Video: Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
Video: Galaxie – “Piste 01”
Video: Ron Sexsmith – “Late Bloomer” (live)

The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star and National Post ran some pre-gala Polaris pieces on the topics of citizenship and eligibility for the award, the Arcade Fire’s chances and the process and nominees and whatnot, respectively. And peeking over across the Atlantic, The Line Of Best Fit had a three-parter examining each of the shortlisted records and an interview with prize founder Steve Jordan.

Also posted prior to last night – Spinner asking Katie Stelmanis of Austra what they’d have done with their winnings and Exclaim, BlogTO and Spinner finding out how being shortlisted has affected Colin Stetson.

The Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight talk to 2010 Polaris winners Karkwa.

The Georgia Straight, The Portland Mercury and Backseat Seattle talk to Young Galaxy as they tour over to the west coast.

Stool Pigeon talks to Chad VanGaalen. He’s at The Mod Club on October 28.

Pitchfork has an interview with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew wherein he reveals the band are going on a hiatus after their last few shows of the year are done. Whether this means another deluge of “Broken Social Scene Presents” solo records is unclear.

The New York Times talks to Feist about her new record Metals, out October 4. She plays Massey Hall on December 1.

State interviews Alexei Perry of Handsome Furs.

Bruce Peninsula are sharing a track from their forthcoming album Open Flames, out October 4. They play an album release show at Lee’s Palace on October 27 and are interviewed by The Record.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “In Your Light”

Elliott Brood are marking the September 27 release of their new album Days Into Years with an in-store at Sonic Boom’s Annex location that evening at 7PM. Their proper hometown show doesn’t come until November 18 at the Phoenix so if you want to see ’em, be there with some canned goods to donate.

MP3: Elliott Brood – “Northern Air”

NOW has an interview with Rebekah Higgs, who will have a Sunday night residency at The Drake Underground throughout the month of October – that’s five shows on each of the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th – admission $7 each.

MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Gosh Darn Damn”

Hour has a feature piece on Montreal’s Adam & The Amethysts, whose Flickering Flashlight is out October 4 and available to stream at Exclaim. They’ll be at The Piston to celebrate with a show on October 5.

MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Prophecy”
Stream: Adam & The Amethysts – “Flickering Flashlight”

The Wooden Sky are going to be previewing material from their follow up to If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone with a short Fall tour that includes a hometown stop at The Dakota Tavern on October 19, tickets $15 in advance. The new album won’t be out until next year but the band will have a tour EP available at these shows to tide fans over.

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Bit Part”

Shout Out Out Out Out have made a date at The Great Hall on October 27.

Video: Shout Out Out Out Out – “Coming Home”

Baeblemusic has video of a live set from Suuns recorded way back at SXSW; they’re at The Garrison on October 2.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Do I Have Power

Timber Timbre creeping across eastern Canada

Photo By Kandle OsborneKandle OsborneWhen I last wrote up Timber Timbre back in March, shortly before the release of their latest Creep On Creepin’ On, I commented on how unlikely it seemed that the Toronto trio’s murky goth-blues should make them stars (relatively speaking), but how that seemed to be exactly what was going to happen. And indeed, it’s been a good 2011 for them, to say the least. The decidedly positive critical response and popular demand kept the band on the road through all of North America and Europe through the Spring and Summer, and with their placement on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist, they’ve announced a Fall tour that will keep them living in a van through the rest of the year, covering locales from Ontario through to the Maritimes with a handful of European dates for good measure.

They’ll get a chance to sleep in their own beds and do some laundry, though, as the itinerary now includes their first hometown date since the Trinty-St. Paul’s album release show way back in April – and it’s coming at the decidedly fancy digs of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 26. Tickets for that show are $25 in advance and despite it being a seated venue, will be general admission; they’re on sale today at 10AM. And the merch table at this and other shows will have a little something special in the form of vinyl reissues of the first two independently-released Timber Timbre records – Cedar Shakes and Medicinals – dating from when the band was a pseudonym for Taylor Kirk solo.

The band have also released a new, appropriately creepy animated video from Creep On Creepin’ On and over at BlogTO, violinist Mika Posen talks about the Polaris nomination.

MP3: Timber Timbre – “Black Water”
Video: Timber Timbre – “Too Old To Die Young”

Tasseomancy have released another video from their just-released record Ulalalme, which was co-produced by Taylor Kirk. They’re playing The Great Hall on October 20 and will support Austra at The Phoenix on December 1.

