Posts Tagged ‘Tragically Hip’

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

We Are The Same

The Tragically Hip attempt something novel, plan Canada Day shows

Photo via Amazon.comAmazonYesterday was a pretty busy one as far as festival announcements went – the first acts for this year’s Pitchfork Festival, happening July 13 to 15 in Chicago’s Union Park, were revealed; Sled Island made a pretty compelling argument for visiting Calgary from June 20 to 23; and though an official announcement is still a little ways off, the fact that Florence & The Machine, The Walkmen, tUnE-yArDs, Black Keys and The Shins will all be passing through during the August long weekend gives you a good notion of who Osheaga will be bringing to Montreal.

All of which serves to remind that we here in Toronto are again a festival-free town, at least as far as big outdoor to-dos are concerned. Sure, we may get an Olympic Island show but those aren’t ever a sure thing, Hillside is reasonably local but keeps things pretty grassroots, and club-level stuff like CMW and NXNE don’t quite stir the same amount of excitement, though the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square during NXNE come pretty close. And yeah I know there’s stuff like Edgefest and Warped and HeavyTO, but those never interest me and are thus invalid. All of which is to say that for all the problems that it ran into over its four-year existence, I miss V Fest.

But hey, the field isn’t completely fallow – The Tragically Hip, as they often do, have announced a couple of multi-act shows in honour of the 200th anniversary of the War Of 1812 and Canada Day to take place at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-On-The-Lake on June 30 and Burl’s Creek outside of Barrie on July 1, respectively. Not in the 416 like last year’s Weezer co-headline bro-fest at Downsview, but as good as it gets for now. Joining them for both dates will be Death Cab For Cutie, The New Pornographers, and The Rural Alberta Advantage. I’m assuming Death Cab will play the Americans in the historical re-enactment of the Battle Of Beaver Dams. It’s not as mammoth a linuep as they’ve sometimes assembled for the country’s birthday, but it’s a solid one.

Tickets are $69.50 for either show and there will be a limited number of two-days passes for $99.50 for the extra patriotic. Details at

MP3: Death Cab For Cutie – “Photobooth”
MP3: The New Pornographers – “(Your Hands) Together”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”
Video: The Tragically Hip – “My Music At Work”

The Wilderness Of Manitoba will warm up for their trip down to Austin for SXSW and preview songs from their forthcoming second album with a show at The Drake Underground on March 8.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

Acknowledging that barely a fraction of their fanbase will get to see them at The Horseshoe on March 23 during Canadian Musicfest, Zeus have made a properly-sized hometown date at The Phoenix on June 9, tickets $15. Their second album Busting Visions is out March 27.

MP3: Zeus – “Anything You Want Dear”

Exclaim welcomes Grimes to the cover of their March issue. She’s at The Horseshoe on March 19.

Pitchfork has premiered the first track from PS I Love You’s sophomore effort Death Dreams, out May 8. They’re also playing Lee’s Palace on March 23 for Canadian Musicfest and Toronto Standard has a conversation with them and Diamond Rings, whose own second album is the process of being wrapped up.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes”

The Alternate Side welcomes Dan Mangan for a video session and interview. He plays The Indies at The Royal York on March 24.

Interview has premiered the first of a series of performance videos by The Wooden Sky showcasing songs from their new record Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, while Exclaim has an interview with the band in this month’s issue as well as an online piece about the other projects the band are pursuing, and The Link also has a chat. They’re at The Opera House on April 20.

Interview, CBC Radio 3, Montreal Gazette, and National Post talk to Plants & Animals about their new album The End Of That, from which they’ve just released a new video. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 21.

Video: Plants & Animals – “Lightshow”

Metric have announced a June 12 release date for their new record, which will be entitled Synthetica. I suspect that some synths went into the making of this record.

The Line Of Best Fit, Exclaim, and Minnesota Daily talk to Memoryhouse about their debut full-length The Slideshow Effect, out now and sporting a brand-new video.

Video: Memoryhouse – “The Kids Were Wrong”

Islands have released a new video from A Sleep & A Forgetting while NPR has posted a World Cafe session and Exclaim, Blurt, JAM, and Seattle Weekly interviews with the band.

