Need to know: Smith Westerns were formed in Chicago, Illinois by three teenagers (they’re now aged 18, 19 and 20). They released an early 7” on HoZac Records, which was followed up with a self-titled full-length LP last year. The album cover features a painting of the Virgin Mary chopped up and intermingled with Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind cover, upside down (they say they have yet to receive a cease-and-desist letter from Courtney Love, so they’re all good). After selling out its 3000 copy run, they eventually signed with Fat Possum, which has just reissued the album also on CD for a wide release. Smith Westerns are finishing off their sophomore album, scheduled for a January release and currently on the road opening up for both Belle and Sebastian and Florence and the Machine.
In a 100 words or so: Glam rock may be the immediate thread to follow on Smith Westerns’ debut album – “Girl In Love” is a straight up T-Rex aping if I ever heard one, from the arena-rock boom of the drums and guitar chugs, to the softly, effeminate vocal delivery and those drenching strings. But taking into consideration the blown-out, level-bleeding lo-fi production and the teenage innocence dripping from the lyrics, they’ve certainly found inspiration elsewhere. “Diamond Boys,” for instance, swings like a Motown outtake that was shelved, lost in a flood and resurrected, water damage and all. That the trio are all so green makes this self-titled album such an extraordinary work. Sure the coarse membrane of the production might be a little too much for some to bear, but underneath Smith Westerns is heaving with irresistible hooks that can rival any chart-topping act of yesteryear or today.
Best track: “Be My Girl”
R.I.Y.L. T-Rex, Wavves, The Black Lips, Girls, early ’70s David Bowie, The Strange Boys, Christmas Island, Nobunny, Harlem
Rating: 9.5 /10
Buy, download, steal or don’t bother: Buy on vinyl. The sleeve is worth it.
Sample: “Boys Are Fine”
Six years is what it’s taken them but FINALLY L.A. shoegazers Autolux will follow up their 2004 debut Future Perfect with their ridiculously long-awaited second album. Transit Transit will see the light of day on August 3rd thanks to TBD Recordings. The album is described as a “deep and profound world in which to immerse yourself.”
Klaxons haven’t kept us waiting as long as Autolux, but it has been four years since they dropped the Mercury Prize-winning Myths of the Near Future and it’s felt like an eternity. Well, the band (now an official quartet) have given us a taste of what to expect over at their official site. “Flashover” doesn’t sound too drastically different, but you can definitely hear the guitars a lot more, thanks to nu-metal guru Ross Robinson’s production. Check it out.
If a new EP by psychedelic blues man Kurt Vile is exciting news to you, well, Matador Records is now giving it away for free until tomorrow. That’s right, grab your complimentary download of his Square Shells EP over here.
Speaking of freebies, you can also get a new FACT-commissioned mixtape by the one and only Ariel Pink, not to mention his crew in the Haunted Graffiti. Grab the link and the tracklisting of all the wonderfully weird tunes here.
Nick Cave’s other band, Grinderman, put out a wicked self-titled album back in 2007 and now they’re coming back to give us more of that “pussy blues” of theirs. Anti- will release the band’s second album, simply titled, Grinderman 2, on September 14th. Get ready…
Last night we had Tokyo Police Club hang out in the MuchMusic environment and now we have the band’s first video off their new album Champ. Note the cameos made by Yo Gabba Gabba’s Brobie and a dog named Agnes! Speaking of Champ, you can now hear five songs off the new album, thanks to a sampler streaming at various blogs, like this one, which is also hosting the video.
It feels like forever since we’ve heard new music from Arcade Fire and now that drought has come to an end. The band have put up very, very brief snippets of their new single - both the A-side and B-side. Check ‘em out here.
Japan’s premier stoner metallers Boris have announced a sizeable North American tour including five Canadian dates! Whoa, that’s quite a bit of big muff!
