Saturday, April 30, 2005

Kids Are Swingin' From The Power Lines

concert review: The Arcade Fire w/ Wolf Parade, Final Fantasy @ Danforth Music Hall(Toronto, Ontario), April 27, 2005

The Arcade FireIt almost seems redundant to even continue my little ol' review of Wednesday night's Arcade Fire show when so many others have already done so[chromewaves, SHOT, 10:51am Toronto, Just Keep Bloggin', foxymoron, Ron Nurwisah, Boy Reporter, radioDan, The New Pollution, Dissolve Into Molecules, Zoilus, Torontoist] but oh well, here goes. So where I last left off was with Final Fantasy and friends performing a non-ironic version of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy", in the process inspiring some initial snickers in the audience but, in the end leaving us with a smile on our faces. Nice start to the evening.

Next up were Montreal's Wolf Parade. The four young gents played an admirable set up psych-pop tunes, propelled by the the bouncy keyboard arrangements, the energetic rhythm section and the feverish lead vocals that alternated between the keyboardist and guitarist. When Win from Arcade Fire jumped down to the front of the stage to take in the set as a spectactor, that inspired a flood of people to take residence in front of the stage. Nice to see the crowd get into the performance. Initial impressions of Wolf Parade are good but nothing earth-shattering. Maybe Danforth Music Hall is too big of a venue for them. They'll be returning to Toronto for a show at the much smaller The Comfort Zone on June 11th, so maybe we should all go check 'em out again.

I hadn't seen The Arcade Fire live since last year's Olympic Island concert and in comparison I'm thinking that that performance was more inspired. The first time I actually saw The Arcade Fire live was back in October 2003 at the Pop Montreal festival. My initial reactions to The Arcade Fire were totally guttural; how their tunes immediately grabbed me, how their live show impressed upon me a feeling of giddiness. Wednesday night's show was good but I was hoping for more of a mind-blowing experience, and from what I've read, Tuesday night's show was the place to be(what with three encores and the band ending the night marching out down the aisle into the street). Moments of greatness did come in the form of the double-attack of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" leading into "Rebellion (Lies)", Regine's lovely take on the samba-esque "Haiti", the propulsive "No Cars Go", and the great new song "Intervention". As usual, it was great to see the wacky physicality of the band on stage as members of the band practically assaulted each other: examples included the infamous tapping of helmets with drumsticks and one member of the band wrapping another member's head with a flag and tapping him on the chest with a drumstick. Owen Pallett got caught up in moments pawing at The Arcade Fire's Sarah and other times wrapping his arms around her tightly, seemingly lost in the emotion of the music. With all this going on, there were still between-song moments of silence(the band having not much to say between songs other the usual thank you's) that interrupted the flow of the evening. Still, when the band came back for a one song encore to perform a stirring rendition of "Wake Up", complete with audience participation in the form of pulling up a massive amount of spectactors on stage, you realize that there's only a handful of Canadian bands that could pull off such a stunt with confidence. [photos]

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fantasy, baby

concert review: The Arcade Fire w/ Wolf Parade, Final Fantasy @ Danforth Music Hall(Toronto, Ontario), April 27, 2005

Final FantasyIf the Tuesday night Arcade Fire show was the better show than the Wednesday night show I went to, at least we had the better weather. I had parked in a lot near the Broadview subway station(which is near Danforth Music Hall) in the morning and took the subway into downtown Toronto to work. After work, I headed back down to the Danforth. I didn't want to pay for parking in the evening and luckily I found a spot on the street where I could park for free. I headed to the venue to see if I should try securing a spot in line but actually it was so early(around 5:30) that the lineup had barely formed. Took some time to grab a bite to eat and by the time I got back to the lineup it had grown a bit. Still, considering how long the lineup got as the 8 pm doortime approached, I was relative close to the front of the line. Waiting in line was a little tiresome, but at least the weather was nice. Once I got into the venue, I was fortunate to get a seat in the fourth row, just about center stage. Ummm, soft seats.

The stage grew dim as Owen Pallett aka Final Fantasy and a friend(controlling the visual slide projections) took the stage. It was the first time I'd ever heard Final Fantasy's music and I found it really interesting. Mr. Pallett usually would start off songs playing a simple violin arrangement fed into a looper, and he'd gradually build up the instrumentation, adding different violin arrangements, or percussive taps on his violin, as well as him yelling into his violin mic. His vocal style had a sort of higher octave Stephen Merritt quality, and the songs consequently reminded me of a chamber pop version of The Magnetic Fields. I didn't quite understand the slide projections visuals in the background which ranged from dinosaur silouhettes to cherubic children and so forth but the way the girl working the slides moved the different slides around felt so soothing. If it couldn't get any better, special guests The Arcade Fire's Regine, Gentlemen Reg, as well as a drummer(sorry I'm not sure who he was) joined Owen for a rousing rendition of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" ... yes, sweet, sweet, fantasy baby.

