Music News Digest, July 10, 2017

In advance of a new album, Montreal's Arcade Fire have begun touring in Europe. A show last week in Manchester drew a positive four star review in The Guardian. Writer Dave Simpson stated that "for a band who have sometimes been accused of taking themselves too seriously, Arcade Fire know how to throw a party."

He also noted that "Arcade Fire are one of the world’s biggest bands precisely because of their mastery of the uplifting and anthemic. New material from forthcoming fifth album Everything Now continues to showcase their uncanny ability to subtly reinvent their sound while keeping audiences’ hands above their heads."

—  A new study from UK Music, Wish You Were Here, has encouraging news for the British music industry. Its research shows a 12% rise in audiences at live music events over the past 12 months, bringing £4bn in to the UK economy and providing a welcome boost for the music industry.

The report cites audience numbers in 2016 of 30.9 million, up from 27.7 million in 2015, with 4 million people attending the expanding number of British music festivals in 2016. Music tourism rose by 20% in 2016, and almost 1 million people travelled to the UK from abroad specifically to attend concerts and festivals, spending an average of £850. Source: The Guardian

— Hamilton punk rock heroes Teenage Head have been shaking some action live of late, and they announced some big news on FB yesterday. The post states that "Teenage Head signs with Warner Music to release a double vinyl 'Best Of' anthology spanning the 40-plus year career of the band. This is also the first signing ever to a major Canadian label for the band.

The group played with 54-40 and Colin James at the Havelock Rock Revival last Friday. Upcoming shows include The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on July 14, in a venue they've been playing since the late '70s.

— The life and work of legendary East Coast songwriter Gene MacLellan is the subject of a book expected to be publshed in 2018. It is being written by music scribe and former CBC New Brunswick reporter Bob Mersereau, in conjunction with Gene's daughter Catherine. Mersereau tells the CBC that he actually started working on the book five years ago after being told by a friend there was no book written about MacLellan. "You learn that everything you thought about Gene MacLellan was wrong," he says.

MacLellan is best remembered for writing the hit songs "Snowbird" (Anne Murray) and "Put Your Hand In the Hand" (Ocean). His work has recently been covered by such artists as Al Tuck and Matthew and Jill Barber, while Catherine MacLellan, an award-winning singer/songwriter, has just released a full album tribute to her father,  If It's Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan, out on True North.

— An acrobat performing at the Mad Cool music festival in Madrid, Spain on Friday plummeted to his death, just before headliners Green Day took to the stage. The band later claimed they only heard of the incident after their set, while fest organisers defended the decision to proceed with the show, citing possible security problems if it had been cut short.

—  Long home to many of Toronto's musicians, the rapidly gentrifying Parkdale 'hood in Toronto has just lost two more live music venues. Mezzrow's bar has shut down, while the basement venue in Duggan's Brewery will no longer be hosting live music.

—  Noted East Coast soprano Maureen Batt will launch her new album Lady of the Lake with two shows this week, at the Board Room Game Cafe in  Bedford, July 11, and the Press Gang Restaurant in Halifax, July 12. The album features the entire song cycle of Franz Schubert's "Opus 52" (inspired by Sir Walter Scott's "Lady of the Lake" poem) plus an original commissioned work from Halifax composer Fiona Ryan. It was recorded in a church in Indian River, PEI.

— The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is rolling with its musically eclectic Canada scene festival. Tonight (July 10) it hosts Oscar, With Love, a celebration of jazz great Oscar Peterson, followed by Old Man Luedecke (July 11), Alejandra Ribera and Rufus Wainwright (July 12),  William Prince (July 13), Ariane Moffatt and the NAC Orchestra (July 14) and Socalled and Yves Lambert (July 15).  Indigenous music is showcased on July 22 with a lineup featuring ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots,, Tanya Tagaq, Amanda Rheaume, and more.

— Vancouver power-trash rockers Needles//Pins have added more North American tour dates to their already busy summer schedule, in support of new Mint Records album Good Night, Tomorrow. After 12 US dates, they have shows at Montreal's Turbohaus (Aug. 24), Ottawa's House of Targ (Aug. 25), and Toronto's Smiling Buddha (Aug. 26).

— Saturday (July 8) was the 100th anniversary of the death of Tom Thomson, one of Canada's best-loved painters. In 2011, Toronto singer/songwriter/artist Kurt Swinghammer recorded a tribute to Thomson, "Canoe Lake," inspired by the mysterious circumstances surrounding Thomson's death. The track appears on Swinghammer's album Turpentine Wind. Sample it here

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