Monday, October 30, 2006

Massive Night

concert review: The Hold Steady, Sean Na Na @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), October 28, 2006

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Michael Ligon

If I ever believed in the healing powers of rock n' roll, I had to look no further than The Hold Steady who were playing the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto this past Saturday night. While I'd been down with a cold for a week prior to the show, by the time The Hold Steady's set rolled around this past Saturday night, it was like a shot of adrenaline. Fronted by charismatic frontman Craig Finn, he brought an Evangelical-like zeal to his stage presence as his sing-speak vocals had the crowd's full attention. While I'm a fan of much what's currently in vogue in rock n' roll, whether it be post-punk, garage-rock, or what-have you, The Hold Steady are wholeheartedly American-sounding. I've read the Bruce Springsteen comparisons and yeah that did ring true at times during The Hold Steady's hour plus set. I was actually reminded of another great American band, The Replacements. Like them, The Hold Steady perform an exuberant brand of working-class rock n' roll. The guitarist performed some of the crunchiest guitar sounds I've heard in a long time, and it was amazing. The dude with a moustache who played keyboards and harmonica was also a standout.

I'm reminded of how late I've jumped on The Hold Steady bandwagon. I recall overhearing a conversation this summer(or was it last year?) at a Toronto indie record store(which shall remain nameless) where two persons(I believe one was a store employee) talking about The Hold Steady where one person expressed The Hold Steady to be 'average' indie rock. After, I just never bothered to give 'em a listen. However, given the accolodaes threwn upon them in the music press, and bloggers like Chromewaves(who was also at the show) and others, I decided to finally check 'em out.

So yes, the show was pure rock n' roll. Craig Finn sing-speak vocals were somewhat peculiar against the more conventional rock n'roll instrumentation but you know what, I liked it. Mr Finn was a consummate frontman, exuding an energy as he extended his arms to the crowd, even if he look like a university teacher's assistant. Craig preceded most songs with what seemed like scripted banter which segwayed into songs quite nicely. As a newbie, it was a little frustrating not to have known the songs previously but thinking back to the show then checking out their albums on the internet, I know they peformed songs like, "Don't Let Me Explode", "Chips Ahoy!", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Chillout Tent", "Southtown Girls", and "Cattle and the Creeping Things". I've been listening to their newest album "Boys and Girls In America"(which I purchased at the show) and I'm struck by it's immediacy - it's quite possible that it'll be my favourite rock n' roll record of the year. I know that's saying alot, but it's that good.

I should say at least a few words about openers Sean Na Na. I think I'd have liked them more back in the 90's - they performed an admirable set of powerpop tunes, featuring fleshed-out melodies and adequate instrumentation. But overall, their music isn't something where my head's at right now. Although, half way through their set, I must mention that the rye and ginger that I had been drinking didn't sit well with the cough medication I took an hour or two before because near the end of Sean Na Na's set I had to head outdoors to catch a breath of fresh air.

Here are my photos.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Chips Ahoy!

The Hold SteadyMPR has now archived The Hold Steady's live session they performed in their studios on October 24. The guys are in Toronto tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern. Chromewaves had good(make that great) things to say about the band's last show in Toronto back in August and I'm really tempted to go check their show out even though I've only sampled a few of their songs. But what I've heard, there's something refreshingly no-frills about their brand of working-class rock n' roll. If my cold isn't acting up too much tonight, I hope to go check out their show. [photo from http://../]

Billy Bragg performed a live session in BBC 6 Music's studios with host Gideon Coe. The session featured guest Seth Lakeman on one song. You can listen to the session here[the program is only archived for a week so you should be able to listen to the session until at least next Thursday; the session begins about 1 hour and 20 minutes into the program]. Songs performed were "Greetings to the New Brunette", "Farm Boy", "I Keep Faith", and "England, Half English"(featuring Seth Lakeman).

chartattack reports on what'll likely be my only Christmas music purchase this year, The dB's & Friends' "Christmas Time Again", which will be released November 21.

Toronto indie record store Rotate This is now one of the participating stores where you can pre-order the new deluxe reissue of Pavement's "Wowee Zowee" and get all the bonus goodies offered with the preorder.

Greg Keelor will be at Sam The Record Man(Yonge St) in Toronto on November 3 at 6pm for a half-hour acoustic set and afterwards will be meeting with fans and signing autographs. His record release show for his new album "Aphrodite Rose" is at Lee's Palace that night.

