Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Splendor Without Diminishment

Phew! I arrived back home this evening from Vancouver where I was visiting my brother and it's been a wonderful week. A lot of time spent for some brotherly bonding in and around the city: walking and driving around downtown Vancouver, Kitsalano(where my brother lives), Stanley Park and Vanier Park, going to Whistler for a day for some skiing, 3 days/nights camping and attending the Sasquatch Festival in Washington State, driving through Washington State and downtown Seattle, and really just taking it easy for a week. The west coast is very beautiful and I recommend everyone experience it. Oh, they also have a lot of freakin' Starbucks.

For the last week or so I've been technologically unplugged given that my brother doesn't have a computer nor a television(although he does have a portable DVD player and a portable stereo). Of course, I felt a twinge of withdrawl the first couple of days but it did get easier. After all, it was my vacation and watching television and surfing the net or blogging is probably the last things I should be doing. However, I do regret not getting an opportunity to read the comments on my last blog post while I was in Vancouver or else I would have checked out some of the other record stores you all recommended[I only checked out Zulu Records, and yes it is expensive]. In the end, being unplugged for a week was a real cleansing experience. Too bad I have to go back to work. That's all for now, but stay tuned for the in-depth version.

BTW, my brother's moving back home to Ontario soon after living in Vancouver for a year. You'd think he was crazy to move away from the totally awesome Vancouver/west coast lifestyle(for him, it was mostly the snowboarding at Whister), but he has his reasons. In any case, I'm glad he's coming home.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

West Coast

My blog post frequency has sort of fallen by the wayside as of late, partially due to a lack of shows I've been going to, but moreso to do with my anticipation of my trip to Vancouver to see my brother. It'll be my first time to Vancouver, and I can't wait.

My plane takes off at noon today, and I'm still in the midst of packing/repacking, so I'll have to keep this brief. Since my brother and I have a few plans here and there while I'm over there, I don't want to forget anything. We'll be going to the Sasquatch Festival in Washington state, complete with camping from May 26-28(US Memorial Day weekend). Neko Case, Beck, The Flaming Lips, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, The Constantines and many others. It's gonna be amazing! Hopefully, during my time BC we'll be going to Whistler for some skiing(yes, there apparently is still snow in the mountains!). Concert-wise, in Vancouver we have nothing planned but the Sasquatch Festival(2 1/2 days) will be more than enough music. I'll probably be checking out some of the music venues and records stores(ie. Zulu Records) just to see how they compare to Toronto. Since my brother's been living over there for a year, I haven't bothered to research anything for this trip since I'll have my own personal tour guide. And I get accommodations at his place. Always the way to travel.

It'll be great to be off work for a week, and in conjuction with that I don't expect to be blogging much. If I can hit up an internet cafe in Vancouver, I'll try to rattle off a post. The only music blogging hopefully should come during the Sasquatch Festival, and that's if there's any internet access onsite. Otherwise, this blog goes on hiatus until the evening of May 31st when I get back from Vancouver.

See ya.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Knock 'Em Out

Lily AllenWith this long weekend being the unofficial beginning of summer, I can't think of a better soundtrack than the music of young UK indie sensation Lily Allen. Stereogum, Bows + Arrows, Strawberry Fire, Cable and Tweed, and the like have already caught on to her musical breeziness and I just want to reiterate how immediately pleasing her music is.[As an aside, check out the blog links for more Lily Allen-related links I was too lazy to link to.] I've read comparisons to the music of Nellie Mckay, M.I.A., and most of all The Streets and while those comparisons have crept on more than one occasion, they're also quite appropo. Lily has a lyrical brashness similar to Nellie Mckay that's somewhat unexpected given the summery dance-pop vibe. When Lily's music crosses over to her more calypso/ska/rap excursions, she does remind me of M.I.A., but moreso Mike Skinner of The Streets given her vocals' instrinic Britishness. Overall, the one thing that sets Lily apart is the pop quality of her songs, sounding so immediately catchy and performed with such casualness that seems like she isn't even trying.

The Guardian profiles the the young Ms. Allen.

The Village Voice revels in Lily Allen's 'bliss-inducing' "LDN" while Toronto's own Eye Weekly, while liking Ms. Allen's music, dispels her internet hype as a mere blip in any real mainstream popularity.

Slam X Hype has an interview with Ms. Allen.