To be continued.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's A Gas

concert review: The Wedding Present w/ Crystal Skulls @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), April 26, 2005

David GedgeA couple of nights ago I fulfilled one of my wishes and finally got around to seeing The Wedding Present live. Apparently, the last time David Gedge came through Toronto was with Cinerama in 2000 so Toronto-area Weddoe fans have been in a holding pattern ever since. I've been enjoying the band since picking up "Watusi" in the mid-90's and I've picked up many of their earlier efforts over the years. Far from being a total obsessive about the band, I've admired David Gedge's work, if only for his manic guitar style and his sensitive-guy lyrical content. A little older, and maybe a little rounder around the edges(but then aren't we all), Mr. Gedge was really in top form a couple of nights ago. The band was rounded out by two gents on guitar and drums and a lovely brunette gal on bass guitar.

They played a great varied-sounding set from the pop-ferocity of "Venus" to the melancholic Cinerama tune "Health and Efficiency" to the swoony "Perfect Blue" off their newest LP "Take Fountain". I'm a little disappointed in myself for not being familiar with all the songs but everything that night still sounded terrific. Banter was kept to a minimum and even when Mr. Gedge decided to speak up, I couldn't always tell what he was saying; I'm not sure if it was his accent, although I guess the rolled up tissue I was using for earplugs was sort of muffling the sound anyway. It was great to see David thrash on stage while playing guitar on the more manic numbers and even greater to see him play up to his vocals by way of his body language/gestures which reminded me a bit of The Cure's Robert Smith.

Opening the night was a decent band called Crystal Skulls who have an album released through Suicide Squeeze. I was actually quite impressed. They had a mature, textured pop sound at times, fairly catchy with echoes of The Smiths and The Police(like on the "Roxanne"-ish "No Room For Change"). Other times their pop sound was more obtuse, almost jazz oriented[guitar chord-wise], reminding me a little of Canada's The Wooden Stars. The vocalist had a great articulate way of singing that reminded me as a cross between Ben Gibbard and Bobby Darin. I did end up buying their CD "Blocked Skulls" at the end of the night; they aren't always melodically on target but they've displayed set of ideas that's definitely got me interested. BTW, they're a very respectable-looking bunch of indie-rock types; don't let their name fool you. Oh, and since they played a decent set, I'll also forgive them for starting their set a half an hour late. [photos]

Hey, chromewaves was there too and he has photos.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Most Serene Republic

If I've read this post from correctly, The Most Serene Republic from Milton, ON will be the newest addition to the Arts & Crafts roster! According to news at the band's site as well as Sunday League Records, the band has some upcoming tour dates including an opening slot for British Sea Power on May 17th at Lee's Palace in Toronto. Check out a streaming audio sample over at Sunday League Records' page. Comparisons have been drawn to Death Cab For Cutie and Broken Social Scene. The band used to have their own page but it seems to be down now. I guess I'll have to wait for the British Sea Power show to check 'em out further.[Ok, so NOW I believe Feist will NOT be playing that night.] For more info on The Most Serene Republic check out Sunday League Records.

Here's a link to a torrent of a couple of Sloan live performances: 2005-04-21, Barrie & 2001-07-06, Toronto. Just the thing to get you psyched up for the band's new compilation "A Sides Win" which is coming out on May 10th. [thanks to largehearted boy for pointing out torrent link]

Mystery and Misery has got a great Indie-pop Summertime Mix he's compiled featuring indie-pop songs he's found online.

Watch the new video for Julie Doiron's "Snowfalls in November" from her album "Goodnight Nobody". [from Endearing Records]

Montreal's Wolf Parade will be at The Comfort Zone in Toronto on June 11th. [from Sub Pop]

Caught news over at about a great new CD compilation called "... A Compilation for Reach for the Rainbow" released by Basement Recording Co. to raise money for Reach for the Rainbow. It'll sell for $14.99 or less and it'll feature a variety of good Canadian artists(mostly indie), including Cuff The Duke, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Royal City, A Northern Chorus, Great Lake Swimmers, The Inbreds and others. Release date June 14th.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

On The Waterfront

HarbourfrontI did a venue search at Pollstar for 'Harbourfront' and came up with a bunch of new concert dates I hadn't come across yet. Recently the dates for the upcoming Harbourfront Centre summer festival season were announced, although final details have not yet been released. So combined with my Pollstar search results with the dates for the upcoming Harbourfront Centre summer festival season, I've determined the following:

  • Ojos De Brujo(July 3, 2005) playing as part of "Extravaganza: A Feast for the Senses"

  • Daara J(July 15, 2005) playing as part of "All Over the Map: A Feast of Global Sounds"

  • Kid Koala(July 23, 2005) playing as part of "Dim Sum: Sampling Contemporary Chinese Culture"

  • Billy Joe Shaver(August 13, 2005), Derailers(August 14, 2005), Nathan(August 14, 2005) playing as part of "T.O. Twang: All Things Alt Country"

  • Joel Plaskett(August 20, 2005) playing as part of "East Coast Rhythms: An Exploration of Atlantic Canada’s Culture"

  • Update: Thanks to Janice for pointing out in the comments that K-os will be playing Harbourfront on July 29th.