And in celebration of Halloween, Oklahoma's Evangelicals are offering a seasonal tune, appropriately titled "Halloween Song" for your listening/downloading pleasure. You can listen to the song over at the band's MySpace or download the song over at Misra Records. Or else send an Evangelicals Halloween e-card to your friends:

e-card: Happy Halloween from Evangelicals

Evangelicals will be in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on November 13.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Escarpment Blues

Escarpment Blues(DVD)You can watch the trailer for Sarah Harmer's new DVD "Escarpment Blues" over at her website - just check under Audio/Video. The DVD comes out October 31. You can preorder the DVD over at Maple Music which'll enter you into a contest to win an autographed DVD and other goodies. If you remember my Sarah Harmer post from this past Saturday, I also should have mentioned that Sarah and the DVD's director Andy Keen are going to be screening the film in some of the towns they visited when they shot the documentary. For Torontonians, they'll be at the Royal Ontario Museum on November 2 from 7 pm to 9 pm, when the documentary will be screened followed by a 'Preserving Our Greenbelt' Panel with Sarah Harmer & filmmaker Andy Keen. Check out ticket info and other screening dates over at Sarah's website.

Pitchfork spotlights The Dears who kicked off a world tour in Bristol last night. On an interesting note, Pitchfork mentions that openers will be fellow Arts & Crafts signees, Montreal's Young Galaxy. Never heard of them until now, but they have a great song you can download, courtesy of Arts & Crafts:

MP3: Young Galaxy - "Swing Your Heartache" (zipped mp3)

There's a few more tour dates for Toronto's The Coast over at their MySpace including an opening slot for UK's Fields who play Revival on October 30.

Handsome Furs, side project of Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner, will be at The Drake Hotel on November 15. [via Inland Empire Touring]

According to Horseshoe Tavern, the Veruca Salt show scheduled for November 17 has been cancelled. Why? Dunno.

Just got a new soundcard - the old one was kaput - and it's great to be able to listen to music on the computer again. Going to bands' MySpace sites just isn't the same without being able to listen to their music. I'm disappointed that I missed the Ben Folds live webcast at his MySpace yesterdayTuesday evening(although I did catch a little video of it at least - on at least one song it seemed most of the audience members were given a guitar to play along to - now that's interactive!).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rockin' The Suburbs

Straight from Ben Fold's website:
"Ben Folds Live Webcast from Nashville - TONIGHT!!
Today, October 24th - supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp release day - at 9PM EST/6PM PDT, Ben will launch the first live webcast on MySpace. Live from Nashville, Ben will use MySpace’s first live webcast to interact directly with the community by using MySpace instant messenger to take requests direct from fans. MySpace will feature the live stream on Ben’s MySpace page at and will spotlight the live session for fans via the MySpace Video channel."

the acoustic diaries reviews The New P0rnographers show at the Plaza in Vancouver on October 21, 2006 and mentions that the band's selling a limited edition live album of which only a 1000 copies were made. Anyone get their grubby hands on this and how can I get one?

Toronto's The Coast will be playing a CD re-release show at the UKULA store on College St. in Toronto on November 9 according to their MySpace site.

I've been wondering whether British Sea Power would be playing a Toronto date soon ever since finding out they're gonna be playing Montreal on November 13. Word over at Chromewaves(check the comments) is that British Sea Power will be in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on November 15. The info is confirmed at the band's booking agent Ground Control Touring.

chartattack have a positive review of The Killers show at Kool Haus on October 20. Best quote to describe the crowd onhand: "As giddy high-schoolers stood shoulder to shoulder with lumbering rock jocks, the stench of Axe body spray and cheap beer was thick in the room." I'll admit that The Killers have some half-decent songs for when I'm in that big-venue-rock-band type mood and their current single "When We We're Young" has just about the best sounding combination of rock guitar/bass guitar/drums I've heard of any song all year. The band'll be performing "When We Were Young" on Letterman tonight.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Old Oak Tree

250 year old White Oak Tree in Oakville, OntarioSarah Harmer continues to support her environmental concerns and as her latest Scrawl(dated Oct 18, 2006) over at her website says, she'll be performing a fundraiser with Toronto-by-way-of-Brantford upstarts Ohbijou on November 5 in Oakville, Ontario at the Halton Regional Centre Auditorium - the cause this time is to save a 250-year old White Oak Tree(located at the entrance to the auditorium) which is in very real danger of being cut down. The road has to be widened and Sarah says that Halton Region says that if a few hundred thousand dollars can be raised then the tree can be saved and a road will be built around it. All info can be found over at Sarah's website under her October 18, 2006 Scrawl. Info can also be found at and Tickets are $30.00 but it's a worthy cause. that's worth supporting. On a related note, Sarah's live DVD entitled "Escarpment Blues"(a documentary of Sarah's 2005 "I Love The Escarpment" tour to raise awareness of environmental issues regarding the Niagara Escarpment) will be released October 31, 2006. I was fortunate to watch the Toronto premiere of this documentary at this year's NXNE film festival earlier this year and it's an entertaining[the music] and insightful work.

