Monday, January 29, 2007

C'Mon, C'Mon (We're Gonna Get It Started)

Concert Announcements:

MAR 06/07 - The Old Soul (part of Edge 102.1 Nu Music Nite) @ Horseshoe Tavern - NO COVER [*]
MAR 09/07 - Land of Talk, Cadence Weapon (part of CMW) @ Horseshoe Tavern - $10 Adv [*]
MAR 10/07 - Inflight Safety (part of CMW) @ Horseshoe Tavern $8.50 Adv [*]
MAR 12/07 - Uncut (opening for Clinic) @ Lee's Palace [%]
MAR 22/07 - Born Ruffians @ Horseshoe Tavern $10.00 [*]
APR 11/07 - Tokyo Police Club & guests @ The Mod Club [&]
APR 27/07 - Amon Tobin @ The Opera House [%]
MAY 07/07 - The Killers @ Air Canada Centre [#]

* - Horseshoe Tavern
% - The Windish Agency
& - Emerge
# - Pollstar

Pitchfork brings good news for those looking forward to the new Ted Leo and The Pharmacists album "Living With The Living" coming out on March 20 through Touch and Go. According to Pitchfork, the first pressing edition will come bundled with a free five-song bonus EP. And in the Forkcast(courtesy of The Battering Room), watch Ted perform a live cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark". Awesomeness. Ted Leo and The Pharmacists are at The Mod Club on May 2.

I made it down to Nathan Phillips Square over the weekend to watch those good ol' Canadian boys Sloan perform as part of the WinterCity Festival. My friend and I walked into the show to the strains of "The Other Man", and although we'd ended up watching the show from the side of the stage[but at least fairly close], it ended up being one of the more enjoyable sets I've experienced due mostly to the well-chosen set list that included old favourites, tracks from the new album, and a few album tracks. I've seen the band so many times live that hearing the same old rock set from them gets a little tiresome. It was great to hear album tracks I wouldn't have expected them to perform. I was floored when they performed "C'mon C'mon (We're Gonna Get It Started)" and even more floored when they played "Chester The Molester" during their encore[a song that the guys may have given in to due to a group of guys chanting "Chester"]. Their midset excursion into tracks from their most recent album "Never Hear The End Of It" shows that they still have the chops. Chromewaves has a great photoset from the show you should check out.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Virgin Fest Returning To Canada

Virgin FestivalWhile Coachella boosters are salivating over this year's 3-day lineup, Canada can only hope that it gets something comparable when Richard Brandson's Virgin Festival makes it's inaugural debut in Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium at the University of British Columbia Campus on May 20-21. Acts already confirmed are My Chemical Romance, Billy Talent, and Muse for May 20 and The Killers, AFI, and Hot Hot Heat for May 21. Rather than run the festival exclusively over the weekend, it's running over a Sunday and a Monday. Well, I guess if you're actually interested in going you'll have to book off the Monday from work. More details over at the Emerge Blog and JAM! Music who also point out that the festival will make it's second appearance in Toronto again at Toronto Island Park over the weekend of September 8-9. First, off I hope the Toronto lineup is much better than the Vancouver one, and second, September again? I'd wish they hold the festival in the summer, when it's almost guaranteed to be warm. Let's just all hope for the best.

The Concretes(who you by now all know are minus lead singer Victoria Bergsman who left for a solo career currently under the name Taken By Trees) have a new song, "Oh No", streaming at their MySpace. Taking over vocals is drummer Lisa Milberg. Kate reviews the song and doesn't hold the song up to the band's previous standards, but the song does have it's moments, and in my opinion will do little to sway the band's fans.

I'm looking forward to the Camera Obscura/Essex Green show at The Opera House next week. With Camera Obscura's last show at the Horseshoe Tavern back on July 4, 2006 and me being fairly up close to the stage, I could forgive their lack of stage presence by immersing myself in the music's melodies. I'm just wondering if they can pull it off again, but this time at the larger The Opera House. I hope so, although the following visual evidence from a few of their recent live shows doesn't show any progress in their stage presence:

YouTube: Camera Obscura - "I Love My Jean" (live @ 40 Watt in Athens, GA - Jan 19, 2007)
YouTube: Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken" (live @ 9:30 Club in Washington, DC - Jan 22, 2007)

Philadelphia's Dr. Dog have a spring tour lined up from February through May which will make a stop in Toronto at Lee's Palace on May 2. Check out their MySpace for complete dates.

