South By Southwest

CMW / SXSW Preview: Austra

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Toronto – Watching the The Wedge last night, I was fully introduced to Austra, a new band featuring talented singer Katie Stelmanis. The song played was called Beat & The Pulse. The song was very appropriately named, as it had a ridiculously dirty beat that instantly captured my attention. Combined with Katie’s tremendous, sometimes haunting vocal work, this is one mesmerizing tune. The video captured the essense of the song nicely, coming across as a mix of a risqué American Apparel commercial (pointed out by Melody from Singing Lamb) and a scene from those illegal night clubs in Eastern Europe. You can watch the video here.

Austra’s debut album Feel It Break comes out May 17th on Paper Bag Records in Canada and on Domino Records everywhere else.

They will be playing at the Wrongbar on March 10th for Canadian Music Fest

The event page for that show is here

Their official showcase at SXSW will be March 17th, Emo’s Main Room, at 9:00 PM, although I suspect they’ll be playing 5 or 6 other shows like every band who makes it down there.

Austra – Beat & The Pulse (Extended Version) by DominoRecordCo

SXSW Preview: The Dears

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Toronto – Between Paul Giamatti blessing the city at the Golden Globes, Karkwa winning the Polaris and little known local band Arcade Fire (who?) winning the record of the year at the Grammies, you can say that the city of Montreal has had a pretty good recent run. FINALLY, they are getting some international attention for what I can only assume is a pretty decent arts and music scene. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Canadian music will have known that this has been the case for a long time. One of my first introductions to Montreal bands was The Dears, a band I first saw all the way back in March of 2003, right about the time No Cities Left was released. I didn’t know anything about the band at the time, as I was still deeply entrenched in the “only will listen to UK stuff” phase, but my friend Nick was able to drag me out to this affair on the promise of a few free beers. They played in front of maybe 30 people at the Power Planet, a small bar in the heart of the University of Alberta campus. I was impressed by the aura of drama surrounding their sound, as well as Murray Lightburn’s ability to just belt it. I picked up that album after the show and was impressed at their orchestral dark take on lovey pop music. It was almost like a UK band. Anyone listening to Canadian music at the time was probably in love with the single Lost in the Plot.

Since that time, the band has changed dramatically. With a revolving door of musicians, the bands encountered some difficult album releases. 2011 marks the release of the fifth album band the band, an album titled Degeneration Street. The album marks the return of members of Patrick Krief, Rob Benvie and Roberto Arquila, three members who had left prior to the release of Missiles. Given Murray Lightburns’ well known volatile personality, I very much imagined the scene where Murray brings his pals back in for this album to be like this:

Murray would then turn around, see Patrick, Rob and Roberto there and exclaim “You guys are here! you guys are here!” followed by the three saying “We were always here, Murray. We’ll always be here”. A group hug would happen before they retire to Murray’s loft and spend the afternoon listening to Morrissey albums.

Degeneration Street is the band’s fifth album. Upon initial listening – it’s good. It eschews the weaker elements of the Dears (lack of focus, indulgence) and focuses on the best elements of The Dears – grandiose dramatic pop powered by Murray Lightburn’s soulful voice, which somehow treads the thin line between desperation and hope. The album sounds tighter and richer then all previous efforts. My friend Dwayne has been quite insistent that this album will be The Dears comeback album, and after an initial listen, I would have to agree. Mired in difficulties with previous releases, Degeneration Street appears to be a large step forward for this band.

Of course, you can decide for yourself check out The Dears in person at SXSW, where the band will be playing various shows, including the Dangerbird showcase on March 18th.

For those of you in Toronto, the Dears will be involved in some sort of chat tonight with music journalist Jon Dekel at the Drake. Facebook event here

They also made a homemade video for their song Omega Dog, it’s posted on this site called “you” tube. Check it out here

Here are some tour dates, I guess

March 4th Sugar Victoria, BC
March 5th The Venue Vancouver, BC
March 7th Crocodile Café Seattle, WA
March 9th Slim’s San Francisco, CA
March 10th The Troubadour Los Angeles, CA
March 17th SXSW Austin, TX
March 18th Dangerbird Records Showcase Austin, TX
March 19th SXSW Austin, TX
March 20th SXSW Austin, TX

Oh yeah, hate to whore it out like this, but feel free to vote for us as your favorite Canadian music based blog for CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight poll here.

