La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Music of 2011

I haven’t been the most prolific blogger this year but I have listened to a lot of music.  A logical equation I suppose as the adage goes – ‘there are only so many hours in the day after all’.  That music was a constant in my life should come as no surprise to those who know me well though.  The ever present iPod, daily scanning of the tubes, a host of great live shows and darkening the entrance of every record store I find has uniquely prepared me to draft a comprehensive Best of Music List this year.

The Weather Station - Everything I Saw from tamara lindeman on Vimeo.

And what a year it has been...  New records from the heavy hitters like Radiohead, Tom Waits and PJ Harvey; sometimes they make it look so easy.  But this year it was the newcomers that kept the musical fires within me alive.  The gentle Canadiana folk of the Weather Station, James Blake’s nervous dubstep and EMA’s noisy rancor.  The stuff of greatness.  The stuff that keeps me forever seventeen on the inside.  The stuff that makes me look forward to what lies down the road for 2012.

Without further adieu.  Everything is Pop’s Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Songs of the Year for 2011.

Best Albums 2011

01 | PJ Harvey | Let England Shake
02 | Beirut | The Rip Tide
03 | St. Vincent | Strange Mercy
04 | Cass McCombs | Wit’s End
05 | Bon Iver | Bon Iver
06 | Fleet Foxes | Helplessness Blues
07 | Sandro Perri | Impossible Spaces
08 | Girls | Father, Son, Holy Ghost
09 | Atlas Sound | Parallax
10 | Kurt Vile | Smoke Ring for My Halo
11 | Tom Waits | Bad As Me
12 | Dirty Beaches | Badlands
13 | Oneohtrix Point Never | Replica
14 | White Denim | D
15 | Yuck | Yuck
16 | Destroyer | Kaputt
17 | M83 | Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
18 | Julianna Barwick |The Magic Place
19 | The Weather Station | All of it was Mine
20 | James Blake | James Blake
21 | Tennis | Cape Dory
22 | EMA | Past Life Martyred Saints
23 | Colin Stetson | New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
24 | Radiohead | The King of Limbs
25 | Tune-Yards | W H O K I L L

Best Songs 2011

50 | Battles | “Sweetie and Shag”

49 | Shabazz Palaces | “Youology”
48 | Tune-Yards | “Bizness”
47 | Panda Bear | “Alsation Darn”
46 | Radiohead | “Lotus Flower”
45 | Colin Stetson | “Judges”
44 | Ty Segal | “Goodbye Bread”
43 | Thurston Moore | “January”
42 | EMA | “California”
41 | Toro Y Moi | “Still Sound”
40 | Tennis | “Pigeon”
39 | Lykke Li | “I Know Places”
38 | Wild Beasts | “Loop the Loop”
37 | James Blake | “The Wilhelm Scream”
36 | The Weather Station | “Nobody”
35 | Adam and the Amethysts | “The Country”
34 | Timber Timbre | “Creep On Creepin’ On”
33 | Anna Calvi | “No More Words”
32 | Bill Callahan | “Riding for the Feeling”
31 | Marissa Nadler | “Alabaster Queen”
30 | Julianna Barwick | “The Magic Place”
29 | M83 | “Intro”
28 | Cut Copy | “Need You Now”
27 | Destroyer | “Savage Night at the Opera”
26 | Dodos | “Don’t Try and Hide It”
25 | Real Estate | “Out of Tune”
24 | Yuck | “Shook Down”
23 | Arctic Monkeys | “Black Treacle”
22 | Gang Gang Dance | “Sacer
21 | Braids | “Lemonade”

20 | Deerhoof | “No One Asked to Dance”
19 | Wilco | “Black Moon”
18 | Wye Oak | “Civilian”
17 | Low | “Especially Me”
16 | J Mascis | “Not Enough”
15 | White Denim | “Street Joy”
14 | The Oh Sees | “If I Stay Too Long”
13 | The Black Keys | “Lonely Boy”

12 | Dirty Beaches | “Lord Knows Best”
11 | Tom Waits | “Talking at the Same Time”
10 | Kurt Vile | “Baby’s Arms”
09 | Atlas Sound | “Lightworks”
08 | Girls | “Forgiveness”
07 | Sandro Perri | “Changes”
06 | Fleet Foxes | “Bedouin Dress”
05 | Bon Iver | “Helocene”
04 | Cass Mccombs | “County Line”
03 | St. Vincent | “Cruel”
02 | Beirut | “Santa Fe”
01 | PJ Harvey | “The Words the Maketh Murder”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You For Sending Me This DVD

