Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Burls Creek to Host Virgin Festival ’09

Photo Credit: Alex Ramon

The Virgin Festival MySpace page apparently let the cat out of the bag and let slip that the 2009 edition of the festival, entering its fourth year in Canada, will be taking place once again this summer. Tentatively scheduled for August 29 and 30, the big news was the information that it won't be done in Toronto as it has for its first three inceptions. Looks like Burls Creek, located midway between Barrie and Orillia will host the show. The announcement has since been taken down.

Burls is a newish venue. It's normally home to the Barrie Speedway and various outdoor trade shows and flea markets. To my knowledge it put its first big show on last summer when it hosted a mini one day show that featured Mason Jennings, Neil Halstead, Rogue Wave and Jack Johnson. Attended by 25,000, give or take, this was the tester event that will probably give rise to more like minded shows in the future. This works for me as the venue is about an eight minute drive from my house.

Though the Lineup is "coming soon," let's all have a go at speculating who might show up. Throughout its four years it's always featured a large cast of Canadian bands filled out with American and British acts. Some years feel a little bit more "God save the Queen" than "Death to taxes," but that probably has more to do with who was touring and had albums to promote than Richard Branson's influence.

If the rumoured date is true, then VFest is up tough against a few other festivals. Outside Lands is going on in San Francisco that weekend. Included in their lineup are Pearl Jam (who'll be in Toronto at the Amphitheatre the week before on the 21st), The Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys, Modest Mouse, M.I.A., TV on the Radio, and Jack White's new band The Dead Weather.

In the U.K., the Reading festival is also taking place from the Friday through to the Sunday. Playing that weekend are Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Glasvegas, Radiohead, Bloc Party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Vampire Weekend. Two of the bigger brand name Canadian acts, Alexisonfire and Billy Talent are there as well, essentially taking them out of the equation.

Who else then?

I've heard rumours about Coldplay but they'll be in Germany that weekend. The Tragically Hip are free that weekend and promoting their latest record. However, the quintessential Canadian act plays a six night stand at Massey hall this month and its unsure if they would draw so early after that, although like Sam Roberts, also free that weekend, they'll probably always draw a few but they're not necessarily the big headliner I'm thinking of.

Stone Temple Pilots and Ben Harper are making the festival circuit this year, but Ben and Co. are in town this month and STP plays Casino Rama July 10th.

Wilco has a new album out this summer but they are in Ireland on the 27th and have no Toronto date as of yet for their current gigs, but it's highly unlikely.

Depeche Mode is out, Tool is a possibility, the Killers are free and play the UK version of Vfest the weekend before.

In fact if you look at the '09 lineup of VFest across the pond would it be completely unreasonable to think that some of these bands may play the following weekend? That could include Lily Allen, the Specials, and Elbow. Snow Patrol is playing but has a gig in Toronto early September so you likely won't see them cutting their draw by playing the festival. Oasis is playing too and that would make a nice story after the band's 2008 VFest set was cut short by the attack on Noel that resulted in them cancelling several tour dates in Canada, however, they play the Rock en Seine festival the same weekend as the rumoured Canadian dates.

All this subtraction paints the picture of slim pickings for VFest Canada's organizers. If the dates change, everything changes of course. The lineup, as mentioned, will be announced soon. Who will be there will be the interesting question.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

For all your lies/ you're still very lovable

Bon Iver is not an artist for the ultra liberal, PETA crowd. His oft-told story of the conditions surrounding the recording of his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago (short story: secluded up in the woods, nobody around to interrupt but his own thoughts and the occasional deer hunt for food).

Bon Iver, Justin Vernon's stage moniker, self-released his debut back in late 2007. It was only when Jagjaguwar picked up the scent and re-released it in February of this year that it found widespread play. Since then it has become of the most universally lauded album of the year, well within the indie bubble at least. Given its mid-November and I heard my first Christmas song over the loudspeakers of a Walmart the day after Hallowe'en that means year-end/best-of lists can't be far behind. Expect to see For Emma, Forever Ago on many in a comfortable position.

But you probably know all this already. Justin recently did a session with Myspace Transmissions that I thought fit to point out. Well worth viewing and hearing. For Emma, though, is especially rapturous. Performed with piano as opposed to the album's acoustic guitar and if possible more stark and lonely even though Bon Iver is more effectively a trio than a solo venture these days. There is that moment when he sings out "Go find another lover" in that hushed bellow where you really see the Tunde Adebimpe comparisons justified. Both are just filled with these soulful voices that cast shadows over you.

Pitchfork reports that come January 20th in the new year the Bon Iver crew will release a four-song EP, entitled Blood Bank. Fantastic news indeed. Follow the link for full details. He has a string of dates in December along the eastern USA. Just don't wait too long to jump on tickets as I did last time he was in Toronto.

For those who enjoy the video above and the mp3 below I'd suggest checking out Bon Iver's contribution over at La Blogotheque/Take Away Shows.

Bon Iver - For Emma (Myspace Transmissions) mp3

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wilco loves you baby

A few weeks back Jeff Tweedy appeared on The Colbert Report and sat down with Stephen for a slightly awkward chat. They talked about name changes, the free market, and Obama fever.

After the commercial break the whole band came on to perform a new song they'd been working on. Entitled Wilco the Song, it is immediately more enjoyable than anything off their last full length Sky Blue Sky.

Its lyrics expose a fit of election weariness now thankfully decided in the positive. Great guitar line from Nels Cline and some excellent melodies that stick in your sinuses. I wandered around Toronto Friday night after the Kings of Leon show and found myself wishing they'd played this instead.

Wilco is heading out as support for Neil Young at the end of November. They'll stop in for two dates at the ACC here in Toronto December 4th and 5th. Excited is an understatement for me, who will be attending the second date.

Canadian viewers can view the October 3oth interview and performance here. American readers at Comedy Central's website.

Can Wilco cure those mid-election, post-election, mid-November, post-October, nearly December case of the blues? Yes they can.

Wilco - Wilco the Song

Website: Wilco

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vampire Weekend Remixed

There are two remixes of Vampire Weekend's Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa that have been floating around lately. Remixes typically are not my thing and I'm ill equipped to give a real critique or anything of the sort.

The first by The Teenagers gets synthed up and turned into dance hall number. It keeps the spirit of the song and improves it, making it more epic and life altering.

The second, by London collaboration Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit, only keeps the skeleton of the song, wholly taking it into new realms. For all the talk of Afro Pop that surrounds the Vampire Weekend boys, imagine this as them filtered back through Johannesburg.

For the record i enjoy the Esau Mwamwaya remix better and am excited for the release of their The Very Best mixtape on November 1st.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - The Teenagers
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit mp3
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend mp3

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday mornings wanna make me holler

Michael Pagliaro - Some Sing Some Dance mp3

The first Canadian songwriter to have a certified Gold record in both official languages. Apparently this song was quite the hit back in the early 70's. Probably only nationally. Doesn't change the fact that she's good though.

Some Sing
Some Dance
Some like a romance
I love lovin'

Put that in your ears and smoke it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Loudon Wainwright III and his Motel Blues

Growing up my dad used to barrel down roads and whenever that familiar smell of a freshly mown skunk rose into the nostrils he would start belting out a few lines from Loudon's 1972 novelty hit Dead Skunk. His routine never failed to get a kick out of me and it is one my fondest (if slightly vague) memories

"You Got Yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven"

I was attending this years Mariposa Folk Festival and was aware that Loudon was playing. To my delight he was on the bill for the Saturday I attended. Mid-Afternoon I found myself over at the registration tent helping a friend sort out some ticket issues when I turn around to see Loudon Wainwright III registering at the artist tent. I've never had a true fanboy moment before and would not have ever guessed that an artist that I only sporadically know and listen to would inspire such a moment. Sure enough though I found myself (loudly) nudging my friends and exclaiming "look, it's Loudon Wainwright." He clearly heard and turned around. Face to face with him I offered a sheepish and respectful "Hello Mr. Wainwright." Moments later I was calling my amused father to tell him the blow-by-blow.

Mr. Wainwright recently released Recovery, a collection of updated songs from his early records. My favourite song of his, which appears on the new album, is Motel Blues. It originally appeared on his second album, Album II. A poignantly lonesome tale about a songwriter on the road convincing a young admirer to sleep with him. His voice has aged in time, less squeaky and vulnerable than it once was, helping to add an intelligenceand detachment to the new rendering.

Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Album II (1971) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off A Live One (1979) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Recovery (2008) mp3

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the run-up toThe Stand Ins

In terms of fall releases, it is Okkervil River's The Stand Ins that has me the most anticipatory. Like Black Boy appendix was a follow-up in theme and sound to Black Sheep Boy, the Stand Ins is a follow-up to The Stage Names. Released in August of last year, The Stage Names is superb beyond belief. It coats my ears weekly; a fair achievement in these "drop it after it's hot" times.

To be released in a few short weeks, September 9th, Okkervil River have begun to release a series of videos in the run-up. Track by track, they are releasing a series of video performances on their youtube channel. The songs feature other artists performing the album's songs. Lead-off track, Lost Coastlines, gets the treatment from the New Pornographer's A.C. Newman (who just announced he is releasing his second solo album, Get Guilty, early next year). Every couple days they are releasing a new interpretation on their channel. Bon Iver and David Vandervelde have also lent their stylings to a song off the album.

Myself, I'm saving it all for the 9th, save for the first "single". It's included here for your daily consumption.

01 The Stand Ins, One
02 Lost Coastlines
03 Singer Songwriter
04 Starry Stairs
05 Blue Tulip
06 The Stand Ins, Two
07 Pop Lie
08 On Tour With Zykos
09 Calling and Not Calling My Ex
10 The Stand Ins, Three
11 Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979

Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines mp3

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday mornings make me wanna Holler

Ray Lamontagne - You Are The Best Thing mp3
This is the leadoff track for Ray's new album, Gossip in the Grain, out October 14th. Ethan Johns produced and tackled drums again. Leona Naess also guests on two tracks. Apparently the album is more of a full band affair this time around. If this track is any indication, its going to be quite good.

Kings of Leon - Crawl mp3
Off Only By The Night, out the 23rd of September. The Kings of Leon lads had this available for download for a while on their website. It's such a rocker and really ramps up my anticipation for the album. Their show at the Kool Haus in Toronto is all sold out. This really messed with me last week whilst trying to obtain tickets. I'm usually the guy who grabs the tickets, so when a friend casually mentioned he had grabbed an extra ticket as he said he would I was pleased as a pig.

Florence and the Machine - Kiss with a Fist
We live in a different time so it is doubtful the song will create the kind of stir The Crystals "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" did back in 1962. But for those who want to set the tone for the week could do worse than this rocker of a gem. More than enough pep to get you through its barely two minute running time. For the record, Florence felt compelled enough to state on her myspace that this is not a song about domestic violence. The B-side "Bitch Had it Coming", however, leaves little room for plausible deniability.

Friday, August 01, 2008

From The Fembots camp comes news of their fourth album. Calling Out will be released September 16th on (weewerk) records. It features eleven tracks:

01 Good Days
02 Can I Be Your Mirror?
03 My Hands Are A City
04 Get In The Van
05 God Keep Our Hands Clean
06 JL Recalls His Amazon Adventure From A Comfortable
Chair In The Window Of No.5 The Kingsway
07 Hand Print In Wet Cement
08 Lost At Sea
09 The Ballad Of Lucybelle Carter
10 The End Of The Day
11 Ship Breaking

The album was originally intended to be recording using the junkstrument creations of Iner Souster. Eight months into recording the unpredictability of these creations simply made it too hard to sustain for a whole album. The sessions were not entirely scrapped and will provide rhythm and backing tracks throughout the record.

The two-piece, Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier, also enlisted Nathan Lawr on drums for the record. Paul Aucoin provided string and horns.

They've got a few Toronto dates late August before things heat up after the release of the album. Check those out at their myspace.

Fembots - Gilded Age
mp3 (from 2005's The City)