LISTEN: Lily Allen @ MySpace (recommendation: "Smile")
DOWNLOAD: Demos and her First Mixtape (courtesy of Slap You In Public via Cable And Tweed)
DOWNLOAD: Second Mixtape (link via Slam X Hype)

BUY: her debut release "Alright Still" is available for pre-order through and will be released July 17, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

NXNE 2006 schedule

Browse the NXNE schedule by Band or Venue. (I recommend browsing by 'Venue'.)

Buy a wristband.

That is all. There is nothing else to see. Move along. Yes, I'm talking to you.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nowhere Left To Go

The AirfieldsI(Heart)Music made a reference that Toronto C86-style indiepop band The Airfields, who are currently still recording their debut full-length, might no longer be performing live. The Airfields' David Lush poignantly acknowledges this over at the band's MySpace site. And I only got to see half of the band's set when they opened for The Wedding Present back in March.

Listen: The Airfields @ MySpace
Listen: The Airfields @ New Music Canada

Jens Lekman won't be coming back to Toronto anytime soon according to his tourdates, but he will be a mere 2.5 to 3 hour drive away in Rochester, NY at Bug Jar on July 23rd. On a related Jens note, check out his Smalltalk May 16, 2006 diary post where he gets in on the indie vs selling out debate. He also mentions in that post that he's been told that there's a washing machine commercial in the US that has a song that sounds alot like "Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill". But considering that that song was an almost direct lift from Motown... If anyone knows which commercial Jens is referring to[in actuality, he says he hasn't yet seen the commercial], please drop me a comment.

Zero 7 have started a video podcast and you can download the first episode here. Unfortunately, I don't have an iPod Video...oh heck. According to an e-mail update from the band I received recently, the podcast video features Zero 7's Sam and Henry talking about their new album "The Garden", working with Jose Gonzales and Sia as well as giving a little insight into some of the production tricks they used on the album.

The Concretes(well, actually only lead singer Victoria Bergman and flute-playing pianist/glockenspieler Ludwig Rylander and guitarist Daniel Varjo) performed a live session for MPR: 89.3 The Current recently on May 15, 2006. Listen to the archived streaming session. They performed "Way of Life," "On the Radio," and "Lonely as Can Be".

Just In - Concert Announcements: Handsome Family will be at Horseshoe Tavern on July 15th, tickets onsale May 18th. Scottish indiepoppers Camera Obscura will be at Horseshoe Tavern on July 4th, tickets also onsale May 18th. [via]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Steady As She Goes

The RaconteursPitchfork reports that The Raconteurs will be hitting the road for a North American tour. There's only one Canadian date in Vancouver at Malkin Bowl on July 26th. So I was checking out the band's full album stream(for their debut "Broken Boy Soldiers" which was released today) that's currently over at AOL Music, and thought it was decent enough for me to pick up the album today. Of course, with Jack White of The White Stripes in the group, I was already tempted to check out The Raconteurs from the start. Sunrise Records was giving away a Raconteurs limited edition 7" with every purchase and I was fortunate enough to get the last copy! The band will be performing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien tomorrow night on the evening of May 18th.

By the way, The Raconteurs old-school computer-text-styled website is the BEST site I've seen in a long time. You don't even need a mouse! The website brings back memories of my highschool computer class back in the mid to late 80's when we were still using Commodore 64's.

And of course, the prerequisite MySpace link for The Raconteurs, from which I got the following music video link:

Video(MOV): The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes"

According to the Neko Case Yahoo! mailing list, Neko will be performing live on Late Show with David Letterman on June 14th.

Aversion has an interview with Pretty Girls Make Graves.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pull Shapes

The PipettesMost addictive tune to start off my week belongs to UK indiepop/girl-group revisionists The Pipettes and their new single "Pull Shapes". Yer Mam has the mp3 for download. The Pipettes have been getting some mad blog love lately. Toronto UK aficionado Rock Snob posted about The Pipettes last week and a has a few more Pipettes-related links for your enjoyment. Finally, listen to more of the band over at their MySpace site.

City Field quietly launched their new website recently. And finally. They'll be opening for The Meligrove Band at Lee's Palace on June 22nd.

Watch the video clip of Wilco performing "Is That The Thanks I Get" live on Late Night With Conan O'Brien which was broadcasting live from Wilco's hometown of Chicago last week[via Villains Always Blink].

AOL Music is streaming some new full CD releases. Check out the streams for the reissued Dinosaur Jr albums, "Green Mind" and "Where You Been?". Both expanded albums will be released tomorrow in Canada.

The Futureheads were on BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe program this morning and performed acoustic versions of new tunes, "Skip To The End" and "Area". Listen here[session is about 1 hr and 40 min into the program; program only archived for a week].

