Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sarah Harmer (Luminato Festival) @ David Pecaut Square, Toronto (June 15, 2013)


  Sarah Harmer: photo by Michael Ligon


  Sarah Harmer: photo by Michael Ligon


  Sarah Harmer: photo by Michael Ligon

While the kids were probably living it up on Bruise Cruise on Saturday June 15th of NXNE weekend, I decided to take some time out of NXNE and check out Sarah Harmer who was performing a free set at David Pecaut Square as part of the Luminato Festival. As Sarah had mentioned, it had been about a year since she last performed in Toronto, which I'm assuming she's referring to her participation in the Bicentennial Celebration of the War of 1812 concert that took place at Fort York Garrison Common on July 14 of last year.

This concert plus her show last year at Fort York Garrison Commons are/were such chill events that if it were not for Sarah's outstanding songs and songwriting I'd have probably been asleep. For the hour or so that she and her band [including Miss Julie Fader on background vocals and keyboards] performed, the audience was pleasantly entertained with some fan favourites like "Silver Road", "Almost", "Greeting Card Aisle", and "The Hideout". 'Here's a little acoustic number', she expressed as she segued into the bluegrass-y "I Am Aglow" and later some deeper cuts [well, at least to me] like Sarah's tribute to Canada's National Parks appropriately titled "The Park Song" [which included a cool organ solo], the mid-tempo pop of "Late Bloomer" and during the encore, the waltz-ian "Oleander" prior to which she exclaimed to the audience that we could stand up, but then slightly retracted that statement by saying that then again it was a country number. Sarah's music is such a sublime combination of her influences of folk, country, rock and pop and the set was such a sweet reminder of how truly talented she is.

Check out the rest of the photoset here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review - NXNE (June 14, 2013)


Friday night of this year's NXNE was relatively a light one for me as it turned out. I'd already decided that I'd brave the crowds down at Yonge Dundas Square for Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden and headliners The National. Unlike the previous day's weather, this evening was perfect on that note. It was fortuitous that I took a spot near the front, stage left, for Hayden's set when I did as it filled up quickly and only after looking at a few of my crowd shots did I see that the crowd extended all the way back to Yonge St. for The National's set.


  Hayden: photo by Michael Ligon

Starting a little after 7:30 pm,  Hayden took to the stage with a drummer and bass guitarist. His seventh full-length, the Polaris Music Prize long-listed Us Alone was released this past February through Arts and Crafts. Churning through some classics like "Bad As The Seem" and "Trees Lounge" and other older ones, interspersed with a selection from the new album, Hayden alternated between songs from guitar to keyboards. Singer songwriter Lou Canon (his sister in-law in fact) came as a special guest singing and playing keyboards on the song "Blurry Nights" as she does on the studio version on Us Alone, a lovely folk-rock number duet between her and Hayden.  He was at his best on tracks like the poppy "Rainy Saturday" off the new album which showed he still has life left in him. The venue itself was perhaps unforgiving in conveying Hayden's talents when you have thousands of fans waiting for no one else but the headliner, but perhaps Hayden's set converted a few music fans. 


  Matt Berninger: photo by Michael Ligon

As The National's show at the Air Canada Centre (theatre configuration) in December 2011 attested (the largest venue in Toronto they had played up till that point), The National had reached stadium-level status and succeeded. Getting booked to headline a free show at Yonge Dundas Square during NXNE was almost too good to be true and with the very recent release of their sixth studio album Trouble Will Find Me through 4AD,  this show was bound to be special or at least great. And it was. More than any other National show I've seen, this may have perhaps been the funniest I've seen Matt as he jokingly commented on the environment around him especially the Beyonce billboards staring at him from across the Eaton Centre and the Jack Astor patio above and to the side that he jokingly invited everyone after the show for a drink. I'd anticipated the band perhaps playing an hour and a half tops but having started just after 9 pm, the band went almost to 11 pm. It was a fine set list giving attention mostly to their most recent album and their previous one High Violet obviously but with a few nods to the fan faves off of Boxer and Alligator. The band didn't just phone it but seemed to give it as much as they would for any other show. Like Matt has done during previous shows including their show in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre back in December 2011, Matt jumped down into the audience at one point, running through crowd while singing with a wired mic with fans dutifully lifting the mic cord over their heads for Matt in order for it to not get tangled, ending with Matt back up at the front of the stage and the audience adrenalized.