  • [photo above from]

    The Dears will be returning to Toronto for a show at The Phoenix on June 10th...[info from chromewaves]

    On a related note, will be streaming a full set from The Dears on May 7th. [info from Bradleys Almanac]

    Sleater Kinney will be playing a live session for BBC 6music's Gideon Coe tomorrow April 25th. As usual, sessions start around the 20:40:00 mark(about 8:40 London, England time or about 2:40 Eastern Standard Time). Or catch the session in the archives in the future.

    Here's a torrent of the recent Shins show in Toronto at Kool Haus on April 17, 2005 which I went to. Here's my review of the show. [torrent link from largehearted boy]

    The Lollapalooza lineup looks interesting enough that I MIGHT consider going. Our very own Arcade Fire'll be there. It's like Coachella, only closer and cheaper!

    Damn...I just checked out the Architecture of Helsinki website and they've posted their US tour dates running from April 21st through to the end of June. They'll be hitting the US west and east coasts and states in the middle, but no Canadian dates. :-(

    Tahiti 80's first leg of their tour will take 'em through France in May and Japan in June. No North American dates announced yet. Again, :-(

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    God Put A Smile Upon Your Face

    ColdplayColdplay will be playing the Kool Haus on May 11th. Tickets go on sale April 22nd, two-ticket purchase limit. No other Canadian dates have been announced. I'm actually hoping they'll come back this summer and play Molson Ampitheatre. Just imagine: lawn seats under a moonlit summer sky and the band performing "Green Eyes". Perfection. [info from MuchMoreMusic] [photo from http://../]

    Speaking of MuchMoreMusic, highlights from the 2004 Glastonbury festival will be broadcast tonight at 9pm EST. It reruns at 12:30am EST as well as tomorrow at 2pm EST.

    According to the band's official site, Puffy Amiyumi plan to tour the east coast this August 2005. They'll be starting a tour of the west coast tomorrow, including one Canadian date in Vancouver at The Vogue Theatre on April 24th. They will also be appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live on April 28th.

    Great Lake Swimmers will be in Hamilton @ The Staircase Theatre on May 29th. Tickets $5. I called their box office phone number once and I remember them saying the place only holds 65 people. [info from 20hz]

    Bradleys Almanac is graciously hosting mp3's of Mary Timony's set from TT the Bears in Cambridge, MA on April 19, 2005.

    The Stereo Effect says that the new Boo Radleys double-CD anthology entitled "Find The Way Out" will be released July 4th. Hop over to The Stereo Effect for the tracklisting.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Know Your Onion!

    concert review: The Shins w/ The Brunettes @ Kool Haus(Toronto, Ontario), April 17, 2005

    Jamers Mercer of The Shins: photo by Mike LigonThe Brunettes are a fun New Zealand indiepop band who started off the night with a totally charming set. If I remember correctly there were three gents and three women in the band playing a wide range of instruments from the conventional guitar, bass guitar, drums to saxophone. xylophone, melodica, cello, claves, and castanets. They played a very loose, casual set of pop music, at various times touching on country music, soul(as on the horns-embellished "The Record Store"), and indiepop(as in the chipper "Boyracer"). I think I most enjoyed watching the band's enthusiasm on stage, especially the girl with the long brown hair and striped black and white stockings who always had the biggest grin on her face and was continually bouncing along to the pop-tastic grooves. Towards the end of the set the band sang a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen-inspired(or was that just Ashley Olsen inspired?) song, and for the performance donned masks featuring the image of the celebrity. Goofy but lovable.

    The Shins came up next and played an inspired set of pop tunes culled from "Oh, Inverted World" and "Chutes Too Narrow". They also played a spiffy cover of The Magnetic Fields' "Strange Powers". Considering the enormity of the venue and that apparently the last time they played in Toronto they played to at most a hundred people, I was totally surprised how confident the band came across on stage. They were musically on target, never missing a beat or note, and they managed to convert the spaciousness of the Kool Haus into something much more intimate. I was fortunate enough to get a decent view of the stage about three rows back, just to the right of the stage, and for the entirety of The Shins' set I was fixated on the band's presence never really aware of how large the crowd behind me was. My favourite song is of course "New Slang" and the band transformed it into something more majestic-sounding, substituting keyboards for a certain guitar arrangement in the song. They played another favourite of mine "Girl On The Wing" as their second song in their 3-song encore, singing the infectiously catchy chorus "Before we take this ride and let it slide, Into the cracks where fall and winter collide" with an undeniable punchiness. The Beat-sounding "So Says I" was also a lot of fun. These examples aside, it was all terrific in my opinion. Oh, and I did appreciate the "comedic stylings" of The Shins' Marty Crandall. He kept the vibe pretty loose with his funny remarks. Funny thing is he physically reminded me Chris Parnell of SNL. Now if Marty broke out into a Chris Parnell-style rap(yes Chris Parnell, surprisingly has good flow...for a comedian), that would have been funny. [photos from the show]