HEADLINE: Blogger Dies of Heart Attack Waiting For Arcade Fire Leak

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

If You Could Read Your Mind

Out today is the new album, "Visitations" by Uk's Clinic who'll be hitting the road for a string of North American dates through the first couple of weeks in March:

Fri 3/2 - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
Sat 3/3 - Noise Pop Festival / The Independent - San Francisco, CA
Mon 3/5 - Apple In-Store - Chicago, IL
Tue 3/6 - Black Cat - Washington, DC
Wed 3/7 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
Fri 3/9 - The Gramercy Theatre - NYC, NY
Sat 3/10 - Middle East - Boston, MA
Sun 3/11 - La Sala Rossa - Montreal, QC
Mon 3/12 - Lee's Palace - Toronto, ON

Here's some multimedia to get you psyched:

YouTube: Clinic - "If You Could Read Your Mind"
MP3: Clinic - "Harvest(Within You)"
MP3: Clinic - "Jigsaw Man"

Dan Dickinson traces the evolution of Ted Leo's new song "Sons of Cain" from a rough-hewn live song from last year to it's studio version, which is included on the upcoming new Ted Leo/Pharmacists album "Living With The Living" which will be released March 20 through Touch and Go.

The motherf!*king Jesus and Mary Chain will be playing this year's Coachella at the end of April!

I've been reading and really enjoying Greg Kot's "Wilco: Learning How To Die" so news of a new Jay Farrar album is exciting especially since according to Aversion, taking a cue(possibly) from Jeff Tweedy's experimental pop side, the new Jay Farrar album will be less alt-country. Jay's new album "The Search" comes out March 6 through Transmit Sound/Legacy.

Dan Burke's all excited for his second instalment of The Class of 2007 - Indie Rock Honour Roll coming up this Friday January 26 at The Silver Dollar featuring THE PARKAS, JEWISH LEGEND, THE DISRAELIS, THE "I" SPIES and SWEET HOMEWRECKERS. Mr Burke also mentions that Japanese rock n' rollers Zoobombs will once again make the pilgrimage to Toronto during(or around Canadian Music Week) in March, details still to be confirmed. I highly recommend that you check Zoobombs out at least once in your life; you will be glad. [via Stille Post]

Further video evidence of The Arcade Fire 's show at a Montreal church over the weekend over at CleverLazy. Enjoy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ocean Of Noise

In a secret show(which turned out to be not much of a secret), The Arcade Fire rocked Ottawa's Canterbury High School cafeteria this past Friday night for staff, students, alumni and grads. CleverLazy has a personal account of the show and The Ottawa Citizen also has a review.

Courtesy of Pitchfork there's a video from the show of The Arcade Fire performing "Intervention". Check out the video over at The Music Slut.

Go over to Stille Post where there's a link to a download of an audience recording of the show.

Andrew Rose has a review of The Arcade Fire's super secret show at a Montreal church this past Saturday[via Gorilla Vs. Bear]. The Tortured Garden has some links to some audio recordings and videos from the show. You can download an audio recording of the show here[registration required].
In other news, Pitchfork says that Toronto's Rock Plaza Central sign to Yep Roc. Congrats to the band! Just a few reminders: 1)on January 23 the band perform live on MTV Live, 2) coming up January 28, the band do double duty, first performing at Criminal Records(493 QUEEN STREET WEST - at Queen and Spadina) at 4:30pm before opening for Thunderbirds Are Now! and Oxford Collapse later that night at Lee's Palace[via Stille Post].

Buffalo, NY's Sleeping Kings of Iona, who'd I'd discovered and enjoyed at last year's NXNE, have a couple of new demos("Chivalry", "BSF") streaming over at their MySpace. Check 'em out if you're into Junior Boys, Habitat or The Postal Service

Lastly, The LA Times is reporting that Rage Against The Machine will reunite for this year's Coachella with past headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bjork returning to the festival once more. Other notable bands for this year's festival include The Arcade Fire, Interpol, Willie Nelson, the Roots, Manu Chao, the Decemberists, Arctic Monkeys, Sonic Youth, Crowded House, Air, Tiƫsto and Kings of Leon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brave New Waves : "With Apologies From CBC Stereo"

