Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sam's Town

Sam The Record ManGoodbye, Sam. Today, the flagship Sam The Record Man store in Toronto closes the door for business 46 years after opening it's doors in 1961. I'll miss it. It's ironic that Canada Day is tomorrow and one of Canada's institutions will be gone by tomorrow. My earliest recollections of it were the mid to late 80's when I was in highschool and now I work right down the street from it. Other than the auction of Sam's memorabilia that happened this past Wednesday, Sam's seems to be going out with a whimper. I was there this morning and although I managed to pick up several things on the cheap, it was pretty much picked through. That said, why was the discount still only 50 % off? By the last day, I thought the discount might have increased to 75 % or more. No fancy speeches, no fanfare(at least this morning), just people digging through CD's trying to find a few gems and store employees acting relatively non-chalant about the whole thing. That one dude who's apparently been working there at least for the last 20 odd years - I wonder what he's feeling now. There were a few roaming television cameras asking people what they thought of the closing of the store and the general consensus was that it was the end of an era. But business is business. I'm happy that the the 15-metre spinning neon discs and the Sam's sign will remain due to Toronto city council approving the store and its signs with heritage designation. I'm wondering if new owners do move into the building, will they actually turn on the sign. Or will the city foot the electricity bill?

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died on me a few days ago and many of the things that I'd have wanted to take a photo of had been taken down over the last few days, but there's a wealth of evidence from other people on Flickr.

The Toronto Star encapsulates Sam The Record Man as what it was - a destination for music lovers.

The Toronto Star gets one Sam's employee's take on what it was like to work at the store.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Urban Hymns

The VerveI was never a huge fan of The Verve but the news of them reuniting is somehow exciting. Maybe it's the fact that their song 'Lucky Man' has seeped into my subsconscious after having hearing it in the movie "The Girl Next Door" . Or the fact that it's more 10 years after their 1993 debut "A Storm in Heaven" and nostalgia for that time period has in fact set in. Chromewaves takes a critical look at the reunion. I think I''ll be happy if the band just come back to Toronto and I get to see them perform "The Drugs Don't Work" live.

If you missed this year's Glastonbury Festival, then head over to NME who have created a one stop page to revisit this year's festival highlights.

The White Stripes played a surprise, free, brief set for the townfolk of Whitehorse this past Monday. How nice of Jack and Meg. And even nicer, Jack and Meg played a surprise gig in a Burnaby classroom(apparently filmed for a future DVD according to spectator Cayley Western)[via Just Keep Bloggin']. I wonder if Toronto can expect anything as cool as this prior to the band's July 5 date at the Molson Ampitheatre.

Snowsuit Sound has a couple of videos from yesterday's Rick White/Andre Ethier instore at Soundscapes. Watch Rick. Watch Andre.

It's come to my attention that the newest Matt Pond PA album entitled "Last Light" will be released through Polyvinyl on September 25 and even more exciting that there is a definite possibility of previous cellist Eve Miller joining the band for some live dates. If you hadn't already heard, their most recent cellist Dana Feder left the band - it seems like Matt Pond PA goes through cellist like some bands go through drummers. It had to be said. A few track's from the band's recently released EP "If You Want Blood" are currently streaming over at their MySpace. The band tours this fall.

Brooklyn Vegan has tour dates for John Vanderslice and Cloud Cult, which includes a date in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern on October 1.

New Model Army are at Lee's Palace on October 1.

It's been a few years since we last heard from The Raveonettes with the release of 2005's "Pretty In Black". No word on a new album, but the band does return to North American in October for a tour including a stop in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on October 14. There are some demos streaming at their MySpace that I presume will be on their next album.

Following up on The New Pornographers/Emma Pollock tour date I posted yesterday, Chromewaves confirms that the bill will arrive at the Phoenix in Toronto on October 20. Thanks kind sir.

So the Sam The Record Man building has been designated a heritage building by Toronto City Council. Apparently this means the building structure and the Sam The Record Man Sign will stay. It's going to be strange to look up and see the sign and then look through the window and not see CD's. Did anyone make it to the auction this morning?(Update: BlogTO and Torontoist were both at the auction and have commentary and some lovely photos.) I think I'm gonna try to take some photos of some of the autographed wall panels tomorrow, especially the autographed signature from Urge Overkill which reads "Sam,You'll Be A Woman Soon!".