    In other news, Magnolia Electric Co. return to Canada for a series of live dates, including Toronto. Venues still TBA but the dates are as follows[info from Kork]:

    8-2 - London, ON
    8-3 - Waterloo, ON
    8-4 - Hamilton, ON
    8-5 - Toronto, ON
    8-6 - Ottawa, ON
    8-7 - Montreal, QC
    8-8 - Quebec City, QC
    8-9 - Fredericton, NB
    8-10 - Monckton, NB
    8-11 - Halifax, NB

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    It Was There That I Saw You

    concert review: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead w/ The Octopus Project, Swords @ The Opera House(Toronto, Ontario), April 15, 2005

    And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead @ The Opera House: photo by Mike LigonOne thing I realized coming out of the Trail Of The Dead show at The Opera House last Friday was that mosh pits suck. At 33 years old, I don't necessarily feel old but surrounded by a crowd full of late teens/early twentysomethings made me realize that I'm too old for that mosh pit shit. I was pretty close up to the stage for Trail of the Dead's set and I happened to just be on the edge of where the mosh pit started. Fortunately, I didn't get knocked in the head or anything but every now and then I'd find some jerk bumping into me and messing up some of my photo efforts in the process.

    The lineup on this night featured bands all from Austin, Texas. Swords were up first but I missed their set. Next up were The Octopus Project, a trio made up of two young gents(on guitar/bass guitar/drums) in shirts and ties and a lovely young woman(theremin/keyboards) decked out in a sorta Jetsons/go go-inspired dress. For three people, they created a lot of racket when they wanted to. The drummer started out the set with some furious drumming technique. The songs themselves alternated between spacey, theremin-led arrangements and garagey, distorto-punk numbers. Conrad Keely of Trail of The Dead came up to guest on bass guitar for one tune that had the guitar, bass guitar and theremin playing off each in a drawn out post-rock sort of way. On one tune, the bass guitar came to the forefront, the bassist laying out this great, almost funky, melodic arrangement. The "Project" in their band name is telling; their music seems experimental, sometimes sounding half-finished but still its interesting. Think Death From Above 1979 meets, umm, any band with a theremin.

    Trail of The Dead played a furious set of their brand of intense rock n' roll. There was the double-assault of two drummers on many songs. Lead vocalist Conrad Keely and drummer Jason Reece alternated roles at times, when Mr. Reece would step out from behind the drumkit to take control of lead vocals/guitar. Jason was twice the madmen playing guitar and singing than when he was on the drums. At one point, someone(probably just behind me) hocked a loogey onto Jason's shirt. Jason got fucking pissed off, and then leaned over the edge of the stage and threw a couple of punches towards this one dude in the audience. Otherwise, the rest of the set was less eventful. From what I could recognize the set drew mostly from the band's last two major label albums. The band steamrolled through their set. As much as I think they can sound quite dramatic and varied on record, they seemed more interesting in rocking out that night. Too bad. I think their quieter moments can be just as interesting. At the end of their encore, the band invited EVERYONE up onto the stage as the last strains of their sonic assault came to an end. Good set overall but less enjoyable for the all-ages experience. Really kids, mosh pits suck. Learn how to dance. [photos from the show]

    You can watch Sloan's new video for "All Used Up" over at [info from]

    Aeki Tuesday points out that you can view video clips from Beck's appearance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, where he performed "E-Pro" and "Girl". Low quality videos unfortunately, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.

    House of Blues presale for K-os at The Molson Amphitheatre(July 14, 2005) will begin Tuesday April 19 @ NOON. Public On-sale will begin Saturday April 23 @ 11:00am. Tickets are $32.50. All ages show. Hey maybe if were lucky, K-os'll invite the Arts & Crafts crew as openers. For more on the K-os/Arts & Crafts connection check out chartattack.

    The Shins played a great show yesterday at the Kool Haus in Toronto. I'll post a review tomorrow hopefully but in the meantime check out chromewaves' review.

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    What I'm Trying To Say

    concert review: Exclaim! Tour featuring Stars, The Organ, Wooden Stars, Montag @ Phoenix Concert Theatre(Toronto, Ontario), April 14, 2005

    Stars at Phoenix [part of Exclaim! tour]: photo by Mike LigonSoaked in the good vibes last Thursday night at The Phoenix. It was set up sort of like a mini music festival, but rather than sidestages, there was the main concert stage plus another room where they were showing viewings of some music related films. I walked into the film room first and they were showing what I believe was the Halifax hip-hop documentary "The 902". Also scheduled for viewing that night was The Flaming Lips documentary "My Life With the Fearless Freaks". I've already seen "The 902" but I would have loved to stick around to see The Flaming Lips documentary. However, I chose instead to go check out the bands. I'd already missed Montag. I had a chance to chat with Mishie at the show who described Montag as a guy on a laptop. A guy on a laptop doesn't necessarily make for an exciting live show, but I hear the music's good. In between bands, there was a sunglass-wearing, denim-clad MC on stage who was speaking in a sorta annoying voice, who I was assuming was trying to pump up the crowd. Let's just say he wasn't really successful although he did throw free condoms into the crowd.