Brave New WavesCleverLazy has the scoop on CBC Radio Two's Brave New Waves coming to an end, after making it's debut on CBC Radio almost 23 years ago on February 5, 1984. Well not quite a radio program broadcasting on FM radio it is no more, but apparently it'll continue on Sirius satellite radio and via podcasting. As I'd mentioned on Stille Post recently, I was all ready to accept BNW's demise. As much as I was grateful to BNW in the 90's(mostly between '95 and '99, although my earliest recollections of BNW were probably the late '80s/early '90s) for introducing to me to music "on the fringe"(which at the time had much to do with indie rock, before it's commoditization), since the beginning of the new millenium I've barely had the attention span to really listen to the program. With the internet, mp3's, and blogs, these became my primary methods of discovering new music. Not to mention, with working full-time, I no longer had the tirelessness to stay up after midnight to listen to any of the program. If BNW was totally kaput I'd be saddened for sentimental reasons but given that I haven't listed to BNW in ages, I wouldn't want to be a hypocrite and start griping about it now. So with BNW ending as a conventional radio program on FM radio and apparently(hopefully) continuing on satellite radio and through podcasting, it's not so much an end as a new beginning(as corny as that may sound).

A few years ago I'd posted about the influence that programs such as Brave New Waves(plus weekend CBC Radio shows like Radiosonic and RealTime) had on my musical tastes, and I'd already at that point admitted I wasn't listening to BNW much anymore. (Around the same time, I did go through a period of BNW nostalgia and ended up trading recordings of Brave New Wave artist profiles with someone I met over the 'net.) With so much music at our fingertips(ie. the internet), it's a shame that my regular radio listening habits have declined so much. The advent of podcasting in particular, seems to have both beneficial and adverse effects on radio; on one hand podcasting from the radio industry itself provides a valuable service by providing on-demand progamming to mp3 player users, but on the other hand with just about everyone jumping into the podcasting ring, radio itself could be on the decline. One could argue the democratization of broadcasting itself through podcasting is more than enough reason that podcasting is good, and I'd tend to side with this. However, I can't help but feel a little twinge of disappointment for the good 'ol days, when listening to the radio was just a twist of a knob a way and the anticipation of listening to your favourite DJ.

ps. I recently purchased(and am awaiting delivery of) a Camnex CH660 mp3 player so I'm hoping that there ends up being podcasts of Brave New Waves in the future. In particular, I really hope Patti Schmidt is still around. She has the most soothing radio voice I've ever heard.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Difference Between Us

Cuff The DukeOriginally released on Three Gut Records, Outside Music will be rereleasing Cuff The Duke's 1st album "Life Stories For Minimum Wage" on February 14. Outside Music will also be releasing Cuff The Duke frontman Wayne Petti's debut solo album "Untitled"(produced by The Hylozoist's Paul Aucoin) on March 13. Leading up to these releases, Wayne Petti's going on a brief tour stopping in Toronto for a instore performance at Soundscapes on March 9 and a gig at the Rivoli on March 29. As had already been previously announced, Cuff The Duke will be at Horseshoe Tavern for a show on February 24.

Wilco's new album entitled "Sky Blue Sky" will be released May 15 through Nonesuch[via Pitchfork]. More info over at Billboard.

Montreal-by-way-of-Halifax turntablist Skratch Bastid has a show at The Drake Hotel on February 2. He'll also be joining Buck 65 and The Tragically Hip at the Air Canada Centre on February 8. More tour dates at his MySpace[via Stille Post].

Omaha, Nebraska's Maria Taylor will stop in Toronto for a show at El Mocambo on March 21[via Ground Control Touring].

The Decemberists will hit two continents in the near future, touring in February in Europe then North America in the US through March, April and into the beginning of May. Any Southern Ontarians so inclined can catch the band live when they stop in Buffalo, NY on March 30 for a show at Center For The Arts[via Pitchfork].

