Song Of The Day: Windhand – Grey Garden

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It’s Friday! Celebrate with some doom metal courtesy of Windhand. Is doom metal really all that celebratory? Sure, why not?

“Grey Garden,” the lead single off of the Richmond, Virginia band’s latest, Eternal Return, is a solid slice of fuzzed out, psyched out, doomy goodness. Check it out.

Eternal Return is out today on Relapse Records.

Song Of The Day: The Natvral – Know Me More

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It hasn’t been all that long since we last heard from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (they just put an album out last year) but TPOBPAH frontman Kip Berman is back with a new project – The Natvral.

Described by Berman as “neither solo project nor side project,” The Natvral certainly shows off a different, much folkier side of his songwriting, with Berman citing the likes of Richard & Linda Thompson, Leonard Cohen, and Ted Leo as influences. After listening to the title track of his Know Me More EP, I’d suggest another possible influence in there, as it gives off a little bit of an early Paul Simon vibe as well. Check it out.

The Natvral’s Know Me More is out tomorrow (October 5) on Kanine Records.

Concert Review: The The, Agnes Obel, September 19, Sony Centre

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Following an incredible opening set by Agnes Obel prior to The The‘s headlining set at Sony Centre, something a little unusual happened – the lights stayed off. Usually, between acts you’re likely to see the house lights go up for a bit, but on this night, the house stayed dark. I don’t know if that was an intentional choice, but if it was, I suppose it was fitting since it did seem to continue the mood after Obel’s set in a way. And I suppose anyone who wanted more light could have just stepped out into the lobby anyways.

While it may have been an intentional choice to keep the crowd in darkness, The The frontman Matt Johnson made it fairly clear early on that they didn’t want the vibe to seem too dark for the audience for the duration of the night. “I know we have a serious reputation, but behind the scenes we’re not serious at all,” he said. “So feel free so dance and sing along.” And though nobody did bother getting up and dancing at that point, they finally did a few songs later after Johnson pulled the old trick of comparing us to other cities, deeming Toronto to be the “most genteel” crowd so far on the tour. He did add though that we were free to sit down and stand up as we pleased throughout the course of the night as there would be quieter songs.

Noting that it had been a long time since the band had been through Toronto (possibly 20 years, though he wasn’t quite sure), Johnson was certainly up to the task of making up for lost time, running through a set of songs from throughout their career and offering up plenty of stories about those songs over the course of their roughly two hour long show. Highlights included “Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)”, “This Is The Day”, “Love Is Stronger Than Death”, and their cover of Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light.” Johnson proved to be an engaging, amiable frontman, balancing out the serious, political side of the band with a solid sense of humour, illustrated at one point when he attempted to have a moment of silence for seemingly no reason at all, possibly just to prove the point that it’s impossible for some people to keep their mouths shut for any period of time.

During the band’s three song encore, Johnson lamented the fact that setlists being readily available online has sort of spoiled the surprise during shows, though he made the most of it by pretending that they take requests, pausing then to let the audience shout out for the next tune, which the internet would have told us was indeed “Uncertain Smile”, before ending things off with “Lonely Planet” off of 1993’s Dusk. And while any surprise may have been spoiled, it didn’t make the songs any less effective.

Concert Review: New Order, August 30, Budweiser Stage

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Near the beginning of New Order’s Thursday night show at Budweiser Stage, Bernard Sumner noted how great it was to be back in Toronto while also apologizing for not making it back here sooner. “Sorry it’s been awhile – this happened, that happened … Hopefully we’ll provide an antidote to Ed Sheeran tonight. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” And while he was hedging his bets with that last comment, I don’t think there were too many Sheeran fans in attendance.

So yes, nothing resembling “Shape Of You” or anything else of a Sheeran-esque nature would make an appearance that night. Instead, New Order focused on what they’re best at, offering up a number of hits from throughout their career as well as a few tracks off their latest studio album, 2015’s Music Complete. Of the new stuff, numbers like “Plastic” and “Tutti Frutti” stood out as highlights that easily hold their own alongside the classics. Speaking of the classics, another standout was the band’s performance of “Your Silent Face,” which Sumner referred to as a beautiful song. “Played it a thousand times but I still think it’s beautiful.” He’s not wrong.

While the band held things down instrumentally, Sumner played his part as the engaging, entertaining frontman, dancing about the stage a bit and occasionally holding the mic up to his bandmates’ instruments while they played. I’m not sure if that did much of anything besides raising the potential for feedback though.

New Order ended off their main set with an absolutely unimpeachable trio of tunes – “True Faith”, “Blue Monday” and “Temptation” – before returning to the stage for an encore of Joy Division songs, much to the delight of all the people wearing Unknown Pleasures t-shirts. “I don’t think we’ve played that one before in Toronto. Ever,” said Sumner after they played “Disorder”, turning to drummer Stephen Morris to confirm that Joy Division had never played any shows in Toronto. “Enough of my talking. Here’s another one,” he said as they ended things off with “Decades” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

Overall, New Order put on an amazing show with a solid setlist. I didn’t even notice they left out “Age of Consent,” one of my favourite New Order songs, until it was pointed out to me after the show. That’s a sign of a good show.