    Wooden Stars were up next. I missed their recent reunion shows and I was glad to catch them this time around. I really liked their set. Accessible, verging on poppy sometimes, but really interesting rock instrumentation and time signatures. Their song "Outlaws" [mp3] was pretty representative of their set that night. Unfortunately, the crowd didn't seem to be that interested.

    Having seen The Organ just recently, I was psyched to see them again. They played alot of songs off their cd "Grab That Gun" and they also played a new song or two which I didn't recognize. Unfortunately, with me not being right up in front of the stage I realized that they can kind of be uninteresting to watch live. Aside from the energy of drummer Shelby and the charisma of vocalist Katie Sketch, the other members were alot more mellow. As with the Wooden Stars, I prefer to see The Organ in a smaller venue.

    Stars, well they were Stars. Good set. Surprise guest appearances on one song from Broken Social Scene'r Andrew Whiteman on guitar, as well as a horn section featuring at least one Broken Social Scene'r(whose name I'm not sure of). Torq made some humourous remarks about songs about fucking and death and the band was their general chipper selves. Didn't reach the high of their Mod Club appearances this past December 2004 but it was good nonetheless.

    I guess my only criticism of this year's line up was that that it was just a little too mellow(relatively speaking), especially for a mid-size venue like the Phoenix in Toronto. Stars, progenitors of the "soft revolution", The Organ with their cool post-punk tunes, and the Wooden Stars with their thinking-man's rock sound. And Montag with his laptop: With few instances of "rocking out", this year's Exclaim! Tour was a much more demure affair. [photos]

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    So Lead Me To The Harbour

    HarbourfrontI was checking out Harbourfront Centre's website and they finally have a sneak preview of their upcoming summer festival season! Many of the festivals from last year which I attended will make a return this year such as "Beats, Breaks & Culture: Toronto Electronic Music Festival"(July 8 - 10), "Hot & Spicy Food Festival"(July 29 - August 1) and "Masala! Mehndi! Masti! An Explosive South Asian Arts Festival"(August 3 - 7). I'm hoping the "Gobsmacked Festival" from last year(featuring free shows by Broken Social Scene, The Hidden Cameras, King Cobb Steelie and others) will make a return this year. A interesting new festival this year is "T.O. Twang: All Things Alt Country"(Aug 12 - 14); as I mentioned yesterday Carolyn Mark has already been confirmed. The "Canada Day Extravaganza"(July 1) should be good also as Feist is scheduled to perform at Harbourfront that day according to her website. Full details for all festivals are still to be announced and I'm hoping that there'll be some decent live acts this year. [photo from http://../]

    Neko Case'll be coming back to Toronto on July 7th for a show at Harbourfront! More Neko Case tour dates can be found at

    Bradleys Almanac has graciously provided an mp3 download of John Doe with Neko Case performing "Highway 5" live on Late Night With Conan O'Brien.

    Sloan will be interviewed and will be performing a live session for KEXP on May 6th(noon, Pacific Time). [info from]

    Watch a video of The Dears performing "Lost In The Plot" live on Last Call With Carson Daly. [link courtesy of Aeki Tuesday]

    There's a lot of good streaming live sessions over at Minnesota Public Radio including sessions from Stars and Apostle of Hustle. Check it out. [link from More Cowbell]

    chartattack has news about The Creeping Nobodies who'll be heading back to Fun City Studios in New York to put the finishing touches on their third album.

    eye has a Q & A with Martha Wainwright whose debut CD just came out yesterday.

    A new fan expresses his love for controller.controller. Word.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Everything Is Everything

    concert review: Phoenix w/ Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Joy Zipper @ The Opera House(Toronto, Ontario), April 8, 2005

    Phoenix at The Opera House(April 8, 2005): photo by Mike LigonOn the strength of the song "Too Young" off the "Lost In Translation" soundtrack as well as all the good press I've been reading about Phoenix, I decided to check out the show at The Opera House last Friday night. Honestly, I only bought Phoenix's CD "Alphabetical" a couple of weeks ago and have only had a chance to sample some of it. My first impressions of it were good; sort of a funk-soul-pop hybrid that, to compare Phoenix to two fellow French artists, gave me the impression of them being musically somewhere between Air and Tahiti 80.

