Wildlife Release Full Length Version of Their EP, “Strike Hard, Young Diamond”

Canada is a big and confusing place, unless of course, you’re from there. But even then, it’s still a lot to grasp, eh? Seems like the vastness and all the maple sugar highs can often cause people to freak out like a Moose Gone Wild. Or at least, they write songs about the confounded feelings from living in such a large, cold and too-cussing-polite-about-it-all place. Toronto’s Wildlife clearly is no exception, as demonstrated on their latest release, Strike Hard, Young Diamond.

Channeling fellow Canadians Tokyo Police Club and wilderness influenced uber-rockers, Wolf Parade; Wildlife delivers a melodic, heady, transfixing offering with Strike Hard, Young Diamond. Extended from their EP of the same name, Wildlife thought it fitting to finish the project by adding gutsier tracks to round out the effort.

Emoting youth gone angstier, Strike Hard, Young Diamond plays almost too candid at times, offering desperation right from the opening tracks, “Stand in the Water” and “Sea Dreamer” all the way through to “American Eyes” and “Out,” but it works in their favor, like a sordid reality show, it’s hard to turn away. “Drunken Heart” is sure to be a classic. It waxes and wanes with a precision so hypnotic that you’ll mourn it’s ending with maudlin pause. Even “Move to the City,” which sounds familiar and somewhat unimportant at first, unravels into anthem status.

Though there are at least more than twelve moments eerily indistinguishable from Wolf Parade (or any of their myriad worthy side/side/side projects), there’s solace in the sounds on Strike Hard Young Diamond. Imagine that you’re standing in the middle of Canada’s magnificent Boreal Forest. Certainly no one would feel nearly as comforted if there was only one frail tree standing alone. Wildlife embraces the Canadian sound with hubris, laying deep roots alongside fellow greats, hopefully for decades to come.

Vive le forests.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen for yourself. Three songs for FREE:


Modern Mystery’s Top 25 Albums of 2009


1. The Wooden Birds-Magnolia
From the ashes of the classic indie band, American Analog Set, rose a new project from former frontman, Andrew “AK” Kenny, called The Wooden Birds. Shifting completely everything he’s done musicially, AK has come out with one of the most surprising releases of the year. Creating a record that is more folk than rock, no songs on the album contain any drums what-so-ever. The bass and vocals really take off and captivate you, the listener. The live sets of the song also include Matt Pond on guitar along with songstress Leslie Sisson. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a heart felt and warm record in the past 10 years.

2. Julian Casablancas- Phrazes for the Young
It’s been a long time since we heard from The Strokes as a unified band. A lot of fans were hesitant on the thought of a solo album by the charasmatic leader, Julian Casablancas, putting out music that doesn’t resemble his band at all. What a surprise it was when we found he took his love for a bit of 1980’s dance and incoporated it with his unforgettable voice and lyrics. The end result? One of the coolest records of the year. We’d expect no less from him.

3. James Husband- Parallax 1
It took 10 years for multi-instrumentalist and drummer from Of Montreal, James Husband, to create his solo album masterpiece. Husband is in the spotlight for the first time in his career and wow, is he certainly taking advantage of it. Providing one of the best indie pop records of the past year, he lets out a 60’s retro sound that no one can mess with. The end result is something as charming as it seems. Raw, catchy, and glorious.

4. Alvin Band-Mantis Preying
Rick  Schaier is not only an amazing drummer and artist, but he is also an extremely talented singer and songwriter. Schaier who spends most of  his time playing drums in The Miniature Tigers has begun a new chapter in his book in the form of ‘Alvin Band,’ this year and completely blew our minds. Blending a retro sound with updated electronics, this is one album you should pick up if you haven’t yet. The catchy hooks and vocals will only leave you wanting more. That my friends, is a good thing!

5. Bishop Allen- Grrr
It’s been a long night since Bishop Allen gained attention by two teenagers named Nick and Norah, and fans were at the edge of their seat wondering what the Brookyln line up would come up with next. Taking a further step into their brilliant indie pop sound, the band did not disappoint at all with Grrr. See it as the next chapter in the Bishop Allen movie, one that is bound to have many sequels in store.

6. Grizzly Bear-Veckatimest
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you may have heard of a little band called Grizzly Bear. Somehow exploding this year, it was certainly one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2009. Every song is flawless. Catchy yet moody. Beautiful in every way. This album describes itself better than anyone ever could.

7. Bat for Lashes- Two Suns
Completely out of left field, the lovely miss Natasha from Bat for Lashes surprised us all this year with making a stunning, charming, and beautiful record. The combination of her voice and the spacey background music is enough to send chills down your spine. And it does just that. The haunting track “Daniel” captivated the attention of many, and the rest of the album is able to keep you around.