Swedish indiepop record label, Labrador Records celebrates its 100th release and 10 years with a 4 CD box set, Labrador 100, which contains one song from EACH of its past releases. I'll probably order it online(using PayPal); I went through the PayPal checkout process and found out that the price of the box set works out to only about $32 CDN. Decent. Now if only some of its roster could tour North America and come to Toronto. Apparently this past summer we were so close in getting Acid House Kings to stop in Toronto when they came over for a brief US tour. I can still remember my disappointment when a Toronto show didn't pan out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shows, Shows, Shows

Concert Announcements:

Feb 01/07 - The D'Urbervilles @ The Drake Hotel [*]
Feb 15/07 - Silverchair, The Living End (part of G'Day Toronto) @ Yonge Dundas Square - SOLD OUT [%]
Feb 16/07 - Patrick Watson @ Rivoli [*]
Feb 17/07 - Kiss Me Deadly...Or Condor, Tusks, Crystal Clyffs @ The Drake Hotel [&]
Mar 27/07 - Amiina @ The Music Gallery [!]
Apr 04/07 - Hella @ Horseshoe Tavern [!]
Apr 06/07 - Junior Boys @ The Mod Club [#]
May 18/07 - Electrelane, The Blow, Tender Forever @ Lee's Palace [!]

* - Eye Weekly
% - CANOE -- JAM! Music Concert Listings
& - NOW
# - Rotate This
! - rootmeansquare

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Now It's Time

Paula FrazerWow, was it October 19, 2005 when I lasted posted at length about Paula Frazer? Things have been slow in her camp as of late, although she hasn't necessarily been resting on her laurels. She recently released a digital live EP entitled "Live at Ace of Spades" recorded in 2005. Since her last formal solo effort, 2005's "Leave The Sad Things Behind", I recall she's primarily confined her live dates in and around her homebase of San Francisco, CA. She even took part in a Gram Parsons Tribute show at Great American Hall in San Fran several nights ago.

For some, Paula Frazer might be more well known as the lead vocalist of San Franciscan outfit Tarnation, who'd up to this point had only released two albums, 1995's "Gentle Creatures" released through 4Ad and 1997's "Mirador" released through Reprise. They were two albums of atmospheric gothic country, prominently defined by the haunting Patsy Cline-ish vocals of Paula Frazer. After "Mirador", she dropped the Tarnation tag and continued in her own name, continuing the sound she'd created with Tarnation.

It's come to my attention recently from Leaky Sparrow(via There's Always Someone Cooler Than You) that there's a new record coming out in March through Birdman Records, entitled "Now It's Time" and it will be billed to Paula Frazer and Tarnation. More excitingly, Paula Frazer and Tarnation will be crossing the pond to take part in Collection Hiver 2007(or the Winter Collection) in Saint-Malo (Brittany - France), the festival which takes place February 16-18. If Paula Frazer and Tarnation are willing to make the trek to France to perform, I can only assume(or at least hope) in the future that they'll properly tour good ol' North America(and Toronto, of course).

There's a couple of new tracks("Now It's Time", "Pretend") from the new album "Now It's Time" streaming at Paula Frazer and Tarnation's MySpace. It's funny that what defined Paula Frazer/Tarnation in the past(Patsy Cline-ish vocals, gothic country sound) is less obvious this time around, at least with these tracks, and in my opinion, these songs sound a lot more genuine and heartfelt. Check 'em out at the band's MySpace:

MySpace: Paula Frazer and Tarnation

Also check out a streaming session of Paula Frazer at Studio C on June 21, 2006, performing older tracks "Game of Broken Hearts", "Watercolor Lines", and "August's Song":

Live Session: Paula Frazer at Studio C
From across the pond, Yer Mam! brings us a list of artists to watch out for in 2007. Some of the artists I've heard/heard of but actually most of them I haven't heard/heard of. I'll have to set aside some time to download some of the mp3's and read the commentary.

Say Hi To Your Mom will be in town for a show at Sneaky Dee's on April 3[via Kork Agency].

Kevin Shields told Magnet Magazine(in an interview that's in the magazine's Jan/Feb '07 issue) that My Bloody Valentine will 100% make another album...unless they die or something. Kevin finishes off by saying, "I'm quite optimistic about the future, even though experience has taught me that I'm probably just delusional." That's all I needed to hear.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Friends In Bellwoods

By all accounts the Friends in Bellwoods CD compilation show on Friday night(with all proceeds going to the Daily Bread Food Bank) was a huge success. As of yesterday the Friends In Bellwoods website said they'd raised $2105.00 so far in proceeds to go to the Daily Bread Food Bank, not to mention all the non-perishable food items donated. Well done. I've read that most tickets were already sold out in advance and there was a lineup around the block(in the rain) with no chance in hell of getting in. I did pick up the Friends In Bellwoods CD compilation on Saturday and I also finally picked up the debut Ohbijou CD. Better late than never. But as I'd mention a few posts ago, Ohbijou have several local dates lined up in the near future, and I'm sure(well hoping) I'll get to see them live finally.