I was very fortunate to be around when the Talking Heads were in their heyday. I remember well their rapid succession of record releases that only got better as they progressed through a career most bands could only dream of.  Save for True Stories perhaps; (I’ve still never truly warmed to that one.)  That being said, the bands rich legacy of music and ground breaking videos still thrill when they pop up on my musical radar.  Good news then this holiday season as the band is set to release some rare video to thrill old and new fans alike.  The DVD, Chronology pulls together live performances from across Talking Heads' career. It starts with their earliest days at CBGB and The Kitchen in New York City in the mid-seventies, through their breakthrough years in the late seventies and on to global success in the eighties. They completed their last tour in 1983 although they would continue to make very successful albums throughout the eighties before officially breaking up in 1991. The DVD concludes with their "reunion" performance of "Life During Wartime" on their induction into the Rock `n' Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002.
From David Byrne:

This was very much a live band—at least until the late 80s. The initial recordings emerged out of what we played live, what worked in that context and how we refined our skills playing together. For a lot of musicians in the digital era this is not always the case. These days, the record often comes first and then how it is staged comes later.
A deluxe version of this is packaged in a hardback cover with a 48 page book containing photographs and an unexpurgated Lester Bangs essay written as a review of the Fear Of Music album for The Village Voice in 1979 but only ever published in a heavily edited version.

Track Listing

1) Mic Test (1976)
2) With Our Love (1975)
3) I'm Not In Love (1975)
4) Psycho Killer (1975)
5) Intros Montage (1976)
6) The Girls Want To Be With The Girls (1976)
7) Don't Worry About The Government (1978)
8) Dressing room fan footage: Found A Job (1978)
9) Thank You For Sending Me An Angel (1978)
10) Warning Sign (1978)
11) Artists Only (1979)
12) Take Me To The River (1979)
13) Crosseyed And Painless (1980)
14) Animals (1980)

15) Love Building On Fire (1982)
16) Cities (1982)
17) Burning Down The House (1983)
18) Life During Wartime (2002)
Bonus Features:
Full audio commentary by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth.
35 minute South Bank Show feature (1979)
David Byrne interview (1978)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Tower of Song

I once asked a friend about the enduring appeal of Leonard Cohen and just what was it that keeps it going.  “It’s his dependability…”, she replied.  Leonard Cohen is an institution and he never lets me down.”  That comment came to mind last month when it was announced that Cohen would be returning with a new record called Old Ideas. You certainly can’t get any more dependable than those and Cohen’s ‘golden voice’.

Cohen’s press release explains:

“As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these...Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty."

Old Ideas is Cohen's 12th album for Columbia Records, and was produced by Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. The album also features stalwart Cohen guest vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes.

Old Ideas
will be available on January 31st but pre-order on his site today for an instant download of “Show Me the Place”

Tracklisting Old Ideas:

01. Going Home
02. Amen
03. Show Me the Place
04. The Darkness
05. Anyhow
06. Crazy To Love You
07. Come Healing
08. Banjo
09. Lullaby
10. Different Sides

Monday, November 7, 2011

Radiohead Live Dates Announced

News broke a few days ago that Radiohead when Ed O'Brien pronounced the band would be "on the road from the end of February to November"; Alas, sadly no firm dates accompanied the announcement.   Good news then, all of you excited event planners and calendar jugglers the first announcement of the band's live plans has just come out.
The initial announcement is ten US tour dates, which begin at Miami's American Airlines Arena on February 27th and end at Glendale's Arena on March 15th. Rest assured, the band are expected to announce more dates in the coming weeks, but have not said when this will be as yet.

Exciting news though, this might be just the excuse you need to break the monotony of winter for a trip to the American south.  Looks like nice sized venues too!

Radiohead Tour 2012 (First Dates):

Miami American Airlines Arena (February 27)
Tampa St. Pete Times Forum (February 29)
Atlanta Philips Arena (March 1)
Houston Toyota Center (March 3)
Dallas American Airlines Center (March 5)
Austin Frank Erwin Center (March 7)
St. Louis Scottrade Center (March 9)
Kansas City Spirit Center (March 11)
Broomfield 1st Bank Center (March 13)
Glendale Arena (March 15)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Skinny Ties and All

Thirty years ago every self respecting “Devoto-ee” knew every word to “The Light Pours Out of Me” and more than likely sported a Magazine button on their skinny tie...  Reunited Manchester post-punkers Magazine have released a new studio album this week so many years later via Wire-Sound. The band's fifth full-length, titled No Thyself, follows up 1981's Magic, Murder and the Weather, and was released in the UK October 24th.  (North American fans will have to wait until November 21st.)