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hello Operator, Can You Give Me Number Nine

Nylon Magazine 2007Advertising really works. The White Stripes appear on so many magazines right now, it's crazy and it's actually motivated me to listen to my White Stripes CD's after letting them gather dust for the better part of the last 12 months. I particular recommend going back to "De Stijl" - awesome, awesome CD. I'm not usually concerned(at least consciously) about the fashion of the bands I listen to but, their cover photo for the current issue of Nylon, is in particular, dead sexy. Pitchfork has an interview with Jack White, and Chartattack has just posted part two of it's interview with Jack[read part one]. The band play Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto on July 5.

Just a reminder, Rick White and Andre Ethier are performing an instore tomorrow at Soundscapes at 6 pm. It's in support of Rick's new album "Memoreaper" and Andre's new album "On Blue Fog". I wonder if they'll be collaborating tomorrow. [via Stille Post and Soundscapes].

Montreal's Pony Up are back at the 'Shoe for a show on July 26, tickets $8.00.

Keep an eye on the Lee's Palace website as the tour page indicates that it's expecting a 80's post-punk invasion with TBA dates to come for New Model Army, English Beat, and Pere Ubu(I'd like to check them out).

And speaking of 80's post punk, The Cure will be back on the road this year, stopping in Toronto for a show on September 27 at Air Canada Centre. And if you care, the band has a new album coming this Fall.[via Billboard]

Brooklyn Vegan has Bloc Party tour dates, which include a September 28 date for the band at Ricoh Coliseum. I like Bloc Party but are they trying to break a record on how many times they can play Toronto within the span of a year and a half? I'm sure the kiddies will be happy at least. Actually, I was hoping they'd be added to the Toronto Virgin Festival lineup.

Exciting news from Beggars Group Canada whose website indicates that ex-Delgados' Emma Pollock and our own The New Pornographers will be at the Phoenix on October 13! Emma's new album "Watch The Fireworks" will be released in September through 4AD. A few tracks from the album are currently streaming over at her MySpace. Update: Hold off on that Toronto date above - the Beggars Group Canada website has Emma and The New Pornographers listed as ALSO being in Montreal and Calgary on the October 13. Huh? I'm sure this all will get worked out.

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has a remix of Feist's "1234" available for download.

As you can see, I modified the sidebar just a tad using what rudimentary HTML skills I have. It's a wonder what a 'new coat of paint' can do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sound of Success

concert review: A Northern Chorus, Jenn Grant and The Night Painters @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), June 15, 2007

Jenn Grant @ Horseshoe: photo by Michael Ligon

A Northern Chorus @ Horseshoe: photo by Michael Ligon

Considering all the times I've mentioned singer-songwriter Halifax-by-way-of-PEI's Jenn Grant(as far back as September 2005), I'd be totally remiss if I didn't mention Jenn Grant's recent CD release party(for her debut album "Orchestra For The Moon") at the Horseshoe Tavern last Friday night. I won't let blind admiration affect my judgement of the actual show - it wasn't perfect. Comparing Jenn's 11 pm set to A Northern Chorus' headling set(and how subsequently the crowd thinned) it was obvious most people were there to see Jenn that night - it helped that she had a lot of press last week including in Eye Weekly, JAM, and The Globe and Mail. Not at capacity but decent enough, and only to draw larger crowds in the future. I was disappointed in the sound mix which I thought was unnecessarily loud, all the more peculiar since during Jenn's banter she mentioned this was the first time she actually had a sound guy work the set, with bandmate Sean MacGIllivray going so far as to have the audience applaud the sound guy. However, that aside her set showcased songs off her debut album showing why she is one of Canada's up-and-comers. A little help from some friends brought the songs to life. Her band included The Heavy Blinkers' Dave Christensen's twinkling keyboards/glockenspiel, Jason Burns on drums, Sean MacGIllivray on bass guitar/background vox, and surprise guest Toronto's violin extraordinaire Julie Penner adding her own flavourable arrangements. Also Jenn had a few friends help out on background vox at times including fellow east coaster Tanya Davis who had performed her own set earlier on in the night. I missed her set but one of the highlights of the evening was Tanya's sublime spoken word interlude during the performance of Jenn's "Dreamer". Dressed in a white summery skirt-top, black leggings, strawberry-blond and rosey-cheeked, Jenn exuded her wonderful east-coast charm. Obviously surprised by the turnout, she was refreshingly modest and appreciative about her rising star. Thankfully, Jenn and her band The Night Painters had what it took to deliver the musical goods. Excursions into pop, folk, and country, with Jenn's jazz-inflected vocals combined for a thoroughly enjoyable set.