8. Flight of the Conchords-I Told You I Was Freaky
Yes, they are known for writing ‘funny’ songs, but on this record, FOTC became even witty and even more advanced it seems in their writing. Their songs, even though the lyrics are mostly ‘silly’, are composed perfectly from start to end. Jermaine and Bret are really on top of their game with this record. We can’t wait to hear more!

9. Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This band always makes a great record, and their 2009 hit was no different. Everyone wanted a piece of Phoenix and boy, did they get them. This classic indie dance pop record was a must have for everyone who ‘knew what’s cool.’ Apparently, this was the world.

10. Girls-Girls
An unlikely hit, this retro indie duo shocked us all with such a raw and appealing debut album. This lo-fi record filled with melodies, doesn’t need any frills or thrills to make it great. It hold’s its own firmly which is a hard thing to mess with.

11. Cass McCombs-Catacombs
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Its Blitz
13. Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Pains of Being Pure at Heart
14. Casper and the Cookies-Modern Silence
15. Headlights-Wildlife
16. Japandroids- Post Nothing
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars-Why There are Mountains
18. Kevin Devine- Brother’s Blood
19. Joan of Arc- Flowers
20. Passion Pit-Manners
21. The Antlers- Hospice
22. Loney Dear-Dear John
23. Neko Case-Middle Cyclone
24. The Mountain Goats- The Life of the World to Come
25. Dirty Projectors-Bitte Orca

Headlights’ Live Webcast Tonight!

The Modern Mystery crew currently has Headlight’s fever over here! Not only is the band playing three shows at CMJ next Friday and Saturday in  Brooklyn, but they are also embarking on a lengthy U.S. tour that kicks off tomorrow in Iowa City, IA. To give fans a taste of what is coming (and what Wildlife is sounding like live), Headlights are doing a special Webcast performance from their rehersal studio, TONIGHT AT 9PM EST TIME (6PM PAC). 

Be sure to catch the whole performance at their WEBSITE ! This is something you won’t want to miss!

In other Headlights’ news, the band is premiering their first music video off of Wildlife for “Get Going” over at Spin Earth. Check out Headlight’s tour dates below and in case you missed it the first time, give our interview with front woman Erin Fein a read!

Headlights Tour Dates

10/15 Iowa City, IA The Mill
10/16 Dekalb, IL The House
10/17 Chicago, IL Apple Store on Michigan Ave. 2pm
10/17 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle *#
10/18 Pontiac, MI The Pike Room *#
10/19 Rochester, NY Bug Jar *#
10/20 New London, CT The Oasis *#
10/21 Allston, MA Great Scott *#
10/23 Brooklyn, NY Knitting Factory *
10/23 Brooklyn, NY The Bell House / Polyvinyl CMJ Showcase $
10/24 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg / AAM CMJ Party 1:45pm
10/24 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie *#
10/25 Washington, DC DC9 *#
10/26 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 *#
10/27 Atlanta, GA Drunken Unicorn #
10/28 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub #
10/29 Birmingham, AL Bottletree #
10/30 Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe #
10/31 Urbana, IL The Iron Post #
11/04 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room #%
11/05 Denver, CO Hi Dive #%
11/06 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court #%
11/07 Boise, ID Neurolux #%
11/08 Seattle, WA Sunset Tavern #%
11/10 Portland, OR Berbati’s Pan #%
11/12 San Francisco, CA Cafe Du Nord #%
11/13 Los Angeles, CA Spaceland #%
11/14 San Diego, CA Soda Bar #%
11/15 Tucson, AZ Plush #%
11/17 San Antonio, TX Rock Bottom #%
11/18 Austin, TX Emo’s #%
11/19 Denton, TX Rubber Gloves #
11/20 Hot Springs, AR Maxine’s Pub #
11/21 St. Louis, MO Firebird #
12/11 Milwaukee, WI Bay View Brew Haus
12/12 Madison, WI Der Rathskellar at Univ. of Wisconsin

* = w/ The Shaky Hands
# = w/ Pomegranates
% = w/ Anni Rossi
$ = w/ Japandroids, James Husband, Cale Parks

Shining Bright with Erin from the Headlights


This week indie darlings, Headlights just released their third, highly anticipated album, Wildlife (Polyvinyl). The album shows a new side of the band but still manages to obtain those great Headlights hooks and sound that we all know and love. Recently I had the chance of interviewing the lovely Erin Fein who gave us some insight on what makes Headlights shine.

How did everyone in the band initially meet?