    I missed Joy Zipper, but the consensus seems to be that they weren't that good anyway. I did catch second openers from Scotland, Dogs Die In Hot Cars. I still think it's a terrible band name, by the way. Their bouncy guitar pop, fleshed out with equal amounts of vigorous keyboard arrangements, was enjoyable. They're refreshing in their unpretentious sound. They continue along the lines of great Scottish pop tradiion, but build on that with a more quirky sound. I read over at IDEASFACTORY that their debut CD was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, the duo behind classics by Dexys Midnight Runners, XTC, and Madness and yes I can really hear the influences in DDIHC's music. They're a young band, and some of their songs weren't quite on target, but I'd be interested in seeing what direction they take next.

    The straight and narrow pop of Dogs Die In Hot Cars led into the cool soul-groove-pop of headliners, France's Phoenix. Their music's a great intoxicating mix of organic and electronic sounds primarily based on the conventional guitar, bass guitar, drums arrangement, but every now and then throwing in flourishes of cool electronic percussive sounds and warm electronic keyboards. I heard bits of Bee Gees as well as Stevie Wonder within Phoenix's grooves. Rather than replicate the songs off their album, often times the band delved into extended jams. The band turned up the guitars for "I'm An Actor" but the music mostly lingered within a breezy, soulful,pop terrritory perfectly matched with the lead singers cool suave vocals. The lead singer sauntered up to the edge of the stage at times to rouse up the energy of the crowd and the crowd was only happy to oblige by enthusiastically dancing or bobbing their heads. During the encore, the lead vocalist and the guitarist performed a stirring acoustic rendition of "Everything is Everything". All I can say about Phoenix's music is that it's totally refreshing music for the soul. [photos from the show]

    For other reviews of the show, check out 10:51am Toronto and Chris Barr: Blog

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Back To Me

    concert review: Kathleen Edwards w/ Jason Collett @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), April 7, 2005

    Kathleen Edwards at The Mod Club(April 7, 2005): photo by Mike LigonA sort of homecoming for now Toronto-dweller Kathleen Edwards she put on a great show at The Mod Club last Thursday. First up was Jason Collett playing a solo set of his alt-country tunes. I really enjoyed the songs that Kevin Drew(fellow Broken Social Scene'r) contributed backup vocals for. Some of the songs in my opinion could have benefited from a backing band like on the country-rocker "Bitter Beauty", but even in its acoustic setting it was still irresistible. Mr. Collett played a selection of new songs which I hope'll transfer well on the next album.

    Considering my state of mind last week, there was something uplifting about Kathleen Edward's music. The ache of her voice on "Pink Emerson Radio" was strikingly beautiful. Irresistibly catchy songs like "Summerlong" and "What Are You Waiting For" really made me think that Kathleen should be as big as Sheryl Crow. Kathleen's hubby Colin Cripps added some great guitar work to the songs, while multi-talented Jim Bryson contributed a variety of instrumentation including guitar, keyboards, xylophone, and background vocals. Between song banter included some funny remarks with regards to Mr. Bryson's loyalty to the Expos(when someone yelled out "Nationals"[as in the Washington Nationals] Jim said "Fuck You" and grinned) and Kathleen's "warning" for the hootin' and hollerin' women to "stay away from her man"(and she half-jokingly blurted out "I mean it"). On country-rocker "Back To Me", Kathleen showed the swagger which really sets her apart from many female singer-songwriters: When she wants to be, she's dangerous. It was surprising then, but also quite touching, that at the end of the night, with her standing and soaking in the crowd's adoration, it almost looked like she was choked up. [photos from the show]

    Aversion has a feature interview with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine.

    Pitchfork gives Great Lake Swimmers' self-titled album(originally out in 2003 and just rereleased on Misra) 7.8.

    Popmatters discusses the use of string instruments in rock music. Says Rick Nelson, violinist for The Polyphonic Spree, "For years strings were only possible for rock bands on recordings. Strings add an orchestral aspect unattainable through the timbres of traditional rock instruments. Violins and violas are a great harmonic addition to guitars and keyboard ranges, while cellos and the upright bass are very complimentary to the electric bass. Although it is in the beginning stages, more bands everyday are starting to use strings." To add my two cents, I LOVE string arrangements.

    The Dears are on Last Call with Carson Daly tonight while Martha Wainwright will perform on The Late Show with David Letterman on April 15th tonight as well. [from] BTW, the debut full-length from Martha Wainwright comes out tomorrow! Futureshop'll have it for $12.99. I normally hate 'em but you can't beat that price.

    I read over at Kork that The Fall will announce a US tour shortly. Nothing's mentioned so far over at the band website. Maybe Mark E. Smith and the lads'll finally make it to Toronto. We can only hope.

