Posts Tagged ‘U2’

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

"Running To Stand Still"

Elbow covers U2

Image via War ChildWar ChildI don’t know why it came as a surprise that Elbow would list U2 as a major influence. Certainly both acts have a flair for grandiose musical statements, though U2 favours the more conventional “big rock” way of phrasing them as opposed to Elbow’s more stately approach. Maybe it’s just because Guy Garvey seems like such a fine, modest gentleman and Bono is so… Bono.

But apparently the Irish band were huge for the Mancunians, so much that Garvey said that “Running To Stand Still”, arguably the best song on The Joshua Tree, was “the first thing we ever played together as nippers”. So it’s seems completely logical that for their contribution to the 2009 War Child: Heroes compilation, wherein artists covered their influences to raise money for the War Child organization, they’d choose to do a proper take of said tune.

It’s a faithful rendering, perhaps more spacious and thoughtful, with Garvey’s husky voice providing the greatest contrast with the original and for my money, emphasizing even more the inherent beauty of the tune. Contrast that with the fact that digging around on YouTube for a live video of U2 doing it – there was no official video since it was never a single – and I couldn’t find any where the song wasn’t undermined by either Bono’s hamminess or just the band’s inherent bigness. But still, props must go to the band for writing the song in the first place and for inspiring great(er) bands like Elbow to do what they do.

Elbow’s new record build a rocket boys! is out this week in Europe and Canada, the US will apparently have to wait until April 12 but hopefully the extra patience will be rewarded with the band’s first headlining tour dates in far too long – they’re already going to be at Coachella on April 16. U2 are making up for their aborted Summer 2010 tour with dates this Summer, including July 11 at the Rogers Centre. They are also rumoured to be releasing a new record, perhaps in time for said dates. What is certain is that Bono will at no point take his sunglasses off in public.

Both Elbow and U2 will be appearing at this year’s Glastonbury, with the former as the lead-in for the latter.

MP3: Elbow – “Running To Stand Still”
Video: U2 – “Running To Stand Still” (live)

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Azure Ray return from hiatus with album, tour

Photo via Saddle CreekSaddle CreekMany little bits and pieces to get through before I head out to Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, and any randomness in this post was compounded by the fact that I became an uncle for the first time last night. Yay babies.

With seven years past since their last album and numerous solo projects and albums between them in the interim, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink had gone their separate ways for good. But their hiatus has turned out to be just that, as Georgia’s Azure Ray is back in action – or at least as much action as can be expected from a band known for languid, hazy pop – and will release their first album since Hold On Love with Drawing Down the Moon on September 14. Exclaim has some details on the record, which was produced by Crooked Fingers’ Eric Bachmann.

They’ve also put together a Fall tour in support – their first in six years or so – and it includes a date at the Horseshoe on November 10 with Tim Fite as support. There’s no samples from the new record as of yet, but odds are they’ll pick up approximately where they left off and not stray too far from their older material.

MP3: Azure Ray – “If You Fall”
MP3: Azure Ray – “Sea Of Doubts”
MP3: Azure Ray – “November”

Amongst other shows announced yesterday – The Airborne Toxic Event will have some fancy digs on their next visit to town, as they’ll be playing Trinity-St. Paul’s on September 13 and they’re bringing a string section along with them. This is insupport of their concert film with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, All I Ever Wanted, which is out September 7.

Video: The Airborne Toxic Event – “Neda”

2007 Mercury Prize winners Klaxons are releasing the follow-up Surfing The Void on August 23 and are coming to North America to support it, including a date at the Mod Club on September 27.

MP3: Klaxons – “Atlantis To Interzone”

I’m not sure if Neon Indian ever became the soundtrack to Summer they seemed tipped to be back in the Winter, but after paying a visit back in the Spring, they’re hitting the road come Fall and the itinerary includes an October 12 date at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: Neon Indian – “Deadbeat Summer”

Irish stars Bell X1 are coming to North America this Fall for an acoustic tour that includes a stop at the Drake Underground on October 12.

MP3: Bell X1 – “How Your Heart Is Wired”

The Vaselines, who are releasing their first new album in forever with Sex With An X on September 14, have slated a North American tour that wraps in Canada, the second-to-last date being at the Horseshoe on October 30.

MP3: The Vaselines – “I Hate The ’80s”
MP3: The Vaselines – “Son Of A Gun”

U2 has rescheduled their canceled Summer 2010 tour for Summer 2011 – the Toronto make-up date will be July 11, again at the Rogers Centre.