Out of all the indie icons out there Joanna Newsom seems like one of the more reluctant ones to become a cartoon, but the press shy, harp-plucking songstress will appear on The Simpsons. Didn’t see that coming! In a recent interview with the Guardian, she expressed her excitement saying, “Holy shit! I’m a Simpson! I made it! I don’t need a damn Grammy or anything. That’s the sort of magic all this madness is for.” Check out Joanna as a Simpson here.
Mogwai are prepping the release of their new live CD/DVD. The CD is called Special Moves and features 11 tracks, while the DVD is a 45-minute film called Burning that was shot at the band’s sold-out three-night residency at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg in April 2009. Those will be available on August 24th.
In case you didn’t get to hear Band of Horses play songs off their new album last night at their free show in Toronto, you can now stream Infinite Arms in its entirety here at MuchMusic.com. Click here and enjoy.
Sub Pop is feeling generous these days. After giving away a sampler of new-ish stuff yesterday, they’ve tweeted a giveaway of two Dum Dum Girls songs, one of which can only be found on their recent split 7″ with Male Bonding. Grab it here.
Bootlegging is the old school method of leaking. Titus Andronicus fans are following in the footsteps of Deadheads and Phishheads by putting together “an unofficial, fan-made collection of demos, b-sides, and live tracks during the Airing of Grievances era of Titus Andronicus (pre-2010).” You can also find a bunch of live shows to d/l as well. Get ‘em all by clicking here. And if you haven’t already fallen hard for their new album, The Monitor, like I have, pick it up pronto!
Wow, lots of freebies today. Here’s another. Jarvis Cocker has made an album of “tranquil sounds recorded at various locations run by the Trust. Sounds include waves lapping on the shore, clocks ticking and ducks flapping in water.” About the album, Jarvo says, “I hope this album is a ‘holiday for the ears.’ It’s not really meant to be listened to intently, like a piece of music, but more as something to have on in the background to aid relaxation or contemplation.” So, no wonder it’s free.
Finally, Interpol isn’t giving anything away, but they’ve announced a bunch of tour dates to prove that losing bassist Carlos D isn’t gonna slow them down. Most of them are as the opener for U2’s next leg of the 360° tour, but there are two Canadian shows: Toronto’s Rogers Centre on July 3rd and Montreal’s Hippodrome on July 16th and 17th. Interpol will also play some U2-less, “across-the-border” cities like Rochester and Buffalo on June 21st and 22nd, respectively.
There’s been a lot of build up over this new Sleigh Bells album Treats and now you can officially hear it over at a stream hosted by NPR. Be careful though, keep the volume low because their levels are ear-bleeding.
Damon Albarn says he wants to make more music with Blur. Speaking with NME, Albarn says the success of the Record Store Day single “Fool’s Day” made him excited to record with Blur again. “I’m definitely going to do a few more of those seven-inches,” he explained. “I love the no pressure aspect.”
M83’s Anthony Gonzalez has written the score for the new film from French director Gilles Marchand. There isn’t much to go by, but you can read all about the film, Black Heaven, at the Cannes website. The synopsis sounds right up Gonzalez’s alley.
Sub Pop is having another spectacular year and to prove it the label is giving away a free digital sampler. On it is choice tracks by the likes of Dum Dum Girls, Foals, Male Bonding, David Cross, Beach House, The Ruby Suns and ooh, a new one from Wolf Parade! Download it here.
If you were one of the few to buy tickets to Empire Of The Sun’s Toronto show at the Sound Academy on August 8th, well, I’m afraid to say it’s been cancelled. The official reason is a “scheduling conflict” but the band “intend to bring the live show to Canada as soon as possible although no time-frame can be confirmed at this stage.” Considering the band were hoping to incorporate live animals and make it a visual spectacle, this doesn’t come as a surprise. They should probably wait until the next album though, because a show that size needs some buzz.
Nashville’s two-man stoner pop crew JEFF The Brotherhood are making their way back up to Canada. The duo will play a number of shows with Quinton & Miss Pussycat, including Montreal on June 18th and Toronto the following night. They’ll then head to Vancouver in September for a solo show on the 9th. Check out their latest album Heavy Days - it rules.
