Saturday, August 02, 2014

Playlist Of The Week: sunny days

I'm going back to the well this week for another summer songs playlist.  Have a listen here.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Sony Centre (live review)

Thursday night boasted the hot ticket of the week as the never-miss Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds returned to Toronto, this time filling the Sony Centre with their dark frenzy.

It seems as though Warren Ellis has been granted licence to take some sandpaper to some of the songs, as many from the recent Push the Sky Away album sounded rougher and harsher than on the group's last swing through town.  The show opener "We Real Cool", as well as "Mermaids", "Jubilee Street", and "Higgs Boson Blues" all fit far more snugly with the rest of the catalogue with some added dissonance. The title track was played straight, being ominous and foreboding enough without any tweaking.

Cave hit his stride as he entered the crowd for the sensory overload of "Tupelo".  He was in full preacher mode as he waded through the sea of outstretched arms of his audience/congregation below.

The crowd was firmly behind the older material, with "From Her To Eternity", "The Weeping Song", and of course "The Mercy Seat" all mesmerizing the crowd.

The requisite piano portion of the evening included the always touching "Into My Arms", which frankly should be used far more often at weddings.  No More Shall We Part tracks "Love Letter" and "God Is In the House" were also included.  The latter's lyrics were altered in include a cheap pop for 'we've got a crackhead for a mayor'.

Surprisingly, Cave fumbled over lyrics on at least two noticeable occasions.  On the payoff lines in the otherwise exceptional rendition of "Red Right Hand", and again on the somewhat non-committal version of "Stagger Lee" he was forced to reuse lines from earlier in the song to finish off.

Another surprise was the inclusion of the rarely played "West Country Girl" in the set.

New Jersey's Nicole Atkins opened the night.  In the past I have liked, but never loved her music.  The performance she put on Thursday night will certainly go a long way to changing that.  Her voice boomed and she loomed larger than life in her Stevie Nicks-esque bejeweled cape as she went through songs like "We Wait Too Long", "Red Ropes", and "The Way It Is".

The highlight of Atkins' set was the bold, sweeping classic rock inspired "Who Killed the Moonlight?".  The only drawback was her decision to omit her song "Oh, Canada" from the set list.

Despite the few missteps, it was a tremendous show.  Of course, anyone who's been to a Bad Seeds concert knows that that is hardly unexpected.

8.5/10

Friday Find: Quincy LePalm

For those who like: Nick Drake, Timber Timbre

Toronto-based Quincy LePalm plays music that's firmly rooted in the folk tradition.  However, he's not afraid to add some other influence for dramatic effect.

Listen to "Just the Other Day" here:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frazey Ford to release new album, stream "September Fields"

The Be Good Tanyas singer Frazey Ford has announced the release of her sophomore solo album.  Indian Ocean has been set for an October 14th street date.

Listen to the first track "September Fields" now:

Sloan: "Keep Swinging (Downtown)"

September 9th sees Canadian rock icons Sloan return with a new album Commonwealth.  The 15-track record is organized into sections based on which of the four band members penned the tune.

Listen to the song "Keep Swinging (Downtown)" here:

Sloan play Edgefest at Echo Beach in Toronto on August 16th.

Young Doctors In Love: "Hey, I Need Your Love Tonight" (video)

Toronto's Young Doctors In Love have a new video.  It's for the perky indie pop cut "Hey, I Need Your Love Tonight".

Watch it here:

The Arkells: "High Noon" (album review)

Over the past couple of years there are few Canadian rock acts that have had the success of Hamilton's Arkells.  On August 5th the band return with a new studio record, High Noon.

Musically, the sound features keyboards and synths far further up in the mix.  It can be a nice added touch in many songs, a distraction at other times.  It's actually both during the catchy "Come To Light".  On "Cynical Bastards" the slicing key sound makes it sound more like Said The Whale than what we've been accustomed to from The Arkells.  However, it falls flat on "What Are You Holding On To?", sounding like your eardrums popping underwater.

Success has changed the songwriting a bit.  The social commentary and observations take a back seat on High Noon to the songs about love and relationships.  The most obvious is "11:11", a concert pick-up story that's a more cerebral take on the Blink-182 "Rock Show" theme.

That said, there's no denying that these songs are goddamn catchy.  Whether it's the brilliant harmony and wordplay of "Never Thought That This Would Happen" or the razor-sharp hook of "Dirty Blonde", it will take all of your power to resist singing along to most of these tracks.

The best rocker is "Leather Jacket".  It's not a traditional blistering rock n' roll cut, but it has the combination of intensity and melody that make for a knockout.

The Arkells have had a lot of success up until this point, but High Noon is just commercial enough, but falls short of pandering that it should appeal to both pop radio listeners and their existing fanbase.  This should make them huge.

Best tracks: "Never Thought That This Would Happen", "Leather Jacket"

Track listing for High Noon:

  • Fake Money
  • Come To Light
  • Cynical Bastards
  • 11:11
  • Never Thought That This Would Happen
  • Dirty Blonde
  • What Are You Holding On To?
  • Hey Kids!
  • Leather Jacket
  • Crawling Through the Window
  • Systematic
8.0/10

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jenny Lewis: "The Voyager" (album review)

It's been over five years since we had a new solo album from former Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis.  Now she's returned with her third record, the Ryan Adams-produced The Voyager.

There's a hangover from Lewis' underwhelming Acid Tongue record that takes a while to shake off.  The insipid pop of "Head Underwater" and the humdrum arrangement "She's Not Me" detract from what are some very personal and clever lyrics.

Just when The Voyager has you praying for a reuniting with The Watson Twins, Lewis piques your interest with the melodic and twangy "Just One of the Guys".

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TV On The Radio announces new album "Seeds" (trailer)

Innovative NYC band TV On The Radio have announced the release of their new album.  Everyone came back together from their various other projects to get Seeds ready for a fall street date (TBA).

Watch the teaser here:

New releases for July 29th: Jenny Lewis, Hooray For Earth


  • Eric Clapton
  • Hooray For Earth
  • Jenny Lewis
  • Imelda May
  • No Lands
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • Shabazz Palaces