No Thyself reunites band leader Howard Devoto, who formed the group in 1977 after leaving the Buzzcocks, with early collaborators John Doyle (drums) and Dave Formula (keyboards), as well as John White on bass and Apollo 440's Noko on guitar. Noko replaces guitarist John McGeoch, who passed away in 2004.

The band will also be heading out on a brief UK tour to promote the disc this November.

No Thyself:

1. Do The Meaning
2. Other Thematic Material
3. The Worst Of Progress...
4. Hello Mister Curtis (with apologies)
5. Physics
6. Happening In English
7. Holy Dotage
8. Of Course Howard (1979)
9. Final Analysis Waltz
10. The Burden Of A Song
11. Blisterpack Blues *

* bonus track

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When the party lulls, if we fall by the side.

The Club is Open (Again)

New Guided By Voices Early Next Year!

It’s been quite a year for the "classic lineup" of Guided by Voices as they just crossed the finishing line of a year-long reunion tour marathon. The mighty GBV played what was supposed to be their last show at this past weekend's Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina and now today news of brand new album in the new year.  

(Via Robert Pollard's website and Mojo) On January 1, 2012, the band will release a brand new album, Let's Go Eat the Factory. Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell are in the studio working on it right now. It'll be the first GBV album proper since 2004's Half Smiles of the Decomposed, and the first "classic lineup" LP since 1996's Under the, Under the Stars. Check out the track listing below:

Let's Go Eat the Factory:

01 Laundry and Lasers
02 The Head
03 Doughnut for a Snowman
04 Spiderfighter
05 Hang Mr. Kite
06 God Loves Us
07 The Unsinkable Fats Domino
08 Who Invented the Sun
09 The Big Hat and Toy Show
10 Imperial Racehorsing
11 How I Met My Mother
12 Waves
13 My Europa
14 Chocolate Boy
15 The Things That Never Need
16 Either Nelson
17 Cyclone Utilities (Remember Your Birthday)
18 Old Bones
19 Go Rolling Home
20 The Room Taking Shape
21 We Won't Apologize for the Human Race

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Logic Prevails and Arcade Fire Win the Polaris Prize

Arcade Fire
has won the sixth-annual Polaris Prize with its third album The Suburbs and you know what? Surprisingly I am good with that decision. The Montreal band's much-ballyhooed record has already claimed a Juno, a Grammy, a Brit award (and a Dundee as I recall) -- all for album of the year. Bottom line, the record very much embodies the awards intentions. Recall how it made sense that PJ Harvey took the award for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize recently? Same argument- So kudos to the Polaris jury for making the right decision.

That being said, I still think Olenka and the Autumn Lovers should have won.

The Polaris Prize, which includes $30,000, is handed out to the best Canadian album as chosen by an 11-person jury of music critics. The prizewinners have said the cash would go towards their Montreal studio.

The Suburbs was chosen from a short list of nine other albums. Including Ron Sexsmith's Late Bloomer and The Weeknd's House of Balloons and Austra’s latest-- all were selected by more than two hundred music journalists, bloggers and broadcasters.

Go Handsome Dan in 2012!

Radioheads Alert

Attention music aficionados and purveyors of ‘truthiness’; Do not forget to set your PVRs (or just stay up late) – ‘Oxford pop moppets’ - Radiohead will appear on a special hour-long rendition of The Colbert Report on Monday, September 26th. Says Stephen Colbert in a statement: “I look forward to meeting the Radioheads and leveraging their anti-corporate indie cred to raise brand awareness for my sponsors.”

Oh that Thom Yorke… What a comedian.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Kate Bush in November

UPDATE: Kate Bush has announced she'll release a new album on November 21st.   Entitled  50 Words For Snow, the LP will be released through her own label Fish People, via EMI.

The disc runs to 65 minutes in length, but features only seven tracks:

Lake Tahoe
Snowed in at Wheeler Street
50 Words For Snow
Among Angels

50 Words for Snow will be Bush's second album of 2011.  It follows May's Director's Cut release.

kate bush - babooshka from alexei glowakz on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More Vile Smoke Rings

Kurt Vile is set to release a new six song EP entitled So Outta Reach on November 8th via Matador Records. The EP is made up of five new tracks as well as a killer version of Bruce Springsteen's "Downbound Train". The five original songs were recorded during the sessions for his most recent album Smoke Ring For My Halo, but were not used on the final record. The songs were reworked with producer John Agnello over the summer for the EP. On the same day there will be a deluxe 2CD edition of Smoke Ring For My Halo with a new color cover. The deluxe package will include the So Outta Reach EP on a second disc, all at the same price as a regular CD.