Hamilton, Ontario's View Magazine speaks with Jon Rae Fletcher of Jon Rae and The River about the sacred vs. secular, gospel and soul influences of the band's new album "Knows What You Need", released October 4 in Canada on CD by Baudelaire Records and on vinyl by We Are Busy Bodies. The band are in Halifax today but will return to Ontario in a few days for a short tour around the Golden Horseshoe which'll take them to Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on November 10.

Billboard reports that Spoon hope to be finished recording their new album by November, with a tentative release date scheduled for April or May of 2007.

Chartattack reviews Beck's show at Ricoh Coliseum from Monday October 16, 2006 and they also report that the following night Beck recorded an intimate live performance for Bravo's Live at the Rehearsal Hall which will be broadcoast December 5.

Pitchfork offers an mp3 of Pavement performing "Fight This Generation" at their show at the Palace in Los Angeles on April 21, 1994. This is an mp3 from the entire live show download that Matador Records is offering to people who pre-order the upcoming deluxe reissue of Pavement's "Wowee Zowee" album (dubbed the "Sordid Sentinels" edition) from participating record stores. People who preorder the release will also receive a poster and, while supplies last, a limited 7". For complete info, go here.

The Paper Bag Records roster are busy touring, and notably, Uncut have a whack of cross-Canada dates through October and November. They're opening for K-os at The Mod Club on October 30.

I.O.U. over a the Metric Forum offers a few audio rips of a couple of Metric live sessions including a recent session for the Rob Da Bank Show(BBC Radio 1)[scroll down for download link], and Jimmy and Emily performing an acoustic session for Rolling Stone[scroll down for download link].

NPR is streaming the full concert webcast of Wilco at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club on Thursday, October 19.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Big Star Baby

concert review: Mojave 3, Tim O'Reagan @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), October 16, 2006

Neil Halstead of Mojave 3 @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

I believe the last time Mojave 3 swung through Toronto was their show at the Horseshoe in October 2003. In one of my very first blog posts, I even mentioned my disappointment for not going to the show. A good three years later and I finally got to see Mojave 3 live finally, minus Rachel Goswell unfortunately. With the knowledge that Rachel Goswell wouldn't be at the show this past Tuesday(due to her health problems), I was wondering if I'd feel her absence. I did miss her background vocals on "Some Kinda Angel" actually. At best, I'm only a casual fan of Mojave 3 and my familiarity with them is mostly based on their "Out Of Tune" and "Excuses For Travellers" albums. I felt fortunate that they performed a bunch of tunes off those albums. The show was my introduction to the new album and I found romping set-opener "Truck Driving Man" an interesting change of tempo for them. Actually, most songs(including older material) were fleshed out with full band arrangements that I felt lost some of the original album tracks delicacy such as was the case with a track like "Who Do You Love". It was surprising that the set was louder than I'd expected. A few times the band set off on a noisy jam. Not that these jams weren't enjoyable on one level, but for me it was quite unexpected, inevitably leading to at least slight disappointment. I will concur with others, like Chromewaves, in attendance that the sound was muddy and I could barely make out the vocals. I was up front and not directly in front of a blaring speaker and I still couldn't make out the vocals clearly. Regardless of all my criticisms of the show, the music itself, still made the show very enjoyable. And Mojave 3 knows how to do a merch table the right away - they had a few t-shirts, ALL their CD's, a couple of vinyl releases, and posters for sale, all at affordable prices(I picked up "Puzzles For You" and "Spoon and Rafter" on CD).

Opening up the show was ex-Jayhawks member Tim O'Reagan and his band performing a set of vibrant country-rock, identifiable for it's tight melodies, as well as for it's varying guitar textures that went from Big Star crunchiness to mellower tones. As much as I liked it, far too often the songs resided in that mid-tempo territory which made the set a little too samey-sounding for my tastes. While there were a fair bit of people in attendance for his set, he didn't stir much excitement at least if the gap at the front of the stage between the audience and the band was any indication. However, his music did garner polite if not some genuinely enthusiastic applause. As no-frills country rock goes, the music's great, but I think I could just have easily listened to his CD and come up with the same reaction.