Sunday, May 14, 2006

We've Got To Find A Way, To Bring Some Lovin' Here Today

The Funk BrothersI finally got around to watching the music documentary "Standing In the Shadows of Motown" which is about the far-too-long anonymous The Funk Brothers who were the group of backing musicians who played on many of Motown's greatest songs. The documentary was a fitting tribute to a group of musicians who created a revolutionary sound in rock 'n roll music that's left its imprint undoubtedly. Some members have since passed on but in the documentary, the members still living provided rich insight into the evolution of their sound. I've always always liked Motown but in the past, it's appropriation by television and film as a device towards nostalgia amongst the baby boom generation always kept me somewhat at a distance from it. Also, oldies radio and Motown's existence on the oldies concert circuit(hello Casino Rama) demystified Motown for me.

Nowadays, I can definitely say I have a larger appreciation for Motown. I can't really recall when that transition took place but it happened and I'm glad. I hear Motown's influence on bands that I listen to like The Jam and Saturday Looks Good To Me but I also have an appreciation now for artists like Marvin Gaye and The Supremes who I've grown to admire, even if I'm not that familiar with yet. What was really most affecting about the documentary for me was to hear just how intricate and emotional the Motown sound was. The modern-day collaborations in the documentary featuring vocals by Joan Osborne, M'eshell N'degeocello, Gerald Levert, Ben Harper, Chaka Khan, and Bootsy Collins were truly awesome interpretations and that's saying a lot considering I'm not a big fan of any of those artists. But man, did Joan really nail the vocals on "Heatwave"! Hearing Joan belt it out was like throwing away all my preconceived notions of Motown - oldies radio, "The Big Chill" soundtrack, Casino Rama - and saying to myself, this is fucking awesome.

While The Funk Brothers sound(at least early on) was one undoubtedly fit for the dance floor, arguably perhaps(as the documentary expresses) The Funk Brothers' finest moment came during their performance on the recording of Marvin Gaye's soulful, socially-conscious "What's Going On".

Futuro has an extended remix[mp3] of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" which retains much of the original version's sound and feeling[via DREAMTIMEMIX].

Friday, May 12, 2006

Throw It All Away

Here's a little visual surrealism courtesy of Zero 7 and their music video for "Throw It All Away", which will be the first CD single(released May 15th on import) off their new album "The Garden"(released June 6th in North America):

Realmedia: Hi | Lo
Windows Media: Hi | Lo

The single will be available on CD, 12" and 7". The CD will feature the title track, two new tracks, "Thistles"(featuring Sia) and an instrumental, "Inaminute", as well as the promo video. The 12" is as the CD minus the video(of course) and the 7" will feature "Thistles" and "Inaminute".

Also, listen to some tracks from "The Garden" over at the band's MySpace site.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Throw It All Away Left Behind

Zero 7's official website has gone through a redesign. Check it out. After that, why not download a track from their upcoming new album "The Garden" scheduled for release in North America on June 6th:

mp3: "Left Behind" - Zero 7 featuring José González

Watch the new music video for Regina Spektor's "Better":

Quicktime: 220 | 450 | 700
Windows: 220 | 300 | 700

It's exciting news that Cat Power will be in Toronto for a show at Danforth Music Hall on July 3rd[via Beggars Group Canada].

Chartattack reports on the Metric-curated Dog Day Afternoon festival which has dates in Ottawa(July 14 @ Ottawa Bluesfest Mainstage), Toronto(July 15 @ Fort York) and Montreal(July 17 @ The Old Port). Fiery Furnaces and Holy Fuck will play all 3 stops while Secret Machines and Electric Six will be part of the Toronto and Montreal shows.

Sarah Harmer will be back in Toronto for a ticketed show at Harbourfront Centre on July 27th. Tickets are a whopping $31.50 and go onsale this Friday. [via Harbourfront Centre]

Some concert news via Emerge: Toronto hometown guys, The New Deal will be at The Mod Club in July 21st. Tickets onsale Saturday. Editors will be at The Opera House on August 2nd. Tickets onsale Monday.