Video: Islands – “Hallways”

The Scotsman talks to Kathleen Edwards, who also gives Clash a peek at some of her literary influences. The Hamilton Spectator also has some questions for their former resident.

Uptown, The Calgary Herald, and Prairie Dog interview Calgary singer-songwriter Rae Spoon.

Happy Leap Day! It’s a great day to do things you normally wouldn’t… like lead a post with The Tragically Hip! Woo!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Mondo Amore

Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea and Cotton Jones at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt was an evening of familiar faces and (slightly) unfamiliar names at The Horseshoe on Saturday night. The familiar being Nicole Atkins, whom despite playing here four times in just eight months, hadn’t been back to visit in over three years and in the interim, changed her backing band entirely and renamed them from The Sea to The Black Sea. Nor were support act Cotton Jones strangers locally, having come through a number of times in their old incarnation of Page France and a few times since.

Of the two, Cotton Jones represented the more dramatic break from their former selves. Whereas Page France were a winsome if overly saccharine indie pop outfit, Cotton Jones was the sound of that band grown up and having traded tea parties for whiskey shots. That was applicable to both frontman Michael Nau’s voice, which used to be a nasally sort of thing but was now well and proper raspy, and the band’s songwriting in general, inflected as it now was with blues, soul and assorted Southern accents. Still, it was good to see that he and fellow Page France holdover Whitney McGraw hadn’t forgotten the melodic lessons learned in that band, and I generally enjoyed Cotton Jones’ set more than I ever did anything Page France did, though I have to say that “Somehow To Keep It Going” isn’t really a grand enough song to merit as extended a reading as it got.

The circumstances and significance of Nicole Atkins’ persona and personnel changes are well reflected in her new record Mondo Amore, what with the big orchestral approach of her debut Neptune City having been shelved in favour of something decidedly leaner and meaner. Accordingly, The Black Sea numbered just three plus Atkins in conventional two-guitar, bass and drums setup and the sound they made was even more stripped down than the album.

Their set included the entirety of Mondo Amore as well as some choice selections from Neptune City and a trio of covers that really spoke to the band’s versatility – not many bands can range from Krautrock (Can), country-pop (Cotton Mather) and funk-soul (Marie Queenie Lyons) and sound perfectly natural at all of them. Props especially go to guitarist Irina Yalkowsky, who had lots of room to move and space to fill and did so without getting flashy, though her solo in I believe “The Tower” earned her an ovation – I don’t know the last time I saw that happen.

But it was still Atkins’ show and though she and her bandmates had been plagued with illness over the course of the tour, you couldn’t tell it. Her voice was as strong as it’d ever been, rough and raucous on rockers like “My Baby Don’t Lie” and “This Is For Love” and richly emotive on the torchier numbers like set opener “Heavy Boots” and closer “The Tower”, and between songs, her spirits were high and banter sharp. If the past few years have been tumultuous ones for Atkins, then judging from the record she got out of it, the confidence and charisma she’s carrying and the shows she’s now delivering, they were worthwhile.

Chart also has a review of the show. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boston Globe and Washington Post have interviews with Atkins while Baeble Music has a Guest Apartment video session. The Colorado Springs Independent has a feature on Cotton Jones.

Photos: Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea, Cotton Jones @ The Horseshoe – February 26, 2011
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Vitamin C”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Gotta Cheer Up”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Glorylight & Christie”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Somehow To Keep It Going”
MP3: Cotton Jones – “Blood Red Sentimental Blues”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Vultures”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Maybe Tonight”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City”

The Wall Street Journal talks to Tom Scharpling, who is directing the new New Jersey-saluting video for Titus Andronicus’ “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”. They play The Horseshoe on April 1.

One of the great music magazines of the ’90s is back in online form – Option, for whom my cousin worked for a while and got me a free subscription, introduced me a tonne of bands that I didn’t realize I’d love until many years later but I’d like to think there was some subliminal effect. Hopefully they will again be a forum for great long-form music writing, and this piece on Yo La Tengo certainly makes it seem so. Welcome back!