Here are my photos.

Mojave 3 at MySpace.

Chromewaves authoritatively writes up the show complete with photos.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

1000 BPM

While I was over at The Mod Club yesterday evening taking in a performance by Mojave 3[review still to come], Beck was over at Ricoh Coliseum entertaining a sparse crowd. Kat over at the Muchmusic blog has a positive review of the show which is pretty much the same show setup I saw when I saw Beck headline the last day of the Sasquatch Festival this past May. For a less-than positive review, check out 2nd Floor Living Without A Yard . And with one of those Oh-My-God news bits, Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Daily reports that after the show, Beck dropped by The Drake Hotel for a surprise acoustic gig - all the more painful for me for not being there since I drove right by The Drake Hotel after Mojave 3's show at The Mod Club. And I hardly ever drive that route to go home. How close I was, and yet so far. Further fan reaction over at Stille Post.

The Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun review Beck's show at Ricoh Coliseum.

In other news, over at Stille Post there's a list of bands so far confirmed for the next Brampton Indie Arts Festival coming in February 2007. I went a few years ago, didn't go last year, but the next one is looking great - Jon Rae and the River, Ohbijou, The Silver Hearts and more to be announced!

And word over at Stille Post is that Chad VanGaalen will be playing a live in-store at Rotate This this Saturday, October 21st at 5:00 pm!

Chartattack says that The Shins have confirmed a track listing for their new record "Wincing The Night Away" which is to come out January 23, 2007 on Sub Pop. The album is to be preceded by the release of a single, "Phantom Limb", first as a digital download(November 14), then CD(November 21), and finally seven inch vinyl(December 12). The single will feature single will feature the title track plus two exclusive non-album B-sides: "Nothing At All" and an alternate version of the album track, "Spilt Needles."

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Information

Pitchfork, and Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune report back from last week's Future of Music Coalition in Montreal.

The Associated Press spoke to Beck about his latest album the sonically ambitious "The Information" which was three years in the works and is finally released. Beck plays Ricoh Coliseum tonight.

The Globe and Mail reports on vocal tuning/pitch-correction technology Auto-Tune which apparently has widespread use in the music industry, especially with R&B artists, and young punk and emo bands. Neko Case chimes in on the subject.

Via Horseshoe Tavern, Vancouverites Blood Meridian will be at the venue for a show on November 9, tickets $8.00, while a Louise Post-led Veruca Salt will be there for a show on November 17, tickets $13.50.

Skatterbrain spotlights Detroit, "violin toting five piece", Rescue, who'll be in Toronto for a show at Sneaky Dee's on November 6.

I see that there's a few Ontario Joel Plaskett dates at the end of November including November 25 in Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square as part of Calvalcade of Lights[info]

Scottish indiepop band My Latest Novel, who I mentioned in September 2005, are coming to Canada for a show in Vancouver on November 30 as part of something called Transmission Fest according to their MySpace site. I hope a show in Toronto filters into their plans somehow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sordid Sentinels

According to Pitchfork, Matador Records will be offering a special incentive for those who pre-order the new deluxe reissue of Pavement's "Wowee Zowee"(officially released November 7) from participating record stores: preorders will include a unique code via e-mail which enables the buyer to download the band's entire live show, recorded April 24, 1994 at L.A.'s Palace(the first time "Wowee Zowee" tracks were introduced live) and also a limited edition vinyl 7" which will contain a rare version of "Black Out" and a previously unreleased version of "Extradition". Value-added. Love it. I'm just drooling looking at the tracklisting(see the October 3, 2006 news update). I'm hoping those 'participating record stores' that Pitchfork mentions will also include some Toronto area ones. I'm gonna have to hit the indie record stores this weekend and find out.

Billboard has details on indie 'supergroup'[they probably hate that term, but I'm gonna say it anyway] Swan Lake, the group formed earlier this year by Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown principal Spencer Krug, Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer, who'll be releasing their debut album, "Beast Moans," on November 21 via Jagjaguwar. On a Dan Bejar-note, I received my copy of Yeti #4 in the mail, a nice quality music zine/publication which comes with a terrific CD compilation of mostly unreleased/rare tracks including a few from Destroyer - at $12.95 US, this is a steal.