The Onion A.V. Club interviews Neko Case.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hey Man, You Gotta Nice Job

concert review: Mayor McCA, Jenn Grant, Great Plains @ The Casbah(Hamilton, Ontario), May 7, 2006

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past Sunday I was doing double duty with regards to going to concerts. I went to the Over The Top Fest matinee show at The Drake Hotel in Toronto which was enjoyable. That evening I went to Hamilton, ON to The Casbah to see Mayor McCA, Jenn Grant and Great Plains, who all coincidentally had performed in Toronto the night before as part of the Over The Top Fest. I was a little hesitant about going back to The Casbah since the last time I went there was to see The Heavy Blinkers(coincidentally featuring Jenn Grant as their vocalist), Julie Doiron, and Snailhouse who played to a very small crowd. Fortunately, and surprisingly for a Sunday night, there was a great turnout this time around. I underestimated the draw of Hamilton's very own Mayor McCA.

Opening things up were Halifax trio Great Plains. Starting off on a quiet note, Great Plains vocalist Sean MacGillivray sung a forlorn, melancholic guitar-rock tune, probably my favourite song of their set. Physically, in terms of his shag hair cut and even the way he held his guitar, he almost seemed a dead-ringer for The Inbreds' Mike O'Neill. Things changed gear when the drummer and the band's on-loan bass guitarist joined Sean onstage and turned up the volume. A good half of it was great. They have a rock sound that treads a middleground between the conventional and an edgier sound. Start-stop drum rythms, rumbling basslines, a bit of King Cobb Steelie-sounding dub-rock influences, plenty of meaty guitar work, but overall everything was tied together nicely with Sean's urgent vocals. I would have preferred more of a fully-developed melodic sensibility like the first song of their set which Sean performed solo. I also thought that half of the set fell too far on the side of conventionality. Hopefully, they explore more interestings sounds in the future because they definitely have some musical chops.

Listen: Great Plains @ MySpace

I was primarily there to see Jenn Grant. I was so impressed with her when I saw her last September 2005 at the same venue, when she performed as part of The Heavy Blinkers Trio. Despite the fact that that show last September was criminally underattended, Jenn's robust vocals over The Heavy Blinkers' soothing pop melodies made for a spine-tingling experience. Jenn's vocals are vibrant yet subtle and never excessive. Jenn started out her set solo accompanying herself on guitar, then was joined by the guys of Great Plains to back her up on drums, bass guitar, and some violin for the rest of the set. Musically, I find her music straddles the line between the earthy folkiness of Sarah Harmer with the jazzy-sophistication-meets-indie-rock of Feist. Vocally, it was more of a laid back performance this time compared to her nuanced performance with The Heavy Blinkers last September. I met Jenn after the set and purchased her EP "Jenn Grant and Goodbye Twentieth Century" and was fortunate to chat briefly with her. A very nice gal, and she said she remembered speaking to me at The Heavy Blinkers show! She's going to hopefully swing back through Toronto, Hamilton and other parts of Ontario later this year. I didn't mention this to Jenn at the time, but my only disappointment of her set was that she didn't perform her song "Don't Worry Baby", no doubt my most played MySpace song since last September. Therefore, I direct you to her MySpace site where you can hear the song:

Listen: Jenn Grant @ MySpace - recommend "Don't Worry Baby"

Don't underestimate Mayor McCA. I highly recommend everyone see him at least once. Fresh from touring in the UK, Hamilton's very own one-man band extraordinaire Mayor McCA brought the house down with his whimsical performance. The long-haired and bearded Mayor McCA seemed quite possibly deranged at first but turned out to be a puppy dog. He started out the set playing a pre-recorded backing track on his boombox, then picked up a ukelele and strummed some chords as he walked around the room in his bare feet. The Mayor continued the pre-recorded backing tracks on his boombox throughout the set, changing discs, or cueing up the right track. There was even some dialogue built on to the backing tracks and the Mayor referred the person talking as his new bandmade 'Tony'(and who suspiciously sounded just like him). Mayor McCA would respond to 'Tony' in a neatly and humourously scripted conversation. Pretty ingenious actually. The one-man band tag was capably demonstrated as Mayor McCA sat on a bass drum, played the drum with one foot, used his other foot to play a contraption which was his 'bass guitar' sound, all the while as he sung and played guitar. Musically he encompassed a variety of styles that had him performing a Beck-sounding garage-rap number one time, a lovely ukelele-laced love song the next("1 000 000 000 Songs"), and a number of acid-rock guitar tunes later on. A couple of times during the set he even put on some tap shoes to perform some percussive tap shoe arrangements as his boombox's beats played in the background. As he mentioned, he didn't usually perform covers, but he rewarded us that night with a heart-breaking ukelele-accompanied rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound". Musically talented, artistically creative, vocal about his indebtedness to his hometown of Hamilton, and humourous to boot, he's a true gem.