  The National: photo by Michael Ligon

I was hoping for an acapella "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" to end off the show like they'd done back in December 2011 at the Air Canada Centre but really didn't think they actually do it in this outdoor venue. But lo and behold, they did it, as the entire band, including their horn section, moved towards the front of the stage, the Dessner brothers flanking each side of the lineup and adding some spare guitar. As the band sang acapella to the audience it didn't take long for the audience to join in wholeheartedly, perhaps the loudest audience singalong I think I've ever heard. Any sort of crowd chatter was stopped virtually in its tracks to the point that all you could hear besides the singing was the traffic noise off in the distance. What a wonderful end to a terrific show. That I hadn't checked out any more of the NXNE festival that night was perhaps because everything else would just pale in comparison and so I packed it in and ended on a high note.

Photos: NXNE - The National, Hayden (June 14, 2013)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review - NXNE (June 12-13, 2013)


NXNE is in the books for another year and it was one of the more spontaneouos ones I've had in years. I bumped into some familiar faces along the way, but didn't seem many of you. It seems, by the looks of others NXNE coverage, we were all checking out different bands which is good in a way as the festival gets a wider scope of coverage because of that. I'd planned on starting my NXNE on Wednesday night with the 9 pm set at the Rivoli by Brooklyn dreampop outfit Heaven but found out at the venue that the group had border troubles and didn't make it in to Canada. That explains why their name had conspicuously vanished from the NXNE website schedule earliery in the day. Part of me wanted to stay for the 11 pm set by the Montreal-based Mozart's Sister, the electro-pop project of Caila Thompson-Hannant, a member of Shapes & Sizes but my impatience / desire to perhaps call it a night got the best of me.


  Rituals: photo by Michael Ligon

However I looked at my NXNE picks for that night and saw that I had a pick for 10 pm that night down Queen St. westbound at The Shop @ Parts and Labour with Toronto group Rituals so I decided to jump onto the streetcar, ride westbound and along the way decide whether I should check out the show at The Shop. I'd come to my senses by the time I reached Parkdale and got off at the stop that was practically right in front of the venue [I had booked the next two days off work and decided to forgo sleep and not waste this opportunity.] My first time at the venue, my first impressions of it was that like the underground, intimate music venue of The Drake Hotel, The Shop @ Parts @ Labour was like an industrial, laid-back version of that. The venue was quickly filling up already. By the crowd reaction, my impression was that Rituals were still relatively new to the scene but the band's brand of music merging post-punk, no-wave and subtle psychedelic tones went over well with the crowd including myself. Music was more textural than melodic although not necessarily void of melody which I think I picked up in the gritty vocals or harmonic guitar tones in a song or two. Generally, they fall within the category of not-necessarily-my-thing-but-interesting-nonetheless and if more adventurous listening is your thing, definitely check them out. The band released a self-titled 7" EP in 2011 and earlier this year their Mesmerized EP as a digital download through their Bandcamp.

I almost packed it in for the night but then was convinced to stay for the next set by Olympia, Washington band Milk Music. Their grungy look, most of the band with long hair and one member with beard definitely fit in line with their sound which I could best describe as Slacker-dom punk, their sound more complex but essentially an extension of grunge and bands like Dinosaur Jr in the 90's. The band rose from the underground in 2009 with a self-titled cassette and then their Beyond Living EP (which got a wider release in 2011) and earlier this year released their full-length debut Cruise Your Illusion [ha ha, wicked title!] through Fat Possum Records. I'm tempted to listen to them but their set, which seemed to meander at times like a band on an extended jam, didn't quite gel for me that night. Oh, and the venue was getting too tightly packed and I had to escape towards the back for a breather. Although, there was a special guest [Tampa art-punks Merchandise] slotted for the midnight set time, I decided to call it a night.


  Old Man Markley: photo by Michael Ligon

Got a later start to the festival the next day but after getting organized, I made my way downtown to Yonge Dundas Square with nothing really better to do. It was punk night at the Square with Southern Californian punk rock veterans Social Distortion scheduled to play later that night. I arrived earlier as Los Angeles punk and bluegrass band Old Man Markley were already into their set. With the weather being uncertain, there wasn't that large of a crowd on hand which probably was a disappointment but the band didn't seem to mind. With male and female vocals, the band's punk tunes were embellished with root-sy elements such as fiddle and sounded enjoyable although certainly were not my thing. In tribute to the deceased singer Tony Sly of Northern California punks No Use For a Name, Old Man Markley played a cover of one of their songs ("The Feel Good Song of The Year") which seemed to go over well with the punks in the audience. Around since 2011, the band released their second album Down Side Up through Fat Wreck Records earlier this year.