Video: U2 – “Cedars Of Lebanon”

Paste reports that R.E.M. have completed work on a new album, and are aiming to have it out in early 2011.

Superchunk have released the MP3 for the first single from Majesty Shredding, out September 14.

MP3: Superchunk – “Digging For Something”

The Village Voice talks to Ted Leo about his retirement plans or lack thereof.

Check out the new video from Miles Kurosky, taken from his album The Desert Of Shallow Effects.

Video: Miles Kurosky – “The Night Won’t Last”

Judging from the new Gayngs video from Relayted, the question is not, “will there be a disco ball when Gayngs play The Phoenix on October 1”, but “how big will it be”.

Video: Gayngs – “The Gaudy Side Of Town”

Each Note Secure has an interview with Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent conducted after $40,000 worth of gear and merch was stolen but before it was all improbably recovered a few days ago. Their tour continues on with the only net casualties being the Toronto and Buffalo dates, and they aim to make those up around the end of the Summer.

The Quietus gets a track-by-track breakdown of the new Autolux album Transit Transit from guitarist Greg Edwards. The record is out August 3 and they play Lee’s Palace on August 24.

eMusic, The Line Of Best Fit and The Music Slut interview School Of Seven Bells about their just-released Disconnect From Desire. They’re at the Mod Club on September 15.

Pitchfork talks to Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce about the decision to play Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space in its entirety before retiring it.

Sky Larkin are giving away an MP3 of the title track from their new record Kaleide. It’s out August 9 but is available to pre-order now with downloads available immediately.

MP3: Sky Larkin – “Kaleide”

Bandstand Busking welcomes The Clientele for a session. Their Minotaur mini-album – eight tracks is too many to just call it an EP – is out August 31.

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Percussion Gun

White Rabbits, Suckers and The Balconies at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhite Rabbits have got it covered in the name-dropping department. Via TBD Records, they’re labelmates with a little British outfit called Radiohead and their critically-hailed second album It’s Frightening was produced by Britt Daniel, who sometimes moonlights in a band popular in some circles called Spoon. Yeah, the Brooklyn sextet have got plenty of ammo for cocktail parties, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you much about their actual music, does it.

Well the Britt Daniel part does, somewhat. It’s Frightening certainly borrows from Spoon’s dry, lean and punchy aesthetic and frontman Stephen Patterson’s voice does have a familiarly hoarse, wound-up quality, but dismiss them as Spoon-alikes at your peril. Not, like, “mortal danger” peril but “you’re missing out on a pretty great record” peril. Frightening kicks off with “Percussion Gun”, an intense bit of truth in advertising powered by the thundering tribal attack of the band’s dual drummers – one on a conventional kit, the other tasked with exponentially increasing the impact via big-ass toms. Add in Patterson’s aggressive piano (piano can indeed be aggressive) and howling vox and you’ve got not only one of the best opening tracks on any album this year, but maybe one of the best singles and videos. Translation, it’s impossible to not want to hear more of the record after that first salvo. And while It’s Frightening never quite reaches those heights again, it takes those same elements that make “Percussion Gun” such a blast and turns it into an undeniably solid record that crackles with energy that you just know would translate fantastically on stage. Toronto finally got a chance to find out if that was true on Saturday night when the band made their Hogtown debut at the Horseshoe with fellow Brooklyners Suckers in tow.

Rounding out the bill and providing the local flavour were recent The Balconies, recently transplanted from Ottawa and already becoming live fixtures and certainly one of the better/best new bands in the city. They again proved this to be true with their opening set, showcasing their terrific energy, razor-wire hooky tunes and the dueling sibling vocals of Jacqui and Steve Neville. Though there were a couple technical and performance flubs, I’d still put this performance as even better than when I saw them in August in terms of delivery and charisma, implying that as good as they already are they’re just going to get better. And that’s a scary thing. Find out for yourself at their next local gig on November 5, again at the Horseshoe, opening up for Dog Day and Immaculate Machine.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Suckers for months – mostly in a breathless, “oh my god, have you heard?” context – but had managed to not familiarize myself with them right up until the quartet took the stage. And after they left, I wasn’t grabbing people around me at random, breathlessly asking, “oh my god have you heard Suckers?” because, well, if they were right there then they would have, but I was pretty impressed. To say they have a lot going on is an understatement – all four are multi-instrumentalists, changing up instruments between guitars, electronics, percussion and brass, often in the same song, and taking turns with their distinct vocals or harmonizing in a way that probably shouldn’t work but sounds fantastic regardless. And that sentiment largely applied to their music at large – a collision of sounds and styles ranging from rock to soul to pyschedelia to gospel that by rights, should be a multi-car pileup but instead becomes a ballet. Not everything they did tickled my ear, but it did make a unique impression.