Download new track “The Creature” here.

So Outta Reach EP track listing:

1. The Creature
2. It’s Alright
3. Life’s A Beach
4. Laughing Stock
5. Downbound Train
6. (so outta reach)

As well, Kurt will hit the road again with his full band starting at Austin City Limits on Friday, September, 16th and then continuing through to the West Coast with Bright Eyes. He then plays Northeast dates with the Flaming Lips in October.

Kurt Vile Tour Dates

9/16 – Austin TX – Austin City Limits
9/17 – Austin TX – Stubb’s – Bright Eyes (ACL aftershow)
9/18 – El Paso TX – Tricky Falls
9/19 – Albuquerque NM – Sunshine Theatre – Bright Eyes
9/21 – San Diego CA – SOMA – Bright Eyes
9/23 – Los Angeles CA – Hollywood Forever – Bright Eyes
9/24 – Las Vegas NV – Boulevard Pool at Cosmopolitan – Bright Eyes
9/25 – Santa Barbara CA – Santa Barbara Bowl – Bright Eyes
9/26 – Reno NV – Knitting Factory – Bright Eyes
9/28 – Seattle WA – Paramount Theatre – Bright Eyes
9/30 – San Francisco CA – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
10/24 – Portland ME – State Theater – The Flaming Lips
10/25 – Rochester NY – Main Street Armory – The Flaming Lips
10/27 – Norfolk VA – The NorVa – The Flaming Lips
11/11 – New York NY – Webster Hall
11/12 – Philadelphia PA – Union Transfer

Creep On, Creepin’ On and On…

I was a little slow to jump on the Breaking Bad bandwagon but I was thrilled to hear Timber Timbre’s “Magic Arrow” soundtrack an episode from the third season. It meshed perfectly with the show’s forbidding nature and bible black soul. The band continue to earn new fans with their latest full length Creep On Creepin' On (currently shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize) as the band continue to promote it. Along with releasing an imaginative new music video, the goth-blues-folk outfit have scheduled some new tour dates, (including this city) plus lined up a pair of exciting vinyl reissues.

The group's live schedule now stretches into December with a tour that includes stops in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. They also have a number of European dates. The full tour schedule is listed below. Lastly, fans of Timber Timbre should note they will soon be able to pick up the group's first two independent releases, Cedar Shakes (2005) and Medicinals (2007), on vinyl. These vinyl pressings will be available exclusively at the upcoming tour dates. Both releases dating from when the band was a pseudonym for Taylor Kirk solo. The band have also released a new, appropriately eerie animated video for “Too Old To Die Young” from Creep On Creepin’ On.

Timber Timbre - Too Old To Die Young from Arts & Crafts on Vimeo.

Timber Timbre Tour dates:

8/29 - Frankfurt, Germany - Brotfabrik
9/1 - Brighton, UK - Jam
9/3 - Dorset, UK - End of the Road Festival
10/5 - Joliette, QC - Salle Rolland-Brunelle
10/6 - Quebec, QC - Theatre Petit Champlain
10/7 - Terrebonne, QC - Moulin Neuf
10/8 - Sherbrooke, QC - Theatre Granada
10/9 - Victoriaville, QC - Cinéma Laurier
10/10 - Laval, QC - Maison des Arts De Laval
10/21 - Halifax, NS - Halifax Pop Explosion
10/22 - St. John's , NL - Cochrane United Church
11/1 - London , UK - Union Chapel
11/3 - Paris, France - La Cigale
11/4 - Strasbourg, France - La Laiterie
11/5 - Lyon, France - Le Transbordeur
11/6 - Marseille, France - Cabaret Aléatoire
11/9 - Munich, Germany - Feierwerk
11/10 - Cologne, Germany - Gebaeude 9
11/11 - Hamburg, Germany - Uebel and Gefaehrlich
11/12 - Hannover, Germany - Warenannahme
11/23 - London, ON – The Aeolian
11/25 - Guelph, ON - Dublin Street United Church
11/26 - Toronto, ON - Queen Elizabeth Theatre
11/29 - Buffalo, NY - The Town Ballroom
12/3 - Montreal, QC - St. Jean Baptiste Church

Get out and see this one folks.  The band puts on an unforgettable show.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tom Waits for Everyone

Those low rumblings you felt earlier may in fact have been internet ruminations the world over that new Tom Waits music would be imminent.  Good news too considering it’s been far too long since we were treated to “new Tom”.