Check out Cat Power over at the AOL Interface where she is interviewed and also performs several songs live including Love & Communication / John John / Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover) / Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams Jr. cover).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Take What You Take

Brooklyn Vegan reports back on Lily Allen's live American debut at New York City's Hiro Ballroom. While her set in New York City was a brief one(like the Toronto show I went to), according to Billboard she had in tow a three-piece horn section which was something she had't had at her Toronto show this past Sunday. Billboard has her setlist from the NYC show which was the same one as the Toronto show(which you can see here(courtesy of Just Keep Bloggin')).

Watch the new music video for Broken Social Scene's "Major Label Debut"(Fast Version). [via Pitchfork] I bet if my sound card were working right now, I'd be enjoying this video a lot more.

Metronews sheds light on why some Canadian artists have permitted the use of their music in television advertisements. In particular, they spoke to Feist and Chantal Kreviazuk.

Through some random web surfing I came across a curiosity - British Sea Power's MySpace site lists them performing at a show at Sala Rossa in Montreal on November 13 but lists no other Canadian dates. I can't fathom that they'd come over to Canada for that one date unless they have plans to play other North American dates. I'll be keeping an eye on this.

While I'm not a fan of Alexisonfire(although I do appreciate them on a certain level), they have what is likely the coolest 4-night stint EVER coming up in December in Toronto. However instead of playing one venue, they'll be playing 4 venues over 4 nights: The Reverb(Dec 14), Phoenix(Dec 15), The Opera House(Dec 16) and Kool Haus(Dec 17). I haven't looked into the details of each show(eg. whether they're headling all shows) but regardless, I'd like to see more bands do this sort of multi-night stint. [via House of Blues]

When I read an update on Neko Case's website recently that her 2003 appearance on Austin City Limits was going to be released DVD on October 10th, I just assumed that would include a Canadian release. Apparently, it won't be released in Canada until October 31, 2006, according to In the meantime, watch a video clip from the DVD[via Seattlest]

I had a chance to read BlogTO's review of last Friday's Massive Attack show at The Carlu in Toronto. I've been bailing out of going to a lot of shows lately, either because I haven't felt like going or in the case of Massive Attack, the hefty price tag(which if I recall correct was around $56.00 a ticket) just didn't seem justified. But a comment over at BlogTo points to YouTube video of them performing "Teardrop" at The Carlu, and then I start to think - maybe I should have bought a ticket.

And btw, Jericho(CBS) and The Nine(ABC) are seriously the best new dramas on television right now. Unless a prime Wednesday night concert comes along, you'll know what I'll be doing on Wednesday nights for the next several months.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Friend Of Mine

concert review: Lily Allen, Mark Ronson @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), October 8, 2006

Lily Allen @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

There was one of two outlooks one could have had to Lily Allen's way-too-short North American concert debut yesterday evening at Lee's Palace: take it in stride(after all, she only has one album and a few b-sides) or be totally disappointed(read: pissed). I was of the former and for the half and hour that she did perform it sounded really good. Dressed in her now-signature chiffon dress, pumps, makeup, and gold chain around her neck, it was just her on vocals accompanied by a few gentlemen on bass guitar and keyboards/programming. She performed a lot of her signature tracks starting off the evening with the calypso-ish "LDN", then making her way to the dynamite non-album track "Nan, You're A Window Shopper"(a parody of 50 Cent's "Window Shopper"). Performing several more album tracks, she eventually ended her main set with the reggae-ish "Smile" which got the biggest reaction from the audience and deservedly so. Actually, I think the proper thing she should have done was to perform everything(or at least most) she's recorded so far. She didn't perform b-side "Cheryl Tweedy", nor album track "Everything is Wonderful" which I would love to have heard. Even if she performed the entire album and her b-sides the show still might have fallen under an hour but then I think most people would have understood given that she doesn't have a lot of recorded material under her belt. Lily was quite polite throughout the show and for most of the night she didn't really express the attitude she's known for in the press - ok she did sarcastically joke about the guy who came on stage to fix the height of the mic stand, and for that being his job for the night he had to go and fuck that up. Otherwise, Lily was smiling throughout the show, exuding a charm and likeability, shimmying and walking back and forth across the stage as she sung. Even though she didn't come back after her encore(for which she performed her debut album closer "Alfie") I didn't perceive any audible grudge from the audience. But if she ever comes back to Toronto she definitely has to up the ante and fill out the rest of her set somehow. Covers perhaps?

Here are my photos.