Snowsuit Sounds, jenistranslucent, and Melissa B have personal accounts of the show. Bramptonboi has photos he took during the night.

BlogTO has a track-by-track review of the Friends in Bellwoods CD compilation. You can purchase it at Soundscapes in Toronto for $17.99 and it will be available in stores across the country soon.

radio free canuckistan has an interview he conducted with Friends In Bellwoods co-mastermind Casey Mejica of Ohbijou.
Barrie, ON's Fox Jaws(formerly known as Doris Day) have some upcoming local concert dates.

Rock Plaza Central's song "My Children, Be Joyful" was recently NPR's Song Of The Day[via Largehearted Boy].

Seems like former Velocity Girl vocalist Sarah Shannon has quite a Burt Bacharach fixation and who doesn't love Burt Bacharach? I do. You can preview her second solo album "City Morning Song" over at Minty Fresh[just click on 'Bazaar' at the top of the page]. Or else a few of the new tracks can be heard over at her MySpace.

And just a few reminders: The Diableros are on MTV Live tonight, I think around 6 pm or so. Also, if you haven't purchased your tickets for the Camera Obscura show at The Opera House on January 31, I'd suggest you do so; Soundscapes, and likely Rotate This are both sold out and is the only other outlet that probably has tickets now - that's where I got mine and a $17.00 face value turned into a $23.50 price tag. Ouch.

I'm glad I'm off work today, with the weather(well, at least the roads) as being as sucky as it is today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It Hurts To See You Dance So Well

The PipettesThe Canadian Music Week site has now posted the schedule for this year's festival. It's now known that UK's The Pipettes will be playing the Rivoli on March 10, and if I've understood the schedule correctly, they'll for opening for UK duo Smoke Fairies who by the songs on their MySpace seem to be in that acoustic-folk vein. It's a little surprising then that The Pipettes are opening for them - oh well.[photo from NME]

Also according to the CMW schedule, currently hot locals Ohbijou are on the bill with Denmark's Under Byen and Sweden's Frida Hyvonen at The Mod Club on March 8. BTW, how was the Friends in Bellwoods show at the Tranzac yesterday? I wish I could have been there, but I was too pooped.

Joe Pernice recounts some memorable moments from on the road during The Pernice Brothers' most recent US tour over at The Pernice Brothers website. He signs off the post "JP 1/12/07 Toronto, Ontario, Canada". So now that Joe's back home in Toronto, maybe we can expect a solo show around town sometime soon?

The Fall are going on tour in the UK in March and April but preceding the tour will come the February release of the group’s 26th studio album, "Reformation ! Post-TLC". Could that warrant a return to North America(and Toronto this time, please!) in the coming year - I hope.

The Montreal Mirror has a conversation with New Order's/Freebass' Peter Hook.

I can only imagine some people are barely containing themselves about the upcoming The Constantines/Jon Rae and The River Canadian tour in March and April. There will be a two-night stint at Lee's Palace in Toronto on March 30 and 31, with Shotgun and Jaybird joining the bill on March 30 and Ladyhawk on March 31(via Chromewaves). Long live Canadian rock n' roll.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's All True

Tracey ThornI'm not exactly elated with the new Tracey Thorn track "It's All True"]. Don't get me wrong - I like it enough, but with the song's squelches of synth and 80's dance rhythms, I think I'm feeling more nostalgia than anything else. "It's All True" is the first single off of Tracey's new solo album "Out Of The Woods" which comes out March 20 through Astralwerks, and believe it or not, it is only her 2nd solo album in 25 years(her first being 1982's "A Distant Shore). Regardless of my indifference to the first single, I'm still mighty curious to hear the new album just to hear Tracey sing - which also begs the question, any word on a new Everything But The Girl Album?

Listen to "It's All True" over at Tracey Thorn's MySpace:

MySpace: Tracey Thorn

PopMuse also posted the MP3 of the song for download back in December so grab it while you can.

CMJ reported on Tracey's new album back in December, and also has a tracklisting.