Interpol have revealed they have a new logo! It’s not really exciting, but they’re also giving away a brand new track called “Lights,” which may or may not be on their forthcoming album. Grab it here. The band also wrote a quick note, saying: “”We will be posting important information and dates in the coming weeks.”
Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke has revealed the first single from his forthcoming solo album. The track is called “Tenderoni” (like the Chromeo track) and it’s definitely a big change in direction. Check it out here.
The beach pop Spaniards in Delorean are selling their new album as a T-shirt. Well, for the price of $20 you get the shirt and an MP3 version of their album Subiza. Visit the Matador Records store to get your copy. The band will be hitting up Canada in June and July: Vancouver on June 7th, Montreal on July 13th and Toronto on the 14th.
Love Woodhands? Sure you do. Well, Paper Bag Records is giving away a free remix EP. Titled Remixcapade (get it?), the six-track EP features Mathemagic, Diamond Rings and Woodhands’ own Dan Werb, among others remixing tracks from the band’s recent album, Remorsecapade. Download it here.
If you’ve been online today you might have noticed that it belongs to M.I.A. After officially taking over Pitchfork’s Twitter account for the day, Maya Arulpragasam not only dropped the tracklisting for her June 29th-due untitled album, but also dropped the video for her new track “Born Free.” Umm, it’s a bit on the extremely, brutally violent side, so if you happen to watch it, Pitchfork’s Twitter has it for eyes that should probably be 18 years or older.
Apparently Alison Mosshart hasn’t forgotten about her other band, The Kills. In an interview with BBC 6Music the vocalist for Jack White’s other band The Dead Weather said she and Jamie Hince (aka Kate Moss’ squeeze) are getting close to finishing The Kills’ fourth album. “We’re kind of half finished, or three quarters of the way finished with the new record. I’m going to go back after this tour and finish it,” she explained. As for what we can expect, we’ve been told to expect the unexpected. “We always try to make a record that sounds totally different than the one before it or anything we’ve ever done, so that’s usually the hard part, finding that new thing to do between just two people.”
If you’ve got tickets to see Slayer on the American/Canadian Carnage Tour this summer get ready to be excited. The band have announced that they’ll be playing their 1990 classic Seasons In The Abyss in its entirety.
Grizzly Bear have written a brand new track for a new ad by the Washington State Lottery. How generous! The song isn’t titled (yet) but it’s very lovely, large in part to the directorial chops of music video extraordinaire Patrick Daughters.
EW’s Music Mix is streaming a brand new track by Tokyo Police Club. If you love the band’s debut EP, well, you’ll love “Boots of Danger (Wait Up)” - yes, that’s its name.
PJ Harvey has told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that half of her new album was made with an autoharp. “I’ve written about half of my new record on one of these,” Harvey said before she performed a new song called “Let England Shake.” “I’ve got three autoharps and I’ve had them tuned in slightly different chords, uh, fixtures here, so that they’re slightly out of the normal line of what an autoharp would sound like. There’s a lot more minor keys, a lot of darker keys.”
Didn’t get one of the 1000 copies of the brand new Blur 7″ released this past Saturday for Record Store Day? Well, the band feel so bad about it that they’re now giving away the track digitally over at their website.
In case you’ve always thought indie rock was a little too straight, Queerty has compiled a list of ten influential gay indie rockers, profiling their work and how their sexuality has played a part in their music. Click here and see who they outed.
Jose Gonzalez’s old band Junip have reunited and will be playing some North American dates. There aren’t any Canadian shows, but the band will be releasing both an EP and an album on Mute later this year.
And because it’s a slow news day, I thought I’d point out that Jay-Z and Beyonce are fans of The xx. Cool or who cares? Diplo outed the couple peeping the band’s performance at Coachella this past weekend.
