Download Lesionread’s album, PUSH

lesionread cover art push

Guys, my brother is in a band. It’s called Lesionread. They put out an album, Push, last month.

Push is a colourful mixture of everything Shawn (my brother) and Jonathan Reed have absorbed musically over the last few years. There’s a little bit of Radiohead/Thom Yorke influence in Shawn’s voice (it can’t be denied, no matter how much nobody wants to admit that sort of thing, but this is knowing how much he listened to them and how he started learning about music, and there’s nothing wrong with that) and then there’s groovy, electronic blending of dotted lines with the occasional riffing guitar or other bombastic instrument. Reed delves into spoken word and soothing soul. Things slow down, get experimental. Auto-tuned for a song, even. And that’s just the first half of the album. There’s acoustic guitar, strings, and more in the second half.

Push is a lot to take in, but it’s interesting to see this exploration of learning and exploration itself. It’s different, it’s hard to categorize, but it’s compelling. And I’m not just saying this because Lesionread is 1/2 Lewis.

If you’re looking for something off-kilter and fresh to your ears, download Push on the band’s Bandcamp page.

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Download My Morning Jacket’s new single, “Circuital”

my morning jacket circuital

Well it’s been a nice morning already! My Morning Jacket have been sending live recorded tracks in e-letters for the last few weeks as a countdown to their new album Circuital, and today we finally get to hear the title song. Our first peek at the album. It’s seven minutes long and at a moderate tempo, with Jim James bringing back his signature high croon. Oh I’ve missed this voice. Even though now I can’t resist thinking about the American Dad episode when I hear the music (great). “Circuital” is more Americana and much lighter in sound than their most recent works. At times I feel it’s a bit safe, but it’s a pleasant song that I’ll be listening to once in a while nonetheless. I think I’ll always like the MMJ with a sharper edge (even with the peanut butter pudding surprise…), but they have a lot of layers that I like to explore. Circuital will be out May 31. The song will be a Record Store Day exclusive too. The band will make a triumphant return to Toronto’s Kool Haus on July 11 and you better believe I will be there rocking out with my dad (hi dad!).

Download the song, read Jim James’ awesome explanation, hear those live tracks & more on NPR.

What do you think?

Concert Review: Foster the People at Lee’s Palace, April 3

foster the people

It’s not often that a band can sell out a city’s medium-sized venue with only three recorded songs. In this case, Los Angeles’ Foster the People have three really catchy songs and the buzz was strong. The single “Pumped Up Kicks” has been in fairly heavy rotation lately in these parts, which has resulted in periods of days when I can’t get it out of my head. It’s the catchiest song I’ve ever heard about gang violence! So based on that song and hearing the other two — “Houdini” might actually be my new favourite and “Helena Beat” proved to be a worthy encore banger — I was excited. The band had even announced their next Toronto show (June 18 – Mod Club) before they played this one.

I enjoyed the show last night, but I know they’ll do even greater when they come back to the Mod Club. Their audience will know the songs better by then, even more arms will be waving in the air, and the sound will be bigger. They’ll even fit better on that bigger stage.

Last night, lead singer and baby face Mark Foster led the five-piece band with his slightly high-pitched voice and funny dance moves (some quirky shoulder shaking with arms just hanging by his sides). Each member had multiple live duties; everyone but the drummer had different synths to tinker with as well as their guitars, other drums and bass, getting them into this fuzzy pop dream land. The emphasis in Foster the People songs comes from the piano though, which brought me and my concert goer and blogger companion Ricky from The Panic Manual to observe live that the band could be the fresh new Maroon 5 or one of those other OC type bands. Not a bad thing, as these songs are clear concise pop rock pushes and you can’t deny getting your attention caught by the charm. All the other songs they played from their upcoming album — with the set just under an hour — followed that suit. I noticed a lot of songs simply hook onto a lot of  “oos” or “las,” and they all will get your feet tapping.

Like mentioned above, since they do have a lot of buzz on those three songs, the audience didn’t really seem to know what to do with themselves for the rest of it, so the usual energy that should bounce between wasn’t there the whole time. It will be there next time, I see these guys getting pretty big. You might not even have to look out for them, their hooks might just find their way to you first. The show last night was fun and I’m glad I saw them now.

Their album, Torches, will be out May 24.

Listen to the EP here.