As a footnote, DJ Mark Ronson opened the show with a set of mashups that were good. Not amazing by any standards but really more towards let's-get-this-party-started vibe. Although, I must mention that him mixing The Strokes with The Jackson 5 was pretty cool.

Just Keep Bloggin' was at the show also and has a review and photos(including the setlist) from the show. Suze has a review also. A View From Above has a short video clip of Lily performing "LDN". More photos from the show from ma-me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nan, You're A Window Shopper

Lily AllenUK's Lily Allen(and recent Best Pop Artist winner at the Digital Music Awards[info]) kicks off her brief 5-date North American jaunt tonight in Toronto at Lee's Palace. Now who's excited? I am, I am!

Lily continues to speak her mind out, recently expressing some honest criticsm about Paris Hilton["Paris is hideously untalented."] and Peaches Geldof["I find it really offensive, like she did this like documentary about Islam and it was really awful."]. Thanks to Dlisted's post to bringing this to my attention. Although MTV UK reports that Lily says that whatever she said about wanting to 'slap' Peaches Geldof was said sarcastically. Ummm, I have this urge to yell out "Peaches" tonight at the show and hear how Lily responds.

Music Like Dirt has a neat compilation for our downloading pleasure. The compilation includes the originals of all the tracks Lily samples on her album "Alright, Still", and a few others that may or may not have been influences. Be sure to read the commentary for each track - interesting stuff. [via ::: believe the hype]

Zeon has a few remixes of Lily's "LDN" available for download here and a few more b-sides for download including Lily's "Nan, You're A Window Shopper" here. "Nan, You're A Window Shopper" is a parody of 50 Cent's "Window Shopper". Read Lily's lyrics, and compare them to 50 Cent's lyrics.

Stereogum has an mp3 download of Lily Allen covering Keane's "Everybody's Changing".

Here's the envelope that Lily designed for the 'Pitney Bowes Pushing The Envelope 2006' charity auction with funds going to the National Literacy Trust.[via The Music Slut] Story over at NME.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently interviewed Ms. Allen.

And if you need to bone up on Lily's rise from MySpace obscurity to indie darling, go check out Greg Kot's articule for The Chicago Tribune.

Photo above from http://../

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Turning Of The Leaves

The AirfieldsThere's news over at Stille Post about a new vinyl 10" from Toronto indie pop band The Airfields. Actually this is a vinyl version of their previously CD-only "Laneways" EP. More info about this release plus mentions of new demos posted(mp3's @ their MySpace site), and expectations of a few live shows to come can be read about here. [photo from http://../]

NOW spoke with Jenny Lewis about "trading pop riffs for down home harmonies". Though I'll likely won't be seeing Jenny tonight at Trinity St. Paul's Church(I saw her in March at The Opera House, anyway), IGN reports that Jenny performed some newer material at a recent show in Chicago, hinting that her solo project may continue after next year's new Rilo Kiley album. Pitchfork alluded to these new songs last month and also discussed the new Rilo Kiley album.

Chartattack spoke to The New P0rnographers' Carl Newman about what to expect with the band's upcoming fourth album.

And the future of controller.controller is up in the air as Chartattack reports that their vocalist Nirmala Basnayake has left the band. Really, I can't picture the band continuing without her, which is really a shame.

Pitchfork spoke to Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan about pop culture which has currently been rocking his world.

The Hollywood Reporter casts a good light on The Dears' show from October 4, 2006 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, which I hope more than a few American readers picked up on.

Billboard reports that Dinosaur Jr.(featuring original members J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph) are nearly finished a new studio album and it hopefully will be released early next year. Also set for a release is a live DVD which is set for release on May 8, 2007(my birthday coincidentally).

Bradleys Almanac points to a YouTube link of Billy Bragg performing an updated version of "Waiting For The Great Leap Forward" live on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and also posts a transcription of the updated lyrics. The last four verses are priceless.

After returning from Ireland at the end of this month, Halifax's In-Flight Safety will be starting a cross-country tour which'll stop in Toronto on November 8 for a show at The Drake Hotel. Check out the tour dates over at their MySpace site.

Those of you looking for your rootsy-country fix will want to check out the Horseshoe Tavern on November 11 which'll feature OX, The Silver Hearts, NQ Arbuckle, and United Steel Workers of Montreal. [via]

The Sloan show scheduled for Kool Haus yesterday evening was cancelled because Chris had a throat infection. The show has been rescheduled for November 30 and all tickets will be honoured or otherwise refunded. [info]

According to their MySpace site, The Hylozoists will be performing at The Music Gallery - St. George Of The Martyr's Church in Toronto on December 1. That is the perfect venue for them and it was a venue I'd hope they would play when I was critical about their show at Horseshoe Tavern back in June of this year.