Despite mixed reactions to the much-talked-about second album Congratulations, MGMT have told the Guardian that it was not done to kill their career. “To anyone that thinks we’ve intentionally committed commercial suicide with this album, it’s far from it,” says Ben Goldwasser. “If we really intended to do that, we’d be really good at it.” Added Andrew VanWyngarden, “It would be awesome. We’d make an album like Royal Trux’s Sweet Sixteen. You know that? With the toilet on the front full of shit and puke? So, you know, please don’t see this as that attempt.” Another mouthful of dessert, another giggle. “Because it would be a sorry attempt at commercial suicide. Really.”
Speaking of suicidal second albums, Toronto’s volatile electro rockers Crystal Castles will release yet another self-titled album on June 8th. Not a whole lot has been revealed other than a pretty awesome shot of the cover and that it was recorded in an Icelandic church, a Canadian cabin, and a Detroit garage.
NXNE has announced the first batch of bands for this June’s festival. Unlike previous years, this year looks amazing! Scheduled to play are Iggy & The Stooges, X, De La Soul, Mudhoney, Les Savy Fav, Japandroids, Cold Cave, Surfer Blood, Wavves, Thee Oh Sees and of course, Sloan. NXNE takes place between June 14th and 20th.
Tokyo Police Club have signed to Toronto’s Dine Alone (City and Colour, Hot Hot Heat) label. The Newmarket-cum-Toronto band will release their second album, Champ, on June 8th.
The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Jose Gonzalez is the name of a new documentary about the lovely Swedish folkie named, yes, Jose Gonzalez. Here’s a description: “With a combination of video diary, surveillance camera, concert and tour footage as well as animations the filmmakers Mikel Cee Karlsson and Fredrik Egerstrand have followed one of Sweden’s most interesting artists - José Gonzalez.” You can watch the trailer here.
Blur will release their first new song in seven years on April 17th, as part of Record Store Day. The recently reunited Brit band will put out a currently untitled 7″ that will be limited to 1000 copies. Frontman Damon Albarn said, “We want independent record stored to continue, they’re an important part of our musical culture. Music is a simple way for Blur to show our support and we hope people like it.” Meanwhile, Liam Gallagher, formerly of Blur’s arch rival Oasis, has commented on Albarn and Co’s return, telling Shortlist: “Them gigs weren’t as good as our gigs. No way. But, they’re all right. They’re in it for the money, aren’t they? The f*ckers. You won’t catch Oasis reforming, y’know. Never.”
Caribou has launched a remix contest for his new single, “Sun.” Over at Soundcloud you can download all of the song’s components and get started. The winner will receive Caribou’s new album Swim on both 2LP + CD, the “Odessa” 12″, a T-shirt and two guestlist places when the band play a show where you live. Contest ends May 7th.
Four years ago a precocious young rapper from Paris-via-Miami named Uffie made her debut with a single called “Pop the Glock” and now she’s FINALLY releasing her first album. Titled Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, the album will feature guests such as Pharrell Williams and former bassist of The Rapture, Mattie Safer, as well as a cover of Siouxsie & The Banshees’ classic “Hong Kong Garden.” The album drops June 8th via Ed Banger/Because/Elektra.
One of indie rock’s most beloved members and coolest drummers ever has assembled a list of the “10 WAYS TO BE A KICK-ASS DRUMMER” (all-caps is necessary). Janet Weiss, formerly of Sleater-Kinney and currently of The Jicks and Quasi, has written the ways for Self-Titled, dropping such helpful hints as “KICK SOME ASS,” “PLAY LONG FILLS,” “TRY NOT TO MAKE FUNNY FACES/LOOK GOOD” and “IMITATE THE GOOD BANDS’ DRUMMERS.”
After a decade of silence, Montreal’s massively influential post-rock doomsayers and Constellation Records founders Godspeed You! Black Emperor will return to curate ATP’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” festival in England this December (3rd to 5th). In a very no-frills, dead-serious kind of announcement on the band’s website, they added that GY!BE will also perform “a handful of British and European shows, and then nine American shows.” Unfortunately, they don’t say anything about Canada. This is bad news, because they follow it up with: “Until further introspection, WE WILL NOT BE FIELDING ANY OTHER OFFERS.” And if there’s one band that sticks to its guns, it’s that band.