Let’s see, we’ve known each other for a long time. I’ve known Tristan, our guitarist since I was in high school. Originally we were a three piece and met at the University of Illinois and that’s where we went to college. And then we met our bass player, Nick, just through playing music since we had already started the band at that point. We stole him for us.

 Your third album, Wildlife is coming out. Are you nervous since Some Racing, Some Stopping was so successful?

Yea I think you’re always nervous just because your putting something out there that’s very personal so it’s kind of a vulnerable feeling. But I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to be back on tour and see what adventures lay before us.

 What is the inspiration behind the songs on the new album?

 It really comes from a lot of places but meanwhile we just tend to write about things that we’re going through and things that we feel. So Tristan and I particularly had some a big year as far as shifting family health issues and some people passing away. That kind of stage of life comes to people at different times and so it’s difficult. I guess probably what we went through definitely affected the mood of the record.

 Had did you come up with the title of the record?

 Well actually, it’s been a long time trying to think of what we wanted to call the record. It didn’t come very fast but we wanted some sort of way of expressing this kind of general idea we were feeling. It’s not particularly original, just the idea of kind of like this song that’s on the record called ‘We’re All Animals,’ just is sort of a personal realization sometimes that you’re not in control, people can be cruel, life can be cruel. But also the positive side of that too. So I think maybe Wildlife has the idea of animals and how we’re probably closer to that than we’ve wanted. But that’s what it means, I think, to me anyway! You may get a different answer from someone else in the band.

 What’s your favorite song on the new record?

 I will say my favorite is the one called ‘Secrets,’ because I just love the melody and I love every time we play it. It’s personal so it feels meaningful when I sing it, particularly meaningful, not that the other ones aren’t meaningful. That one is very close to my heart.

 What’s it like being the only girl in an all boy band?

 Sometimes it’s overwhelming, a little overwhelming. I grew up with brothers so I’m kind of used to that dynamic anyway so I think it’s fairly natural for me to be around a bunch of guys, since that’s how it worked growing up. Sometimes I urn for a female friend when I’m out on the road. Every now and then I get to go on tour with other bands that have girls and that’s always a delight.

 Do you think it’s harder for women in indie rock in general to have to prove themselves as great musical forces?

 I don’t know if it’s harder for women that it is men, but women are definitely outnumbered. I think doing anything when you’re kind of up against a lot of other guys, maybe it can be a little intimidating at times. For me personally which is probably the best way to speak about it, I think I feel like I wish I had a man’s voice. Because I really love sort of scratchy voices like Bob Dylan, the guy’s voice from The National, so many examples. So many male voices that I love, but there’s a lot of female voices that I love too. I always feel that everytime I sing it’s very ‘pretty’ and I like my voice a lot, but it doesn’t have that deep dark thing that it seems that male voices can do. But then again you go to somebody like Stevie Nicks, she has a great, strange, dry voice. Maybe I just need to smoke a lot of cigarettes.

 How does the songwriting process occur for the band?

It is somewhat collaborative. Basically we don’t have one way we stick to necessarily but generally it happens that either Tristan or I write a song and record a demo to give it flavor. Then we’ll bring the demos we made to the guys and we’ll knock it out and be like ‘here it is, does it do anything for you?’ And so the one we tend to gravitate to we record it downstairs in our basement and just trying to open them up and making them a Headlights song, not just a Erin song or a Tristan song.

What’s your favorite part about recording in general?

At least with modern technology you’re limitless as far as with what you can do. You can put 15 keyboard tracks, no problem. I really love arrangements like that with lots of melody and tons of keyboards, I’m a keyboard player. I also enjoy pulling back every now and then but really I tend to just want to keep putting more and more onto a song to our drummer’s dismay because the does all the recording. He has to tell me to stop usually! I love the aspect that you can just dive into your song and create this musical landscape and that’s unique to recording for me.

 What’s your favorite part about being on tour?

I like traveling. We live in Champaign, well Tristan and I live in Champaign, it’s a lovely little town but it does get boring. When we leave it’s the feeling of ‘Yes I got out!’ so I get to see the world again. I love traveling and particularly like going to the west coast just because the drive there is so beautiful, and I love New York City that’s always an exciting place to be. I think the traveling and the performing every night, the waiting part is a little bit hard when you’re sitting in the van and there are so many hours of nothing to do. But once we get to have a drink and then we play it’s really fun.

What inspires you to write music?

 I don’t really know. I don’t know why I started writing music, except I always gravitated towards playing music. Even when I was very little I always wrote my own little songs on the piano so I guess it’s hard to say. The music just sort of comes to you I guess.

 Did you record Wildlife yourself?

