Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I Found Music

  • concert review: The Hidden Cameras w/ One Ring Zero @ Harbourfront(Toronto, Ontario), part of the Gobsmacked festival, Saturday August 28, 2004, 8 pm

    Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of the Gobsmacked festival, Saturday August 28, 2004: photo by Mike LigonSome concerts are just shows. Others are an experience. The Hidden Cameras show at Harbourfront this past Saturday definitely falls into the latter category. Considering the constrictive nature of the seating at Harbourfront, The Hidden Cameras did quite well in energizing the crowd, especially those standing, lining the aisles, some who were initially there just to get out of the rain. But once the mighty 'Cameras got through with them, the aisle of people were giddy with excitement. It was like one big dance party. My friend and I chose some seating in the centre of the venue about ten rows back or so from the stage so I had quite a decent view of the entire show. Most of us in the seating area were quite satisfied to sit down, tap our hands and feet and bob our heads occasionally on faster songs. But then the Hidden Cameras' Joel Gibb encouraged us to stand up and dance, that's when the party really started. [sometimes I need a kick in the pants to get up to dance ;-) ]

    This show was the "back to school" edition as Joel Gibb called it, as most of the band, especially the vocal/dance chorus of girls and a couple of guys were in full school uniform garb, albeit casually untucked and carefree. The Hidden Cameras cranked out tunes that at various times had hints of Belle and Sebastian orch-pop, Billy Bragg-sounding guitar pop, and melancholic pop music, with vocals that reminded me of Ben Watt(of Everything But The Girl). The faster, almost punk influenced, numbers like "Music Is My Boyfriend" went over most well with the audience including myself. But when things slowed down like on the melancholic "Mississauga Goddam", you could almost hear a pin drop as the audience gave the band its undivided attention. For Hidden Cameras novices like myself, the group had a slide projector at the right side of the stage which displayed the title(and lyrics?) of each song they performed.

    When the masked dancers came onto the stage and started throwing yellow streamers into the audience to introduce "Golden Streams", I doubted some of the audience had any idea what the song was about. That was probably all well and good. The Hidden Cameras played such a joyously poppy fun, and energetic set, that even a heterosexual fan of the show such as myself had no feelings of discomfort towards the more overt homosexual nature of some of their lyrics and or imagery on stage. Much respect to the band for choosing to be themselves and at the same time NOT alienate their audience. Do yourself a favour and check out The Hidden Cameras experience next time around!

    ps. One Ring Zero opened up the show. They reminded me of They Might Be Giants, with the accordion and all, as well as the diversity of Nellie Mckay's music. There was a busker-quality to their music, with the drummer choosing to drum what seemed like the side of a suitcase, rather than traditional drums. Oh, and I must mention the theremin. Cool. Even Canadian author Margaret Atwood was a special guest of the band and played theremin as well on a couple of songs. Her appearance went over well with the audience. My friend and I only caught about half the set but I'm glad to have caught Ms. Atwood's appearance. The band's a little too technically proficient for my taste and I'm wondering if this were a band of attractive females[like Nellie Mckay] would I have liked them better. Nonetheless, interesting band.

  • The Kids Are Alright

  • concert review: Fembots / Barmitzvah Brothers @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of the Gobsmacked festival, Saturday August 28, 2004

    Fembots @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of the Gobsmacked festival, Saturday August 28, 2004: photo by Mike LigonSaturday afternoon at Harbourfront's Gobsmacked festival was sparsely attended which gave me a great opportunity to grab a seat right up close for the two bands playing that afternoon. Sparse attendance aside, there was an enthusiastic crowd that came out that afternoon, an interesting mix of indie hipsters, tourists, passerbys and music fans. Toronto's Fembots came on at 2 pm. I had first seen the Fembots open for Sarah Harmer during North By Northeast this year and I was mightily impressed by their brooding alt-country soundscapes which combined traditional and modern elements. Although the giddiness of seeing Sarah Harmer live for the first time several months ago overshadowed my appreciation of the Fembots at the time. This time at Harbourfront, the Fembots had my undivided attention and they did not disappoint me. Their music is laid on a foundation of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, violin, banjo, and vocals. Thrown into the fold are some interesting programmed beats and sampled sounds as well as some non-traditional musical instrumentation played by a guest of the band with such diverse objects as a wood saw, a sheet of aluminum metal, and water-filled wine glasses. Julie Tepper contributed some lovely violin throughout most of the set, and occassionally put down the violin to play some guitar. For the most part, the music maintained a slow brooding rustic quality, offset with flourishes of Belle-and-Sebastian-like violin, programmed drum beats and sound effects and some Neil-Young-influenced guitar licks. On one tune, the band ventured into spy-instrumental territory. When the band played their 'hit'[wish I knew the name of the song], and a member of the band encouraged the audience to dance, I found the song so irresistably infectious that I couldn't stop smiling or tapping my feet until the song ended; the song itself had a simple but infectious tune with a back-porch, "Honky Tonk Woman" quality to it. Wilco provide a great comparison to The Fembots' sound. Whereas Wilco have taken a pop-experimentalist approach to its music over the last several albums and have all but lost their country sound, the Fembots have combined both those elements into a mix that is thoroughly natural sounding without an ounce of irony. The calibre of Toronto bands continues to impress me and Fembots rank up there with the best of them.

