Posts Tagged ‘Venice Is Sinking’

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The Brutalist Bricks

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and Screaming Females at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangUnderstatement? This has been a very fucked weekend in Toronto. From the moment it was announced late last year that downtown Toronto would host the G20 summit of world leaders this last weekend in June, it has been an inevitability that things would turn out this way – an overwhelming police presence on city streets to greet masses of protesters and demonstrators who acted as camouflage for small groups of so-called anarchists set on turning things violent and wreaking mayhem – all while the world leaders met behind massive fences, oblivious to the tumult outside, and ultimately accomplishing nothing besides agreeing to maybe talk further about the same issues the next time they got together. In other words, the exact same script that has played out at every one of these summits over the last ten years, and with people feigning surprise and outrage whenever any of the above occurs (although the complete lack of leadership and accountability from every level of government and authority this weekend felt new – maybe the Toronto summit decided to allow some ad-libbing?).

Though out of town most of Saturday, I returned to find my neighbourhood had become a mess of smashed glass and boarded-up windows and though the flash points had moved elsewhere, the atmosphere was still extremely tense and discomfiting. Though staying home with the blinds drawn also seemed like a good course of action, a better option was available in heading out to Lee’s Palace where Ted Leo & The Pharmacists had the fortunate timing of playing that night. Or maybe unfortunate, considering that transit shutdowns and road closures made getting around the city difficult and the general advice seemed to be to stay home. Either way, the show was still on and while I might have otherwise liked a distraction from from everything going on in my city, I was curious to hear what Leo had to say. And get rocked.

There wasn’t a need to wait for the headliner for that, though, thanks to tourmates Screaming Females. Their name was a bit of a misnomer as of the trio, only frontwoman Marissa Paternoster was lacking a Y-chromosome but they made up for that bit of false advertising by delivering on the screaming part. Not literally, as in lung-shredding hollers though there was a bit of that, but their combination of classic rock riffage and new wave stutter was pretty impressive and Paternoster’s intensely awkward stage presence kind of entertaining. Their audience wasn’t especially sizeable, but it was appreciative.

“I know this is kind of a weird night”, Ted Leo said a little into their set, “but hopefully we can offer some catharsis”. This was as much comment on world politics as he offered at first, though he was more than willing to get into the state of the World Cup (sorry to see USA go but was fully behind Ghana). Instead, he let his set list do the talking – I don’t know what other cities had been getting, but for Toronto on this most particular of evenings, he and the Pharmacists delivered rocker after rocker, piledriving the fastest numbers and speeding up the others to terminal velocity, all delivered as such a punishing volume that Leo’s vocals were occasionally inaudible under the din. While he’s been touring as a four-piece for some time – they were still a power trio when I first started seeing them – this year’s Brutalist Bricks was the first written and recorded as such, and the new material which comprised the lion’s share of the set really benefitted from the extra complexity and power of James Canty’s second guitar. From the word go, there was no let up in the show’s energy save for when Leo stopped to converse with the crowd a bit, which had filled up nicely though not nearly to capacity, and crack a joke or two.

It was during one of these breaks later on that he finally said he felt obliged to comment on the G20 happenings, and after a bit of back and forth with a patron who wanted more rock, less talk, he basically left it by saying that every one of the songs he would play this night was written in the past ten years and under the shadow of corporate globalization. And that’s probably all that needed to be said; anyone who’s listened to his music, which I think would be everyone there, would know where his ideology lies and implicitly what his stance would be on summits like this and the protests that’d ensue. I’m not sure what I had expected. Maybe some sort of explanation or rationale for what was happening in my city or why it was necessary – and to his credit Leo offered as such but warned it would take “like nine hours” – but that’s unfair. This wasn’t a lecture hall but a rock show – and not a Billy Bragg rock show – and on that count, Leo had more than delivered what was expected. An excuse to pogo during “Me & Mia”, a stellar solo cover of Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes”, a glorious “Timourous Me” and – after handing over his guitar to Canty who broke a string on his – closed the show out with a bloodletting (literally) “Ballad Of The Sin Eater”. Ted Leo has never put on a bad show, but this one reached a new level of intensity and yes, as promised, catharsis that I thank him for and hope is never necessary again.