While I've only ever been casually familiar with Hamilton, ON's A Northern Chorus, I must say that they really impressed me last Friday night. Plaintive vocals(Stu Livingstone & Pete Hall, with added background vox from their cellist), guitars that alternately shimmered then crashed, and generous amounts of cello combined into intricate, spacious indie-post-rock. The one welcome facet to their music is the fact that their recent material are more song-based, concise(even up-tempo at times) yet still maintaining an atmospheric quality in their overall sound(check out songs off this year's "The Millions Too Many" over at their MySpace). It's a shame the crowd thinned out just before the beginning of their set. A band this good that's practically in Toronto's backyard(Hamilton, ON) definitely deserve more local recognition.

MySpace: Jenn Grant
MySpace: A Northern Chorus

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Easy Tiger

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has Ryan Adams' session he performed for World Cafe(on June 15, 2007) for download. She also mentions that Ryan had a torn ligament and wasn't playing guitar. Ryan Adams and The Cardinals perform an intimate show in Toronto on June 22 at Enwave Theatre. Anyone get tickets to this? I wonder if Ryan'll be playing guitar.

Via The Music Slut, and now Pitchfork, the next Magnetic Fields album is planned for release in 2008. An update at the band's website further says that "the exact release date and album title will be announced shortly, as well as information on other Stephin Merritt projects."

NME's coverage of Daft Punk's show at the Wireless Festival in the UK is making me strongly reconsider buying tickets for their show at (the crappy)Arrow Hall on August 5.

NPR has had some cool interview/live sessions recently from Wilco(listen here) and Sloan(listen here).

Aversion has an interview with The Long Blondes, plus news of The Go Team signing to Sub Pop and news of Lily Allen giving up blogging in an effort to keep out of the tabloids. Good luck.

A review of the A Northern Chorus/Jenn Grant show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 15, 2007, still to come. It's been 4 days since my last post...please forgive me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Leave The Biker, Break His Heart

concert review: Fountains of Wayne, The Broken West @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), June 10, 2007

Fountains Of Wayne @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Power-pop doesn't come any better these days(and arguably for the last decade) than NYC's Fountains of Wayne who performed an NXNeXtra show on June 10 at Lee's Palace. Attempting to stretch my NXNE wristband as much as I could use it, I decided to take a chance and line up to get in to see Fountains of Wayne and it was a piece of cake. Doors were at 8 pm and I lined up a half an hour earlier but they didn't start letting in people until around 8:30 pm. In the interim, a few of us saw FoW's Adam Schlesinger duck out of the tour bus and join some friends across the street at a restaurant and he was still over there by the time the line started to move.

Openers were Los Angeles' The Broken West. They performed a set of more than competent pop rock, at it's crunchiest reminscent of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star, although the vocals in my opinion(although competent) weren't as distinctive as those other two bands. They were enjoyable enough but unfortunately they were scheduled for a short set and no sooner had they started the whole thing was over. Merch was over priced in my opinion - $20 for a CD. A little cheaper, and I might have grabbed one.

I don't count myself a huge FoW fan but on the other hand when I do listen to them, I'm reminded every time of how utterly infectious their tunes can be. Their set was heavy on material from their newest disc, this year's "Traffic and Weather" and their 1996 self-titled debut with a few sprinkled in from 2003's "Welcome Interstate Managers" and 1999's "Utopia Parkway" (although no 'Denise', boo-hoo). Succinctly, power-pop at it's best. Face it, FoW's live show is no frills, or at least for this show it was. No flashy stage effects and they were pretty casually dressed. Thankfully, the songs were able to compensate for the lack of visual elements. Fountains Of Wayne's fans are a loyal bunch. On almost every song(even the new ones) I could spot at least a few people singing along to every word. During the encore, Chris and Adam chose to play their MILF-loving hit 'Stacey's Mom' acoustically, and stripped down to it's melody, I realized that it's actually not a bad song. That's the funny thing about power-pop(or more generally pop) music - overplay is the death of it. My favourite songs were 'I've Got A Flair' and 'Leave The Biker' - here's the setlist that I got(although in reality the setlist was slightly modified eg. 'Leave The Biker' was played during the main set.) Mainstream success('Stacey's Mom' excepted) continues to evade Fountains Of Wayne and I don't expect that to change. Like Sloan in Canada, hopefully Fountains of Wayne continue to pump out those albums with a hit radio single every now and then.

