Head over to Space 15 Twenty in LA this Friday, June 21st, to celebrate the launch of AGENDA WMNS, the women's division of the Agenda Tradeshow you may have heard of. The party will be hosted by Jayne Min of the super rad blog Stop It Right Now and is being curated by Yasi & Jane of Cultist Zine. The fun does not stop there though, guys. You'll also get to see a showcase from Silke of clothing brand Shown to Scale. Lastly, there will be a live performance by Colleen Greene and a DJ set from one of my personal favorite ladies, Jen Clavin of Bleached! The party goes from 7pm-10pm, so make sure you RSVP at RSVP@agendashow.com. —Maddie
(Buke & Gase)
Too many things were happening all over the city this past week. Full blocks, streets, major intersections were temporarily been shut down not just for NXNE but also for food, arts festivals, and Psy-hosting, Taylor Swift–attending award shows. Here's what went down! —Carmel
The National played a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square, steps away from our flagship store! Crowds were spilling out everywhere, so it made sense to take a couple of snaps.
With very limited commuting available and unrelenting traffic that only doubled up your cab fare, the travelling choice on hand was your own pair of legs.
(Buke & Gase)
From Yonge and Dundas, walked all the way to the Horseshoe for the Brooklyn-based Buke & Gase—a choice mostly made out of convenience. But what started off to be just a simple respite from walking turned out to be quite pleasant. The musical duo toted handmade instruments, skilfully playing tunes so sweet it nearly gave me a toothache. It should also be noted how watching them was kind of mesmerizing, in a way where your curiosity is piqued and your interest-levels tugged higher with each strumming of a string.
The UO x NXNE secret guests at Sneaky Dee's for the night were Majical Cloudz. It was an intense set, full of emotion-driven force and zeal, and I was glad to finally witness Devon Welsh perform. At one point, he sat on the floor (right next to me) and remained there for most of the night, with everyone else also sitting. It felt like the band and crowd were all part of one very important art piece.
One of our other secret shows for the night was Dan Deacon. He played an enthusiastic, dance-filled set in The Drake Hotel, and even though he had some problems with his equipment, he still turned out an amazing show.
He was even kind enough to let us bug him afterward for a Vine post! We asked him how to make new friends, right as some drunk dude was totally trying to make him his new friend.
My favorite UK band of the last decade, Arctic Monkeys, decided to gift us with the release of a new song this week, called "Do I Wanna Know," which is a smooth, slow-burning tune that doesn't really sound like it came from a band that released "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" some time ago. Differences from their past aside, I'm in love with this new song and the wacky illustrations they've got to go along with it. —Maddie
If you'd been looking for the most epic film masterpiece of our time, then look no further. Kanye West and Scott Disick have done it, y'all. THEY'VE DONE IT. —Katie
CHVRCHES went all out for the video for their latest, uber-80's single "Gun." The video feels like something out of a trippy, Photoshop-layered dream, complete with all sorts of hypnotizing effects and dancers that zig-zag around footage of the band. A complicated, cool video for a really great song! —Hazel
Alt-J's debut album was released just shy of a year ago, but that doesn't mean it's old news. The record, An Awesome Wave, is quite true to its name with its calming, glimmering sounds that flood your ears upon first listen. Plus, it's got some pretty shiny album artwork that will surely draw you right in! —Maddie
The album's cover art is my favorite part of the whole thing! Totally into the oil spill swirl situation. An Awesome Wave also has a nice double gate-fold packaging, with all of the song lyrics printed on the inside. The LP sleeve also has a pretty cool layered photo of the band, plus tracklisting on the opposite side.
From end to end, this album is pretty good in my opinion, and Alt-J has a sound I don't think I've ever heard before. Throughout the record, An Awesome Wave carries a smooth and mellow tone. My favorite track that I thought best captured this feel is actually the last song on the album, "Taro." I really liked the interesting percussion on this song, and how the song gains layers as you listen.
What it's good for:
This album is a good one for poppin' into the turntable with your windows wide open while you daydream. An Awesome Wave has some super calming tendencies, so get ready to feel as zen as possible when you listen!
Shop Alt-J's An Awesome Wave
Day three! Yesterday was our second annual free day show at our Queen Street, Toronto location and it went better than we could have hoped for! This year the bands that played were Decades, Bear Mountain, Beach Day, Still Corners and Dusted, and they were all incredible. Our store associate Merik Williams was kind enough to take these photos for us, so big thanks to Merik for sharing them with us to use on the blog. Here's a look at what went down! —Katie
First up yesterday was Decades, and their vocalist Mike Kaminski wowed the crowd with his Morrissey-esque singing style. Actually, the title of most of these NXNE blog posts could probably be "That Day I Formed A Crush On Yet Another Musician" because his vocal stylings were definitely swoonworthy.