Listen: Mayor McCA @ MySpace - recommend "1 000 000 000 Songs"
Watch the awesome new music video(directed by Sara St. Onge) for The Diableros' "Sugar-Laced Soul". Animaton was done by Jay White[via Stille Post]

More bands have been announced for Hillside Music Festival which goes down July 28-30, 2006.

Someone might be interested, but current emo-punk heros Fall Out Boy will be performing a free show at Yonge Dundas Square at around 2 pm on Saturday May 13th as sponsored by radio station 102.1 The Edge. The radio station have also announced the lineup for Edgefest I which goes down this July 1st, Canada Day.

Anyone remember the last great Edgefest in my opinion, the Sloan-headlined/curated Edgefest 3 of 1995? I posted a partial review of this show on the old Sloannet mailing list way back. Memories at the corners of my mind. For real.

A soundtrack for everyone has a lengthy song-by-song rundown of the 28 tracks on the Red Hot Chili Pepper's new album "Stadium Arcadium". I will say that I'm not feeling the first single "Dani California", but with 28 tracks I'm sure you'll find some winners in there.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Until The World Stops Spinning

concert review: Saturday Looks Good To Me, The Bicycles, Wyrd Visions, Doris Day, as part of the Over The Top Fest @ The Drake Hotel(Toronto, Ontario), May 7, 2006

Saturday Looks Good To Me at The Drake Hotel: photo by Mike LigonI don't often do double duty on the same day, concert-wise, ie. going to two different sets of concerts on the same day, and I realize I'm sort of getting old for this. Ok, I say that partially in jest, but it is my birthday today and I've hit the mid-thirties mark(although I still look remarkably youthful!). Sandwiched between my birthday today and this past Saturday which was another friend's bachelor party, I made out to a couple of sets of shows yesterday. I'd normally post about these separately, but 1)I feel lazy, and 2)all the bands I saw played as part of the Over The Top Fest in Toronto. I made it out to the Sunday afternoon happenings at The Drake Hotel in Toronto and caught performances by Doris Day, Wyrd Visions, The Bicycles and Saturday Looks Good To Me. That evening I went to Hamilton, ON to The Casbah to see Mayor McCA, Jenn Grant and Great Plains, who all coincidentally had performed in Toronto the night before as part of the Over The Top Fest. Seeing those many bands in one day means I will hopefully keep my rundown brief.

The Drake Hotel matinee show was actually split between an indoor stage in the hotel's posh basement music venue, and an outdoor stage on the hotel's roof patio lounge. Set times between bands were scheduled as such that you could go between stages and not miss anything. I missed several of the early acts but go there just in time to catch Barrie's Doris Day inside The Drake Hotel. Unknown to me at the start but their melodically-charged indie-rock with passionate female vocals was immediately likable. The dueling male and female vocals on some songs were fantastic. I perceievd a slight Walkmen influence especially on the harmonica-drenched "Karma-onica" which featured Doris Day's female singer flexing her vocal pipes very much like Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen. My new favourite song - now if only I had an mp3 of it.

Listen: Doris Day @

After Doris Day, I headed up to the patio and caught a bit of appropriately named solo act, Wyrd Visions. I didn't know anything about the gentleman beforehand. He started his set cloaked in his hooded jacket singing a mantra-like set of lyrics with a similarly repetitive guitar arrangement. It sounded like what one of Stereolab's more dronier numbers might sound like acoustically. Mind you, I can enjoy repetition in some forms of music(Stereolab, post rock, electronic music) but Wyrd Visions stripped down approached didn't do it for me. I caught a song or two after that which was less repetitious but more of the same quiet folk-edelia. I'm probably not doing the music justice, so go listen for yourself:

Read/Listen: Are You Familiar? has a brief profile(with a couple of MP3's) of Wyrd Visions.
Listen: Wyrd Visions @ MySpace

I left midway through Wyrd Vision's set to go back inside for The Bicycles who were still setting up. Most of the members were wearing the bands trademark black t-shirts with white-emblazoned letter 'B' save for a couple of guest musicians in a similarly-styled red and white t-shirts. Adorning the stage were illustrated card-board figueres of each member of the band. According to The Bicycles' Matt, all these visual aids were to detract from anything that might be lacking musically during the show. It's been a while since I've seen The Bicycles live and I'm still borderline about liking them. I love their energy, humour and musicianship but musically am only half enthused. Their brand of indie pop is peppy, the musicianship having just that right amount of spunk, with bright horn embelishments and vibrant guitar work, but I still find the vocals quite a bit too fey for my liking. Every now and then the vocals dragged the music down to that too-cute indiepop territory(eg. Tullycraft) that I'm not much a fan of. On the other hand, their 60's surf/beat excursions, like The Bicyles Theme song were a blast live. Their first song of the set was my favourite and featured some meaty guitar hooks from Matt and a fuller indiepop sound.