NPR has a World Cafe session with Sharon Van Etten. She plays The Drake Underground on April 12.

Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack talk to Spinner about their new record Civilian. It’s out next week and they play The El Mocambo on April 9,

Paste, PopMatters, The Calgary Herald and The New Zealand Herald catche up with Lucinda Williams, whose new record Blessed is out today. She is at Massey Hall this week, on March 4 and 5.

Spinner interviews Ume.

DeVotchKa’s latest 100 Lovers is out today; and Spinner have interviews. They’re at The Mod Club on March 30.

And since Toronto is generally hard-up for festivals of late, anything that offers locals the opportunity to hang out en masse getting heat stroke while soundtracked by live music is worth noting – like the return of the sort-of tradition of The Tragically Hip on Canada Day. This year, they’ll be at Downsview Park and be joined by Weezer, Broken Social Scene, Hey Rosetta! and Buck 65. Tickets are $59.50 plus fees and go on sale Friday. The last time I did The Tragically Hip on Canada Day was Molson Park in Barrie back in 1994… oh god. My memories of that show are now old enough to drive.

MP3: Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”
Video: The Tragically Hip – “My Music At Work”
Video: Weezer – “Keep Fishin'”
Video: Hey Rosetta! – “Yer Spring”
Video: Buck 65 – “Shutterbuggin'”

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

CONTEST – Gord Downie & The Country Of Miracles / The Grand Bounce

Image via AmazonAmazonWhen Sloan sang, “it’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans” in “Coax Me”, they were referring to Consolidated but the sentiment could well have applied to their fellow Canadian rock icons The Tragically Hip, who have the dubious honour of possessing some of the most obnoxious fans north of the 49th. My last run-in with them was thankfully some 17 years ago (whew!) but I still shake my head at the memory of them essentially booing Daniel Lanois off the stage at Molson Park, as though it would have brought The Hip out to play any sooner. And amazingly, all these years later, they still come out in throngs and sit through all the new material that the band continue to produce, just waiting to hear “50 Mission Cap” and “New Orleans Is Sinking” and high five one another.

So while I’m sure that Gord Downie appreciates his fans and the fact that they’re loyalty pays his mortgage, it’s not surprising that he’s felt the need to craft a solo career, separate from The Hip, that in theory allows him to explore his art without worrying about how it might be received by his band’s less open-minded fanbase. His third such solo endeavour The Grand Bounce finds him backed by a new band called The Country Of Miracles and produced by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla. With its bright, faintly country-rock vibe and Downie’s ever-evocative lyricism, The Grand Bounce is honestly the first Hip or Hip-related project I’ve listened to since the turn of the century and, if they’ve all been nearly as good as this is, perhaps I shouldn’t have let those aforementioned fans put me off their more recent works. That said, you still couldn’t pay me enough to go to a Hip show. No sir.

The Grand Bounce is out on June 8 on CD but the double-vinyl edition was quietly released yesterday and courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got a copy of the LP to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want The Grand Bounce” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body and get that to me before midnight, June 8 – contest open to residents of Canada.

Video: Gord Downie & The Country Of Miracles – “The East Wind”

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Flowers And Football Tops

Glasvegas at the Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s far too easy to be cynical about Glasvegas. Emerging from the UK as they did last year on a massive wave of hype with a sound that was unabashedly retro and a matching ’50s-greaser gang image, the Glasgow-based quartet were quick targets for those who wanted to dismiss them as contrived and calculated, not that that stopped them from topping the charts and becoming massive at home.

For my part, I went from intrigued on first listen to mildly suspicious after spending time with their self-titled debut and then somewhat won over following their daylight SxSW set. At the time, I figured that seeing them in neutral environs such as a SxSW day show, stripped of their light show and adoring fans, would provide a truer indication if they were for real or not. And yes they sold me, but it wasn’t until Friday night’s show at the Mod Club – their long-awaited Toronto debut – that I realized what I was missing out on by skipping the formal sales pitch.