  Social Distortion: photo by Michael Ligon

Not that I was ever a huge fan of Social Distortion but a selection of their tunes ("Ball of Chain", "Story of My Life", their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", "I Was Wrong") and later Mike Ness' first solo album seemed to have infiltrated my music listening back in the 90's, part of it due to the alt-country movement that I'd gained an affection for. Lead singer Mike Ness had been so bad-ass looking back in the 90's with his arm tattoos and greaser haircut, and although his hair is grayer, and was perhaps more dapper this night with his black collared shirt and black fedora he's still as bad-ass as ever. Intermittently raining throughout the half-hour or so I stayed for his set but after Ness and his band played "Story Of My Life", I was satisfied and I took towards Queen St. to catch the streetcar towards the Horseshoe Tavern.


  Carmen Elle of Diana: photo by Michael Ligon

Toronto's Diana were the band I was at the Horseshoe Tavern to see for their 10 pm time slot and as I had expected the place was almost near capacity. That the band's Canadian MusicFest set had alluded to earlier this year, the band are getting more popular by the moment. I started at the back but was fortunate to get closer to the stage off to the side near the merch table to get a better view by the time they got to playing their most excellent electro-soul-pop single "Born Again", vocalist Carmen Elle's smooth vocals floating over a delectable bed of dreamy synths, subtle beats, and voluptuous bass guitar backing, for which the 12-inch vinyl was being sold. A palpable excitement floated throughout the crowd, although it did felt bit scene-ish, but overall it was a good indication of hopefully exciting things to come for the band, most eagerly their full-length debut entitled Perputual Surrender expected to come out on Paper Bag Records on August 20 to which they were recently signed in Canada [the band were signed to indie label Jagjagjuwar in the US.]


  Merchandise: photo by Michael Ligon

Having skipped out on the secret headlining slot of Tampa indie-punks Merchandise at The Shop @ Parts and Labour the night before, I decided to stick around for them following the mass exodus of people after Diana's set. Comfortably full again by the time they took the stage, frontman Carson Cox announced it was birthday and if I recall something along the lines about hoping to get drunk. While the band members histories had roots in the hardcore / punk scene were, Merchandise are less punk and more noisy melodic rock, at times romantic sounding at least to my ears. Post-punk, if you will. The more I think of it they sound like noisier cousins to UK's White Lies. For a first time seeing them, I liked what I heard as did the audience also who wanted an encore if I recall, but didn't get one. Three albums in, the band's most recent full-length is this year's Total Nite released through Iowan indie record label Night People, garnering an 8/10 from Pitchfork.


  Olenka and The Autumn Lovers: photo by Michael Ligon

I could have stuck around at the Horseshoe Tavern for Dan Deacon's set who I've never seen live, but I decided to end the night in a quieter fashion with the midnight set of London, Ontario indie folk group Olenka and The Autumn Lovers over at The Great Hall. Playing to a small but adoring audience, I noticed almost right away that there was less of the Eastern European folk influence in what they were performing and that there was a more prominent rootsy influence that Olenka and her band were focusing on. It seemed like an all-too brief set but nonetheless enjoyable.

Photos: NXNE in Toronto (June 12, 2013)
Photos: NXNE in Toronto (June 13, 2013)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - Riot Fest

Riot Fest Toronto

As the buzz of NXNE has now worn off, there are many more Toronto summer music festivals to look forward to and the most recent announcement and perhaps the most exciting for some is the reunion by Minneapolis punk / alternative rock legends The Replacements who'll be headlining the second night of the two-day travelling music festival Riot Fest which comes to Toronto over the weekend of August 24 and 25. As the poster above clearly shows, the first day of the festival[August 24] will primarily be featuring new-school emo / punk bands like Grade and A Day To Remember, but day two [August 25] is clearly where the excitement lies for many with The Replacements headlining and the remainder of the lineup that day including bands like Iggy and The Stooges, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt, and Dinosaur Jr. The Toronto stop will be The Replacements first show since 1991. Exciting times. Tickets for the weekend or for individual days can be purchased here.