Video: Tasseomancy – “Soft Feet”

Also with a new video from a Polaris-shortlisted record is Destroyer, from Kaputt.

Video: Destroyer – “Savage Night At The Opera”

Julie Doiron has a couple of local live dates lined up, as she usually seems to, with a free in-store on September 10 at 3PM to inaugurate the recently-opened Kensington Market location of Sonic Boom. She will also open up for Ohbijou at Trinity-St. Paul’s on September 30.

MP3: Julie Doiron – “When Brakes Get Wet”

If you’re the sort of person who needs an introduction to the works of Sloan, then you’re probably not someone who’s hung around here much – welcome! – but if you do, head over to Noisetrade to grab a pay-what-you-can 17-track sort-of best-of compilation. And yes, you can pay nothing if that’s how you roll.

The Line Of Best Fit gets acquainted with Chad VanGaalen and his unique brand of interview awkwardness. VanGaalen is at The Mod Club on October 28.

Rolling Stone has gotten on the Louise Burns bandwagon, having a quick chat with the singer and offering a new track for download.

MP3: Louise Burns – “Drop Names Not Bombs”

Beirut have discovered one of the perks of staggered digital and physical releases – double the press cycles. There were a flurry of pieces when The Rip Tide came out through online sources back at the start of August, and now that the vinyl and CD are available? Features in The National Post, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, Irish Times, Paste, Pitchfork and Time. That Zach Condon is a clever boy.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Jason Lytle about the legacy of Grandaddy on the occasion of the vinyl reissues of The Sophtware Slump and Sumday.

The Fly gets a courtyard video session from The Antlers.

NPR has a KCRW session with My Morning Jacket.

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard talks drinking and excessive drinking with Spinner.

The Grid and NOW chat with Peter Bjorn & John, who kick off a two-night stand at Lee’s Palace tonight.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Walking On A Dream

Empire Of The Sun set out to conquer North America

Art by Aaron Hayward & David HomerAaron Hayward & David HomerThough it was only on the calendar for barely two weeks last Spring – it was cancelled almost as soon as it was announced due to scheduling issues with their Lollapalooza appearance – the prospect of an Empire Of The Sun show in Toronto clearly got some people excited. And why not – though not exactly household names in North America, the glam-synth-pop outfit led by Luke Steele, known to some for his other band The Sleepy Jackson, are veritable superstars in their native Australia thanks to their 2009 debut album Walking On A Dream and have a well-deserved reputation for spectacular live shows.

Predictably, the aforementioned cancellation – which would have seen them bring their elaborate show to the Sound Academy a year ago next week – came with many apologies and promises to try and make it up, promises which I didn’t especially expect to be kept. Not because they didn’t sincerely want to, but simply because it’s surely heinously expensive to do so and, as mentioned, they’re not a guaranteed draw over here. But I’m quite happy to have been proven wrong, as a number of US festival appearances are being leveraged into a proper North American tour which brings them to Echo Beach in Toronto on September 13, and really – a big open-air beachfront venue is a much more appropriate venue than the much-maligned shoebox on the docklands isn’t it? We haven’t had many festivals in Toronto this Summer, but if any show can help create that sort of grandiose spectacle, I’d say it’s this one. Tickets are $39.50 and go on sale Friday at 10AM.

Perth Now reports that Steele’s creative partner Nick Littlemore, who abruptly left the band a couple of years ago to join Cirque de Soleil, is back in the fold and will be touring with the band and in conversation with In THe Mix, Littlemore confirms that work has begun on album number two.

Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Half Mast”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Without You”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “Walking On A Dream”
Video: Empire Of The Sun – “We Are The People”

Also announced yesterday and pretty much at the complete opposite end of every possible spectrum from Empire Of The Sun, yet just as exciting for me, is the news that London’s Still Corners would be in town at the Drake Underground on October 25 as part of a tour in support of their debut album Creatures Of An Hour, due out October 11. I saw them at SXSW and even though they prefer to play in the dark or bathed projected vintage film images, their Broadcast-ish dreamy retro-gaze is delicious.

MP3: Still Corners – “Cuckoo”

Vivian Girls bring their third record Share The Joy to The Shop at Parts & Labour on September 16; they just released a new video from the album and Spoonfed has an interview.

MP3: Vivian Girls – “I Heard You Say”
Video: Vivian Girls – “Take It As It Comes”

As The Drums prep their second album Portamento for September 13 release, they’ve put together a North American tour that brings them to the Mod Club on October 1, tickets $16. They’ve just put out the first video from the new record.