(From our Instagram!)
Next up was the super danceable Bear Mountain! Even at 1 in the afternoon, they still got everyone pumped up and moving. Guitarist Kyle Statham even hopped off the stage to do some dancing/guitar-soloing in the crowd.
Beach Day was up next with their sunny, '60s-sounding songs, and adorable lead singer Kimmy Drake started them all off by telling the crowd what they were about. ("This is a song about a boy.") Would love to steal her hair for my own, TYVM.
Still Corners were up next and played their first few songs in a stripped-down way that really showed off vocalist Tessa's voice. She kept saying "cool" and told the audience it was her new favorite word. And when she found out there were a couple dogs in the crowd, she suggested they come up front for a doggie dance party. So cute!
Last but not least was Dusted! The crowd totally loved them, and they were the perfect end to a music-filled day. All in all our second annual free day show went off without a hitch, and I can't wait to see what we have in store for next year. NXNE has been a blast so far, and I wish I could stay in Toronto for another week!
P.S. If you want the scoop on the rest of our secret show announcements, follow our Twitter!
It's hard to document events without ever mentioning the weather when they play such a significant role--like a villain in a story. But if said villain is terrifically-developed, it's also hard not to grow fond of him/her/it--as people do with Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Spike or Dru in Buffy, Frankenstein, Professor Snape… you get the idea. I had a point there somewhere.
Instead of letting the rain soak festival spirits, Toronto pretty much embraced the atmospheric villainy. In between intermittent pouring, the guys behind Young Lions Music Club & Live in Bellwoods pulled off yet another Great Heart success at Trinity Bellwoods.
Headed again to the Arts & Crafts Pop Up a few blocks down, this time to see Toronto's Alvvays and Prince Edward Island's Boxer the Horse.
(Boxer the Horse)
And also managed to snap some rain-embracing style from festival-goers!
Brooklyn's Black Marble was also playing just a few steps away at the Blk Box. Caught them just before heading to the Comfort Zone for Braids. And unsurprisingly, so did every other festival-goer, it seemed. The queue outside took a fair bit, but whoever chose the venue for the Montreal-based band definitely had the right idea. Braids' music perfectly blended with the eerie glow-in-the-dark lighting.
My only regret that evening: not wearing a Picnic at Hanging Rock–dress!
Mikal Cronin was conveniently playing next door at the Silver Dollar, which proved to be my favourite set of the festival so far. Not only was the band great to watch but the crowd also held up its end of showing genuine fervour!
(The Soft Moon)
Around 2 A.M. one of our secret shows, The Soft Moon, went on at The Horseshoe Tavern and totally blew the crowd away.
At the end of the night, it just feels right to see broken guitar strings. —Carmel
Guards, an NYC-based band, released In Guards We Trust earlier this year to very positive reviews, which is unsurprising because its '60s and '70s pop sounds make it super listenable. (Plus, doesn't it look so classy on top of my deer antlers?) In Guards We Trust is the band's first full-length album, and totally catchy, so it's hopefully not their last. Can't wait to see what else this band puts out! —Katie
I love the cover art on this one, as well as the inside pictures that are included. And this record comes with a download card which is awesome. (The only thing that makes me happier is when there's also a CD because I perpetually live in 2003.) Makes it so easy to pop the music right onto your computer without having to rip it from the vinyl.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love a solid pop song. One of my favorite songs on the album is "I Know It's You" because it's super catchy and super danceable. I wish I had crazy, club-quality speakers in my bedroom so I could blast this and dance around like crazy. Another great song is the second track on the album, "Giving Out."
What it's good for:
Dancing! There's just something about '60s inspired music that just makes me want to kick out my heels and dance like the cast of Charlie Brown.
Shop Guards' In Guards We Trust
London-based band Still Corners will be playing our NXNE showcase later today, and vocalist Tessa Murray took some time out of the band's busy schedule to let us know about the band's musical influences and what we can expect to see at the show!
Interview by Katie Gregory
How did you meet and what made you decide to form Still Corners?
Greg started Still Corners and was looking for a singer. In early 2009, we both got on a train that was meant to stop at London Bridge station but the train went straight past and stopped about 20 minutes away. It was a while before the next train and I thought I'd speak to the other person who looked a bit annoyed on the platform. That was Greg, and we got chatting, I told him I was missing choir and after meeting up a few times, we started working on demos together.
If you had to describe your sound to someone who never heard you before, how would you describe it?