And I think that's enough news to last through this Thanksgiving holiday long weekend. Looking forward to that turkey on Monday!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Scenic World

concert review: Beirut, Saffron Effect @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), October 4, 2006

Zach Condon of Beirut @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Michael Ligon

Exoticism is the new indie rock, and was none moreso exemplified a few nights ago in Toronto. On the same night(October 4), San Franciscan harpist, singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom performed to a devoted audience over at The Mod Club while Santa Fe native Zach Condon performing under the moniker Beirut, was over at the Horseshoe Tavern with a full band compliment performing an exhilirating set of Eastern European-flavoured, crooner-esque pop tunes. It's peculiar that this new exoticism in pop music is coming from Americans but even more peculiar the genuineness of it all. If I could have, I'd have gone to both Joanna's and Beirut's shows, but in the end I chose Beirut because I've been enjoying their debut CD "Gulag Orkestar" recently and I wasn't really familiar with Joanna's music all that much.

Openers for the night were Toronto's own Saffron Sect. The lead singer/guitarist Gaven was instantly familiar, and I'm sure he was the same Gaven who used to be in the now-defunct The Flashing Lights. A few more gentleman(on bass guitar and drums) and one woman(on flute) rounded out the rest of the band. There was also one other gentleman who played an instrument called a hurdy gurdy but I only remember him playing on one or two songs then sitting out the rest of the set. They started off the set with a flute-driven, Gaelic-sounding instrumental but then delved into a set of vocal songs that leaned towards a melodic, psychedelic, folk-rock sound. Gaven displayed nice, clean guitar lines and I was impressed with the flute arrangements. At times, I heard hints of a jangly-guitar, early-R.E.M. sound. Their sound was unabashedly backwards-pointed, but was performed with a breath of fresh air.

I have discriminating tastes when it comes to music artists or bands that are barely out of their teenage years. I'm more inclined to blame my lack of enthusiasm for a young artist's music on their youth. But every once in a while a young artist/band comes along who sounds so assured of himself/herself/themselves and Beirut is one of those artists. The brainchild of wunderkid Zach Condon, he led a youthful group of musicians on to stage in an straggly Arcade-Fire - marching - band - like procession. I will admit that the mysticism of what Beirut looked like was somewhat lost after taking a gander at Mr. Condon(who looked sort of like Elijah Wood) and the youthful group of indie kids that backed him up. No matching wardrobe, nothing particularly distinguishable about any of them - just a bunch of normal looking indie kids. What they lacked visually as an ensemble they made up in spades musically as well as energy. The music was a pastiche of different musical styles that combined an Eastern European, gyspy-flavoured, flamenco, mariachi feel to more standard indie rock/pop fare such as The Magnetic Fields and a touch of Rufus Wainwright. Taking a mini-orchestra approach, the music was created utilizing a variety of instruments including strings(violon, cello), accordion, keyboards, horns(trumpet, bass saxophone), several ukeleles, drums and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. Considering how young they were, I was surprised how well-versed they were on their instruments from the double-trumpet outro on "Postcards From Italy", to the accordion on "Mount Wroclai", to the spright violin arrangement that played throughout "Scenic World". With the music a combination of old world charm and new world outlook, it was held together nicely by the crooner-esque vocals of Zach Condon whose vocals reminded a lot of Rufus Wainwright with a pinch of Stephen Merritt. Apparently(according to someone over at Stille Post) the band did a version of a song called "Brazil"[I believe this was a song they played during their first encore, because it sounded awfully familiar]. And closing out the night during their second encore, several members of the band jumped onto the packed floor to perform a celebratory mariachi-sounding song which had the entire crowd smiling and dancing. Props to the Beirut fellow on tambourine for keeping the crowd pumped up for most of the night, and even more props to the entire band for a thoroughly wonderful performance.

Here are my photos.

The Genealogy of Taste has a review of the show also. Las Herramientas Del Diablo was there too and has some photos(in which I can see the back of my head in one of them).

Watch video clips of Beirut who recently performed a live session in Spin's studio.

Check out the band's MySpace site.