For nostalgia's sake(and because I also really like these songs and am getting antsy waiting for a new EBTG album), check out the following:

YouTube: Everything But The Girl - Each And Every One / Rollercoaster (live & acoustic)
Chartattack reports that Nettwerk will be releasing the next Great Lake Swimmers album. Chartattack also points out a slew of Canadian tour dates for the band including a stop in Toronto on April 14 for two shows at Church Of The Redeemer. Further GLS news: there's word over at Stille Post that the band have released a limited edition vinyl release of which only 500 copies have been made. Entitled "Hands in the Dirty Ground", and featuring live and unreleased tracks, it's available through Rotate This as of now, and will be officially released on February 6 through indie label Mag Wheel. Their song "Leave It Behind", included on the release, can be heard over at their MySpace:

MySpace: Great Lake Swimmers

I haven't made up my mind yet whether I'll make it to the Friends In Bellwoods show at the Tranzac tonight featuring Sebastian Grainger, The Paramedics (Bry Webb Solo Project), Ohbijou, and The D'Urbervilles. Most of the proceeds from the show and the sale of the accompanying Friends In Bellwoods two-CD compilation are going to the Daily Bread Food Bank. I do really want to see Ohbijou however...I can't believe I've never seen them live yet, but if I don't get to the show tonight at least it's nice to know that they have a crapload of shows lined up in the near future.

Eye Weekly has a writeup about the Bellwoods home(thats belongs to Casey & Jenny Mecija of Ohbijou) which evolved into a rehearsal/recording studio, eventually giving birth to the Friends In Bellwoods CD Compilation.

Thanks to Stereogum for pointing towards Mark Ronson's remix of Lily Allen's "Smile", entitled "Smile(Version II Revisited"), which you can listen to over at Mark Ronson's MySpace - wonderful:

MySpace: Mark Ronson

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Woke Myself Up

Here's some concert info I came across:

Jan 24/07 - The Besnard Lakes @ Rivoli [#]
Feb 01/07 - Pony Up @ Horseshoe Tavern [&]
Feb 07/07 - Wooly Leaves @ Rivoli [#]
Feb 14/07 - Lily Frost @ The Supermarket [#]
Feb 20/07 - The Apples In Stereo, Casper & the Cookies @ Lee's Palace [*]
Feb 27/07 - Bright Eyes @ The Opera House [!]
April 21/07 - The Ventures @ Casino Rama [%]

& - Eye Weekly
# - Outside Music
* - Ground Control Touring
! - Brooklyn Vegan
% -

Julie Doiron's new album “Woke Myself Up” is now available for purchase online over at Endearing Records. Preview some audio/video from the new album(officially released on January 23):

MP3: Julie Doiron - No More
Video: Julie Doiron - Me And My Friend (MOV)

Mark your calendars to catch The Diableros performing live on MTV Canada on January 15.

Domino Records has a podcast featuring music and interviews with Junior Boys. Download the podcast.

CBC Radio 3 Blog has an interview with Stephen Merritt(The Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies) that they'd conducted with him last month.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Used To Be A Design

A Quiet Revolution polled a group of Canadian east coast music industry types to come up with 20 Popular Bands From Canada's East Coast. And coming in first is the one and only Jenn Grant. There's actually a bunch of artists in the poll that I haven't heard of...I'll probably at least check out some of The Heavy Blinkers' Jason MacIsaac's recommendations. Also check out the 27 artists that didn't make it into the top 20.

According to Jenn Grant's MySpace she'll be back in Toronto for Canadian Music Week for a show at the Tranzac Club on March 9. Also on the bill will be Ruth Minnikin(yay!) and Haligonian singer-songwriter Mark Bragg.

YouTube: Ruth Minnikin - Chicken Cooped Up In Country Music (live at North End Pub - August 15, 2006)

Speaking of The Heavy Blinkers, when's that supposed new album going to be released, huh Jason? Jason recently posted on YouTube a video of The Heavy Blinkers performing "I Used To Be A Design" on CBC's ZedTV. It's from several years back I guess, but I'm not sure when:

YouTube: The Heavy Blinkers - I Used To Be A Design (live on CBC's ZED TV)
MySpace: The Heavy Blinkers

Air has a new e-card for the new album "Pocket Symphony" which will be out March 5:

e-card: Air - Pocket Symphony(LP)
MySpace: Air

Finally, the Canadian Music Week site's band list has been updated, and the most exciting news(at least to me) is that UK girl group throwbacks The Pipettes will be performing at this year's festival. I have no idea of a date since their MySpace nor the CMW site indicates anything yet, but it's only a matter of time.