    Jenny Mitchell & John Jemeson Merritt of Barmitzvah Brothers @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of the Gobsmacked festival, Saturday August 28, 2004: photo by Mike LigonBarmitzvah Brothers were up next after a brief intermission. Without ever hearing a note of their music, but having read several good things about them, I had already made up in my mind that the Barmitzvah Brothers would be something special. I was not disappointed. Firstly, there were no brothers in the band and apparently no one in the band is Jewish. It's difficult to describe their music but my best description of the their music is that it's the indiepop, only slightly less offbeat cousin to They Might Be Giants. There's a charming, ramshackle, almost amateur quality to their music, like a band still learning to play their instruments, but having a ball while they're at it. The core of the group is Jenny Mitchell(vocals/instruments), Geordie Gordon(guitar/other instruments), and Little John Jemeson Merritt(drums), aged 19, 17, and 16, respectively[at least as of December 2003]. The band that day also included another young female on backup vocals/keyboards as well as an older guy with glasses on guitar who by my guess was maybe in his late twenties/early thirties. The music consists of some of the most delicious pop melodies, since, well, ever. For a band this young, they are surprisinly competent playing a wide variety of musical instruments, including keyboards, drums, guitar, banjo, trombone, and trumpet. It's a rare occasion when a band this young can impress me with their calibre of songs. Ben Lee[remember "Pop Queen" and "Away With The Pixies"], more recently Nellie Mckay and Smoosh, and now Barmitzvah Brothers. It's inevitable that the band will only become better musicians and better vocalists with time, although part of me hopes that their music does not lose that ramshackle quality that I enjoyed so much. ...I guess it's true what people say; it's always painful seeing you're kids grow up. ;-)

  • Sunday, August 29, 2004

    Cause = Time

  • concert review: Broken Social Scene w/ Jim Guthrie @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of Gobsmacked festival, August 27, 2004

    Broken Social Scene @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario), part of Gobsmacked festival, August 27, 2004: photo by Mike LigonBroken Social Scene took over Harbourfront in Toronto this past Friday Night and it was truly spectacular. I missed opener Jim Guthrie as a result of misjuding the amount of city traffic down near the waterfront. So by the time I found parking and walked from the parking lot to Harbourfront, Jim Guthrie was just finishing his set. I didn't anticipate how well attended the Broken Social Scene set would be because it was a packed house. However, I made my move towards the front of the stage at left and and found a spot right near the left side of the sate where I had a decent view. Summer came back with a bang that night because it was a warm evening, if somewhat humid. There was an anticipation in the air, maybe partly due to the gig being billed as BSS' last show ever, that that night would be something special. And it was, my only disappointment being that I was not front and center to watch the show. I felt slightly detached from the show watching from the left side because most of the band's attention was diverted towards the center but I felt slightly consoled when Amy Millan and Emily Haines made an all-too-brief appearance towards the left side of the stage. Everyone on stage were in high spirits, Emily, and especially Amy, rocking out on the faster numbers, Kevin Drew playing stand-up comedian[there was a joke directed to the drummer, and the punchline was something along the lines of fast food, a movie and it being called "Super-size Pete" :-)], and the lanky Jason Collett with the fist-pumping action on the couple of songs he sang vocals on. And it was especially great to see Bill Priddle(ex-Treble Charger) play guitar on "Pacific Theme" which is an all-too perfect air-y summer song, in my opinion. Also making a guest appearance was Julie Penner from The Fembots contributing some lovely violin on one song. The hippy-love-in influenced expressions of Kevin Drew were very welcome indeed and even moreso was his clarification that that was NOT BSS's last show. However, Broken Social Scene PLAYED like it was their last show. Kevin Drew expressed that, for the moment, Broken Social Scene was an ongoing concern, and will continue to be as long as it feels right. Then Kevin went through a Broken Social Scene family tree role call mentioning most if not all of the great bands that BSS' members belong to including Metric, Stars, Do Make Say Think, Raising The Fawn, Jason Collett(solo) and Feist. I still maintain that Broken Social Scene's Olympic Island set just a few weeks back was a better set but their set that night at Harbourfront only comfirmed the mighty power of the 'Scene and I can only hope converted a few onlookers.[check out my photos here.]

    ...stay tuned in the coming days for more of my Gobsmacked reviews including shows by Fembots, Barmitzvah Brothers, Hidden Cameras, and King Cobb Steelie. Can't wait till next year's Gobsmacked!

  • Thursday, August 26, 2004

    Just Like Anyone

    Soul Asylum (post Grave Dancers' Union): photo from http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/05.28.98/soulasylum-9821.htmlI'm looking forward to the release of Soul Asylum's "After the Flood: Live From the Grand Forks Prom" on Sony's Legacy imprint. The new album will be available on the as yet launched LiveFromTheVaults.com on October 19. The CD will not be released until January 11, 2005. There will be no difference in the track listing or price of the online or retail editions of the album. This show happened back in 1997 and in retrospect I vaguely recall this in the news. Apparently this dude was at that prom and got some cool photos including one of the setlist. Now, that's a prom! [news by way of Soul Shine Magazine]

    I started getting these e-mail updates from Arts and Crafts recently and one of the updates said that Broken Social Scene wrote the score for the film "The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess" which is directed by Bruce McDonald and stars Joely Collins, Hugh Dillon and Ben Bass. It is described as "a wild ride through the mind of a real-life tabloid victim" and is set to premiere at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival. With all the TIFF talks floating around on Toronto blogs lately, this little piece of news was definitely the kick in the butt I needed to strongly consider picking up tickets to at least a couple of festival films.

    BTW, the news of the Apostle of Hustle in-store at Soundscapes in Toronto, that Frank mentioned today...the e-mail update from Arts and Crafts which I received indicates it starts at 8 pm, on August 29, 2004.