If you hadn't already picked up on this, Beirut recently signed to 4AD. 4AD will be releasing an expanded version of "Gulag Orkestar" outside of North America. lists the 2-disc version coming out November 6. You can purchase the original CD release for quite a decent price over at the band's indie label Ba Da Bing!.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


concert review: Yo La Tengo, why? @ Phoenix Concert Theatre(Toronto, Ontario), October 2, 2006

Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo @ Phoenix: photo by Michael Ligon

Yo La Tengo's new disc "I'm Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass" hasn't made it into my music collection yet, and I've only heard one song from it, so the possibility of the band performing only the new songs at their show at the Phoenix a couple of nights ago was weighing heavily on me. Regardless, I'm only casually familiar with the band's catalogue anyway so distinguishing the old stuff from the new was a challenge. It's been two years since I last saw Yo La Tengo live when they performed at Ryerson Theatre and while my memories of that show are vague, I do remember liking the performance a lot but wasn't particularly satisfied with the school-auditorium like venue. On the other hand, Phoenix is one of my favourite venues in Toronto, Yo La Tengo were in top form a few nights ago.

Opening the show were the Cincinatti-bred, weird pop stylings of why?(whose name I assume is murder to Google/Yahoo! search). A trio of gentlemen, with a lead vocalist who physically reminds me of The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne in his younger days, the band performed a vibrant, experimental brand of pop music that had the wide-eyedness of a child who just discovered music for the first time. (I think that Yo La Tengo display this as well, which made this a good matchup in my opinion.) My recollections of the actual music are somewhat vague although I do recall a fine line between melodicism, artier pursuits and creative instrumental arrangements. The drummer played drums and xylophone at the same time. Now how cool is that! I saw at least one shaggy-haired young fan near the front singing along to almost every note, but I suspect that most people, like myself, were new to why? In the end, the response to why? was well-received.

I've only seen Yo La Tengo twice now but I feel like that had I'd seem them ten times, my response would still be the same. There's an utterly wonderful feeling being washed over by sound, both loud and quiet. Not unlike the feeling of a Sigor Ros show, but trade in Sigur Ros' grandiosity for Yo La Tengo's garage-ness. Ira took the majority of vocal duties, although Ira and eventually even James took their swipes at the mic. The band performed a mix of songs of a variety different musical styles, from quiet pop songs(a Georgia-sung version of "Tom Courtenay"; "Season of the Shark"), to raucaus garage rock, to jazzy/funky("Mr. Tough"), to dissonant noise guitar jams, and well-received noisy pop songs("Sugarcube").There were several instances of trade-off between instruments like Ira going from guitar to keyboard, Georgia going from drums to keyboards to drums, and even James going from bass guitar to a second smaller drumkit. Not to mention the aforementioned tradeoff on lead vocals, with even James taking lead vocals for one song which I recall they mentioned was a cover of a Mike Love tune(which I don't think was "Little Honda"). At one point in the set, Yo La Tengo invited the gentlemen of why? for a rollicking take on a Bob-Dylan song.

I'd like to take a little credit here because I think was the first person to yell out "Tom Courtenay" when Ira announced that Georgia would sing and they'd be playing something acoustic. Of course at that point, "Tom Courtenay" is the obvious choice(and if you'd ever heard the Georgia-sung acoustic version, you'd know what I mean). So as various people were yelling out requests, I yelled out "Tom Courtenay" which sparked a few other people to yell out the song also, and before we knew it, Ira and the others were agreeing to play it. I was practically floored at the moment, and even moreso as the ran through a sublime version of the song led by the quiet, innocence of Georgia's vocals. A damn perfect way to end the main set. The lead vocalist of why? strolled onto the stage, pumping up the crowd for an encore, saying that he wanted to hear a few more acoustic tunes, and the crowd was quite enthusiastic at this prompting. After "Tom Courtenay", everything after that was really all gravy, but the two encores we got were much appreciated.

Here are my photos.

chromewaves and chartattack have favourable reviews of the show.

Omahan Tim McMahan interviewed Yo La Tengo's James McNew.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let's Get Out Of This Country

I was watching a report on CBC's The National the other day which said that Scotland leads developed countries in incidents of violent crime. The National report focused on the current knife culture that exists in Glasgow. Glasgow in particular has a long history of gang violence going back to the 1960's. With much of the violence resulting from persons coming from the most impoverished parts of Glasgow it's really no surprise why gang violence happens. What's surprising to me is that, looking at another example, Compton(California) can give birth to N.W.A.(a natural reflection of the environment from which it comes from) but Glasgow is quite the opposite in the bands that it's spawned such as Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, The Delgados, Franz Ferdinand, Aztec Camera and scores of others. What is the connection?