CMW/SXSW Preview: Alcoholic Faith Mission

Posted on by Ricky in Canadian Music Week, South By Southwest | 1 Comment

Toronto – Between the Raveonettes, Efterklang and Alphabeat, once could argue that Danish indie pop music is on a definite rise. You can add Alcoholic Faith Mission to that list. A quintet (why is there six in their press picture?! whose the extra mystery person?) met in Brooklyn and formed their mission statement in that fabled borough. Despite being from the land of Danes and.. Danish, the group now resides in Brooklyn and probably record their music in some cool loft in a restored factory. The band has had several releases already, but it was with their most recent release Let This Be The Last Night We Care that caught the eyes of the most important people on Earth – music critics. When your mustache has caught the attention of Esquire, you have clearly done something right.

What about their music, you say? Well let me point out that their EP cover for their latest release, Running With Insanity

Looks a lot like Caribou‘s Swim

What does this say about the music? nothing. However, if you go deeper, you can say that great minds think a like and Caribou’s album was awesome and so by nature, due to the great minds theorem, the Alcoholic Faith Mission EP will be great as well. That might be thought of as lazy/creative journalism, so instead, I’ll say that from what I’ve heard of their material, Alcoholic Faith Mission is full of toe tapping, upbeat and warm music that is great for spring time listening. The winter is soon to be over, the sun is on the horizon and listening to the title track of this EP, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Alcoholic Faith Mission is playing BOTH CMW and SXSW, which is awesome, since I just wrote a preview article for two events for the price of one. Yay me.

CMW: Rancho Relaxo, March 9, MIDNIGHT
CMW: Dakota Tavern, Friday March 11, MIDNIGHT
SXSW: Probably everywhere

Alcoholic Faith Mission – Running With Insanity by Paper Garden Records

SXSW Final Recap

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The Temper Trap

Austin – It’s been a week since we’ve all returned from our journey to Austin. With some time to reflect, here are our final thoughts.

Best Show

Gary – Fanfarlo at Galaxy Room, March 18; crowd response AND the general way it was carried were both an experience.

Derek – The Temper Trap

Allison – We Were Promised Jetpacks; basically the entire Showcasing Scotland show on Wednesday

Ricky – Marina and the Diamonds..great energy and good crowd response.

Best Show from a band you have never heard before:

Gary – Local Natives and Temper Trap; Temper Trap destroyed their filler expectation, and I’m an ignorant dumbass so I’ve never heard Local Native before this trip.

Derek – That would be most of the shows I saw. The Temper Trap, Local Natives and The Boxer Rebellion definitely stood out.

Allison – Unicorn Kid

Ricky – Definitely the Temper Trap. I guess they were popular already, the dude can sing.

Worse Show

Gary – Galaxy Room backyard, March 17 – the stage management was horrible – bands were playing 3-4 songs a piece and things were constantly delayed because their sound guy would go missing mid-play.

Derek – Steel Train, that and every metal band that was playing whenever I walked by the stage at 8th and Red River

Allison – Whoever that awful industrial band at the Hype Machine party was on Saturday. mosh pit? come on.

Ricky – Street Sweeper Social Club. Bringing back hard rock + rap combo is not a good idea.

Best SXSW Moment

Gary – When we weaseled our way into the Filter party at cedar street courtyard, skipping a 100 ppl line directly to the front of the house… power of the RICKY on full display.

Derek – Filter Party VIP lounge. Temper Trap blew me away and 8 Jack and cokes later I was good to go.

Allison – Seeing Boxer Rebellion despite being sick, or anytime I got free drinks without waiting in a line

Ricky – Climbing over the fence at the French Legation center to see the XX, and then finding out the place where I climbed over was right behind the main stage, allowing me to scoot myself nicely to the side of the stage.

Worse SXSW Moment

Gary – When Stubb’s AND Mohawk both ran out of wristband admission on the same night after 3 hrs of combined waiting and I walked around with a stranger to unheard-of bands but discovered only teensy pop… designs of the RICKY hidden from us.

Derek – Waiting in line in cold for stupid Perez Hilton party

Allison – The ridiculous cold Saturday

Ricky -Stupid lineup at Perez Hilton Party.

There you have it. SXSW, we love ya and we’ll see you next year!