Below is a short video clip of Chris and Adam performing an acoustic version of 'Stacey's Mom':

YouTube: Fountains Of Wayne - 'Stacey's Mom' (live acoustic @ Lee's Palace - June 10, 2007) (courtesy of turntabletiger)

inRich spoke with Adam about the new record and the long wait between records("Real life happened").

Adam and Chris were in MPR's studios to perform a live acoustic session including songs 'Hackensack,' 'Someone to Love,' and 'Red Dragon Tattoo'.

MySpace: The Broken West
MySpace: Fountains Of Wayne

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Giddy Stratospheres

concert review: The Long Blondes, Nicole Atkins and The Sea @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), June 11, 2007

Nicole Atkins @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Monday night, Lee's Palace played host to Sheffield, UK's The Long Blondes' Toronto debut. While I don't think it was a sold-out show it was a more than respectable size crowd especially by the time The Long Blondes hit the stage. It's with a little regret that I didn't get to Lee's Palace in time for the start of opener New Jersey's Nicole Atkins and The Sea's opening set. Of all nights, Lee's Palace actually started the show on time(around (9:15 pm I was told). I managed to catch Nicole's last three songs and above all was impressed with her dynamic vocals and her versatility of musical styles. I picked up her EP "Bleeding Diamonds"(at the merch table directly from Nicole, who was nice enough to chat with virtually everyone who came up to her...I asked her why her NXNE appearance was cancelled she told and she mentioned there was some sort of mix-up). After having listened to it, I'm pretty sure now that the song I'd walk in during her set was "War Torn", a torchy, slow-burner that crescendos near the end into a wonderful guitar melody before finishing off on a quiet note with Nicole's last few lyrics. I remember a subsequent song being more in a general alt pop-rock direction that reminded me of say Juliana Hatfield.

The Long Blondes' Kate Jackson @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

I rarely download album leaks but I felt compelled to give The Long Blondes' debut "Someone To Drive You Home"(out in the UK since last year?) a listen after reading about them many times and being reeled in by the songs at their MySpace. Maybe it was the drawing that adorns their album cover of a sultry blond wearing a French beret leaning on red car that attracted me. I dunno. Downloading their album did have partly to do with that at the time, the album wasn't yet released domestically and I didn't want to pay import prices for it. The album was recently released domestically and includes a 2nd disc which contains 4 extra tracks and the video for "Once and Never Again" - I picked up my copy at the show.

So what of their performance? Lead vocalist is obviously the centre of attention, with her jet black-hair and wearing matching coloour pencil-skirt and the crowd adored her as she struck out poses like a model on a runway. While the band was musically competent for the pop, post-punk sounds for their songs for which they performed, there was a difference in performance energy between the different band members. Kate and the two male members of the band[on guitar and drums] were the most energetic but the ladies[on bass guitar and keyboards] were much less animated except for a few grins here and there. Given the music's obviously danceability and it's ability to get the crowd involved(there were singalongs and handclaps) it's a little disappointing to see half the band energetic and the other half aloof. Although, I must admit I didn't think the ladies weren't NOT into the show, just perhaps more reserved and shy. That aside, I don't think most of the crowd necessarily noticed - too busy dancing, singing, or clapping. Highpoints of the show would be the rousing "Lust In The Movies" as it declared 'Edie Sedgwick, Anna Karenina, Arlene Dahl. I just want to be a sweetheart.' and the vibrant, bouncy pop of "Once and Never Again"(which prompted a bout of crowd pogoing) which the band performed towards the end of the set. The band's greatest achievement that night - making this guy in his thirties(and probably many others there) feel like a teenager all over again.

And thankfully Kate Jackson didn't remind me of Gwen Stefani(not that I have anything against Gwen.) Track back to Fluxblog(and read some of the comments especially).

Chartattack gives a favourable review of The Long Blondes' set.

Lcanthropy has some photos from The Long Blondes' set as does inventor_77 and Songs Without Words.