    I've finally given in...I'm getting a cellphone. Nothing fancy. It doesn't play mp3's. It doesn't take pictures. I purchased the phone online through the The Shopping Channel yesterday. The great thing is that I purchased it at the 'Showstopper' price so I bought it at a pretty good discount; the regular price was $239.00[before taxes] and I bought it for $129.96[before taxes]. It's also Pay-As-You-Go, so no lengthy contracts! I am now officially 'connected'. Rest easy, you'll never see me driving and speaking on the phone at the same time; believe me, it ain't easy when you drive standard.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2004

    Creatures of the Night

  • movie review: The Village [2004]

    The VillageSaw M. Night Shyamalan's The Village yesterday. Apparently, the movie was #1 in North America over the weekend. [Guess it was a slow weekend movie-wise.] Among M. Night Shyamalan's films, its my least favourite but nonetheless I still recommend it. The story revolves around a village of Amish-styled settlers who are victim to 'creatures' from the outer woods that border their community. While the community goes about trying to live a simple life, they also live in fear of these forest creatures. The creatures are such a 'reality' of life that the younger people play a game at night where they stand on a tree stump with their back to the woods and see who can stay the longest without getting scared. There's quite a touching, yet subtle, love story between a vibrant young blind woman named Ivy played by Bryce Dallas Howard, and the humble and modest character of Lucius played by Joaquin Phoenix. It's his near-death circumstances which motivate Ivy to venture outside of the village[something which the elders of the village have forbidden its inhabitants to do], through the forest, in an attempt to get to the 'towns' for 'medicines'. There are several points in the film which are not what they seem, and at times the film felt anti-climatic, but the enjoyment of the film really rests upon its conclusion. Expect the unexpected. It wasn't much of a scary film which the trailers misleadingly pointed towards. That was really fine by me because I'm pretty much a wuss when it comes to horror films[The Ring messed me up really good when I first saw it]. However, as a suspense film it satisfies, but just barely.

  • A defining moment in my musical upbringing was watching the Live Aid concert on television back in the mid-80's. I was but a child back then. I was pretty much glued to the television for most of the broadcast, and I remember, even then, feeling the enormity of the event. And now it's coming to DVD and will be released on November 1. LAUNCH has more details including a listing of artists featured in the 4-disc set. Relive the memories.

  • The long list for this year's SHORTLIST MUSIC PRIZE. From NME.

  • I can't believe this happened in Toronto this morning. Just like in the movies.

  • Monday, August 23, 2004

    Music Sounds Better With You

    flash mob: photo from http://www.excessbloggage.com/kitty/archives/flash_mob.jpgStereolab dates supporting Air in the U.S. were added to the tourdates section of the Stereolab site, with the rest of the Stereolab shows for this year to be added tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers for a Toronto date!!!

    First flash mobs. Now mobile clubbing. [from The Globe and Mail]

    As usual, the CMJ Music Marathon this year in New York, between October 13-16, looks so amazing. And what better way to ring in autumn! I hope the Paperbag Records showcase goes well!

    Shaolin Soccer out on DVD tomorrow! Can't wait to see it. Zhao Wei [from So Close] is in it. Hmmm.

    Saturday Looks Good To Me who are hitting the road with The Sunshine Fix, will likely be in Hamilton, Ontario on October 21, 2004 at The Underground which I'm considering driving down the QEW for. Funny that the Toronto date venue still has not been confirmed yet. By the way, I'm relatively new to the band, and I picked up a used copy of their CD "All Your Summer Songs" which is so wonderful. The Motown/Phil Spector comparisons really ring true. I love the echoe-y sound and tuneful guitar arrangements. Reminds me of The Aislers Set alot. And that's a good thing.

    So while checking out info on SLGTM, I was browsing the Polyvinyl Records site and decided to check out the Of Montreal page, from which I surfed to the official Of Montreal website where I downloaded some of their mp3's. This is a band I've come across in print many times, but never made the effort to check out their music. Wow. I'm really sorry I never checked out their music sooner. It's so vibrant, exhuberant and unabashedly poppy! I'm really glad Of Montreal are on tour and will be coming to Toronto on September 25, 2004[venue still TBA].

    Sunday, August 22, 2004

    Stand Inside Your Love

  • pic from http://www.hindilyrix.com/free-wedding-clipart.htmlMy sister's wedding yesterday pretty much went off without a hitch. But that's coming from someone whose only role during the wedding itself was to carry a candle during the wedding procession, and light a candle on the altar without burning the whole place down. Very complicated. ;-) This was a half Filipino, half Italian wedding, and if you know anything about those cultures, both tend to have large families. My sister told me there were about 350 people there; it was the largest wedding that I've ever been to. My bro' was a groomsmen, my sister the maid of honor, and my two nephews, ring bearer and junior usher/coin bearer respectively. I also had a couple of cousins who were bridesmaids. A family affair indeed. The proud parents on both sides of the family were just that...very proud. The drinks and food were aplenty and the music your standard fare of dance/pop numbers with a good measure of Italian pop songs and slower numbers to please the older folks. Funny, I don't remember hearing YMCA once. Y'know all those sappy love songs that people SAY they hate? Well, they somehow made sense to me for once; maybe I'm getting sappy, but next time I hear YOU listening to one of those songs, I promise not to make fun of you. I still won't be buying any Celine Dion CD's anytime soon, however. And the best song of the night yesterday: ACDC's "Shook Me All Night Long" with such romantic verses as:

    "She was a fast machine
    She kept her motor clean
    She was the best damn woman I had ever seen
    She had the sightless eyes
    Telling me no lies
    Knockin' me out with those American thighs
    Taking more than her share
    Had me fighting for air
    She told me to come but I was already there

    'Cause the walls start shaking
    The earth was quaking
    My mind was aching
    And we were making it and you

    Shook me all night long


  • In other news, the King Cobb Steelie site is up and running with some tour dates and a couple of mp3's from the new CD "Destroy All Codes Now".