Sit down, listen to this: The Albertans

The Albertans

Last Tuesday, I gave you a dance party. Today, I give you something to sit down with and really listen. I’m being a bit selfish, as I can’t really dance because I recently broke my pinky toe and doing such an activity is sadly painful. So I’m making you sit with me. Got that? Good! Anyways, I’ve found the perfect song for sitting and daydreaming this week, so it works out.

The Albertans – “The Wake”

This is one of those songs I’ve been waiting for, and oh it fills me with warmth to just type that. It’s got a groovy bass, fluttering + fuzzy guitars, dreamy vocals, a keyboard pattern that suggests it might be up to no good and simple drumming highlighted by a tambourine. I still can’t completely wrap my head around this goodness. It flows splendidly and has so many layers to unwrap, lyrically and musically. It leaves me with intrigue after every time I’ve listened, I feel like I’m searching for some puzzle piece. They sing of suicide and pressure, so when it all comes together, it’s like you can hear the song’s character(s) opening their eyes.

The band was formed in Vancouver out of members from our prairies and the U.S., but they headed to New York. Now I guess they split their time between the two metropolises. The album that holds this gem of a song, New Age, was recorded in Brooklyn, at Chandelier Studios, and now we have a Canadian tie to the borough’s distinct energy haze.

Just listen for yourself, and join me in my excitement in looking forward to their album. They remind me of Breathe Owl Breathe and Dirty Projectors (a little). There’s also some New Pornographers and Mother Mother similarities in there in terms of the team vocals, but I feel more of a connection to the Albertans than I do with those two bands at this point.

Watch music videos set to old films for “The Wake” & “Megan” & “New Age” and then there’s one of them playing “Mila.”

New Age comes out in Canada on April 19.

Watch tUnE-yArDs play “Doorstep” in Paris

tune yards new album

While internet filmmakers all over the globe are partaking in similar styles of filming musicians on the streets, it’s always interesting to see the videos that have musicians in a whole other country than their own. The people on the streets react differently when it’s not their language, and you can sense some hesitation from the musician at times.

Merrill Garbus, aka tUnE-yArDs, has her second album w h o k i l l, coming out April 19. We’ve already heard “Bizness,” but now we get to see her play “Doorstep” in Paris.

HibOO d’Live : Tune-Yards “Doorstep” from Le-HibOO.com on Vimeo.

Also, some hometown reppin’ for “Bizness,” here’s Merrill and her wicked band playing the song at local indie record shop Soundscapes when she was here last summer. I’m still kicking myself for missing this (although I did see her play that night and it was one of the coolest shows I’ve seen).

Concert Review: Braids and Baths at El Mocambo, Toronto, February 19

baths will wiesenfeld
The following was originally published on Exclaim.ca.

It can’t feel good to have feedback problems during the first song of a sold-out show. But while some bands let their anger through, Braids were able to carry the band into smoother territory.

Their fuzzy electronic mixtures that often come with references to Animal Collective felt closer to the Dirty Projectors and tUnE-yArDs, with back-and-forth harmonies and bombastic percussion. They focused on tracks from their debut, this year’s Native Speaker, and ended on a new one, proving they could make what’s soft on record into something loud and crunchy live. The end effect was dreamy, raunchy, personal and with just enough rock in between the electronic manoeuvring.

But while Braids flourished, Baths was only so-so. The one-man band of Will Wiesenfeld was energetic, focused and cheeky, but his songs felt disjointed, as they were dominated by noises similar to machine gears. The beat-loving Wiesenfeld seemed to have a big DJ influence, and that’s what the crowd appeared to want: a dance party. However, it’s hard to dance to songs that stop and start every five seconds with strange vocals on top. Nevertheless, it didn’t deter most people from trying.

Baths and Wiesenfeld’s other endeavours, Geotic and Post-Foetus, are fun to react to in your own capacity, but live it felt rough. That said, Wiesenfeld did make an effort to interact with his fans, telling them to “get gay” and introducing a track with “this song is about going to hell” while giving two thumbs-up.

Listen to tUnE-yArDs’ new single, “Bizness”

tune yards new album

I love tUnE-yArDs. Her 2nd album w h o k i l l will be released in April, and I really really can’t wait.

Yesterday, a British radio show got their paws on a song off the album, “Bizness,” and through the magic of the internet, you can hear it now. I definitely remember hearing Merrill play this song the last time she was in Toronto (by the way, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen).

So without further jabber, let’s just get to the song. LISTEN:

Read an interview I did with the lovely Merrill a year ago on what the new album would be like! Time travel!

tUnE-yArDs will be back May 12, I believe? You better be going.

UPDATE: You can now download “Bizness” here.