Update: Chromewaves reviews the show eloquently and also has a bunch of Nicole Atkins & Long Blondes links for your pleasure. Metamorphstuff has a few more photos from the show.

YouTube: The Long Blondes - "Giddy Stratospheres" (live @ Lee's Palace - June 11, 2007 - 1 min 56 sec) (courtesy aNewCanadian)

MySpace: Nicole Atkins
MySpace: The Long Blondes

Monday, June 11, 2007

NXNE Wrap-Up

NXNE is over. Overall, it had some good and or interesting acts to check out but due to overlapping set times, I couldn't check out everyone I'd wanted to see. I got to see The Soundtrack of Our Lives on Thursday June 7(see my Friday June 8 post) and I managed to use my NXNE wristband to see Fountains of Wayne and The Broken West at Lee's Palace yesterday night(review to follow). Overall, I got my money's worth. Here's my rundown of NXNE on Friday and Saturday:

Friday June 8, 2007

9 pm - The Pantones @ Savannah

A sparse crowd was in attendance to catch Lansing, MI's The Pantones early set. Their country rock was reminiscent of the brighter moments of Son Volt and Wilco with songs at times spotlighting prominent horns and electric piano. They proclaim their sound Americana Indie Pop and actually reminded me a lot of Irish band The Thrills. The Pantones were tight and had a few standout tracks during the set. Musically enjoyable set, but they seemed somewhat redundant as a live act considering they had virtually no stage presence. Maybe if there were more people in the club that might have helped.

10:30 pm - Au Revoir Simone/Favorite Sons/Voxtrot @ Sneaky Dee's

Brooklyn, NY's Au Revoir Simone opened the show for a crowd that had been anxiously waiting in line at least a half an hour or more. Doors were suppose to be at 10 pm but only started to move about half an hour or more. They have an interesting concept - three keyboards and three vocalists. As expected, the female trio blended keyboard arrangements and vocal parts into a lovely pop concoction. Electronic Casio rhythms provided a percussive element to songs like "Sad Song" which were reminiscent to Postal Service. Heather and Erika were the demure(and leggy) ones but the bespectacled Annie was more energetic as she rocked out on her keyboard at times.

Favourite Sons were next. C'mon people they're not that bad(most of the reviews I've read didn't like them). I'm not particularly a fan of lead vocalist Ken Griffin's vocals(sounding sort of like Jeff Martin at times) but some of the rock instrumentation was solid and even creative, and never evolved into wankery. Not my cup of tea, though. Although, you have to give credit to lead vocalist Ken Griffin taking on a heckler with a lingering, confident middle finger as he continued to sing.

Voxtrot. Their first show back last year at the same venue was better. This one seemed rushed. I dunno. My feet were tired although maybe I was just waiting for "The Start of Something" to perk me up(which it did). However, by that point the show was almost over. Hopefully they'll play a larger venue next time. Blacking Out The Friction went to the early show and loved Voxtrot's set.

Saturday June 9, 2007

3 pm - The Diodes @ Yonge Dundas Square

I spent too much time down the street at Sam The Record Man and when I got to Yonge Dundas Square I only managed to catch the last two songs of the set. However, I got to hear "Tired Of Waking Up Tired" live and it sounded fantastic. They even brought up a few of the girls of Toronto's famed female punk act B-Girls to sing backup.

9 pm - Terror Lake @ The Boat

The first time I saw Terror Lake was in June 2006 at Rancho Relaxo. This spunky young Toronto trio are still purveyors of a sound that owes nods to The Pixies, Sonic Youth and Sleater Kinney, with a little surf influence at times thrown in for good measure. Their female drummer also handled vocal duties while the guys thrashed away on guitars(no bass guitar). Wonderfully youthful, if a little loud on the eardrums. I think one of the band members mothers was videotaping the performance for posterity.

10 pm - The Vandelles @ Rancho Relaxo

A stifling hot Rancho Relaxo played host to NYC's The Vandelles. The band is made up of two guys(on lead vocals/guitar &second guitar) and two females(bass guitar/tambourine & drums). Their MySpace lists a variety of influences in their sound but the first item on that list is really all that matters - Jesus and Mary Chain. They sound, more accurately, like early period Jesus and Mary Chain. I'm always up for the JAMC and I thought The Vandelles were terrific but I wonder how far they can go as a band in terms of mainstream(or even indie) success with a sound that's so heavily indebted to another band. We already have The Raveonettes(and even they've diversified their sound). I wish The Vandelles well in the future. The band provides a wrap-up of their NXNE experience over at their MySpace blog.