Photos: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Screaming Females @ Lee’s Palace – June 26, 2010
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have To Die”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb Repeat Bomb (1954)”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Sons Of Cain”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Me & Mia”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Squeaky Fingers”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Under The Hedge”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Come Baby Come”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Under The Hedge” (Treble In Trouble)
MP3: Screaming Females – “Arm Over Arm”
MP3: Screaming Females – “I Do”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Colleen”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Me & Mia”
Video: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”
Video: Screaming Females – “Buried In The Nude”
Video: Screaming Females – “Bell”
Video: Screaming Females – “Boyfriend”
Video: Screaming Females – “Electric Pilgrim”
MySpace: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
MySpace: Screaming Females

The National’s Matt Berninger tells Spinner about the time his luggage created a terrorist scare at an airport. Hi-larious.

Pernice Brothers have released a blockbuster, high-budget video from Goodbye, Killer. He’s taking over the editorial reins at Magnet this week, and they kick it off with a Q&A.

Video: Pernice Brothers – “Jacqueline Susann”

Daytrotter has posted a session with Venice Is Sinking.

David Dondero has set a July 23 at the Drake Underground in support of his new record Zero With A Bullet, due out August 3.

MP3: David Dondero – “Wherever You Go”

Nada Surf has recorded a video session for They Shoot Music.

Of Montreal’s new record False Priest will be out September 14, and the first MP3 is now available to download.

MP3: Of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”

PitchforkTV serves up a TunnelVision session with The Depreciation Guild.

The Quietus has an exit interview with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.

And if this past weekend has utterly drained you as well, stock up on some good karma by chipping in and helping this puppy frolic again.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

This Is Our Music

Pitchfork presents an oral history of Galaxie 500

Photo by Sergio HuidorSergio HuidorAs much as I’d have liked to have indulged in the recent re-release of the entire Galaxie 500 oeuvre – they were reissued worldwide in March by Domino and by Damon & Naomi’s own 20-20-20 label in North America – I couldn’t really justify buying those albums a third time, particularly since these new editions weren’t sonically different from the Rykodisc reissues that came out in the mid-90s and those, I’d already bought twice. Almost three times, actually.

My education started with the Portable Galaxie 500 compilation, which was then replaced with all three of their albums in their expanded editions, which were in turn again replaced by the Galaxie 500 box set, which added the Uncollected compilation to those albums in a fancy package. I actually remember the record store owner refusing to buy those individual CDs from me until I assured him that it was okay, I still had the music. Factor in additional purchases of the Copenhagen live album and the Peel Sessions collection, and I think I’ve done my fair share for keeping the G500 flame alive (fiscally speaking) – but that doesn’t mean I can’t encourage anyone who hasn’t bought On Fire at least a few times to do so… so do so. The double CD-editions, pairing the three studio records with Copenhagen, Uncollected and Peel Sessions are a tremendous value and the studio albums were also all put out on heavy vinyl for the analog-inclined.

The point of all this rambling is to lead into this terrific Pitchfork feature that compiles the story of Galaxie 500 as told by those who lived it, from the humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm through the sudden departure of singer/guitarist Dean Wareham and subsequent end of the band. It’s ground that’s been covered a fair bit already – in the press that accompanied the Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste DVD in 2004 and then with the publication of Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards in 2008 – but it remains a fascinating story, particularly as time passes and acrimony between the parties fades. Not that the three of them have been in the same room together in almost 20 years, but they seem capable of speaking honestly, respectfully and even fondly of what they created.

And while it seems that most everything Galaxie 500 ever recorded has been released (and re-released), there’s at least a few more bits and bobs lying about – a few years ago, MP3s of what was labeled as one of their earliest demo tapes were circulating and while three of those tracks did show up on Uncollected… the others didn’t. Here’s one of them, along with a Joy Division cover that appeared as a b-side to “Blue Thunder” and most of their videos. And here in the present, Dean & Britta are preparing to release their soundtrack to 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests sometime this Summer and Damon & Naomi’s latest release was last year’s Sup Pop Years which, as the title implies, collects the best of their work for the SubPop label.

MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Pride”
MP3: Galaxie 500 – “Ceremony”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “When Will You Come Home?”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Blue Thunder”
Video: Galaxie 500 – “Fourth Of July”

Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking also pays tribute to G500 on their new album Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions with a cover of “Tugboat”. The live-off-the-floor album is out June 15.

MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Tugboat”

Billboard, NPR and San Francisco Chronicle profie The Hold Steady, who just released their latest record Heaven Is Whenever. They’re at the Kool Haus on July 17.

Spinner has got a couple of new tracks from Margot & The Nuclear So And Sos, who’re working on album number three, entitled Buzzard and targeted for a Fall release.

MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “New York City Hotel Blues”
MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Birds”

The National are in the spotlight at PitchforkTV this week, with video performances of the band playing tracks from High Violet – out next Tuesday – in a castle overlooking the Hudson River. So far they’ve got “Terrible Love”, “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Little Faith”. And on May 15, The National will be webcasting a live performance of High Violet from the Brooklyn Academy of Music via YouTube. It’ll be directed by legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and they’ll be soliciting donations for the Red Hot Organization; details at Pitchfork. The National have two dates at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9; Spinner talks to the band about selling out the Royal Albert Hall in London.

JAM talks to LCD Soundsystem main man James Murphy. This Is Happening is out on May 18 and they play the Kool Haus on May 25.

New York Magazine gets an update on the next Strokes record from Fabrizio Moretti.

Having trouble keeping track of all the preview goods that have been coming out for the new Band Of Horses record Infinite Arms? Yeah, me too. But this is a new video. And the record is out May 18. And they play the Toronto Islands on June 19. These things, I know for sure.

Video: Band Of Horses – “NW Apt”

The Sydney Morning Herald talks to Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 with The Flaming Lips.

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

SxSW 2010 Night Four A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the night over here.

– Leeds chamber/prog-rock quartet released their self-titled debut last year and are working on album number two. Spinner has an interview.
Photos: Grammatics @ Phoenix – March 20, 2010
MP3: Grammatics – “Double Negative”
Video: Grammatics – “The Vague Archive”
Video: Grammatics – “D.I.L.E.M.M.A.”
Video: Grammatics – “New Franchise”

Gemma Ray
– Throwback rockabilly/torch singer out of the UK just released a new album in Lights Out Zoltar!. Spinner has a chat.
Photos: Gemma Ray @ The Tap Room on 6th – March 20, 2010
MP3: Gemma Ray – “100 MPH (In 2nd Gear)”
Video: Gemma Ray – “Hard Shoulder”
Video: Gemma Ray – “100 MPH (In 2nd Gear)”
Video: Gemma Ray – “Fist Of A Flower”

Class Actress
– New York ’80s-esque electro-glam trio just released their debut EP Journal Of Ardency. Out has an interview with frontwoman Elizabeth Harper.
Photos: Class Actress @ Phoenix – March 20, 2010
MP3: Class Actress – “All The Saints”
Video: Class Actress – “Let Me Take You Out”
MySpace: Class Actress

Eva & The Heartmaker
– Bubbly pop band fronted by husband-and-wife team, half of whom was a former winner of Norwegian Idol. They released their first album in North America last year, Let’s Keep This Up Forever.
Photos: Eva & The Heartmaker @ Prague – March 20, 2010
MP3: Eva & The Heartmaker – “Superhero”
Video: Eva & The Heartmaker – “Superhero”
MySpace: Eva & The Heartmaker

Venice Is Sinking
– Athens, Georgia orch-pop outfit will release the live-off-the-floor Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions on June 15.
Photos: Venice Is Sinking @ The Ale House – March 20, 2010
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Falls City”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Compass”
MP3: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Okay”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Ryan’s Song”
Video: Venice Is Sinking – “Pulaski Heights”
MySpace: Venice Is Sinking

Forest City Lovers
– Toronto folk-pop up-and-comers have just completed recording their third album, due out in or around July of this year. Spinner has an interview.
Photos: Forest City Lovers @ The Ale House – March 20, 2010
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Song For Morrie”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”
MySpace: Forest City Lovers

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Four

Grammatics, Venice Is Sinking, Class Actress and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhile most festivals save their biggest names for the final night, recent years have seen SxSW kind of stagger to the finish line. Everyone is exhausted, bands want to get the hell out of town ASAP and most just want it to all be over. There was supposed to be an exception to this rule in the Big Star show at Antone’s, but with the tragic passing of Alex Chilton earlier this week, that showcase became a tribute concert and if possible, an even bigger draw. So much so that festival organizers decided to make it a badge-only event, meaning that lowly wristbanders like myself were going to be shut out. But on the upside, plan B didn’t have be standing out in the cold in line waiting/hoping to get in, so at least there was that.