Facebook: Riot Fest
Twitter: Riot Fest
Video: The Replacements - "Left Of The Dial" (music video)
Video: The Replacements - "Bastards of Young" (music video)
Video: The Replacements - "Alex Chilton" (music video)
Video: The Replacements - "Achin' To Be" (music video)

Friday, June 14, 2013

NXNE Picks (June 14-15, 2013)

NXNE 2013

Here's my picks for NXNE for tonight and tomorrow night. Other than The National show at Yonge Dundas Square tonight [psyching myself for the zoo that it'll most likely be], I'm not sure where I'll actually be today and tomorrow. There's a lot of good or interesting things to choose from but I think I'll just keep things spontaneous this year:

(rushed post again; will try to spice it up with some media links on the fly, so keep checking back.)

FRIDAY JUNE 14, 2013

Beach Day [Hollywood, USA]
Friday, June 14 @ 2:00 PM, Urban Outfitters
(also Saturday June 15 @ 11:00 PM, Handlebar and Sunday June 16 @ 6:30 PM, Kops Records (in-store))
Video: Beach Day - "Beach Day" (music video)

Still Corners [London, UK]
Friday June 14 @ 3:00 PM, Urban Outfitters
(also Friday June 14 @ 10:00 PM, Horseshoe Tavern)
Video: Still Corners - "Berlin Lovers" (music video)

Dusted [Toronto, Ontario]
Friday June 14 @ 4:00 PM, Urban Outfitters
(also Saturday June 15 @ 7:00 PM, St. James Gazebo and Saturday June 15 @ 11:00 PM, Garrison)
Video: Dusted - "Bruises" (live at Open Roof Festival, August 16, 2012)

By Divine Right [Toronto, Ontario]
Friday June 14 @ 7:00 PM, St. James Gazebo
Video: By Divine Right - "Hugger of Trees" (music video)

Hayden [Toronto, Ontario]
Friday June 14 @ 7:30 PM, Yonge Dundas Square
Video: Hayden - "Rainy Saturday" (music video)

The National [Brooklyn, USA]
Friday June 14 @ 9:10 PM, Yonge Dundas Square
Video: The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio" (music video)

Buke and Gase [Brooklyn, USA]
Friday June 14 @ 11:00 PM, Horseshoe Tavern
Video: Buke and Gas - "General Dome (music video)

The Magic [Guelph, Ontario]
Friday June 14 @ 11:0 PM, BLK BOX
Video: The Magic - "Mr. Hollywood" (live at KazooFest 2012 Guelph, ON)

Sloan [Toronto, Ontario]
Friday June 14 @ 11:00 PM, The Great Hall
Video: Sloan - "The Marquee and The Moon" (live at The Mod Club, June 21 2011)

Super Friendz [Halifax, Nova Scotia]
Friday June 14 @ midnight, The Great Hall
Video: Super Friendz - "Up and Running" (music video)

WHY? [Cincinnati, USA]
Friday June 14 @ midnight, Horseshoe Tavern
Video: WHY? - "Strawberries" (music video)

Foxtrott [Montreal, Quebec]
Friday June 14 @ 2:00 AM, Silver Dollar Room
Video: Foxtrott - "Shields" (live, Session BRBR)

SATURDAY JUNE 15, 2013

Breeze [Toronto, Ontario]
Saturday June 15 @ 8:00 PM, Garrison
Video: Breeze - "Paradise (in a while)" (music video)

Heidi Happy [Lucerne, Switzerland]
Saturday June 15 @ 9:00 PM, Czehoski
Video: Heidi Happy - "Dance With Another" (music video)

Chad Valley [Oxford, UK]
Saturday June 15 @ 10:00 PM, BLK BOX
Saturday June 15 @ midnight, Sidedoor
Video: Chad Valley - "Fall 4 U" [feat. Glasser] (music video)

Majical Cloudz [Montreal, Quebec]
Saturday June 15 @ 10:00 PM, The Arts & Crafts Pop-Up
Saturday June 15 @ midnight, BLK BOX
Video: Majical Cloudz - "Childhood's End" (music video)

Evan Dando [Los Angeles, USA]
Saturday June 15 @ midnight, Rivoli
Video: Evan Dando - "Frying Pan" (live)

