Monday, June 19, 2006

If Only Your Heart Was A Major Sixth

concert review: Hylozoists w/ Major Grange, The Fembots(duo) @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), June 17, 2006

Hylozoists @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Mike LigonAs much as I appreciate the music of Hylozoists and The Fembots(duo) and instrumental music in general, in a live setting, the lack of vocals really begs for something to compensate for it. Unfortunately, that's how I felt during the above bands' show at the Horseshoe Tavern this past Saturday. Of course, sitting at a table with my friend and his cousin away from the stage doesn't necessarily help make things easier to absorb. Some kooky stage banter, interesting visual effects, even a change of venue[eg. for example, The Music Gallery] would have all helped in my opinion to translate the experience better. Simply put, I didn't feel the music.

The Fembots Dave MacKinnon Brian Poirier, performing only as a duo and billed as Mucho Cuidado, were first up for the evening. Dressed in matching white shirts and pants, they performed a subdued set that matched acoustic country/folk instrumentation with tape loops, found sounds, and audio snippets. It's a drastically different version than the The Fembots full-band configuration which I've seen before and enjoy quite a bit more. There was a pretty meagre sized crowd on hand for the set, with maybe only 2 people on the floor near the front. I was somewhat impatient during their set, and I don't remember them playing anything off The Fembots' "The City"(well any of the songs which I'd have hoped for) which was a shame. The few songs which you could really 'hear' Dave MacKinnon's rich vocals were standouts though.

The next band up were the unknown-to-me Major Grange. Their music seemed to touch on pop, maybe country-rock influences, filtered through a 70's FM classic rock sensibility. Vocals alternated between two gentleman, one person's vocals in an attractive mid-range and the taller gent's vocals in a higher whinier range. I was quite intrigued at with their set's initial pop/easy-rock direction featuring their supple melodies, attractive vocals, and solid instrumentation. At first, they reminded me of Pernice Brothers. Had the set remained in this zone, I would have been happier, but the set progressed towards a 70's FM classic rock sound(complete with blues-y guitar) that I was less-enthused about. I do make an exception with one song which I enjoyed which the gent with the higher vocal range sung on and which sounded like 70's-classic-rock-influenced Sloan. How's that for contradictions?

Lastly, the multi-member Hylozoists in matching white garb hit the stage. By this time, the Horseshoe had filled in respectably. With vibraphone, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums, violin and other instruments contributing to the group's lush orch-pop sound, the music reminded of a cross between Calexico and an instrumental The Flaming Lips. They sounded quite cinematic at times and the music had a tendency to build momentum towards satisfying conclusions. There were even a few songs which featured vocals which was a welcome change. Still, I found the dank Horseshoe Tavern an unusual choice of venue and would have preferred the more acoustically-suited and better vibe of say, The Music Gallery instead. It's hard to enjoy the subtle sophistication of Hylozoists' sound when there's beer bottles clanking in the background. Things did start to sound sort of same-y over time and my companions and I left at the start of their encore set. I enjoyed their set but I wasn't bowled over by any stretch. Perhaps their music is better suited to listening to through headphones: a soundtrack to that surreal dream in my mind. (Hylozoists will be doing an instore at Soundscapes tomorrow. Anyone know what time? Update: Their MySpace site says the instore is at 6 pm.)
In other news, it's great to see The Hidden Cameras strike up a relationship with Arts & Crafts for the US release of The Cameras' new album "Awoo" which'll come out in the US on September 19th. The Hidden Cameras will be opening for Broken Social Scene at Prospect Park In New York City on July 6th. This looks like the start of a beautiful friendship.

In concert news, if it bothers you that Yo La Tengo haven't scheduled any Toronto dates for the near future, I do see that they will be playing just down the QEW in Buffalo, NY at Shea's Performing Arts Center on July 11th[via Matador Records]. Update: According to the band's website, this performance is a live performance of their album "The Sounds of Science" and will accompany the films of Jean Painlevé.

Hamilton, ON's A Northern Chorus will be at the Horseshoe Tavern on July 14th.

Having escaped my radar for a bit, I just found out that Carolyn Mark and Her New Best Friends! Hootenanny will be at Harbourfront on July 15th as part of the Roots:Remix festival.

AOL Music met up with Grandaddy recently and they have the interview and some acoustic performances available for your dowloading[podcast] and listening pleasure.

Metric performed "Monster Hospital" yesterday during Muchmusic's 2006 MMVA's. Go here[and follow the links] to watch the video or just click here[to watch it in Windows Media Player]. Looks like Emily had a lot of 'fun' yesterday - fun meaning alcohol.

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