11 pm - The Coast @ The Boat

Back at The Boat, Toronto's The Coast performed a set that included a bunch of new songs. The new songs are less atmospheric, and spacious which is somewhat of a disappointment since that aspect of their sound was so attractive. An upbeat, more direct pop influence pervades some of the new material and I wonder if Morrissey(whom the bass guitarist was wearing a t-shirt of) was an influence. How the new songs sound on record eventually, well, we'll see. It was a well-received set although considering how small The Boat is, it should have been packed to the rafters. A respectable turnout, nonetheless.

12 pm - waiting in line @ Horseshoe Tavern to see You Say Party! We Say Die!

Didn't get in. Oh well, I tried.

1 am - In-Flight Safety @ Horseshoe Tavern

If Toronto's The Coast had east coast cousins, then they'd definitely be Halifax, NS' In-Flight Saftey. In-Flight Safety perform a similar brand of atmospheric, sensitive rock music but while The Coast take their cues from more classic influences like The Verve, The Smiths and U2, I always thought In-Flight Safety sounded a lot like Coldplay(in a good way). In this world, you'd think one Coldplay is enough, but In-Flight Safety hold their own quite nicely. Holed up in the confines of Horseshoe Tavern, I realized In-Flight Saftey are destined for arenas. Their spacious pop-rock sound, which is carried quite capably by the emotive vocals of the lanky John Mullane), begs for a larger acoustic environment. While a train of people had filed out of the Horseshoe prior to In-Flight Safety's set it appeared that just as many people made it back in for their set. I can only hope that IFS make it to the big time because for the most part Canadian arena-rock right now makes me puke(I won't bother to name the guilty).

Here's a few photos I took this weekend during NXNE(more to come):

Au Revoir Simone: photo by Michael Ligon
The Diodes: photo by Michael Ligon
Terror Lake: photo by Michael Ligon
The Vandelles: photo by Michael Ligon
The Coast: photo by Michael Ligon
In-Flight Safety: photo by Michael Ligon

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sister Surround

concert review: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives (as part of NXNE) @ Jeff Healey's Roadhouse(Toronto, Ontario), June 7, 2007

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse on June 7, 2007 - NXNE: photo by Michael Ligon

Those mighty Swedes The Soundtrack Of Our Lives played the first of three NXNE shows yesterday evening at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse. About half an hour before their set it was a surprisingly light crowd but come their set it filled in nicely. Burly lead vocalist Ebbot Lundberg, wearing some sort of ceremonial gown, might be the furthest thing you could imagine as a frontperson but on the other hand it's refreshing and after one song you can't even imagine someone else up their. Their rock n' roll riffage and psychedlic overtones were quite satisfying conjuring images of The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, and AC DC but in such a refreshingly melodic manner. They played selections from a cross-section of their albums including their breakout "Behind The Music", plus selections from "Origin Volume I", "Welcome to the Infant Freebase" and "Extended Revelation for the Psychic Weaklings of Western Civilization". Their seemed to be a lot of photographers in attendance, and the more the better to capture frontperson Ebbot Lundberg's emotive personality. Guitarist Mattias Bärjed was also a joy to watch, dressed in red jeans and a red 'The Who' tour jacket, as he broke out all the rock guitar moves. Pete Townsend, eat your heart out. Highly recommended - check 'em out tonight at The Silver Dollar and then again on Saturday back at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse.

Stay tuned for more photos.

MySpace: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Baby, We'll Be Fine

The National @ The Opera House: photo by Michael Ligon

Tuesday's show at The Opera House featuring The National was arguably the best show of the year. It was my favourite show of the year so far and that's saying a lot given that I'm a relatively newbie to the band. So if I wasn't necessarily singing along like some persons I noticed, I was feeling every bit as delirious as they were. Stay tuned to this space - I quite possibly will elaborate further on the show but I will say that lead vocalist Matt Berninger is every bit caught up in the moment(with a stage presence that reminds me of a less flamboyant Morrissey, but trading in Morrissey's fey vocals for the deep rumble of say Leonard Cohen) and he gave me the impression that every moment he was on stage he was having the time of his life.