Listen: The Bicylces @ MySpace

Last set of the day belonged to Michigan-based, Polyvinyl Records act Saturday Looks Good To Me. I'm relativey new to their music, having only owned an earlier album of theirs, "All Your Summer Songs", for about a year now, which I quite like a lot. Rather than that album's, Spector-ish, Motown-influenced indiepop, SLGTM's set at The Drake Hotel was a stripped down 4-member version of the band, consisting of guiar, bass guitar, drums and keyboards. Some of the Motown-influenced guitar work was still there but overall the set was quite a bit more rock than I was hoping for. Not to mention, I do miss the female vocals. The band performed some new tunes, one of which feautured a spacier, jammier direction. What I found most appealing about the show was SLGTM's lead vocalists to sing and play guitar while tapping a tambourine on the ground with his foot. Overall it was somewhat disappointing for me for the reasons stated above but still the band's melodic sensibility kept my interest afloat. Out of the day's acts I only got photos of SLGTM. I'll link to those later.

Listen: Saturday Looks Good To Me @ Myspace

Ok, so I lied. This post is already getting too long, so I will save posting about the evening portion of yesterday's concert-going for tomorrow.
Watch the new music video for Jason Collett's "I'll Bring The Sun":

  • Quicktime: High

  • Windows Media: (High / Low)

  • Yonge-Dundas Square has listings for it's Summer Serenades and Global Grooves series happening for free at the Square throughout the summer. Nothing indie-rock wise, but maybe you can find something of interest.

    The Amy Millan show at The Mod Club on June 10th just got more attractive to me with the announcement of The Fembots as openers.

    News of the passing of The Go-Betweens founder Grant McClennan is sad. I've always been on the periphery of actually been a ardent fan of The Go-Betweens but everything I've heard from them(and the few releases I own of them) have always been top-notch[via Stille Post].

    Finally, although my close friends don't necessarily read my blog since I'm the only music geek of the bunch, I still want to say thanks for the birthday greetings, lunch today, the cake over the weekend, and other surprises during the bachelor party we went to on Saturday.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Warm Night, In Colour

    concert review: The Concretes w/ New Buffalo @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), May 4, 2006

    The Concretes @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Mike LigonI feel I've been in a bit of a lull with concert-going as of late so the invasion of overseas pop at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern this past Thursday with Sweden's The Concretes and Australia's New Buffalo was very welcome. Sally Seltmann, aka New Buffalo opened up the show quite nicely. Coincidence or not but New Buffalo's quiet, stripped-down, folky-popisms reminded me of another solo artist who goes by a stage name, that artist being Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. New Buffalo was more melodically straighforward perhaps. While Sally utilized different instrumentation from song to song, going from guitar, to keyboards, and even utilizing drum machine beats, there was a cohesiveness to her sound held together by the memorable pop melodies and Sally's fragile voice. She even performed a great cover of Crowded House's "Four Seasons In One Day". I noticed Kevin and Brendan BSS in attendance, but was that Leslie with them also? I was initially hesitant about New Buffalo's addition to the Arts & Crafts roster, but having seen her live, I think she's more than proved herself worthy. I even recall Kevin raising his glass and swaying his arm in approval.

    Since The Concretes last played in Toronto at Lee's Palace in October 2004, it's felt like an eternity waiting for them to come back. In actuality I'd only purchased their self-titled disc back in March of 2005 and hadn't given it much of listen over the months, but on the strength of songs like "Say Something New", "Warm Night" and "You Can't Hurry Love", I was utterly convinced of their goodness. I've also been enjoying their most recent album "In Colour", and while I find it a little less threatening compared to the first album, it still pleases the pop fan in me.