Glasvegas are not ashamed to aspire to stadium-scale grandeur, with massive Spector-via-JAMC sonics and anthemic choruses designed to rouse the cheap seats and while the Mod Club is hardly Wembley Stadium, packed as it was with fans hollering along with every song, it wasn’t far off. From the opening notes of “Geraldine” through end end of their just under an hour-long set, it was clear that Glasvegas weren’t there to convince anyone they were a great band – they were there to celebrate that as fact with those who already knew it. Looking not a little bit Strummer and clad in a leather jacket (later swapped for a tank top and donated tartan scarf), frontman James Allan displayed dollops of rock star charisma, basking in the adoration of the audience but returning every bit of it right back to the crowd.

It was the sort of rapport that made me ashamed to have ever questioned the sincerity of the band. That doesn’t necessarily excuse some of the overly-direct earnestness of the songwriting, but it does mitigate it. Seeing and hearing Allan bellow the words with unquestionable emotion, no matter how clumsy, then back off while the enraptured audience take over while more than matching his passion… yes, on paper it’s kind of cliche but in person? It’s still pretty stirring. The band will probably always have more than it’s share of critics and naysayers, but I know where I stand now – over there with the other folks singing, “here we fucking go”.

The Toronto Sun has a glowing review of the show and reports that the band will be back this Fall, eye has another review. Music Snobbery has an interview with the band. And congrats go to Jarita, Ashlee and Mark who won the signed Glasvegas albums.

Photos: Glasvegas @ The Mod Club – April 3, 2009
Video: Glasvegas – “Please Come Back Home”
Video: Glasvegas – “Daddy’s Gone”
Video: Glasvegas – “Geraldine”
MySpace: Glasvegas

NME has a video interview and The Line Of Best Fit and The Herald text ones with Doves. Kingdom Of Rust is out tomorrow, they play the Kool Haus on June 1.

Tourdates UK talks to Emmy The Great.

Maximo Park have released the first video from their forthcoming album Quicken The Heart, out May 12.

Video: Maximo Park – “The Kids Are Sick Again”

And also with a new video are The Joy Formidable for their latest single “Whirring”, off the excellent A Balloon Called Moaning.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”

Drowned In Sound chats with Ryan Adams on the occasion of his retirement from the world of music. He interviews Marianne Faithfull for Black Book while The Guardian profiles Adams and other rockers turned authors including Nick Cave and Billy Bragg.

The Hold Steady are offering up an MP3 from their new live album A Positive Rage, out tomorrow.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy” (live)

I saw almost 50 shows at SxSW this year, but one of the ones I missed – and regret – was The Uglysuit, who only played like three shows. Could they not have taken one of the Vivian Girls’ two dozen shows? They’ve released a new MP3 from their fine 2008 self-titled debut, reviewed here.

MP3: The Uglysuit – “…And We Became Sunshine”

Paste and The Skinny catch up with The Thermals. Their new one Now We Can See is out tomorrow and currently streaming at their MySpace. They’re at the Horseshoe on May 3.

Stream: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”

Blurt, BBC1, The New York Times and Filter have profiles on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Askmen talks to Metric’s Emily Haines. Their new album Fantasies is out tomorrow, they play an in-store at HMV on Yonge St on Thursday and a show at the Mod Club next Tuesday.

I Heart Music is sharing MP3s of the CBC Fuse session with The Sadies and The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie from a couple years ago. I saw them team up at the Horseshoe in December 2007 and it was intense. The Sadies’ new album backing John Doe, Country Club, is out April 14 and they play the Horseshoe together on April 30. The Tragically Hip’s new one We Are The Same is out this week and they have a six-night stand at Massey Hall the week of May 11.

WOXY has posted MP3s from a slew of Lounge Act sessions recorded during SxSW, including sets from The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart, Ume and The Wooden Birds. They also welcomed The Rural Alberta Advantage in for a session last week.

PitchforkTV is streaming the new Arcade Fire documentary Miroir Noir, which is now available in DVD form.

Soundproof has a guest column from Alan McGee wondering why people would actually want The Stone Roses to reunite.

The National Post has an interview with yours truly about blogs and stuff and includes what I hope is one of the worst pictures of me in existence. If anyone tells me that’s actually a good photo, I will despair.