Anti Records and Tom himself confirmed today the October 25th release of  Bad As Me today.  It is Waits’ first studio album of all new music in seven years.  According to the press release:

“Waits, in possibly the finest voice of his career, worked with a veteran team of gifted musicians and longtime co-writer/producer Kathleen Brennan” on this one.  “Like a good boxer, these songs are lean and mean, with strong hooks and tight running times. A pervasive sense of players delighting in each other’s musical company brings a feeling of loose joy even to the album’s saddest songs.”
Bad As Me will be available October 25th.  A deluxe version of the new record will include a 40-page book of lyrics and photos taken by Waits himself, along with three bonus tracks. The album, which features the cover above, will also be available on 180-gram vinyl, which will include the LP and CD, plus a full-size 12-page book.

Bad As Me Tracklisting

01. Chicago
02. Raised Right Men
03. Talking At The Same Time
04. Get Lost
05. Face To The Highway
06. Pay Me
07. Back In The Crowd
08. Bad As Me
09. Kiss Me
10. Satisfied
11. Last Leaf
12. Hell Broke Luce
13. New Year's Eve
14. She Stole the Blush *
15. Tell Me *
16. After You Die *

* Bonus tracks
Check out the Tom Waits Listening Party too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crazy Clown Time This November

No, my career aspirations have not changed, and the aforementioned title is not a reference to the current state of American politics. Rather the title refers to premiere film director David Lynch’s next musical project. You may recall the last project, a single called “Good Day Today” and “I Know” that he released last December.  This one though will see release on November 8th, when his debut electro-pop tinged album, Crazy Clown Time, hits the shelves (and servers).

Along with the album’s title and release date, it was announced last week that the track "Pinky’s Dream" features the fantastic Karen O. (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Otherwise, Lynch did all the work pretty much on his own: he wrote, produced, and performed each song, with some help from engineer Dean Hurley, who also steps in on guitar and drums on a few tracks.

Not a lot more information on this release for now.  I will update when appropriate. 

See the track listing for Crazy Clown Time below:

01. Pinky’s Dream
02. Good Day Today
03. So Glad
04. Noah’s Ark
05. Football Game
06. I Know
07. Strange and Unproductive Thinking
08. The Night Bell With Lightning
09. Stone’s Gone Up
10. Crazy Clown Time
11. These Are My Friends
12. Speed Roadster
13. Movin’ On
14. She Rise Up

New Music on the Way From Cass McCombs

Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs is a remarkable artist. Lyrically astute and capable of those heartbreaking melodies that always manage to worm their way into one’s psyche. He released one of my favourite records, Wit's End earlier this year and there is no doubt it will figure prominently in my best of the year wrap-up. If by chance, you haven’t heard this amazing work I urge you to seek it out. Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that he'll be following it up with another new release later this year. On November 8th, Domino will unveil Humor Risk. Definitely more upbeat than the last one, you can hear for yourself by downloading "The Same Thing” by heading to this site and for the expense of an email address.

McCombs recorded the album in different homes and studios around the U.S. McCombs produced it with Ariel Rechtshaid, who also worked on Wit's End and Catacombs. (See the new album's tracklist below.)

Humor Risk:
01 Love Thine Enemy
02 The Living Word
03 The Same Thing
04 To Every Man His Chimera
05 Robin Egg Blue
06 Mystery Mail
07 Meet Me At the Mannequin Gallery
08 Mariah (Sketch)

Cass McComb’s Humor Risk is out November 8th on Domino.

Cass McCombs "Dreams Come True Girl" from Foundation Content on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Just Got More Wonderful

Via Twitter, Zooey Deschanel announced her excitement of a She and Him holiday record.
"Exciting news! @sheandhim will be releasing our first holiday record later this year! Been working on it a while! I'm super pumped about it!"
At this point the record is non-specified to be original or traditional holiday tunes, though I suspect a combination of these will comprise the eventual release. I shall update when I can so for now enjoy this holiday news as the dog days of summer drag on. Watch for M Ward’s next solo endeavour later this year too.