It is epic, atmospheric pop.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Giorgio Moroder, Simon and Garfunkel, New Order, and Yo La Tengo.
How was making your most recent album? Did everything go smoothly or did you guys have any setbacks?
We started working on the record pretty much straight after we turned in Creatures of an Hour. It was smooth sailing, really. We had lots of ideas and tried to get as many of them down as possible. Greg worked a bit more on the production this time and we tried to play around with the vocals a bit more, too. Eventually the songs chose themselves really and Strange Pleasures was born.
What are you most excited to see during your time in Toronto?
I'm looking forward to having a Caesar, I know it's something to drink, rather than something to see but you'll give me that, right?
Drinks totally count. Any other bands you're going to check out during NXNE?
Braids and The Soft Moon, we've played with both of them before and they're awesome live.
We saw The Soft Moon last night and they were great! What are you most excited about for your performance at our show?
We've decided to do something a bit different for our show with you guys. The set will be stripped back from our regular set. We're playing some different songs and bringing it up close and personal so it should be fun!
If you could only listen to one musician for the rest of your life, who would it be?
The Velvet Underground/Lou Reed.
Bear Mountain, one of the bands performing at our NXNE store showcase later today in Toronto, spoke to us about Canadian stereotypes, their intense show visuals, and whether or not they'd let Miley chill with them.
Interview by Katie Gregory
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I would say our music blends a lot different genres and styles, but is mainly influenced by dance music. We are a live band that plays dance inspired music, with lots of vocals over top.
How did you guys all meet? What made you want to start a band?
Greg and I are brothers, and we’ve played in bands since we were teenagers. Kyle and I met in University and played in a prog punk band together. After that band broke up, I started making making beats on my laptop, and showed them to Kyle a few years later. I also made an acoustic guitar/vocal record, and we saw an opportunity to blend the styles of music.
How long have you all been playing music?
We’ve all been playing music since we were kids, and I think we all have wanted to play in bands for as long as we can remember. The four of us have been playing together for about 8 months, but Bear Mountain has been around for about two years. Kenji doesn’t even play music, however. He’s the fourth member of our band and he is on stage with us projecting live visuals and manipulating them in real time. Kenji saw us play live once, and he showed us what he was capable of visually. We asked him to join the band, and that’s when everything really came together.
You guys were just at Gov Ball in NYC, right? How was that? Heard the mud got crazy!
Yes, the mud was insane. We were lucky because we were playing under a tent, and a lot of people came under the tent to stay dry. It worked out for us because we had a huge crowd.
What are you most excited for with NXNE?
To be in Toronto! We all love Toronto and haven’t been back in a while, so we’re really excited to just be here and hang out in the city.
Who are the other acts you’re most excited to check out?
I think we’re all excited to see Fucked Up. They're a great band and we want to see them. Also I really want to see Boyz Noise.
Are you planning to go to any after parties?
Some of our friends are DJ’ing after our show at Wrongbar on Friday, and they definitely bring the party.
Can you tell us one thing about Canada that’s totally just a stereotype? And one thing about Canada that you wish everyone knew?
Do people think we’re all lumberjacks? It’s only sorta true. I wish everyone knew that Canada has some of the most beautiful women in the world. And that’s the truth.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows? Any stressful equipment or fan meltdowns?
There have definitely been some stressful moments with broken gear or gear not working. Our setup is sometimes intricate, so we need to trust that it’s going to work, but nothing too bad. Kenji’s visual setup is also pretty intricate, so we’ve learned to set up in 10 minutes. In terms of craziest things, we were playing at this place in Montauk, NY a few weeks ago, and Courtney Love got up on stage after our set and played an acoustic set...that was something.
Do you guys have any awesome summer travel plans? How do you get to all your shows?
We’re playing Lollapalooza in July, and then going to Mexico at the end of August! We’re really excited to tour Mexico and play Kenji’s hometown of Guadalajara. We usually tour in our Van, Nebby, and we’ve covered a lot of ground in that Van. It’s cozy, but comfortable.
Did you see that video of Miley Cyrus on stage with Juicy J? Would you ever let Miley get up on stage with you?
Helllllls ya we would. How could we say no to that? I would get in the studio with Miley too. I think that would be pretty dope.
This week we are up in beautiful Toronto for NXNE! There's a ton (like, ton) of cool shows going on, so you'll also be seeing guest blogger and Toronto native Carmel helping us out on some posts! We are all gonna have to be on top of our energy drink game if we want to keep up with everything that's happening. Since arriving yesterday we've been too busy to stuff our faces with poutine (soon), but we did make sure we had plenty of time to check out one of our secret shows, Merchandise, at Parts and Labor. Here's our recap! (And follow our Twitter to see what else we'll be up to.) —Katie
When we first got to Parts and Labor it was packed! Since we were early, we got to catch Milk Music's set and they were totally awesome. I'd been meaning to see them for a while, but they had never played near me, so it's like the fates aligned.