    The eight-member pop band strolled onto stage wearing a mostly white wardrobe, with The Concretes lead vocalist Victoria wearing an outfit that reminded me how a librarian or office worker might dress in the 70's. Overall, there was something very ABBA-esque about their mostly white wardrobe. Kitschy but it worked. Humourously, Victoria made reference to the awful smell that somehow invaded the Horseshoe(I knew I wasn't imagining that) and said that it wasn't the band but it must be something or someone out in the audience. She mentioned that to compensate for the smell, the band were wearing alot of perfume/cologne and Victoria brought out a candle. Whether that helped or not, the odour seemed to disipate as the band's set played on. Honestly, sometimes The Concretes had all the energy of a highschool chess club but if you looked closely you could see that the band was into it in their own introverted little way. Fortunately, for what ever extrovertedness the band lacked overall, they made up for it with their charm and at least made a little bit of effort to come out of their shells. Although I couldn't quite make out everything Victoria was saying, she did however manage to speak up between songs every now and then. When she mentioned that it was hot in the place, someone yelled out that She was Hot. Thank God for dark lighting; I could almost make out her blushing. But that's the band, and particularly, Victoria's charm; she's one of the most unlikely individuals I'd expect to front a band but she does it fine in her own special way. At one point, the band even managed to squeeze out a noisy jam. Mostly, the band stuck to what they did best, which was to perform a tight set of their sparkling indiepop.

    In celebration of Victoria's 29th birthday, The Concretes drummer Lisa Milberg(who had come up during the encore to sing a song) lead the audience in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to the embarassment of Victoria as she strolled onto the stage, crouched down on the floor at the foot of Lisa and clung to her legs. After that, a tall, lanky gent from the horn section came and presented Victoria with a bouqet of flowers as the audience went 'Awwww!'. Maintaining the sing-a-long atmosphere of the just sung "Happy Birthday", the band ended the encore and the night on the waltz-ian "Warm Night" as the audience eventually joined in on the song's "La La La La La" chorus. Pure joy.

    [photos from the show]

    Chromewaves has his review and photos of the show.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Goodnight And Go

    Imogen HeapIf you were disappointed that UK singer/musician Imogen Heap's upcoming show at The Mod Club on May 27th was sold out, you'll be glad to hear that the show's been moved to The Guvernment. Previously purchased tickets will be honoured. Opening the show will be Zoe Keating. More tickets went on sale yesterday morning. I saw her perform her song "Goodnight and Go"[listen to the studio version over at her MySpace site] recently on The Tonight Show, and was pretty impressed with it's infectious electro-pop melodies and Imogen's attractive, supple vocals. Even moreso impressive was her agility as a one-woman band surrounded by a slew of keyboards, sequencers and microphones and making the transition between instruments and mics so seamlessly. I could have easily been turned off by her hippy-gothic chic style or her music's polished production values, but I can't deny her talent. I might pass her show this time around, but my interest is piqued. [photo from http://../]

    Listen to some of Imogen's songs at her MySpace site.

    Chartattack speaks with Guillemots' frontman Fyfe Dangerfield. The band will be at The Mod Club for an early show tonight. It is all together possible I'd assume, to check them out first then head over to any other worthy shows later this evening. I'm definitely going to The Concretes show tonight at Horseshoe Tavern, but maybe I'll hit up the early Guillemots show as well.

    Before their show at Horseshoe Tavern this evening, The Concretes will be playing an instore at Soundscapes at approximately 7 pm. I wonder if it's the whole band, or just a few Concretes; in any case, I won't be expecting any dance routines[via Stille Post].

    Pitchfork report that The Futureheads and Tapes 'n Tapes will be North American tourmates this summer, from July through to the beginning of August(The Futureheads will be touring with French Kicks in June). The Futureheads and Tapes 'n Tapes will be in Toronto for a show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on July 26th.

    Rotate This has a listing for a couple of noteworthy shows. Tilly and the Wall will be at The Mod Club for an all-ages show on June 11th, tickets $13.50. Bottle Rockets will be at Lee's Palace for a 19+ show on June 12th, tickets $10.50.

    Having seen both Pilate and Wintersleep at instores at Sam The Record Man in Toronto recently playing for small but devoted crowds, I'd never have guessed those two bands could fill the Kool Haus. You'll get a chance to see if they can when Pilate, Wintersleep and People In Planes make a stop at Kool Haus on June 29th for an all-ages gig, tickets $23.

    Billboard reports that The Sadies live album recorded at Lee's Palace over two nights earlier this year(read my review) will be released through Yep Roc as a double album on August 8th. Check out Yep Roc for more detailed info. Billboard notes that the band have a handful of live shows this summer starting May 27 in Sunderland, Ontario, and ending Aug. 20 at the Dog Day Afternoon festival in Guelph, Ontario.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Heaven Is Eux Autres

    Eux AutresMy favourite musical discovery of 20052006(of a band whose been around at least since 2004), Eux Autres, have confirmed a show in Toronto at Rancho Relaxo on June 16th, with openers Ratiscule, Terror Lake and one more act TBA[via Stille Post]. As I mentioned previously, I've been looking forward to this show as well as the rerelease of their debut album "Hell Is Eux Autres" through Grenadine Records. Go to the band's MySpace site. Listen to "Other Girls". I swear you'll be in heaven.