  • Friday, August 20, 2004

    Mississauga Goddam

  • Masia One: photo from www.eye.netSoul Shine Magazine spotlights Toronto MC Masia One. Eye also gives props to her. She's female and Asian, by the way, and quite the rapper from the video I had seen on Muchmusic. Masia One expresses:

    "I've never commodified the fact that I'm female and I'm Asian and I rap. There are lots of female Asian emcees in California and Vancouver," Masia proclaims. "There aren't many to be seen in the mainstream. I don't get why Asian women are commodified as exotic; like China's got the most people in the world - there are a lot of Chinese people. There's nothing exotic about it. I don't understand why."

    Umm, pretty much anything outside of North American and Europe, at least in my opinion, is exotic to me. And that is coming from someone of Filipino descent, but born and raised in Canada. Masia One seems to classify 'exotic' in terms quantifiable numbers but in terms of sheer exposure Asian women are 'exotic' because of the unjustifiable underexposure they get in the media, which is a shame. Tanya Kim excepted. (drool) I'm not an avid mainstream music fan but I'm waiting for the great female Asian hope that'll burst onto the North American music scene and give Britney and Christina a run for their money.

    ps. Masia One's debut is named "Mississauga", my hometown! A stark contrast to The Hidden Cameras' cheekily titled "Mississauga Goddam".

  • Check out The Thrills new video for "Whatever Happened To Corey Haim" [link by way of Rocksnob]. I've been on The Thrills tip since going to Coachella this year. And the new single continues along the lines of their Californian country-rock sound, but seems to have taken some influence from their Scottish neighbours Belle and Sebastian, with the glorious string arrangements. The song title's a little cheesy, but I'll forgive them this time. The video itself is also beautifully shot.

  • And in honour of my sister's wedding tomorrow, check out this discussion forum on wedding songs which I found quite interesting.

  • Thursday, August 19, 2004

    Busy Bee

  • It's been a busy, busy week. A friend's wedding last Saturday. My cousin's daughter's baptism this past Sunday. Monday, my bro' and I showed my cousin from Chicago around Toronto. My sister's wedding rehearsal yesterday; I'm a candle bearer, so how hard could it be to light a candle, without burning down the church. ;-) My sister's wedding is this Saturday... Nothing much to say music-wise, which hasn't already been said by other Toronto bloggers. I'll be posting photos soon hopefully from the Olympic Island concert, but don't hold your breath for a review; as if anyone even cares about a review at this point, but most of my photos came out fairly good. Concert announcements below that I'll be interested in checking out:

    Just announced[courtesy of Eye]:

    SNOW PATROL Opera House. $17.50 at Ticketmaster Sep 17.

    TEITUR w/ Tina Dico. Mod Club Theatre. $14.50 at Ticketmaster Oct 1.

    THE LIBERTINES Opera House. $16.50 at Ticketmaster Oct 15.

  • Sunday, August 15, 2004

    Soul Shine

  • Ivana Santilli: photo from http://www.saskjazz.com/performances/performance.php?ID=6&db=04saskatoonI'm not quite sure what sources Soul Shine Magazine has been getting its information but I came across a couple of interesting news items that aren't even posted on the corresponding band sites as of today:

    -> King Cobb Steelie tour dates, including a stop over in Hamilton @ Casba at La Luna on September 17 [I figure a half hour drive or so down the Q.E.W. from Mississauga would be more than worth it to catch the band live]. I'm so far, still planning to see the band at Harbourfront, during the Gobsmacked festival at the end of the month.

    -> Jake Fairley, one half of the original lineup of Uncut, will be joining the Paperbag Records roster, with the release of his CD "Touch Not the Cat" on September 3. Mr Fairley apparently left Uncut to pursue a solo career in techno music...also a couple of upcoming tour dates, including a couple in Toronto, September 3 at Revival and September 30 @ Lee's Palace. According to the Paperbag Records site, the gig on the 30th is the 2nd annual Paperbag Records anniversary party, including controller.controller, Magneta Lane, and Jake Fairley.

  • I'm surprised that the Ivana Santilli site has yet to launch since her new CD "Cordury Boogie" was just released recently. I just bought it a couple of days ago, and it is totally wicked. 5 years is too long to wait between albums, and the new album fulfills the promise of when she previewed some of these songs when I saw her live at Harbourfront last year. Super, sexy and soulful...Don't let NOW tell you otherwise.

    Matt Good wants his own 'Broken Social Scene'. [link from the Broken Social scene forum]

    Friday, August 13, 2004

    Masala! Mehndi! Masti!: part two

  • concert review: The Rishi Rich Project w/ Lal @ Harbourfront, CIBC stage (Toronto, Ontario), August 5, 2004

    Rosina of Lal, with guest vocalist @ Harbourfront, CIBC stage (Toronto, Ontario), August 5, 2004: photo by Mike LigonI headed down to Harbourfront for the second day of Masala! Mehndi! Masti! , primarily to check out Toronto band Lal. I had picked up their first CD embarrassingly cheap months ago, and had only given it a passing listen once or twice, but it was something I remembered liking. My initial impressions of the music, only emphasized by Lal's performance that night, was that the vocals reminded me of Esthero's vocal style while the music made me think of the somewhat jazzy downtempo soundscapes of Lamb with just a touch of drum n'bass. Lyrically, Lal made reference to their South Asian heritage, on songs like "Brown-Eyed Warrior" and "B.E.W. Epilogue" off their magnificent second CD "Warm Belly High Power" . A member of Lal worked the programming/sampling duties and the band was rounded out with the live instrumentation of bass, drums/percussion, and guitar. Vocal duties were handled exquisitely by lead vocalist Rosina and a special guest backup vocalist, a petite friend of the band from Bangladesh wearing a very colourful [I'm assuming] traditional South Asian outfit, joined the band for a couple of songs. At one point in their set, a friend of the band took the stage and danced hip-hop style. Very cool. The stage was awash with warm rich colours of reds, yellows and beiges, both from the lighting as well as members of the band's clothing, that really was quite the eye-candy; if only more of my photos came out clearer. I was reeling after their set ended, and at the end of the night [after The Rishi Rich Project's set], with a little convincing at the sales kiosk which had just about closed up shop, I was able to purchase their CD "Warm Belly High Power". Fans of downtempo, chillout, trip-hop and drum n' bass should take note. Lal can more than hold their own with the Lamb's and Zero 7's of the world.