YouTube: The Pipettes - Pull Shapes (music video)
MySpace: The Pipettes

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Pilgriming Vine

concert review: Basia Bulat, Barzin, Habitat @ The Drake Hotel(Toronto, Ontario), January 4, 2007

Basia Bulat @ The Drake Hotel: photo by Michael Ligon

On the occasion of Basia Bulat's first headlining show in Toronto, preceding Ms. Bulat's set were a couple of fine opening acts. Opening the show were the keyboard-pop duo Habitat, comprised of Sylvie Smith(Vocals, Keyboards) and John O'Regan(Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar). John's probably more recognizable to some of you as the hyper-kinetic frontman of Guelph, ON's The D'Urbervilles. With the dual keyboard setup, there wasn't much to the live show except the songs, but what fine songs they were. John's slightly nasal vocals sort of reminded me of They Might Be Giant's John Linnell, while Sylvie's swoon-worthy vocals were remiscent of Jenny Toomey in my opinion, and as a duo their vocals meshed quite well. While the keyboard was at the heart of the songs, there were a variety of influences at play from the Mates of State-like vocal exhuberance of "Mess It Up" to The Postal Service-like electro pop of "Next Year". Changing things up, John switched to guitar for the fun indiepop of "Concrete Love". As far as I know, they only have a 5 song EP out, so yes it was a short set. I'm glad I finally got to see them live.

This was only my second time seeing Barzin live, the first time being at Holy Joe's in March 2006 as part of Canadian Music Week. Downsized to a trio with only vibraphone, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar as accompaniement, the slo-core, country-ish tunes were lovely. Without the benefit of percussion(especially the cymbals), the songs lost a little bit of that shimmering quality that I'd found so captivating when I saw Barzin perform as a full band. However, I appreciated the vocals that seemed less whispered than I'd remembered, with a slight soulfulness this time around.

Basia Bulat's set was all that I'd hoped for and more. With a 5-member band(actually 6 at the beginning of the set) in tow for the night including percussion, a mini-string section, keyboards and a background vocalist, Basia and company performed a dynamic set, alternating between whirling acoustic stompers and pastoral chamber folk-pop. Basia oozed charm: her sunshine of a smile, the way she leaned her cheek to her guitar, the way she swayed and shuffled her feet when she played guitar, her spontaneous(and humourous) banter. I don't necessarily get The Arcade Fire comparisons though. Sure, counting Basia, there were seven people on stage at any given time. Yes, Basia's band includes a mini-string section. Overall, Basia and her band come off much more down to earth, as if they'd be playing in your living room if given the chance, trading in Arcade Fire's alternating somberness/franticness with melancholy/celtic-like deliriousness. A great set overall.

Here are my photos from the show.

MySpace: Basia Bulat
MySpace: Barzin
MySpace: Habitat

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sugar and Spice

In my blog post last week on Basia Bulat[MySpace], I said, "Basia's been the topic of sporadic blog postings...but I'm sure things'll pick up when the album's released in February." Ok, so maybe I shouldn't have underestimated the blogging community, as blog activity on Basia's started earlier than I expected. Leading the pack is the high recommendations from Said The Gramophone who provides a few tracks("Snakes and Ladders", "Pilgriming Vine") for download along with his usual entertaining commentary. The blogosphere has taken notice. [thanks to Chromewaves for pointing towards SAG's post]

Torontoist ponders if 2007 might be the year of Basia Bulat. Such a polite Canadian stance if I've ever seen one. I mean, if it were the NME they'd be declaring it(of course moving on to the next big thing the week after.) And that's why Canada rules.

Basia lets NOW know what she's currently being listen to(two of which happen to be a couple of my favourite albums of last year).

So yes, Basia performs her first headlining show in Toronto tonight at The Drake Hotel, with openers Barzin[MySpace] and Habitat. Habitat, I believe, was a late addition to the bill and I've been meaning to catch them live and I've already mentioned that I like Barzin. An awesome bill all around. I'll be there with bells on.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

When We Were Wolves

My Latest NovelMost exciting news all day, Glasgow, Scotland's My Latest Novel will be in Toronto for a show at The Drake Hotel on March 9 as part of Canadian Music Week. I've been waiting for this forever, and when they played Vancouver in November as part of Transmission Fest but didn't play any other Canadian cities, I was really disappointed. This should be a good show. Definitely will be buying tickets for this one, rather than chancing it and trying to get in with a wristband. [thanks to Chromewaves for pointing out the date as well as to suckingalemon for the heads up that the show's part of CMW].