Iceage [Copenhagen, Denmark]
Saturday June 15 @ midnight, Horseshoe Tavern
Video: Iceage "Ecstasy" (music video)

Tangiers [Toronto, Ontario]
Saturday June 15 @ midnight, Garrison
Video: Tangiers - "Keep the Living Bodies Warm" (music video)

Heartbeat Hotel [Toronto, Ontario]
Saturday June 15 @ 1:00 AM, Magpie
Video: Heartbeat Hotel - "Fins Of A Shark" (live at Magpie, Toronto for Southern Souls)

Joey Bada$$ [Brooklyn, USA]
Saturday June 15 @ 1:00 AM, Wrongbar
(also Sunday June 16 @ 8:00 PM, Yonge Dundas Square)
Video: Joey Bada$$ - "Waves" (music video)

Fucked Up [Toronto, Ontario]
Saturday June 15 @ 1:00 AM, Horseshoe Tavern
Video: Fucked Up - "Queen of Hearts" (music video)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NXNE Picks (June 12-13, 2013)



This year's NXNE kicks off tonight, and I find myself as usual a combination of unprepared / overwhelmed / ready to throw in the towel and just stay in all weekend. But then I know I would regret it. I've been perusing the schedule only since last night and haven't really had a chance to explore every artist but I've discovered a few interesting curiousities and have stacked the rest of my picks with some vaguely familiar acts I'm not too familiar but would be interestedin checking out, as well as a several I can vouch for personally and wouldn't mind checking out again. My picks below are for tonight and tomorrow only, and I should have my picks for Friday and Saturday up by tomorrow night or early Friday. (I've been typing this post up on the fly so it definitely is rushed but I may perk it up with some media links and blurbs in the near future to make it all nice and pretty, so stay tuned.)

WEDNESDAY JUNE 12, 2013

Kashka
Wednesday June 12 @ 7:00 PM, The Arts & Crafts Pop-up
(also Thursday June 13 @ 9:00 PM, Wrongbar)

Video: Kashka - "Vichada" (music video)

Kat Burns of Toronto's indie folk group Forest City Lovers goes electro-pop.

Heaven
Wednesday June 12@ 9:00 PM, Rivoli
Bandcamp: Heaven

Brooklyn dream-pop outfit. Debut album Telepathic Love out in July 2013 through Goodnight Records. Update: They got help up at the border and didn't make it up here.

Heaven For Real
Wednesday June 12@ 9:00 PM, The Boat
Video: Heaven For Real - "Owner" (live at The Coast, February 24 2013)

Halifax three piece playing quirky pop music.

Rituals
Wednesday June 12 @ 10:00 PM, The Shop @ Parts & Labour
Video: Rituals - "Mesmerized" (music video)

Toronto outfit merging post-punk, no-wave and subtle psychedelia with wholly interesting result.

Calexico
Wednesday June 12 @ 10:00 PM, Virgin Mobile Mod Club
Video: Calexico - "Splitter" (music video)

The Arizona-based music veterans have carved out a career of their unique brand of Tex-mex, Americana and indie-rock influences over the course of approaching twenty years now. Their most recent album Algiers was released last September.

Mozart's Sister
Wednesday June 12 @ 11:00 PM, Rivoli
Video: Mozart's Sister - "Don't Leave It To Me" (music video)

Do you like Grimes? Apparently she sounds a lot like Grimes. And people like Grimes I hear. Mozart's Sister is Caila Thompson-Hannant who played in indie outfits like Shapes and Sizes, Miracle Fortress, and Think About Life, and that'd be enough for me to check her out in the future.

After The Smoke
Wednesday June 12 @ 11:05 PM, Wrongbar
Video: After The Smoke - "Come & Leave" (music video)

Alternative hip-hop group out of Tallahassee, Florida.

Special Guest
Wednesday June 12 @ midnight, Garrison

Special Guest
Wednesday June 12 @ midnight, The Shop @ Parts & Labour

Andrew Rodriguez and The Good Bad Kids
Wednesday June 12 @ 1:00 AM, Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St.)
Video: Andrew Rodriguez - Bring Yourself Up Video

I remember Toronto-based singer Andrew Rodriguez and a past musical project of his entitled Bodega who I thought were cool.

THURSDAY JUNE 13, 2013

Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet Thursday June 13 @ 4:00 PM, Pearson (Terminal One)
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Rover and Rusty (music video)

Legendary, in some circles, instrumental guitar-drums-bass surf rock trio best known for their theme song to Canadiana television classic "The Kids In The Hall".