    On a sidenote, I bumped into a friend from university who, along with her sister, literally sat right beside me. At first glance, I knew she looked familiar, but I wasn't sure if it was her...it was during Lal's set so I had to wait until the intermission before I made the awkward, subtle glance-over to see if it was her, and to be prepared if it wasn't[you never know these days, what a woman'll do when you're caught looking, if you know what I mean]. But fortunately, it was my friend from university, and after catching up, chatting about the festival[btw, they are South Asian], talking about music and such, she convinced me to stay to catch The Rishi Rich Project's set.

    I had not heard RRP previously, but I anticipated South Asian influenced dance music. I've heard bhangra before but I'm not remotely close to being a bhangra fan. I wasn't entirely off but bhangra was really only a starting point for RRP's music. Actually, RRP straddle the line between conventional pop and r'n'b music, and South Asian-influenced dance music. At times, on certain r'n'b numbers, they reminded me of North American r'n'b artists like Justin Timberlake and Usher and the production, that of The Neptunes. [You see, Rish Rich has recently worked with the likes of Britney Spears, remixing her tune "Me Against The Music".] Other times, the South Asian/bhangra elements were much more prominent. The band covered a range of genres from bhangra, pop, r'n'b, rock, and hip-hop, that made me think they could be the British South Asian version of N.E.R.D.. Rishi Rich, the man behind the production, provided a palette of creative sounds and beats as well as some skillful keyboard playing. The two vocalists/MC's, Ja Sean and Juggy D, alternated duties on the mic, alternating between hip hop bravado and sensitive r'n'b vocal stylings, which kept the songs interesting. And did I mention that these guys are chick magnets, as the audience of South Asian women near the front of the stage screamed like they were The Beatles...or is that The Backstreet Boys? You know what I mean. I'm not that keen on the more South Asian elements of their music, but they know how to keep their music interesting and I'll have to give them credit for that...[unfortunately, no photos worth posting because they all came out blurry.]

  • Thursday, August 12, 2004

    Masala! Mehndi! Masti!: part one

  • Masala! Mehndi! Masti! An Explosive South Asian Arts Festival

    Culture shock? Well, no. The two shows that I did attend were for the most part conventional by North American/European rock standards, from the post-punk tunes of controller.controller, to the pop-rock songs of Anjulie, and to the downtempo, trip-hop soundscapes of Lal. Kazak was a straightforward rock band but the songs were sung in Urdu. The Rishi Rich Project had similarities to the r'n'b, pop tunes you hear on mainstream radio but very often their songs utilized South Asian music elements such as South Asian-style singing. Except for Kazak who didn't do anything for me at all, there was something interesting I found in the rest of the artists over the two days of the festival I attended.

    concert review: controller.controller w/ Kazak, Anjulie @ Harbourfront, The Brigantine Room (Toronto, Ontario), August 4, 2004

    controller.controller @ Harbourfront, The Brigantine Room (Toronto, Ontario), August 4, 2004: photo by Mike LigonI think I'm becoming a full-fledged "controller.controller-head", considering this was the FIFTH time I've seen controller.controller since last September. I just never get tired of hearing their tunes: the wiry guitars, the propulsive drumming and basslines, with lead singer Nirmala's urgent vocals and sexy dance movements, the band performing under a wash of red light. I've come to expect the same setup at every performance and it is always fresh. Over the last several gigs of theirs I've attended the band's been introducing new songs. I can't quite recall all the new songs they played this time but there was a slower tune that was quite engaging. The audience was a mix of some people[like me] obviously there to primarily see controller.controller, and others who probably had no clue who they were. There was one dude who kept on yelling out for the band to play Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing"(?) and that was just friggin' annoying. At least the band didn't give in to his request, but they did give him the opportunity to shout out "1, 2, 3, 4" to introduce their next song, which if I remember at the time was "Disco Blackout". Most of my photos came out quite nicely as I was right up front for the whole performance. My brother was with me that night and he mentioned that he thinks he saw this band a couple of years ago at The 360 in Toronto. In any case, he thought they put on a good performance. My only disappointment was that they couldn't play an encore, because they were STRICTLY scheduled to end the show at 12:30 pm. Oh well. Always, the outsider, the only thing that qualified the band playing this festival is that Nirmala, the vocalist, is South Asian. I hope their performance shook things up a bit.

    First opener, Anjulie, deserves a couple of comments. She's a young South Asian woman, playing guitar and singing pop-rock tunes that in my opinion had similarties to Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne. Her band is caucasian and they provided adequate, if underwhelming, backup to her tunes. The standout by far was the song she performed solo with just her vocals and guitar playing. She really showed her strong vocals on that song and I would have preferred to hear more of that than the "rawk" that dominated most of the night. With a couple of more standout tracks, I think she'd give Avril Lavigne or Fefe Dobson a run for their money. Not my cup of tea, but she definitely has the talent.