Check out Torontoist and Chromewaves for terrific reviews of the show.

alucardx has the set list.

MySpace: The National

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yawny at the Apocalypse

According to Pitchfork, troubadour/violinst Andrew Bird will announce more US dates for this September. Hopefully he'll throw in a Toronto date. On June 8 he'll perform a live session for BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe(live sessions are usually at about 1 hour and 40 minutes into the program - I think it's on around 6:40 am(or is that 5:40 am?)EST on June 8.

Chartattack spoke to Sweden's The Soundtrack Of Our Lives about recording and touring and the current state of Swedish rock music. They play not one, not two, but three shows during this year's NXNE as follows:

June 7 @ Healey's Roadhouse
June 8 @ Silver Dollar
June 9 @ Healey's Roadhouse

I saw a poster at Sam The Record Man advertising a gig at the Reverb on June 14 that'll include Rob Smith of Bristol, UK's Smith and Mighty. Rob has a new project called Smith and Whitney. If you're not familiar with Smith and Mighty, well they're sort of forefathers to the whole Bristol trip hop scene which spawned more familiar bands like Massive Attack and Portishead. This show could be interesting.

Tickets for The Cowboy Junkies' July 3rd date at Live @ The Courthouse in Toronto quietly went on sale yesterday. Sorry, I didn't mention it earlier, but I just wanted to make sure that I got a ticket for myself before it sold out. We're all selfish at one point. I bought mine through and it set me back about $31. But it's well worth it in my opinion to see the 'Junkies perform in an intimate venue, and also considering that it seems like they haven't play a hometown gig in ages. As I said back in February, I vowed to see the 'Junkies this time around no matter what the cost.

Newest Arts & Crafts signees, UK's Los Campesinos play the Horseshoe Tavern on August 7. They're also playing the Hillside Festival in Guelph, ON on July 27.

Au Revoir Simone return for yet another gig in Toronto, this time headlining their own show, on August 15 at Lee's Palace[via]. Tickets are already on sale.

Folkie Suzanne Vega has a gig at The Mod Club on September 26[via Emerge].

Note: For some reason, Blogger doesn't want to publish this on June 6, so I've dated this post June 5 in the meantime. Weird.

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Rights Versus Yours

I had the scary thought over the weekend of having this entire blog wiped out after having my blog locked(ie. I wasn't able to post) by Blogger because a spam scan they utilized filtered my blog for some reason as having the traits of a spam blog(and would have deleted my blog as a result). What those traits are I do not know. However, Blogger reviewed my blog and apologized for the scare. Maybe I should think about upgrading to my own .com URL. In the meantime, back to blogging:

Current blog hot topics Get Him Eat Him are at Sneaky Dee's on June 26.

Ex-Morcheeba vocalist Skye is on her own now and makes a stop in Toronto for a show at El Mocambo on June 28[via Emerge].

Mogwai's Stuart and Grainne Braithwaite have a DJ gig at The new M7 Hangar(39 Lisgar St. Toronto) on July 20 with admission $7 at the door[via Stille Post].

The Dears have been confirmed to play Rogers Picnic at Old Fort York on July 29. Too bad I'll be on my way that day to Florida for vacation.

Ulrich Schnauss is at the Rivoli on September 26[via Pollstar].

Caribou are scheduled to play The Casbah in Hamilton, ON on September 28 so I wouldn't think it'd be a stretch to expect a Toronto date around that time. And well Caribou's website says they have a lot of touring planned for the fall which also says this year's touring configuration will be a four-piece with the addition two new members, Brad Weber and Andy Lloyd, to the fold. The new album "Andorra" will be released on Merge in the Americas on August 21 and City Slang in the rest of the world on August 20. Purchase tickets for the Hamilton show here[via Stille Post].

On the heels of an upcoming release of a 4xcd, 1xdvd deluxe box set entitled ’Sojourner’[details here], Magnolia Electric Co. will be going on tour stopping in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on October 5.

Thanks to Neiles Life for the heads up that Matt Pond PA have a new EP entitled "If You Want Blood" to tide us until a new album surfaces hopefully this year.( indicates that the EP is released officially on June 19 while says it's available as an import tomorrow - huh?). Neiles Life has the title track for download NOW.