The Weeknd
Thursday June 13 @ doors 8:00 PM, Virgin Mobile Mod Club
Video: The Weekend - "Wicked Games" (music video)

Abel Tesfaye aka The Weekend blew up over the last few years with the help of some friends like Drake, having released a series of free mixtapes on the internet, of which he compiled and released officially as Trilogy. I wouldn't suspect you would get in to this show (part of the NXNE Lottery Series) easily with a wristband or pass unless you line up early.

Alvvays
Thursday June 13 @ 8:00 PM, The Arts & Crafts Pop-Up
(also Friday June 14 @ 10:00 PM, Silver Dollar Room)

Video: Alvvays - The Marquee Ballroom Grand Opening - 2013

Toronto-based band featuring the east coast's Molly Rankin and ex-Two Hours Traffic and guitarist Alec O'Hanley amongst its members playing some sweet indie-pop. I saw them open for UK's Palma Violets earlier in the year and they played a cool set including a cover of The Primitives "Crash" which is always good in my books. Seems the band have substituted the 'w' in their band name with two 'v' which I guess will make Googling them much easier.

Social Distortion
Thursday June 13 @ 9:00 PM, Yonge Dundas Square
Video: Social Distortion - "I Was Wrong" (music video)

Southern California, Orange County punk rock veterans playing a free show. Hell yeah! The band's career spans three decades [with a few hiatuses, mind you] and are currently working on their eighth studio album.

Chairs
Thursday June 13 @ 10:00 PM, May (876 Dundas St. West)

One of the more interesting discoveries I've made during my NXNE research this year. From the NXNE website, "lo-fi patchwork of acoustic and electric guitars, drum machines, live drums, synths, and samples with a forefront of interesting pop to work behind." Chairs' second full-length album, The Droning of an Insect Wing, was released October 2012.

Diana
Thursday June 13 @ 10:00 PM, Horseshoe Tavern
Video: Diana - "Born Again" (music video)

One of my favourites from this year's Canadian Musicfest, I have a hankering to check out their soulful, electro-pop again although I suspect it may be harder to get into their set I show up a bit earlier.

Braids
Thursday June 13 @ 11:00 PM, Comfort Zone
Video: Braids - Lemonade @ Hillside 2011

Art-rock three-piece from Calgary, now based in Montreal who've heated up the indie music press, garnered a Polaris Prize nomination and are now working on their second full-length. I saw them live in New York City during the CMJ Music Marathon and was impressed.

Couer De Pirate
Thursday June 13 @ 11:00 PM, The Great Hall
Video: Couer De Pirate - "Adieu" (music video)

Francophone singer-songwriter whose real name is BĂ©atrice Martin. Having released two albums and taking time off to have her first child in September of last year, she's currently working on a new English language project.

No Joy
Thursday June 13 @ midnight, BLK BOX
Video: No Joy - "Hawaii" (music video)

Montreal shoegaze duo of Jasmine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd whose second album entitled Wait To Pleasure was released this past April to critical acclaim.

Olenka and The Autumn Lovers
Thursday June 13 @ midnight, The Great Hall
Video: Olenka & the Autumn Lovers - "Motel Blues" (live at Gladstone Ballroom in Toronto during NXNE 2011)

My absolute favourite discovery of the 2008 edition of NXNE, it's great to see that Olenka and The Autumn Lovers are going on strong with their melange of Eastern European folk, country and roots music. The band released their Hard Times EP in October 2012,

Mikal Cronin
Thursday June 13 @ midnight, Silver Dollar Room
(also Friday June 14 @ midnight, Silver Dollar Room
Saturday June 15 @ 3:20 PM, Bruise Cruise
Saturday June 15 @ 1:00 AM, Silver Dollar Room)

Video: Mikal Cronin - "Change" (music video)

Pitchfork-approved garage pop who's collaborated and has also released an album and a single with Ty Segall. Cronin is this year's pick by Toronto promoter Dan Burke for the headlining three-night stint at the Silver Dollar Room during NXNE.