The Art of the Mix

I have a real soft spot for the art of the mix.  Those perfect compendiums of music drawn of diversity and pure passion.  TheLateNightTales series of compilations has long been a favourite of mine with one-of-a-kind playlists assembled by a diverse array of some of the most compelling artists making music including:  The Flaming Lips, Air, Belle and Sebastian, Arctic Monkeys, Four Tet and many more.  The list is a long one but it’s also a great one.  The results being some very compelling and enjoyable listening.  The compilation series has lined up yet another groundbreaking act to curate the next entry in the series: MGMT. Their compilation arrives on October 3rd, and it features tracks from people like the Velvet Underground, Felt, Suicide, Spacemen 3, and Disco Inferno. It also features an exclusive MGMT track: The band's cover of the Bauhaus song "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything".  Check out the compilation's diverse track listing below.  

LateNightTales: MGMT
01 Disco Inferno: "Can't See Through It"
02 The Great Society: "Love You Girl"
03 Suicide: "Cheree"
04 Television Personalities: "Stop and Smell the Roses"
05 The Velvet Underground: "Ocean"
06 Felt: "Red Indians"
07 Julian Cope: "Laughing Boy"
08 Durutti Column: "For Belgium Friends"
09 Charlie Feathers: "Mound of Clay"
10 Mark Fry: "For Wilde"
11 MGMT: "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" (Bauhaus Cover)
12 Cheval Sombre: "Troubled Mind"
13 Dave Bixby: "Drug Song"
14 The Jacobites: "Hearts Are Like Flowers"
15 The Chills: "Pink Frost"
16 Martin Rev: "Sparks"
17 The Wake: "Melancholy Man"
18 Spacemen 3: "Lord Can You Hear Me?"
19 Pauline Anna Strom: "Morning Splendor"
20 Paul Morley: "Lost for Words Part 2"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let England Vote

The shortlist for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize '2011 Albums of the Year' were announced yesterday and the list (as always) is pretty amazing.  The twelve albums shortlisted for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize are all worthy contenders.  PJ Harvey would grab my vote.  Yourself? 

Adele - 21
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!
Everything Everything - Man Alive
Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Gwilym Simcock - Good Days At Schloss Elmau
James Blake - James Blake
Katy B - On A Mission
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Metronomy - The English Riviera
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Tinie Tempah - Disc-Overy

Thursday, July 7, 2011

And Now We Sing for Canada

I would have fought tooth and nail to get the brilliant record, And Now We Sing by London’s Olenka and the Autumn Lovers on this year’s Polaris Prize shortlist. A fist shake to you misinformed Polaris jurors. Mark my words, this talented group will be on that list in due time. Thankfully though, Canadians won’t have to wait to at least see them in concert. This summer, fans will get to experience exactly what makes this band so special as the band have announced a trek across the Westerly half of this nation.

The extensive outing will last for the month of August with a handful of dates in late July and early September. Great news too... A house show at Casa Del Zombie in Calgary has again been scheduled for the middle of August. The tour will wrap up on September 3rd at the beautiful Aeolian Hall in London.

See the full tour schedule below.

Tour dates:
7/29 Toronto, ON - The Great Hall (Out of the Box Festival)
7/30 Peterborough, ON - The Attic
8/1 Sudbury, ON - The Townehouse
8/5 Winnipeg, MB - The Lo Pub
8/6 Bruno, SK - The Bruno Arts Bank
8/8 Calgary, AB - Weeds
8/9 Penticton, BC - Voodoos
8/11 Vancouver, BC - Red Cat Records (early show)
8/11 Vancouver, BC - The Biltmore (late show)
8/13 Kamloops, BC - The Art We Are
8/14 Calgary, AB - haus show
8/15 Edmonton, AB - Wunderbar
8/16 Lethbridge, AB - Tongue and Groove
8/17 Regina, SK - The Creative City Centre
8/18 Saskatoon, SK - Jale
8/19 Yorkton, SK - Fifth Avenue Cup and Saucer
8/20-21 Kelwood, MB - Harvest Sun Music Festival
8/22 Winnipeg, MB - Mondragon
8/24 Thunder Bay, ON - The Apollo
8/25 Sault Ste. Marie, ON - Loplops
8/26 Sarnia, ON - The Urban Nature Centre
9/3 London, ON - The Aeolian Hall

Lastly if by chance you missed this free download nugget I suggest you grab it. Even in this hot July weather Olenka’s voice will give you the chills.

OLENKA AND THE AUTUMN LOVERS - No Coins from Mitch Fillion ( on Vimeo.