To answer the earlier posed question, yes indeed, the energy of It’s Frightening does indeed come to life on stage – and then some. Their set was pretty much a non-stop barrel ride through their two records, delivered with ferocious energy and no small amount of sweat. The band’s precision and rhythmic power was astonishing and watching them perform gave an even greater appreciation for the band’s musicianship. In particular, guitarist Gregory Roberts should get more credit for his vocal contributions (or maybe he already does, just not from me) and his ability to double Patterson’s leads or harmonize, depending on what’s needed – it may seem like just another cog in a complex musical machine, but it’s really a crucial element. And Patterson, even seated at an electric travel upright piano (not just a keyboard) as he was for most of the set, managed to inject a lot of physicality in his performance and while unable to match his bandmates’ stage wanderings, did get to partake in some instrument swapping in strapping a guitar on for a couple of tunes. As expected, “Percussion Gun” closed out the main set was the highlight of the night, putting the crowd into mosh mode for a few minutes. I wouldn’t even say that it was a conscious decision, but as most were already in a constant state of dancing/bobbing from the insistent rhythms, when hit with the big song, there was only one place to go – into the people around them. The band returned for a couple more songs and called it a night, closing out a tremendously solid night of rock. Add the band’s first show in Toronto to the list of things they can brag about t their next cocktail party., Fazer, St. Louis Today and Seizure Chicken have interviews with White Rabbits.

Photos: White Rabbits, Suckers, The Balconies @ The Horsesehoe – October 24, 2009
MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
MP3: White Rabbits – “Kid On My Shoulders”
MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: White Rabbits – “Rudie Fails” (live on MySpace Transmissions)
MP3: Suckers – “It Gets Your Body Movin'”
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”
Video: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
Video: Suckers – “Easy Chairs”
MySpace: White Rabbits

Thanks go out to The Indie Files and Hero Hill for bringing to my attention Worauf wartest du?, a collaboration between Albertan folk singer Rae Spoon and German electronic artist Alexandre Decoupigny which is available to download – presumably with artists approval – over here. And also exciting is the news that Rae Spoon is undertaking a tour of eastern Canada starting in November with a stop at the Rivoli on November 11. You may recall I was quite taken with Spoon’s latest Superioryouareinferior – quite looking forward to seeing him live.

MP3: Rae Spoon – “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down”

More dispatches in song form from Woodpigeon, currently in the middle of their residency at the Banff Centre. Die Stadt Muzikanten is due out January 12.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Under, Behind & Between”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Whole Body Shakes”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Summer Side Of Life” (Gordon Lightfoot cover)

Gentleman Reg is putting out a new EP this Fall entitled Heavy Head. The six songs will be released digitally, two at a a time grouped by theme (covers, b-sides, remixes), starting on November 10 and be available as a complete package as of December 1. The Ontarion has an interview with Reg, who plays the Opera House in support of The Hidden Cameras on December 5.

Great Lake Swimmers will play a special benefit show for War Child on November 5 at the Dakota Tavern, the very thing Sloan did at the same venue just last week. Tickets are $35 and available at Maple Music. They play a regular show at Trinity-St Paul’s on February 6 of next year.

NPR, Cleveland Scene and The San Francisco Chronicle talk to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard about their Kerouac project One Fast Move or I’m Gone, which is streaming at NPR.

Stream: Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard / One Fast Move or I’m Gone

Billboard talks to Gibbard’s Death Cab For Cutie bandmate Chris Walla about their contribution to the New Moon soundtrack.

Paste and Entertainment Weekly have interviews with The Swell Season. Strict Joy is out tomorrow and they play Massey Hall on November 2.

Apparently having still not paid off their ridiculous stage setup, U2 are extending their world tour and will be hitting Toronto for the third time in less than a year on July 3 at the Rogers Centre. Tickets on sale November 2.