MP3: The Drums – “Down By The Water”
Video: The Drums – “Money”

I’d been wondering when Austra would be staging a triumphant homecoming show, what with their last Toronto appearance being a record release party for Feel It Break, pre-Polaris shortlisting and worldwide praise. Well the answer is December 1 and it’ll happen at The Phoenix. Sentimentalist has an interview with Katie Stelmanis and the third and final performance of Austra’s video session for Room 205 is now up.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It”

Supporting Austra on that show will be Tasseomancy, also known as the Lightman twins, better known as Austra’s backing singers and formerly known as Ghost Bees; their debut full-lenght Ulalume is out August 30. Romy Lightman talks to Spinner about their new video from said album.

MP3: Tasseomancy – “Healthy Hands”
MP3: Tasseomancy – “The Darkest Of Things”
Video: Tasseomancy – “Heavy Sleep”

Timber Timbre, who worked on the aforementioned Tasseomancy record, have premiered a new video from Creep On Creepin’ On at IFC.

Video: Timber Timbre – “Bad Ritual”

BlogTO talks to Evening Hymns’ Jonas Bonetta about their next record Spectral Dusk, which is due out this Fall. They play the ALL CAPS fest out on Toronto Islands on August 13.

Also with a new video are Young Galaxy, taken from this year’s Shapeshifting.

Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”

And finally, the tease really didn’t last that long – Feist has announced her new album Metals will be out on October 4. Pitchfork has details and Spin has already had a sneak preview and is sharing their thoughts.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Iron And Ore

Ohbijou invite you to meet their metal

Photo By Laurie Kang & Hannah HurLaurie Kang & Hannah HurThere’s a temptation to wish that the title of Ohbijou’s third album offered a hint to the contents within, that the Toronto six-piece had discovered their inner headbanger and when Metal Meets was released on September 27, it would come in packaging adorned with pentagrams and flames. But not only would this hypothetical record probably not be very good – let’s be honest – it would also mean that the world would be down one almost certainly lovely collection of orchestral pop.

A preview of the new Jace Lasek-produced record was made available a couple of weeks ago and it certainly sounds like they’ve stayed the course laid out by their 2006 debut Swift Feet For Troubling Times and its 2009 follow-up Beacons, anchored by Casey Mecija’s sweet vocals and songwriting but allowing the sonics supporting them to grow and evolve. With its echoing electric guitar riff, “Niagara” would have sounded out of place on Swift Feet but as the first taste of the follow-up to Beacons, it makes perfect sense.

And as their sound gets bigger, so too do the rooms in which they’ll be playing. A set of eastern Canadian dates have been announced and the hometown date on September 30 finds them playing the gorgeous environs of Trinity-St. Paul’s – a milestone, to say the least. Tickets for the show are $20 and go on sale tomorrow at 10AM.

Ohbijou are also releasing a series of video trailers for the new record; at present there are two. Note the lack of three-finger devil salutes.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Niagara”

Light Fires, the electro-pop duo of which Ohbijou drummer James Bunton is half and Gentleman Reg’s Reg Vermue in the guise of Regina Gentlelady is the other have released a video for their debut single, available digitally and on 7″ as of today.

Video: Light Fires – “Ten Feet Tall”

I appear to have missed a couple instalments of the Bruce Peninsula Fire Sale, but that’s okay because they go with the just-released one to form an impressive collection of performances captured by Southern Souls, wherein the band’s members each cover a song by an artist they personally know. It’s also the first look at who is part of Bruce Peninsula this time around, with a number of new faces in the mix. Their second album Open Flames is due out in September and they play the Lower Ossington Theatre on August 11 as part of Summerworks.

Chart talks to Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre.

The Quietus interviews saxophonist and Polaris shortlister Colin Stetson, who has a show at The Drake Underground on August 26. He’ll also release a 10″ EP entitled Those Who Didn’t Run on October 4.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba have released a new video from When You Left The Fire, done live-style.

Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk has a chat with The Vancouver Sun while frontman Damian Abraham has words with The Riverfront Times. Fucked Up play the Air Canada Centre

The Georgia Straight talks to Kathryn Calder, whose second solo album should be released sometime this Fall.

Dan Mangan discusses his forthcoming new record Oh Fortune with Spinner. The album is out September 27 and a cross-Canada tour has been announced; he’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”

tUnE-yArDs brings her much-feted second album WHOKILL back to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on September 24.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”