Polaris Prize Shortlist Revealed

Bloggers of the world, boot up your laptops and sharpen those witty retorts. The ten albums vying for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize were announced yesterday by CBC Radio 3 man about town Grant Lawrence and the guy whose band’s name I can’t repeat in my mother’s presence Damian Abraham.

And you know what?  I kinda like this list.  Bands returning to the shortlist include Montreal’s Arcade Fire with their much lauded album The Suburbs, as well as St. John’s Hey Rosetta! with Seeds. Both bands hold the distinction of being previously nominated in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

The remaining eight on the shortlist, are all newcomers.  The listing includes: Montreal’s Galaxie, whose Tigre et Diesel is the only French language album to make the list; Montreal’s Colin Stetson, who played on not only his own album, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, but also albums by Arcade Fire and Timber Timbre.  Rounding out the list were the always stalwart singer-songwriters Destroyer and Ron Sexsmith.

Here is the full list:

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Austra – Feel It Break
Braids – Native Speaker
Destroyer – Kaputt Galaxie – Tigre et Diesel
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On
The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Let the prognosticating begin.  The 2011 winner will be revealed at CTV’s Concert Hall studios at Toronto’s Masonic Temple on Monday, September 19th at the Polaris Music Prize gala. The event will again be hosted by Grant Lawrence and Damian Abraham.

Leave your pick for winner in the comments.  I’m still...  Pondering.  Perhaps I’ll have my favourite by the Weeknd.

Past winners of the Polaris Music Prize have been Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, Fucked Up, and Karkwa.

Destroyer - Kaputt from Merge Records on Vimeo.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Outside of Society, That's Where I Want To Be

Do you have a favoured artist that just makes you glad they're around to make art in your world?  Patti Smith certainly does that for me. Her words, her art...  It pleases me to no end that she has been enjoying a much deserved renaissance of late too. Her National Book Award winning book Just Kids, left me and crtics around the globe more than a little gobsmacked; that loving recollection of her life and times with Robert Mapplethorpe and their struggle to create art in the 1970’s nothing short of a masterpiece.  The book though, is just one aspect of a creative canon that continues to influence generations. On August 23rd, Columbia/Arista/Legacy will release Outside Society, a best-of collection of her music on CD and double vinyl. The album encompasses Smith's entire multiple-decade recording career, moving roughly chronologically through her legendary body of work.

Outside Society
features the contributions of her bandmates, with Lenny Kaye (guitar) and Jay Dee Daugherty (drums) the longest-serving members. Kaye, Daugherty, Richard Sohl (keyboard/piano) and Ivan Kral (bass) formed the Patti Smith Group, which hit its commercial peak in 1978 with Easter and “Because the Night”. Smith contributes track-by-track liner notes for the new release, and says this of her enduring hit:

“Bruce Springsteen gave me a great gift in allowing me to lend verses to his beautifully constructed anthem. My contribution was written for my future husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. Though we have performed it hundreds of times, the strong response it draws always makes it fresh and exciting to sing.”
The tracklist below, as well as video of Smith performing my favourite Patti Smith number, "Dancing Barefoot" in 1979.

Outside Society:
01. Gloria
02. Free Money
03. Ain’t It Strange
04. Pissing in a River
05. Because the Night
06. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger
07. Dancing Barefoot
08. Frederick
09. So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
10. People Have the Power
11. Up There Down There
12. Beneath the Southern Cross
13. Summer Cannibals
14. 1959
15. Glitter in Their Eyes
16. Lo and Beholden (Radio Edit)
17. Smells Like Teen Spirit
18. Trampin’

Tracks 1-2 from Horses (Arista AL 4066, 1975)
Tracks 3-4 from Radio Ethopia (Arista AL 4097, 1976)
Tracks 5-6 from Easter (Arista AB 4171, 1978)
Tracks 7-9 from Wave (Arista AB 4221, 1979)
Tracks 10-11 from Dream of Life (Arista AL 8453, 1988)
Tracks 12-13 from Gone Again (Arista ARCD 8747, 1996)
Track 14 from Peace and Noise (Arista 07822 18986-2, 1997)
Track 15 from Gung Ho (Arista 07822-14618-2, 2000)
Track 16 from Lo and Beholden (Arista promo CD ARPCD-3855, 2000)
Track 17 from Twelve (Columbia 82876 87251-2, 2007)
Track 18 from Trampin’ (Columbia CK 90330, 2004)

Patti Smith - Dancing Barefoot from FTP on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Whole Love and Nothing But

“A Veritable sonic stew” This Time Out

Good news from the Wilco camp today as the band has announced details of their upcoming eighth album.   The Whole Love will be released this fall and will be their first for the newly minted dBpm Records imprint.   The cherry on top though, they're touring this fall too!  (Tour details below)
The album, which previously had the working title Get Well Soon Everybody, was produced by Jeff Tweedy with the help of bandmate Patrick Sansone and Tom Schick, and features 12 new songs.