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Curly Teeth

Review of Micachu & The Shapes’ Jewellery

Photo By Olly HearseyOlly HearseyThe announcement that London trio Micachu & The Shapes had been signed to Rough Trade came with a short video for the song “Lips”, and curious as to who this latest labelmate to faves like British Sea Power and Basia Bulat was, I gave it a spin. And after viewing the 90-second clip, the only response I could come up with was, “uh, what?”. It depicted a scruffy-looking trio with an androgynous-looking frontperson creating a racket that seemed willfully primitive, and yet you couldn’t deny how meticulously and precisely it was all assembled – a method to the madness indeed. My initial reaction was that I never wanted to hear this again. My second reaction was to hit the repeat button.

And Jewellery, the trio’s debut – out today in UK out April 7 in North America – follows much the same pattern, simultaneously repelling and addicting with a dozen tracks of no-fi, hip-hop, anti-pop seemingly built from found sounds, circuit-bent electronics, willfully abused junk shop instruments and the hollered vocals of Mica Levi. It sounds dementedly otherworldly at first, but with repeated listens it becomes clear that it’s very much of this world – just gleefully turned inside-out and upside-down but never straying too too far into abstractionism. It’s like it knows it can only be anti-pop if there’s still some pop in there, so for every obtuse sound collage like “Ship”, there’s an only slightly bizarro melodic gem like “Golden Phone”. And while it’s nice to be able to metaphorically come up for air with tunes like that, I’m as surprised as anyone that I’m actually eager to dive back down into the depths of musical confoundment. Don’t take this as a Damascene moment that finds me abandoning good, old-fashioned pop for a life in the musical outer fringes, but I think my horizons just got a little bit wider. Just a bit.

MBV Music is currently streaming the whole of the album for today only and it’s officially unofficial Micachu day there – keep checking in for thoughts and commentary on the record from the other contributors. Drowned In Sound has an interview with Levi conducted by Emmy The Great, I Like Music offers an annoyingly paginated feature and The Telegraph profiles the band and confirms that Levi really does know exactly what she’s doing, whether it sounds like it or not.

MP3: Micachu & The Shapes – “Lips”
Video: Micachu & The Shapes – “Lips”
Stream: Micachu & The Shapes / Jewellery

The Sun has a feature on Polly Scattergood, whose debut self-titled album is out in the UK today. The bad news is that the North American release date is still a couple months off – May 19 – but the good news is that it’s even getting a North American release, which hopefully implies some touring/promo on this side of the pond. I got a promo of the album last week and my initial enthusiasm has proven not to be misplaced in the least.

Scotland On Sunday sits down with Charlie Fink of Noah & The Whale about their new album The First Days Of Spring, set for release sometime around the last days of Spring, in June. They play the Mod Club on April 27 and support for that tour has been announced as Ferraby Lionheart and Anni Rossi.

MP3: Anni Rossi – “Ecology”
MP3: Anni Rossi – “Wheelpusher”

St Vincent has released the first MP3 from her new album Actor, out May 5.

MP3: St Vincent – “The Strangers”

And St Vincent’s will be teaming up with The National on a cover of Crooked Fingers’ “Sleep All Summer” for SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers, a cryptically-named compilation celebrating Merge Records’ 20th anniversary by means of cover songs. Details at Pitchfork. And while there’s no shortage of mouth-watering contributions on the album, this particular one jumped out at me because Dignity & Shame is by far my favourite Crooked Fingers record (and I love them all quite a bit) and Annie Clark and Matt Berninger are about as perfectly cast to step into Lara Meyerratken and Eric Bachmann’s shoes on this song as anyone on the planet. You can hear the original on the Crooked Fingers MySpace. The National are at the Kool Haus May 21, Crooked Fingers at Trinity-St Paul’s April 17 and 18.

PitchforkTV and NPR are offering video and audio, respectively, from Antony & The Johnsons’ recent concert in Washington DC. The Advocate has an interview.

Yes, they were here just last week but Asobi Seksu will be back on April 19 at the Mod Club as support for French composer Yann Tiersen, perhaps best known for his work scoring Amelie. Is it a pairing that makes any sense? I have no idea. But there it is. Tickets are $20 in advance.

Also in the “back so soon?” category, The Von Bondies – here in February at the Horseshoe – are back on May 29 for a gig at Lee’s Palace. Tickets for that will be $13.50.

MP3: The Von Bondies – “This Is Our Perfect Crime”
MP3: The Von Bondies – “Pale Bride”

Brooklyn’s Kevin Devine has a date at the El Mocambo on June 3. Tickets $11.

MP3: Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band – “Brother’s Blood”

And finally, U2 will be at the Rogers Centre on September 16.