    Second opener, Kazak? The vocals were sung in Urdu. However, that wasn't the problem. They were described by the MC of the night, as having influences ranging from U2 to Led Zepplin. On the contrary, Kazak were quite anonymous-sounding. Listening to those bands is one thing but I didn't think they sounded like those bands at all. If I remember correctly, I think the MC said that they just got signed to Sony India. Well all I have left to say is, "Good luck in India". ...ok there was a glimmer, if for but a brief moment, with their last song which reminded me of the Manchester, Happy Monday's sound. Now, that's my final word.
    To be continued...stay tuned for a review of The Rishi Rich Project w/ Lal @ Harbourfront, CIBC stage (Toronto, Ontario), August 5, 2004

  • Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Don't Lose The Faith

  • Rather than regurgitate the specific details, check out the news update dated August 3, 2004 at The Dears site, including news of:

    - Bella Union releasing a single in Europe
    - "No Cities Left" being released in Europe and USA, with new packaging
    - U.S. deal with spinART Records
    - completion of a live record
    - re-release of the "Protest" E.P.

    This is shaping up to be one heck of a year for The Dears!

  • Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    Being There

  • concert review: Wilco @ The Mod Club Theatre (Toronto, Ontario), August 3, 2004

    Jeff Tweedy of Wilco @ The Mod Club Theatre (Toronto, Ontario), August 3, 2004: photo by Mike LigonI've been quite delinquent posting reviews in a timely manner of concerts I've seen. I still don't see how some of you bloggers do it. I wouldn't suppose any one is interested in a review of the Wilco show at The Mod Club Theatre last week? Maybe not, but that won't stop me. I promise to keep it (sort of) brief.

    Seeing Wilco live had escaped me for some reason until last week. I remember when "Being There" came out and Wilco were playing the Horseshoe. I had been taking some night classes at the time at Ryerson in downtown Toronto, and after class I was contemplating dropping by the Wilco show. My impression at the time was I'd likely be able to buy tickets at the door[I don't remember Wilco at the time being nearly as well known, or in demand]. But at the time, ultimately I decided NOT to go because I was too tired. I friggin' regret that decision. Apparently, CBC radio program Radiosonic[now defunct] taped the show, and I was able to record the show when CBC radio broadcast it. And what a show it was. Just plain beautiful. I still have the tape and listen to it every so often. <sniff sniff> Since that show, I've missed out on seeing Wilco live on subsequent occasions, for reasons I can't even remember now.

    So FINALLY, last week's show was a long time coming for me. I missed out on Jim White's performance but made it into The Mod Club Theatre just before Wilco's set, managing to snag a cozy spot near the bar, about half way back the length of the club from the stage. It's such a beautiful venue, with cool Mod-inspired graphics on the walls. It's a pity that I haven't listened to "A Ghost Is Born" that much, but I did recognize some standouts like the playful "Hummingbird", "Handshake Drugs", and "At Least That's What You Said" which reminded me of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I think it was during "Hummingbird" that Jeff put down his guitar, picked up the mic and playfully danced during the song. My one question: When did Wilco become Sonic Youth? There was a couple of freakouts which resulted in a flurry of distortion and noise at the end of one or two songs. I loved "Jesus, etc" and "Heavy Metal Drummer" from "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and was glad that they played "A Shot In The Arm" from "Summerteeth". I would have prefered more tracks from "Summerteeth",in particular, "I'm Always In Love", "E.L.T", and "My Darlin'". They sorta made up for it by playing the wonderful "Far Far Away" as well as "California Stars" during one of the encores. The musicianship was on target so I don't have much to say about that. It really was the experience of seeing Wilco live, especially in a smaller venue than they would normally be seen which spoke for itself. There was something very satisfying as well to see the happiness and contentment that Jeff Tweedy was exuding that night. He even went so far to make fun of himself when he spoke about Canadian pedal steel extraordinaire Bob Egan, who Jeff said he had hoped would have joined them for a song, but then said something along the lines that Bob had heard he was a self-centered, egoistic dictator. :-) My only real disappointment that night was not being able to get many good digital camera photos; honestly, only one or two of my pics were half way decent, but if your interested in checking out some of the 'honorable mentions'[and I use that term loosely], click here. All in all, a spectacular show.

  • Monday, August 09, 2004

    The Secret

  • The Secret [post Catriona Sturton]: photo 'borrowed' from http://lenachin.com/Secret/index/thesecret.html [gallery section]Any Plumtree fans out there? I still get the odd e-mail from the Plumtree Yahoo! Group, and today ex-Plumtree'r Catriona Sturton posted the following message:

    "To: plumtree@yahoogroups.com
    From: "Catriona Sturton"
    Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 13:54:59 -0400 (EDT)
    Subject: [plumtree] Catriona's band from Japan is coming to Canada in November!

    Yep, it's true.
    The Secret are coming to Canada for an eastern Canada
    reunion tour in November.

    Rei, Lena and Sonnet will leave Hiroshima in early
    November to experience Canadian hospitality and
    Canadian pre-winter.

    Please get in touch with me if you have ideas of good
    places to play or people to play with. Or, just to
    say hi. I'd love to hear from you.

    You can hear some recordings from the dawn of the
    secret's rock and roll history at:

    (or if that is too long to type out, try lenachin.com)
    (look under "shop" and "cd")

    Mata ne! catriona"

    Check out the mp3's. I had heard these mp3's maybe a year or two ago and I had forgotten how much I liked the music. Really good indie pop and quite like the pure pop of Plumtree's music. I sure do miss Plumtree. Too bad I don't live on the [Canadian]east coast. Maybe I can schedule a vacation to the east coast around the time of the tour? Hey it's an idea.