According to the press release, The Whole Love "is a veritable sonic stew, showcasing Wilco's far-reaching musical prowess (multiple guitars, keyboards, synthesizers and percussion plus Mellotron, strings, loops and more) perfectly accompanying Jeff Tweedy's provocative and insightful lyrics."

The Whole Love will be available on September 27th via dBpm Records, with distribution through Anti-. The tracklisting is available below, while album single "I Might" can be streamed here.

The Whole Love:

01.  Art of Almost
02.  I Might
03.  Sunloathe
04.  Dawned On Me
05.  Black Moon
06.  Born Alone
07.  Open Mind
08.  Capitol City
09.  Standing O
10.  Rising Red Lung
11.  Whole Love
12.  One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
As I mentioned, Wilco have announced the first leg of their North American tour, including Canadian stops in Toronto and Montreal. All dates are available below.

Tour dates:

9|13 Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre
9|16 Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
9|17 Toronto, ON - Massey Hall

9|18 Montreal, QC - Metropolis
9|20 Boston, MA - Wang Theatre
9|22 New York, NY - Central Park Summerstage
9|25 Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion
9|27 Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Amphitheater
9|28 Atlanta, GA - Cobb Energy Performing Arts Ctr
9|29 Atlanta, GA - Cobb Energy Performing Arts Ctr
10|1 Nashville, TN - The Ryman
10|2 Nashville, TN - The Ryman
10|4 St. Louis, MO - Peabody Opera House
10|5 Madison, WI - Overture Hall

Friday, June 17, 2011

Polaris Prize Long List Announced

The Polaris Music Prize announced its long list yesterday in Toronto, and the forty nominated artists include nineteen musicians who were nominated for the very first time. Musicians vying for the (recently upped) $30,000 cash prize include such established artists as Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Malajube and Stars. The list also included newer performers such as One Hundred DollarsImaginary Cities, Little Scream, Braids and Dirty Beaches. (Criminally not included were local personal favourites Olenka and the Autumn Lovers.) I love you Neil Young but that record was just a little forgettable.

Last year, the prestigious award was won by Montreal rockers Karkwa, and this year’s favourites include Arcade Fire, Buck 65, Land of Talk and Jenn Grant. The long list reveal is the first step leading to the September 19th announcement of the prize. (Once again too, I welcome your Polaris prognostications in the comments section.) Who do I think will take it this year? Two trains of thought there. Head vote would go to Hey Rosetta! but my heart vote would go to the Weeknd. We’ll let them battle it out until that long night in September.

The Weeknd - The Morning (music video) from High5Collective on Vimeo.

The Polaris Music Prize awards, which were started in 2006, are given to the top Canadian artist as decided upon by a 227-member jury of Canadian music writers. Albums are judged solely on artistic merit, without regard of genre or record sales. The prize has ascended to become one of the highest honours in the Canadian music world.

The short list will be announced in Toronto on July 6th.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Austra – Feel It Break
Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart
Braids – Native Speaker
Buck 65 – 20 Odd Years
Louise Burns – Mellow Drama
D-Sisive – Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye
The Dears – Degeneration Street
Destroyer – Kaputt
Diamond Rings – Special Affections
Dirty Beaches – Badlands
Luke Doucet and The White Falcon – Steel City Trawler
Eternia and MoSS – At Last
Galaxie - Tigre et Diesel
Jenn Grant – Honeymoon Punch
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds
Hooded Fang – Album
Imaginary Cities – Temporary Resident
Land Of Talk – Cloak and Cipher
Little Scream – The Golden Record
The Luyas – Too Beautiful To Work
Malajube – La Caverne
Miracle Fortress – Was I The Wave?
One Hundred Dollars – Songs Of Man
Doug Paisley – Constant Companion
PS I Love You – Meet Me At The Muster Station
Daniel Romano – Sleep Beneath the Willow
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer
Shotgun Jimmie - Transistor Sister
Sloan – The Double Cross
Frederick Squire – March 12
Stars – The Five Ghosts
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On
The Weeknd – House Of Balloons
Women – Public Strain
Neil Young – Le Noise
Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting