August 31, 2009

Emerging: An Horse

An Horse, is an Australian band that I became aware of in the past several months. I think it was a blog post over at Chromewaves that first mentioned the band to me.

The first song I heard was the first single, "Camp Out". There's video of it being performed on Letterman. Based on the strength of that track and the samples on iTunes, I picked up the album.

Here's the official "Camp Out" video. Great song.

Overall, the album is very strong. The simple instrumentation and strong vocals really make the songwriting shine through. Their latest single is "Postcards".

An Horse are in Toronto opening for Cage the Elephant and Silversun Pickups on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at Sound Academy.  Tour dates at the bands' sites.

Here' the video for Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked"

Lots of Silversun Pickups videos on their video page. If you're new to these guys, I'd recommend starting with "Lazy Eye" from Carnarvas and "Panic Switch" from their new one, Swoon.

August 29, 2009

Origins: Bob Mould

In previous Origins posts, I've written about Husker Du and Sugar. Now it's time to address Bob Mould. What can I say about Bob Mould? He's been an amazing influence on my songwriting and guitar playing. His music, from Husker Du to Sugar to his solo material has been inspirational and consistently enjoyable. He's grown into a person who seems comfortable in his own skin, very down-to-earth, and genuinely happy. He's had his share of rough spots as well, drug and alcohol dependency, and he blames himself for Husker Du's manager's suicide.

After Husker Du broke up, Bob Mould started putting out solo material. It has been great to watch the progression in his career as he moved through classic confessional songcraft, to dance music and back again to alternative rock. [Aside: I'll confess my discomfort with genre tags like alternative and indie, but often fall back on using them to describe certain styles, time periods and esthetics.] Bob is also working on an autobiography which I will be picking up as soon as it is released.

Here's a video for "See A Little Light" from Bob's first solo album Workbook. Bob has said that he considers his latest, Life and Times, as being a return to the style of songwriting on Workbook, twenty years later.

Here's a video of Bob performing "I'm Sorry, Baby, But You Can't Stand In My Light Any More" from Life and Times.

Bob has announced tour dates and will be hitting Toronto's Mod Club on October 5. I saw their show there for The District Line tour and it was amazing to see Bob in such great form, playing songs from across his career. The Mod Club is one of my favourite venues for live music in Toronto and I'm very much looking forward to the October show. Other tour dates are at

August 28, 2009

The Cribs New Single "Cheat On Me" Out Now

I mentioned before that The Cribs have a new album coming out. The first single from Ignore the Ignorant, "Cheat on Me", is available on iTunes. The album's out September 8 and is available in a regular and a deluxe version. The deluxe version comes with 12 songs recorded at The Ritz.

August 20, 2009

New Young Galaxy On It's Way!

Young Galaxy have a new album on the way. It's called Invisible Republic and it's out August 25. There's a free mp3 link for the song "Long Live The Fallen World" on their home page and you can check out some songs on their myspace.

Exclaim has an article where the band talks about their split from label Arts & Crafts.

They've announced their album release shows via their myspace blog:
Sept 9th, Zaphod Beeblebrox Ottawa, Ont. Canada
Sept 10th, The Drake Hotel Toronto, Ont, Canada
Sept 11th, Il Motore Montreal, Que. Canada

Also via their myspace blog, they've announce that there are 4 new songs on MTV Canada's web site. They sound good to me.

Here's the video for my favourite song from their eponymous release, available on emusic.

August 19, 2009

The Cribs' New Album Has A Release Date

The more I listen to The Cribs, the more I like them. As they progress through their career, the more I like them. I like each album more than the last. I hope this continues with their new album Ignore the Ignorant which comes out September 8 in the UK and November 10 in North America. Brooklyn Vegan has the scoop and mentions that the digital version comes out the same date as the UK release. Probably smart as you know the album would be available worldwide via torrent.

There's a free mp3 for the song "We Were Aborted" as well. Good loud guitars off the top. Gotta like it. A good fast song. Sounds like The Cribs, alright. Then there's a half-tempo break-down part for the first chorus. Nice.

If you're not familiar with their older stuff, here's "Men's Needs" from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

And here's "Our Bovine Public", also from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

Also of note is that something I've noticed anecdotally is actually official. I thought that more bands on myspace (who just purchased iLike) were getting wise to the fact that I might not want their song to auto-play when I arrive on their page. I might already be listening to something else. Well, according to Hypebot, it's a conscious decision. Even though it seems to be selfishly motivated by a desire to claw back on bandwidth, I'm happy about it because it improves my user experience.

And while I floated over to myspace, I saw that Lights has a new video premiering. It's for a song called "Saviour" and while it's not the kind of music I usually gravitate to, I do have a weakness for a good, cutesy pop song. This fits the bill.

"Saviour" Music Video

August 18, 2009

Imogen Heap, Radiohead, The Junction, Built to Spill and Other Cool Stuff!

Spinner has the premiere of Imogen Heap's video for the track "First Train Home" from her new album Ellipse. I've really enjoyed Imogen's earlier albums and I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with Ellipse when it comes out August 25th.

Stereogum's got a pack of recent news:
  • There's a new song out from Do Make Say Think. It's 10 minutes long and sounds cool to me. I'll have to check out more from this band. They're playing tomorrow night at the Polish Combatants Hall. Other tour dates are in the article.
  • Built to Spill has a new album coming out. It's called There is no Enemy and it's coming out in October. I'm heading to the show on October 7th at Lee's Palace. It's not listed among the tour dates on Stereogum, but it is listed on the band's site.
  • Radiohead have a new song out, but the rumours are still unconfirmed as to whether there's a new EP called Wall of Ice on its way. The torrent is spinning.
The New Rockstar Philosophy has a funny article about the recent trend of the major labels and iTunes trying to get music fans interested in buying albums again. I still prefer to buy albums over singles, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that I don't buy a lot of Top 40 music.

I saw an article on Dead Sexy about a band called The Vicious Guns. I like the songs on their myspace and will be watching for a release. I couldn't find anything on emusic or iTunes.

The New Music, former television show and current blog, posts some new music in the form of First Spins. However, they don't seem to keep them up for long. A couple that I wanted to check back later to give a listen are for Sean Bones and The Junction. Both are available on emusic. I like 'em.

August 16, 2009

Editors New Release, In This Light And On This Evening, On Its Way

Ever since I heard "Munich" from the 2005 release The Back Room, I've been hooked on Editors. It's solid British rock with a dark edge. Tom Smith's deep voice and delivery inevitably lead to initial comparisons to Joy Division, but once you get to deeper listening, Editors' individuality emerges. Their second album, An End Has A Start, was released in 2007. This album upped their game considerably, with singles like "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors", "An End Has A Start" and "The Racing Rats".

Originally I had heard that the new album, In This Light And On This Evening, was to be released on September 21. Amazon UK has the release date posted at October 12. I think this latter date is more likely to be correct since the Editors home page has a countdown to some 56 days from the time of this writing. With several concerts to attend and new releases I'm looking forward to, it looks like October will be a busy musical month.

A while back, Chromewaves posted that “Editors’ Tom Smith keeps up the sci-fi soundtrack talking points in discussing their new record". Based on this and some other articles I've seen around the web, I think we're in for a very different sounding album from Editors. Somehow, I'm still confident it will be great.

European tour dates have been announced. Looks like we'll be waiting for winter, or I'd guess more likely spring before we see Editors touring North America. That actually gives plenty of time to become intimate with the album and ready for the concert experience.

Editors, or their record company, don't want me to embed videos, so here are links to "Munich" and "Blood" from The Back Room plus "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors", "An End Has A Start" and "The Racing Rats" from An End Has A Start. Or you can go straight to their video page and watch even more!

Photo from

August 14, 2009

Video Released for Arctic Monkey's "Crying Lightning"

As I posted previously, Arctic Monkeys have a new album called Humbug coming out August 25. The first single is "Crying Lightning" and they've released a video for it.

There was also a track called "My Propeller" out there but it seems to have been taken down. If you're really interested in previewing the new tracks, there are several live versions floating around the 'net, including on youtube.

August 13, 2009

Scarlett, Spinnerette, Stereophonics and Other Cool Stuff!

I read a number of RSS feeds on my Blackberry on my way to work every day. I save the one's I want to follow up on, either because they have some content I want to see or hear that doesn't come through on the Blackberry, or the feed is truncated and I want to read the rest of the article (I actively dislike it when feeds are truncated). Here are a few of the articles or posts I found interesting over the last while.

Scarlett Johansson is singing again. While the few songs I heard from her Tom Waits cover album didn't grab me, this new song with Scarlett and Pete Yorn sounds quite good. Spin has posted the video and has a brief article here.

Stereophonics are coming out with a new album called Keep Calm and Carry On. I've never been super into them, but I seem to have a lot of their music in my collection. I think that if I just spent some more time with their albums, they could really become a favourite. Guardian has an article on their pending release and about Ronseal records in general. Ronseal records are those albums that let the listener what they are via the album title. has a cool article on the Posies and how bands make money these days. Interesting that they never pocketed any money from their major-label albums. It's no wonder that the record business is in the tank and the music business seems to be going strong. When will those record company's realize that they are dinosaurs and that they're extinct?

Julian Plenti, also known as Paul Banks from Interpol, has released an album called Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper. I really like Interpol and after giving this album a spin, I give it a thumbs up. It is available from emusic.

Spinnerette were on Letterman, sounding decidedly less keyboardy and poppy than they do on their latest, self-titled album.

More to come!

August 9, 2009

Ron Hawkins Performs CD Release Shows at Graffiti's

Ron Hawkins is many things - singer, songwriter, guitar player, painter - but first and foremost he is a storyteller. Many of the greatest songwriters are storytellers at heart. Ron's songs are full of characters that he brings to life with a few words combined with his melodies and chord progressions. I think that this ability to create interesting and instantly understandable characters in well-written songs is his greatest strength as a musician. As I've mentioned before, when I posted about these gigs and the release of the new album I am a huge fan of Ron's music and his music has been an influence on my own. I could listen to Ron sing his songs and play the acoustic guitar for hours and hours.

I saw Ron perform on Saturday night as part of a series of four concerts he put on to celebrate the release of his new album, 10 Kinds of Lonely. He performed a mostly-solo acoustic set at Graffiti's in Kensington Market.

The Benvereens were the opening act, and while I came in during their set, I heard them perform some excellent acoustic-based songs. They were giving away CDs but sadly I was not one of the lucky recipients. If memory serves, they mentioned that they'd be heading back into the studio this fall. The music on their myspace sounds much more laid-back than they came across live. Hopefully, they'll capture more of that live energy in the studio. I'll be keeping my ears open for new material from The Benvereens, although I do wonder why they've named themselves after the actor Ben Vereen, unless of course there's another story behind the name.

Ron performed solo for the first set, then he brought up 2/3 of The Benvereens for the first few songs of the second set, and later was joined by his cohort from Lowest of the Low, Stephen Stanley. Ron performed many songs from the new release, as well as songs spanning his career. There were Lowest of the Low songs like "Hand of Magdalena", "Letter from Bilbao", and of course "Rosy and Grey". If memory serves (sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't) Ron only performed one Ron Hawkins and the Rusty Nails song - "Beautiful Chemistry". There was material from his previous solo release, Chemical Sounds, such as "From the Alta Loma Hotel", "1-800-Radio", "1994" and "Peace and Quiet".

The performance was very powerful, with everyone in the bar giving Ron their full attention. While he did crack some jokes and tell some funny stories and there was much laughter, there was a seriousness to the tone of the performance overall. I'd be interested to know if the other nights came across that way.

Songs from the new release that he featured included "Don't Be Long", "Genevieve" (a great song about running off to Montreal with Genevieve to form a band, among other things), "Turned Around", "The Prodigal Sun", and "10 Kinds of Lonely" (with the communal whistle part) among others that I mention below.

One song from 10 Kinds of Lonely that Ron played on Saturday, "The Rain's the Thing", was very poignant with the very rainy summers we've had the past couple of years. Coupled with the mist that filled the air behind him through the window on Baldwin Street, the song and the weather fit perfectly.

A few songs came with their own songwriting stories:
  • "The Devil Went Down" is Ron's self-admitted Steve Earle-sounding song, inspired by the small town where his cottage is, and the illicit nightlife the local teens apparently pursue.
  • For "D.F.W.", Ron explained that he was writing a non-specific song about words when he realized that much of what he wrote about reflected the life and writing of David Foster Wallace, who had recently committed suicide. It was a case of art imitating life with strong parallels between the song he was writing and the kind of stories Wallace wrote. Ron admitted that it was a hard song to perform due to the hard reality of it. The cello and piano on the recorded version adds a nice touch.
  • Ron told us that "The Prodigal Sun" is known around the family as "the 80s song" and that his daughter requests the song often. Although I have to wonder how he changes or explains the "full of cum" lyric.
  • "A Brief History", from Chemical Sounds, was written for Ron's daughter before her birth, with him attempting to communicate what he'd learned about life. He then told us something that I can attest to, having a daughter of my own, which is that when his daughter was born, he found that she had so much more wisdom than he has. The recorded version features an in utero heartbeat for the first verse. Cool.

Ron told many stories and reflected back on his past. He talked about the songwriting process, how he incorporates influences into his music, and his musical past. He mentioned trying to sound like Steve Earle, whether he sounded like Hall & Oates among others, how the whole new album was sort of sparked by parody, and told a great story about his tour with Weddings, Parties, Anything, who covered the Lowest of the Low song "Rosy and Grey" several years ago and made it very popular in Australia.

Ron also performed a song that he's never released on an album, called "Propellers". It's a great song that truly deserves it's spot on a release.

When I purchased my copy of 10 Kinds of Lonely from Ron (I hope you got the bike - you had to be there), I asked why he hasn't sold his music through iTunes or Emusic. Ron told me that he is planning to get his music on iTunes, so we'll be on the look out for that. I think this is a great step for him to breaking out to an even larger audience. For now, you can order his new CD, and any of his previous releases, from his website.

The new CD features more bare-bones arrangements than his previous release, Chemical Sounds. It's definitely less of a rock album and more blues- and country-influenced with slide guitars, Hammond organ, country harmonies and even a banjo. Ron has always played with genres, from Celtic to grunge to blues and bluegrass to gangster-era-tinged rock to folk, so finding him playing with genres again is no surprise. 10 Kinds of Lonely is definitely a Ron Hawkins album, which means the lyrics and songwriting is great and the stories are engaging. It's sure to grow on me more and more as it moves into heavy rotation on the iPod.

Over at Wildy's World blog, there's an interesting interview with Ron and a review of the new album. Check it out.

I can't find any video or track samples from the new album to share with you at this time. There were a few folks video-taping the event so hopefully someone will post some videos to youtube. In the meantime, here's a video from a solo performance at the same venue from a couple of months ago.

August 4, 2009

Canadian Copyright Consultations on Now

I don't want to be political or comment too much about what I think is right or wrong with the music business, but I think everyone agrees that copyright is a big part of the music business. It's a large part of how we enjoy (or can't enjoy) music in the Internet age.

In Canada, copyright consultations are now on and continue through September 13, 2009. It's important that those that have opinions on the subject share their opinions - that they are part of the process.

The Canadian government has created a web site to facilitate submission of opinion and dialog. Michael Geist who is a law professor at the University of Ottawa has a great blog page and has been posting regularly on the consultation content and process.

August 3, 2009

The New Customer Service - United Breaks Guitars

It's not exactly my kind of music, but I love the sentiment of the tune. It's Dave Carroll with his tune "United Breaks Guitars". I don't think United Airlines would have expected a dissatisfied customer to use the web to make a statement in quite as effective a way. Way to go, Dave, and sorry to hear about your poor Taylor.

The Twilight Sad, BrakesBrakesBrakes and We Were Promised Jetpacks on Tour

The Twilight Sad, BrakesBrakesBrakes, known as Brakes outside of North America, and We Were Promised Jetpacks are touring and hitting Toronto on October 10 at the El Mocambo as part of the FatCat Tour. I'd like to go to the show, but it is Canadian Thanksgiving so it might be hard to make it happen.

Music from all three bands is available at emusic.

Here are a couple of clips from BrakesBrakesBrakes

Here's The Twilight Sad's video for "That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy". I have a feeling that this band would really shine in live performance.

We Were Promised Jetpacks

August 2, 2009

Metric Touring in Support of Latest Release Fantasies

Who could listen to songs like "Combat Baby" or "Succexsy" or "Dead Disco" from Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? and not be hooked immediately? Same goes for songs like "Handshakes" and "Monster Hospital" and "Poster of a Girl" from Live It Out or "Sick Muse" and "Gimme Sympathy" and "Satellite Mind" from Fantasies. Metric are one solid band.

In support of their new album, Fantasies, they are setting out on tour.

All of their albums are available on emusic.

"Gimme Sympathy" from Fantasies

"Sick Muse" from Fantasies

"Combat Baby" from Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

The MSTRKRFT remix of "Monster Hospital" (original version on Live It Out)

Lots more videos can be found at Metric's channel at youtube. I'll be at the Toronto show, October 20.

Photo from