  • My photos of Broken Social Scene from the Olympic Island concert this past weekend. Euphoric to say the least.

  • Considering how beautiful the weather tonight is, I'm almost regretting not picking up some lawn seats for the Curiosa festival in Toronto. Just hearing Edge 102.1 FM's live broadcast of the concert has me green with envy of all of you there tonight who got to experience "Pictures of You" in all of its live glory...Hey, but then I saw The Cure at Coachella, and no date on the Curiosa tour will EVER top that. HA!

  • Sunday, August 08, 2004

    Reggae Got Soul

  • concert review: Toots and The Maytals @ Nathan Phillips Square(Toronto, Ontario)][part of the Irie Music Festival], August 1, 2004

    Toots Hibbert @ Nathan Phillips Square(Toronto, Ontario)][part of the Irie Music Festival], August 1, 2004: photo by Mike LigonI'm sure this was a highly anticipated show for many in attendance, especially the West Indian/Jamaican segment of the audience. I've grown up in Canada and I am of Filipino descent so reggae is not part of my musical experience, although I've appreciated it for a long time. I myself having only cursory knowledge of the man and his work and my knowledge of reggae and ska pretty much limited to Bob Marley, the two-tone ska movement, and reggae-period Clash, I was actually looking forward to seeing the genuine article live. I remember that I had burned a copy of DISC One of Toots and The Maytals "Time Tough: The Anthology" from a co-worker several years back and the first song of the CD was a tune called "Six and Seven Books of Moses" which was a great early period ska tune. Listening to that CD, it was interesting to hear how Toots and the Maytals evolved from that early ska sound to a more 'soul'-ful reggae sound. You could make some comparisons between the reggae of Toots and The Maytals to Bob Marley, but I've read, and can hear in the music, that Toots' vocal stylings emulated the American soul singers of the 60's. His vocals with the music of the Maytals was just a great combination.

    backup singers, including Toots Hibbert's daughter: photo by Mike LigonMy friend and I got to Nathan Phillips Square before Toots' set started which I had read was suppose to start at 9 pm, but by the time they started it was around 9:40. I'm not sure what the delay was but I was anxious for things to start since it was a workday the next day. Unfortunately, my buddy and I had a pretty crappy view of the stage, and I was unsatisfied with most of my digital camera photos. The only thing left was to feel the vibe of the crowd [sans the smoking of weed mind you] and enjoy the mellow vibes that would be coming our way. When the Maytals, including a couple of female singers which included Toots' daughter, then Toots himself, finally made their way onto the stage, there was finally some relief for the crowd which was getting slightly anxious for the show to start. And a great set all around as it ended up being. There was no "Six and Seven Books of Moses" but at least there were several songs that I was familiar with, which all happened to be songs that I came to know through other artists, like the laid back "Take Me Home Country Roads", originally by John Denver, with the lyrics appropriately changed to "West Jamaica" from "West Virginia", the Toots' penned "Monkey Man" covered by The Specials, and the Toots' penned "Pressure Drop" covered by The Clash. "Monkey Man" was my personal fave of the night, as I'm sure it was for some of the Mods that I could see were in attendance. Later on in the night other highlights included a City of Toronto politician giving Toots a special recognition award for his contribution to reggae music, as well as Toots' encouragement for members of the audience, specifically the women, to come onto the stage to dance for one song. And when the set ended we wanted more but unfortunately a time curfew prevented an encore. Oh well. To summarize...wonderful weather, beautiful people, and beautiful music. What more could you ask for?

    ps. Toots and The Maytals recently released a collaborative effort featuring their songs performed with some quality artists like Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Ben Harper and Terry Hall. The CD is called "True Love" , and after hearing some samples, I'm sure is worth further listening.

  • My friend and I had a blast at the Olympic Island concert headlined by Sloan, Sloan even managing to top their club show at last year's Pop Montreal festival! Photos and review to come.

  • Guilty pleasure of the moment: Hilary Duff featuring Haylie Duff and their version of The Go Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed". No seriously, I'm not kidding.

  • Saturday, August 07, 2004

    Canada Day, part deux

  • Sloan: photo, ahem, 'borrowed' from the olympicisland.com siteFinally, at long last, the day has arrived. The Olympic Island concert in Toronto! My friend and I'll be heading down just before noon. Set list is as follows:

    Sloan 9:25 - 10:40
    Sam Roberts 7:50 - 9:05
    The Stills 6:40 - 7:30
    Pilate 5:30 - 6:20
    Constantines 4:30 - 5:10
    Broken Social Scene 3:20 - 4:10
    Buck 65 2:20 - 3:00
    The Arcade Fire 1:30 - 2:00
    Death From Above 12:45 - 1:15

    ...And if I'm not totally exhausted after that, MAYBE I'll head down to a stag party that I was invited to. Now wouldn't that be the perfect capper to today's events. ;-)

  • Friday, August 06, 2004

    Hot and Spicy

    ...trying to catch up with some reviews [stay tuned for review of shows from Toots and The Maytals, Wilco, controller.controller, The Rishi Rich Project with Lal]

  • concert review: Breakestra w/ Cibelle @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario) [part of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival], July 30, 2004