I did still spend a good part of the evening near Antone’s in Austin’s warehouse district, which appears to becoming the city’s fancy club district, all bouncers in suits with earpieces and velvet ropes. Perhaps the swankiest was Phoenix, where Leeds’ Grammatics were slated to open up the evening programme. I was pleasantly surprised they were at the festival, as I hadn’t thought that breaking into the US was on their agenda but perhaps with the success of acts like Muse over here, they see an opportunity. Not that Grammatics are overtly Muse-like; they shared a penchant for dramatic delivery, yes, and singer/guitarist Owen Brinley does have a similarly theatrical voice and a tendency towards Matt Bellamy-ish facial expressions, but their sound is more post-punk than prog and the inclusion of cello as a full-time instrument sets them apart. The set drew both from last year’s self-titled debut and songs to be included in the follow-up later this year, and delivered with an assuredness that belied their young ages. Their album was a grower but eventually won me over – their live set cemented that.

Post-Grammatics, I popped down the block to the decidedly less-posh Tap Room, where London’s Gemma Ray would finally be making an appearance. I say finally because she had to cancel one of her Canadian Musicfest performances because of laryngitis and was also a no-show for her showcase the night before. She was indeed in the house this time, though, and treated the small but full house to her unique film noir-rockabilly stylings, rendered in twangy guitar, looping pedals and effected vocals. The lady knows how to create an atmosphere and her cover of Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” was an impressive bit of reinvention.

New York’s Class Actress brought me back to the Phoenix and when their set started, back to the ’80s. Purveyors of chilly, slinky electro-pop of that vintage, the trio showcased their debut EP Journal of Ardency, ably blending beats and hooks. Elizabeth Harper’s vocals are perfectly suited to the sound they’re going for, but her stage moves – while in the right ballpark – were a bit over the top for my tastes. I was probably in the minority there, though. But the tunes are solid and given the option of too much performance effort versus not enough, I’ll take too much.

Norway’s Eva & The Heartmaker were as last-minute an addition to my schedule as you could get, with me uploading their album Let’s Keep This Up Forever to my iPhone right before dashing out the door for the airport. I had been looking for something immediate and catchy for my Saturday night lineup and they fit the bill perfectly, all giddy, girly vocals and big guitars and playing Prague exactly when I had nothing else to go to. The band name refers to Eva Weel Skram (vox) and Thomas Stenersen (guitars) and each had more than their moments in the spotlight with her singing, obviously, and he taking a solo at every opportunity. But it fit and was entertaining, as was their saccharine if not especially deep Primitives-y power pop. Not really a meal, but a fun snack.

The temptation at this point was to call it a night/festival, but a double-bill of known and loved quantities at the cozy environs of the Ale House seemed an appropriate cap to this year’s SxSW. First up was the elegant orchestral pop of Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking, whom I’d seen last year at the bizarro burlesque club Ace’s Lounge. They seemed decidedly less confused by their surroundings this year – there was no moat around the stage or provisions for stripper poles, for starters – and turned in a more lively set than last time, with tunes from last year’s lovely Azar and their forthcoming Sand & Lines to go with their take on Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat”. They’ve also added some horns to the mix. The horns are good.

And while I’ve said that I don’t come down to Austin to see Canadian/Toronto bands, I did appreciate the synchronicity of having started things off by cheering for the home team – Basia Bulat at the Galaxy Room on Wednesday – and finishing it off the same way, taking in Forest City Lovers’ SxSW debut in the final show of the festival. Though a new record is pretty much in the can, their set stuck largely to the older tunes – familiar to me but new to most others in the bar, most of whom were heavily bearded (it was late, these are the things you notice when you’re tired), and it’s sensible to put your best foot forward in this sort of introductory show. I definitely felt the absence of newest member Tim Bruton, whose contributions on filling out their sound I’ve gotten used to in recent shows back home, but the Forest City charm was still very much in effect. A fine finish to a long, long week.

A week that got a bit longer after I missed my flight on Sunday morning and was stuck in Austin another couple days; I only got back home yesterday afternoon. But I digress – there’s worse places to be stuck than Homeslice Pizza on South Congress. I didn’t intend to stretch out the SxSW reviews so long, but the past week hasn’t gone exactly to plan and getting non-Sx stuff together is going to take a little longer. But believe it or not, stuff has continued to happen outside of Austin over the past week and I’ve got a big laundry list of it to sift through. But there’s going to be good stuff. And some free stuff. And whatnot.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Eastbound & Found

Bloggers congregate in Austin, throw a party

Photo via Araba FilmsAraba FilmsIf there’s one thing Austin, Texas needs during Spring Break, it’s some live music. Particularly in the form of a day party. The past few years I’ve been very lucky to have been able to help put on some fantastic parties with some of my favourite blogger buds. And while the Hot Freaks marque has been put to bed for the time being, I’m very happy to be able to announce that You Ain’t No Picasso, My Old Kentucky Blog, Ultra 8201, Yours Truly and, uh, yours truly, will be presenting Eastbound & Found, a one-day, two-stage to-do that will be held on Thursday, March 18 at 1001 East 6th St – a location that’s a parking lot for 51 weeks of the year but on this occasion will be an epicenter of awesome.