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Life Is Beautiful

    Tiger Woods wins the MastersWhile the last week has been an emotional rollercoaster with my mom being in the hospital, I can say the weekend has ended on several good notes. My mom had a second surgery over the weekend, for which my family and I spent the entire day[from 11 am to 1 am] at the hospital and I'm relieved to say the operation went well. Today, my nephew had his first communion. A TTC strike has been averted for the moment. Tiger Woods won the Masters, ending a 3-year drought of not winning any major tournaments. And the weather has been wonderful lately. Also I have a couple of good shows to look forward to this week including the Exclaim! show at The Phoenix this Thursday and And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead at The Opera House this Friday. I'm loving life right now.[photo from http://../]

    I'm still on a high from the Kathleen Edwards show at The Mod Club in Toronto on April 7th. There's a torrent of a Kathleen Edwards live show in Hamilton, ON from 2003-02-08 courtesy of folks who use to be; they apparently were shut down last week but are now back up again; and my login info still works!). [link from largehearted boy]

    The Arcade Fire will be performing a live session for BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe on May 10, 2005. As usual, sessions start around the 20:40:00 mark(about 8:40 London, England time or about 2:40 Eastern Standard Time). Or else the shows are usually archived for a week. Oh and I just realized that the live sessions are archived, so don't fret.

    Swedish indiepop-sters Sambassadeur performed this past April 8th on BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe program, playing lovely versions of "Between The Lines"(the title of their debut EP) and "In The Calm". As Mr. Coe pointed out in the introduction to "In The Calm", the drumbeat comes courtesy of an iPod!

    The Mint Records site indicates that Carolyn Mark will be playing in Toronto as part of the Harbourfront T.O. Twang Fest which is scheduled from August 12-14th. Anyone have a tentative lineup for this festival?

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    Better Days

    So it's been a weird week. My mom went into the hospital last weekend for gall bladder surgery and is presently still there recovering. There have been complications here and there with infections they are still trying to diagnose. She's better and somewhat stable but I'd feel alot better when she's given a clean bill of health. I'm glad I've had my family around and it's times like these where you appreciate them more. My mom's funny; she's been asking me to smuggle her in a Coke when she knows she's not suppose to have it right now. :-) My grandfather was also hospitalized, which reminds me that I should go visit him. Then of course the Pope passed away. I'm Catholic but I think I appreciated the Pope for his message of love and kindess then any of his hardlined Catholic stances. Let's just say I'm a little more liberal-minded on certain issues than other Catholics. I'll leave it at that; I'm not really in the mood for a debate. Of course, the TTC strike's looming for Monday and I've already agreed to drive into the city and carpool with other workmates. I'm still hoping something will be resolved over the weekend. I can only imagine that the roads will be crazy-busy during a transit strike. So you see, my mind hasn't totally been with blogging this past week.

    I already had a ticket for the Kathleen Edwards show at The Mod Club and I was in enough of a mood to still go check it out. I'll try posting more on it tomorrow, including some photos, but I have to say she put on a fantastic show. Her voice just ached with emotion and seeing how she was almost brought to tears at the end of the night in response to crowd's response just tugged at my heart. On a related note, check out Kathleen Edwards NOW covergirl.

    So I'll be checking out the Phoenix/Dogs Die In Hot Cars/Joy Zipper show tonight at The Opera House. Hopefully I get some good photos.

    If you can't catch Of Montreal in Toronto at Sneaky Dee's on April 23rd, they'll be in Hamilton, ON at The Casbah on April 25th. [from 20hz]

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    One Evening

    Feist wins a Juno!Interscope Records says Feist'll be in Toronto on May 17th at Lee's Palace. Is she opening for British Sea Power who are scheduled for that date? I've read at the British Sea Power forum that Feist'll be opening for British Sea Power in New York City on May 15th as had been reported previously by Brooklynvegan. Also the tour date info at Feist's website has her in France at the beginning of May which doesn't gel with the info at Interscope Records which has her in the United States during the same time. So what's the dilio? Can I count on Feist for May 17th in Toronto at Lee's Palace? [photo from Juno Awards photo gallery] Update: As Janice pointed out in the comments, Feist's website lists a May 17th date at Lee's Palace. And the tour date info at her site now is consistent with the info at Interscope Records.

    Glorious Noise has an interview with Alexandra Patsavas who is the music supervisor of the television show, "The OC". Popmatters posted their interview with Alexandra yesterday. ...I still don't think I'll be watching "The OC" anytime soon.

    Today's news update at the Architecture in Helsinki website indicates that their new album "In Case We Die" dropped today in Australia and will come out in the US next week. They also say that dates for their US tour should be confirmed sometime this week...and this is a rare instance when I'm hoping that when they say US, I'm hoping they're also including Canada. Come to Toronto!

    Billboard reports on former Belle and Sebastian member Isobel Campbell's recent collaborations with Mark Lanegan and James Iha. "Ballad of the Broken Seas" is a collaboration with Mark Lanegan that Campbell describes as in the style of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood's albums from the '60s, while "Over the Wheat and the Barley" is more folkey and features Smashing Pumpkins/A Perfect Circle guitarist James Iha and former Soup Dragons member Jim McCulloch.