  • Cibelle @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario) [part of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival], July 30, 2004: photo by Mike LigonHarbourfront is wonderful for concerts on a warm summer evening. As I've done quite frequently this year, I made a last minute decision to go down and check out Breakestra and Cibelle at Harbourfront, where they were playing a free show. Actually, my interest was piqued when Cibelle graced the cover[as well as accompanying cover story] of last week's Eye. Considering her striking ethnic good looks [she's from Brazil] and after reading the story in Eye, I convinced myself to go check her out. I probably missed the first 15 minutes of her performance, but the 45 minutes that I managed to catch was a revelation. Wearing a sultry flimsy white dress, with plenty of opportunity to see her legs peaking out from the fabric as she danced, she performed an intoxicating selection of tunes, which I assumed were mostly from her debut self-titled CD. She sings in English as well as Portugese, and if I remember correctly, she even sang in French. Considering that I'm not versed in Portugese, and even after years of French classes I still only have rudimentary knowledge of French, I was surprised how enjoyable Cibelle's music still could be. Her music is [as I described in a previous post], a delectable mix of bossa nova rhythms, subtle electronic sounds, organic/acoustic instrumentation, and downtempo trip-hop aesthetics. Cibelle even sang a great cover of Nirvana's "About A Girl" with just her vocals and a band member on acoustic guitar. She's quite the performer as well, not content to stand on stage motionless, but rather was caught up in the sultry rhythms of the music with her dancing. Not much else I can say, but I highly recommend that you check her out. Sublime. [check out photos here.]

    Breakestra @ Harbourfront (Toronto, Ontario) [part of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival], July 30, 2004: photo by Mike LigonBreakestra are a 10-piece funk-based L.A. ensemble with a hip hop edge. They were one example of a band where my patience paid off. They started off well enough eschewing their funky sounds and beats, with a dread-locked MC taking centre mic. It had definite acid jazz influences and it reminded me of when I used to really be into the Brand New Heavies. Maybe it was Cibelle's sublime performance that upstaged Breakestra for me, but my initial impressions of Breakestra were underwhelming. However, I think it was the point when the MC encouraged people to get up and start dancing that their set started to gain momentum. The energy level definitely went up and their funky tunes started to sink in. At various points in their set, the band would spotlight one of the members' musicianship skills, and the spotlight of the evening was definitely the saxophone player's top-notch playing. He played an extended solo that was both impressive for his arrangements as well as the shear length of time he performed during the solo. Also quite entertaining were the 'samples' that they used, or rather performed; it was really fun to hear familiar funky breaks within their songs like the funky keyboard segment that you might know from Maestro Fresh Wes' "Let Your Backbone Slide". Another heavy influence in their music was definitely James Brown. There's not anything overly innovative about Breakestra's sound but I must give them credit for their ability to pull it off live, when so many hip hop artists before them have gone the DJ/sampling route. At the end of the night, I picked up their CD THE LIVE MIX PART 1 which is a reissue of a collection of tunes from 1996. It's a fun listen and a definite crowd-pleaser. [check out photos here.]

    Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    Around the world in...

  • Jeff Tweedy and John Stirrat of Wilco at The Mod Club Theatre(Toronto, Ontario), August 3, 2004: photo by me, Mike Ligon, one of my few pics that came out half way decent...Having taken in performances over the last week from:

    -> the sultry sounds of Cibelle and funky tunes of Breakestra, who both played as part Harbourfront's Hot and Spicy Food Festival, to
    -> the laid back rhythm's of Toots and The Maytals who played the Irie Music Festival [part of the Caribana weekend festivities], to
    ->the amazing live experience of Wilco at The Mod Club Theatre(see picture left),

    this has been a truly multicultural week, so far. Stay tuned for reviews of the above...soon as I can get enough juice out of my rechargeable batteries to upload the photos to my computer.

    This year's summer concert season in Toronto has been a banner one so far, and we're only at the beginning of August! I have the next two days off as well which I had originally booked off for you-know-what...too bad Lollapalooza was cancelled but there are plenty of other things happening in Toronto to keep one occupied.

  • Monday, August 02, 2004

    Fighting Fit

  • Gene [promotional photo from www.genemusic.com]Gene have consistently been underappreciated since the get-go and I'm hoping that they'll finally make their breakthrough when they eventually release their new album. In the meantime, there's been news of a new live DVD as well as a new single to tide us over. I received this e-mail today from the You'll Never Walk Again mailing list devoted to Brit band Gene:

    "Hi All,

    It's been confirmed today that Gene are looking to release their latest live DVD, filmed at the Sheffield Leadmill earlier this year, in October. Although we're still awaiting confirmation of the full DVD contents, the live track listing will be :

    1. Haunted By You
    2. This Is Not My Crime
    3. We Could Be Kings
    4. Stop
    5. Yours For The Taking
    6. Where Are They Now
    7. In Love With Love
    8. Baby I'm Sorry
    9. Walking In The Shallows
    10. Fighting Fit
    11. Speak To Me Someone
    12. Olympian
    13. You'll Never Walk Again
    14. Sick Sober & Sorry
    15. Be My Light Be My Light
    16. Let Me Move On
    17. For The Dead

    Also on the cards during 2004 (Gene's 10th anniversary year) is a single release - the track has yet to be determined, and what's currently being described as a 'big' show. All very promising, and as ever we'll get you the very latest as soon as we have it!


    Also of note is that Gene's song "Fighting Fit" was chosen by Morrissey as one of the songs for a CD compilation he put together called "Songs To Save Your Life" which was given away with NME recently.

  • MP3: Seems Tilly and the Wall are all the rage these days, myself having caught wind of this band at My Indie World and Chromewaves. To add to the whirlwind of [deserved]hype, Of The Record has the band's demo Woo EP available for download, so grab it while you can. Fun, fun, fun!

  • The Pop Montreal site has a partial list of bands that'll be playing this year's festival. I went with a couple of friends last year, and this year's lineup is, so far, begging me to go again. If anything, it'll give me chance to take pictures of the city this time, since I didn't have a camera last year.