What I like most about these blogger-assembled shows is how random the final results end up being. Without teaming up with a specific label, PR company or booking agency and just pursuing acts based on little more than a “what we like” mandate, we get shows that can veer from the sunny indie-pop of Freelance Whales to the insane guitar heroics of Austin’s own Ume, from the electro-glam of Diamond Rings (Toronto represent!) to giddy Anglo-folk duo Slow Club, right through to our headliner – GZA of the motherflipping Wu-Tang Clan. Eclectic? Yeah, a little.

This party is free and all-ages, though you do have to RSVP – information on that at the Sweet Leaf blog. Many many thanks go out to our sponsors Sweet Leaf Tea, Ziegenbock, Dos Lunas Tequila, Knuckle Rumbler and Car Toys for helping make this happen. And despite what the attached image from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee & Cigarettes might imply, Bill Murray will NOT be making an appearance at the show. Unless he wants to. If any of you know Bill Murray, do let him know he’s invited?

The (almost) full lineup and set times are as follows:

Stage one:
12:15PM Ragen Fykes
1:10PM Freelance Whales
2:05PM Ume
3:00PM Warpaint
3:55PM The Morning Benders
4:50PM Here We Go Magic
5:45PM Maluca
7:00PM GZA

Stage two:
12:30PM Burnt Ones
1:25PM Diamond Rings
2:20PM Kid Sister
3:15PM Slow Club
4:10PM Danielson
5:05PM Delorean
6:00PM White Denim

MP3: Danielson – “Animal In Every Corner”
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: Freelance Whales – “Generator 2nd Floor”
MP3: The Morning Benders – “Promises”
MP3: Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”
MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”
Video: GZA – “Liquid Swords”
Video: Here We Go Magic – “Fangela”
Video: Kid Sister – “Right Hand Hi”

And some concert news for Toronto folk NOT heading down to Texas next week – not content with playing two nights at The Horseshoe, The Black Lips have added a third local appearance during their visit. They’ll be doing an in-store at Sonic Boom on March 28 at 4PM; admission free with a canned good.

MP3: Black Lips – “Short Fuse”

Jakob Dylan has put together a new band to help perform his new solo record Women & Country, out April 10. They’re called Three Legs and you might know them better as a couple of women in country – Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. That got your attention, eh? Jacob Dylan & Three Legs will be at the Phoenix on April 25.

She & Him – yes, Zooey and Matt – will be hitting the road in support of Volume Two and are going to be at The Phoenix in Toronto on June 9. Tickets are $26.50, the album is out March 23 and the new video is just about the most adorable thing ever.

Video: She & Him – “In The Sun”

Stars have announced they will release their fifth studio album The Five Ghosts on June 22 – details at Chart.

Spinner talks to Metric in advance of their appearance at SxSW where they’ll be opening up for Muse at Stubb’s on the Friday night.

Broken Social Scene also talk to Spinner; they’re doing a couple of shows at SxSW and of course have that Toronto Islands show on June 19. Their new album Forgiveness Rock Record is out May 4.

Continuing on with the Spinner-SxSW interviews (there’s lots of them) – they chat with Venice Is Sinking, whose new album Sand & Lines will be out June 15.

Kunstlicher, The Georgia Straight, The Huffington Post and Spinner have interviews with Midlake. They’re at the Mod Club on May 25.

Spinner talks to The Uglysuit. They’re playing Lee’s Palace at 2AM on Friday night as part of Canadian Musicfest and their MySpace implies they’re making the most of their visit to Toronto with a bunch of other unofficial performances.

Spinner asks some pretty banal questions of Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Holly Miranda.

Filter takes all of the fun out of The Bird & The Bee’s internet scavenger hunt for streams of their new Hall & Oates tribute album Guiltless Pleasures Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates , out March 23.

Spinner and NME have collected a number of tributes from musicians for the fallen Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. And a couple of worthy reads and listens from the Boston area – Buffalo Tom frontman Bill Janovitz has an essay and Sparklehorse cover at his blog Part-Time Man Of Rock while Bradley’s Almanac is sharing some thoughts and a recording of Sparklehorse’s last show in Boston from 2007.

MP3: Bill Janovitz – “Gold Day”