MySpace: My Latest Novel

Also on the preliminary band list for this year's Canadian Music Week in March who I'm interested in seeing are Jenn Grant(of course!), Ruth Minnikin, The Coast, The Parkas and Ex-Lion Tamer.

And more exciting news, Swedish pop artist El Perro Del Mar will be at The Mod Club on March 5. [via The Windish Agency]

MySpace: El Perro Del Mar

Brooklyn Vegan brings word that Sting is in talks for The Police to reunite for a special tour to mark the band's 30th Anniversary. I'd love to go to this, as I'm sure a lot of other people would. Anyone remember The Police Picnic shows I believe they performed in Toronto back in the early 80's? I was too young then to go to concerts but I vote for The Police to recreate these shows(in the summer, of course) if they do reunite and come back to Toronto.

YouTube: The Police - I Can't Stand Losing You (promo video)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Best Of My Time

concert review: Jon Rae and The River, Horsey Craze, The Deep Kisses @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), December 31, 2006

Jon Rae and The River @ Lee's Palace - New Year's Eve 2006: photo by Michael Ligon

For many of us, it's back to reality today(ie work) but only a few nights ago many of us were knee-deep in New Year's Eve revelry. A few friends and I took in the New Year's Eve festivities over at Lee's Palace featuring headliners Jon Rae and The River, and openers, Horsey Craze, and The Deep Kisses. While Jon Rae and The River have more than a few of their own stellar tunes, the whole night was really about cover songs(what with the opening bands being cover bands) and that was what made it such a fun evening. Taking the early slot was soul covers act The Deep Kisses which featured members of Lullabye Arkestra and Jon Rae and The River. This was their first live show, not counting when they said they played someone's(Jon's?) wedding. The Deep Kisses' vocalist was none other that The River's backing vocalist Anne Rust-D'Eye, and damn does she have a set of pipes as did the band's female bassist, Lullabye Arkestra's Katia Taylor. Both ladies also wore matching sequined, go-go dancerish outfits. Hot. Unfortunately, I'm not quite up on my soul music, but there were some familiar tunes they performed such as The Ronettes' "Be My Baby", Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and Loretta Lynn's "Stand By Your Man". A really fun way to kick off the evening.

Next up were Horsey Craze, aka The Constantines performing a set of Neil Young covers. Joining the Horsey Craze lineup tonight was Lullabye Arkestra's Justin Small(who was also drummer for The Deep Kisses earlier in the night) presumably as a replacement for The Constantines' Steven Lambke who wasn't there that night. It was a great set covering, as far as I could tell, songs mostly from Neil Young's 70's output including dynamite versions of "Down By The River", "Powderfinger", "Like A Hurricane" and "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere". Where Bry's rumble of vocals is front and centre with The Constantines, it was Whil Kidman who was clearly better suited for Horsey Craze's set, as Whil's vocals approximated a Neil Young-like warble with a sincerity that I only imagine would make Neil Young proud.

Taking the stage at about ten minutes to midnight were Jon Rae and The River. Concerned about being prepared for the New Year's countdown, Jon said they'd play one song before midnight but actually they were able to fit two. After the second song, it was about a minute or two to midnight and the stage began to fill with the the other acts from the night and the band's friends. A sea of hugs and kisses filled the stage, and then with a hasty prompting from someone on the stage to the crowd for the time lead to a countdown of '5', '4', '3', '2', '1'. Happy New Year! I think it was Jon that started off shaking his beer bottle and spraying it into the air which led others on the stage as well as in the audience to do the same. It was a spectacle, to say the least, and such a fun moment to witness. The night was such a blur that I can't even remember what Jon played. About forty minutes into Jon Rae's set, my friends and I took off(because we were tired, sue us) but not before witnessing Jon Rae, The River and The Constantines' Whil Kidman as they ran through a raunchy version of The Rolling Stones' "Happy". Didn't I tell you this night was all about the cover song? Happy new year everyone!

Here are some photos of Jon Rae and The River's set.

MySpace: Jon Rae and The River
MySpace: The Constantines
MySpace: Lullabye Arkestra