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    Just the links Maam, just the links

  • Newly announced Thievery Corporation dates: the band will be in Toronto on May 18th at Carlu and May 19th in Montreal at Spectrum. As had originally been announced they will be in Vancouver on May 10th 11th at Commodore Ballroom. [from]

  • The English Beat will be @ the Horseshoe in Toronto on May 11th, tickets $25.00. The same day Stereophonics will be @ the Phoenix, tickets also $25.00. [from Rotate This]

  • Download some torrents of some talented Canadian female musical artists[links courtesy of largeheartedboy]:

    -> Kathleen Edwards, KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic - 2005-03-24 [flac]
    -> Martha Wainwright, Hollywood, 2005-03-28 [flac]

  • Check out the Demon Remix of Feist's "Inside and Out" here. [link courtesy of this japanese blog]

  • Sunday, April 03, 2005

    The Juno's from the 'peg

    The Juno Awards are tonight. The nominations this year that I really give a crap about are below; my picks are the ones that I've included hyperlinks for. Can't wait for Feist's live performance!

  • Keshia Chanté

  • Fefe Dobson

  • Matt Dusk

  • Feist

  • Matt Mays

  • Alexisonfire

  • Death From Above 1979

  • The Marble Index

  • Thornley

  • The Waking Eyes

  • All Of Our Names Sarah Harmer

  • Matt Mays Matt Mays

  • Retriever Ron Sexsmith

  • Day One Sarah Slean

  • Want Two Rufus Wainwright

  • Funeral The Arcade Fire

  • Let It Die Feist

  • Now, More Than Ever Jim Guthrie

  • The Slow Wonder A.C. Newman

  • Set Yourself on Fire Stars

  • Bryan Adams (Director/Photographer); Dirk Rudolf (Designer) Room Service - Bryan Adams

  • Tracy Maurice (Director/Designer/Illustrator); Hilary Treadwell (Photographer) Funeral - The Arcade Fire

  • Jesse F. Keeler (Director/Designer/Illustrator); Eva Michon (Photographer) You're a Woman, I'm a Machine - Death From Above 1979

  • Vincent Marcone (Director/Designer/Illustrator) It Dreams - Jakalope

  • John Rummen & Kim Kinakin (Director/Designer/Illustrator); James Michin III (Photographer) Under My Skin - Avril Lavigne

  • Update: Just found out that 31 Juno Awards were handed out last night. Check out those winners at Yay, Feist for winning Alternative Album of The Year! If Arcade Fire had to lose it to anyone, it was her.

    Update[8:51pm EST]: Feist performs "Mushaboom" solo! Really terrific, just Feist singing and playing guitar. She stopped midway through the song for some reason to speak to some sound guy at which point I thought the performance was over, but then she continued with the song, at the satisfaction of the audience. The only thing that could have made the performance better than it already was was if the arena full of spectactors broke out in a spontaneous clap-a-long. Otherwise it was a really sublime performance.

    Update[9:04pm EST]: My oversight, I didn't mean to ignore k-os in my awards picks above. I really like his music. He just performed "B-boy Stance" with a live band and some break dancers and he also performed a great version of "Crucial". I hope he wins in his respective categories.

    Update[9:32pm EST]: Congrats to Ron Sexsmith for winning Songwriter of the Year. Yay, for Feist winning New Artist of the Year and for having the best speech ever, especially for thanking Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle and Arts & Crafts.

    Update[9:50pm EST]: The talented and lovely Sarah Harmer introduces The Tragically Hip as the newest inductees into the Music Hall of Fame. Good for 'em. They're that rare breed who've managed to attain a level of mainstream success(at least in Canada) while maintaining a level of artistic quality that I continue to admire. I'm not the biggest Hip fan, but some of their plaintive, quieter moments like "End of The Century", or their dramatic "Nautical Disaster" are downright sublime.

    Update[10:02pm EST]: Yo, k-os wins Best Rap Recording for "Joyful Rebellion". And he keeps his thank-you's short... as in "thanks" and then walks off the stage.

    Update[10:35pm EST]: The winner of the new category, Alternative Album of The Year is Sarah Harmer for "All of Our Names".

    Update[10:41pm EST]: In that grand tradition of rock bands performing with a symphony, Sum 41 took their turn tonight, adding a string section to their live performance of "Pieces".

    Update[10:47pm EST]: k-os wins Single of the Year for "Crabbuckit".

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    Wicked and Weird

    Buck 65CTV(in Canada) will premiere the Halifax hip hop scene documentary The 902 on April 3, 2005 at 7 pm EST. I highly recommend you check it out. I caught a live screening of this documentary during the Brampton Indie Arts Festival and I found it to be an insightful as well as entertaining work. The Halifax Herald has an article that nicely encapsulates what the documentary is about. [from chartattack] [photo from http://../]

    The new issue(#8) of Being There is now online, and for Canadian content features a profile on The Inbreds.

    The most recent issue(#5, March 28, 2005) of The Ratio includes one person's account of being a Thrush Hermit fan.

    The Rheostatics have announced some upcoming live dates, the closest one to Toronto being in Hamilton at The Casbah on May 28th.

    This year's Siren Music Festival(at Coney Island in New York City) is scheduled for July 16th. Lineup still TBA.