Seriously, if you get the chance to see Milk Music live, you definitely should. They put on an incredible show, and everyone was super into it. (Got a little warm, if you can't tell.)
After Milk Music ended their set, Carson Cox, frontman of Merchandise, came out for their secret set and was like, "Yo, it's my birthday! I'm drinking!" And everyone cheered. Happy birthday, dude!
Merchandise also put on a fantastic show. By the time they were a couple songs in, everyone was moshing like crazy and I was hiding behind a speaker because I am a delicate infant. Like, I would seriously like to give it up for how enthusiastic (drunk?) the crowd was the whole time.
At this point, everyone was going crazy. Carson threw his guitar down on the stage and hopped out into the crowd with all the fans. And that shirt? Stay young indeed, my friend. MAY WE ALL STAY YOUNG FOREVER.
People were 100% committed to this show, crowd-surfing every chance they got, even though the ceilings were probably no higher than 7 feet.
After the show ended we hunted everyone down to get this Merchandise and Milk Music hybrid band picture. Birthday boy on the right was having a blast and a half. Good job being handsome and talented, everyone.
It's like you're right up in the action, right? If only we could have .gif-ed the moment when Carson jumped out into the crowd. Thanks for an awesome show, guys! And everyone else, stay tuned for more posts from NXNE - we've got a lot more planned and we can't wait!
Our guest blogger Carmel hit up a bunch of NXNE shows yesterday, including one of our secret shows, Nu Sensae, and reported back with a quick recap of everything that went on! Choosing what bands to see every day is proving an impossible mission and it's only going to get more hectic from here on out. We can't wait!
(Secret show performers, Nu Sensae)
The city is yet to see much of summer this year. I don't know about you, but the grey, nippy outdoors is making me feel like we're running around Edinburgh rather than Toronto in high summer. Luckily we saw a bit of sun yesterday!
The Replacements haven't played a show in 22 years, but this year they've confirmed that they'll be headlining three Riot Fests in Chicago, Toronto and Denver. Hell yes! Their EP release last year, Songs For Slim, proved that even though they haven't been around, they're still kicking as much ass as they did in the '80s. Pretty cool that a brand new generation will get to see these guys live. —Katie
Night Beds played a couple weeks ago at our Omaha store, and proved they're just as amazing live as they are on their album Country Sleep. One of our part-time associates, Chevy Anderson, shot this video of the event and we love how it came out, so we thought we'd share with all of you. "22," the song the band is performing ruuuules. Nothin' like a good lap steel to put you in the mood for drinking some whiskey and crying over lost loves. —Katie
The Men are a five piece from Brooklyn, New York that successfully combined various styles of music to create their latest release, New Moon. This album's got deep rock and roll roots, with some lo-fi beachy vibes and a bit of punk thrown in. I guarantee you'll dig it. —Maddie
New Moon's main album sleeve has a trippy orange and blue floral design on it, while inside you'll find the black record inside an LP sleeve with a cyanotype-like image of the band, plus a tracklisting and a kind message from the band you'll have to read yourself! Also inside is a fold out lyric booklet that reminds me of a news digest that has lots of cool little drawings on it. This was my favorite part.
Personally, I liked the faster, more punk-influenced cuts on the record, namely "The Brass," and "I See No One." "The Brass" is one of those songs that just instantly hits you in the face and wakes you up. On "I See No One," I can clearly hear the surf rock influences, which is a main part of why I like this album so much. No doubt though, New Moon is a beauty from beginning to end that has top notch variety.
What it's good for:
New Moon is great for anything. Usually I'd tell you a specific place I'd listen to this album, but I'm going to be pretty general on this one! There's so many great sounds on this album, ranging from smoother classic rock melodies to the higher speed songs I mentioned previously, you will definitely find yourself listening to this album anytime, anywhere.
Shop The Men's New Moon.
Portland rapper Grape God's first full-length album A.G.E. surfs the space time continuum between traditional West Coast crunk and metaphysical spoken word poetry. The physical copy of the album also comes with custom artisanal soap by Maak Soap Lab, which is pretty Portland for sure, but also necessary, because the beats are dirty. A.G.E. throws down on a spectrum of subject matter, from time travel to Big Lebowski references to the necessary blunts and brews. It's the perfect companion to an altered-substance Saturday. —Angelo