    The NXNE website now has a preliminary listing of bands for this year's festival. So I don't recognize a good 75% of the bands but I'm still psyched for the festival and to discover some new artists. I can already imagine the griping that'll occur because of this year's lineup for NXNE. Oh well. I say, save your pennies and go to SXSW next year.

    The Fiery Furnaces return to Toronto for a show at Phoenix on June 7th. The previous day they'll be in Montreal at Theatre National and then on June 12th will be in Vancouver at Richard's on Richards. Update: Emerge left a comment saying the tour date info is incorrect. The band's website does list the Vancouver date, but not the June 6th(Montreal) or 7th(Toronto) dates.

    Instrumental indie supergroup, Hylozoists are scheduled for an instore at Soundscapes in Toronto on June 20th[This and the previous item from ads I saw in the paper version of the new issue(May 2006) of Exclaim!].

    Red Hot Chili Peppers are going on tour in North America starting in August through to November and will be in Toronto for a show at Air Canada Centre on September 25th[via More Cowbell].

    Looking further ahead into the future, those masked art-punks, Clinic will be at Lee's Palace on October 6th[via Chromewaves].

    Pitchfork reports on Sub Pop's upcoming DVD music video compilation entitled "Acquired Taste" which will be released on May 9th and will feature 25 music videos from artists from its roster including Canandians, The Constantines, Chad VanGaalen, Wolf Parade, and Hot Hot Heat. Pitchfork has a tracklisting.

    City Field is streaming(and has available for download) a new song, "Linda's Hair", streaming over at their MySpace site.

    I'm not a comic book geek by any stretch, but I am looking forward to reading the new Marvel Comics series "Civil War". The first part of the seven part series comes out today. NPR spoke with Joe Quesada, Marvel Comics' editor in chief and comic book writer Paul Jenkins about civil liberties and national security in the Marvel Universe. NPR also has a preview of the first seven pages of the series(available in Adobe Acrobat format).

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Just What You Needed

    Jon Rae and The River's Myspace site is streaming a demo of(as well as making available for download) a new song called "Just What You Needed". According to Popsheep, this is a cover of a song by The Cars. Fantastic; it truly slays me. I still can't believe it's a Cars song. Popsheep has "Just What You Needed" as well as a demo of another new song, "Just One More" available for download. Jon Rae's record company Permafrost have another new Jon Rae song, the soul-influenced "All That I Have" streaming(and available for download). Apparently, the new Jon Rae album is entitled "Knows What You Need" and is scheduled for a release sometime this year. Jon Rae and The River play their next Toronto show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 23rd. [photo from Wavelength]

    Transbuddha is streaming The Concretes' new music video for "On The Radio", for those who are Win XP/2000 challenged such as myself. THe Concretes play Horseshoe Tavern this Thursday May 4th!

    Having travelled from the west coast to Ontario and back, Victoria, BC's The Paper Cranes will make their way back east for some shows in Ontario in June. They'll be in our neck of the woods for a show at Sneaky Dee's on June 9th and The Casbah in Hamilton on June 12th.

    In other news, Radiohead will be at Hummingbird Centre on June 7th and 8th. Word over at Stille Post is that tickets will be running (a proposterous)$71.65, plus applicable service charges. Tickets on sale, Saturday May 6th @ 10am. I'm really gonna need a kick in the ass to convince me to even consider buying tickets to this.

    Ground Control Touring has Sonic Youth North American tour date info, but unfortunately no Toronto date.

    Pitchfork doesn't shed much new light on Final Fantasy's upcoming new album, "He Poos Clouds", due out May 9 in Canada on Blocks Recording Club and June 13 in America via Tomlab. However, Pitchfork does offer the following bit of news(or non-news perhaps) from Mr. Pallett who says, "Arcade Fire have recorded at least three minutes of new material, last I heard from Jeremy [Gara, drummer]...At any rate, I'm donating my harpsichord to their new studio, and I think they're buying a pipe organ off my dad." Hey, three minutes of new Arcade Fire is better than no minutes, right? Does this mean that The Arcade Fire backlash is officially over?