I just got around finally to listening to the new New Pornographers track "My Rights Versus Yours" which'll be included on their forthcoming album "Challengers" coming out in August through Matador Records. Pitchfork has the details of the album and following their link to the mp3. I've read some comments about the song being boring, but I have to disagree - it's one of their finest melodic tunes in my opinion and quite possibly the sweetest Carl Newman-sung track I've heard so far. Take that haters.

That's it for today. I now need to finalize my list of gigs I'll be going to this week(especially, who I'll be checking out during NXNE). So far confirmed, I'll be seeing The National/Shapes and Sizes tomorrow night at The Opera House and Voxtrot/Au Revoir Simone/Favorite Sons at Sneaky Dee's on Friday night. Rest of the week, well, I'll play by ear. It could get a little crazy

Friday, June 01, 2007


concert review: Chad Vangaalen, Jade McNelis @ Tranzac (Toronto, Ontario), May 29, 2007

Chad Vangaalen @ Tranzac Club: photo by Michael Ligon

It was way back in December 2004 when I caught Calgary's Chad Vangaalen at The Mod Club when he opened for Stars. As you could read from that review, I described his music as stripped down indie rock that reminded me of Unrest and Pixies. Seeing Chad a few days ago at the Tranzac Club in Toronto I was continually reminded of Guided By Voices in the sense that Chad's set was a continuous stream of one pop nugget after another. From stripped down indie pop-rock to Dylanesque folk to country-inflected pop to a rousing rendition of Roy Orbison's "Running Scared", his set was infectious from beginning to end through to his encore. His bandmates filled in the sound quite nicely on keyboards, xylophone, accordion, drums and flute, with Chad taking guitar and banjo duties. My favourite part of the set was when Toronto's Julie Fader joined in on background vocals for several songs, including one of the most lovely duet ballads I've heard in a long time[being a late comer to Chad's music I picked up a couple of his CD's at the show and I need to find that duet which he sung with Julie that night...unless it's one of the new songs that Chad apparently performed]. For a Wednesday night, it was a very decent turnout and there were definitely some Chad Vangaalen-fanatics in the audience that night.

Opening the night was up-and-comer Jade McNelis from Montreal who I'd mentioned a few weeks ago. I missed Jade's opening set when Laura Veirs played El Mocambo a few weeks back so I was glad to see Jade live in person this night. She opened her set with the slightly unusual(at least to me) setup of having her keyboards directly facing the audience. She has a rich full flowing way of playing her keyboards that reminded me of Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor although on a few tunes like "Christmas Eve" and "Miles of Seas" her vocals(combined with a slightly rockier instrumentation) were almost full-on Emily Haines-sounding. She brought on additional members, first a cellist to play on one song with her, then later a few more members on drums and guitar, with the cellist switching to bass guitar, for the remainder of the set. It was nice set of intricate, classically influenced indie rock and while it was good introduction to her music, at her tender young age of 20, I think her modest stage presence still shows it.

Photos to come.

MySpace: Jade McNelis
MySpace: Chad Vangaalen
Just Keep Bloggin' points to Y! Music's Critical Eye who have video of Feist performing live her song "I Feel It All".

Some concert news - Ex-Drive By Trucker Jason Isbell rolls into El Mocambo on July 24, tickets $8.50. Apparently, Travis are still around and will prove that fact with a show at Kool Haus on July 19, tickets a whopping $35.00. Hometown Toronto boys Blue Rodeo perform their annual(?) summer show at Molson Ampitheatre on August 22, tickets $16.25-$65.50 - I say take a seat on the lawn, lay back and enjoy the (hopefully) warm summer evening[last three items via Eye Weekly].

According to Pollstar, The Dears have been added to the Rogers Picnic happening at Historic Fort York in Toronto on July 29 - before you bank on this, the show isn't listed on their website or their MySpace. Update: Date is confirmed.

The Hold Steady promise to kick some serious rock 'n roll ass when they return to Toronto for a show at The Opera House on August 6, tickets $15.00[via Rotate This].

Peter Elkas plays at Nathan Phillips Square on August 16[via Pollstar.

Those lovable Scots, Camera Obscura return to show, this time at the Phoenix on August 26[via Ground Control Touring.

According to Chromewaves over at Stille Post, there's been a few more additions to the Toronto Virgin Festival lineup coming in September(day 2 is starting to give day 1 a run for its money):

day 1 - Matt Costa
day 2 - Explosions In The Sky, Stars, Blonde Redhead