Old Man Luedecke – Tender Is The Night

I’ve only been introduced to his music recently, but Old Man Luedecke has quickly become one of my favorite roots musicians. With his wry humor and engaging presence, his songs feel all the more touching for their honesty. A master storyteller as much as a badass banjo picker, I’ve seen him three or four times in the last six months and not once has he repeated any of the (many) hilarious anecdotes he’s related.

Last night, he played an intimate set at the Dakota and I got to hear opine on circumstances regarding the song below, including drinking on a beach, the anxiety of writing what you know and an intense envy of the career path of the surfer.

Old Man Luedecke told it better than I do, though. Anyway, he (and his awesome hat) have got a new record out; Tender Is The Night is available on iTunes and should be making its way into record stores everywhere soon. Check out ‘I’m Fine’ below.

Cool Band Alert: Dusted

Here’s one of the most interesting groups I’ve heard in a while: Dusted. Everything I’ve seen from this band expresses that same worn-out sort of atmosphere that just feels like a city summer.

I love that second track.

Dusted‘s debut LP is released July 10th on Hand-Drawn Dracula records.

As well, you can follow the duo on Twitter, @totallydusted

NXNE Alert: Dusted is playing a set at The El Mocambo, next Thursday June 14th at midnight for North-by.

Japandroids – Celebration Rock – Update

Just letting you know you can check out Japandroids’ single The House That Heaven Built on NPR’s All Songs Considered — CLIQUEZ HERE.

I lived through 2003 once, but it’s super nice to have it back again. This record is going to be a monster, PS.

S#@t You Should’ve Heard Before: Bruce Peninsula – Open Flames / At The Dakota

That was Bruce Peninsula, the world’s roughest choir, playing the first track off their new record, Open Flames. It’s a great record, filled with call-and-response vocals and by far the most interesting instrumental parts I’ve heard from these musicians–they’ve got these progressive, snaky parts with these shivering, delicate vocals like glass over top of them, ready to fall apart at any point in the album. For me, that sort of a base to build songs on is going to always create a sense of unease, a roughness in the music that prevents it from ever being boring or comfortable, even when it’s soothing and beautiful.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to see the full force of Bruce Peninsula in a small bar, like the Dakota Tavern in Toronto, where they’re playing this week. When there’s this many singers in the room, having them all moving in and out of the songs can’t help but create dynamics like you never see. The crush of the vocals when they come in behind the lead of “In Your Light.”

52 seconds in… The music stops and the singers hit you like a hammer.

Open Flames works best when you have the time to listen to it from start to finish, but I found certain tracks quickly started making their way to other playlists, pulling themselves out of context. The spiritual center of the record is, for me, in the push and pull between the 6th track, Open Flame–a dense track alive with shifting moods and a serene interlude that serves to ground the sometimes distressing moods in the rest of their work–and the 7th, Or So I Dreamed, which I can only describe as deceptively tranquil.

I was fortunate enough to see a brief set from this group at a CD release party for Bruce Peninsula member Tamara Lindeman, who composes solo as The Weather Station. Her new album is a low-key alt-folk affair, beautiful and understated. That was a great show, and I can’t recommend either of these acts enough.

Catch Bruce Peninsula this Wednesday at the Dakota before they go back on tour for god-only-knows how long.

Cause what am I if not just dust, just dust …

S#@T You Should’ve Heard Before: Elliott Brood

Elliot Brood was one of the first bands I found when I moved to Toronto, and they’ve remained one of my favorites since. A three-piece featuring two singers, ukulele, banjo, guitars, one of those Moog Taurus synths you play with your feet, and, up until last year, a Samsonite suitcase for a bass drum, these gentlemen are nothing if not unique. And that’s not even counting the unmistakable Mark Sasso on lead vocals.

Their first record, “Tin Type,” is very much kitchen party music.  It sounds like it was recorded in someone’s living room, which is perfect, because I’m pretty sure it was. The very first time I saw them, hidden amidst four or five crappy FM blooz-rok bands in the Horseshoe, they stood out like a grizzly at a polar bear party. Imagine these three guys in suspenders and suitjackets, sweating like crazy under the stage lights, festooned with fedoras and bowler hats–and all the previous bands in jeans and t-shirts with sunburst Stratocasters just standing there, looking confused.

Here’s “Oh Alberta.”

Well, the years passed, and I saw Elliott Brood for free at Nathan Phillips Square, not-free at the Horseshoe, and other venues, any time I heard they’d be playing. Then I found out they’d recorded another record.

“What?!” I asked. “There’s MORE of this wonderful stuff?”

And there was. And, like so many other groups, the Brood decided their second record needed to be a concept record–but theirs was not one built around a nebulous idea, like trying to recreate the sounds of clouds. No, the Brood wrote their second record about a bridge.

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S#@t You Should’ve Heard Before: The National

Who the Hell was THAT?! Echoing everything from Joy Division to Leonard Cohen, English New Wave and ‘No Depression’ Americana, it’s The National. If you pay any attention to Rolling Stone you would’ve seen their latest album, High Violet, alongside Kanye’s last release in the top albums of the year. And yet, apart from that one hip uncle we all seem to have (shout out to my Uncle Steven, by the by) nobody’s heard this group.

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