Del Bel
Thursday June 13 @ 1:00 AM, The Great Hall
(also Saturday June 15 @ midnight, Creatures Creating)

YouTube: Del Bel - "Stirring Bones" (audio only)

Taken from the CBC Music site, Del Bel, "draws players from Do Make Say Think, Bry Webb Band, The Happiness Project, Wayne Petti and the Thieves, L Con, Chrome and the Ice Queen, Kite Hill, Entire Cities, Ohbijou, Sun Parlour Players, Gregory Pepper and his Problems, Ensemble etc etc. Del Bel embodies an eerie cinematic sound infused with darkened soul and surf rock qualities."

doomsquad
Thursday June 13 @ 1:00 AM, Creatures Creating
(also Saturday June 15 @ 1:00 AM, Garrison)

Bandcamp: doomsquad

This Toronto band's Bandcamp is just plain spooky which is just what I'd expect from a band named doomsquad. Just some of the tags that describe their song "Ovoo" on their Bandcamp page include 'experimental', 'forest trance', 'shaman beat', 'atmospheric' and 'downtempo' which are fairly appropo descriptors.

Blue Hawaii
Thursday June 13 @ 1:00 AM, Comfort Zone
YouTube: Blue Hawaii - "Sweet Touch" (audio only)

Braids' frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston takes time out for her own electronic / synth based project with her musical partner Alex Cowan, their duo name intriguingly named Blue Hawaii. I've heard from people in the know that they're really good.

Special Guest
Thursday June 13 @ 2:00 AM, Horseshoe Tavern

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Breeders, Beliefs @ Danforth Music Hall, Toronto (May 11, 2013)


  Kim Deal of The Breeders: photo by Michael Ligon

ABout a month ago, one of my favourite bands of the 90's, The Breeders, came to town as part of a tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Last Splash, with sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, bassist Josephine Wiggs, drummer Jim Macpherson and multi-instrumentalist Carrie Bradley. They played Last Splash in full and then treated us to a bunch of other Breeders faves like "Safari", their cover of The Beatles "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" and their cover of fellow Dayton-ites Guided By Voices song "Head To Toe". It was a pure nostalgia trip and it was loads of fun. Exclaim has a review of the show.

Photos: The Breeders, Beliefs @ Danforth Music Hall, Toronto (May 11, 2013)

Daughter, Wilsen @ The Great Hall, Toronto (May 7, 2013)


  Daughter @ The Great Hall: photo by Michael Ligon

There's a review of the show over at Chromewaves.

Photos: Daughter, Wilsen @ The Great Hall, Toronto (May 7, 2013)

Leonard Cohen @ Copps Coliseum, Hamilton (April 9, 2013)


  Leonard Cohen: photo by Michael Ligon


  Leonard Cohen: photo by Michael Ligon


  Leonard Cohen: photo by Michael Ligon

On a cold, windy, rainy night after work in April I made my way from Toronto to Hamilton by Go Transit to see the legendary Leonard Cohen at Copps Coliseum. Fresh from a 2 night stint at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Cohen acknowledged that it was nice to be back in Canada. I hadn't planned to even go to the show, but when I realized the day before that there were still a few tickets available online, I decided that I owed it to myself as a music fan to check out the influential Cohen. With no opener, Cohen and band sauntered onto the stage to a rousing applause from the audience. A top notch group of musicians, including UK vocalists The Webb Sisters as well as long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson on background vocals, backed up Cohen that night, Cohen's music a delectable mix of gypsy, folk, jazz, blues, and pop influences. The night was strewn with highlights but for me some of my faves were the dance groove of "First We Take Manhattan", the keyboard / Casio-like beat driven "Tower Of London" [Cohen jokingly referring to his instrument as high-tech], a plaintive "Suzanne" with Cohen on guitar, and of course "Hallelujah" which drew a standing ovation. A non-musical highlight was Cohen's poetic reading of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" during which at times I almost choked up due to Cohen's moving, word-weary deilvery. Cohen was in high spirits throughout the night, bantering about being back in Canada, hoping this wouldn't be his last tour, about his hotel room and about wanting a cigarette. He also showed himself, even at 77 years of age, to be quite limber as he occasionally danced, then dropped to his knees. Dressed in a dark suit and hat, Cohen was the epitome of cool over the course of two main sets, and at least a few encores. Unfortunately, I had to leave a few songs into the second encore in order to catch the GO bus back westbound. As a live performer, it felt like Cohen was at the top of his game, and you can't say that for many artists of his age.

More photos here.

The Spec has a review of the show.