 We recorded it ourselves, but actually the credit should go mostly to our drummer. He’s really the brains behind the recording operation.

 How would you describe the difference between the new record and the first two albums?

I think that this one is a little darker, sonically and lyrically. At least something we try to do, or like doing are kind of writing songs that straddle sort of hopefulness with a darker edge. I think that remains. We try to just go into a recording studio with an open mind and see what comes out. Having some basic idea set before we go in and because of that each record is pretty different from the last record, and that’s kind of what we like to do. It’s boring to do the same thing over and over again.

 Who are your influences?

 They’re so many of them. Harry Nilsson, you know the song ‘The Point’? ‘Me and My Arrow,’ I love that one. I’m a big Stevie Nicks fan and Fleetwood Mac. I really love Emmylou Harris. It’s so hard for me to narrow this down especially using the rolodex of musician’s in your mind and you don’t know where to stop. Most I’m drawn to really neurotic music, edging towards that. There are so many fantastic band’s I’ve loved over the years like The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Neil Young. I kind of tend to listen to a lot of older stuff. Carole King, newer bands, I really love the new Grizzly Bear record. Influences just come from so many different places. Some of it’s musical, some of it’s lyrical. It’s a person or something you have done, so it’s hard to say it comes from one place only. Definitely it’s centered around a lot of melody.

 Are you excited about playing the new songs on the road?

Yes very much so! After you play 200 or something shows a year, the same songs over and over again it’s exciting to put new flavors into your setlist. It’s nice and fresh to play for people.

What’s your favorite song to play live?

Right now, honestly, I love playing the new song ‘Secrets.’ I love playing that song, it really seems to go over well everytime we play it. It’s a very dynamic song.

If you weren’t in The Headlights, what would you be doing?

Riding a horse off into the sunset! Am I allowed to say that? I have no future ahead of me as you can see. I’m a musician first and riding horses into the sunset second. There’s no health insurance in my future unless Obama gets his way, which I’m crossing my fingers. To anyone reading this just know I like the public option. Selfishly!

 Where do you see The Headlights in 10 years from now?

We’re all be fat! If the guys read that I’m going to be in trouble

Best answer ever.

Except for me!

Check out Headlights on MYSPACE


Headlights Extend U.S. Tour and Hit Up CMJ

Polyvinyl darlings, Headlights have just extended their already lengthy U.S. tour for the fall. The band drops their third album, Wildlife (Polyvinyl) on October 6th and they are doing everything in their power to promote it. Recording their latest venture was not exactly easy for the band as there was a lot of turmoil which led to the departure of guitarist John Owen. The band states that Wildlife is their most personal album to date, and it’s a bit more complex. The first single, ‘Get Going’ shows just that. You can’t help but feel every emotion in singer Erin Fein’s voice. The Headlights have also announced they will be playing CMJ this year at the Polyvinyl showcase which will take place at Brooklyn’s Bell House. Sharing the bill with the band will also be Japandroids, Cale Parks and James Husband from Of Montreal. This is one CMJ show to mark on your calender.

Download The Headlights “Get Going”

Headlights Tour Dates

 10/15 – Iowa City, IA The Mill

 10/16 – Dekalb, IL The House

10/17 – Chicago, IL Apple Store on Michigan Ave. 2pm

10/17 – Chicago, IL Empty Bottle *#

 10/18 – Pontiac, MI The Pike Room *#

10/21 – Allston, MA Great Scott *#

 10/23 – Brooklyn, NY The Bell House / Polyvinyl CMJ Showcase $

 10/24 – Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie *#

10/25 – Washington, DC DC9 *#

 10/26 – Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 *#

10/27 – Atlanta, GA Drunken Unicorn #

10/28 – Orlando, FL Will’s Pub # 1

0/29 – Birmingham, AL Bottletree #

 10/30 – Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe #

 11/05 – Denver, CO Hi Dive #%

11/06 – Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court #%

 11/07 – Boise, ID Neurolux #%

11/08 – Seattle, WA Sunset Tavern #%

 11/10 – Portland, OR Berbati’s Pan #%

 11/12 – San Francisco, CA Cafe Du Nord #%

11/13 – Los Angeles, CA Spaceland #%

11/14 – San Diego, CA Soda Bar #%

11/15 – Tucson, AZ Plush #%

11/17 – San Antonio, TX Rock Bottom #%

11/18 – Austin, TX Emo’s #%

11/19 – Denton, TX Rubber Gloves #

11/20 – Hot Springs, AR Maxine’s Pub #

 * = w/ The Shaky Hands
 # = w/ Pomegranates
% = w/ Anni Rossi
$ = w/ Japandroids, James Husband, Cale Parks